Thursday, 31 October 2019

We Have Walked Miles and Miles

Yesterday was such a lovely sunny day. We like taking all the dogs in the back of the car and they have a run through the woods not far from us. However a few times a week we take them individually for a walk. Especially for the two youngsters it is important they walk on the lead with good manners and they still need lots of practise. I took out Tess for a nice long walk and Tom took Layla. We went in different directions as they are terrible for concentrating on each other and not us.
 Before lunch I took out Bud our thirteen year old Border Collie. We were walking along and I could tell he was just doing it to please me. He has suddenly aged so much. In the summer he was walking two miles easily but it has got harder and harder. We had promised ourselves that when he got to this age we would not allow him to be pulled around by vets in his last months. We had a terrible experience with an old beagle once who was operated on twice and had so many tests at the vets all to prolong his life by two months that I'm sure were misery for him and I still feel guilty about it. Vets seem very happy to do this to old dogs but we have decided it is not happening to Bud.
    I looked down at Bud walking next to me so loyally. To me he is the best dog in the world. He looked up at me with his eyes now cloudy but still so filled with love and I knew from all my experience owning dogs all my life he has not much longer to live. "We've walked miles and miles together haven't we Bud." I said and he wagged his tail. "Haven't we had fun?" I just walked to the end of the road and back home where I settled him on his folded duvet near the heater. We are giving him his favourite foods and going to take him for short walks if he can manage it. He will be loved and cared for and  we will keep him with us looking after him until the end. It is what he deserves after all he has given to us in thirteen years which is immeasurable.


Wednesday, 30 October 2019

For The Love Of Poodles!

    Yesterday I travelled over to meet my sister and we went to see my Dad as he had a doctor's appointment which showed everything is still improving. After the appointment we took my dad shopping. It is very hard to watch how much the stroke has affected his mobility but it is improving so we have to stay as upbeat as possible about it all. I'm really getting to find my way around Marks and Spencer food now. We rarely buy food from Marks and Spencer as it is expensive but one thing that has really struck me about this store near my Dad is how much they reduce the food after about 4pm. I had to travel home on the train so couldn't buy too much but I got two delicious looking stuffed peppers for 70p and an enormous tray baked chocolate cake that was £6.50 reduced to £1.50. They will be past their sell by dates when we are still eating them but that never bothers us as long as the food looks fine.
  One thing I have noticed a lot where my Dad lives is how many beautiful little poodle mix dogs there are. It's strange how dogs come in fashions and dog ownership has changed. In the 1960s I remember that dogs were all called names like Whisky, Brandy, Rex and even Rover. Non of the gender specific dog names of today. Dogs often wandered about all day and then returned home to their owners in the evening. I don't think dog wardens existed and the lack of traffic on the roads mean't that they were relatively safe to wander. Our little poodle Whisky however was far to precious to us to allow her to wander about. She was the original pampered pooch.
    In the 1960s poodles were everywhere! There were poodle ornaments, poodle china, poodle toys, plastic poodles and even poodle headscarves. All clipped in different cuts, there was a poodle parlours in every town. Whisky was as pretty as a poodle could possibly be with her little "lion cut". I was so proud as a child walking her about. She would go on all our holidays with us at a time when dogs were allowed to go in so many more places than now. Every holiday snap has her little face looking up at the camera. I took this photo with a little Box Brownie camera that used to belong to my Mum. We were on holiday in Devon at the time, obviously with not a single car on the road.

     Now all these years later I can't help but stop and talk to poodle owners when I'm out and about. These days pedigree poodles are not nearly as common as they were, they all seem to be poodle crosses ending in oodle or poo. I'd love another poodle one day but in the meantime I make do with poodle collectables from the 1960s. I bought this poodle print in the local charity saleroom. It reminded me so much of Whisky.

I couldn't resist this kitsch poodle ornament I found at a car boot sale. Any poodle lover out there would just love to own this! 

  Dogs certainly don't wander about now, which of course is much better and safer but around us the in thing is "doggy day care" ! I'm not sure if this is progress or not!
   It's a lovely sunny day here and Tom is off work. We have lots to get on with as I have planned a move around in the house. I love a good furniture move almost as good as a house move but without the stress. I hope everyone has a lovely day what ever you are doing. xx

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Family Coincidences

It was a lovely sunny start to the day yesterday. Scarlett came over at 7 and it's so lovely now that she can tell me little things that have happened to her during the previous week. As the weather forecast said it was going to cloud over later, after breakfast we wrapped up and walked down to the ponds to feed the birds. It was very cold first thing and really felt like autumn was well and truly here.

  We cut through the cemetery on the way home, which was beautiful in the autumn colours. If there is another day of bright sunshine I think I may go back to take more photos before winter arrives.

