About Me

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Worcester, Worcestershire, United Kingdom
Born in the year of the Coronation, I'm a Baby Boomer. In April of this year I decided I too would have a Diamond Jubilee celebration and completely change my life and that of my Husband's in the process

Sunday, 10 December 2006

Welcome From Wet Worcester.



This was the first week after the end of swimming, I thought it might give me a bit more time to do things at school, of course it didn’t, the week still fled by. Strange how you can gain half a day and it just becomes absorbed into the rest of the week. At least I don’t have to cope with The Exhibitionist any more.

It’s an all female staff and as the children are only 8 or 9, we can’t leave them unattended, which means one of us has to keep popping into the boys communal changing room. I was very uncomfortable with this at the start of the year but soon got used to it.

….Except for one boy. Although you try not to look, he is destined to be a ’Big Boy’ and oh boy, does he like to show it off. When everyone else was dressed and lining up for the coach , he’d still be standing there, starkers, big grin on his face and making a pretence of drying all his nooks and crannies. No, I’m not going to miss swimming at all! It’s not easy to chivvy along a naked boy.

The start of the week I still had that ‘glow’ of having been with much loved family that I don’t see very often. Every minute spent with them was special. I am very lucky to have a wonderful collection of cousins,once removed, all strong, interesting, individuals, ten or so years younger than me and when we get together we can all ‘Talk for Britain’. Last Saturday , at the surprise party, we concluded that we’ve inherited our strengths from our Black Country heritage. It’s like the end of the Johnny Cash song ‘A Boy named Sue’ …I knew I’d have to get tough or die’ that pretty much sums up our Ancestor’s lives in The Black Country.

Friday was a day to remember, not in a nice way. I was in the bath in the morning, listening to the radio and Albatross, by Fleetwood Mac came on. I hear this song many times and it doesn’t usually cause a reaction but this time it did because of the time of year.

I was 15 and on Bonfire Night, November the 5th, I ended up at a party at Stanmore Hall, a large old country house, just outside Bridgnorth. In the grounds there was a huge stable block, three sides of a square and that is where the party was held. I have no idea now how I got there, someone must have given me a lift but this was to be the turning point of my childhood.

Peter Powell, later of Radio One, Top of the Pops and married to Anthea Turner, was doing the disco and the song I remember from that night was Johnny Johnson and the Bandwagon, ‘Breaking down the Walls of Heartache’.

I met a boy, called Steve Britain (Britten?) and ended up in a stable, in the straw, having my first ever serious snog! He looked rather like George Best. I was horrified when I got home to find I had a love bite on my neck! It was all very innocent but I knew Mum & Dad would not be impressed with this hickey on my neck. So I had to wear a scarf hiding it for a few days.

I now had a boyfriend, although I can’t remember for the life of me, what we used to do together, I don‘t think much of it was talking. I have a vague memory of going to as pub near Kinver one night but that really is as much as I can say. I think snogging took up a lot of our time.

Then, one evening, about two weeks before Christmas, there was a phone call from Steve’s sister. Steve had had an accident on his scooter and was in hospital in Wolverhampton with a broken leg. I was so horrified I couldn’t finish my tea.

I may have mentioned this before, I thought I was naturally thin, until I became responsible for feeding myself. I can tell you now what my main meal of that day was. A boiled egg and I couldn’t eat that because it stuck in my throat after receiving the news. My mother had been brought up on wartime rations and had somehow never got used to all the food that was readily available in the 60’s.

There was this other boy in our circle of friends, who was besotted with me and he had a Mini Cooper, (nice car, shame about the face, god I was so shallow then!) so he would take me to visit Steve in hospital. I quickly learned how to manipulate my adoring admirers and got them to do my bidding.

It was at this time that the record of Albatross was released. Steve was a big Fleetwood Mac fan, so this memory seems to be stuck in my mind forever and will always be a Christmas song to me.

I remember going to visit him on Christmas Eve. It was just normal when we went into the hospital. When we came out there were several inches of snow and the journey home (10 miles) was a bit of white knuckle ride, involving a close encounter with a lamppost.

Once Steve came out of hospital he two timed me with Jackie Somebody-or-other (bitch!) and I ended up going out with Roger, (nice car) for a while. Only if we went out for a drink (underage drinking of course) I would insist we sat in the car because I didn’t want to be seen with him. How awful is that? Thank goodness we change and develop as we grow older. What a horrible teenager I was. I can honestly say I have never made Mike sit in the car, even when he’s had egg down the front of his jumper!!!

All these memories were brought back by a song being played at a specific time of year. It made me think about ex boyfriends and the way they shaped my life.

I had no idea how that theme was going to come back later in the day with much less happy memories.

Catherine has had back problems for years, not just her back but numbness and pains in her legs.

Since having Isabella the problems have become worse and I’ve been telling her to see her doctor. This she did on Wednesday and he decided she needed x-raying. In all the years that she has seen doctors about this problem, not once has she been x-rayed.

Friday she had an x-ray, less than 48 hours after seeing her doctor.

Catherine has a fractured spine. One vertebrae is broken on both sides. She could easily have been paralysed by any minor mishap.

How did this happen? Well, 13 years ago, she was going out with this boy, who seemed nice enough at the start. It was only later I found out he’d become a Heroin addict. When Catherine finished the relationship, he attacked her and kicked her in the back. That was the start of her back problems, which have been quite severe over the years, yet no one in the medical profession ever took any notice of her and she was told to take Ibuprofen and do some Yoga.

I’m so angry about this lack of care. I feel guilty that she was made to suffer like this and I didn’t do more to get some proper tests done. I feel I have let her down.

Thirteen years she has had this broken back. At any time she could have ended up in a wheelchair. I’d started the day thinking about how boyfriends affected my life but my feelings at the end of the day about ex-boyfriends were far more sinister. She has been told that with Physio she stands a chance of a complete recovery. I should bloody well hope so because at the moment there are some backsides at our doctor’s surgery that I would really like to kick!

This picture is for Catherine, as she likes these dogs with enlarged noses.


Friday night we went to the Botanical Gardens In Edgbaston, Birmingham. Happy memories there of going with Mum to visit my wonderful Auntie Gladys, Mum’s sister.


