30 July 2013


The day was bright and sunny when Grandma Charlotte told me about her infidelity. She was dressed in a lavender tweed skirt and very feminine pink mohair jumper. She dressed well, kept her small frame neat and tidy, never letting age dictate her attire. As she spoke she continuously stroked the deep grey wave that curved from front to back of her small head.
We were seated on this same iron bench overlooking the lake, a place we frequented as often as we could. Swans glided past, babies in tow and followed by a single female mallard. Gran said she thought it must be ladies day and giggled at her observation. Gran giggled a lot, especially when she was nervous. At first I thought she was imagining things but her tale was too realistic to be dreamed up.

It happened when Grandfather Tom was at war. It was a long war and she’d been lonely without him. Not that she admitted it to anyone. I suppose she missed her Mom and Dad and all of her seven siblings. I know what it’s like to miss parents; mine were killed when I was just a kid. I’d lived with Gran and Grandfather ever since. They looked after me, putting up with the tantrums and guiding me through the difficult teens. I loved them both dearly.
Gran met the man in an electrical repair shop. She’d gone to collect a radio that was having new valves put in. She had to explain about valves and I still don’t properly understand how they worked. Gran had been leaning across the counter trying to see if the radio was amongst the ‘readies’ on the back shelf, when suddenly his face appeared before her. She couldn’t see the rest of him. Apparently he was picking up dropped coins. Gran went quite girlish when she described him as a blonde bit of all right. Her eyes literally twinkled as she smiled, not a wide grin, just the hint of a smile.  I always think of Gran now when I see the picture of Mona Lisa.
His name was Des, short for Desmond. Gran showed me a photograph and I must say her description was right. He had loose blonde curls and huge laughing eyes, wide open, as if he had been surprised by something the photographer said. His chin was deeply dimpled and I silently wondered if he lived up to the saying that people with deep dimples make good lovers.

Des and my Gran became firm friends. He would see her weekends and she would call in the shop in the week when she finished work at the munitions factory. Des couldn’t go to war on account of his deformed leg. You had to be fully formed to fight for your country.
Gran went starry eyed again when she told me about their first kiss. They were out walking, holding hands, telling each other stories about their past, when Des suddenly asked Gran if he could kiss her. I laughed when she said that, I never had a man ask for a kiss, the men I knew jumped in without asking. Anyway, Gran said yes and they never looked back. In fact, they looked forward most of the time, if you know what I mean.
‘Sylvie,’ she said, ‘I’d have done anything for that man. He treated me like I was something precious. Never handled me rough, always considerate. We were like man and wife except we didn’t live together. Her voice was silky, as if the mention of love had smoothed the words before she uttered them. I thought I knew my grandmother so well. Why had I not realised there was something … someone else in her life?
I dared to ask if they slept together.
‘Oh yes, we slept together but we didn’t stay together. I loved that man with all my heart. I loved his kindness, and his attitude to life, but neither of us wanted a scandal that would hurt our folk.’
‘But … what about Granddad Tom?’
Gran was silent for a while, searching for the right thing to say.  Unseeing eyes followed a feeding robin, bravely pecking at a crust before an approaching magpie could seize it.
Scrunching her handkerchief in the palm of her hand, she told me, ‘I loved your Granddad in a different way. He was a good man, he didn’t deserve me, and I didn’t deserve him. I was impetuous when I married him; I didn’t really know what love was. I admired Tom and respected him, but my heart was with Des.
‘Did Granddad know about Des.’
Gran looked down, silently studying her hands. Along the path a youngster toppled, and cried. His mother shushed, promising to make it better. Gran gazed at them, while I wondered what she was thinking.
Stirred from her reverie, she put her arm through mine as if seeking solace in my presence.  She spoke in a whisper, answered my question. ‘It would have killed him. No, he never knew. Des and I parted company when Tom came home from the war.’
Tears formed in her rheumy eyes. Sadness washed over her as she leaned into me. ‘I had to do my duty to Tom, raise his children, and be a respectable married woman, one he could be proud of. He’d fought a war thinking I was waiting for him, I couldn’t let him down.
Speaking softly, I posed the question, ‘What happened to Des?’
‘He stayed where he was, looked after his widowed mother. It was too painful to spend time in each other’s company. We’d see each other out and about, we had to be content with that.’
‘And when Granddad Tom died?’
Gran straightened her skirt, adjusted her cardigan sleeves, and gazed up at the sky. I sensed her mood lighten as I waited for her to speak. ‘He asked me for a kiss,’ she said. A hesitant smile played on her lips. ‘He came to check that I was coping on my own and …’ Gran turned to look at me, her happiness beginning to shine through. ‘It was as though we’d never been apart. He was there for me; even apart, he was always there for me.’
‘Where is he now?’
‘After his mother died he stayed on in the house. He’s old now; it’s too late to change. At least he thinks so.’
Gran delved into her bag, withdrew a crumpled packet of toffees and offered me the bag. Putting her free hand on my knee she told me she had plans. As I unwrapped the sweet I wondered what plans an elderly lady could have.
‘I want him to move in with me.’
You can imagine my shock.
‘Don’t dismiss the idea out of hand,’ urged Gran. ‘We both did our duty. We hurt no-one. Now it’s time we had some real happiness. Together.’
I suppose she had a point. If they loved each other as much as she claimed, it must have been a wrench to give him up when Granddad Tom came home. But Granddad was no longer with us, where was the harm in making it easy for two people who needed each other.
‘The neighbours will talk,’ I warned.
That really stirred Gran. ‘Let them. I don’t care. I’ve waited too long to worry about neighbours.’