   I have been tracing my family tree, but in the last few years because of lack of time it had ground to a halt a bit, until recent months. One of the most coincidental things I have found out is that my 4x Great Grandmother Judith was born in 1791 in the village we live in now. She was baptised in the church I walk past almost every day. The village now forms part of a London borough but in those days it must have been tiny. By 1812 at 20 years old Judith was an unmarried mother applying for relief from the parish and naming a local man Nicholas Mustilsillan as the father of her child. Now there's an alias if ever I heard one! The next reference I can find is 9 years later having left her young daughter in the care of her brother and his wife, she married a naval officer in South Africa who came from a very well to do family. How on earth did that happen? It is definitely her as in an obituary in a newspaper in Simonstown dated 1831 there is a reference to where she was born. 
   One of her sons settled in Liverpool many years later which is where my family are from. I doubt I will ever know what happened in those 9 years to cause her to travel to South Africa, but the other fact that has come to light in my research is that her grandparents, my 6x Great Grandparents are buried somewhere in this graveyard I cut through with Scarlett. I always found this a beautiful peaceful place and sometimes I wonder now if that is why. 
   I think it's going to be cloudy here today but hopefully no rain. I hope everyone has a lovely day what ever you are doing. xx

Monday, 28 October 2019

Retirement, Pensions And Happiness

 I had a brilliant time on Saturday night with my old school friends out on the South Bank. We talked and laughed non stop for hours. Reminiscing, talking about what we are doing, talking about families. We didn't stop. One thing that we talked about a lot was out plans for retirement which is fast approaching. We all have taken very different career paths and some of the group are much better off financially than others. I have never, ever bothered about whether people have more money than me. I am very happy with my lot in life so I don't care. The wealthiest most "successful" man there, who works in banking, was horrified at some of our retirement plans. I'm not retiring until I'm 65 he said "Can't afford to I've got too many outgoings and need to earn more for my pension pot." He looked pale, grey and old. I felt sad for him remembering the fun, bright youngster at school. He was advising some of the other men on ways to invest money for the best possible income. I could catch bits of the conversation "risky but high returns" kept cropping up. I felt like saying "Are you mad?".but felt it was far to rude to say to someone I only see a couple of times a year.
  At the end of the night, one of the men, who is probably one of the most cheerful people you could meet, and I caught the train home together as we live close by. He was full of his family, his grandson, his life and how happy he is. He told me he kept quiet in the pension conversation as he doesn't have a private pension. He laughed, as long as I pay off  my mortgage and I have my family I will be happy. Some people may think I have done things wrong but never mind. I looked at him and thought how could anyone think he has done things wrong.
  I know we all need to be able to survive, and poverty in old age is no fun, but will all that extra money above what we need to live realatively comfortably really bring that much more happiness? I suppose time will tell!
  It was a really lovely day yesterday and I took Tess to the park to clear my head after such a late night. It was a beautiful autumn day and I thought no amount of money could buy this sort of day.

   I know lots of people may disagree with me but sometimes I think it's easy to be always striving for happiness in the future and not noticing it when it is right there every day. I hope everyone has a lovely day with a bit of brightness in it. xx

Saturday, 26 October 2019

Woolworth's Photo Booths - The Selfies Of The 1970s

 In all the photos I have in my old albums the ones that make me smile almost the most are ones from photo booths. There has been so much in the news about the way young people are always taking selfies. According to some people they are a sign of self obsession, vanity and even that they have nothing better to do with their lives. Poor teenagers all they are doing is trying to fit in with other young people as young people always have. I think the main problem lies with older people who have forgotten what it was like to be young. In the 1970s we had our own selfies, they were called the Woolworth's photo booth! 
  On Saturday mornings we would often head off to Woolworths in Epsom and have our photo taken. It was nearly always with a friend and we would share out the photos. 50p for a lifetime of memories! Some days there would be lots of us and we would jump in and out of the booth in the few seconds between flashes to change places. It would be the cause of much hysterical laughter and loud tutting from older people shopping in Woolies at the time. This is me and my friend Janet in 1974.

   We even had them taken on days out at the coast. Never mind photos on the beach at Brighton or Littlehampton we would head to the local Woolworths for memories of the day!
   I remember this colour photo so clearly. We had heard there was a brand new colour photo booth opened in Woolworths in Croydon. We set off on the old 470 London Country route to West Croydon which took about an hour, just to get our photos taken. I still have this precious photo although being at the back I'm not quite sure if it was worth the long journey!

 This final photo I have, I remember having taken to send to my new penpal and I eagerly awaited her photo in return. Much more fun than facebook! I remember I had got my hair cut and really wanted to look like Suzi Quatro. 

  So I say to young people, enjoy your selfies. One day in the future your descendants will be saying "Wasn't Great Granny lovely." Enjoy the moment in history.
   I'm off later today to meet my old school friends for an evening out no doubt for a bit more nostalgia about the 1970s. So if you're up near the Thames tonight and you see a group of 60 year olds (nearly!) acting like a crowd of 1970s teenagers that will be us. I hope everyone has a lovely weekend. Back blogging Monday, xx

Friday, 25 October 2019

How Could I Have Made Such A Mistake?

 The weather yesterday was dreadful. Heavy rain, thunder, I didn't feel like going out at all. I only found time to have one cup of coffee all morning and was feeling very thirsty as I left straight after a quick sandwich for a very early lunch. I'll have a cup of tea as soon as I get to my Dads I thought. When I was waiting at the station I had a chat with the man who works there. We always have a little joke and he gives me a countdown to how long it is until he retires!
  We didn't have time for a cup of tea when I got to my Dad's so decided we would have one when we came back. The appointment dragged on and on. We were all worn out waiting around all afternoon. The stroke nurse was so lovely, thorough and kind. she was very pleased with my Dad who is making good progress. As it was nearing five when my sister and I dropped my Dad off there was no time for a drink again. Oh well, I'll be home soon I thought as I rushed for my train, very pleased I had managed to catch the train to London Bridge which goes directly to my station so no changing or running about.
  To my horror I went straight through my station. Never mind I thought I'll get off at Croydon and come back. Straight through Croydon. It was only then I studied the little message going round and round on the roof of the carriage. "This train stops at London Bridge only". I nearly cried at the thought of the long journey I had into London in the rush hour and then the journey all the way back when I was so tired and thirsty! It was awful. It took all my determination to think to myself I can do one of two things, cry all the way into London, or accept what has happened and make the best of it. I chose the latter but I was very nervous an inspector would get on the train and want to know why I was gallivanting around the capital with a £4.90 ticket. I took this photo to try and brighten my spirits. Sunset over Anerley. Wherever Anerley may be!

