Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Got my scanner to work - must be my lucky day!

MTL in Greece or was it Cyprus?
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Maybe now is the time to take the tablet?

I’m talking about the wi-fi thingy of course. 

On Monday S cleaned my office:  she knows not to touch the computer so before she came I gave it a good dust.  After she left my computer crashed.  I can’t believe it is still only Tuesday – it seemed days since I had contact with the cyber world.  It made me realise what a lifeline the computer is for me now; to visualise the person who is playing scrabble with you – to know you are in contact with a living breathing person and to get a response to something you have written is priceless

 Fortunately we had very lively discussions at the Lifeboat this morning encompassing racism, WW2, political correctness, Picts and Saxons so no time to fret.  After lunch with Joy- who didn’t make the meeting, I saw my beautician and bemoaned my computer predicament.
“Oh would you like my son to have a look at it?’
Yes please!

 The last time I saw him he was a dear little boy but now this leggy teenager escorted me up the lane sat in front of the monster; I plugged in and switched on, he pressed some button under the screen which I didn’t know existed and voila we had lift off.

 So knowing that this can happen any time a tablet seems like a good fall back plan.

What do you think?  I don’t really want a smart phone.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Small steps

Small Steps

When I first joined the Life Boat aka the Bereavement Group
(I call it LB as in ‘we are all in the same boat’ and it helps to get your life back on track) we had extravagant plans about trips we could make.  However - after two disastrous evenings – one of which involved dancing – when only two turned up, we decided to set our sights lower, hence small steps.

One of our men made a list of places we could visit in half a day, with comprehensive details and brought them for our perusal.  Incredibly – amongst a dozen or so individuals - we came to an agreement: Doniford Farm.

One of our members, C is a volunteer for the West Somerset Railway and she told us she was allowed to take three guests on the train to Doniford Halt so the four ’Minehead lot’ could go free and we agreed that we would  share the cost of any extra persons.  The rest from more distant places would drive straight to Doniford.

C was a teacher for many years; we knew she would take good care of us and promised to be at Minehead station at 10am in plenty of time to be escorted onto the train in the correct carriage.  It was another warm sunny day which made standing waiting on the station a pleasant nostalgic experience and the holiday makers and their excited children were reminiscent of that lovely old film ‘The Railway Children.’

Minehead is the end of the line and always had a turntable but it was scrapped when the line closed.  The present one was rescued from North Wales over 30 years ago and was finally renovated and installed in 2008.  The two- man crew can turn a 100 ton engine using their muscle power alone provided it is carefully balanced about the central pivot.

Once we had established who didn’t like going backwards we took our seats and felt privileged to be with C who knew all the crew and there was much banter and badinage.  All the country–side was unspoilt and when C spotted my camera she told me the best place to get a shot of Dunster Castle.  None of us could remember the name of Conygar Tower - a folly built in 1785 to enhance the view from Dunster Castle, but a crew member obliged.

The next station was Blue Anchor one of the three stations where trains can pass so some times there is a wait. Then comes Washford with its radio transmitters built by the BBC in 1933 and plainly visible for miles around –especially at night.
Watchet was our penultimate stop where Coleridge got the idea for the Ancient Mariner and we like to think that Watchet was the port the mariner sailed from.

Finally we reached Doniford Halt – a request stop.  C checked there were still four of us and we walked crocodile style along the road to the farm.
Gradually we met up with the rest of our group who inadvertently had ignored the table booked for us and claimed another.  Meanwhile some of us wandered round taking photos of the animals who seemed to delight in hiding from our cameras.  C – more patient than I got a lovely one of a meercat.

The menu was extensive and catered for both large and small appetites and there was plenty of time for relaxed chat.
The loos were excellent and the shop great for edibles ad small gifts.

Over the years we have visited many farms and animal centres in the area and my impression was that the animals in the fields – sheep, goats and llamas were much more animated than the ones in cages – especially when the lunch bell rang.

Thanks to perfect weather and everyone’s friendship and goodwill our small group returned on the train feeling we had taken an important small step.
Photos below.