Des and Gran spent the rest of their days together and it was difficult to tell which one was the happiest. As the neighbours will tell you, they bubbled with joyfulness and love. As for me, well, there were moments when I hankered for Granddad’s company but I had a feeling that he knew and was content with the way things were. There were only happy vibes in their house. As I watched Gran and Des together I thanked God for giving them the opportunity of ultimate contentment.
Now I have a funeral to prepare, making sure Gran’s plans are carried out as she wanted. Des isn’t capable of dealing with it. Since Gran died he’s been like a lost soul. I told him the other day that she wanted a happy funeral, no dirges, and no tears. He perked up when I mentioned hymns, told me he’d like to hear everyone sing’ You are the sunshine of my life’. I couldn’t believe what he was asking. Gran herself had put that one at the top of her list.
She often said she’d make the hundred and get the telegram from the Queen but she didn’t get there. Nevertheless we’re doing a cake with candles in celebration of a longstanding love affair. Their wish!

You are the sunshine of my life
That’s why I’ll always be around,
You are the apple of my eye,
Forever you’ll stay in my heart

I feel like this is the beginning,
Though I’ve loved you for a million years,
And if I thought our love was ending,
I’d find myself drowning in my own tears.

You are the sunshine of my life,
That’s why I’ll always stay around,
You are the apple of my eye,
Forever you’ll stay in my heart,

You must have known that I was lonely,
Because you came to my rescue,
And I know that this must be heaven,
How could so much love be inside of you?

You are the sunshine of my life, yeah,
That’s why I’ll always stay around,
You are the apple of my eye,
Forever you’ll stay in my heart.

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29 July 2013

Monday Mirth

Sit down for a few minutes and watch

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28 July 2013

Sunday Scenes

Leading the way!
Family outing!

Love the Cygnets!
Learning to fish!
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27 July 2013

Odd bits of news

In a recent post about recycling I mentioned a Bra Bar. As you can see from the picture, it was totally the wrong name. It should have been a Bra Bank. Not the kind where you make deposits or withdraw funds, although in this day and age anything is possible. Anyway, since there was some doubt about there being a bra bar at all, I took the photograph on my next supermarket visit.

Had fun watching the crows the other day. It’s not often we see a black crow in the garden but it was blisteringly hot so he must have been attracted by the water in the birdbath and a few titbits on the lawn. The crow grabbed a morsal of food in his beak – either apple peel or biscuit – and flew onto the bath, whereby he dropped the food in the water. It was interesting to see him eating the soaked bits before flying off. 