 At London Bridge, which was packed, I got off the train to see how to get back home. I realised it was on the train I had just got off, which looked as if a crowd from a football match had emptied onto it. I had to stand all the way home. By the time I got off the train after 7pm, as parched as a crisp, it felt like a week since I had chatted to the man who worked on the platform. I had missed saying goodbye to youngest daughter going away for the weekend and I was totally miserable.
  A bit later though, after Tom had kindly made my evening meal and I had drunk a few cups of tea, I started to feel a bit better. Typical of us we laughed and laughed. It all seemed so funny when I was sitting in our cosy little living room. How could I have made such a mistake? I managed to catch the one fast London Bridge train of the day. I have got the journey to do again today but this time I'm going to be a bit more careful.
  I hope everyone has a fantastic day today with no mishaps. xx

Thursday, 24 October 2019

Remembering Summer And Preparing For Wildlife In Winter

  I had quite a few plans yesterday but youngest daughter is going away for the weekend to stay in an Airbnb with friends at the ExCel Centre in London and it was hair dying day which I was roped into, to help. You could not believe how long it takes. First there is the blonde bleach which has to be done twice as we always seem to miss a bit first time. Then it is what ever colour she is using. This time she is going pink, and that has to be done twice too and as her hair is long it seems to take hours. By the evening my hands were sore with being in and out of water all day, but she looks beautiful and bright so it was all worth it.
  In between the hair dying I thought I would tidy up the very end of the garden. It is the part that tends to be a bit neglected as we can't see it from the house. Last year I made it a little wildlife garden and made a small wildlife pond. The end of the garden is ankle deep in leaves at the moment and they have all fallen in the pond so I decided seeing my hands had been in water all day anyway I may as well clean that out. I loved it this year it was so peaceful and pretty up there sitting by our aviary. I take up a cup of coffee and sit and watch the birds.

  I doubt our little wildlife pond is  big enough to entice frogs and toads but at least it is a water supply for passing mammals and birds. I have planted a hawthorn  hedge, a butterfly bush and other bee friendly plants. I’m hoping it will pay off and all kinds of wildlife will visit. In my quest to use as many recycled items in the garden as possible I have used an old jam pan to make the pond. The wooden and metal chairs were bought at a charity sale for £5 each.

  The stones we have put around the pond were all dug up in our garden. Our house was built in 1908 on what had been a very old farm. When I looked on an old map of the area exactly where our house was farm buildings had stood and our road follows the line of the farm track.  Parts of the old walls of the farm buildings are still all around the garden. Whenever I dig up a piece I use it and display it. Comparing them to old walls on other local buildings I think they date back to the 18th century at least.

It looks much tidier up there now all the leaves have been swept up but not nearly as pretty as in the summer. I felt quite sad thinking there will be no sitting up there enjoying a cup of tea and a sandwich for months now, but at least with the bird feeders up there too it should be a little haven for the wildlife this winter.

   I have put together a video of the summer flowers that were in our garden, my Dad's garden and out and about this summer. When I'm feeling fed up with the cold wet weather I'll watch it and look forward to the summer flowers of next year. I hope you enjoy it.

 My Dad's appointment with the physiotherapist went very well yesterday and today we are taking him to see the specialist stroke nurse at her clinic. Good old NHS they are really looking after him well. Have a brilliant day what ever you are doing. xx

Wednesday, 23 October 2019

A Changing Street

  It was a lovely bright day yesterday even though I seemed to spend most of it running around. While we were over visiting my Dad my sister and I went to do some shopping for him as he hasn't been out yet since coming out of hospital. A few years ago a Marks and Spencer's was built in Ashtead which has been very useful for my Dad as they have a big selection of ready meals which are perfect for him.
  It has seemed strange spending so much time around the shops in the last week in the street that was my little area as a child. My sister and I would cycle up to the shops when we were very young and pop into the sweet shop or the newsagent to buy a comic. There was a little shop at the top of The Street called Nova that sold stationary and toys. We would go in to spend our pocket money and I can still remember the smell to this day. It felt so safe, there were no real restrictions for us as children or that is how it seemed.

Ashtead Street 1960s

   Marks and Spencer stands now where the petrol station is on the right but the biggest change is the traffic, it is so much busier along this road now and in the rush hour big lorry's are queueing to get onto the M25 just down the road. It certainly wouldn't be safe for young chilldren to cycle on now. I remember we protested and protested about the M25 in the 1970s but it made no difference. It was still built right across our school playing fields. Every time we drive onto the motorway I look down at the traffic and picture us lying on the hockey pitches on a sunny day listening to our little transistor radios. That's progress I suppose.
  I took this video just after Marks and Spencer opened as I wanted a record of how it had all changed. Maybe one day people will look at this and say wasn't it quiet.

