Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Happy Birthday Blue Peter!

 This week my sister and I have been helping my Dad clear out some old boxes in his shed. We have found allsorts. One box was packed with old annuals and coincidentally, to coincide with their 60th birthday, we found a pile of Blue Peter annuals. What pleasure we got from them as children.

Looking through the pages I realised how much I had learned from them.  A few weeks ago I was bathing the dogs and having a moan. "Why is it always me who baths the dogs?" I asked. "Because you know just how to do it" replied youngest son and daughter. "I wasn't born knowing how to do it." I said" I read how to in my Blue Peter Annual!" The truth is I did and it has stuck in my mind all these years along with so many other interesting things.

   I loved every article and episode about dogs and can remember so clearly Petra's puppies. I loved Patch, John Noakes puppy and was heartbroken when he died, although I loved Shep the Border Collie, his next dog too.

   I remember all the old episodes with Christopher Trace, Valerie Singleton and John Noakes and the slightly later ones with Peter Purvis.

    Then there were all the things we made! Sugar mice, little pots to keep washing up brushes in and of course there was the Advent Crown. We struggled and struggled with our Advent Crown and it fell apart after one advent. Blue Peter presenters seemed to drag out their one for the next twenty years I'm sure they were just remaking it and pretending it was the same one!

    The item that was made on the programme I loved most was the farm. My Dad made one for me and I kept it and played with it for years. It brought me so much pleasure. I am trying to recreate it at the moment but that is a whole other story.

    I was obsessed with the programme, I collected for all the Christmas appeals, entered the competitions, bought the jig saws, wrote in asking for autographs and  managed to win a badge. I still have it somewhere! When my children were young I would watch it with them and incredibly the same format was cleverly adapted for those times. I just wish I had bought them annuals at the time and I may be getting some help bathing the dogs now! 
    I'm so glad the programme is still going strong for Scarlett to enjoy when she gets a bit older and as soon as she is I will definitely be watching it with her. For anyone who grew up loving Blue Peter, what ever age you are I hope you enjoy this video marking the 60th Birthday. It certainly brought a tear to my eye!

Monday, 15 October 2018

Back To The 1970s

When we bought our 1970s caravan I thought it would be fun to fill it with my 1970s collectables. I mean I have enough of them. Tom laughed at me but  as always just humours me! What fun we have had. I'm always looking out for more finds. My youngest daughter's boyfriend found an old 1970s cassette player in a skip and I found the most fantastic bright orange cassette storage case at a jumble sale for 50p. We scour jumble sales and car boot sales for old 1970s cassettes, which is not easy, where on earth have they all gone? Then in our caravan our evenings are spent listening to Motown, cooking meals on our little gas cooker, drinking wine and sighing about how beautiful the view is! From laughing at me in the beginning Tom loves it. It is the most peaceful and stress free experience.
  We have chosen very quiet caravan sites. The caravan club has lots of sites called Certified Locations which only have five caravan pitches. Some weekends we have been completely on our own. It has been Heaven.

   We are still hoping to get another couple of weekends away before winter sets in. I have a couple of new Diana Ross cassettes that I have to listen to!

Sunday, 14 October 2018

Alive and Kicking

"I haven't written a blog post for months!" I said to me eldest daughter the other day. "They are going to think you have died" she replied. Oh no how dreadful. Imagine if someone who has just been diagnosed with cancer googles "Follicular Thyroid Cancer" and finds my blog, then comes to the same conclusion. It couldn't be further from the truth I'm very much alive and kicking! I remember those first days after diagnosis you feel so desperate and worried and cling to stories of people who have recovered and skim through the the other stories praying that won't be you.Well for any person who is in that situation I will tell you how things have been going.
    The last time I wrote about my thyroid cancer I was just starting the treatment at the Royal Marsden after my two operations. Luckily with thyroid cancer you don't usually need chemotherapy but have Radioactive Iodine Therapy. The hardest part for me was the diet I had to go on for two weeks before the treatment. No dairy or fish and as I don't eat meat anyway, I had to become totally vegan. No chocolate either at least I could drink wine!  I had to go to the Marsden for two days before admission for injections and in June I went in for the treatment.
  "How long will I be in solitary confinement?" I asked the doctor. He visibly flinched. "We like to call it isolation." he answered. I felt like saying I'm in a room on my own, with no visitors or staff members allowed in and my food is passed through a flap in the door, in my view that's solitary confinement! The treatment was fine though, I had a lovely little room with a TV and I took my laptop in even though it did have to be wrapped in cling film! I had a full body scan before I was discharged and had restrictions as to who I could be close to for five days.
   The worst day for me was going back to get the results of the scan two weeks later to see if the cancer had spread. In your life you imagine pictures of the future, weddings, grandchildren, family get togethers and in my mind I was there in the pictures as an old person. In the months after my diagnosis suddenly those pictures were hard to imagine. I may not be in them. As I sat waiting for the results I thought what ever happens I will try to make the best of it all, no point making a fuss, but I was very nervous and had wanted to be on my own, I didn't want to have to worry about anyone else's feelings but my own at that moment. When the doctor came in smiling and told me the scan was all clear it was incredible. Like Marty McFly in "Back To The Future" I could instantly see myself appearing back in the pictures!
   Being diagnosed with cancer has definitely been a positive experience for me. Every day I wake up and if I feel a bit down I think "Stop it. you are alive and have a life!" I enjoy every day now and think I always will. That has been the main reason I haven't been able to write my blog really. I have been doing everything I ever fancied doing! Weekends in our caravan, trips into London, Highclere Castle. meet ups with old friends and afternoon teas. I try not to waste any day. If it is just a quiet day working and pottering in the garden I  love it. I look at my little garden and the flowers and think how lucky I am. Oh and then there is the new puppy! What fun she has been. If there is anyone still hanging on in there with me, I will try over the next weeks to fill you in a bit on what has been going on. Here is a photo of our little 70's time warp caravan until the next post when I'll share some more photos of her.


Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Dreaming Of White Horses!

Thank you for all the brilliant ideas about fixing my Robert's radio in the last post. My Dad has taken it to the little electrical shop near where he lives. It is the same electrical shop that sold our Ferguson radiogram all those years ago although it has changed hands about ten times. They have said they will look at it so I'm hoping they may be able to sort it out.
  Sooze made a comment saying how much she loved the song White Horses that was popular at the time. So did I, in fact I loved anything to do with horses or ponies as a child. Dreaming of White Horses was how I spent years in the 1960s.  I was pony mad and read every book I could about little girls owning ponies or pony care books for children. I knew every piece of equipment I would need ready for when the time finally came. If I wasn't reading about ponies I was galloping around the house or garden singing the theme from White Horses pretending I was actually riding one. I bought this Music For Pleasure Surprise Surprise childrens 7" single at the local newsagents with my pocket money and practically wore it out playing it over and over again.

   These children's 7" singles were quite popular at the time and many songs in the charts had cover versions (some pretty dreadful to be honest) which sold in local shops at pocket money prices. They had a colour in picture on the back which I had not coloured in, rather surprisingly, as I loved colouring. Maybe I was just too busy galloping about!

   Sadly the closest I got to owning a pony or horse was my Troll horse who I called Danny Boy. I wonder what happened to him? I played the White Horses record yesterday and all the memories came flooding back. I was singing it all day. I still haven't given up all hope of my pony, I just don't gallop about anymore when I think of it!  Just to put the song in the head of anyone else who remembers it you can listen to the theme of the White Horses programme here.

   There is something really reassuring about this song, it takes me back to summer holidays as a child when days seemed so carefree. I have an appointment at the Royal Marsden Hospital later today to discuss my treatment which starts next month and if I feel a bit stressed while I'm waiting I may just put my headphones in my phone, listen to it and gallop off on a white horse in my mind!

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Any Repair Shops Still Out There?

 Yesterday was a work all day, day. I have always tried to work six hours a day but some days in the last couple of years it has been hard to do this many, so I'm always doing mental arithmetic to make up to the total over the week. I think of it in two hour blocks and if I get up early I can fit in a two hour block between 6 and 8 am and other evenings I will work from 9 to 11 pm. No matter what happens in my week I juggle around these two hour slots until I have made up my time.  Yesterday I managed to bank a couple of extra two hour slots so I'm feeling quite pleased with myself.
   I didn't have much time spare for anything else but I did get out my old 1970s Roberts radio in the evening. I can look at this and remember those early episodes of Junior Choice with Ed "Stewpot" Stewart progressing to all those David Cassidy songs through my teenage years and then evenings struggling to keep the signal on Radio Luxembourg.
   Junior Choice! I had almost forgotten about it until I looked at this radio. It was full of sing a long songs and Sunday mornings were always spent listening to them on this little radio, I searched out a playlist from the show and Tom and I spent the evening singing songs I had forgotten all about (much to our youngest son and daughter's horror!). Ernie by Benny Hill, White Horses by Jackie, Morningtown Ride by The Seekers and Champion The Wonder Horse by Frankie Lane. They were all favourites on Junior Choice.
   I had thought for a while I must get my little 1970s Robert's radio fixed and buying our caravan has pushed me into trying. Are there any radio repair shops still out there? I'm determined to try and find one. Sadly it won't play music from those happy days but at least when I look at it I can remember!

    When I was walking back from the shops yesterday evening there was a sign in the charity shop window saying 50% of all bric a brac so I am off there this morning to see if I can find any good buys to sell on ebay. I hope everyone has a good day.