She was so lovely and funny. She ran the catering at The Botanical Gardens for years and was greatly loved by all who knew her. If Royalty were in she would be called upon to don a uniform and wait on them. I’ll never forget her telling us about Princess Margaret, who she said was hoity-toity and a dirty cat because she stubbed out her cigarette in her cup of tea. Sadly Gladys died when she was only 51 as a result of damage caused by childhood illnesses. She almost died as a baby when she had diptheria.

On Friday the gardens were illuminated and it was pleasant to walk around in the frosty air, followed by Mulled Wine and Mince Pies but I honestly think at £8 per adult, it was overpriced. And the wine and pies were an extra £2.50.

I've just re-read this. I don't mean that as Mike and I walked around in the frosty air we were followed by Mulled Wine and Mince Pies. I meant that after we'd finished walking around, we then had Mulled Wine and Mince Pies!  ..OK?




We’ve had so much rain here lately, after a fairly dry summer, we are now at risk of flooding. Worcester has put up it’s hi-tech flood defence. Some metal racks, plastic sheeting and a heavy chain! See the pictures. This wonderful defence cost a fortune. You have to wonder why. Some of the photos were taken yesterday, morning and some today (Sunday). I hope it’s reached it’s peak, if it comes up any more New Road will flood and that cuts off the bridge from our side of the river. Getting to school will be a nightmare, I’ll need to leave at 7am to stand a chance of getting there by 9am, just a distance normally of 4 miles.

Last time that happened they had to get the Army in with big lorries to ferry people through the floods. Oh yes ,living by the River Severn can be pretty but sometimes it has its downside.

I’ve almost finished writing my Christmas Cards and have bought quite a number of presents off The Internet, so I’m quietly getting there. What I really need to do is have a big clean and tidy of the house, we seem to be overrun with paperwork and post, I can see the time coming soon when our guest bedroom will have to become the filing room, with rows of filing cabinets, what’s this nonsense about the Computer age creating a paperless society?……… Rubbish!!!

Our friend Catherine in France emailed last night, she would like to come and see us just before Christmas, I’m looking forward to that. Let’s hope nothing goes wrong this time Catherine.

I think I just made up for last week’s short entry!

Finally, 'Hello' to  Ali, one of the previously mentioned cousins, who has juststarted reading this. It was lovely to see you last week. Have a lovely Christmas.


Wednesday, 6 December 2006

The CurlyWuggle.

Just a quickie. I thought I should explain, while I was adding the photos last night I somehow crashed what I was doing and didn't finish putting on the captions.

The little toy sheep is CurlyWuggle. That was the name on his label when I bought him in Matlock, years ago. He always used to come away with us as I used to go to sleep holding him, to prevent me getting dead hands. For some reason I often push my hands in to the mattress when I sleep and then when I wake up they are completely numb.

I don't know what happened but I stopped sleeping with him. On Saturday morning I found him while I was packing and thought it was time he went on his holiday again. Then on Sunday morning he nearly got left behind as he was wrapped up in the bedcovers. So, after his lucky escape, I thought I would take a photo of him looking sheepish!!!

For Terry, who liked the look of Sidmouth, there are a few pictures of the town centre, which has some lovely shops and not an Amusement Arcade in sight.


Tuesday, 5 December 2006

Soon Be Christmas

December 5th and I haven’t done a thing towards Christmas! …..I tell a lie, I have bought some Christmas Cards but I think I’m just about to miss the last posting date to America, so I need to sort that out tomorrow.

We managed to get Mike’s papers all sorted to go to the accountant. I really do not like him being self employed now. Pay as You Earn was so much simpler and you didn’t get any nasty shocks at the end of the year. Yes, we just had a nasty shock. When you first go Self Employed you don’t pay 12 months, for some reason you pay 18 months. Bloody Marvellous!! So we’ve had a little juggling of the Mortgage Repayment Fund and with me doing a small sideline in prostitution , I think we might just manage to pay it. If not I think we might have to look into selling our kidneys as a last resort, as unfortunately Mike had a vasectomy 30 years ago and so that rules out the possibility of the lucrative sperm donor avenue.

But apart from potential bankruptcy, life is hunky dory.

We went to Devon at the weekend for a surprise 40th Birthday Party. That makes me feel old, it was for the son of my cousin and I was bridesmaid at the wedding, 43 years ago!

We had a lovely time and the hotel was beautiful but the bed was crap, so we didn’t have a very good night’s sleep but there were other benefits and the breakfast was excellent.

We were up early and had a walk around Sidmouth. I’ve never been there before and found it very pretty. It was the morning after a very stormy night and the sea and the light quality was fantastic, have a look at the photos and see what I mean.

School is busy with the usual Christmas things going on , we had the Fayre on Friday, which was very well attended and I think we made quite a lot of money.

Not a lot else to say, just that life is very busy at present.

Monday, 27 November 2006

The Weighing Machine

Raven has started a new Blog where she hopes people will leave a link to short stories they have written and posted in their Blogs.


I'm not in the habit of writing fiction but about a year ago this story popped into my head, I think it was while I was falling asleep one night. I felt that one day I would write it down.

I rather like the idea of inanimate things around us, silently, observing our lives.


Kate has also written a story,


which is excellent and I know I don't come anywhere near her standard but for my own satisfaction I felt I would submit my little bit of nonsense, as it keeps nagging me to write it down.

If there are any budding writers out there, why not have a go.



This story is the property of Linda George and must not be copied or used elsewhere without my permission.



I’m an electronic weighing machine, standing in the quiet corner of an old Chemist shop. The shop is in a small country town on the Staffordshire Moorlands.

I live my life just a short distance away from the bustle of the prescription counter. I’m getting old now, I think I’m soon to be replaced by a newer model. Not that there’s very much new in this shop, so I might be alright for a while.

Over the years I’ve seen people come and go. Some are happy when I print out their weight, others get quite upset. I even received the odd kick and a cussing. But I know my regulars and look forward to their weekly visits.

There’s one girl I find very interesting, I think she would be considered pretty, with long, straight, shiny hair and dancing blue eyes. Her weight was in the average range but she would come in each week, sometimes with a friend and once I heard her say she needed to lose another 5 pounds before her wedding.

Compared with some of the women that stand on me, I don’t think she needed to lose any weight.


I didn’t see her for a few weeks, maybe it was months. Then one day she came into the shop and bought a small package but she didn’t come over to see me.

A few weeks later she came back to be weighed and then she started coming again, every week.

