Wednesday, 31 August 2011

One Roller Skate

 My Father stayed on in the Army after the War. He was in the Durham Light Infantry and had been part of the 8th Army in the desert and in Italy. I would have thought that was enough for anyone, but he opted to stay on and was seconded to the American Forces and helped with liason in Egypt. When he came back to the UK we ( me , Mother and my sister Gill) moved from my Grand parents farm in the North to Married Quarters near Salisbury. We were there for a while but when my Father finally left the Army we returned to the North and stayed , once more , at the farm.                                       
                     
 Houses , to buy, were in short supply in the early 50s and a soldiers pay had not given any opportunity to save for such a purchase . My Father secured employment at Wilton ICI and my parents applied for one of the new houses that were being built by local councils to rehome the war ravaged population.  We were soon offered a house on a completely new Estate in Guisborough and we spent the next 6 yrs in that delightful North Yorkshire market town  . The estate was quite small, especially by todays standards and was built on a flat topped hill on the edge of town. Houses ran all round the edge of the top of the hill, with three smaller roads inside the circle and a little parade of shops at the foot of the hill. And to us children it was perfect !!     There were plenty of children too !.........We were the post-war kids......thebabyboomers !!!!!!                    
                   
 With hardly any private cars in those post-war days  we could happily play with no sense of danger, no chance of being run over. We had long lengths of washing line strewn across the road for huge skipping games ; crouching down on the pavement, rope on the ground, should a car occasionally pass. We hula-hooped and played rounders , games that went on for hours with 20 a side ! Girls tucked skirts into their knicker legs and did handstands and cartwheels and we roamed in "gangs". Not the violent "gang culture" of today , but groups of similar ages and interests. We had impromptu Sports Days and had races on homemade "bogies", These "bogies" were usually made from some old pram wheels and planks of wood , joined together in ways that would give Health and Safety the "heebie jeebies" !                                          
                 
One year roller skates were the " big thing " and I can still remember my excitement when I received a pair for Christmas . These were very basic roller skates with noisy metal wheels and a " key" to adjust the size but to me they were priceless ! It was a snowy Christmas so I couldnt try them outdoors , but Dad rolled back  the square of carpet in the sitting room and I skated on the lino underneath !   If you had roller skates that year you were " IT "and we devised many games to play on them ; including one that involved whizzing along at breakneck speed using two sticks as " ski poles ". Some kids didnt have skates so we shared , it was amazing how fast you could go on one roller skate, coasting along after much shuffling with the skateless foot  !  We skipped on skates , went to the shops on skates , tried going in for our tea on skates ( not allowed in my house ) and some kids even boasted that they had been to bed in their skates !         
               
 And then there were the long Summer holidays ! We  spent day after balmy day outdoors. From getting up in the morning to bedtime at night , we rarely saw adults . After breakfast we begged whatever we could for our "picnics " and off we went with our jam sandwiches, fairy cakes and lemonade bottles filled with water . We often went down to the silver beck that bubbled along the base of the hill , clear as glass , on its way to the far side of town. Here we " fished" with our little nets and caught poor, unfortunate Sticklebacks which we popped into jamjars. the poor things were destined to perish as we invariably left them baking in the hot sun  and my poor Mother despaired of the jars of lifeless fish or tadpoles that I deposited with pride on the kitchen window-sill.                                                                       
             
 Another favourite place was the " Big Field ". This was basically all the land on three sides of the hill. We children had made carefully mapped paths and dens and each " gang" had their own area . Our groups " realm "was a highly desired area known as " The Long Grass ". As the name suggests, the grass grew very long on this part of the hill and we had flattened down paths and " room " areas and left the rest of the grass long We could play here unobserved and spent endless hours hiding from imaginary pirates, kidnappers, monsters , aliens or any other peril that we had recently seen at the Saturday Matinee performance of the local Cinema !    We had no watches but we all developed a sort of instinct that told us it was " tea time " and homeward we would go with scraped knees and grubby faces ,happy as sandboys .                                               
         
