Tuesday, 28 October 2008

ABC Wednesday O is for ..

an O-rdinary day

I am not working today and the kids are with their father
who is working in Manchester for a few days
and its half term, so it is just Pippa and I.

After our ordinary breakfast Pippa
and I went for our ordinary walk.

So I am thinking there won't be much to photograph as I'm home all day,
but for a trim and blow and the hair salon later in the day.

Our usual route is the pathway or road if too muddy by the river Eden.
Today I followed the road by our home and then

checked out the path for the evening walk, if either of us are up for it.

Pippa is elderly now, though her mind and heart are willing sometimes she just sleeps on through!

Last week there was much rain and wind and these neighbouring trees seemingly took the brunt.

One of the mansion houses along the road, our house was built on its back yard!!
All the land here was/is freehold of landlords Duke of Marlbourough, 
Devonshire & Cornwall hence all the Avenue names.

Just an ordinary day.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

I've got to write it down!

Ok, I confess I am an obsessive listmaker! My family physically and mentally flinch when they see me with a pen and paper in hand. 'OMG Mum's gonna make a list' one of them shouts as if by warning, and they all fall about laughing. I sometimes join in, but mostly I'm on a mission to write down the things on my mind, lest I forget so I'm a tad furtive getting it down. Because if I don't write it down actually, its a cert I will forget completely and it will be utterly gone from my mind!

This list making phenomena started when I was at school. I went to a Catholic convent school and, ok ! ok! get all the laughing, the banter and the gym slip jokes out of the way now... ! All but two of our teachers were nuns, most were Irish and all were catholic. Not of the worldly wise educator and nurture persuasion either and in a high school of only girls so a rather dull, mind numbing experience for a late 60's early 70's teeanager with boys on her mind. David Cassidy, David Soul, Johnny Hallyday, Slade, Wizard....you get my drift. You can imagine much of it I'm sure, strict and -we all thought - middle aged/ancient nuns.They were at our mercy in the Micky take stakes, but it was they who controlled our lives from the moment we walked in the door clad in our black velveteen hats, our navy Burberrys' and changed into our indoor, ribbed corduroy, spongy crepe soled lace up shoes.

The school didn't have a whiff of the nastiness, the unkind, cruel vindictive nuns depicted in some of Moannies blog posts, be assured if she had felt they were similar in any shape or form she would have taken me away, I hope.

I digress, a bad habit, more difficult than ciggies or nail biting to quit.

We would line up after friday lunchtime, outside the girls loos, where the stationary cupboard was situated for new rough books and other fine stationary. Our old books had to be presented for inspection and Sister Assumpta had to be convinced, that the previous rough book hadn't been wasted. No wasted blank spaces, only minor doodling. Doodling space
was usually on the front and back covers, inside and out and usually depicted drawing of David Essex, Slade and F.A. B. song lyrics. So the covers would be covered with brown paper and sticky backed plastic from Woolies on the top, to hide the graffitti, so we could remove them after Sr. Assumpta had approved them or not. Sticky backed plastic was definitely not cool or F.A. B. in 1972!

Lorraine, my best pal at school ( we are still in touch today) used to collect a hoard of books, so we could use them for lists and for the stories we would write for each other about each other, yeah and those had a bad ending, in as much Moannie found one, so that stopped pretty darn fast, she did not appreciate our fertile and still innocent imaginations.

But the lists were ok and they didn't and haven't as yet ever gotten me into any trouble. Just made me the butt of jokes around here. What would l make lists for or about? Well I guess if you have to ask then you have never felt the need! The lists in those early days were about what we would wear to the school disco. From colour of nail varnish, Outdoor girls Iced Magenta, to the colour and size of our tights or pop sox, American tan size Large. Even then I wore large tights, as I was 5'8" at 13 yrs old, so needed the width for the length if you get my drift. If you don't you must be a bloke and I won't explain, because I could find no way of using tanks or guns or machinery in my explanation, so you have permission to mentally switch off now if l'm boring you!

