Thursday, January 28, 2010

A Remarkable Woman

Last night I watched a programme which had been recorded when Alice Sommer Hertz was 98. She is now 106 and living in London. When she was over 100 years of age she was going to the University three times a week for the Third Age. She is a concert pianist and survivor of Nazi concentration camps. Born in Prague to a family of musicians (her mother played with Gustave Mahler as a child) She lost most of her loved ones in the Holocaust but listening to Alice speak passionately of her love of music –‘it is our language – it is our food’ with her eternal optimism – ‘Life is beautiful – extremely beautiful’ was an uplifting and inspiring experience.

Almost every night she dreams of the moment when she and her child and all the other women from Theresienstadt were marched into a field and told to line up in rows of ten. In the distance they could see their men folk and they were never to see them again. The women stood in the bitter cold waiting to be shot and then a Czech voice rang out with the order:

‘Back to the Ghetto!’ and she said that from being Hell the ghetto became Paradise. Asked many times what one feels when one knows it is one’s last moment on earth she said there is no fear – just blackness – a black curtain comes down.

Interspersed throughout the programme she played the piano - she practises two and a half hours every day and said the German composers were geniuses. She didn’t want to ever speak of the atrocities that were committed but said it was extremely hard to have a child who is always hungry and not be able to feed him. She had no hate in her heart for Germans but said Hitler was a mad man and she could never understand why people had followed him. She maintained that if Hitler had listened to two bars of the music he would have hated less.

In the ghetto were a band of musicians and throughout all the privation and suffering the music gave them joy – they were healthy because of playing the music every night

‘It is the most beautiful thing that life can bring you. To my last day I will believe it helped me and made my life beautiful – it made me happy.’

Alice believed that her twin sister would not have had such a short life if she had not been a pessimist. She told Alice that it was a terrible world and when she died in Israel Alice came to live in London. Alice said three things were her religion.

#1 The love of a mother for her child

#2 The joy of nature.

#3 The joy of music. ‘We speak about music and we are happy.’

Asked what she has learned:

That she is grateful to her mother for telling her to learn, learn, and learn and to be thankful for everything – everything is a present. ‘Fill your life with beauty. Life is extremely beautiful – nature is beautiful and love is beautiful. Work the brain.’

Her beloved son also a gifted musician – a cellist - died aged 67.

Aged 104 Alice became famous with the publication of her book ‘The Garden of Eden in Hell’. I tried to find a you tube of Alice playing but there was only the whole programme, so below is Beethoven – one of her geniuses

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The Music

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

E-mail from America

My friend Judy from North Carolina has a blogging friend who enjoys garage sales and recently - for just $2 bought an ancient journal she had unearthed under damp rubbish. The poem below is just one of the treasures included and because it is about England Judy aka Kenju thought I would be interested. I think it is quite special and the blog itself is worth a look. To read more about her find click on the link below and scroll down to January 23rd

Click to enlarge

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Monday, January 25, 2010

My Sweet Pea Fairy

You don't have to believe in fairies but isn't she adorable? She's a last minute gift from Margaret and there's a poem on the back and everything. Click and you can read the poem. It's far too precious to use that hook so I must get a large enough plate stand.

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Sunday, January 24, 2010

The End of an Era

Yes we’ll keep in touch. Yes we’ll meet again and yes we remaining trio will keep the flag flying but it will never be the same again. Almost 25 year of intense friendship between four women and the catalyst – the glue which kept us bonded – after months of broken chains and disappointments is finally leaving - our much loved Margaret.

Last Friday we were having a farewell (not – we hope – a last) lunch together. Three of us walked down the lane – thankful that the torrential rain held off – and met up with Joy - who lives above us but had taken a shorter route - at the Italian restaurant.

As none of us were driving, the three younger, naughty ones had large glasses of wine whilst Jackie had the normal size. We were pleasantly surprised to find the main dishes were priced at £3. Joy had spag bog and three of us had various omelettes with a plate of bruschetta.