My Dad was in fairly good spirits yesterday as the physiotherapist is coming today to assess how steady he is to get out and about again. Although he is concernend how forgetful he is after the stroke, there was a funny moment when we were all trying to remember something that happened and he said "Who's had the stroke here?" Oh dear, I am really going to have to work on some strategies to help my memory as I get older. 
  I have a day at home today so lots to catch up with. I hope everyone has a lovely day what ever you are doing. xx

Tuesday, 22 October 2019

Rescuing Toys From Landfill And Caring For Pets

It was a bit of a disappointing day yesterday as it hardly stopped raining. We had promised Scarlett that we would go to the playground and then take her to feed the ducks and the geese at the ponds which she loves but it was just too wet. I have a supply of toys I have bought at car boot sales for her and I try and get a different one out each week. This week I got out a Baby Annabelle crawling doll I bought for a £1 and she chose a new outfit for her from my bag of dolls clothes that I have acquired over the months. She loved her and it was definitely £1 well spent, especially considering they are £50 new. I think it is so important for little children to care for and show empathy for pets and Scarlett loves our dogs and cat but she is still a bit small to care for them so we get our little guinea pig Chip out for her to feed, stroke and gently brush which kept her amused until lunch time. But it was still raining so back to the stash of toys!

   I have often thought when I am at Jumble Sales and Car Boot Sales the world doesn't need any more dolls! I think there should be a slogan the same as for dogs "Adopt Don't Shop" Thousands of perfectly good dolls must end up at landfill every year. I can't resist those poor little unwanted toys at Jumble Sales and have lots I have fixed and put in new clothes which I  will either give to Scarlett or just give away now they are cleaned up .I enjoy fixing them and making them look as good as new again so don't really care if I don't make any money for them. A few years ago I bought this little doll for 50p at a car boot sale. 

     She was filthy but I managed to clean her up with upholstery cleaner . I bought her a little dolls baby grow for 20p and she looked perfect. I had intended to sell her but ended up keeping her for Scarlett as she is just the right size for her. She has turned out to be one of her most precious toys that she keeps on her pillow every night when she goes to bed. The little doll couldn't bring more pleasure if I had spent a fortune on her.

      After lunch, as she was so disappointed that we weren't going to feed the ducks I promised her we would wrap up and go to the local Charity Shop so she could choose some new books. She has a lot of lovely books already but it was more to make up for the disappointment . When we returned the rest of the afternoon was spent curled up on the sofa reading the new books which she loved. And so did I! Not quite the day we planned  but she seemed as happy as can be.
  The weather is a bit brighter today and I am off to see my Dad so hopefully there will be no problems on the trains. Have a lovely day what ever you are doing. xx

Monday, 21 October 2019

Give Me A Child Until He Is Seven ......

....and I will give you the man, or woman I suppose. I had never really given much thought to this saying other than regarding the TV programme "7 Up" but in the last year have thought of it often. Just over a year ago I posted a school photo in an old school group on facebook and asked people to tag themselves. Before we knew it a group of us from my year where back together chatting about school days. We were a very happy school year, not much of a bullying problem and generally a lot of laughs, I think we were lucky. We started a Watts App group and we have been chatting ever since. Rarely a day ever goes by without a few words to each other.
  A couple of us were at primary school together too but most of us met at 11 when we started at our local comprehensive. Things we thought long forgotten we have reminded each other of and strangley we are all quite similar people. Shared values from an era or a type of education, I'm not quite sure what it is but after 43 years apart we have managed to pick up where we left off. This is me just after I started at secondary school aged 11.

  I'm not sure what a pshycologist would make of our little group as there is one thing I am sure of we haven't really changed! The kind chatterbox little girl is a kind chatterbox woman, the shy girl who never pushed herself forward is just the same as a woman, the school maamish sensible girl is a school maamish sensible woman, the cheeky jokey pair of boys who were best friends are a pair of cheeky jokey men  who are best freiends, and so it goes on. We have all met up a few times and have had such a laugh.
  But the person who has amazed me most is the naughty boy! When I say naughty boy he was really naughty! Confident, good looking, he ruled the boys and was fancied by the girls. I shall call him Dave but that is not his name.  Likeable and funny but totally uncontrollable, it was a terrible mixture for the teachers to deal with. If any of the boys stepped out of line Dave would hold a meeting of his inner circle and a "beating up" would be organised. Terrible though this sounds, Dave hated bullying, and that would be a typical "crime" which I think is why it was so rare in our year. Any girl in our year that had a leaning towards bullying would hide these kinds of traits from him as they all wanted to look good infront of Dave.
  In our school the boys were caned, by the deputy head on a Monday morning as a punishment for any very bad behaviour the week before. It always done in front of the class a bit like a public execution. Dave was caned weekly as he made all the teachers lives hell. After a few light strokes for all the others, the deputy head would be purple with rage as he meeted out Dave's prolonged punishment. I can remember it still, at the end of the beating Dave would give the deputy head a dirty look and saunter back to his seat with a waft of Brut aftershave and a smirk for the class. It had definitely become a battle of wills. I can't remember what the final breaking point was but at just turned 15 he was expelled from the school with a final warning he would amount to nothing. How wrong those teachers were.
  He has nine lovely children he adores, and a successful business he honestly toils at all week to keep them in the style he wants them to be brought up in, which includes a swimming pool and a stableblock and yard adjacent to his house with numerous horses. When we are all out together I've noticed he is still the one who organises the rounds of drinks and when we eat. He is a larger than life man with the biggest, kindest heart you could meet. One thing he is adamant about though is he won't hear a word against the old deputy head, now long dead. "Lovely man, God bless him!" he says. "Made me the man I am today!".It's a strange world.
   Well it's the start of a new week, Scarlett will be here shortly for the day and as Tom is off we are going to take her out somewhere if this rain clears up. I hope everyone has a lovely day what ever you are doing. xx