After a while her weight was increasing but she didn’t seem unhappy, in fact she seemed quite pleased. Occasionally a young man would come with her and they would be holding hands and smiling, sometimes he would kiss her, ever so gently and look at her in such a special way, as if there was no one else in the shop, just him and her. The world could have carried on without them, they only had eyes for each other.

Well, I have to tell you that after a while she was starting to look excessively fat and then the strangest thing happened. She didn’t come in for a few weeks but the next time I saw her, she must have been on the most amazing diet because she had lost all that weight! She now had someone else with her and she pushed it around in a small chair on wheels. It was like a tiny version of her, with thick dark hair and bright blue eyes.


She didn’t come to see me for quite a time but sometimes she would come in to the shop with the tiny person and recently the tiny person has been walking. They would go to the prescription counter.

I think she’s getting too thin but she won’t come to see me now and I need to tell her she’s getting too thin. She doesn’t look well at all and I don’t know why she’s done it but she’s had all her shiny straight hair cut off and wears a knitted hat. Her eyes look hollow and haunted, I don’t see her very often at all now.


The tiny person has been in the shop a few times, she’s getting bigger, she comes in with that young man and he holds her hand and he looks very sad.

The tiny person calls him Daddy.


Life isn’t the same without my young lady coming into the shop. I’m bored, no one seems to want a shop weighing machine any more, what’s the point in me being here if I’m not used.

The door’s opening again, I don’t suppose it’s anyone that wants weighing.

…….It’s her! She’s back again and she looks so much better and she’s stopped wearing that hat. Who would have thought it, her hair’s all curly now. Daddy and the tiny person are following her and the old Mr Hadley behind the counter is saying how pleased he is to see her back and how is she feeling?

I wonder where she’s been?


Sunday, 26 November 2006

Time Flies By!

I seem to have lost two weeks of my life! I haven’t had time to write an entry and I can’t remember what I’ve been doing!

I was trying to keep up with the Journals I have on Alerts and that was taking up hours each day. So I’ve had to make a decision, to cut down the number of Journals I’m alerted about and will in future pop in from time to time to keep up with the latest news.

One of the things that I can remember is, I went to visit my sister on Tuesday afternoon, in her new house in Shropshire. While I was there she gave me an Indian Head Massage, which was very good. She mostly did my neck and shoulders, as that is where all my tension manifests itself and I shall be going back for another one.

My sister’s daughter, is in Australia at the moment, she has been travelling around the world for last nine months and won’t be home until the new year. So especially for Emma, there are a some pictures of the new house at the top, which I must say is very nice but as always, impossibly neat and minimalist, how on earth can two sisters be so different………… I’ve just had a quick think about that because I know we also have similarities, so we are probably like two sides of the same coin, the light and the dark, the good and the bad….? What?….. Oh well, I suppose I’m the bad one. Lol.

Visited Mum on Wednesday afternoon and took Harper Dog. That was funny. Wilf has waged war on the squirrels in his garden, who destroy his bird feeders. He sits in his armchair by the French windows and waits until they are up close, opens the door and rushes out roaring at them. Goodness knows what the neighbours think, as it is a very ‘select’ area.

Well now Wilf has an assistant, Harper, who spotted a squirrel through the window and started barking at it. Wilf jumped up and opened the door for Harper to go rushing out to scare the squirrel. Good thinking, as Wilf is eighty and not too nimble. Unfortunately there was a major flaw in this plan, Harper is senile, so he rushed out and forgot why he was rushing out and then just stood there admiring the view. Ah well, back to the drawing board!

We were invaded by The Germans again this weekend. Catherine, Flo and Isabella arrived here on Friday, after a flying visit to friends in Stoke.

It was Flo’s birthday yesterday (Saturday), so on the Friday night I ran them into town where they had a lovely meal and evening out, their first since Isabella was born in June. Isabella was no trouble at all and never woke while they were out.

She is developing fast and is becoming so tall. If you say her name she will look at you immediately and when Catherine told her to wish Daddy a Happy Birthday, she looked straight at him, so she seems to be understanding that certain words relate to certain things.

Simon also came up over the weekend but he was coming and going as he had his own friends to see but I did manage to get some photos of him holding his niece, of whom he seems quite fond.

Flo had a birthday surprise. He knew he was going out with us for the day but nothing more.

We had got tickets for The Severn Valley Railway and whisked him off there, we decided to upgrade to 1st Class and so had a comfortable compartment all to ourselves. The SVR is a volunteer run steam train line that runs from Kidderminster to Bridgnorth, just over an hour each way. You see some of the most beautiful countryside on the journey and if you’re lucky, as we were, the elephants at the West Midlands Safari Park will be standing right alongside the line as you pass.

We had good weather, which was so lucky, as the heavy rain had only just stopped before we left home.

When we got to Bridgnorth I told Flo, as it was 1.15 pm, we needed to get up into High Town asap, as we might have trouble getting into somewhere to eat. What he didn’t know was, I’d booked a table at Bailey’s, an excellent Wine Bar/Bistro and that my Mum , Wilf and sister Val, would be sitting there waiting for us.

I told Flo I had a place that I thought we’d try first and then was slightly bemused when I made him carry the pushchair upstairs as soon as we got inside, I’d just spotted Wilf at the bar, a few feet away and I didn’t want the surprise to be spoilt at this late stage.

Catherine, as ever, was trying to countermand, my instructions, saying perhaps we should get drinks before we went upstairs. I hurled her a death stare and jerked my head towards Wilf’s back. For once she was quick on the uptake (usually when she has entered into a ‘discussion’ it will take her several seconds to back down from her point of view). It took all my self control to not burst out laughing as she rounded on Flo and told him to take Isabella up the stairs straight away, as we needed to get a table first before we ordered drinks. Poor Flo looked like he’d just been hit by a whirlwind. The two of us working together can be a bit intimidating.

When we got to the top of the stairs, I told him to just keep going, until we reached the room where our table was. He stopped and looked around for an empty table, it was priceless when my sister looked up and said, “I think there’s room here.”

He had no idea we were all meeting up and we had a lovely lunch together. All too soon Mike and I had to leave to get the 3pm train back, as we were going to a Charity Auction and had to be there, in our best bib and tucker, by 6.30.

The auction was also a dinner, cooked by members of the charity which raises funds for St Paul’s Hostel in Worcester. It is a hostel for the homeless and a charity I feel very strongly about.

