Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Bonding or Balderdash?

Interlaken where our French son has been jumping from high places in a team bonding exercise.
Another son said he did a similar thing before he had his own business but was doubtful that it served any useful purpose.
Yet another son said he enjoyed such exercises because everyone unwound in the bar at night, let their hair down and much closer relationships were formed.
Our French son said the hours were so long and the tasks so arduous that he was too tired to do anything at night but crawl into bed.

I think they sound exciting fun.  Have you any experience of them?  What's your opinion?
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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Every Picture tells a Story

Every picture tells a story    


When the garage returned the car I was surprised to see the scuff mark on the wing mirror still there so presumably they just restored the damaged insides.  That is the only visible damage.
The insides must be quite complicated because they enable you to move the mirror from the driving seat any which way.  So clever but expensive to replace.

I used to do Talking Newspaper which meant driving to a village about ten miles away, often in the dark so MTL bought me the personal alarm.
Just recently I thought it best to have one for the night I walk back from the Wellington Inn - now the nights are drawing in.
I couldn’t find one in Minehead and then discovered my old one which had been hanging in the kitchen all the time.  Testing it - it still had the appalling screeching scream which threatens one’s ear drums.

This Tuesday was the evening meeting where we dine together.  Dining is rather overstating the case.  The Wellington is great value – popular with the holiday makers- god bless ‘em but it not the Ritz –as Kim would attest.  We were thin on the ground – just V our leader, P male and J male and I.
We had quite a jolly evening scoffing variously sausages and mash, chilli con carne, a very chocolaty pud and Belgian waffle with fruit compote and ice cream.
V’s car has failed its MOT so she asked P, who passes her village, if he would give her a lift which of course he was happy to do. She suggested that J who lives on a parallel lane to mine should walk me home and he agreed.

He has done once before but I like to be independent and always have the option of a taxi.  I had meant to walk, had my alarm and had stripped my bag of all but a few pounds and my lippie.  J would not think to offer – think Doc Martin – but happily agreed when it was suggested.  P has already been to tea which caused my grand-daughter to tell her father;

‘Grandma shouldn’t have these men in her house.’

 J and I had quite a strenuous walk up the lane –he walks very fast and has long legs.  I asked him if he would like a coffee – it was still quite early and he said he’d love a cup of tea. I fished in my handbag for my bunch of keys – they are clipped in my hand bag so unlocking is quite a knack – which I haven’t quite managed, we walked through the garage and as I fished for a different key our ears were assailed with this god awful screaming screech.  Dammit I forgot to tell you that it had stopped working, the last twice I had tested it.  Poor J‘s hair stood on end even more than it does normally and I frantically pressed it to switch it off.  No luck so I thrust it to J to try and dashed into the shed.

Why on earth is the light switch out of reach when the floor is littered with implements?  Suddenly I notice a wooden mallet –goodness knows where that came from.  I gave it to J and urged him to smash the smithereens out of the ghastly alarm.  Frantically we looked around for a safe surface and decided on the garage floor.  One mighty blow did the job and before you could say Jack Robinson we were sitting at the kitchen table sipping tea.  Neither of us were hungry and after a chat about our dearly loved spouses off James strode into the darkness.

See photos below.

Every picture tells a story

Scuff mark on mirror

The remnants of damaged mirror plus cobwebs

My personal alarm

The mallet that did for the P.A.
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Sunday, September 08, 2013

Things that go bump in the morning

As some of you are aware I no longer enjoy driving – I don’t see, hear or react as well as I did 20 years ago but with everybody adjuring me to KEEP DRIVING I have made it a point of honour to go out - usually on a Sunday - once a week.
 The rest of the time I walk to the doctor’s, dentist’s, chiropodist’s, hairdresser’s and once a week, fill a trolley at the Co-op which they deliver in a time slot the same day, chosen by me.
Now the nights are drawing in I may get a taxi home after the one meeting of the Bereavement group that is in the evening at the Wellington Inn.

This morning – being Sunday – I said a silent prayer – cleaned the car windows and drove down the lane, then through the town which was still quite busy.  Most of the holiday makers have left but I was later than usual as I had arranged to meet Joy at the nursery where we would buy plants and have lunch.

Turning right then left into the road that leads through the Industrial Estate to the nursery I passed a row of parked cars on my left and heard a bang.  Stopping as soon as I safely could I walked round the car and saw my passenger side mirror had a scuff mark on the outside but the works were hanging out.  I looked back and saw one of the cars had its door open onto the road which I must have hit.

There seemed to be a crowd of angry looking women shouting at me.  I locked the car
and advanced towards the ‘mob’ telling myself I must keep calm and not get angry.  At this point I thought the driver must have opened the door as I passed but she said no the door was already open and an aggressive woman who had been driving behind said she was a witness and it was all my fault. 

When it became clear that I wasn’t going to argue the crowd melted away and I realised the woman driver and her passenger were decent women and almost as shaken as I was.  We were all too shaky to write clearly so a bystander – the witness, kindly did it for us.  All my documents and insurances are up to date – I’m just not sure in what order one does the necessary but I’m sure one of the boys will point me in the right direction and anyway it’s Sunday.

The driver told me something similar had happened recently to her but then the male driver hadn’t stopped.  She thanked me for stopping.
After a chat I told them I hadn’t driven much lately and my late husband did most of the driving as he had mobility problems.  Both of the nice ladies said I mustn’t let it put me off driving.  Why?

I met Joy – determined not to start boohooing – bought plants, secateurs and tomato feed (for my plants – not tomatoes).  I could only manage soup and a roll for lunch but felt better for the distraction and am now thankful that I can unburden myself on you.  God bless blogging. xox

Monday, September 02, 2013

Shaw's Corner

Shaw’s Corner

On my last day in Hertfordshire we went to Shaw’s Corner.  MTL and I had been over 20 years ago but all I could remember was the revolving shed where Shaw wrote and occasionally hid from visitors.