The same day, while the birds were busy eating, we saw the fox in the distance. He was lying in the wild patch enjoying the sun and watching the birds at the same time. I expected him to attack but he just lay there ... watching. The birds ignored him as well.  

I have better luck photographing birds than bees. I tried all ways to get a clear picture of this one. If only he’d stayed still..... 

I have several diaries, in different places, to ensure that I don’t forget an appointment. Why then do I overlook some? I just about made it to the chiropractors at the allotted time but I wouldn’t have done so if Joe hadn’t been there to remind me. Perhaps I need audible alerts on some scheduled activities. Trouble with those is timing. If a reminder is needed, how far in advance should it be? Half an hour, an hour, a day? Too early and I could still forget to turn up for a specific engagement, and too close to call could be disastrous  So what should I do? Tie a diary to my ankle or wrist...and still forget what it was there for?

 Talking of memories...

I popped into the local supermarket and whilst waiting in the small queue to be served I saw a guy come in that I’d seen before. I just KNEW his face. Isn’t it awful when you can’t place someone? Was it my old doctor? Nah, I’d never forget him. Someone off telly? Nah, he didn’t look that famous. It bugged me that I couldn’t remember where I’d seen him before. Neatly dressed in a grey suit but no tie, highly polished shoes but no socks, greying hair flopping over his brow, he looked as hot and bothered as the rest of the customers. Well, I racked my brains, what few are left, and then it came to me..... Andrew Mitchell, my local Member of Parliament. So they are normal, after all! 
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25 July 2013

Bits and Bobs

Parking the car was no problem this morning. There was a distinct lack of vehicles so I guess the intense heat was keeping everyone away. As always I needed to use the lift to get out of the car park and was joined by an elderly lady in a wheelchair and her daughter.
‘Lovely Day’ said the daughter, ‘but I am NOT moaning.’

She was on her own then, because everyone else was complaining about the heat. I could see what she meant, since we’re a nation of moaners. We grumble if it’s cold, we whinge if it’s wet, and, yes, we whine if it’s hot. There’s no pleasing some folk, me included.

The lift arrived at the ground floor and together we made our way out. The old lady spoke for the first time. I've got that skirt,' she told me, alluding to the one I was wearing (see pic for design).

She went on to tell me that she didn’t like it.  

Hmm ... mine or hers?

Quick as a flash I told her I had a matching top and I didn’t like that either.

‘Oh, I like the top, it’s the skirt I can’t stand.’

Note to self: wear a coat in future!

The old dear wasn’t being nasty, but her remarks had her daughter and me in stitches. When we parted company, the daughter said how much she’d enjoyed meeting me. Our brief and somewhat unusual conversation must have lifted our spirits because I felt the same way.
The fox has started leaving presents again. The other day I found a knitted toy, some kind of multicoloured animal, together with a ripped plastic bag in which some kind neighbour had inserted an opened tin of food. Obviously it was something they didn’t like so threw the whole lot out for the refuse men to collect. Anyway, foxy must have caught a whiff because he dragged the bag into our garden and left it there.

He was probably put off by having to get through the plastic bag, or perhaps he had a yen to play with the toy, or maybe he was disturbed in the process. I found it when I went out to feed the birds. Donning rubber gloves (well, you never know, do you?) I gathered it all together. Unfortunately, in the process the contents of the tin fell onto the grass. Oh *** it, I thought, I’ll leave it there and see what happens and then I went away to put the bag and tin in the rubbish bin where it belonged. Heehee HhEEI don’t know which house it came from otherwise I would have handed it back. Checking the wild patch the next day I noticed that all the food had gone.

Should I count that as doing my good deed for the day?

Last evening I witnessed an exciting punch-up between a magpie and a squirrel. The bird was attacking the squirrel who was eating all the nuts. When I say attacking, I mean ATTACKING. He flew into the air and dive-bombed the squirrel several times, but each time the little rodent simply flicked his tail at the bird and went on eating. I wasn’t sure whose side I was Naturally I tried to get pictures but this is all I could manage.

Finally, I thought you might like to see what else I found in the wild patch today. 
Aren’t they lovely?

