Friday, July 25, 2014

Four Firm Friends.


“We could have a picnic.”

Since 1985 Margaret, Jackie, Joy and I had been friends.  Margaret was born in the West Country and relocated to Minehead in 1984.  Joy was already here.  I came in 1985 and Jackie a year later.  I can’t remember how it happened but Margaret was the catalyst that drew us all together and we became firm friends.  At least once a month we would have a jaunt, taking it in turns to organise the outing which would remain a secret until we arrived.

 Margaret reminded me that I always preferred to visit a country Inn for lunch rather than take a picnic but eventually Margaret got her wish and we were told to come armed with our packed lunch.

This is how Margaret remembers it:

M: Pat what have you brought in your picnic.

P: I don’t know; Alastair made it.

 According to M I then brought out napkins, a series of dainty little goodies, four wine glasses and a chilled bottle of wine.  I have no recollection of this but it is true I was very, very spoilt.

 Things are rather different these days.  It was a sadness to us all when Margaret and her husband left for Cheltenham to be near their daughters but we have been in close touch for the last four years and – in the words of Monica “She’s my best friend.”

 Jackie is about to be 90 and is very well cared for by her daughter with whom she lives.  Joy is now a widow and quite frail especially since a fall in the garden which has prompted assisted living – at least for the time being.

Our problem was how we could get us all together whilst Margaret was visiting me and her suggestion of a picnic didn’t seem a brilliant idea.  As usual Margaret made light of any difficulties and a plan was formed.

 Jackie’s daughter Jane would drive her up to Joy’s house complete with her picnic.  The door would be open so we could all gain access.  Margaret and I would walk up the hill with our own picnic and would prepare Joy’s when we got there.

Then we started getting cancellations and doubts and fears but M and I were adamant it was going to come to pass and if Joy wasn’t happy after a few minutes we would retire gracefully.

At first it was quite muted as we reacquainted ourselves as a group.  I was quite peckish so made Joy salmon sandwiches garnished with lettuce and tomato – enough for have to have for lunch and later.  Wisely Joy kept the wine in the fridge and M and I had already decided - with the various medicaments we would have our tipple later in the day.  We had – between us - to get Jackie safely home - down one lane and up another. Gradually we fell into our usual – everybody talking at once, some of us getting the wrong end of the stick, mishearing, reminiscing and having a good time.

Two hours later when we thought perhaps it was time to go Joy perked up and wanted us all to go upstairs to see the suit she had bought with her daughter for her daughter’s second wedding.  We followed Joy up on her stair lift – keeping a hand on Jackie and then we had to back down a bit whilst Joy dismantled the stair lift so we could get by.

We admired the suit, compared it with the suit she and I had bought together for her grand-daughter’s wedding and Margaret and I made the bed - being hypercritical of each other’s hospital corners. (Margaret was once a Norland Nanny)  We were given a tour of the upstairs – my second in a week and at some stage we went to inspect the back garden and take nuts for the birds.

This was a bit nerve wracking as the garden is steep and we had to keep an eye on Jackie and Joy.  Then it really was time to go.  There were hugs and kisses and a few tears all round.  Joy has her son’s visit next week to look forward to and Jackie’s daughter is giving a party for her 90th soon.

We got Jackie safely home – by this time some of us weren’t quite sure who we were and decided we would have a night on the town whilst we still could.

Showered and changed we ambled down the lovely tree- lined Avenue in the fantastic weather we have had for a week now - with a delicious warm sea breeze to  the newish Stones pub, and had a very pleasant veggie meal in their garden.  It was such a balmy evening we took a long rambling walk home remembering various houses and people we had known, reflecting how Minehead had changed over the years but was still the quiet, sleepy, laid back town we had always known.

Who knows what the future holds but what a blessing to still have at least three friends for life.

Please see pics below.

Four Firm Friends

 Margaret's favourite spot
 Flowers for my guest.
 L to R Jackie, Pat and Joy
 Stand up straight girls! Jackie seated , Margaret and Joy
 Joy's Passion flower
 Joy's garden
 Margaret, feeding the birds
Jackie please stay right there.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


Eighteen months on.


Thanks to Judy Kennedy Carrino for sharing this beautiful piece which I have found to be true.


When we lose someone we love, we discover that time does not heal everything.  After a while, the ache in our heart begins to ease a bit, and we laugh again, life goes on and many times we reconnect with those still physically with us in much deeper more beautiful ways.  And eventually the good memories outnumber the sad thoughts and we begin to sense that what we thought was lost, has actually been with us all along.

We can’t explain it, touch it or prove it – but there are moments we catch ourselves smiling because we know it’s true.”


Paul. S. Boynton



Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A Day at Wrest Park - Luton

 Andrew took the day off and delivered us to this oasis of calm.  Perfect day and wonder of wonders - no hordes!  Do click on pics.
 Our first peek.  Lot of oohs and aahs from me.
 For 600 years home to the de Greys

 One of the few remaining formal gardens of the early 18th-century.

 Terrace and French parterre

 The Duke kept a bucket of plaster of Paris to hand so he could enhance any curves he found wanting.

 Sadly the fountain wasn't working

 The Bath house
 Lots of cool secret gardens to chill in.
 Inside the bath house.
 Great views whilst one is performing one's ablutions
 Maybe a little draughty?
 American Garden and below which I found a little disappointing.  Perhaps a work in progress..


 Inside the Bowling Green House.  Reminded me of Wedgewood
We spent a while watching Mum and the ducklings .  There were seven.

The Long water.

 We gave the geese a pretty wide berth

A bit of tree lopping going to the left.  There's heaps more but we just slowly absorbed the peace and beauty.  We had a reasonable lunch there but the luscious looking cake was dry.  My second disappointment. 
 Andrew bought me a book on Wrest Park.  Jenny very sweetly offered to carry it so I could continue shooting.  I had to laugh when Andrew told me Jenny said:
"Andrew gets the kiss and I get to carry the book."
There have to be some perks to getting old:)
P.S.  It's great I can down load so many but I still haven't got it so I can edit them first.  One day...

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

The Graduates

  1. Granddaughter Alice and her boyfriend Tom
We drove up to Leicester to see their chic little flat.  Tom graduated a year ago and is now a policeman - we drove by his station - just walking distance from the flat.
Alice graduated last week and she now does a P.G.C.E to prepare her for teaching.  She already does voluntary teaching and we saw the school in the same street as the flat.
I read Alice's dissertation :
Presentations of Masculinity in Postwar American Literature and Its Film Adaptations
It included 'Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,'  'East of Eden', and 'Streetcar named Desire.'  so no hardship for me.
Leicester has quite a cosmopolitan feel and we had a pleasant  lunch in a sunny square.  Tea at the above was not perfect; I had to send back a rock hard dough nut.
'Can I get you anything else?
' Just a fresh doughnut please.'
'Oh that's the only one we've got.'
Alice, Jenny (Alice's Mum) and I shopped for Britain  including some incredible shoes for A's graduation day then J and I drove back to Herts.  Exhausted but happy.