Monday, November 30, 2009

A Good Read

Elphinston. “What, have you not read it through?”…
Johnson. “No Sir, do you read books through?”
Life of Johnson (J. Boswell) Vol 11

I was just coming to the end of a ‘how to‘ book and was desirous of a little light reading. On the window sill in the bed-room is a pile of books I haven’t managed to finish – or in the case of two Dan Brown’s even start. There was an unfamiliar looking paperback with a ‘two for one’ sticker and the plea to read it and pass it on. Where it came from is as much a mystery as the strange Louise I am meant to meet one morning in December.

The Guardian said it was ‘spectacular …fiendishly clever’ which I am not. It is based on a real life event – when Sigmund Freud and his disciple Carl Jung visited America to deliver a series of lectures on psychoanalysis. The title is ’The Interpretation of Murder’ and the writer is Jed Rubenfield who is a Professor of Law at Yale University. Although it didn’t sound like my kind of book I was desperate and from the first page I was hooked – I love his elegant writing - the story is a page-turner and I am having to ration myself to a chapter at bed-time. It is a rare gift for a highly intelligent writer to appeal to the man/woman in the street IMO.

As one who ponders for hours on the names of characters I was amused to find the hero is named Younger – after Jung no doubt? I expect lots of you know him already and I’m preaching to the converted. If not try him.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Jaunt Over

What a good job we weren’t flying. I managed to get everything into one small push case and just as we were leaving a strange buzzing noise started which seemed to emanate from the case. It was quite relentless and feeling strangely nervous I started to unpack. Visions of being asked:

‘Did you pack your suit-case yourself Madam?’ It seemed to be coming from the innermost depths – a separate waterproof zipped compartment and throwing caution to the winds I unzipped it. There was my electric toothbrush whizzing its little head off.

The Farthings Hotel was warm and welcoming and we had the lovely Garden room we had previously but as the weather continued to be foul we didn’t visit the animals or the garden. The evening passed fairly quickly with drinks and dinner – it always surprises me how we never seem to run out of things to talk about. I heard of one couple who on the rare occasions they ate out together used to recite nursery rhymes to each other so that it wasn‘t obvious they had nothing to say to each other.

By the time we had breakfast the next day it was still quite early and neither of us felt like hanging around in thundery weather until the film at 2.30 so we cut our losses and called at a nearby complex where I bought a Hetty – companion for our Henry so that we have an upstairs and downstairs, decent vacuum. Nearer home we called for a coffee at the Garden Centre and I bought MTL’s Christmas present – a forest green fleece which I managed to persuade him to try on and it looked great.

Back home the house is still full of flowers – such a contrast to the miserable greyness outdoors. Birthday cards, anniversary cards and now Christmas cards have started to arrive. As Joyce my old cleaner used to say:

‘Ne’er mind! Can’t be ‘elped! Be a’right!’

Christmas has come to the Garden Centre

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Late Start

The early sun didn’t fool me for a moment and sure enough the Heavens opened. We had already decided to put shopping on the back burner. Christmas is more or less sorted and personal shopping seems inappropriate just now. So a simple lunch then we’re off to Hatch Beauchamp.

This made me laugh: Roy Hudd – the physical embodiment of old Music Hall was talking on the radio about his memoirs – forget the celebrity tripe – this will have a lifetime of laughter and tears between its covers. He was an evacuee and used to love getting letters from his mother who – sadly - suffered from depression. When winter came she sent him a parcel containing his winter overcoat. She wrote that because of the expense of postage she had cut off the buttons. And the buttons were in the left hand pocket.

The sad part was that Roy was mostly brought up by his Gran and his mother committed suicide. No-one told Roy and she was never mentioned until one day his Gran said:
‘Your mother’s dead. And there isn’t a Father Christmas.’

His Gran used to say he was like a fart in a colander he was so lively and his wife
(who I believe is Lancastrian) said he must use that as the title. And he has.
Back soon.

Monday, November 23, 2009

November 23rd 1979

We deliberately made it a low key affair. My parents drove over from Lancashire and my sister arrived from the States. One of my sons and his girl friend came and one of MTL’s children with her husband; it took some of them a little longer to come to terms with our getting married. It was chilly but bright and as we left the house I nearly lost my nerve - all the stress of the last few months caught up with me and someone took a photo of the bride to be - head down, being coaxed along the path by MTL and my mother.

We drove to the Registry office in Macclesfield and parking was a problem; every time we found a space to back into Dad drove up close behind so we couldn’t reverse. I wasn’t keen on the idea of being married in a Registry Office and when I saw we were to be married by a woman – in a trouser suit my discomfiture was complete.