Sunday, 20 October 2019

Sew Much Fabric, Sew Little Time

 That phrase just about sums me up. I'm always keeping little bits of fabric. I can't resist scouring jumble sale tables for pretty or retro fabrics. I have lots of fabrics and lots of ideas but never get started. It's not just lack of time though, I keep putting off the getting going. The other day when I went down to the Co-op I looked across at the little wool and sewing shop we are lucky enough to have in our local parade of shops and went in. All I needed was a new needle for my old sewing machine to get me going and that was it, it was bought. Yesterday afternoon I propped up my tablet and found a wonderful woman on youtube called Lizzie Lennard who has vintage sewing videos. She has a lovely voice that reminds me of a 1950s radio broadcaster. I easily followed her instructions on how to wind a Singer long bobbin and load the shuttle. See how easily the words come to me now! Thank you Lizzie.
  Once it was set up the mechanics of sewing came flooding back and I had a fun afternoon trying out my Victorian sewing machine. I cannot believe how well it works. All these years unused and every part of it still works. I tried it out on an off cut of 1950s style kitchen material and once the edges were hemmed, there it was a new tea towel. With just a bit more practise with the tension on the machine and I will get going on the new curtains for our caravan. Then matching cushion covers, more tea towels and a tablecloth. There are no boundaries to my imagination!

   I wonder what the woman who owned this in the 1890s when it was new would make of the things I am making now. I am sure she would be delighted it is being used all these years later. I have polished the wooden case until it shines. Now I have got it working I feel it is very important that while I am it's owner, I take the best care of it I can, as we are only really temporary custodians of possessions in life that have come our way.
 Tom was another late shift, so I had a chat with my eldest daughter on the phone as she had been over to see my Dad today and then settled down to listen to some music while I sorted through my piles of fabrics. Tom and I nearly always listen to music on a saturday night but he's not really a David Cassidy fan so I thought I may as well make the most of an evening on my own and work my way through some of my old LPs.
  So for all you David Cassidy fans out there here's a little reminder from the early 1970s. Have a great Sunday what ever you are doing. xx

Saturday, 19 October 2019

The Power Of Positive Thinking

I always think I am a very positive person. I try and be upbeat about things and never, ever dwell on negative thoughts. If they start to creep into my mind I get up and walk about and do things until they are gone. However the specialist stroke nurse who visited my Dad yesterday was a step beyond what most people could dream of in positive thinking. By the time she left after two hours of talking I think my Dad was starting to think he will be a healthier man after the stroke than before! A young Hungarian woman, she was kind, funny and straightforward. The day she left Hungary to come and work in this country was a good day for the NHS. It had been a complete pleasure to meet her and at the end of a stressful week she was just what we needed.
  Although it was even later when I arrived home yesterday evening and Tom had already left for work again I definitely felt brighter. Better weather is on the way. I may even be able to catch up with a bit of gardening and the dogs can have a few nice long walks. I have been admiring the crab apples this year on our little crab apple tree I bought in Morrisons a few years ago and may finally get round to picking them, if they haven't started to rot, and making some crab apple jelly.

  There is a big vote going on in parliament today, but I am just sick of it all. I'm going to get on with my little life and try not to turn the TV on. Have a great day everyone what ever you are doing. xx

Friday, 18 October 2019

A Long Day.

   I left home yesterday morning to go to visit my Dad again. He had a day of appointments, specialist nurses and physiotherapists. It was a busy day when he is still tired out from his stay in hospital. Although my Dad only lives about 7 miles away from me I have to get three trains to get there. It's a tedious journey swapping platforms and hoping I don't miss my connections. I was trudging up the stairs at Sutton station when I caught the eye of an old man next to me. He had a cockney accent you don't hear around as much now as he kindly said "It doesn't get any easier as you get older does it mate!" Oh dear, I better put a bit more of a spring in my step no matter how I feel!
  By the time I got back home yesterday evening Tom had left for work on a late shift and I couldn't really be bothered to catch up with any housework. After our evening meal I just sat and chatted with youngest son and daughter for a while about their day at work .It was nice to have a bit of family time. I spent the rest of the evening copying a box of slides I found at my Dad's house the other day. Some of them I have seen before but others are a a total surprise. It was a nice end to a long day. I had to share one of the photos as it made me smile so much.

This is my favourite, my sister and I at Chester Zoo in 1962. Weren't animals enclosed in zoos in those days and look at my little head scarf! The other photo which I loved was this one of my Dad building a model of The Cutty Sark also taken in 1962. 