He was 50 and already established as a writer and playwright when he came to live in The New Rectory at Ayot St Lawrence
 Shaw had seen a tombstone to

 ‘Mary Anne South.  Born1825.  Died 1895.  “Her time was short.”

This prompted Shaw to move in as longevity appeared to be the norm in the parish.  He was right and was active and creative until he died in 1950 aged 94.

He married Charlotte Payne-Townsend in1898 aged 42.  He had turned down her proposals in 1897 as he didn’t want to be accused of being a fortune hunter.  Their friendship continued with Charlotte acting as his secretary.

Beatrice Webb wrote in her diary:

‘To all seeming, she is in love with the brilliant Philanderer and he is taken in his cold way with her.’

Then in 1898 he developed a large abscess on his left foot which required an operation.  Realising he would need careful nursing he decided that Charlotte would do this task admirably and wrote to Beatrice Webb:

Charlotte was the inevitable and predestined agent, appointed by Destiny.  To have her do this in any other character than that of my wife would (in the absence of your chaperonage) have involved our whole circle and its interests in scandal.  I found that my objection to my own marriage had ceased with any objection to my own death.’

That’s Shaw in a nut shell; Heaven forfend that he should admit to loving a woman.

Years ago I directed ‘Dear Liar’ a play by Jerome Quilty based on the letters written to the actress Mrs Patrick Campbell - a clandestine affaire de plume that spanned 40 years.  I became convinced that his so called affairs were ‘all mouth and no trousers.’

That to him the pen was mightier than any other love implement.

I believe he said:

The perfect love affair is one conducted entirely by post’ and he had quite a few.


In later years Mrs Pat – hard up, wanted to publish the letters.  Shaw insisted on them being edited to avoid upsetting Charlotte.  They were published and Charlotte was upset.

Shaw greatly admired his friend William Morris (remember Cuckolding in the Cotswolds) and described him as ‘four great men rolled into one.’

Shaw fell in love with Morriss’s daughter May, portrayed so often by Rossetti in his paintings.  He tells of how he noticed her radiant beauty as he was about to leave, their eyes met and he knew there was a mystic betrothal between them but he said nothing as he was poor and thought it hardly became him to claim any nuptial association with such a famous family.

‘I attended the meetings as usual, but to my stupefaction, she married another and he worse off than myself.’

Shaw went to stay with the married couple but eventually felt he had imposed on the couple’s hospitality long enough.

On his departure the husband found himself in the possession of an iceberg rather than a warm lovable companion and the marriage broke up.

In spite of his mischievous philandering I believe that he did truly love Charlotte.  During the war years Charlotte became very ill with osteitis deformans which left her hunchbacked and unable to walk.  In the evenings Shaw would play the piano in the hall whilst Charlotte listened in her bedroom.  She died in 1943 and Shaw was surprised at the depth of his grief and the villagers often saw him in tears on his walks.

‘I lived with Charlotte for 40 years, and now realise there was so much about her I didn’t know.’

Anyone interested in Shaw, and I haven’t mentioned a fraction of his talents would be richly rewarded by visiting Shaw’s Corner; it’s as if he has just gone out for his walk round the village and every room has a treasure.  There is nothing grand about the house which is very much of its time when it was the norm for a middle-class family to have maids, a cook and gardener.

The front of the house faces north where the servant’s rooms were and the reception rooms and main bedrooms are on the south side.  Shaw didn’t want the servants to be able to watch him and his wife Charlotte as they took their daily walks in the garden

From the brass door knocker depicting Shaw with the inscription Man and Superman to his famous hats and walking sticks in the hall it is like stepping into a time capsule.

His desk in the study looks out onto the garden but the distraction didn’t apparently interfere with his output. Alongside is a smaller desk used by his secretary Miss (Cross) Patch.  Throughout the house are paintings and photographs of literary giants.

The Drawing room was Charlotte’s room with a beautiful portrait of her over the mantelpiece.  The Oscar ( the only person to have an Oscar and a Nobel Prize – he gave the money away)  for ’Pygmalion’ and a statuette of Joan of Arc  are displayed and there is a cushion embroidered with the Shaw arms and motto Te Ipsum Nosce ( know thyself – I believe).  There are three bronzes and, to my great excitement, Rodin’s bust of Shaw.

In the dining room – Shaw was a vegetarian - he would often sit for two hours eating and reading.  There are many relics here including a gold dress watch given him by Marion Davies and Randolph Hearst and on the wall a magnificent oil portrait by Augustus John.

The photographs on the mantelpiece are representative of his sympathies.  From left to right: Gandhi, Djerdjinsky (one of the early Bolsheviks) Lenin, Stalin, Granville Barker, his birthplace in Dublin and Ibsen.  Shaw sent Ibsen’s photograph to be framed just before he died.  It was in this room he died the day after the picture was returned.

We enjoyed strolling round the garden which has been restored to how it was.  It has a natural charm with wild grasses swaying in the breeze – a perfect habitat for bees and insects.  We discovered it wasn’t iced tea that was being served but Pimm’s so we sat on the lawn and toasted that brilliant imp of a man: George Bernard Shaw.

See photos below.

Shaw's Corner



Shaw's Corner front

Shaw's Corner - back

The revolving hut
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Sunday, September 01, 2013

Meet Ivy

Ivy is a new member of our French family.  She is a West Highland Terrier so the Scottish connection is there.  My DIL told our granddaughter that her mother had bought a dog after she left home.
'Don't wait till I leave home!'said granddaughter.  Hence Ivy.
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