 Many people still didnt have TV and even if they did there was only "Childrens Hour " that was considered suitable for us and then the TV " closed down " by way of an " Interval "for an hour, which, I suppose was the BBC kindly giving parents the chance to put the younger children to bed without missing anything !!  As I got older I was allowed back out to play for a while and we had great fun playing Hide and Seek, in the dusk, using the whole estate as a playground.                                                                                  
         
 We were never in and even Winter weather did not deter us. We sledged, we built snowmen, we had snowball fights and built igloos , one of which collapsed on one little kid we had pushed inside to test it  out !!  The older ones among us were often sent down to the shops with sledges when the snow was particularly deep ; as it often was ! We came back with groceries and even a bag of coal. One year I remember it snowed so much that we had to climb out of the dining room window and clear the snow away from the front door before we dare open it . That year Guisborough was cut off for a few days and a helicopter had to drop supplies for the Cottage Hospital ! Every day seemed like an adventure in those innocent , idyllic years . The sky was bluer, the sun was brighter , the days were longer and all our life spread before us like a glorious , shimmering ,giant carpet of discoveries. We were happy then .                                             
              
 Not long ago, on a trip to see friends on Tees-side we made a detour and I revisited the estate. Yes , it is still there , though obviously the houses no longer look new . They seem smaller than I remember and have ghastly PVC windows and " chi chi " curtains. New front porches and wooden decking. All have cars parked outside and some have caravans or campers . Affluence abounds . But the most striking difference was the silence. No chidren skipping or playing ball. no one out on bikes or running about . Nothing. I looked around and from almost every window there was the eerie glow of a TV set and I pictured a whole generation of children muffled up in their 3D , Widescreened, microwaved , drip dry world with their DSi s and PlayStations simulating life ...........................................I stood outside the house where I had lived all those years ago and faintly Im sure I could hear the ghostly tinkle of childish laughter and the tinny, clattery sound of one roller skate.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Memories of my Sister

             On October 1st it will be exactly a year since I lost my beloved sister to the Cancer that she fought against so bravely and so long. I am the eldest of 5 children so I still have 2 lovely sisters and a super brother , but Gillian was only two years younger than me and  we shared so much and we were very close.    
                            
             Of course, growing up, we went through the usual rivalries and disputes that all siblings do. I was often jealous of her, she was blonde and blue-eyed, as were my other siblings. I was a black haired, green-eyed, serious faced little scrap. A cuckoo in a nest of peacocks !    As we grew older the differences between us became more apparent . I was quiet and loved reading , Gillian was noisy and loved to disrupt things . I was femine and liked dolls and ribbons in my hair, Gillian was a tomboy and pulled my curls and made me cry. She would seek me out as I played tea parties with my dolls and kick the leaf  "plates" with their gravel "food" and throw the poor dolls round the garden ! I hated her !   I couldnt understand why she was always so mean to me and when I complained to Mother I was told the same thing every time , " You are older than her so be tolerant . You should have more sense ,etc. etc. etc. " I was always expected to do well and so was never praised but Gillian and the others seemed to have all the encouragement and got away with  murder.                                                                                                             
                        
            I managed an escape of sorts when I passed my 11+   and went to Grammar School, I had my own friends and  was away from the teasing etc. I had two blissful years and then Gillian joined me at  School, but by now I had hardened up and was no longer a pushover  . Gill, all nervous and new , came over to me in the Dining Room. She had a small group of  First Years with her and I suppose she was showing off a little . "Look" , she said , "This is my Sister ! I told you I had a Sister here !"  I am ashamed to say that I stood up , looked her up and down and then in my best Maggie Smith, haughty voice , said , " I have never seen this person before in my life!"    I then swept out of the room with my friends , feeling no guilt at hearing the laughter and unkind remarks poor Gill was subjected to.  For the next two years I never spoke to Gill at school and most people didnt even know she was my Sister  .            
                      