Monday, 21 May 2018

Busy Sunday

Tom was working all day yesterday so I got on with a lot of the things I have neglected in the last few days. I had to catch up with my work and there are always emails to answer and photos to copy and then there was all the boring washing and housework jobs that unfortunately just won't do themselves. After this both dogs were bathed (no stinky dogs allowed in our new caravan!) then the bathroom was cleaned from top to bottom. No matter how many times I say to Bud our border collie "Please don't shake" as I lift him out of the bath he can't control himself. He shakes from his head to the tip of his tail and that's that, the bathroom and me are soaked.
    In the afternoon I set to sorting out some items I bought at a recent jumble sale. Some things I put up for sale on ebay, some items I have decided I can use or would be perfect for our caravan and some toys or books I put aside for Scarlett. I was lucky enough to find some lovely retro fabric items at the last jumble sale and as the weather was so nice they have been washed and dried on the line. I'll photograph them in the next few days while I'm deciding whether to keep them or sell them but which ever I decide I was really pleased to have found them.
   Last week I had been thinking a lot about working in London in the 1970s and had been talking to my youngest daughter about it. When she was leaving for St James's Park on Saturday I told her we would spend all our lunch hours there in the summers of 1977 and 1978. One sunny day in 1977 my friend and I stood and watched the workmen cementing commemorative plaques into the pavement to celebrate the Queen's silver jubilee. My friend said "One day we can come back with our children and say we watched these being put in." My youngest daughter and her friends searched them out when she was there and they took photos of her standing next to them. She's so thoughtful, she knows exactly what makes me smile. Here is a photo of the plaque.

Queen's Jubilee 1977 Plaque The Mall London

   Another item I have found while sorting out the loft, in between a pile of old photos took me straight back to the 1970s in London. In 1978 I used to go to Toni & Guy to have my hair cut. I saw an advert in Miss London magazine that was handed out free in the underground stations and thought it looked like a really cool place. Toni used to cut my hair and he was funny. chatty and always kind. I was sad when I heard he had died in December 2017. I often think how could I have afforded it but finding this I think, I wish the prices were like this today.

Toni & Guy Price List 1978

  The weather looks good today around London today maybe with a few showers this afternoon and this evening, hopefully not when we are walking the dogs! I hope the weather is good wherever you are and your day goes well.

Sunday, 20 May 2018

....And So The Day Went Well

Well the sun shone and the royal couple pulled off the whole day flawlessly. Everyone celebrated diversity and love and that can only be good. Youngest daughter and her boyfriend had a day of fun and making memories, next door's party went well and the Chelsea Pensioners enjoyed their day.

   We collected our little caravan with no hitches, it didn't fly off on a tight bend and it is safely tucked away with a cover over it at our eldest son's yard. In a few days time we are going to take it to my Dad's house to clean it from top to bottom and take lots of photos. In the evening we walked the dogs to the park with the smell of barbecues all around in the air. We planned our trips and where we are going to visit as we walked. Yes the day certainly did go well.
   For anyone who would like to remember Harry and Meghan's day here is a lovely video to remember it with.

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Telling A Story

Yesterday I looked after Scarlett from just after 7 o'clock in the morning until the end of the afternoon. We have a routine of different activities to keep her amused. Now she is getting a bit older she "helps" me give the animals their breakfast which she loves. I'm hoping it will give her a life long love of animals as we all have. In the afternoon we always go to the park to feed the ducks after I have taken my parcels to the post office what ever the weather really and in between meals and naps (hers not mine!) we play or read books. She loves being read to and very quickly gets to anticipate the exciting bits in her little story books. I loved books from a very early age and always remember being read to as a child and had a love of stories.
  I often buy my books from the Oxfam online store as they have such a big selection of brilliant second hand books. Every so often they have a sale and can have 70% off so it is really worth checking when they have one on. I recently bought this book in one of their big reduction sales for a few pounds.

   It took me back to so many happy days when I would lie on the settee, curled up with our little dachshund, next to our old 1950s radiogram and listen to "Listen With Mother". I loved it. I remember the stories and the nursery rhymes so well. Our old Ferguson radiogram was wonderful. If I wasn't listening to the radio, my Mum would put old records on such as Vera Lynn singing nursery rhymes or Enid Blyton reading Noddy stories. I'm sure I could join in still with them all. I found this old photo of it with my sister and I standing next to it in 1963.

This one was up for sale on ebay recently, I was almost tempted to buy it. 

Vintage 1950s Ferguson Radiogram

    When Listen With Mother had finished Women's Hour would start and I would either play with my toys or go out in the garden while my Mum ironed whilst she listened to it! I can so clearly remember walking around the garden singing the nursery rhymes or reenacting the stories I had been listening to! The book has some lovely stories in and even though they are dated now I'm sure Scarlett will enjoy them when she is a bit bigger. 
  Sadly when we moved down to Surrey our radiogram was put up for sale. I remember nearly crying when I saw it on the pavement outside the old electrical shop near were we lived with a For Sale sign on it. "But we have a nice new Sterogram now" my Dad tried to console me with. I remember thinking "I don't want a new one I want our old one." Oh dear I haven't really changed. The new one never did seem quite the same. For anyone else who feels nostalgic about Listen With Mother I have found this episode on Youtube

  Anyway I hear there is a big wedding on today. My youngest daughter and her boyfriend are off to St James's Park to enjoy the sunshine and fun, eldest son is driving a group of Chelsea Pensioners to the cup final, next door are putting up the bunting and preparing for a party but we are off to pick up a caravan! Hope you all have a brilliant day.