Last year Henry Sandon was the auctioneer, Mike and I have known Henry and his wife Barbara for ages and they are a lovely couple but getting on in years now. Unfortunately Henry knew so much about the donated, antique items, that dinner was served hours late and poor Henry was on his last legs by the time he‘d finished.

Mike was a bit nervous about following such a ‘National Treasure’ as Henry but he did very well and manage to hike up the bidding at times, when thing got a bit slow. The dinner was only half an hour late this year.

The food was wonderful, I chose the Festive Beef and Venison Casserole, followed by Trifle (big eating day, don’t ask what I weighed this morning!)

The auction raised a massive £2,390 but I don’t know the total for the whole evening. The chairman was thrilled, he thought it was a record and a good start to the beginning of their 30th year and his first year as chairman.

I came away with a lovely washbasin and jug with roses on it. I was determined to buy something and thought it would be nice for my Isabella Rose, either in her bedroom here, or at home . Catherine saw it and said it’s going home with them next time they drive over, as it will look lovely on her new chest of drawers. I knew Catherine had got a ‘Rose’ theme in the bedroom but you can never be sure if someone will share your tastes, especially your own daughter!

I now have my house straight and empty again, which is lovely for a day or two…until I start missing them again.

School tomorrow, last day of swimming, hurrah!!

PS. For some reason the title has dropped off, I have just tried to add it again, hope it works.

Thursday, 16 November 2006

Well, That's A New One!

I was happily reading though my Alerts, leaving comments on new entries, when suddenly I couldn't access any Journals, including my own.

All I got was 'Apache Tomcat Error'.

What on earth was that?

It seems alright again now but there have been some very odd errors this week. Another time I couldn't make any comments, or put in a new entry. If I tried I was told I needed to sign in  but the ID showing was that for my son, who lives 150 miles away and our accounts are not linked at all and if I tried to clear the ID and sign in as me it told me I was invalid!

Is anyone else having problems?



Sunday, 12 November 2006

Sorry It's a Big One!

I have to accept Emily has gone to that great dinner plate in the sky.

Saturday morning I had another look at where her feathers were scattered, between the herb garden and the runner beans. I spotted something I hadn’t seen the day before, on closer investigation it was a long thin strip of flesh. I knew it was the last trace of Emily.

Somehow it was comforting to know that she was dead and that it must have been a quick death. My biggest fear was that she was horribly injured and lying somewhere, where I couldn’t see her. I have to put this behind me now and no matter how silly it seems, I loved that bird and if you have never kept chickens you won’t understand how you can build up a relationship with a bird but trust me, you can.

I got into a bit of a row this week on a website I am a regular user of. We have a member who is not well educated, and has various problems but she likes to make comments about local issues and speaks as she finds.

In the past people have berated her for her inability to spell and lack of knowledge in English grammar, which I think is disgraceful.

This week she put up a post about the influx of Polish bus drivers and the difficulties she’d had with them not being able to answer questions about the route their bus was taking and then actually getting lost on the journey.

A new member then really had a go, saying she should not refer to the people’s country of origin as that was racist.

This, to me is at the heart of the problems in this country. Apparently if a bus driver can’t speak English and doesn’t know where he is going, it’s alright to tell the tale but don’t actually say that he is from another country. What a load of &*!!*(&$.

So I expressed my point of view and got a load of verbals back from this 18 year old. I detest the Political Correct Brigade, I think they do more harm to racial harmony that any member of the BNP.

It’s about time we remembered whose country this is. I am not a religious person but if people want to celebrate Christmas and show religious symbols, that’s fine. If I went to Saudi Arabia I would not expect the people there to adopt Western dress and hide all symbols of their faith just to please me. So why, when the boot is on the other foot, are we supposed to hide all our traditions and suddenly not notice that people are from another country.

I have Polish family, by marriage and I am quite certain they were happy to be Polish and if you’d called Bolek English, I’m sure he would have been very offended.

After I’d bravely put in my post everyone else joined in agreeing with me. If you think about it, how arrogant is that to assume that referring to a Polish person as Polish is insulting. This part of the world is becoming a very sad place. You can see this annoyed me!

Mike got called in to do three days sick cover at Gloucester, they seem to be a sickly lot . So I spent most of my free time on my own, as usual.

I put a post on the Blog message board about the fact I get a hundred or more readers a week but only ten or so comments. Do I bore them off to sleep?

As a result I had a reply from a fairly new Blogger and I’ve been reading his Journal and exchanging emails . I have to thank him as he was the only person that got me smiling on Saturday after Emily’s premature demise. Mike was working, so this meant I was being miserable on my own.

Have a look at his Journal, he has some wonderful photography and tell him I sent you. I had to laugh because I’d seen a photo on there of someone in a rugby shirt sitting on a tree branch and I asked if he was the sporty person in the photo. How sad  to reach the stage when wearing a sports shirt makes someone sporty but  then putting on a sweatshirt is probably the nearest I get to being in any sport nowadays. On The Move

Mike and I went out for lunch Saturday to a small country pub, which is now a restaurant more than a pub. Mike had done a ‘phone in’ programme that morning and I don’t think he’d quite switched off. When his soup was bought the waiter put it down and said is everything ok. Mike said ‘Yes, thank you, byeeee! ’ Which amused the waiter, he kept walking by and saying ‘Hello!’, I think Mike was still in ‘phone in’ mode.

Terry’s latest Memoirs from her mother reminded me of a very unsavoury incident in my late teens. I wonder now if I should have reported it because I found out later it had also happened to a close friend of mine.If you’ve read Terry’s entry you’ll know what I’m talking about and if you haven’t, you should, her link is here Bowl of Cherries

It's obviously a male thing and some don't grow out of it. A friend I had known for years was talking about an old car he was renovating, I always hung around with the boys in our crowd as I loved helping them tinkering with their cars. So it didn't seem odd that he invited me round to come and have a look at his car. Which we did.

Then we went in the house, there had been no hanky panky, flirting, or anything of that nature. I was offered a coffee and sat on the sofa, as instructed. The coffee arrived but he obviously felt he had more to show me than his car!!!!! I jumped up and said I needed the toilet and hung around in the bathroom, in the hope that things would have calmed down, so to speak. When I returned everything was returned to it’s rightful place. Nothing was said about it and I drank my coffee as quickly as possible and left. I haven’t thought about this for years, it’s funny the memories other people’s Journals can spark off.