Have a nice day, folks.
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23 July 2013


'Cheap to run and easy to maintain,' the salesman told the gathering crowd. 'And so safe you could let your granny ride it. She couldn't come to any harm on a three-wheeler.' He was demonstrating the Ariel 3, a new kind of motorised three-wheel machine, bright orange, with a basket at the front. The man said the contraption was designed with women in mind and, by the interest shown on the onlookers' faces, the ploy was working. 

Maddy Fox was wide awake by this time, having travelled in by train in a half-conscious state due to the late night she'd had. She didn't remember alighting at New Street or being transported up the escalator, in fact she might have stumbled over the rope barrier had the salesman not shouted a warning. He was a real loud-mouth, and he'd made her feel such a fool dragging her across the display area and inviting her to sit on the orange machine until she'd fully recovered.
She had to admit the seat was comfortable and her feet easily touched the ground, and she was quite taken with the idea of travelling to work on the cheap, but could she afford it?
'Money back in no time,' the man said. 'A gallon of petrol is nothing compared to the cost of travelling by train five days a week, and you'd get the extra benefit at weekends. And think of how nippy it is. No parking problems or waiting in traffic queues. Take my word for it, a whole new world would open up.'
A week later Maddy bought one. She had asked several friends what they thought of the new invention and they viewed it as a worthwhile buy. So, since the consensus of opinion was that these machines would become fashionable, she bought one. She had never ridden anything like it before, and before long she knew she would never ride anything like it again.

The Ariel 3 had a mind of its own. It had no problem travelling without a rider, and often did just that, but when Maddy mounted the thing refused to budge. She would turn the ignition key and pedal like crazy, but it wouldn't start, then when she climbed off to see what was wrong, the stupid little brake lever would disconnect and the contrivance would take off. As an added exasperation, on the rare occasions she got it going, the spark plugs furred up, yet remained in perfect condition on its solo performance. Nevertheless she persevered, and discovered that if she cleaned the plugs the night before all would be well.
Bernice and Margaret, the two girls Maddy worked with, were impressed, and both were brave enough to have a go. Accordingly, at lunchtime, they gathered in Church Street for a trial run, Maddy starting the machine and quickly alighting so that Bernice could hop on. Without fail it took off before she could hoist a leg, careered mutinously down Church Street, and eventually glided to a halt in a vacant parking space. Bernice slapped her thigh and declared it to be the funniest thing she'd ever seen, but Maddy was overcome by embarrassment, feeling she was doomed to be forever making excuses for the machine's devastating conduct.

One wet and windy evening, a month after taking possession of her flashy tormentor, Maddy, with a good deal of trepidation, kick-started the bike and heaved a loud sigh when for once the thing jerked into life. She quickly set off for home, cutting down the side road which led to New Street. She took the corner carefully, giving pedestrians the right of way lest the machine chose that moment to romp, then prepared to take off. Sadly, her trouser-leg caught on the pedal and the bike tipped her onto the road, then shook itself upright and advanced up the congested street amidst buses, cars and taxis, launching itself directly at the traffic lights, where it crashed, unharmed and in complete control of its own destiny, while Maddy viewed the new invention with all the hatred she could muster.

For two days, as if sensing her disapproval, the bike functioned precisely as it should and Maddy was endowed with a confidence hitherto lacking in their relationship, finally consoled that her money had not been wasted. Almost in celebration, she removed the basket from the handlebars and affixed a square case to the back, more in keeping with her role as city traveller and less likely to strew the contents on the ground. Securing the case with colourful spiders, an added precaution since her handbag, knitting, and lunch box were inside, she donned her helmet and journeyed home, exhilarated for the first time to be handling her newfangled, dutiful machine.
It was Friday and the traffic was bumper to bumper on the steep hill where Maddy lived, but she didn't care. Gleefully she wove slowly in and out, overtaking big cars and small ones, occasionally encouraging the Ariel's progress with a toot on her horn. But half way up the hill, as she was debating the purchase of fish and chips, she heard someone yell, 'Hey, blondie, your bag just fell off.'
Over her shoulder, Maddy saw the blue case bounding on its corners down the hill. Hurriedly she parked the bike and ran to retrieve it.
The demon machine took off.
Maddy's hands flew to her face, watching with horror as it crossed the road and mounted the pavement, then rode the railway station's brick exterior like the wall-of-death, before turning an expert somersault and landing upright on the footpath. But it wasn't over. The impetus drove it back up the wall and sent it spiralling through another somersault before crashing down and narrowly missing a band of teenagers who watched with captivated expressions.

