Friday, August 31, 2012

For Angus who introduced me to Jimi

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Yikes – I’ve overslept!


I dimly remember MTL rising about 6.30am and saying

 “If I were you I’d have a lie in.”

I drifted downstairs at tennish to find no husband and no car.  The calendar revealed  he had an appointment at the Warfarin Clinic at 9.30am (so that’s alright then) and I had an appointment at 11am – absolutely NOT alright then.

An abject phone call to my therapist earned me forgiveness and a postponement so I could breathe again.

 Yesterday was lovely and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.  The three of us had a faintly bone- shattering bus ride to Taunton, in grim weather, but everything brightened when we discovered Margaret – our fourth member, in Debenhams – having trained from Cheltenham.

 After a long coffee and catch – up we found the fashion floor – not as straight forward as you may think with four highly informed opinions which tend to differ where geography is concerned.  Joy wanted to find ‘Jake’s’ (translated - this turned out to be Jacque Vert aka Jack Green the fashion brand) to get an outfit for her grand –daughter’s wedding in October.

 We found a pretty floaty number in different shades of aubergine but there were no trousers and Joy was determined to wear trousers.  The four of us flitted from rival firm to rival firm taking stock from hither to yon.  (I did apologise to the assistants but they seemed glad of any activity on such a beastly day).  In the end we had to admit a temporary defeat and crossed over the road to the County Stores for lunch.

 Once we were sitting comfortably with a bottle of wine- and later food, the time passed pleasantly with photo swapping and presents for the birthday girls.  Margaret never allows us to forget that she is the youngest –actually ten years younger than Jackie so we were shocked to hear she had had a fall.  The day after travelling from Scotland she and her husband had been at a nursery and Margaret went to the car to put a plant in the boot- plant in one hand, keys in the other.  The next thing she knew she was on the ground and when she finally managed to get to her feet held her hands aloft crying,

“Where is the blood coming from?” (My telling her of the experience with the Lady Macbeth dress, see Le Weekend Part 2 - reminded her she had felt exactly like Lady M.)

In fact the wound was under her chin, she had to go to hospital for stitches and found she had dislocated her jaw. The medic got her to make extraordinary grimaces and all went back in place.  Had it been me I would have got them to gather up the slack at the same time as the sutures, but that’s just me.

 Her presents for the girls were those crystal things that you can hang by a window and they sparkle in the sun - in the shape of a tiny angel and a drink mat each with a sparkling design.  Such pretty items.  No-one seemed to mind that we had been sitting there for hours but eventually it was time to brave the deluge and part.  Hugs, kisses and – inevitably Margaret’ tears and we experienced once more, the sweet sorrow of parting.

 The journey back was bad –crawling through Taunton and visiting every nook and cranny of West Somerset.  Only one 7- seater taxi awaited us in Minehead.  One of us – who shall be nameless, said we shouldn’t take that - it would be too expensive. So like Ninnies we stood for 20minutes until one of us rebelled.  By the time he had dropped three of us the total cost was £4 which is incredible value.!!!!!
I had just changed into something comfy and the phone rang.  It was Jackie distraught because she had lost the bag with the present from Margaret.  As I said to MTL,

“She’ll be heartbroken if she has lost it”.

Ten minutes later the doorbell rings – it’s Jackie with a happy smile on her face.  Her daughter seeing the distress on her mother’s face rushed her down to Minehead and the bag was safely found in the taxi.
No wonder I overslep

Monday, August 27, 2012

Culture, birthdays and a Dilemma

Culture, Birthdays and a Dilemma


It was when he buried his head in the horse’s withers and, as the camera moved away, this stalwart’s despairing sobs could just be heard through the mist, that I was hooked.

Parade’s End dramatised by Tom Stoppard from three novels by Ford Maddox Ford is broadcast on BBC2 in five episodes at 9pm.

It could be named the thinking man’s Downton Abbey.  One has to keep one’s wits about one to follow the plot. It has an illustrious cast; Rebecca Hall and Anne Marie Duff – both of whom I would go far to see and Benedict Cumberbatch to name only a fraction of the talent.  Indeed my eyes kept checking the cast list so often I almost lost track of the action.  As it is I expect I shall end up reading the novels.