In Maths I have a group of children, who are special needs and need a lot of support, I have to set them easier forms of work of than what the rest of the group are doing. Behaviour was a problem so they had cards with seven targets on them and at the end of the lesson I would award stickers for those they had managed to achieve. If they get twenty five in a week, they have a certificate. The twins are Travellers, they are the most entertaining children to work with. Anyway they got their certificates and we had to be photographed. It’s a bit fuzzy, as it is a scan and had been laminated but a couple of people have asked for a recent photo, so here it is.



You can always print it off and throw darts at it, or use it to scare away Double Glazing Salesmen.

While I’ve been writing this I have seen a Buzzard come in very low over the garden near the Willow tree, which is close to the Ark. In 14 years I’ve never seen one that low. It’s a huge bird and I’m fairly certain now that it’s the culprit. A fox wouldn’t leave a long thin strip of flesh but a sharp beak would.

I’m off to talk to Abigail for a while now.







Friday, 10 November 2006

So Sad


                                     Emily is on the right.

I’m so upset. I came home from school after a good morning. I gave my Remembrance Day presentation to the year group for our classroom Assembly. I’d made a few improvements on last year and it went down very well, although it could have been better. I fluffed my words a couple of times, which didn’t bother anyone except me.

So when I got home I was feeling quite happy. I decided to go and plant some Wild Daffodil bulbs down in my wilderness garden.

As I went down the garden Abigail came to meet me on the bridge and I could tell she was upset. There was no sign of Emily and I supposed she had found her way through the fence, she’s done it a couple of times before.

While I was planting the bulbs I came across a lot of feathers. I think it’s quite safe to assume that Emily is no more. She was a large , heavy bird and there was no sign of blood, nor was there any feather’s other than in one small area. I think it may have been a Buzzard, as a fox would have to have left a trail of feathers as he dragged her away.

I feel awful for Emily and also for Abigail, who is distraught, she kept running around as if something was chasing her. When I went near the Ark she followed me and ran straight up to bed, so I’ve locked her away for the rest of the day.

I don’t know what to do now. Do I let her out tomorrow, knowing she will probably suffer the same fate. She loves having the freedom of our large garden. She will be so lonely and miserable being shut in her run.

Do I get her a friend from the ‘Rescue a Battery Hen’ people? But they might not get on and Abigail is nearly 4 years old, so she might die soon and then the new one will be left on her own.

I’m worried sick that there is an injured Emily somewhere but being realistic I think, probably not.

This is such a horrible thing to happen.

I was going to share a poem which has particular relevance at this time of year and I think I still will, even though it makes this entry totally depressing.

It’s a poem I copied from a now defunct Black Country Website, called Cradley Links.

It is written as ‘way spake rahnd ere.’ You might wish to amuse yourselves trying to translate it. The dialect where my family come from is very close to Anglo Saxon and has many similarities with German.

If you can manage to get through it, its a very touching poem, which never fails to bring a tear to my eye.

I hope to do a more cheerful weekly entry over the weekend but tonight I think I will drown my sorrows. Why on earth had I chosen chicken for dinner tonight?

I know this picture doesn't go with the poem as that is about Gallipoli and this is a scene from Chateau Wood in Flanders but to me it sums up the horrors of WW1 and it is  near where my Great Uncle Albert Harrold died in 1915, he was aged 32 and his body was never found. His name is on the Menin Gate at Ypres.


It may help if I explain 'Wor'means wasn't and 'ood means would. Try your best with the rest.


      'Let us never forget'



If I knew I wor cummin' back, thairs things I 'ood 'ave sed
I'd 'ave tode 'er mooer times 'ow much I luved 'er
an' tucked the kids up tieter in bed
A good nite inthe boozer with me mates, me last goodbyes ter all
But I thort I woz invincerbul I wor ever gooin' ter fall
I woz gooin'ter do me bit, I woz that sort of mon
I'd jine the Woosters, for I 'new they'd got many a Craidlee son.

If I knew I wor cummin' back, I'd 'ave rote mooer oftun than I did
I'd 'ave tode 'er it 'ood be alrite and sum of the things I'd done an' sid (seen)
Me mates woz all around me, born an' bred in Craidlee town
I thort we woz soopermen and wor ever gooin' down
The Woosters 'ad trained us well, we 'new wot we 'ad ter do
But we wor gooin' ter France, but ter sumw'eer new

If I knew I wor cummin' back, I think I'd still 'ave gon
She 'ood 'ave whanted me ter jine, an' be proud of 'er mon
Ter plairces, sum I'd never 'erd on afower, we went
Befower we got ter Gallipoli, w'eer we 'ad bin sent
We landed at a plairce nairmed Helles, an' it woz truly hell
On the sond we woz 'ommered with bullet, shrapnul an'shell

If I knew I wor cummin' back, I think I'd 'ave tried ter med mooer of me life
But I 'oodn't 'ave changed 'er, she woz the perfect wife
We got used ter life under fire, we knew w'en ter duck and dive
We woz the Woosters from Craidlee and knew 'ow ter stay alive
Ower time 'ood soon be 'ere, we 'ood mek them Turks run
We 'ood soon be up out of ower trenches, chargin' with bayonet and gun

If I knew I wor cummin' back I'd 'ave rote that fineul day
She 'ood 'ave red it ter the kids the last things thair dad 'ad ter say
In swelterin' 'eat we waited for ower time ter charge the foe
Wot'ood it be like? We woz soon gooin' ter know
As we charged the Turkish lines, not a slacker woz there 'ere
We went forward, feelin' a mixture of excitement, pride an' fear

If I knew I wor cummin' back I'd 'ave left 'er picture back atcamp
This lickwidcummin' from me chest ull meck it sticky an' damp
A'ommer like blow 'ad 'nocked me down, an' I lay in the dust
I'd got ter get up an'goo on an' 'elp me mates, I must
Jimmy Clark, Tummy Green and Dave Reynolds were lyin' not far away
It woz if the flower of Craidlee woz dyin' all around me that day

I just lay theer, I felt so tired, I coodn't move, no matter 'ow I tried
Surely this wor the end, this coodn't be 'ow yo felt w'en yo died
Suddenly I saw the missus an' the kids sittin' around me bed
I 'erd 'er say "Yo've dun yower bit, now goo ter sleep, rest yer weary yed"
'er fairce slowly vanished an' everything went black
Then I knew - I wor never cummin' back

Dedicated to all who fought in the Gallipoli
Campaign, especially the men from Cradley with
the 4th and 9th Battalions of the Worcestershire Regiment.