             Then suddenly things changed .................We had an elderly Great Grandmother who lived with my Nana and Grandad (more of them in another blog)  Well Nana and Grandad were going away for a short break and didnt want to leave Gt Granny on her own but Gt Granny didnt want to come to our house so it was decided that Gill and I would go there and look after her . She didnt need much looking after as , though in her 80s she was very sprightly and well . It was more to check she didnt fall or something  .  I was about 16 and Gill about 14 by now and we were on our own with a partially deaf old lady and so we TALKED to each other.   We talked for hours and Gill told me how she had always envied me because I was so self-sufficient. she envied how I looked and dressed , my friends and my self confidence and brains ! This was all amazing to me . We talked about our younger days and how we played for hours in fields of long grass during those endless Summer holidays . Of impromtu picnics with jam sandwiches and bottles of water and no adults ! We talked of playing "sardines" and me falling asleep on the top shelf of the airing cupboard and not being able to be found , of apple "scrumping" and nipping over the allotment fences to pinch pea pods  and it suddenly dawned on us that we DIDNT hate each other . We had actually had fun together and what we felt were the usual jealousies and disagreements that many siblings feel .  The rest of the "Granny sitting" was marvellous . We took an afternoon off and went to the sea-side on the bus . We laughed and window shopped and ate ice cream and candy floss and "boy watched " and giggled and flirted a little and became best friends .                    
                    
            During the following years  we  were often apart but we were always in contact supporting each other. we went out together and there was always a comforting shoulder to cry on or an encouraging ear in which to whisper secrets and when we got married we shared our marital ups and downs .  Gill was married 3 times while I had just the one husband , so she often needed supporting through some difficult times  ,but she always returned the support and love and she was my rock and kept my feet on the ground when I was in the middle of one of my "wild ideas".
                 
           The day  she was diagnosed with Breast Cancer  I thought my world would end but my brave Sister fought it and suffered the indignity of the chemo and the hair loss and the sickness . She beat it that time and was clear for five years but, Cancer is a BASTARD and no respecter of bravery !   A routine check showed that it had returned and this time was so wide spread that all we could do was wait . She had marvellous care and as much treatment as could be given but eventually I lost my dear , shining  girl..
                 
          When we were very young we lived on our Grand parents farm . It was a Dairy farm but we also had chickens and ducks and pigs for the table. We spent idyllic days around the farm , this was way back in the early 50s , a much safer time for children to wander free. My Grandad   had a mean old sow , she was known  for being the most bad tempered, vicious sow in Yorkshire. she had broken a mans leg, or so the story goes ! Anyway, one day this old sow got out of her pen , I dont know how , I was only 5 and Gill was 3 at the time. The farm hands were alerted and  Mum came out to round us up and take us indoors till the danger was past. Well , there I was, goody two shoes, playing with my dolls by the cow byre but there was no sign of Gill. The grownups hunted far and wide, checking hay lofts and chicken runs and everywhere a 3yr old might possibly wander. Panic was setting in as the old sow was still "on the run "too. My Grandad, in desperation began to walk down the lane to the phone box  to call the local "bobby" when there , in the distance , he saw Gill walking back towards the farm with a large stick in her hand   and there in front of her was the old , mean sow , trotting along like a puppy. Apparently everyone held  their breath while Gill drove the sow down the lane, into the farmyard and into the pen !  .........................My beloved , brave Sister                                                                                  

Monday, 29 August 2011

Some Days You Need A Bumper Pack of Elastoplasts

                            I love being a Dog Groomer and most days are great, full of laughs and nice people and lovely, lovely dogs . As we are almost always fully booked we generally deal with regulars, clients who have come to us for months, if not years. We know them well and we know their dogs too and any little fear or foible the dog may have is taken into account and the day goes smoothly. Of course, we do have cancellations through illness or other unforeseen events and so we have a "gap" and this is where we slip in the "new client" and begin, what we hope is going to be , another long and happy relationship ! So this was how, a few weeks ago, I came to be grooming two Polish Lowland Sheepdogs.                                    