It had to go, and next day it was returned to the garage from whence it came. Maddy demanded her money back, but was persuaded by the manager to try another machine. She did, and bought a Honda 90. Silver coloured and peaceful-looking.

Her friends, Bernice and Margaret, liked the look of the Ariel so much they each acquired one. Only Bernice had trouble, when her machine drove backwards through the Queensway tunnel - on its own.
Maddy wondered ... but it wasn't possible. Her bike was locked in a garage.
Wasn't it?

(This was a true story, though the names were changed to protect the innocent – ME! 
Yes, I was the unfortunate owner of the Ariel 3.)
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22 July 2013

Monday Mirth

Mrs Brown on stage!
It is mainly an ad for the DVD but still funny

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21 July 2013

Sunday Scenes

Out and about!

Driving in to our favourite dining place.... Moor Hall.
Bedroom windows?
A wedding car!
I tried to get a shot of the bride as we drove by. It didn't work, although I was able to give her my best wishes.
The view going out of Moor Hall
You guessed it ... the supermarket!
Inside the supermarket

The is part of the structure at Spitfire Island

It shows three Supermarine Spitfires peeling off up into the air in different directions. The half-scale Spitfires are made of aluminium, with curving steel supporting beams which act as vapour trails. It captures the dynamics of the Spitfire in flight and commemorates the nearby Castle Bromwich factory where most of Britain's wartime Spitfires were built.

An appropriate, although accidental, photograph of a real plane coming in!

And finally:

In a recent post about recycling mention was made about a Bra Bar. As you can see from the picture, it was totally the wrong name. It should have been a Bra Bank. Not the kind where you make deposits or withdraw funds, although in this day and age anything is possible. Anyway, since there was some doubt about there being a bra bar at all, I took the photograph on my next supermarket visit. 
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20 July 2013

Saturday Special

Start the weekend with an aaah and an awww!

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18 July 2013


(Picture courtesy of
Gadgets, don’t we love ‘em? But how many of us realise when buying the phone, the ipad, and the camera, just how much charging up we have to do. The other day I did a count:

Three house phones
Two mobile phones
Two computers
Three cameras
Two iPads
One Kindle
One DVD player
One electric shaver
Battery charger

That’s an awful lot of charging to do at the end of the day

Everything else, apart from one item, is either plug in-electricity or battery:

Four radios
Cool air fan
Washing Machine
Can opener
Radio alarm
Two printers
Broadband unit
Remote disc drive
Four clocks
Two fridges
One freezer
Electric iron
Vacuum cleaner
Gas fire

Which goes to show our heavy reliance on services.

Would I have it any other way? No sir! Gone are the days of being a slave to the home. Gone is the nightmare of laundry, copper boilers and those dreadful wringers, outdoor drying if the weather was good or indoor drying by the fire, damp air causing chest complaints, and ceaseless ironing. No more bathing in cold rooms, or daily shopping for fresh food, walking to school or work, shovelling coal, scrubbing or polishing floors, pumice stones, Cardinal polish and chimney sweeps.

Some say ‘those were the days’ ... I beg to differ. Those were most definitely NOT the days one would wish to live through again.

But what WAS good about the old days was that people were friendlier. Neighbours were allies instead of enemies, nobody turned down a request for a cup of sugar or half a loaf. Just try asking neighbours for the loan of a pinch of salt nowadays. There were fewer neighbourbood arguments, more helping hands. If there was a crisis, neighbours moved in to help, unlike present times when neighbours often don’t even know your name.

It did me good to reminisce, it made me grateful for what I have ... and all brought on because I have to charge a few gadgets. 