Other lists were to help with the planning of the school trips, not that we were involved in the arranging of these trips, but the contents of our lunch boxes and what these should/could contain, amount of pocket money, stationary, OMG always stationary, FAB pens, writing paper, to make more notes...

As I grew older, left home, worked, I would make shopping lists, lists of what to take in bag, on holiday the obvious ones too... moving bedsit then flat then house. When we married that required several notebooks, in various shades of pink and purple.

When I am at work these days, I daily remake the days list, shopping, kids requirements, bills to pay, what I MUST do after work. If I'm bored and there are no visitors, I sit and compose lists of blogs l may write ideas for them, or images I should look for, the list goes on and on......AWWWWWW !!!!!

Bloody hell reading this back isn't just obsessive, methinks it smacks of, well right in the forehead of OCD!! I'm writing a post, which in itself has a list of the types of list I make. I can't escape it and can't blame it on my age or hormones cos it's always been a funny habit! You laugh but what is your funny habit!?

So its getting late now so I should post this and get sorted for the morning and what do I need to do tomorrow, where is my pad?
A contender for post of the day at Authorblog, thanks again for the mention David!

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Book quiz/meme

This book quiz/meme, was an earlier post from Random jottings of a Book and Opera Lover, I thought I would give it a go...

Name a book you have read more than once

Of course, Jane Austens'  P&P;When we were very young  &  Now we are six -AA Milne; Frances Hodgson Burnett's A Little Princess; The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath,; Repossessing Ernestine by Marsha Hunt -an underrated writer whom I believe who has 'it'... I know what I mean!

Has a book ever fundamentally changed the way you see life? If yes, what was it?

yes! A Little Princess which first my mother read to me, then I read it over and over, of which I have several prints and copies. At a very young age it taught me however tough things get, however bleak there is always someone worse than you and there is ALWAYS hope. The same with Maya Angelous early autobiographies.

How do you choose a book? eg - by cover design and summary, recommendations or reviews? 

Mostly by recommendations, mother, friends, reviews in Newbooks magazine for whom I write reviews, I rarely take notice of other authors recommendations on books, as I know they are paid for them and not all  read them thoroughly; if I chose a book by its cover it is  unwitting happenstance. Though I know some book covers give an indication of the genre, ie. chick lit, so actually, Yes!

Do you prefer fiction or non-fiction?

I prefer in the main fiction, as I can allow my imagination to run riot, with non-fiction and history I have to reign it in and let the brain work rather than my mind, if you get my drift!?

What is more important in a novel - beautiful writing or a gripping plot? 

For me the prose and then the style is key, as this can turn me off faster than a feeble handshake or a sloppy kiss! The plot will overcome this problem, if it's really riveting and it has engaged me from the get go. As I WILL NEVER read the last page, which for me is a bit like smoking or eating in the street, my mother would kill me if she  caught me.(Luckily these days I don't smoke and if I ate in the street I'd fall over my feet... need to concentrate!)

Most loved/memorable character (character/book) 

Only one?! Sorry no can do, Sara Crewe and  Becky ... oh the bond! Christopher Robin! James Frey in his 'memoir' A Million Little Pieces (whatever anyone says ... much RESPECT) Jane Eyre her strength of character and her love! All the characters in the wonderful (I wish I had written it kinda book) Ursula Under by Ingrid Hill Fabulous!).

Which books can be found on your nightstand at the moment? 

Well I have a book case next to my bed with a few hundred book w aiting not to patiently, I'm sure they call out to me and sing read me, read me...I feel the pressure sometimes...Um lets see, my nearest to me pile has Nigel Slater's Eating for England; James Frey's Bright Shiny Morning; Jodi Picoult's Second Glance; Eckhart Tolle's, A New Earth; Love letters of Great Men edited by Ursula Doyle; Trespass by Valerie Martin to name just six!

What was the last book you have read and when was it? I finished the warm duvet of a book- Miss Pettigrew lives for a day by Winifred Watson only last week, am currently on The Taming of the Shrew, for my Open Uni course and have just started Annie Proulx's new short story compilation Just the way its:Wyoming Stories.,

Have you ever given up on a book half way in? Yep, since I turned 40, (10 years ago) I gavemyself permission to not finish a book, allowing me access to 1000's of others! I have given up on Captain Corelli's Mandolin;100 Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez but I love Love in the time of Cholera!!