The appointment had been made over the phone and when the owner dropped them off he did look rather "sheepish" , as well he might ! ( No pun intended ) The two dogs had obviously been attacked trained by the S.A.S and also there is some sort of unwritten law that the more "unfriendly" the dog, the more filthy and knotted it is .In fact this law probably  IS written in the Magna Carta because it is so carefully upheld !......................These two were no exception and their coats were knotted up to the skin and I couldnt even see where the coats ended and skin began ! ..............I mean, really, these were cruelty cases . they were very well fed but care doesnt end at feeding a dog . Some people dont realise the pain and distress a knotted and filthy coat  causes. They were so bad that I reluctantly decided they would have to be shaved off . We do not do this lightly, in fact I HATE  doing it , but needs must. .............I rang the owners and explained the situation. The chap had answered the phone and he said  "Do what ever you have to . I know they are in a mess ."                   

Well , I hate shaving dogs so much that I spent all day teasing the coat apart enough  to slide scissors in between hair and coat and trim the hair to about 1ins long .; which isnt much but it is infinitely better than  "down to the wood ". Remember these two are vicious as well so I was taking my life in my hands and getting bitten for my pains  (We do not like to muzzle) . The coat was coming off like a fleece, I mean you could have lagged pipes with the stuff or made a halfway decent  "sheepskin" rug !!  Then I bathed and dried them both and they looked quite cute with sort of "fluffy" puppy coats . They were really nice dogs when they werent trying to rip my throat out !! 

Once they were finished I phoned the owners and the chap said his wife would come for them . We were all pleased and excited thinking she would be impressed that we hadnt had to resort to shaving them and we were thrilled that they looked so cute ............Well  "Madam " flounced in, glanced at the dogs , glared at me,  paid the bill and , as I was trying to put their leads on  ( they were still determined to have at least 3 of my fingers off) , she said , " Well, my husband told me you were having to cut their coats off ..........but I didnt want them cut !   They are supposed to be long-haired dogs ! If I had wanted short-haired dogs I would have bought short-haired dogs !!!!!"  Then out she flounced !                

 I, to my shame said nothing . I just stared , open mouthed ! Then I went away and washed away my blood and applied various sized elastoplasts to various parts of  myself . Then we all laughed hysterically at her sheer bloody cheek !

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Smoked salmon and chips.

             We moved to Scotland in the late 1970s, me , my husband and our 7yr old son. Hubby was working offshore in the oil business and so a move to the Aberdeen area was inevitable . At first we lived in the village of Kemnay on a small estate of houses built for incoming workers and then later to a large house outside the tiny village of Monymusk. It was in Kemnay that our daughter was born, the first year we were there.,                                                
                             
            The houses in Kemnay were built on a beautiful grassy ,semi- rural area beside a huge curve of the picturesque River Don . Hubby was immediately taken with the location as all he had to do was walk a few yards from the house and there was some of the most wonderful fishing Scotland has to offer ! Not having fished the fly since he was a boy, he was most eager to start again . I am not a fan of "catch and release", I dont believe fish dont feel pain ! I mean, how does anyone know ? So the deal was made that it would be fine with me as long as we ate whatever he caught !                            
                            
           At the time hubbys work schedule was two weeks away one week home , so this gave him plenty of fishing time but the "day tickets" were quite expensive .However, this was soon solved as hubs got to know the owner of that stretch off the river pretty well ( he was always at the "big house" buying tickets !) and learnt that she needed a "part-time" ghillie to assist her existing one . There was no pay as such, just the permission to fish whenever he wanted  as long as that particular beat was not booked, and all he had to do in return was patrol the river checking permits occasionally.! Well, as you can imagine he didnt need asking twice.........he was like a kid in a sweet shop and I soon got used to being a fishing widow as he spent hours down on the river . I couldnt blame him , the River Don is a particularly lovely river and kingfishers and heron and huge dragon flies flirt around the edges and all you can hear is the gentle bubbling and swirling of the water..........its just how I imagine heaven !                                              
                         