When we were all assembled in the room I looked at MRL’s white strained face and pulled myself together. I looked at the ones I loved and began to relax and holding tightly onto MTL’s hand gave myself permission to stop worrying about everybody else and concentrate on the two of us – at last – being together as man and wife.

Once the ceremony was over everybody relaxed and there were lots of hugs and a few tears. MTL had persuaded me it would be a good idea to have lunch at home (he’s made up for it since) but everybody helped and by mid afternoon we left them to it and escaped to our favourite Lake District for a few days. We decided however short or long our time together we weren’t going to waste any of it. And I don’t think we have.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Churchill, Romola and Stephen.

Remember Romola Garai from the latest Emma and the young girl in Atonement? She has just made a film with Stephen Poliakoff – a mystery thriller – Glorious 39 which promises to be next in line of exciting British films released in the last year. A fan, already I predict Romola will be the next Keira Knightley. Interestingly she has had no formal dramatic training.

A coincidence is that the film is set in pre- war Britain in 1939 and Churchill was mentioned as Romola and Stephen were interviewed by Andrew Marr. Yesterday – I was researching Churchill’s speeches – we always knew he was in two minds about our ‘noble allies‘ the Russians, but he actually said in 1939:-

I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle wrapped in mystery inside an enigma

The bridges in Cumbria were always special to MTL and me after a momentous walking holiday in 1949. Today they are all closed until they have been checked for safety and:

Still falls the Rain
Dark as the world of man,
Black as our loss
Blind as the nineteen hundred and forty nails
Upon the Cross

Edith Sitwell 1887-1964

Saturday, November 21, 2009

All’s Quiet on the Western Front… it seems like a good time to get stuck into revising my MS. I’m cheered to have someone - whose opinion I respect and who I know will be honest with me - agree to vet my work as it progresses. If you notice a wealth of adjectives, adverbs, clich├ęs and general bad habits spilling over into the blog it’s because I’m fine–tooth combing the book and they’ve got to go somewhere.

It isn’t quiet everywhere in blog land-I came across a blog the other day with something like 2000 followers. The film I wanted to see as an anniversary treat is not on in our nearest complex but ‘An Education ‘ is and it sounds interesting; Lynn barber’s teen- age memories of being dazzled by an older man – and who wasn’t? Our day is really Monday but we have had so many celebrations on a November Monday when restaurants are often deserted or indeed closed so we are having it on Wednesday.

It is another wet, wet miserable day here and my heart goes out to the people in Cumbria and Scotland who are suffering floods and the resulting hardship. A brave policeman lost his life guarding a bridge and trying to prevent people crossing. The bridge gave way and he was swept to his death.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Better than a slap in the belly with a wet fish!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Pithy Words.

"I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by."
Douglas Adams

"Nothing in life is permanent, not even one’s troubles."
Charlie Chaplin

"You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Love is the greatest refreshment in life."
Pablo Picasso

"Happiness often sneaks in through a door you didn’t know you left open."
John Barrymore

"Dreams are today’s answers to tomorrow’s questions."
Edgar Gayce

"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."
Eleanor Roosevelt

"One should not lose one’s temper unless one is certain of getting more and more angry to the end".
William Butler Yeats.

"Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom."
General George Patton

"Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising."
Mark Twain

"If women didn’t exist, all the money in the world would have no meaning."
Aristotle Onassis

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Where did it go?

Our 30th wedding anniversary looms – next week (it’s Pearl since you’re asking) - and MTL asked what I’d like to do. I wondered if we had had too much excitement recently and perhaps we should have a quiet night in. I gave it serious thought – for a whole 30 seconds - and then thought what I’d really, really like to do.

Two things I miss – going to the cinema (60 mile round trip) and shopping which means a trip to Taunton but if we spent a night in an hotel near Taunton we could kill three birds with one stone – another favourite pursuit of mine which drives MTL to distraction. It did seem selfish to do just what I wanted to do but when I questioned MTL he said that it was what he wanted also. I’m not sure about the shopping but if it comes to pass I’ll make sure he’s comfortably settled in a cafe with the paper.

There are two hotels in the Taunton area where we have had pleasant stays – Mount Somerset which is quite grand and The Farthings which we settled on. I don’t know how to do a link to a particular post – must learn – but if you look up November 26th 2007 in the archives you’ll see why we chose it.

There is a particular film which I long to see: Jane Campion’s Bright Star – said to be her best since The Piano. It is about the poet John Keats and his love Fanny Brawne and stars Ben Whishaw, Abbie Cornish (both new to me) and Kerry Fox – an old favourite. Of course the film may not be showing on the particular day and torrential rain will preclude shopping but the hotel is booked and that’s the plan.