I'd be very interested in other preferences, do have a go too!

Friday, 24 October 2008


Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

I'm really late with this one, but hope you enjoy it.
Today has been kept clear as an Attic day
This means that all housework is pretty much up to date (?)
dog walked, kids at school, just me at home on a day off from my day job.
Since 2002 my passion for vintage fashion became official
when I opened my vintage clothing website.

Its been a blast to indulge this passion, making the leap from  a hobby into a small business.
I don't invest as much time as I would like, wearing so many hats and since moving home from large rural farmhouse, to urban bungalow bill city dweller. So space and time is at a premium. Most of the stock has been packed up and I haven't done the site justice this year at all.

With the glitzy party season twinkling its bright lights on our doorsteps,
I have been buying new stock over the summer 
and secreting it in all places around the house.
Today was the day I could bring these treasures 
out and I have taken pics of some of the Attic day.

9am - so what have I bought, a real mix!

9.30 - a few tools of the trade

10.30 - getting some good images (a 1980's stunner)

11.00 - it's in the detail (1930's)

11.30 coffee & snack

noon- my current work area/dressing table/laptop

2pm-4pm -weather dried up, so I trimmed garden hedges for two hours 

4pm - s**t kids home already?

5pm -10pm - snatching time to edit/ upload /list on my websites - 
all very time consuming


Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

Thursday, 23 October 2008

What do you want to be

... when you grow up? I read an article recently which asked this question of children and  teenagers from different backgrounds, countries and cultures. It was very interesting and revealing, as the children had either very little or were privileged by way of circumstance or example. It was enriching to hear they all had aspirations and dreams, way beyond their existing horizons.

But the question kept resounding with me and I kept asking myself … 'What do I want to be when I grow up?'

Yes! I know I am grown up already, in age and definitely in experience and  perhaps in some wisdom too!I have been single. I have lived alone in dreary and lonely bedsit land. I have spent Christmas alone twice and new years eve too often to count. I have been lucky enough to travel and live in different countries in three continents, experiencing different cultures.

I have had several careers. I am a qualified hairdresser - 1970s; I am an experienced fashion  buyer, Manager and Area Manager - 1980's; I have worked in the Voluntary sector as an area development manager and I am a qualified Bookseller & Buyer with Diploma- 1990’s. I am long-time married and I have given birth to and raised two children.  The jury is out on ‘successful’. I can only hope it will be said I was a good mum, wife, daughter. 

Why does this question still resonate with me? Perhaps because I know in my mind and believe in my heart that it's never too late. I may sound like a glass half empty type of girl most of the time. But I strongly believe in Hope, that hope is actually more important than love, in that if one hasn’t love, doesn't love, one can hope. Without hope, I truly believe one is lost. So I can 

hope and I can aspire to do more, to travel, to run my own shop, to have a spare room as a library and have a beach hut or vintage trailer in the back just for me.  I study with the Open University to stretch my mind, teach and inform me so I want to continue pursuing this. When I grow up I may earn a degree or two just for me.To be trivial for a moment, when I grow up I 

would like to have the style of Paloma Picasso, the panache of Vivienne Westwood and be dressed by Chanel by day and Valentino by night; I would love to be as eloquent and passionate about art as Brian Sewell or Simon Scahma.

I've done my share of growing up, I am a grown up and allowing for the fact that one needs to make a living, do I want to do more things and have more things to do?  Or do I want to be someone or something more? Do I want to ‘be’ anything again? There is so much yet to do, to learn, to see and to say.  And as I don’t know how big a bottle I am drinking from, I can still keep drinking as I do not know when it will run out. I think it crucial to say the things that are important in that moment. 

I still have a lot of growing up to do. I hope when I grow up I won't be saying I would’ve, could’ve, should’ve. I hope I will be saying I will, I can, I shall and I’m going to start that right now…

... what do you want to be?