           There is always a snag , well not really a snag but hubby proved to be remarkably good at fly-fishing and most days came back with a salmon, and when I say salmon I mean HUGE salmon, most of them over 20lbs ! We all like salmon and so it was , at first, fairly easy to keep to our agreement and eat everything he caught. This arrangement worked perfectly until one year , which must have been a "bumper" year for salmon, he started to catch so many that we were having salmon almost every meal ! Salmon poached, baked , fried . Salmon in pies and fishcakes . Salmon and broccoli , even salmon and chips . Then a pal got a job at a fish smoking place so we sent the best specimens off to be smoked . Oh it was absolutely delicious , it melted in the mouth and we had it as a "starter" almost everyday and our son took it in his lunchbox and we took it on picnics ,and our dinner parties were famous for the quality of our smoked salmon and because we had the blooming stuff coming out of our ears, visitors went happily home clutching a side of the damn stuff ! And our freezer was stuffed with it !                                        
                         
            By now we were travelling the length and breadth of the country , going to dog shows and this particular day we were down in England and stopped at a motorway service area for coffee etc. It was Summer school holiday time and the place was packed and the queue was huge. I was trying to establish exactly what sandwich my, now 4 yr old daughter, wanted. I read out all the different options, none of which were very inspiring, I must admit. She just looked blank so I read them all out again, aware of the restless queue and impatient "tutting" . Anyway this little child of mine yawned, gave a Gallic shrug and then in a very loud voice , with all the world weariness of a 50yr old said .....
.                    
           Oh, anything Mummy, as long as its not smoked salmon again. Im sooooooo tired of smoked salmon ! "
                       
           I will leave you all to imagine the looks we got !   

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Community Singing At The N.E.C

 Everywhere I go people are talking about the British Summer, or lack of it ! The weather influences so much of our everyday life and also our hobbies. As some of you may know, my main hobby for many years has been " Showing Dogs". Nowadays I hardly ever "show" prefering to leave such strenuous activities to my daughter, but I do go as a spectator.                                                                 

 The breeds I have shown have been Maltese, American Cocker Spaniels and Afghan Hounds, all, you may notice, heavily coated breeds ! As the majority of large Championship Shows are held outdoors the weather plays a large part !!  Of course wet weather tents are always available but that does not necessarily make life easy for the exhibitor !!   The very first dog show I ever attended was Bon Accord Show held in a park in Aberdeen . It had rained steadily all the previous night and when we arrived the park was grey and dismal and water-logged and packed full of people squeezing into every available space in the rather small marquees. It was made worse by the fact that I hadnt really much idea of what I was supposed to do having had one 10 min crash course in " showing" from the breeder of my dog , the previous day! The enduring memory of that show is moving my snow-white Maltese round and round in a tent , while trying to avoid a tent pole , a huge puddle and rain pouring in from a hole in the roof !  You would have  thought that experience would have deterred me, but NO , I was completely hooked and every weekend saw us whizzing off to some far-flung location to run up and down with dogs in the hope of winning a rosette .                                 