Friday, 18 May 2018

Sleepless Nights!

We live on quite a busy road but are lucky enough to be raised up on a bank behind a hedge and a little path. The houses are old and very cottage like and were there before any other houses in the area were built. A neighbour told me they bought the house from an old lady who was born in the house around 1910 she told him when she was a little girl she would look out of her bedroom window to lavender fields all the way to the town. It must have been beautiful and I can only imagine the smell. No one can park cars in their little front gardens so it has kept a pretty unspoilt almost country feel.

  The only downside is we have no where to park our car except on this quite busy road so Tom had to go to our eldest son's yard to have our tow bar fitted yesterday and of course our lovely little caravan can't be kept here. I won't be able to go out and admire it and add little touches to the inside which is a shame but of course you can't have everything in life.
   This is a complete digression from what I was going to write about today which is why I have been having sleepless nights for the last week. When I wake up I always find it hard to get back to sleep but this week I can hear a beeping sound outside our house. It is high pitched and only happens intermittently but it is all I can hear when I am awake. I look out of the window trying to decide whether it is a car alarm, a burglar alarm or something completely different coming from near our little path. When I walk to the station or the shops I can hear it and look suspiciously at all the parked cars. There is a delivery driver who parks his little moped on the road and I was convincing myself he has some kind of alarm on it which beeps day and night. It has become very annoying and what is even more annoying is as Tom sleeps through anything he doesn't seem bothered by my problem.
   Yesterday morning when I walked to the shops two men who live in adjoining houses a little further up the path were out looking in the hedge. I stopped to chat and they told me they were being kept awake at night by a mystery beeping. "Me too!" I exclaimed "I was starting to think it was in my mind." They searched and searched in the hedge and there it was, an old discarded smoke alarm. Some inconsiderate person had chucked it in the hedge and it was beeping to warn the battery was low. I couldn't believe this small item could cause so much disruption to our little row of houses. Last night when I woke up I managed to get straight back to sleep. It's strange how the noise of traffic never disturbs me but one different little noise could keep me awake half the night.

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Tired Of London Tired Of Life... the saying goes. Well I am definitely not tired of life but I have thought a lot lately am I tired of London and yesterday's post has made me wonder. Where we were the other day was so peaceful and beautiful but most of London is not like that now. I worked in Piccadilly Circus for two years in the 1970s and it was among the most fun times of my life but it has changed so much since those days I barely recognise it. We used to be popping in and out all the time up to several years ago and I loved it but in the last few years, mainly because of circumstances. less and less and now I find it so busy I can't really be bothered. I loved our day out on Tuesday but really I would be happy with just five or six days a year now not every week or two as we used to and if I never went inside a shop again it would be too soon. Victoria station was packed and everyone just barges into you, no one makes eye contact at all. Even the pigeons look stressed! It is really sad.

   My youngest daughter's boyfriend lives in East London and are they are in and out several times a week. Last year I went with my eldest daughter and Scarlett for a day out with them. I was planning the route when my daughter's boyfriend said "Let me help" and took the map."My station isn't even on this map and what does British Rail mean?" Oh dear I put it away trying to keep my thumb over the 1984 printed on the side! I think this sums up the problem really I'm not keeping up with the changes.  
  We spent the day rushing behind my youngest daughter and her boyfriend while he called out instructions, left here, right here, tap your oyster card here, to the underground, the overground (I resisted the urge to start singing Wombling Free!)  right to the lift, left to the exit, tap your oyster card again. I was exhausted and was starting to feel like an old person out with my carer!
   Next they decided to show us the new Stratford Shopping Centre, by this point I kept looking enviously at Scarlett who had fallen into an exhausted sleep in her pushchair. We sat and drank our coffee whilst he told us of all the school friends of his who had lost their homes when they "regenerated" the area around Stratford in the run up to the Olympics in 2012. I looked at this awful shopping centre and felt like crying for them. As they were both going out for the evening at the end of the day, youngest daughter's boyfriend wrote instructions of how to get home on a paper serviette. My eldest daughter and I still managed to get lost and we were so relieved to get home at about 8 o'clock. Luckily Scarlett had been as good as gold all day.
   The next day youngest daughter's boyfriend asked me how I had enjoyed the shopping centre. "It was very tiring" I said. "Yes you can walk for miles in these places" he said. I hope I didn't sound ungrateful when I replied "When I walk miles from now on it's going to be across a field with my dogs next to me" That was the first time and hopefully the last I will ever set foot into a big shopping centre! Maybe the problem lies with me and I am just yearning for the past but maybe I am just getting tired of London.