The title Parade’s End denotes the violent end of Edwardian Britain similar to Robert Grave’s title Goodbye to All That and the hero, Cumberbatch, is a brilliant statistician married to a wayward socialite played by Rebecca Hall.  Then on the golf course he encounters a young suffragette being chased by the police and he is captivated.  But he is an honourable man and his wife is about to return to the marital home after some high jinks on the continent.  Awkward!

It’s not too late to catch the first episode and then join me in what I’m sure is going to be a rare treat.  With a cast like that and Tom Stoppard writing for the BBC for the first time for decades it has to be a winner.

Two of our girl’s quartet have birthdays this week- 88 and 83.  They came round for coffee, cupcakes and pressies and then on Saturday J and I (her first birthday without her husband) went to a music recital at the town church – St Andrew’s in aid of a new window.  The pianist was a real music buff – batty about Bach and the rest of the German composers and keen to share some of his knowledge in an amusing way. One was reminded of the old programme Face the Music when experts spoke of music in an engaging manner.  Occasionally his wife was allowed to get a lyric in and I particularly enjoyed Who is Sylvia and I must go down to the sea again because I remembered all the words.

Apparently most musicians have a favourite key and a lady he met on a plane told him she could tell a lot about a person from knowing their favourite key.  His was D flat major.  I think. 

Then we had a jolly good lunch at the Bistro – really both jolly and good.  The real celebration is on Wednesday when the quartet meet in Taunton for a get-together which involves the much missed fourth member, Margaret travelling over from Cheltenham and here is my dilemma.

I am meant to have a long delayed business meeting in London ‘towards the end of August’ but as the girls insist they don’t want to have our get together without me and kept another date as a fall back I have to make a decision.  Then I read my horoscope:

With the dynamic planet Mars, helping you to focus on your long term hopes and dreams, you can begin to make real progress with a new creative project in the week ahead.  Do not let your social life distract you, or listen to well- meant advice.  This is your chance to win the recognition you deserve, so play to win this time around.

I’ve made my decision, what would yours be?

Photos below

Culture, Birthdays and a Dilemma

Parade's End

One of the Birthday Girls

St Andrew's window - to be replaced

The soloist and her husband the pianist.
Posted by Picasa

Friday, August 24, 2012

“Everybody needs to experience Paradise at some times.”

Everybody needs to experience Paradise at sometimes.”

On April 1st 2011 I wrote the following: 

 St Anne’s Convalescent Home – full title Royal Manchester’s Children’s Convalescent Home.

"I went here, aged sixteen, to work with children and babies who were having a respite from their hazardous life in the slums of Manchester.
For three weeks they were loved and cared for and allowed to run wild on the sand hills by the sea. They were deloused and fed good nourishing food
Probationers and children alike lived life to the full under the watchful eyes of Matron, and a few tears were shed each time the children left, to be replaced by the next batch. We never knew what they were going back to."


One of my commenters  Unbearable Banishment– whose opinion I respect, gave me pause for thought when he said:

I know everyone's heart was in the right place but I question the wisdom of taking children from poverty stricken areas, showing them paradise for two weeks and then sending them back to their hell. To what end?”


I replied:

I believe for those children to see that life can be good must give some of them an incentive to rise out of their poverty. There would be follow up from the hospital for the serious cases.
Not all of them came from un- loving homes and there was a wonderful spirit in all but the odd tragic little mite.”
Then just the other day – out of the blue I  got this:

Hello. Pat I think I was in that home in the sixties I was there about 3 times one of my Sisters (got six sisters ) we lived in 2 up2down in Manchester.the home was paradise to us.the. food and staff was loverly. We went on walks most days and returned rosy cheeks and good appitite. Playing outside and looking over the wall at the sandunes. To me that was my paradis everybody needs to experience paradise at sometimes. Thanks for those treasured memories .”.Annette

11:32 AM
Annette was 20 years younger then the children I looked after but I recognise the spirit in her and I found her words both moving and reassuring.
Alas St Annes is no more.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Alice is a Gator

My granddaughter and Mum with a few supplies for her year at the University of Florida

I think that bunk is too high but Alice seems happy

Oooh good - some hanging space:)  Missing you already.
Posted by Picasa
To read Kim's account of our fun shoot and see photos click on Kim

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Ones that got away

Three characters that eluded us during our play day.  Can you name them or the play/film?

Posted by Picasa

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Le Weekend Part 2

Le Weekend Part 2

Kim  said it had been three years since he, Rogan and I last met and as our reunion was probably going to be a photo shoot I warned him that the last three years - MTL’s illness and all - had taken its toll.