Bright Star - Jane Campion's new film

Abbie Cornish and Ben Whishaw
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Saturday, November 14, 2009


May I just say that I never knowingly don't answer a comment - if only with a smile. However sometimes they get jumbled and I miss one. And sometimes answers I have written get gobbled up by some evil power. OK and sometimes I miss scrolling down for word verification and think I've posted something when I haven't.
This has just happened - whatever the reason - with Kevin, Four Dinners and Jimmy.
As if I would ever ignore three such lovely gentlemen.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Idle Chit Chat.

Don’t you just love it when some one read your archives?

On September 17th 2006 I wrote:

When Kate first showed me a snap of Plas y Nant I knew it was going to be a special place. Betws Garmon is five miles SE of Caernarvan – an area of mountains, llyns, (lakes) waterfalls and glens. Plas itself was a rambling old building in grounds that begged to be explored and with a fantastic view of the Elephant and Llyn Quellyn. In February the Elephant – you can guess its shape - was diamond encrusted as a result of all the minute slivers of ice scattered over it.

Because of the time of year Kate and I were the only guests, with an influx of walkers at the week-end. This didn’t trouble us as we both needed respite and
Lena, the manager made sure we got it. It was a Christian Fellowship Home and Kate was a bit worried about my finger nails. Off duty I wore Peggy Sage nail varnish and Kate thought Lena might be shocked. However since my break up with Jamie a bit of steel had entered my soul and I no longer felt obliged to try desperately to please everybody.

Lena was a gentle looking lady –slight, with fuzzy hair and large owlish glasses. She had complete control over all guests at all times, even the rowdy ones in the larger parties. We were privileged to have her undivided attention and I certainly found peace and tranquillity. One of the charming customs of the house – when it was occupied by men and women - was the evening ritual when the men would gather outside the conservatory and serenade the women with ‘Good Night Ladies.’ I can’t remember what we sang to them and neither can Kate.’

This week I received this e-mail:

“Hi Pat,

You might like to know that the song the girls sang to the boys in response to their "Goodnight Ladies" was as follows

sung to the tune "All through the Night"

Fondly then I dream of thee, love

All through the night

Waking still thy form I see, love

All through the night

When this mortal toil is over

May my gentle spirit hover

O'er the bed where sleeps my lover

All through the Night.

Hope I've got it right - I must have sung it many, many times over the years.

Try singing it, you will be reminded of that wonderful place Plas-y-Nant. I met my husband there in 1960.

Unfortunately it is now up for sale again but we have been fortunate to be able to have several years of re-unions with old friends there since 2000.

Best wishes

Plasite, Pam.”

Quit a few of us had a romance in Plas. I remember Gerhardt a young German boy – it was just after the war. Such gentle times – we were both strongly attracted to each other but we never kissed – just held hands and stared dreamily at each other. After all I was only 19.

Progress is being made; I collect my new specs today the pelvic floor exercises are proving successful and an op is no longer on the agenda. (Girls it’s never too early to tighten up. Read ‘Love your Gusset’ by Grace Dorey.)

Plas y Nant

P with two nursing friends

P and Gerhardt

P with two of the German Party
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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Another year older and deeper in debt

In spite of a 24 hr tummy bug I think MTL enjoyed the birthday week, made special by the arrival of our Australian son or A S who quickly threw off jet lag and was changing light bulbs, sorting technical problems, shopping and being the perfect Jeeves before you could say ‘G’day!’

We went to our favourite Italian for the birthday dinner and took A.S. to an excellent pub – new to him – The Notley Arms at Monksilver another day. I was given a beautiful bouquet which is still giving pleasure and MTL’s birthday present from our Australian family was a digital photo frame. You plug it in and there is an endless stream of family photos showing the family, the animals, the homestead and various adventures they have had out there. So much easier than poring over albums and something that will give us continuing pleasure

We might have been in Vermont driving through the Barle valley to Dulverton where although it was a dreary day we discovered the Wood’s Restaurant. MTL had read about it - apparently Prince William dined there and loved it but this is hearsay as MTL did the unforgivable and threw away the cutting. It is a restaurant and wine bar – quite unprepossessing looking from outside but the buzz hits you as you enter and the locals love it – always a good sign.

It was once an old bakery. There is a blazing log fire and it is split level with the popular bar at the top of the restaurant.

Clean, accurate, straightforward modern British cooking with French influences - using quality West Country produce - is the draw here with a great choice of eating options from simple light lunches to the full carte, which might include roast tenderloin of Somerset pork and slow-cooked belly stuffed with boudin noir. Ask for help in choosing a wine and you won't be disappointed either.