 Living in North Eastern Scotland meant lots of travelling and so the next show was in Bournemouth, of course ! Rain again , but this being a Championship Show meant the facilities would be better ? Oh, foolish reader.........NO ! This show is held in the beautiful New Forest , a gorgeous location but our classes were held on the last day of a three day show so the ground was more like a ploughed field after days of rain . To be fair , the organising committee had tried their best and had put down lots of straw in an attempt to soak up some of the water . The fact that they had used tractors to transport the bales did somewhat spoil the effect though ! Once again I found myself  showing in a muddy tent, this time with trousers rolled up to my knees and in bare feet as my shoes were so muddy..........I was getting good at this !                                                                                          
         
 Rain was not always the problem as I have shown at venues where we were in serious danger of losing life or limb due to high winds . At Blackpool a few years ago the show had to be abandoned due to winds of hurricane proportions lifting huge marquees into the air , ripping the stakes holding guy ropes out of the groud and blowing them around like matchsticks . We rushed to car parks with our terrified dogs as seating and trade stands flew around like dolls toys , truly frightening and not something I would ever wish to experience again.    And of course often the sun shines ! It certainly shone  at the South Wales Championship show , held on the side of a hill near Chepstow . By 10 am we were baking and the benching tents were airless but , as there is no shade outside , it was that or burn . Childrens swimming pools were filled so that dogs could paddle and keep cool and the stalls did a roaring trade in sunhats and parasols .Even travelling home was difficult as holiday traffic caused jams and I kept spraying the dogs with water to keep them cool during the long delays . It was like being in a mobile sauna !                                                                         
         
 The show season moves on all over the country and we were back to rain again . I lost a shoe in the mud at Leeds , never to be found again and had to buy some hideous plastic sandals; but the wettest show I have ever been to was the Scottish Hound Ass. Championship Show the year it was ill-advisedly held at Bellahouston Park in Glasgow. We lived in East Yorkshire at the time and had been having the most glorious weather. However, we were aware that there had been some rain in Scotland ! Oh, how little we knew !   When we arrived it was raining and it soon became clear that it had been doing just that for quite a considerable time . The ground was already becoming water-logged and as we went down the long slope to the showground OH voiced the opinion that we were doing a very foolish thing and that there were bound  to be " tears before bedtime" ! Well , for me, the glass is always half full so I shrugged off his comments and said all would be fine ! Silly me ! We parked up , wheels of our trusty Granada Estate already struggling for grip. I started to unload the dogs and bags and put the wet-suits on the Afghans and we set off for the entrance . ................and walked straight up to what looked like a lake ! The entrance was in a sort of dip, which had filled with water and people were literally wading across. The dogs had to be carried ( cant get the coats wet !!!!)  and we waded almost knee-deep through muddy water to the tents .  Showing in a tent the size of a postage stamp, on the side of a hill with , what looked like Niagara Falls rushing through , was quite an experience !...........Then of course we had to get back to the car . The complete park was now under several inches of water and tractors were pulling cars out of the grounds and trying to haul them up the slope to the exit. With our hearts in our mouths were were inched slowly up the slope ,slipping scarily backwards two or three times until finally the tyres reached tarmac and we were safe  .......It was later reported that the authorities had not realised that Bellahouston had no form of drainage !!!!            