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Champagne And Afternoon Tea

As I was recovering from surgery on Mother's Day my eldest daughter booked a special treat for me a couple of months ahead. Yesterday we went to The Bentley Hotel in Knightsbridge for champagne and afternoon tea. The sun shone and it was one of the nicest days I have had for such a long time.
   I really feel London is home for me, even though I was born in Yorkshire and have lived in Liverpool,  Leicester and Surrey, London feels like home. I moved into a London Borough at 18 and that is where I have stayed.and have loved it.  In the past few years though I have been getting a bit sick of it all, the constant traffic, noise and the joy of a living by a station half an hour away for central London is starting to wear a bit thin, but yesterday I loved every bit of it.
   We caught the train to Victoria then the underground to Gloucester Road and had a little look around Knightsbridge. We had intended to go to Harrods but were worried about running out of time so decided we would go another time. When I used to go into London with my Mum, Dad and sister in the 1960s we would often look around Harrods. The part of the store that made the biggest impression on me was the pet department. They famously sold lion cubs, baby elephants and panthers. I never remember anything so exotic when we visited but I do remember staring for ages at a young fox in a cage. It looked at me so sadly I was heartbroken for days. Thankfully the pet department is now closed else I would probably be rescuing every animal in there!
  We walked round to The Bentley Hotel and it was in a lovely old square, the type of London square I just love with communal gardens and old houses. They have balconies that look as if they are in a scene from the old musical film Oliver. The Bentley Hotel is stunning.

Just look at the toilets!

 This looks like a gentleman's drawing room. 

There is even a Grand Piano at the bottom of the stairs.

Today was an afternoon tea to remember for years.

    I told my daughter, one day when I am old and if I ever I am in an old peoples home, I will get yesterday out of the part of my brain put aside for special memories and look over it and smile. It was a day I will always remember.

Monday, 14 May 2018

A Tiny Little Time Warp

 Tom wasn't working today so we popped over to see my Dad this morning and asked him if he would come with us at the weekend to pick up our caravan. He is a caravan expert from all those years of caravaning when we were little and to be honest Tom and I are total novices. The tow bar is being fitted on Thursday and I am starting to panic as we have no idea how to do any of this, I have visions of our beautiful little caravan flying off on the motorway! So my Dad is coming to make sure it is securely hitched up and then we are driving to my eldest son's yard where it is going to be stored. Then more worries, I am terrified a bus or a coach is going to damage it while they are driving in and out and I must have asked my son a thousand times if it will be in a safe corner. I don't know how he is so patient with me!
   The man we are buying the caravan from was telling us everywhere he goes people are coming over and asking if they can look inside as it is such a 1970s time warp and he said he could only sell it to someone like us who would keep it that way. For years I have joked I would love to open a little museum to display all my retro collectables and now is my chance. We have decided we are only going to have genuine 1970s items in it so we can show any one who asks to look inside with pride. I have so many items it is a case of which to choose! Here are a couple of items I have put aside for our evenings sitting outside. 70's living here we come!

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Who Needs Crème Fraîche

On my post a couple of day's ago Sally made a couple of really interesting comments about Home Economics lessons at school that really set me thinking. The cookery lessons at the time taught the basics for example how to peel potatoes and how to make pastry but they also taught nutrition. I don't think these basic skills are on the curriculum for most young people today. A little while ago my youngest son was complaining that a friend of his was learning to cook "It's Crème Fraîche this and Crème Fraîche that" he said "He's driving me up the wall, please can you teach me to cook and what even is Crème Fraîche?" "I have no idea" I replied "but don't worry you don't need any of that." I don't think it is any coincidence that the more fancy recipes that are on TV the less people are cooking from scratch. According to a recent study the average British family now spends £1320 a year on fast food buying 12 meals a month and 25-34 year olds are the biggest consumers spending as much as £2626 a year on fast food. These statistics seem incredible to me as we don't spend anywhere near this amount but apparently these are the figures!
  I decided I'm not doing my son any favours in cooking for him all the time so I searched out this old book.

   Yes I still have it, my old Home Economics book. Oh dear I feel a bit guilty I probably should have given it back in, but I doubt there are many old school books that have had as much use as this one. It is full of basic recipes such as fish pie, beef stew and even really basic skills such as how to bake potatoes or cook green vegetables. There are also chapters on nutrition and how much we need of these nutrients each day. It is all so simple I wonder why on earth the backs of food packets looks so complicated.
   Every week we have decided we will cook one recipe together and I'm hoping it will give him the same basic grounding in cooking that I gained from it. "Experts" differ in how many recipes they think people should be able to cook from scratch but I think if I can give my son 10-15 meals he can cook, then that should stand him in good stead for the rest of his life, and not an ounce of Crème Fraîche in sight!