Sunday, 5 November 2006

The Gunpowder Plot and My Family




Today is 5th November, otherwise known as Bonfire Night, or Guy Fawkes Night. Fires are used to burn effigies of Guy Fawkes, whose name for the last 400 years has been associated with a plot to kill the King.


Traditionally, even after the introduction of Christianity to Great Britain, bonfires would be held at this time of year, as a continuation of the Pagan traditions. It was the end of their year and the fires, along with some other dubious activities, would ensure good crops for the coming year. After 1605 the two traditions merged and gave the Pagan tradition a more respectable meaning.


In 1605 Guy Fawkes, along with other Catholic Plotters attempted to blow up Parliament, with the new King, James the First. The Catholics had hoped this new King they would bring a change in their fortunes and they would be able to practise their faith unhindered. That was not the case; James introduced even harsher laws than those under ‘Good Queen Bess’.  So certain people decided he must go.


This plot had tragic consequences on my own family.


By 1901 all of the branches of my family lived in a Black Country village called Rowley Regis. All,

except for one branch, had lived there for centuries.


There was Rowley Village itself, perched on top of a Basalt outcrop, its church visible for miles. The rest of the area was made up of 20 plus Hamlets.


I am fiercely proud of my Ancestry and the people who came from Rowley Regis. They were the hardest working, most interesting people you could ever meet and even today you will still hear older people talking in the dialect unique to this area, which is almost pure Anglo Saxon. My step father being one of them. For example ‘ Yo bay gooin dahn there am ya?  Meaning ‘You’re not going down there are you?’


Farming was the main occupation back in the time of The Gunpowder Plot but the soil was poor and living was hard. This was before the Industrial Revolution and the discovery of the mineral wealth in the hills and the 30-foot seam of coal that ran through the area.


I shouldn’t have started this, as I could go on forever about the Nail Shops in the back yards, women working alongside men, stripped to the waist. What a fuss that made when the Nail Industry declined and many went to work in Doulton’s new Sanitary Ware Pottery. Mr Doulton was horrified to find the women working in that state and is recorded has having found the Rowley women ‘most troublesome’!


I think there is a strong streak of those women in me, although I haven’t yet resorted to working topless.


Then of course there was the drunken Organist and Choirmaster in my Ruston line. I really do think I shall have to write a book one day.


Anyway back to 1605. The plotters made a complete hash of everything, the plot failed and they went on the run. This was the undoing of Thomas Smart, a member of my family.


As a child I was told one of my family had been hanged but as with childhood memories, some of the facts seem to have been distorted over the years. I had assumes it was a Harper, who supposedly came from Scotland originally and I think I made the assumption he was part of the Army supporting the Royalists in The Civil War.


It was only quite recently that I spoke to one of my older cousins, who had a clearer memory of what had been passed down, verbally, from our grandparents, who were born in the 1880’s.


It was actually a member of the Smart family, my father’s father’s mother was Mary Smart and her father Thomas was a Blacksmith. His father another Thomas, born 1779, was a farmer at Oakham, one of the Hamlets of Rowley.


The family legend was that a Smart had been hanged for a part in The Gunpowder Plot.


As this tales has been passed down by word of mouth and knowing how little the families moved from Rowley, I thought there was a possibility there was some truth in the tale but was still a bit sceptical.


It came as quite a shock, when I did a Google on the Smart name and The Gunpowder Plot to find there is quite a bit of evidence to indicate the family tale was true.


The Wolverhampton website seems quite proud that the trial of Thomas Smart and John Holyhead were carried out there.


When I first looked into this, one of the articles I found said that Thomas had not wanted to shelter the traitors but had been forced to because of that the Judge was asked to be lenient with the sentence.

He wasn’t. I can’t find that article now, which is a shame. That also ties in with the second part of the tale, that there had been some talk that he may have escaped the death sentence.


The Judge was specially brought in from Ludlow for the trial.


This is just one of a number of references I found but I hope to go to Stafford Record Office to find out more one day.


Two farmers, Thomas Smart and John Holyhead of Rowley Regis, were hanged in High Green, now Queen Square, in January 1606, for sheltering some of the Gunpowder Plotters who had fled to the midlands. The pair played no part in the original plot but nevertheless suffered the traitor's death of hanging, drawing and quartering on butcher's blocks set up in the square a few days before the execution of Guy Fawkes and several other plotters in London.



I haven’t traced back my family to the actual Thomas who was executed but as this tale has been passed down for so long and back in the early 1800’s there was only one Smart family in Rowley Regis, I have no reason to doubt the poor man was one of my ancestors.


As for the rest of the week, well just busy as usual. Thursday was a day trip with school to Coughton Court, in Warwickshire, by sheer coincidence the home of one of the Gunpowder Plotters. It was a sunny day but chilly and one of the little dears managed to fall backwards into a pond! She wasn’t hurt and thankfully her coat was fairly waterproof.


There are some beautiful pictures to look at above from the trip.


The picture at the top page is from next-door’s fireworks last night. We were invited round but Harper was a bit upset, so we joined in from our side of the fence with nuts and a glass of wine. I have never seen so many fireworks, they were going off all around us, we sat on the patio and had about an hour and a half’s free display.


I must get off to The Farmer’s Market now, Mike’s working all day, so I’m going to see if I can buy myself a nice Farmer.






Saturday, 4 November 2006

Batsford Arboretum

This isn’t my weekly entry, I will do that tomorrow and  will include, as promised to Kate, a bit about my ancestor who suffered a Traitor’s death following The Gunpowder Plot. Tonight I’m just posting some pictures from our trip on Tuesday to Batsford Arboretum.

One of the joys of my job at present is that I finish work at 12.45pm most days. That means if Mike isn’t working we get a chance to go out and do things, so I suppose you could call us semi-retired.


The weather this week has been beautiful and after the hectic week last week we thought we’d have a bit of ‘Me time’.