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Piles of smack, because I'm worth it!

Over the last week or so I've been a little concerned - not just about losing things-  as my vision has been a little blurred by the middle of the afternoon.  I've been thinking that perhaps it was adjusting to my new varifocals.  I've had new frames and they are deeper than the current narrow specs in vogue, so my vision should be more balanced, but  for the sudden blurriness they have been very comfortable.

Both today and yesterday Ive also noticed that my eyes have taken on the Panda effect. My kohl eyeliner has seeped to the under part of my eyes, making my saggy bags look much more prominent looking like I've just had a good cry! Not the look I was going for at all. I have taken a little more care applying some smack in the mornings ( oops by that I mean SLAP! LOL - the only things I'm addicted to is chocolate and my kids!) 

As the new specs have a non-reflective coating, the benefit is that I have not had any 
trouble with the glare from the 47 halogen type lights  beaming into my eyes at our Reception desk at work. The downside is that my eyes are now visible and I've tried to apply the  aforementioned SMACK/SLAP with more care. I have a sallow complexion so I do have dark circles under my eyes compounded by the crinkly wrinklies which I swear appeared around my 47th birthday! 

I'm telling you all this and I apologise if it is very tedious, shallow and so far lacking in its point, but what I'm breaking to you gently is, that in my enthusiasm to masque my flaws by grouting and filling, I made one small but very vital error, I think I used too much. 

WHAT went wrong?   Well, my wrinkle cream whilst successfully tightening and smoothing out the skin under my eyes, during the course of the day it all well ... melted! Yes my smack/slap melted and it upped and ran under  and very  crucially into my eyes, causing the vision to be blurred. 

WHY and  HOW?  Well, I applied too much of this greasy magic lotion, in fact you could say I piled it on. I did this purposefully as this product is reknowed to shrink and soothe.

Its name ...?

Preparation H.  Less is more FFF, next time I shall use it in miniscule quantity!

I really NEED to find those bloody sunglasses....

Monday, 20 October 2008

There may be trouble ahead!

I haven't read many references to the current financial global crisis in blog land. Methinks  perhaps this isn't the place, its where we feel safe, away from harms way, our nest of comfort, where we are taken on vicarious adventures through (authorblog - Yukon) and (the view from this End - Mexico & Canada)  and we find like minded pals to chat with away from from our real lives and worlds.

But  I admitto being  a bit worried and not just a bit afraid, not to mention confused and utterly out of my depth. I find myself switching on the news and delving into the money pages, because I DO want to understand something,  anything about this. We wittingly put our trust in banks and to a certain extent our governments and we simple everyday folk are endanger of getting seriously burned. I'm seriously considering taking out my little stash of cash from my ISA and burying it in the garden, like what my Dad always told mewas the sensible and Napoleonic thing to do! LOL ...  at least it would be safe! But then would I be guilty of panicking and making matters worse? What to do and who to believe?

IF each person in the UK has been represented by 'giving' £1-2K to to shore up the banks and we are told we are  now shareholders in a semi-nationalised banking system, are we to understand that the returns they are mooting around, will be sent in the form of  a cheque to our home addresses .. . or stashed back into the 
government coffers in our  names, 'A TAXPAYER'...  er don't think so! Can Hadriana shine more light on this?

Laugh it makes you want to cry! I worry that  the fabric of our lives may well change because of this ... and would it be that bad actually, for less easy access credit, cheaper housing, less fat-cats benefiting from the profits of the utilities and services the public need on a day to day basis.  

I have this awful niggley feeling that there is more to come and  if this is what they are telling us, the cynic in me tells me it may be FAR worse..

Sunday, 19 October 2008

I remembered that I had forgotton

... my debit card and lost my sunglasses, my itrip, my mobile phone, and one new shoe! All this is typical of one week in my mad, sad world!

In my last post I mentioned that I had left my debit card in the payment machine of TK Maxx after buying some bargain shoes, but that wasn't the whole story, not even a bit of it!