Saturday, 12 May 2018

Live Every Day As If It Was Your Last

This was exactly what I told Tom we should do this week. We have been saving for a camper van for a long time now and I was starting to worry we would never manage to get the full amount. None of  us know what is a round the corner and I don't want to waste any more time. So we decided to lower our sights and buy a small caravan instead. Today we went to put a deposit on a perfect 1978 retro caravan. So untouched by the years I expected to hear John Travolta singing Sandy as we were looking around it. I realised it wasn't lowering our sights at all, it was beautiful. I loved our caravan holidays as a child and still have this little model caravan and car my sister and I used to play with as children, always hoping the day would come when I would enjoy days like that again.

When I returned this evening I saw the news from a blogger Sue, who I so enjoy following, that her husband Col has died yesterday following a long battle with cancer. I was so so sad. The dignity and cheerfulness they had shown dealing with this situation was quite humbling. When I got my thyroid cancer diagnosis I thought of them and hoped I could show the same bravery. Even though my treatment seems to have gone very well as I said before none of know what is around the corner. We must not waste any of the time we have in our precious, precious lives as Sue and Col definitely didn't.  My thoughts and prayers are with Sue her children and grandchildren today.

Friday, 11 May 2018

I Love Shopping Baskets!

Not using plastic carrier bags is a pleasure for me. I have a selection of lovely fold up material shopping bags, one with little dogs on given to me by my eldest daughter and a pretty floral one given to me by my Mum. I also have my Mum's shopping bag she used all the time for years. In the days before anyone was really worried about the use of plastic my Mum was far to stylish to be seen around with a supermarket plastic bag! I love having this bag but I don't use it though, I just get it out to look at it every now and again.
  My real love though is shopping baskets. I found this pretty one at our charity saleroom for £1. I put it up for sale on ebay and after a couple of weeks said to myself "Oh dear. that hasn't sold" and quickly took it off to keep!

   I love using it but I'm terrified to put anything heavy in it in case it gets damaged. Thinking about something for heavy items I remembered a shopping basket that lots of old ladies would have when I was a small child.

    How could I have forgotten these? I remember they used to have little rain covers on top to keep your shopping dry on wet days. I even remember seeing old ladies pushing their little dogs in them. I wonder if one might be a step too far, even for me, but I'm sure Cassie would enjoy trips to the shops! This is the type I used to take to school every Monday morning with my Home Economics ingredients in. We would drop them off in the "H.E. Room" so they would be ready for our lesson later in the day. There would be about twenty of them lined up. Then after the lesson it would be used to bring home what ever culinary delight we had made.

So not using plastic carrier bags is definitely not a hardship for me. I wonder if I am alone in my nostalgia for shopping baskets.

Saturday, 28 April 2018

Living Happily

The other day I was talking to my youngest son and he was telling me he belongs to an online group of young people who were a child of the 1990s. He told me there was a recent poll asking what was the silliest thing you believed as a child that you now know isn't true. He said "Guess what the top vote by a mile was." I guessed all the obvious things like Father Christmas or the Tooth Fairy but he told me no, top of the poll by a large margin was that they would grow up to be happy. I could have cried. What has happened to our young people, I feel so sorry for them. Large student debts, no hope of buying a home and struggling to find a job in the field they studied in and obviously a cynical attitude fueled by social media!
  Everyone has bad times and feel down I told him but if you can not dwell on the bad bits and take pleasure in all the little things around you in life then in the end they merge into one and your overriding memory of the day is happiness. I think everyone rushes about and doesn't notice little things like wild flowers in the hedge, the birds singing or beautiful sunsets.
   W. H. Davies wrote this poem called Leisure in 1911 so even in those days rushing about must have seemed like a problem.

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

   I am lucky as I was constantly being told to look at a beautiful things when I was a child. I remember walking back from the shops with my sister and my Mum looking in hedges at the birds building their nests and standing for ages listening to them singing. I think it is a skill that probably has to be taught and it is even harder to learn it now when people drive everywhere, even for short distances and with all that is going on around us. The other day I walked back from the shops through the local churchyard and stood for about ten minutes looking at the bluebells and wildflowers. I could hear bees buzzing and birds singing, it was beautiful. Only one person walked past me while I was there and he had headphones on and was looking at his phone while he walked, only looking up to glance at me suspiciously as I "loitered" in the churchyard. I'm not knocking technology completely though as I took these photos on my phone while I was there.

  I have looked back at these photos with pleasure and wish I had photos looking in the hedges with my Mum. This weekend, even though it is raining I'm definitely going to take time to "Stop and stare". Otherwise it's easy to write the day off as just a wet miserable day and more important than that I'm going to keep encouraging my family to do so. 

Friday, 13 April 2018

Watch Out There's A Humphrey About!

