Monday, March 31, 2014


One of my sons doesn't approve of cards but over the years - knowing they mean a lot to me- he has relented.

However there is always something a little different about them.
For example the Birthday card with the Morris Minor is very Free - one of his favourite bands.

It's F reg, 1968, the year Free formed.

It's a Minor Traveller, the car in which Paul Kossoff drove the band round the 
country when they started.

And it's going "Over The Green Hills" their first recorded song.

The Mother's Day card he bought because he thought it looked like me.  In fact it is me.
Well spotted Angus.

The photos are acting up; please click on the first to see the whole thong

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Alastair's Arch

The arch was made by burgeoning Pittisporum and Berberis Darwinii and Alastair loved it. 
Not surprisingly it was and is less popular with van drivers but the arch stays.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

With a little help from my friends

Thanks to Kim, Rog and Scarlet I have - more or less - restored my runaway blog roll.
Hopefully I have updated the ones who have recently changed their blog details.
It was whilst trying to update it previously that the whole caboosh went walkabout so please think very carefully before you change anything in the future- if you care about my sanity that is.

There is no significance in there being two separate rolls - it just went that way.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

An old friend - Julia aka Jean McConnell

Some of you may remember the following when I was writing in the blog about my early life;
 this was in the sixties;

“I learned a lot working back stage on ‘The Summer of the Seventeenth Doll’ and had dreams of directing a play myself. At the wrap party Pete the director, introduced me to his wife, Julia. I had heard a lot about her. She was a writer, producer and actress and about ten years older than me. I heard her before I saw her and she was clearly a ball of fire – surrounded by a group of appreciative listeners whilst she held the floor. What intrigued me was the fact that she was lively and bouncy with black hair and a pale face but with tragic eyes. I recognised that look of a hidden sadness and when we were introduced the recognition was mutual.

We became friends – kindred spirits really - and when I saw her productions and saw her acting I realised how very talented she was. I told her I would be happy to help in any way in her next production although I was getting a variety of acting parts. I must have had a good report from Pete because she asked me to be assistant producer on her next play. She said I would have to take rehearsals when she was kept in town so it would be great experience.”

Julia was not her real name and she is less than ten years older.  Sadly distance and mobility problems mean we are kept apart now but frequently have long animated telephone conversations about the fun we had, the holiday in Venice, the friends now departed and the productions we were involved in. She was a magnificent Martha in the production I am most proud of:  “Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf?”

In spite of failing eyesight Jean is still working and has just had one of her older books published as an ebook.  Here is what I wrote about it:_

 The Country Doctor.

 Jean McConnell

As a teenager Linda was inspired by Marie Curie and dreamed of changing the medical world by a breakthrough in research, but during her training an encounter with a patient made it clear to her that direct contact with people was what she really wanted.
Having completed her training and ended a painful love affair she flees to the West Country to take up a six month post in General Practice under the auspices of the elderly Dr Ford.  His patience and wisdom helps Linda to temper her passions and to try to remain objective.  His son is not so patient, resulting in a few spats between the two young people.

 Living in the West Country for almost 30 years it is clear to me that the author knows the people and their ‘country ways’  She lets the characters speak for themselves and from the feckless Damerel family to the fearsome Commander they become real people.  She conjures up not only the charm of the countryside but also the tastes and smells and I learned a new expression – to ‘bell the cat.’ Google tells me it is to do a daring deed.

 Linda is a heroine I can empathise with and I enjoyed reading how she overcomes local prejudices because she’s pretty, a woman, an incomer and ‘not the proper doctor.’

  I was given a copy of this book by the publisher in return for an honest review.

















Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Garden mid March

Magnolia Stellata

Magnolia and camellia

Cornus Mas

Wild Grape Hyacinths

Wild Primroses

Monday, March 17, 2014

Sporting Champions

Sporting Champions
The other day I received my old school magazine - Bacup and Rawtenstall Grammar School - and there was a tiny photo of 'Sporting Champions.'
It had a familiar look - I remember that gym tunic - so I reached for a magnifying glass and found my sister - long jumping champion.  Slowly the names came back to identify the faces but not all.  I'm still in touch with a chap in my sister's year - not on the photo, although he was brilliant at sports and together - over the phone we almost completed the naming.  It must have been about 1942 so I was a mere upper thirder and most of these were lordly fifth and sixth formers.
On the second row, third boy from the left is - we - believe Ernest Tomlinson who was very big nationally in music. The boy right at the end of the second row  was his brother, nicknamed Hawk Eye and fantastic at sport.  The boy on his left, Peter Barcroft was a friend and tragically died whilst still  a young man.  The boy at the right end of the back row - even more tragically died in his teens.
My sister Margaret Geraldine Stephenson Barnes is on the front row - third from the left with white pumps - was good at sport, clever and good enough at art to be accepted by the Slade.  And she played the piano.  So unfair!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Spring arrived yesterday.