Batsford is a large house set at the bottom of an escarpment in The Cotswolds; just down the hill from Bourton on the Hill and before you get to Moreton in Marsh. Don’t you just love these Cotswold names?


Algernon Freeman Mitford, later Lord Redesdale, built the house in the late 1800’s. He was the grandfather of the famous, or should I say, infamous Mitford Girls, who lived in the house until 1936, when it was sold to Gilbert Willis, later the first Lord Dulverton. (If you want a good title, I suggest you buy this house!)


Lord Redesdale was greatly influenced by Chinese and Japanese landscapes. And there are over 1600 different species of trees and shrubs in the Arboretum.




I’m not an expert at photography but I was very pleased with some of the photos.  I think they explain themselves, although I have put a caption to the Magnolia seed pod, which are normally quite rare but for some reason they have turned up in their thousands this year and have been the most asked question at my husband's Gardener's Question time. 



Wednesday, 1 November 2006

Pictures and A O Hell!

Last night I was ready to throw this computer out of the window. I was trying to upload a few photos into my Journal page and at every screen AOL kept dropping me back to a Google page. It was driving me mad and took soooooo long!!!!


In the end I was falling asleep whilst waiting for the pages to change, so didn’t insert all the ones I wanted, one of them being this.



My little smiley pumpkin, Isabella.  How can anything be that bad when this greets you, first thing in the morning.


I was too tired to put the rest of the photos at the top. I know some of my friends and family, who live abroad, like to see lots of photos, so they can see what’s going on at home. So that's what this entry is for.


I had to go for a Bone Density Scan this afternoon, I get the results next week.


I’m feeling bits depressed now, as I don’t think the results are going to be good. Mum has Osteoporosis and I have a lot of back pain if I’m on my feet for more than an hour. I had an almighty shock when they measured my height today. I had an idea I’d lost some height but thought maybe it’s just that I tend to wear flatter shoes these days. No. That was not the answer. I am shorter, a lot shorter. I used to be 5 foot 7 and a half inches tall. Today I was 5 foot 6 inches. I’m only 53; if I carry on at this rate I’ll be 4 foot be the time I reach 65!


Still I don't suppose the depression will last too long, how can it when I'm married to this?



 Catherine in France, don't you wish you'd been here?


Emma, if you look at the pictures at the top you'll see your mum in the same wig, it's not a good look!


It's well and truly dark now and its only quarter to six.I think I shall go and bung the dinner in the oven and we'll go to our local pub for a pint and a chat before dinner. Have to while away these long dark evenings somehow.






Tuesday, 31 October 2006



Where on earth did the last week go?I’ve had a lovely time but phewwwww…….. was it busy?


I don’t know what’s been happening in the world, I’ve barely had time to keep an eye on Journals, every time I’ve signed on I’ve had 60 emails, or more!


Catherine & Isabella arrived on Monday night and I met their flight at Birmingham Airport at 8.30pm. The little love had been no trouble on her first flight. She had a bottle for take off, to prevent ear problems. Went to sleep for half an hour, then woke up when the ‘PINGGG’ happened to announce some turbulence and spent the next half an hour talking to the overhead light.


As soon as she saw me there was a slightly puzzled ‘don’t I know you look’ followed by a big smile. She is just the best natured 4-month-old baby I have ever known, with smiles for everyone.


Tuesday was a family get together at my Mother’s house and the best bit was that Mum’s cousin, Joan, was over from America. Joan adores Catherine, so what fantastic timing that they were both in England together.


Wednesday was getting Catherine’s hair fixed, plus some shopping and Thursday, Flo flew over to join them.


Friday, we all went to Bath to have lunch with Mike’s daughter Sue, her husband John and their two girls Chloe and Abigail. It was Sue’s 38th birthday and we lunched in the Pump Rooms. OMG! If anywhere was ever more English, well I can’t imagine where it is. Chandeliers, high ceilings, a pianist playing and camp waiters in long aprons, it was heavenly. It was quite expensive compared with a Pub Meal but £108 for 8 meals and drinks didn’t seem OTT for the experience.


There are windows overlooking the Roman Baths and you can sample the water, which I didn’t think tasted too bad but it’s warm yeuchhh! If there is one thing I don’t drink its warm water.


Friday night I made Pate and sausages rolls, with sausages from our ‘Best in Britain’ butcher in Malvern, his award winning sausages taste like Christmas Dinner and are just wonderful.


Saturday was absolute madness, I did a buffet for20 people and at 12.30 they started to arrive. Apart from the Prawn and the Salmon sandwiches everything was ready and for once I can say the kids actually chipped in and helped AND their partners. We sent Mike to the shops for last minute items, as that’s what he does best.




We partied all day and then when the older family left, Catherine’s friend arrived from Stoke, with her husband and son Jacob and my sister with partner Malcolm, his daughter Bec and boyfriend Steve.


This fibre optic pumpkin was from the market.




Isabella wore her Pumpkin suit that I bought her and looked so cute.



We had roast pork baps and homemade soups. Watched Fireworks in the garden and had the opening ceremony for the gate Mike hung a few weeks ago and I just haven’t had time to mention.




Mike is not a handyman, in fact the only thing handy about him is that I can usually find him lying next to me in bed. And that can’t always be guaranteed as he often wakes at 6am and gets up then.


Mike is a Bodger. He will have a go at DIY but isn’t very skilled, so Bodges things. But…, for once he  did something right. Our old gate was falling apart. I ordered a new one, off the Internet and fully expected to have to get a man in to hang it but no! Mike thought he’d have a go and he did it. It opens and shuts, like you would expect a gate to do and SEEMS quite secure. So, it was worthy of an official opening ceremony and the pictures can be seen above but here is one showing just how proud he was of his well-hung gate. There is a pub near here called The Gate Hangs Well and so obviously it quite something in the male world to get it hanging right.


Sunday was a quiet day, thank god. In the evening we went for an Indian Buffet in town, which isn’t town, it’s a City but that doesn’t work does it? You can’t say I’m going into City tonight can you? Anyway, it was a fabulous meal.


Monday, it was back to school and in the evening I took Catherine, Flo & Isabella back to the Airport.


Today, Halloween has been lovely. Morning was spent at school and in the afternoon Mike & I went to Batsford Arboretum, just outside Moreton in Marsh, in the Cotswolds. The photos I took were lovely and I will post them later in the week.


We got home at dusk and then had a succession of Trick or Treaters. I am exhausted, so am going to bed now.