On my post a few weeks ago about cutting back on the use of plastic bottles, Gill made a really good comment about using a milkman again. I hadn't really thought about this but have been looking in to it. Coincidentally there was an item on the news the other night about the increase in doorstep deliveries of milk in glass bottles. I think this is wonderful news as I'm sure that these small changes will put pressure on supermarkets to change their habits as they will not want to lose custom.
  Tom and I used to always have milk delivered but then in the early 90s we moved close to Asda and it seemed a bit pointless. We have moved again since then but always pop into out local Co-op for our milk. I haven't seen a milkman in our area for years, so was surprised to see when I put our postcode into the Milk & More website, that Chris delivers to our area on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday. One pint of semi skimmed milk is 81p which is quite a bit more expensive than in the Co-op but thinking about our poor farmers, I always feel guilty about the cheap price of milk in the Co-op anyway, so I ordered two pints of milk to be delivered on Friday. In my mind I was already thinking about searching for one of those little holders that my Mum used to put out for the milkman, with a dial to say how many pints we would like today. This morning I woke up several times approaching dawn trying to hear that lovely nostalgic noise of the electric milk float approaching and the clink of the glass bottles. While lying there nostalgically thinking about milk deliveries I remembered a milk advertising campaign in the 1970s and I wonder if anyone else remembers it.

   It was a very clever campaign, we took it up at school singing the song and I remember stickers everywhere. This brilliant advert may help you remember it.

    I must have gone back to sleep and had somehow missed the sound of Chris arriving as when I got up there were two bottles of milk on the doorstep. How easily pleased I am, it seemed thrilling. I am definitely going to make a regular order on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. I know what I will be looking out for this weekend at the car boot sales, one of those little milk holders with a dial on the side!

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Showing Respect To The Elderly

    There have been a few instances recently which have made me realise the lack of respect shown to old people. Of course it is not from everyone but there is always someone who sees them as a person to be ignored, patronised or even taken advantage of in their now frail state. My Mum, who looked years younger than her age, did't tell anyone how old she was, she said people treated you differently when they found out. I always say if I am lucky enough to live to be 90 I'm going to throw a party and go out proudly wearing a badge saying "I Am 90" , but maybe she had the right idea. 
   I remember an incident at a car boot sale that was an illustration of this lack of regard. I spotted this painting on the floor in front of a table and loved it. It is a watercolour of an old lady. I paid the £4 the seller asked for it and as I was walking away the seller said "I'm surprised I sold that today as she is so ugly." "I think she's lovely" I replied. I was really shocked by his comment. 

She has been on the wall on out landing since then and when ever I walk past her I look at her face and think what kind eyes she has. She looks as if she has had a life full of love and experience. How could that man think she was ugly. Then it struck me it's because she is old and that is what so many people see. When I was a student nurse in the late 1970s I worked on a geriatric ward and the ward sister was a fantastic woman. Old school, but kindness itself to the old people in her care. Under her direction we worked and worked all day to give the old people the best quality of care they could possibly of had. Looking back now I realise how good this ward was. Every new student nurse was given a copy of this poem to read and keep.It made an enormous impression on me. I think maybe it should be compulsory reading for every young person.

An Old Lady's Poem

What do you see, nurses, what do you see?
What are you thinking when you're looking at me?
A crabby old woman, not very wise,
Uncertain of habit, with faraway eyes?
Who dribbles her food and makes no reply
When you say in a loud voice, "I do wish you'd try!"
Who seems not to notice the things that you do, and
Forever is losing a stocking or shoe.....
Who, resisting or not, lets you do as you will,
With bathing and feeding, the long day to fill....
Is that what you're thinking?
Is that what you see?

Then open your eyes, nurse; you're not looking at me.
I'll tell you who I am as I sit here so still,
As I do at your bidding, as I eat at your will.
I'm a small child of ten ....with a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters, who love one another.
A young girl of sixteen, with wings on her feet,
Dreaming that soon now a lover she'll meet.
A bride soon at twenty -- my heart gives a leap,
Remembering the vows that I promised to keep.
At twenty-five now, I have young of my own,
Who need me to guide and a secure happy home.
A woman of thirty, my young now grown fast,
Bound to each other with ties that should last.

At forty, my young sons have grown and are gone,
But my man's beside me to see I don't mourn.
At fifty once more, babies play round my knee,
Again we know children, my loved one and me.
Dark days are upon me, my husband is dead;
I look at the future, I shudder with dread.
For my young are all rearing young of their own,
And I think of the years and the love that I've known.
I'm now an old woman ...and nature is cruel;
'Tis jest to make old age look like a fool.
The body, it crumbles, grace and vigour depart,
There is now a stone where I once had a heart.

But inside this old carcass a young girl still dwells,
And now and again, my battered heart swells.
I remember the joys, I remember the pain,
And I'm loving and living life over again.
I think of the years ....all too few, gone too fast,
And accept the stark fact that nothing can last.
So open your eyes, people, open and see,
Not a crabby old woman; look closer ...see ME!!