Kim said:
If you have ever fancied being photographed like one of the classic movie stars, or in any other context, then just send me a link to the kind of image you like and I’ll work out how I would need to light you to get the same effects.  Let’s have a bit of funJ

 And then I went a bit bonkers! All thoughts of a serene, dignified and aged persona flew out of the window as I remembered the spiffing fun we used to have in the Oast Theatre days, and images abounded of Blanche Dubois, Marlene in shirt and tie, Scarlett in the turnip field, Lady Macbeth holding the crown aloft, Her Maj in the Annigonni painting – there was no holding me.

An image of Gloria Swanson getting ready for ‘my profile Mr de Mille.’ floated into my consciousness but was quickly slapped down again.  In the end some sanity prevailed and I suggested that if we made asses of ourselves we should at least keep it in the family.

Meanwhile I was mustering a crown and gown for Lady Macbeth, a turnip for Scarlett, ceremonial robes for her Maj, and a fag for Marlene (in the end I bought a pretend one which tasted foul).

 Kim and Rogan arrived with beautiful flowers and a stone from Maggie - Kim’s wife, for my fountain; both of which Kim nearly forgot to give meJ

After a relaxed coffee (or hot water with a tea bag dipped in for Kim) Maggie’s boys met my boys viz MTL and our French son M.  I think they all would have happily chatted for hours but there was much to do with lunch imminent and siestas to follow, so I gently cracked the whip.

 Kim chose the drawing room as a studio, rather than the family room as the light was easier to control.  Rogan was the most able, amiable of assistants and it was great to see father and son working so well together.  I ventured the Marlene photo would be the most difficult so perhaps that would be best to get out of the way first – also I had the clothes on.  I had forgotten how long it all takes to get pose, model and lighting all working together.  The camera was attached to a computer so we could check the shots as we went along.  Glasses off, glasses on, back to the pose and on again.  Just to make things more difficult I had provided a mirror image of the actual shot which when Kim pointed it out just confused me so we ignored it.

 I told Kim if we got one photo we were both happy with it would be great.  Back in the day the photographer would shoot endless rolls of film for one shot.  Eventually we stopped for a lazy lunch and then we all went to different parts of the house to recover.  Later MTL woke me to say Kim was in the garden doing Tai Chi. Either we did Her Maj in her ceremonial robes then or perhaps we did that before lunch?

In any case we had to enlist M to kneel – all 6’2” of him, holding the end of the cloak to give it an Annigoni flow.  MTL had been useful constructing the Order of St John from my old leukaemia badge (which I received from Sir Ian Botham for doing a walk with him) and glue and gold paper.
Next it was Lady Macbeth: I put on the borrowed gown and a strange thing happened: my spirits plummeted and I told Kim I would have to take it off.  Maybe it was the Macbeth Curse but it was a great relief to be out of it and we decided to scrub Macbeth

. By this time we were all flagging a bit so we relaxed and Kim very kindly took endless trouble taking a family photo of MTL and me and one of father and son.  Then M took one of Kim and I in the garden and we called it a day.
After dismantling the studio we decided to drop down to Minehead on foot and grab a bite there.  To my embarrassment all the places we tried were either closed or not serving food – in the height of the summer season.  Very Minehead!

Apart, that is, from the Chinese restaurant so we thankfully ate quite well there.  MTL hadn’t felt like stirring so we returned to the house and chatted more.  By the time Kim and Rogan left I felt we all knew each other quite well and I was happy that MTL and M now realised that the bloggers I had already met were not an exception and the majority were decent, interesting people.


Le weekend Part 2

The "srudio"

A welcome break

Men at work

Time to relax.
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Gorgeous Gals

That's Rose, Lily, Myrtle and Kate.

My editing page has gone walkabout - a windswept rose

 Gorgeous Lillies from Kim and Rogan Ayres who were here on Sunday - of which more later.

Garden Lillies

Myrtle is bursting forth

 Kate had Myrtle in her wedding bouquet
Posted by Picasa

Monday, August 13, 2012

Le Weekend Part 1

Le Weekend Part 1

Our French son arrived Friday evening; Saturday was another lovely day so we opted for lunch out.  We have whittled it down to about four Inns that can be relied on for good cuisine One of these is The Blue Ball Inn on Exmoor, just above Lynmouth.  The car park was pretty full but to our delight the pub was almost empty and delightfully cool.  Did I tell you we are having a heat wave?