Small steps

Minehead Station

Near Dunster

Dunster Castle

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Small steps


Some of the group

Time to go home
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Monday, August 19, 2013

Like a No 9 Bus…

…you wait two hours then two come along at once; thus after Kim and Rogan along came my French son and DIL – sans les enfants cette fois.

My French is elementary, you may have noticed – the book I am reading – ‘Failing Paris’ by Samantha Dunn uses more interesting French phrases and then drops in the translation without spoiling the flow.

 You may think it daunting to cook for the French, especially as my DIL’s mother is a superb cook – but as long as there is plenty of HP sauce, Marmite, Cornish Pasties and - most importantly - plenty of Aga baked potatoes with cottage cheese they are happy bunnies.  Also they muck in.

 M and I had an appointment with the solicitor to sign papers and then were taken over the road to another solicitor to swear an oath.  I was first and had to repeat after him.
“I hereby swear by almighty God…” but he did just three words at a time –possibly thinking that would be the limit of my memory.

Then it was Ms turn and there was silence.  We all looked enquiringly at the silent solicitor and he sheepishly told us he had forgotten the words, which lightend the atmosphere considerably.  As we were leaving he said he now he knew what it felt like when an actor dried.
“I’m sure it will go better next house,” I comforted him.

 Another beautiful day and off we went to Exmoor and had a large lunch at the Blue Boar.  None of us could face a pud – must remember to ask for a smaller portion next time.  Then we dropped down the long spectacular road to Lynmouth, then up the windy spectacular road to Lynton.  To my delight M suggested we leave the car and walk along the cliff to the Valley of the Rocks – a walk I feared I may never do again.

M reminded me of when we pushed my father along in his wheelchair – nervous that I was going to push him over the edge - accidentally of course.

 This time I miscalculated and we came up too early - missing quite a scramble but seeing Exmoor ponies at close quarters was a fair exchange.  As we returned to civilisation we visited a craft fair and I bought gifts for my old friends Joy and Jackie- who both have birthdays at the end of August.  Then we saw a candle shop with a notice saying:

We’ve lost our butcher and our baker – please help to save the candle- stick maker.

We spent a happy time sniffing all the fragrances and of course bought some.  He told us he had been working since 4 am as they had a lot of orders to finish and the police called to see what was going on.
He said no-one had ever asked to take his photo before and as you can see below he was happy to oblige.

 The next day – whilst M and I continued with getting rid of paper work dating back to the seventies – in triplicate – my DIL nobly tackled the garage and made an enormous pile of out of date tins and bottles.  I didn’t know beer could get out of date.
Then we took them to the tip afraid they may tell us to empty them all – but no - fortune smiled on us and another load was dealt with.
We were going out to dinner later and M had the exciting idea of a small bonfire.  We chose an old copper coal scuttle and based it on a narrow path wedged between the side of the garage and the hedge.  The matches we found were old and took some time to ignite – as did the cardboard and paper.  Eventually thick smoke burgeoned forth and we had difficulty dodging it on the narrow path and all the local dogs started barking.

Soon it was time to leave for dinner but first we had a bottle of champagne for DIL’s birthday then - red of streaming eye and reeking of bonfire M persuaded me it was safe to leave the smouldering cauldron.  All was well when we returned but I felt it was definitely dousing time and had the pleasure of pouring bucket after bucket before we retired.

In the light of day and stone cold sober we realised there was a great deal of black ash and a large sodden mass of half burnt paper.  Like the rock he is M decided he would clear it all up and many black plastic bags later that is what he did.

Not surprisingly I felt a little emotional waving goodbye but then there was a friend from the bereavement group coming to tea and on Tuesday we have an ‘outing ‘on the steam train!  

 Such funJ

See photos below.



Like a No 9 Bus

DIL at Lynton looking back at Exmoor

Funicular coming up from Lunmouth

Arriving at Lynton

Nice bit of old iron

Count the chimneys

Hey - wait for me.

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Like a No 9 bus...

Valley of the Rocks

Ponies seeking shade

Local grave yard

The candle stick maker
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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A Mohawk, a Bouzouki – guess who came to dinner?