When I got home from town, long before I remembered that I had forgotten my card, I noticed that I had only one shoe from the pair I had just bought, TK Maxx discourages the use of carrier bags so I dropped them into my handbag. My bags are always large enough to carry around extra items like a pair of shoes, ironing board and the kitchen sink.

I checked the car, the driveway and I mentally retraced my steps but was at a loss to recall where the shoe might be. This is a pattern that I have to admit is being repeated not just occasionally but repeatedly with different items, several times a week. In the last week I have misplaced my mobile, which I had to report to police and I have had blocked; I cannot find my itrip which enables me to listen to my ipod in the car through the radio - don't ask me how it just does; I have left my prescription sunglasses somewhere, I know not where, I need them for driving as I hate the glare AND they make me feel fab and mysterious and I can hide behind them without eye makeup, so that's a double blow.

These lost items usually come to light after a few days or weeks. On the way over to Gateshead on wednesday my daughter mentioned that it was a shame I couldn't find my itrip, as she had her nano with her and we could have had a singalong to some show tunes. She started to look in the cubby holes as if she didn't believe me and there it was, in plain view, even though I had looked in the car numerous times! I heard her mimic me by saying, ' I suppose you were looking with your nose again!'

I found my mobile phone between the sliding back doors of the car, again I had looked there several times, but not effectively enough obviously!

After I collected my debit card from the nice lady in TK Maxx, who I swear was smirking to herself, a bit like the nice lady in the post office who saves my p/office card for me as she now knows I'll walk off without it,  just like the elderly ladies in their eighties collecting their pensions! I then went into the sweet shop opposite, which I remembered was last place I visited on wednesday for our sweetie provisions for the drive over to the Sage. I spoke, with not a little embarrassment to the owner who smiled knowingly and asked his assistant to 'Pass the lady the shoe which she left on the counter last evening.'

I thanked him profusely and left the shop with a very pink face, as
he called out to me, ' Take care now and be home before midnight Cinderella!'

My sunglasses are still missing!

Post of the day at Authorblog, thank you  David!!!

Thursday, 16 October 2008


Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

A few months ago my husband surprised me by agreeing to accompany me
 to my first Classical concert at The Sage, Gateshead
An evening of music including Elgar's Enigma variations 
and my very favourite classical piece 
Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No1. 
Performed by St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, reputedly the best!?

The tickets have sat on the mantelpiece since they arrived. 
I rearranged my working week and then on Monday 
my husband contracted a nasty virus and he couldn't take me.

Surprisingly however my 16 yr old daughter offered to go with me, 
she seemed very genuine in her offer. 
I prevaricated a while considering the weather, 
the roadworks,  the drive (again as we were there Friday see post).
With excitement gathering for both of us, we got ready, 
filled the car with petrol, 
at which inopportune time I realised I had left my debit card in Tk maxx 's machine,
undaunted I paid cash and we were on our way.
We made great time and daughter was  whizz  at navigating. We arrived and parked.

We were both agog at the beauty of the building before us...

this is a online pic as it was by now dark and I only
 had my phone/camera, 
so sorry if this is cheating but I do have other pics.

Inside the 'foyer' I attempted to take pics,
 most were a bit fuzzy, 
but I hope you can see something of the fab design.
The hall was lovely and had a personal feel, it didn't feel huge. 
The design I'm sure lent to this impression.

The ceiling looked to me rather like piano keys, very apt I thought!

And this is teh first photo  I took, which I think sums up my excitement. 
My daughter told me I was actually shaking as we walked  across to The Sage.

The concert was awesome and a tad overwhelming hearing the music for real!
My throat and chest went tight and my heart pounded, I thought for a moment I might cry.
 Moannie told me it would feel like that.
 I had no idea! We were both blown away.

 Another memory created!

And daughter of mine,  thanks for coming with me,
 I'm thrilled you loved it too,  you continue to amaze, surprise and impress me,
and even if you were the youngest there by nearly 40 years...
...you ROCK!!

Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

To cull or not to cull...

The brown parcel has arrived from DHL and I knew immediately it was the course books for my next Open University course An Introduction to Shakespeare. As I seemingly appear to have broken the backs of Philosophy, Haiku poetry and the History of Art, I thought it was time I got my head around the Bard.