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16 July 2013


It was there, wedged deep in her imagination, as monumental a dwelling as any other she could remember; not monumental in the true sense, but remarkable in its importance. She could visualize the latticed casement-windows; the crooked chimney and its four pots, even in summer issuing smoke; and the old-fashioned roses around the low, warped door, its thorny offshoots stealing towards the brass horseshoe, displayed with a kind of imperious pride, if domiciles were capable of possessing such sentiments. The image was as true as any photograph; only, however detailed a photograph, it could not immortalize the smells of the place: the aroma of Weetabix and warm milk and honey that greeted each day, and the farmyard odour ever present beyond the cottage door. Ascending into the endlessly azure sky were two granolithic gate pillars, tops like pyramids and girths as wide, it seemed, as the chicken house. It was where she would climb to watch the cows come by for milking.
She allowed her mind to wander the surrounding sunlit lanes, hop-scotching shadows the way she used to, frequently interrupting the game to perform handstands against crumbling walls, or select the longest grasses to tickle her father's neck. And then, prompted by thoughts of her father and his favourite pastime, she recalled those restful periods when, surrounded by angling paraphernalia, she quietly watched the salmon leap.
Yes, it was there, immutably lodged in her imagination, and that's what she wanted to find; it was what she'd been searching for this past hour.

Vida Maitland reversed the Renault onto a bumpy dirt path and switched off the engine, thinking, in her frustration, that if anyone told her to move she'd probably explode. She had been driving from one coterie of cottages to the next, coasting the unnamed narrow lanes, none of which had passing places, and had even enquired in isolated shops, but no-one knew the location of the place she sought. Despondently, she unscrewed a beaker of orange juice and took a sip, seriously wondering if the journey had been a waste of time. Balancing the beaker on her knee, she leaned back and closed her eyes, willing the picture to return. Her mind's eye travelled the lanes, giving way at crossroads, unnecessarily since hers was the only car. It was then, during one of the mandatory pauses, that she saw where she had gone wrong. The signpost in the foreground was askew; it pointed straight ahead instead of sending her to the left: to Verdun Cottage.
Forgetting the beaker, she shot up and swiftly started the engine, unaware of  the orange juice seeping through her tights. She drove recklessly in her eagerness, bidden by memories to visit the cottage she remembered so well; to see the sheep and the goats, and the arbor with the overhead brush of honeysuckle, and the wilderness garden to the side of the farm, all set in the heart of pasture-land and encouragingly near the river.
A second signpost told her to turn right and this she did; and, as she rounded the corner, lo and behold, she saw it: Verdun Cottage, as beautiful as it ever was, but significantly smaller. She stopped the car and wrenched the brake, staring disbelievingly at the scene. The granolithic gate supports, the crooked chimney, and the door with the strong-smelling roses, were, after the enlargement in her mind, almost fairylike in size. The chicken house which she was sure had been at the side, by the back door which opened onto the farm, was now by the stone wall which ran along the lane. Slowly, she climbed out of the immaculate red Renault, and walked towards the restyled structure, looking for evidence of a busy farm; but all she could see were the relics of bygone days: a dilapidated tractor parked alongside a gang of rusted milk churns, a disused pig trough, and a roll of chicken wire with a duration of grass growing through.
'Not thinking of buying it, are you, m'dear?' The full-toned voice belonged to a wizened old man with a twinkling eye and a straw in his mouth.
Vida gulped, and incoherently gabbled something about visiting a childhood haunt. 'For holidays,' she whispered, unable to take her eyes off the bobbing straw; and, without another word being spoken, she knew she'd been right to come. Her memory had played tricks over the cottage, nothing was as she remembered, but the ageing farmer, with his white hair and unshorn chin, wearing the same impish grin and bearing the same, familiar, rustic scents, made the excursion wonderfully worthwhile. The crooked chimney might be crumbling, the roses might be holding the woodwork intact, and the monstrous gate pillars might be too big for such a bantam property, but this was where she wanted to be.
Impulsively, she reached out to touch the farmer's skinny arm. 'If you're thinking of selling,' she said, 'I'm definitely buying.'
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15 July 2013

Monday Mirth

Mrs Brown's Hen Party Cock-up!

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