Although I knew it would be fun I was slightly nervous about our next day visitors and what we were attempting to do, so wasn’t feeling very hungry.  M discovered there were ‘light bites’ so we opted for these   I had an excellent spaghetti bolognaise, MTL had ham, egg and chips and M had a Thai curry.  We were all very pleased and at a fraction of the cost ‘light bites’ will be another favourite.

M had a ravishing rhubarb and berry crumble with vanilla ice cream and I had just vanilla  ice cream but M insisted on spooning some crumble onto mine which is why I know how ravishing it was.

These days we avoid driving down very narrow lanes so MTL cheekily suggested M may like to drive to Oare Church which we hadn’t visited for years.   M was totally unphased and decided we would take an even more hazardous route on our return.

The Church of St Mary the Virgin is mentioned in the Domesday Book.  For at least 800 years this building has been a parish church.  Oare is named from Are Water, an ancient British river name.

There is a memorial to RD Blackmore to the west of the entrance door.  A local jingle describes the unspoilt isolation of Oare Church and its neighbours.

Culbone, Oare and Stoke Pero,

Parishes three no parson‘ll go to,

Culbone, Oare and StokePero.

Three such places you’ll seldom hear o’.

RD Blackmore has taken the lively tradition of the presence of a band of outlaws (The Doones) on Exmoor and around this he has woven one of the best selling romances in literature.  There is evidence that the Doones did come to Exmoor in the seventeenth century after they were forced to leave Scotland.

Blackmore’s grandfather John Blackmore was Rector of Oare from1809 to 1842.

The story is set in the days of the Monmouth Rebellion, in the latter part of the 17th C and there is some evidence that a number of marauders did settle on Exmoor and sustain themselves by raiding farms and highway robbery.  They abducted women and children and committed some horrible murders.  The rhyme:

‘Child if they ask who killed thee,

Say t’was the Doones of Badgworthy.’

Is said to be the result of a particularly brutal murder by the Doones.

On our return drive we came upon a familiar place – Robber’s Bridge.  We remembered playing there with our grand daughters – Ruth and Catherine who are now both married and Catherine the mother of two children – Pippa and Arthur.

See Photos below.

Le Weekend Part 1

The Blue Ball Inn

Oare Church

The window through which Carver Doone shot Lorna.  She didn't die.
Posted by Picasa

Le Weekend Part 1

Inside Oare Church

Robber's Bridge

A favourite picnic spot.
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Thrills and Spills

Thrills and Spills

The triathlon (1.5km swim, 40km cycle, 10km run) was exciting as a spectator sport, especially as two Yorkshire brothers- Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee were meant to do well.
The temperature was low enough to make wet suits obligatory – this is a help to the weaker swimmers apparently.  The camera work – sometimes from a helicopter, was amazing and at times the Serpentine seemed aswarm with strange fish.  Elbows were akimbo as the swimmers rounded the buoys but all the swimmers made it safely to the transition area.

Here they had to shed their wet suits, don their cycling shoes and pick up their cycles.  Unfortunately we learned later in the race that Jonathan Brownlee had mounted his cycle a fraction before he should have done and had to pay a forfeit of 15 seconds during the final run.

Early in the cycle race there was a disaster when two or three cyclists ended up on the tarmac.  We never did hear the reason for it.  A similar thing had happened in the women’s triathlon but then the roads had been wet and greasy.

It was a pleasure watching the cycle and run laps as they passed again and again round the most beautiful parts of London and it was a great way to orient oneself.

The Brownlee brothers were strongly supported by Stuart Hayes - the third man who sacrifices his chances of a medal to support them.  After Jonathan had paid his penalty he was lucky to win the bronze but Alistair came up to expectations and easily gained gold.  The silver was won by the Spanish athlete Javier Gomez.

 So far my favourite pin –up in the Games is the sailor Ben Ainslie.  Think Jon Hamm of Mad Men in a wet suit

See photos below.

Thrills and spills

The swimmers

Strange fish

Spot the London Bobbie

Elbows akimbo.

The Transition

Careful now Jonathan!
Posted by Picasa

Thrills and Spills

The Brownlee bros - Jonathan about to be penalised

It's not all plain sailing!

Jon or Al?

Wheel change

Posted by PicasaThe leading bunch including gold and bronze winners.