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Fighting Stomach Bugs And Trying To Declutter

   Overnight on Friday my youngest son and I caught the stomach bug that has been going round our family. Our youngest daughter caught it first, probably from one of the disabled children she looks after she thought, then my eldest daughter, her partner and Scarlett. I have been obsessively washing my hands and my youngest daughter's boyfriend, who was so worried as they were away staying in a hotel by the O2 Arena this weekend as part of a birthday treat for a friend, had taken to wearing a surgical mask around the house! (They are both a bit eccentric!) Tom who has so far escaped it was at work on Saturday so my youngest son and I were reduced to texting each other to see if we were ok as we were too weak to leave our sick beds. By Sunday I felt a little better but still could not eat and was not up to doing anything. It was miserable. When my youngest daughter and her boyfriend returned on Sunday evening he was looking ever so pale and had been sick all Saturday night too. Obviously obsessive hand washing or wearing a surgical mask make no difference. Tom has still escaped it and my eldest son is refusing to come round until the danger has passed!
  Yesterday I felt a little better so after I packed up my ebay sales, which are going along quite nicely, I sorted through another couple of boxes from the loft. I had really intended to sort out and sell lots of the items on ebay but I'm hopeless. I have read on declutter advice websites that if you haven't used an item for six months then get rid of it as you will probably never use it again. Six months! How about thirty years. You have to remember I am the daughter of a man who keeps a Second World War bayonet and bakelite old style three pin plugs in the back of the garage "Just in case" . Every item I feel nostalgic about and smile when I remember using them. In fact even worse I feel so nostalgic at the moment I keep thinking I won't put this back I'll keep it down or that may be useful. As the loft is looking emptier the house is getting fuller! One of the items I found which I can't bear to put back up is this little Amanda Jane doll.

   I loved her as a child and took her everywhere, She has a whole wardrobe of outfits and enough shoes to make Imelda Marcos envious. People are asking £5 per dress on ebay and £35 for a doll but I can't bear to part with her. I have found this photo of her with my sister and I on a caravan holiday, as I said I took her everywhere!

   I remember we were writing this postcard to my Grandad from Liverpool as he used to have a little white poodle just as we did. "Get Rid Of Your Junk!" the declutter websites tell us, well sorry I don't have junk just treasured possessions. I'll find a pretty vintage tin to store her in, she won't take up much room You see it's all an attitude of mind.

Friday, 6 April 2018

Coping With Hair Loss

When I was told I had thyroid cancer one of the first things that worried me was having chemotherapy and losing my hair. I hope that doesn't sound shallow but I did think I would hate it. I know I would have coped and probably cracked jokes about it, but I did worry. However when the treatment was explained to me, I will be having Radioactive Iodine therapy. I may be radioactive for a week and my family joke I will glow in the dark when I walk the dogs but it is just swallowing a tablet, being in isolation for a while and maybe suffering nausea. The worst thing I can think of for me is loneliness as I miss my family so much when I am away from them.
  Today I have learned that my cousin's daughter in law is shaving her head as she has lost half of her hair in a very short time. This is not because of chemotherapy but due to auto immune disease. The hair loss has been very rapid. Chloe is a beautiful young woman, the sort of beautiful young woman who would still look beautiful bald, but I bet she doesn't feel like that in low moments. The way she has coped, with dignity and humour, is really humbling. Chloe is trying to raise money for Alopecia UK. Anyone who has been affected in any similar way by the same condition may like to read her story here.
  It has been a beautiful day today and my youngest daughter and her boyfriend met friends for the afternoon in St James's Park. On the weather forecast this evening they said it was one of the warmest places in London at 17°C Lucky them. We managed to take the dogs for a walk in the local park this evening . There was a beautiful sunset while we were there I really hope that is the promise of another lovely day tomorrow.

Thursday, 5 April 2018

A Feeling Of Organisation

  A few years ago I broke our slow cooker. It was only small and I had bought it for a couple of pounds at a car boot sale but it was really useful and I used it all the time. I have been on the look out for the right one ever since. It  must be larger than our last one and have a retro look to it to fit in our kitchen. Finally a couple of weeks ago we found this one for £10.

    I am really pleased with it. It has a removable casserole dish to serve at the table and is big enough to fit a large meal in. I buy reduced meat in the evening in the Co-op and then put it on low in the morning with some vegetables. When I come in after a day or afternoon out, there is nothing nicer to open the front door to, than the smell of a nice meal already cooking. It has given me a real feeling of organisation even if it is not always the case!
  Today Tom was off and we were looking after Scarlett so I got up early and put chicken and vegetables in the slow cooker for everyone's evening meal. We had a lovely day and as it was beautifully sunny we spent hours in the local park showing Scarlett the ducks, geese and even the two local herons. 

   We had walked such a long way and when she was finally taken home by my eldest daughter we just flopped down with a cup of tea. All I could think was the meal was already being cooked and I was so tired. Yes I definitely love my new slow cooker.

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