There was a lot of laughter and not a few tears as we looked back on the highlights and low lights of our time together and agreed how blessed we had been to spend it in so lovely an area. Unusually none of us were very hungry so we decided to walk back to mine and have coffee and ├ęclairs (weight watchers – delicious but healthy –ish) instead of dessert.. Margaret gave us each a gift and a letter saying what we all felt. And then we had a glass of Christmas port - because it was there

At last the time came to go our separate ways and Jackie said plaintively:

‘We always said we’d end up in a home together.’ More laughter and tears. Can you imagine four elderly ladies having a group hug?

Off to Pastures new

The glue on a lovely day in Bath
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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Lovely Jean Simmons as I remember her.

Jean Simmons 1929 -2010. Rest in Peace.
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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


I spent yesterday afternoon trying to capture the antics of a blackbird and robin alternating on the fat balls outside the dining room window but the little wretches were playing with me and would fly off as soon as I focussed. This morning I was roused by an insistent song thrush which inspired me to find the video below. I was so nearly there.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Edie Falco

I started watching Nurse Jackie simpy because of Edie Falco. Any actor with a leading part in The Sopranos has to be worth a try. The BBC ran six episodes on the trot by which time I was hooked I have to say it's not like any hospital ward I've ever worked on but that was a long time ago. In spite of the drugs and the fact that she is cheating on a husband and a lover both of whom she appears to love (she slips her ring into her uniform pocket when on duty so the lover may not even know she is married with children) she is basically a caring, compassionate nurse.

In spite of the seriousness of the subjects dealt with there are hilarious moments such as when she has a mobile clutched to each ear as she murmurs to both men 'Love you!' and rings off. She has a habit of replacing a sucrose packet with some other substance and drops it into her coffee to see her through the day and unknowingly an officious supervisor helps herself and as a result demonstrates great physical comedy.
Each part is brilliantly played as one has come to expect in American shows of this calibre.

You can imagine I was not thrilled when after six episodes of twelve it vanished off the face of the earth but all is not lost. Thanks to Michael Ball on Sunday Brunch the next episode is tonight BBC2 at 10 pm and thence every Monday till the end. Look out for Zoey played by Merritt Weaver. When asked who she would like to play her in a movie of her life Edie said Merritt - she is scary- talented. so even though we don't look alike I'd be honoured if she would play me as there's nothing she can't do.
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Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Few Random Holiday snaps.

The War Memorial - I thibnk it was Delhi.

I think these ladies are the Jaisalmer equivalent of the Minehead four.

Beige doesn't exist in Jaisalmer.

The teacher gave me permission to snap the children
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This was a model village demonstrating daily life in an idealistic way - for the tourists.

More realistic.

The world over - men chew the fat and the women work.
Can you imagine - with these redhot chillies how careful the girls have to be to avoid touching vulnerable parts?

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Friday, January 15, 2010

Views from our next cottage.

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Blue skies around the corner

Leah said:

You take care too, Pat! It is so cold and yucky here in Brooklyn. I'm trying not to be longing for Spring with too much enthusiasm--after all, time is precious and one doesn't want always to be living only for the next moment--however...*whispers* I'm still longing for Spring...

which got me thinking am I wasting what’s left of my life by always insisting on having something to look forward to? For instance next week is our last jolly with the girls before Margaret – my dear friend leaves for pastures new. Then there’s my birthday lunch with the boys in March and in May we are forsaking our favourite cottage in Fremington and going further east to an equally attractive one. But I’m not wishing the time away – just relishing the thought of future delights. Rather like being on a choppy sea but the harbour lights in the distance are reassuring. Does that make sense? I do think it is important to live in the now. What do you think?

BTW if you need some self affirmation - and who doesn’t in a rather dreary January – go to Kim’s place . I’ll try to do the links but you know what I’m like and both Leah and Kim are on the side bar. Fortuitously.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


To send a donation to the accredited Disaster Emergency Fund call 03706060900
This was announced by Fern Britton on BBC2.
It was automated but is quite straight forward and they read it all back to you to avoid any mistakes.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

What a Joy!