Sometimes I can go for days without talking to a single person but this last couple of days I have made up for it in spades.  Kim http://kimayres.blogspot.co.uk/
 is that rare combination: a good conversationalist and an excellent listener and his son Rogan is one of the most charming, laid back teenager I have ever met ( he made me feel my cooked breakfast was excellent (boys in the family don’t get big ideasJ)
Talk with the right person is very therapeutic ultimately, but the first night my brain was spinning all night as the wire wouldn’t be disconnected. 
We decided to do a pleasant circular walk- we started up North Hill where I suddenly groaned, clutched my chest and bent over.  Not surprisingly the boys thought I was having a heart attack but I had felt my pearls slither down my chest and I didn’t want them to spill down the lane.  Somehow the magnetic clasp had opened.

 We had a meal out in the evening and throughout the meal I was aware of the table on our left almost completely silent and apparently listening to our unstoppable blethering.  BTW beware of long chats with Kim if you have secrets you must keep.  I know he would keep mum but there could be stuff you should keep to yourself.

 We had a brief bouzouki break and I enjoyed its tone and versatility

After some map reading the next day we went over Exmoor to Tarr Steps which had family memories for all.  Kim’s father is a painter and Tarr Steps was one of his subjects.  Discretion overcame valour (I have previous as far as the Steps are concerned) and so sat quietly licking a honeycomb ice cream whilst the young and younger diced with death over the river.  I remembered the more acute danger of the stepping stones over the river at Bolton Abbey –but then they are tougher up there.

Having done another pleasant stroll we decided to have lunch at one of the two Inns at Exford.
I got Kim to choose but refused to tell him which I preferred and amazingly he chose the right one.  I thought it was very generous to do even more driving just to give me a spin and we all appreciated it – even following the two muck carts for a couple of miles over the moor.
 A few shots in the garden and it was time for them to start their journey home, where I’m sure Magggie and Meg were looking forward to hearing about their adventures in the south

Some photos below.

A Mohawk, a Bouzouki and guess who came to dinner?

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Thursday, August 08, 2013

She never promised me a Rose Garden

She never promised me a Rose Garden.

My mother was a bit of a tease.  I always wanted to visit the Garden of the Rose and as it was in the county where my son lived it seemed a strong possibility, but somehow we never managed it.  Often it was the wrong time of year.

Then my mother stopped off at her grandson’s en route to the States and couldn’t wait to tell me she had been taken to see this special place.  She almost crowedJ

When my long awaited granddaughter Alice was born I was so thrilled.  We already had two lovely grand sons but never having had a daughter I longed for a little girl and remembered what a special relationship I had had with my Grandma.

Mum refused to get old – she already had six grandchildren including two girls but she decided to skip a generation and pronounced herself Alice’s Grandma.

 I was appalled.

‘You’re not her Grandma you are her Great Grandma!’

Mum was not amused and things started to get a bit stormy but MTL, as usual, calmed things down – quite firmly – and it was decided that I was the Grandma and Mum was Granny May.  (Great Granny May I muttered.)
Twenty one years later I got my wish and Alice, her Dad and I spent a lovely morning there.

The Gardens were opened in 1963 by HRH the Princess Royal sister of George VI and aunt to our Queen.

 It was a hazy sunshine day – and past the garden’s zenith so I am a little disappointed with the photos and discarded quite a few.  Still there are worse ways to spend a morning than drifting round fragrant gardens with my son and granddaughter.  FinallyJ

“The gardens were recently re-built by Adam Frost Landscapes. Recent re-planting was by members of the Board of Directors with the help of the garden team. The roses forming the History of the Rose Collections come from all over the world. They are a living illustration of the development of roses and rose-breeding trends, past and present. The beds trace the development of rose breeding, following along the broad grass walk, from the Albas and Gallicas by the species border through to the more modern Hybrid Teas and Floribundas by the Presidents' Walk. They include examples of rare roses, bred in Britain but lost to cultivation here, which the Historic Roses Group of the Society has recently reintroduced from abroad.

See photo below

Garden of the Rose

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