I can endorse that completely and the service is welcoming and efficient. Apart from the very expensive wines you can have any wine by the glass. Quite a find. We were thankful AS was at the wheel because – as usual - driving through the town was a nightmare - people apparently driving in circles – but somehow -we managed to park outside the restaurant.

When we bought our new TV I took my mother’s old one upstairs complete with digital box, DVD player and recording machine but didn’t know how to attach the recording machine and it seemed to be a good idea to play my old tapes and decide which were worth putting on disc. I used to be an avid cam-corder-er but my digital camera is more fun so I decided to offer the cam- corder to one of the grandchildren. However one of the sons warned me to be sure I hadn’t got a used film inside and AS managed to get it played so I could see what was on it. Thank goodness – it was taken 12 years ago – there is MTL’s 70th birthday weekend hosted by our now Australian family, interviews with grand children when they were little ones and my last interview with my mother on the eve of her emigrating to America – aged 90 - in September and she died early December. It brings back laughter and bitter sweet memories.

Wood's Wine Bar and Restaurant

One end of the restaurant - the bar is at the other end

A friendly Dulverton dog.
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Saturday, November 07, 2009

Band of Brothers

Remembering my father's family: back row left to right- Joe, my Dad,
Ernest, Ben, Frank, Jack.
Middle row Grandad B and Granny B.
Front row Harold.

There was a daughter Margaret who didn't survive and Granny B died when I was a little girl so all I remember is her black hair and eyes, jet ear-rings, black bombazine dresses and black horse hair sofas. Grandad had a waxed moustache, was very upright and I don't remember any of the affection I had from my maternal Grandad.
Ben, Ernest and Jack served in France in WW1. Ernest was gassed and Jack was awarded a medal
The war afffected their health and Jack - our favourite uncle, was the first to die in his forties. My Dad as a young boy ran away to join up to be with his brothrs but was brought back by Grandma
Joe and Harold served in WW2 and Ben's three sons - Benny , Danny and Ernest also served in WW2. Benny was taken prisoner, escaped and travelled through Spain where he was treated very badly.

This would be in the thirties when the family played a band of brothers from Somerseat( Lancs)
Back row Frank, Harold, Ben, Dad, Ernest.
Middle row Ernest( cousin) Jack, Grandad, Joe, ???
Front row Danny and Benny(cousins)
The game was cricket - Jack was famed for his wicket keeping. Sadly I'm afraid we lost.
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Friday, November 06, 2009

The Last of the Fremington photos

Must be a house boat.

The riddle of the sands?

The Williams Arms - further towards Croyde and another good eating place.
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Instow is down the coast from Fremington. Going up the coast you come to the Tarka Inn which is a landmark for miles around. We had lunch - appreciating the roaring fire and good food. The great thing is the Tarka Trail runs right along the coast here.

Down the path I reached another part of the Tarka Trail and decided to wander up it to see the lie of the land.

A different atmosphere to Instow
brooding and mysterious

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I waited for ages for them to hoist this boat in the air but they wouldn't play.

Shooting into the sun.

Who couldn't love Instow
The dear old Commodore where we have stayed many times.
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Monday, November 02, 2009

Cutting Costs.

My eyes are blind,
I cannot se,
I have not got my specs with me.

Time to see the optician. I knew my reading glasses and my sunglasses needing updating but hoped my very expensive Zeiss, varifocals with titanium frames (for lightness) would do another turn. Our optician of many years has now retired but the young Irish replacement was pleasant and seemed to know what he was about. Apparently my eyes have changed over the last two years and all my glasses need updating.

Good news in a way in that at least reading will be easier. Less good was the news there is a beginning of a cataract in one eye which should – he said - be protected from sunlight. My last words to MTL:

‘Don’t worry I shan’t do anything in a hurry. I’ll just get my prescription and think about going to Spec Savers in Taunton.’

So I went ahead and ordered new, but got the optician on my side about cutting costs. I don’t know why I have always had Zeiss- apparently they are more expensive than others equally good so no Zeiss. He agreed that as my reading glasses frames were as new (only used in bed) they needn’t have new frames. He also decided that my titanium frames needn’t be changed and as for the sun glasses he suggested I have transitional lenses on my every day glasses which then will automatically darken in bright light to protect my eyes all the time. So whoopee - no sun glasses and a more reasonable outlay.

So glad I went - the only down side is – for the next week or so - I shall be wearing quite old specs so there may be a few errors- or rather a few more.

Busy week: our son is arriving form Australia for a flying visit – which will be lovely - and it’s MTL’s birthday. Be seeing you – dimly.