Monday, May 27, 2013


For at least a week I have been pondering what to do about the two roomed shed which is in a parlous state - you would not believe it.
Then I stumbled on this cartoon in his office.  Sometimes it's as if we are having a conversation.
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Saturday, May 25, 2013

Happy Twenty First Alice.

Just after you were born your Mum asked your Dad to buy a little duck for your bath and he came back with two.
'Two swans for a princess,' he said.
We are all looking forward to your return from America.
Lots of love
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Friday, May 24, 2013

A little light relief

Our funny bird.

We can't 'gather lilacs' - too high.

Out blooming glorious tree

Not quite hacked to death.

Offending trellis

Gaudy but gorgeous.

Aquilegia and thedrattedGround elder

We like you.
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Monday, May 20, 2013

Getting a grip.

Yesterday was beautiful weather-wise but sometimes it isn’t enough to temper the gloom –the week-end stretched ahead with all the allure of a camping holiday in the rainy season in Barry.  So I played some Billie and got to thinking about her tragic life.

She was born in 1915 in Philadelphia.  Like her mother Sadie Fagan, who was rejected by her parents for becoming pregnant aged 13, Billie had a difficult life and had dropped out of school at 11.  She was sent to a Catholic Reform school and after 9 months was ‘paroled ‘to her mother who had opened a restaurant – the East Side Grill.

Billie was raped by a neighbour aged 11 and by the age of 13 she had joined her mother in prostitution and both were jailed.  On her release – aged 14 she started singing in nightclubs.  Her reputation grew and she was signed to Brunswick Records.  She was given full rein to improvise and to perform with some of the greatest musicians.

She worked for some time with Count Basie but after being fired she was hired by Artie Shaw and became one of the first black women to work with a white orchestra.
However she was not allowed to sit at the band stand with the other vocalists – ‘because she was black.’

In 1938 she was asked to use the service elevator at the Lincoln Hotel because white patrons complained.

Her mother again started a restaurant called Ma Holiday’s and soon was borrowing large amounts of money from Billie as the restaurant was failing.  When Billie herself fell upon hard times she went to get some money from her mother.

‘Ma turned me down flat.  She wouldn’t give me a cent.’

After a row Billie yelled:

‘God bless the child that‘s got his own.’

Later – with the help of Arthur Herzog Junior she wrote the song.

By 1944 she was having her own solo concerts but her drug addictions were a growing problem and most of her relationships were abusive.

In 1947 she was arrested for possessing and imprisoned.  She was released in 1948 for good behaviour and in a short time was playing Carnegie Hall.  She said she started using hard drugs in the early 1940’s.

Because of her conviction her New York City Cabaret Card was revoked which meant she was forbidden to perform anywhere that sold alcohol for the rest of her life.

By the 1950’s her health was deteriorating.  Her autobiography – ‘Lady sings the Blues’ was published in 1956.

She died July 17th 1959 in hospital suffering from heart and liver disease – under arrest for illegal possession of narcotics.


Ashamed of my self pity I determined to face my fears, got in the car and headed to the garage (Karen was convinced one of the tyres was a bit flat). They were tested and found to be fine.  It was still a beautiful day so I decide to drive to Williton.  About half way there I was almost whistling and thought how pleased the family would be with me and suddenly scraped the kerb.  Whoops – must not let my mind wander when driving.  Back home safely feeling much cheered.

It is almost four months since MTL died and I have found it takes at least that long to finally realise that I shall never see him again – in human form.  It’s up to me to just get on with it and remember people like Billie and really count my blessings.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

No-one says it like Billie


The pictures are a bit weird but close your eyes and listen.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Remembrance of Times Past

Remembrance of times Past.


The Time

27 juillet 1991

The Place

France Profonde

The Occasion

The marriage of our son to a French mademoiselle





Soufflé aux 3 poissons

Gratin de St Jacques aux petits legumes

Magret de canard




Piece Montee

Corbeille de fruits

CafĂ© – Liqueur








There was a large British contingent composed of family, family friends and university pals.  On arrival we were given a delicious lunch at the bride-to-be’s home and I heard one of the students  remark how great it was to taste chicken that really tasted like chicken and melon that really tasted like melon – everything home cooked and home grown.


We had an early night with an early start on the big day.  I was honoured when the BTB had asked me to do her maquillage and also to do one of the readings in the church – the one from Corinthians that ends: ‘So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.’


First we had the civil ceremony – as is the norm in France – in the equivalent of the Town Hall.  Then we had a reception with brioche and wine, then a procession through the village to the beautiful church.  My step son and I brought up the rear and as we reached the Church the audience of villagers applauded.


It was a lovely ceremony and once my reading was over I began to relax.  Somehow we all managed to get to the lunch venue and there was time to sit back and relax and try to remember who everybody was.  The meal was excellent – long and leisurely – as is the French way – interspersed with games and entertainment.  We British were strongly encouraged to let our hair down and join in and most of us did.  I remember at once stage standing up and singing ‘Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag and smile, smile, smile,’ which seemed appropriate at the time.  It seemed it was the custom for the men then to queue and plant a kiss on the cheek of the performer.  Or so I was told!  Even the priest.

In the evening there was music and dancing.


The bride’s family own a beautiful lake in the countryside and we all gathered there the next day for a picnic, games and more jollity.  Throughout the weather was perfect which just seemed to be taken for granted.  It really was idyllic and – certainly to the British unforgettable.  Despite the language difficulties good will and friendship prevailed.

We were amused to hear that once a year the plug is taken out of the lake and there is fish for all.


Twenty two years have passed and we now have French grand-children – two teen-age boys and a girl who are bilingual and enjoy coming to Minehead. The picture below always reminds me of the day of the picnic- the difference being we had a lakeJ

Remembrance of Times Passed

Le Dejeuner sur l'Herbe by Edouard Manet
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Wednesday, May 08, 2013

My Strange Bird

See him directly below the pigeon. He looks and moves like a white blackbird but has black markings.
And he's camera shy

For get me not!  No chance!

Bluebells for our man in the north

The big tree  about to burst forth.

There's the church but where's the steeple?

Mum's maple growing far too tall.

The view from the sun room. Joy came to tea.
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Saturday, May 04, 2013

From our man in Paris

Guess where?  Spring  is 'ere:)

La Rochelle at sunset.  Very 'ot!  Both taken just the other day.
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Friday, May 03, 2013

Everything comes to he who waits.

My grandson has always wanted to live in the city.
This is the night view from his new flat.
Can you spot any land marks?
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Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Rest in Peace Deanna

Deanna Durbin 1921-2013