  He was always building models when I was young and I remember this ship on the shelf at home for years. I loved finding it but for lots of reasons yesterday, it made me a mixture of happy and sad. I had a bit of a restless night listening to the rain and Tom getiing home as he wasn't in until 2am. This morning is a bit of a rainy dark start and I'm back to my Dad's house again, but no matter how bad the train journey is today I'm going to try and walk in a cheerful way! I hope everyone has a great day what ever you are doing. xx

Thursday, 17 October 2019

Protect And Preserve Family Treasures

I have so many items that have been given to me over the years from members of my family. Each one has a little story attached often that only I know or have been told. So many items we have found since my Mum died that she had carefully kept. Many we know just why she kept them or my Dad knows, but others we look at and wonder why our Mum, who was so tidy and organised carefully kept it. She may have told me years ago, but was I listening, obviously not?
  One item Mum gave me, that I know the history of, has been in our garden shed for probably twenty years. Years ago when I was very small we had my Grandma's copper kettle on display in our living room .Shining and bright Mum would tell us it was the kettle they used all her young life on the range where she lived. After church on a Sunday my Grandma would invite everyone in the bus queue in for a cup of tea to wait for the bus. The gleaming kettle would be boiling on the range whilst everyone sat and chatted about their village life. When my Mum and Dad married and copper kettles on ranges were no longer needed my Grandma gave it to my Mum and it was polished and admired for years with plants and dried flowers in. During this time the lid was lost but it still had pride of place.
  Over the years copper kettles went out of fashion and it was put away in their shed. Twenty years later my Mum gave it to me as I had such fond memories of it as a child. I tried to clean it but it was so tarnished and dented I gave up and it was put away in our shed. These last few years have changed my views of possessions so much. I have realised the only ones that matter are the treasured ones. I rescued it from the shed determined to clean it up.

  I thought it had really gone beyond the point of no return but bought some "Brass and Copper Bath" from Amazon. I followed the instructions and had to use all four sachets as I measured out so much water in an empty plastic storage box to cover it. 

When I took the kettle out it certainly didn't look as gleaming as the illustration on the box but it was much cleaner. I wiped it clean and then used Brasso. I have only cleaned it once and although it still has a long way to go I am very pleased with how it has started. I will keep cleaning it every few weeks until it improves more. Sadly the dents are all too obvious still but I shall put a trailing plant in it to cover the worst, 

  Maybe one day the fact I have recorded the memories of this kettle here will mean that this old dented kettle will be special to another member of the family. 

Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Routine, Routine, Routine

I feel as though in the last week I have been running non stop. I have been running up the hill to the nearby station every day and running down the hill to home at the end of each day. I have been at the mercy of signal failures, faulty trains and even suicides. The week has been stressful and worrying but one of the hardest things has been the lack of routine, I love my routines. Routines come and go, and I adapt quite quickly to new ones but I like to have one. Scarlett has been coming to our house on a Monday for nearly two years. Sometimes she comes on other days but always on a Monday. We have our little routine and we have such fun. This week as I was going to the hospital Scarlett didn't come and my whole week has been thrown into confusion. I know I will be muddled about what day it is all week until she comes again.
  We are conditioned into routines from an early age. Double Maths and double French on a Tuesday morning. I remember that awful year at school when I dreaded Tuesday mornings but can still remember the weight that was taken off me when the lunchtime bell rang. It took me a long time to forget that low feeling on a Tuesday when I opened my eyes.
  There was another day of the week at school though I remember the routine just as clearly but for completely different reasons. I know exactly what I would have been doing on Thursday mornings. Reading a Jackie magazine. I loved Jackie as did all my friends. Thursdays were eagerly awaited and I remember our Biology lesson, which was first period on Thursday, was always ignored while we sat on the back science lab bench reading every word of it. We poured over every problem in the Cathy and Claire page, answered all the questions in the quizzes about such important matters as "Am I the right girl for him?" and memorised every beauty tip. I still quote hair care advice I read at the time to this day. Even the boys in the class joined in and we would read out their horoscopes whilst they listened seriously. It's no surprise to say I failed my Biology 'O' Level miserably.

   We loved the photo love stories and the latest news on pops stars such as David Cassidy and Donny Osmond. In an age of no internet or social networking I think it made young girls feel connected and not so alone. I know I look back with very fond memories of my experience with the magazine. It's just a shame about the Biology 'O' Level!
    I'm hoping I may get back into a bit of my routine now. Today, hopefully, I will be at home all day to catch up. A bit of work, answer my emails, the usual bits of housework and then a job or two I have been thinking about doing for a while. Home routines can be very reassuring when you have had a lot of upheaval and I am looking forward to it despite the fact it's raining again.
   I hope you have a lovely day what ever you are doing. xx

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Happy Birthday 50p!

  Good news yesterday my Dad was discharged from hospital with some back up at home. He's not very happy to have outsiders coming in telling him what to do but is happy to be home with Millie who I swear was smiling when we left in the evening.
  Yesterday was also the 50th anniversary of the 50p coin. A very interesting young man with an enormous amount of knowledge of coins was talking on BBC Breakfast all about them. I found it fascinating as I had always loved collecting different coins. I have carefully hung onto this 50p from when we joined the European Union in 1973 and now find out there were nearly 90 million minted and are worthless. All these Beatrix Potter and Paddington Bear 50ps I'm hanging onto are probably a waste of time as they have had millions produced. The only one he said was worth looking out for was the 250th Anniversary of Kew Gardens which only has 210,000 produced and is now worth £70 to £80. I had one of these in my collection but it has disappeared.I probably bought a loaf of bread with it on a day I was short. I found him so interesting I was thinking about 50ps all day!