Usually my heart soars when I receive the long awaited delivery, this time I admit it sank. I had already tried to postpone the start of this until the new year, but the OU were having none of it, as I had partially paid for this course with Tesco - gawdbless 'em- clubcard vouchers. It's a great offer, when Tesco send the statement with £vouchers, the OU quadruples their face value. Its very much appreciated and I thank them for returning a qui-tri-zillionth of their profits back to me, I really do. But If I had changed the date of the course the OU couldn't honour the vouchers. Sod that I wasn't gonna lose out.

So my question, to myself really is why do I put myself through this when I am juggling so many other things? Because l enjoy pressure? get high on stress ? or do I just love the feeling of isolation when I'm the moodiest person in the house and they either tread on egg shells around me or I withdraw to scowl and wither under the pressure to my room? Nah my problem is I just don't think of the bigger picture, should I? could I? would I? be able to complete this task within the parameters of my busy life? So ok, I don't practise what I preach, I tell the kids one thing for their own good and completely ignore the advice myself, when I know better!

I have 6 books to read for reviews by mid November for the Romantic Association Award thingy, and a review for the readers mag'. I have one more week of my Photoshop course. I haven't done my biz website justice since we moved home in Nov' 07 as I haven't added the stock I have bought for hopeful Christmas sales . My Etsy shop is lonely too and needs new stock. As I have only three shifts this week instead of the usual five, so I could in theory catch up a bit.

My husbands advice is to make a list and see what I can cull and then make a plan and stick to it. That's fine and dandy, but who has ever stuck to a plan with kids and a dog, a home and work. I'm not army trained and I haven't had to motivate, train and organise a team of 30+ staff for over 15 years, so where is my discipline? This isn't the same, it should be easier, it isn't, but perhaps the culling part would help!

Where to start... I guess by not taking on anything else. I seem to remember a post a while back when I muttered away about learning to say NO! Some hope.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Ikea? My idea!

My son is a growing lad he's just 14 and is 5ft 10"  so far... but his room is small at only 9ft x 9ft and he is still growing. In our former rambling farmhouse home his room was much larger and he could get up and move around a bit when prodded, to avoid bone calcification or rigamortis,  following several hours a day sitting playing his guitars or  the Internet!

In our new home, a much smaller 3 bed bungalow, we have four tall people vying for room and space. We are overflowing into greenhouses and  garage  and may have miscalculated our needs. It isn't ideal but hey that's life.  

We do feel bad for our son though and I sat down to see what I could do for him to maximise his  space. Out came ruler, pencil, tape measure and graph paper. I then measured his room, bed,  desk, drawers etc and rearranged them in several drafts. Then I got out the various catalogues to see if I could put to best use any new mix of furniture. I found the ideal items and ran the idea various layout options past husband and son. Son seemed well pleased, husband seemed happy to pay up and agree if it  maximised sons space.

So after work/school on friday night, daughter, son & I had a cuppa and  snack and drove to Gateshead Ikea. Normally a 54 minute drive - for me that is, I do drive quite quickly! LOL- but there were traffic light stops and so it took 2 hours. made note. We roamed the now doubled sales floor area of Ikea, which was surprisingly quiet, obviously a good time to visit - made 2nd mental note. After sussing out everything we needed, we adjourned for a light supper and then trolled the warehouse aisles and collected the last in stock items we wanted- Mental note#3 phone next time to check stock holding.  We had the must do ice cream on the way out and as the kids take ages to eat the bloody things, I stacked the car luckily my Citroen Berlingo forte has loads of space in it. It was by now  gone 9pm. I was cream  crackered and drove home through very heavy rain- a white knuckle ride. We  got home for 10:15pm it had taken 5 hours door to door when it should've been only 3!

On Saturday morning, we all hovered around the boxes in the hall, my daughter had some errands to run in town and my husband( looked for a way out) went to visit his  mother. We expected he wuold be out most of the afternoon. We were right! We finished the shelving unit and workspace thingy at 5:10pm, in walked husband at 5.30pm. Job done. 10 hours in total.