 And then of course there is snow !  The  Ladies Kennel Assosiation Ch show is held in December at the N.E.C in Birmingham. It is a lovely show , full of festive spirit on the run up to Christmas. People take the opportunity to meet up with friends, exchange Christmas cards and maybe have a glass of something cheery, I love it.   Of course , being in December the weather is often a factor but show people have a carefree attitude and a feeling of " the show must go on" . this particular year, many moons ago, the weather had been very cold with a few half-hearted snow flurries, but nothing to cause alarm . We were inside the cavernous venue merrily showing our dogs when reports started coming in of sudden huge blizzards and freak snowstorms and dangerously icy roads . Apparently roads were being blocked with snow and lorries were jack-knifing and all manner of mayhem was taking place outside . At first people thought it was all being blown up out of proportion but eventually the N.E.C officials made a public address and told us that we were more or less snowbound ! The M6 was all but closed and the M42 was not passable unless you had a snowmobile . The police were advising NO TRAVEL.      Well, slight panic followed that announcement and as this was before the mobile phone era people were queuing at the phones in the atrium , trying to get messages to dog-sitters and child-sitters and various relatives. And a few intrepid folk decided to risk it and make an attempt to get home .  But the rest of us  gradually accepted that we had to make the most of the situation and everyone rallied round. Grooming tables were pulled together and sandwiches laid out , hot coffee was provided free by the restaurants. Bottles of wine were pulled out of show bags and the trade stands gave dog food out for any dog that wanted it . Christmas music was played on the public address and dancing and general jollity ensued . As the night wore on thick foam mats were pulled into the hall and people could try to catch a few hours sleep, bundled up in dog blankets and coats and anything they could find .The lights were dimmed slightly and then someone started singing . I will never forget the feeling of warmth and cameraderie as a few hundred people sang carols and other songs well into the night and I hugged my dogs and felt safe and warm and part of something truly amazing . That truly was a show to remember .                            
 Of course the weather is not always so inclement, in fact "unremarkable" is probably the best way to describe our usual fare. But its so nice to know that, with true British grit and and cheerfulness , when Mother Nature bowls us a "googly".......................we can cope !

Monday, 22 August 2011

Chanel suits in the War Office.

 Well here I am again, doing another blog entry! For someone who is barely computer literate I feel quite proud ! I keep forgetting to do CAPITALS and cant get the blimming thing to do paragraphs but nevertheless I am enjoying myself and surely thats what its all about. Of course none of this would have happened without the love, encouragement and downright bullying from my wonderful Twitter friend @LucyMGreenfield.  I say "Twitter friend" but really she has become much more than that, as have many people on Twitter.   Isnt it funny how friends are made ? Working for so long grooming dogs has brought me into contact with so many people, from all walks of life. I admit that we do have our fair share of  "strange" clients but most of them are lovely and many have become personal friends.                                      

One such friend is Phyllis, a stately lady now in her 90s. I have been grooming her dog for years now and we have become really close .She lives with her "sort of" stepson and his partner , in a splendid flat at the rear of their home .    Phyllis comes from another world entirely. her father was an extremely wealthy  American racehorse owner and her Mother was a titled English lady. She lived in a world of Swiss Finishing Schools and "Coming Out" Balls and luxury and priviledge but nevertheless she is a marvellous lady with a wicked sense of humour and  enormous generosity.                   

 Phyllis visits us every 6 weeks and, unlike most clients ,she stays and chats while her dog is groomed .She always comes armed with a bottle of wine, which she insists we sample so we have had to make sure that hers is the last appointment of the day or we would never be able to carry on!    On her last visit, a couple of weeks ago,  she brought a friend who was visting from London.  This meant that two bottles of wine were brought in and two elderly ladies were very merry by the time they left!  Well this friend, Jane had known Phyllis from way back when they were just young "gels" and so she told us lots of stories about their escapades.  Apparently , during the war,  Phyllis Mother thought Phyll should do some "useful work" so Mamma pulled some strings and secured Phyll a clerical job in the War Office . This was where Jane met Phyll and the story that tickled me the most was about Phyll being under a "security" investigation . It seems that her office supervisor wondered how Phyll (on a clerks megre pay) could manage to look so expensively chic everyday. ( I guess they were thinking SPY !)  So she was called into the office and asked  " How do you manage to be so well turned out day after day ?" . Of course  Phyll hadnt a clue what they were getting at, she just thought they wanted fashion tips !   So she said , " Well I have 3 or 4 little Chanel suits in black and navy.  Of course they would be boring on their own everyday , but I find if one accessorises with a different diamond brooch and sometimes a Hermes scarf in various colours , strings of pearls or  diamond earrings ,one can appear to be wearing something different every day "                        

          I would have loved to have seen their faces !          