Apologies if I haven’t commented on your Journal, I just haven’t had time, hopefully things will be back to normal now. I will put more pictures on later.





Sunday, 22 October 2006

Everyone seems to be doing this, so I decided to have a go.


1. Grab the nearest book. If you are currently reading something, that'll be fine too.

2. Open the book to page 123.

3. Find the fifth sentence.

4. Post the text of the next 4 sentences on your Blog along with these instructions.

5. Don't you dare dig for that "cool" or "intellectual" book in your closet I know that is what you were thinking!

6. Tag 5 people

Well I won't bother to tag five people - as I say above do this if you like and leave your link in the comments below.

So here is the book I grabbed, The Black Country by Edward Chitham.


He prided himself on being a plain speaking man; he intended when he went up to Westminster to reform the church, make the Bank of Englandthe servant, not the master of the people and curb the power of the "selfish obligarchy of the landlords who ruled the country with a rod of iron and made the agricultrual districts one vast truck shop."Despite these proud and hearty words Mr Fryer sat in one Parliament only, thereafter retiring tho his country seat at The Wergs, his coat of arms duly granted him i 1825.


By the mid-nineteenth century the Black Country had earned its name, though no one knows who first christened it. Dickens, writing in the Old Curiosity Shop in 1841, called it a Black Region "where not a blade of grass was seen to grow, where not a bud put forth its promise in the spring., where nothing green could live  but on the surface of a  stagnant pool. Dickens was of course a specialist in the  Macabre and on his visits here he must have been pleased to store up visual memories, whic he could refashion  into descriptions for his novels.

One Day Until Catherine & Isabella Arrive!

School was demented; I hardly had a second to speak to anyone, what with the Harvest Festival on Thursday and Parent Consultation Friday, it was tough.


But now I’m  off for a week, what bliss. I have so much catching up to do around the house and Catherine & Isabella arrive tomorrow!!!


I did my entry for the Mass Blog and included in it a link to this Journal so that, if anyone ever manages to find it, they will see my son dressed as Britney Spears! Ha, ha.


Someone asked about the ‘Full Monty Year’ and I have to say, yes he and his two friends, Chris and Chris did do the Full Monty routine, from the film of the same name. Not just once but twice!


Each year they would decide on something to amuse the staff for the Christmas Dinner. I chose not to go to the dinner and disco as I didn’t want to cramp his style but then they decided to do at again at the Canteen disco. I’m pleased to say that modesty got the better of him at the end, probablt because people kept saying, " Your Mum's here," So he kept his pants on. I was going to say pulled out at the last second but given the subject, thought that sounded a bit distasteful. However, one of the Chris’ was obviously so pleased with his physique that he danced around starkers for a good five minutes and he wasn't very accurate about keeping his hat strategically placed.

There weren’t many sausages on sticks eaten that day!!!


Tuesday I met my mother’s cousin Joan, for lunch. She is over here from Adams, Massachusetts. It’s her family I have been researching our Welsh/Belgian side for. It was lovely to see her again and she is really pressing for Mike and I to go and stay with her. She has a wonderful apartment in a converted Mill. I think it’s time I plucked up courage for the flight and I will aim to go next year.


Hello! …..What’s that I hear? Sounds like a chicken to me.


I can’t believe this; I just heard a gentle clucking from the hall. I’d been downloading photos so I had the camera to hand.



Hmm, Emily seems to have taken a wrong turn here, I thinkshe may have been looking for the bathroom. I've heard of Chicken in the Barn, or even Chicken in the Basket but this is ridiculous.


Something that has been annoying me this week is Spam. No, not that pink tinned meat (?) that people lived on in the War. The email variety. Is anyone else getting this sort of stuff, which is somehow getting through my filters?


The photon

A non-chalantly geosynchronous support group laughs out loud, and a cashier behind the blood clot almost recognizes a fire hydrant. The football team living with a rattlesnake pees on a thoroughly twisted scooby snack. Indeed, the buzzard underhandedly caricatures some crank case. The hydrogen atom behind an anomaly is overpriced. Most people believe that the stovepipe can be kind to a satellite, but they need to remember how secretly a bartender inside a ball bearing hesitates.


Or, how do you like this one?


Hi look

Would you turn her loose again the way she is? was all he <galaxy. For all we know she is still on the way. The

way of being a bit of an entomologist myself, if you will

the room. All this meant he was due for early


Is anyone else getting this sort of nonsense? Does anyone know what the purpose is? I keep reporting it as Spam but I’m wondering now if it’s a nutter that has read my Blog and thinks I might be interested in the machinations of their deranged mind. If this is the sort of reader I’m attracting, I think I’d better stop now. The worrying thing is I actually found some of it funny. If I ever find they start to make sense, I shall have to increase my medication.


Yesterday we had a lovely day out and I have some truly wonderful photos. No credit to me, it’s all down to the light and subject matter.

I won’t put them in the page, apart from one as a taster, as that means reducing them and they need to be seen clearly.




This is Baddesley Clinton, a moated Manor House , the earliest part of the house and  the moat were built in the 15thC.


I think they will be of particular interest to any American readers as it is English countryside and history at it most vibrant, colourful best. The light this time of year, on a sunny day, is amazing.


I took Mike for lunch at the Saxon Mill, just outside Warwick, where we had an excellent meal, although not cheap. £9.50 for Sausage and Mash sounds expensive but it was a bit special and with a red wine gravy. No, I will not call it Jus. It’s gravy.


Mike had a Pork Terrine and French Fries. But it was so comfortable there with a roaring log fire and big squashy, leather sofas. We had to drag ourselves away to go and visit a couple of National Trust properties, Packwood House and Baddesley Clinton.


I did the same thing with my friend Sue a few weeks ago and I wanted to take Mike there as it made such a lovely afternoon.


We went to Packwood House first and then on to Baddesley Clinton, which has a Tea Room in a converted barn and their cakes are wonderful. Sadly they didn’t have the Carrot Cake, which is the best I’ve tasted anywhere.


Please take the time to look at the photos at the top of this entry.


A picture I took of Merlin this week, he didn't seem too happy that I caught him sleeping with this dog.



Oh Mum! Leave me alone!!!


Time now for me to put the finishing touches to the Guest bedroom, Catherine & Isabella arrive tomorrow. Did I mention that?