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.

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Who Remembers 1961?

   A few weeks ago I bought a pile of old negatives and some old cine films from our local charity saleroom. I often buy old negatives at car boot sales as they are very cheap and I have a light box to copy them and a programme to publish them as photographs again. I can't tell you what an exciting moment it is when a picture, that has been forgotten for years, jumps into life again and I have made some fantastic finds this way. I have two websites one about the First World War and one social history site where I store all the photos I find for people to view. I always try to reunite these photos with family members. I had often thought about adding videos made from old cine films and decided with these very cheap films it was worth a try. I sent the film with March-May 1961 written on it to a company who transfers the film onto DVD, they only charges £7.99 for any length of film which seemed very reasonable. It was worth every penny.
   I spent the afternoon watching the old films. It was so evocative of when I was a young child I couldn't believe it. It brought back memories so clearly of my sister and I playing when we were young and I remembered images that were somewhere in the back of my mind but forgotten. I'm gradually editing all the films and adding them to my website. Every little scene on their tricycles and scooters and running along with Grandma and Grandad will be saved. There are old cars, buses and even film taken hanging out of trains as they travel along. When it is all completed I will add a link so anyone who loves a little bit of social history can enjoy them too. The saddest feeling for me is that they have ended up out of the family and just lying in a box in a charity shop. I would be so happy if I could reunite them with family. Here is a short clip of the children with their grandparents at the fair. I hope anyone else who feels nostalgic about the 1960s enjoys it.

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Walking In The Rain

   We seem to have spent a lot of the time doing just that over the weekend. Not that I'm really complaining as I am enjoying these lighter evenings and we have been able to take the dogs to the park every evening in the last week. It's a lovely feeling to know we have months of evening walks in the light ahead of us. On Sunday we took the dogs to Epsom Downs and the rain held off while we walked for miles around the the edge of the racecourse.

   Little Cassie runs and runs to keep up with Bud our Border Collie. The ground was really wet after all the rain and because she is so close to the ground and needs a trim very badly by the end of the walk she frankly looked like a tatty little drowned rat! I felt embarrassed walking back through the car park with her. So yesterday was bath and trim day. She hates going to the dog groomers and I have to drag her in. They are all very nice there but I only have to walk towards the door and I can feel her little heart pounding in her chest. So this time I borrowed my youngest sons beard trimmer and tidied her up myself. It may not be quite as good as them but at least she wasn't stressed and it saved us £25.

  We also managed to fit in our first car boot sale of the year at Dorking which was very successful for building up my Ebay and Etsy stock and I came home with carrier bags full of bargains. This was my favourite find.

    It's a battery operated "Cheerful Dachshund" that walks and barks. It is perfect and looks as it it has never been played with. I think it is from the 1960s. Another find I made is this Wedgwood Jasper Ware pin tray with a panda eating bamboo. Jasper Ware is pretty common when you are out and about but I have never seen this subject on one before.

  And finally something I am going to keep for myself is this hip flask I bought for 40p. I have cleaned it out well with boiling water and I'm going to take it with me on days out as a water bottle in my quest to cut down on plastic. 

   My youngest son laughed when he saw it "You can't drink out of that when you are out Mum, people will think you have taken to day time drinking." he said. Well I'm not bothered what people think and maybe on one of those rainy walks with the dogs a little tot of something isn't a bad idea!

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