  Although I was excited when these new coins came were introduced in 1969, I quickly realised how much I missed the old 10 shilling notes. I would often get one in cards from my Grandad who lived in Liverpool. Birthdays and Christmas a lovely crisp 10 shilling note would fall out of my card and he would send one in a little letter when we went on holiday for spending money. I felt so rich with one in my purse, 50p coins just didn't feel the same. My Mum must have had the same feelings for them as we found these in her dressing table drawer.

 Our eldest son came round yesterday evening and we talked about his new flat which he should be moving in to in about four weeks. It is the bottom floor of a three storey Victorian terrace he bought back in May but it was a complete wreck that had been empty for over twenty years. Trees had grown right through the walls in the kitchen extension and it smelt as if every local cat had moved in! Totally unfazed he has worked and planned with a builder since then and it is completely unrecognisable to the flat we visited back in May. He  has only let us see photos of the progress and now we are getting close to the big reveal. I can't wait. 
  Slightly better day today weather wise I hope. I'm off to deal with physio appointments, tablet changes and stocking up my Dad's fridge. I hope everyone has a great day. xx

Monday, 14 October 2019

Life As A Student Nurse In The 1970s

It was another busy day yesterday. Dashing around all morning to get everything done, over to feed Millie straight after an early lunch and then on to the hospital. My Dad was still in quite good spirits but is starting to worry he won't be going home any time soon. We tried to reassure him it will probably be Tuesday but he is not convinced. There was no opportunity to ask anyone or just to talk to a member of staff even today as for some reason, and we found this when my Mum was a patient too, hospitals are like the Marie Celeste at weekends, everybody disappears and you are just walking around empty corridors with no staff.
  It was all so different back in the 1970s when I was a student nurse. The hospital I worked in always seemed busy and full of life. It was packed with us student nurses and not a hospital administrator or any office staff in sight. We all lived in the nurses home at the side of the hospital which had five floors. We shared bathrooms and toilets and there was one kitchen and one laundry room on each floor. I loved my little room, it overlooked the park and was lovely and quiet. I had posters of Snoopy, Clint Eastwood and Freddie Mercury all over the walls which I had bought at the local Woolworths. My Mum had bought me a wonderful retro bedcover and matching curtains and I thought it looked so modern. I never bothered cooking really as we had a big canteen that always had music playing and a choice of really cheap meals. The best part for us was the enormous sitting room. It stretched right down the entire side of the ground floor and had French doors all down the side to the garden and swimming pool at the side. The noise at break times in the sitting room would be deafening with everyone laughing and joking and the air would be thick with cigarette smoke but that didn't seem to matter in those days. I can see us still all perched on the sides of each others chairs just laughing. Once a month there would be a big disco put on by the hospital for us we could invite guests and a DJ played all the hits from the time until the early hours. I can't hear those old 1970s songs without being transported back to that room.
  At Christmas the doctors took over the Out Patients department and put on a Christmas Revue which it seemed like, the entire hospital attended. There would be songs, in jokes and the House Officers made digs about senior doctors they didn't like. They got away with murder for a day and everyone would be laughing about for weeks. We all supported each other and no matter how busy or stressful a day was it would end in laughter. Sometimes I think a lot of the problems now with stress among the staff in the NHS is not because the work is that much worse but the support network has gone. The fun and laughter seems to have definitely gone. There was never a time when my old hospital felt as lifeless as this weekend visiting my Dad.
  My big regret is that I have no photos of all the rooms which have given me such happy memories. We just didn't take photos like that in those days. In a pile of discarded photos I bought recently for my lovely collection of old photos I found these ones inside The Nelson Hospital in Wimbledon in the 1970s and they really did transport me back to those happy days of life as a student nurse.

  It's a dreadful morning here, pouring and dark and looking at the weather forecast not much let up during the day. I hope everyone has a good day and the weather were you are is a bit better than here. xx

Sunday, 13 October 2019

Not The Best Of Days

Yesterday was not the best of days. My Dad's hospital appointment dragged on and the doctors decided to admit him while waiting for tests on Monday. He was in good spirits but unhappy at being in hospital. We are hoping after Monday he will be home again.
 My sister and I went to his house to feed Millie who was sitting on the stairs looking accusingly at us, as if the whole problem was our fault. She was totally unappreciative that we had left my Dad waiting in casualty, driven through heavy traffic in the pouring rain struggled around Pets At Home to find her favourite Felix in gravy pouches and Go Cat for in between meals. We drove back to the hospital to reassure my Dad, who by now had been transferred to a ward, that she had eaten and was fine and that yes that we had left the heating on for her in the morning and evening and the hall light on for her overnight so she could see were she was going!

  I have decided it is hardly any wonder she misses him. As we all do.

Saturday, 12 October 2019

A Mystery To Solve

I have been sorting through a number of old pictures to mend and either use or sell. I often buy old framed or unframed paintings or prints when I am out bargain hunting and I have decided enough is enough I must work my way through large box fulls I have in boxes in the loft. The first one I got out was a print of a young 1920s woman which I love and as it simply needed taking apart cleaning and re doing all the masking tape it was quite easy to repapir. It is called "Reverie" or Daydreaming and this is definitely one to put up on our wall. I love it.