Spring arrived yesterday
There will be a carpet of camellias 
This is the first of my four camellias to bloom

This is the second and the picture has grown out of all proportion.  Ask not why:)

A persistent butterfly - was it someone I knew?
Clearly I need more stones for my defunct fountain.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

A Lovely Surprise.

A lovely surprise

On Tuesday I went to my first B Group for 3 weeks and there were some new faces and our leader Veronica was back from her trip up north.  Hugs were omitted as she had had a tummy bug.  One of the new members brought a tear to my eye.  She had met her husband at 16 and they married when she was 19.  They had been together for decades and now she was alone.  Not an unusual story but somehow I found her demeanour very moving.

Joy didn’t make the meeting but we have a standing arrangement that unless she phones we will meet at the Bistro.  After a while it became clear she wasn’t coming and when I phoned she apologised and said she didn’t feel up to it although she was all ready to come.  The next time I see her I shall make certain she has my mobile number.

I decided to have lunch anyway and joined the Separate Table Group where one sits alone and chats notwithstanding to the other tables.  Very chummy.

At last we seem to be having a spell of fine weather and my handyman turned up today.  He refused my offer of a rope ladder and climbed out from the attic window to discover where the leak was.  He found a hole in the flashing under the left attic window.  I crept into the front edge of the attic loft and could just see M waving his paint brush at the site of the hole.  We then went out onto the lawn and identified the spot as being directly over the damage in the corner of the nursery and guest bedroom.

After he repaired the hole he said we would give it a week and all being well he would come and repair and make good the damage.

I have a couple of writing projects at the moment and then I am going to give serious thought to putting my story on e-books.

Oh and the lovely surprise:  Veronica had taken Peter with her – an early member of the group and for the last few months Veronica’s boy friend.  We only see him now at the social groups as he no longer feels eligible.  When they were planning their trip which encompassed Yorkshire and Cumbria they spotted the proximity of Gretna Green and YES dear reader they got wed.

Tummy bug or no tummy bug I had to go and give Veronica a big hug.  We saw a couple of photos; her very hairy dog had a make over and feathers in her hair and what I could see of V and P (they were almost hidden by a large lady minister –these were just snaps) they looked happy and indeed the sun did shine on them.

Veronica had a beautiful Gaelic wedding ring with tiny Gaelic animals encircling it.
It had a Greek look at first glance.  To my horror she took it off to let Sylvia look more closely but was reassured that Veronica isn’t at all superstitious so all should be well. D.V.

Lately I have had a decision problem which has been bugging me.  I talked it over with one of the family and his advice was to put the problem in a box, close the box, put it in a drawer to be looked at after my holiday in May and not to bother thinking about it till then.  It works for me.

Monday, March 03, 2014

Last week was better.

Last week was better.

Physically I felt more myself and mentally Sam’s visit had broken up the gloom clouds.  The flood situation has dropped out of the news but the fall out is likely to be with us for some time.  For instance it is well nigh impossible to get a builder to come and deal with storm damage – or similar - and my dear friend Margaret who was coming to stay round about my birthday found she couldn’t book her ticket because the railway lines twixt Bristol and Taunton are closed as a result of flood damage and no indication of when they will be functioning again.
Feeling germy I had missed three Bereavement Group meetings so it was good to get back and have a few rueful giggles about our Bristol theatre trip.  The damage caused to C’s car when the rear end dropped in a hole on the foggy moor caused £700 of damage so she is getting a new car.  I’m not sure how new but it will be new to her.

Joy and I met for lunch at the Bistro and when I discovered that – possibly for the first time - we both had our mobiles with us I suggested we made sure we had each other’s numbers for any emergency.  The trouble with older people - we tend to treat mobiles like electric light and keep them switched off so as not to waste electricity.

‘I know I’ve got yours because my daughter put it on for me,’ said Joy.

‘OK then ring me and we’ll check.  You’ll have to switch it on Joy.’

It didn’t work so I thought I would try something else.

‘I’ll put your number on my phone and then I’ll phone you.  You’ll have to tell me the number.’

We did this and again it didn’t work.  Half way through dessert it hit me.  We had put our home numbers on so of course our mobiles weren’t answering.

All the lunches were finished and everyone looked pleasantly soporific.  The waitress – a very pleasant middle aged lady said she had noticed we had been having trouble and would we like her to help.  It is definitely a younger person's sport so we eagerly accepted and asked if she would help us to put each other’s mobile numbers on each other’s phone.

It took sometime for us to discover our mobile numbers but eventually we had two mobiles switched on and two mobile numbers for both Pat and Joy respectively. I noticed our waitresses face was getting quite pink but eventually she said we should try ringing them.

Eureka?  Not!  It didn’t work again.

‘Oh not to worry – it was really kind of you to offer.  Joy I’m going to dash off before the next downpour.’

The waitress’s face turned scarlet.

‘I thought YOU were Joy and YOU were Pat.  I’ve put them on the wrong phones.  Excuse me I’ll have to go to the kitchen and cool down.’

We’d all been there.  We didn’t tell her of the joys still to come.

Saturday, March 01, 2014