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Feeling Sheepish

 About twenty years ago we lived in rural Aberdeenshire ,just outside a tiny village called Monymusk. it was an idyllic location with no neighbours for at least a mile and our house was on a road that ran alongside the beautiful River Don. It wasnt quite the edge of the world, but you could see it from there !  All the roads around were so narrow that they were more C roads than A or B, and they had those little passing places where one car could squeeze in to allow anything coming in the opposite direction  to slowly slip past .Luckily there was hardly any traffic bar the occasional tractor or intrepid fisherman.                                                                       

 I drove a Mini at the time that had nothing in the way of brakes. It belonged to my son ,who was an apprentice motor mechanic . He was "doing it up" and I didnt have a car of my own.  Well as the roads were so quiet I didnt see much traffic  so I soon mastered the art of changing down to slow the car and I could coast into parking spaces in town . In fact I got so good that I forgot I had no proper braking system.  It all went horribly wrong one day when I was hurtling down a fairly steep hill, taking my daughter to ballet classes. The road was completely deserted and we had built up quite a head of steam and then way down in the distance at the bottom of the hill I saw a farmer moving his sheep from one field to another , with the aid of two sheepdogs. Now this hill was a very long slope so I started to brake and change down and pray as fast as I could and thankfully the farmer saw me and got all the sheep into the field. I had slowed down quite a lot by now and was probably doing about 15mph as I came up to him . Well, just then, one of the dogs looked away and a sheep saw its chance and darted out in front of me and I hit it, full on . Well that stopped me of course and I was shaking and sobbing and my daughter was sort of snivelling and the farmer came over all concerned , to see if I was OK and I knew the poor sheep was probably breathing its last at the front of the car and the bonnet of the Mini was, well not bonnet shaped and I wanted to die .Then all of a sudden the sheep jumped up, shook itself ,glared at me, glared at the sheepdog and then trotted off into the field ! I was a complete wreck !!!!!!                                                    

       
I called on the farmer the next  day and the sheep was fine . The farmer was worried that I was going to report him for not being in charge of his flock !!!    I think the sheep and I both got off very lightly !.............. The Mini had new brakes the very next day !

Friday, 19 August 2011

Its an Egg Spoon !

       I was making some mustard the other day .OH does like his English Mustard !  I have a cute white china mustard pot , with a cute white china lid and an even cuter white china  spoon .At least I did ........a combination of carelessness and .....well...carelessness meant that the wee spoon was dropped onto the tiled kitchen floor and smashed .!So I resorted to rummaging in the "third drawer". This is something Im sure we all have ,a drawer where all the odds and ends of cutlery and rarely used items of kitchen equipment eventually end up. In various homes that I have had the "third drawer" has had many disguises. In my larger, smarter homes it has been a green-baise lined drawer in an elegant sideboard. Then as we down-sized it was housed in a well polished and much loved old Welsh Dresser. Now in my bijou "Granny flat" it is "the third drawer in the kitchen.                                                                                                                                      

        As I rummaged I thought about all the redundant cutlery, stuff we never use anymore in our "fast food , drip dry " world  . There were fish knives and fish forks ,soup ladles and sugar tongs.Trifle spoons and butter curlers and various types of serving spoon and probably even a "runcible" spoon ! Dear OH had ambled in and was observing the scene as I grabbed a small silver spoon and popped it into the  mustard pot. "Ah, youve found a mustard spoon " he said. Not missing a beat I replied, "No hun, its an egg spoon, you know, for eating boiled eggs, but it will do" He gave me a funny look and departed ,shaking his head.                                        

        Now people I just want to know two things ; How the heck did I know what it was and what the heck am I doing with one ?                                                                                                                                   

Thursday, 18 August 2011

New Beginnings

This blog has just been created. I have no idea what I am doing but a dear Twitter pal has persuaded me to blog and so....here i am. ....blogging. I suppose it will all just come to me and gradually have a life of its own. At this stage I have no idea what I will blog about and certainly have no idea if anyone will actually read it. We shall see ! In the meantime , here I am and if you are reading this ...hello and welcome.