  The second was a watercolour of a cottage and river I bought it a while ago for £2 at out local charity saleroom. I had noticed that just visiblle above the mount was the top of a signature and had meant to investigate so I cut the old tape of the back to take the picture out. Inside the back of the frame were four pages from an old newspaper called Reynolds News dated 1948. When I removed the newspaper on the back of the painting were a few sketches of buildings and the title "A Corner Of The Upper Thames In Picturesque Buckinghamshire KMB 1916" Well there was one question answered I knew where the painting was of. I moved the painting up in the mount and now the signature could be clearly seen Kathleen M Blake 1916. 

 What of the newspaper I wonder, an article in it may have a connection with the artist or place in the painting, it may have been put in when being framed just for interest to someone all these years later who discovered it or it may just have been put there to fill a gap in between the frame and the painting. I can't see any obvious connection reading through it although it is very interesting, who would have thought probelms with a nudist colony next to a school in those days!

I have searched on and found a 1911 census record for a Kathleen Muriel Blake born in 1890 and living in 7 South Place, Mill Lane, Marlow, Buckinghamshire. The occupation given on the census is artist. I think this is probably the Kathleen who painted my picture. I'm certainly going to have a try to find out something about the her and this one is definitely being put up on our wall to keep. A little bit of mystery makes it all the more interesting to us.
  It's a wet miserable day here this morning. I wish I could stay in and investigate more but my Dad has a hospital appointment this morning so I have to brave the elements and meet my sister to take him there. Have a great day everyone what ever you are doing. xx

Thursday, 10 October 2019

Our Vintage 1970s Caravan

  What a lovely bright day it was for the most part yesterday. It was wonderful sunny but windy drying weather and I have been sorting through items to wash and dry for our vintage caravan. Last year we had a lovely little 2 berth 1970s caravan but it was tiny and we quickly realised this year that with four dogs it was too much of a squash so we sold it and bought a much bigger caravan, a Royale Touranger made in 1974. We bought it on facebook from an old couple who seemed so nice but we quickly found out that they had strategically placed items to hide patches of damp and then reassured us there was no damp. We should have checked more carefully but never mind it hasn't been the end of the world. My Dad has worked hard on it during the summer, which he has really enjoyed, and now the damp is all fixed. Sadly it meant we couldn't get away in her but now the major problems are sorted out we can spend the winter fixing the smaller ones and just before the spring we intend to have it resprayed.

   We have called her Suzi and I am always on the look out for 1970s items for her, it is such fun. As she is so much bigger than our last caravan there is so much more space to put things. I am always finding bits at jumble sales and car boot sales. I am quite mean with what I am prepared to pay so don't buy much on ebay. It's all the more fun when you find something really cheaply so I don't mind waiting.

   I am on the look out for some nice retro material to make new curtains with and I want a bright 70s looking shower curtain to make the little shower room nice and bright. It is going to be my ongoing project all winter and I am really excited to do it all. It has a proper little kitchen area with an oven and grill so we will be able to cook more as we only had a two ring hob in our other caravan. All in 1970s pans of course! This is one of my favourite recent finds at our local charity saleroom.

    Today I got out to wash this lovely crocheted blanket I bought at a jumble sale a while ago. It needed a bit of a repair some of the squares were coming unsewn from the next one but other than that it was perfect and only £2.

  I am going to take lots of photos of the progress over the winter and will be recording them all in this blog. It will be nice by the spring to hopefully look back and see all that we have achieved. I love a winter project to work on as it always makes the cold days when it's not much fun being out and about more enjoyable.
  It's another bright start to the day today which is World Mental Health Day. I hope everyone has a brilliant day today and finds time to spend some of it doing something they enjoy, but sending special thoughts to anyone reading this who is going through difficult times I really hope things improve for you soon. xx

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

An Evening At Downton Abbey

Yesterday was a really enjoyable day. We went to visit my Dad during the day who was in good form as we admired plants in his garden and he told us tales of the neighbours over a cup of tea.
  In the evening my sister and I went into Epsom and had a meal at the Caballo Lounge on Epsom High Street. It is a cafe bar that me eldest daughter and her husband discovered a few years ago and has a decor that warms my collectorholic heart! The meal was fantastic value, delicious and staff so friendly. In fact I could happily move in. It is completely dog friendly. It even has little dog bowls around so they can have a drink. Well worth a visit, I may take Cassie next time.

   After we had finished our meal we had a bit of time to kill, and as the rain had stopped and it was a mild evening we had a walk around Epsom to look at our old teenage haunts. Woolworths, The Wimpy, The Odeon, Chelsea Girl all long gone. It was such fun to remember them though.
  After our walk we went to the new cinema (how I miss the Odeon!) to watch the Downton Abbey film. We enjoyed it so much, two hours of total escapism. The outside world didn't exist, I was transported back to the 1920s and loved every minute. My sister and I are real Downton fans, as our Mum was too, and last year after my second operation she treated me to a trip to Highclere Castle in Hampshire where they film the series. It was a really bright spot in what was a bleak time.Sadly we were not allowed to take photos inside the castle which is beautiful so we really enjoyed seeing the rooms again on a big screen.  It has definitely made me want a return visit there as it such a enjoyable day out. Here are a few photos I took on our day there.

On gloomy wet days in winter I often look at photos from the summer to cheer myself up and I think I will be revisiting these ones a few times on those sort of days. The sun is shining here this morning and after all this galavanting there is quite a lot to catch up with. I hope everyone has a great day whatever you are doing. xx

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