So is Ikea value for money? Ikea Units £155, petrol £15,  meal £10, ice creams £1.20 + 10 hours work x 2? Mmmm...

It was lovely working with my son, I learnt that he is very thorough and faster than I at working through the illustrated  instructions. 

This morning I walked in to sons room with a cuppa and asked him why his room was covered with cat hairs and fur balls. He chortled from under the quilt .... at least now he can swing a cat if he wants to!!

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Memories are made of this...

I made the decision way before I had our kids, in fact in those early days it was actually 'if' not when we had kids, but that is a tale for another day. Our family life, will no be doubt rehashed, argued over, judged and dissected over the years, within the breadth of the kids' own families if and when they have them. I felt, and still do that I had a real responsibility to be the memory maker for them. I know of course that great memories cannot be forced or foisted upon people and that they are created by the by, in happenstance and just by our every day life which brings a myriad of 'memories' to be opened later.  My belief is that cherished memories are the lasting gifts we give to those we love almost unwittingly; to our children, our families and our friends. They are opened time and time again over the years and these keepsakes are little gifts to treasure. A small example was last week ... and I thank Suburbia for her post Small Sprog battles the credit crunch ... as it reminded me of one such memory, that I reopened and cherished again. A big warm feeling!

I was out walking with our dog last week and as the trees have already started to undress and the autumnal leaves were floating gently off the trees, I spied on the ground a cache of fallen horse chestnuts, most of them opened and empty
or crushed. But amongst them I found two that were still whole, uncracked and unopened. I put them in my jacket pocket, which excited Pippa as she thought I was rummaging for her dog biscuits! When I got home, I placed them on tissue on the mantelpiece. When my son and daughter arrived home much later from school and they had changed and snacked, I told the kids them I had a gift for them and it was on the mantelpiece. They looked very excited but when they looked I think they were trying to hide their disappointment from me, then came puzzlement, and then the realisation .... They both smiled and said, 'Aw Mum!! Conkers!?' Memory opened. 'Aw! you are such a softie!' They both gently cracked them open to find the 'gift' inside, and this is the where IF you are lucky enough to find a fallen horse chestnut that is unopened, you should wait and wait to open it, guessing what size, shape or quantity is inside, the insuing anticipation is weirdly unbearable, after all its only a bloody conker! My son found he had a substantial glossy warm brown nugget; my daughter was chuffed to find she had twins, two smaller ones, a matching pair! They both smiled, I think enriched by the memory and we all hugged. I know they think I'm soft, but it's these little things that I believe will stay with them and warm them in the years to come. Perhaps when least expected and I am long gone.

When the kids were younger and in their buggy/strollers, they both loved going by the 'conker park' screeching their joy and collecting the conkers, which they displayed on the their bedroom window ledges ... they would even take them to school  for a time to play conkers with their friends. That was until about 6 years or so ago, when the PC Police, made a fuss, the press got hold and schools banned them from the playground as they are now considered 'dangerous'. How bizarre in these days of our litigious society, the schools are frightened they will be sued!
For those of you that are puzzled by the term 'conkers' and some may be completely in the dark here, I will try and explain, but remember I'm a girlie so my description I'm sure will be lacking the testosterone charged version. One chooses a good sized and well shaped, (assorted shapes are preferred for certain tactics I recall) and a hole is made through the middle, or even off centre sometimes. I would use a metal cake skewer, but I'm sure there is varied means to drill through the middle of the conker. Then a piece of string, some wool, pink if a girl and the best of a shoe lace, the tapered end is good for threading a shoe lace strong and sturdy and male. Then we would wind the lace around the fisted fingers and flip the conker with some force against the opponents conker.  If you missed you lost your turn if you hit it firmly, you kept going until you missed or the opponents' conker was decimated.
Simple pleasures of the playground...

...remember hopscotch, jacks, french skipping?
A contender for post of the day at Authorblog, thanks again for the mention David!

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Manic Mama!

I found this on the net and thought I would share it..
Recognise yourself? I sure do!