I have just watched this brilliant movie with my heart in my mouth for much of the time - you never know with Danny Boyle and destiny - I won't give away the ending but but there was a glorious all singing and dancing finale. It was great to be in Mumbai again and see the Taj - even the train looked familiar. Bravo!
Snow again.

Well they did say the SW would get it again. I walked down to the town yesterday for a dentist’s appointment (all fine just a crown tidied) bought birthday cards up till March, had the new pad affixed to my glasses and tried on and rejected two winter coats. Then last night – for some reason felt as if I had cracked ribs. This morning it has eased off but the snow has decided me and in spite of being all behind – figuratively speaking – I’m going back to bed to resist the temptation of trying to catch up.

Fortunately we are well stocked after a big shop. One of our old neighbours fell on the ice, broke a leg and is in hospital where visitors are not allowed because of infection. So no-one is going anywhere for a while. Take care!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

False Economy?

Wandering round Tescos – doing our last big shop – now almost depleted and no sign of a let up in the big freeze – MTL said:

‘Choose some flowers.’ Concerned at the way our food bills have shot up and afraid to hazard a guess at what our fuel bills will be I said:

‘Oh – I was going to economise and not get any.’

In the end I obeyed my husband and am glad I did; the flowers bring some cheer to this debilitating cold.

And nobody knows (Tiddely pom)

How cold my toes (Tiddely pom)

How cold my toees (Tiddely pom)

Are growing.

A.A,Milne 1882-1956

Some say the world will end in fire

Some say in ice.

From what I’ve tasted of desire

I hold with those who favour fire.

Robert Frost 1875-1963

Economy is going without something you do want in case you should , some day, want something you probably don’t want.

Anthony Hope 1863-1933

Though nothing can bring back the hour

Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower.

To me the meanest flower that blows can give

Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.

William Wordsworth 1770-1850

Are you feeling the pinch? How would you economise? Are flowers a needless expenditure?

Flowers - a needless expenditure?
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Friday, January 08, 2010

A Great Night Out

Reeves Restaurant in Dunster was recommended to us by a number of people and we chose it for the anniversary of our reunion 31 years ago. Don't go out unless you have to was ringing in our ears but with advice from people on the spot we took a calculated risk which gave an extra frisson of excitement to the outing. We were told the Reeves have travelled extensively and the restaurant is full of memetoes from their wanderings. The effect is like an Aladdin's cave - both exotic and pleasing. It certainly lived up to its reputation of fine dining
and we both had an excellent night's sleep afterwards always a telling indication IMO.

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Unusual art work - the lambs were silent.

Seating ares to have drink and look at the menu.
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A view of the dining area

I loved the butter rose and the bread was to die for so I threw caution to the wind and tucked in.

I loved this crispy chicken and courgette tempura with lemon syrup - my starter. MTL had chowder soup which he proclaimed very good.

This was my roast rump of lamb with a crispy parsnip crust on a mint and redcurrant reduction.
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Paella for MTL

MTL had a white and dark chocolate dessert. It was delicious.

A sort of Eton Mess with rhubarb inteadof raspberries

There were truffles - briefly - then back home, replete and happy.
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Thursday, January 07, 2010

Mission Accomplished

We had a phone call from the restaurant to check if we wanted to cancel and decided that as long as the taxi driver appeared we would turn up if they were happy about that - they had been having cancellations - possibly from clients further inland. Our driver turned up promptly and said the road was fine between Minehead and Dunster and he promised to come for us when we phoned. It was a calculated risk which I'm happy we took - it was a delightful evening - of which more later.

Looking down towards the castle - the tree is still up.

Looking up towards the Yarn Market.
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Wednesday, January 06, 2010

A Rare View for us

The north wind doth blow and we do have snow but the roar of the wind makes me wonder if tonight's jaunt will be wise.

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