Monday, April 29, 2013

There are some days you can’t forget…

 …and April 29th is one of those for me. Incredible as it may seem, it was 45 years ago today that my 22 year-old self and my stripling of a fiancé (a mere 21 year-old) tied the knot in the smallest wedding ceremony it is legally possible to have. Four and a half decades, two children, and three grandsons later, despite being considerably older, fatter and greyer, we are happier and more in love than ever and I still think I must be the luckiest woman alive.

As I type this, DH is sitting downstairs after one of his favourite meals, happily engrossed in his beloved snooker (the World Championship has just entered its second week). Meanwhile I’m comfortably ensconced at my desk with a glass of rather nice French rosé, thinking back over the years and realising that, with all its ups and downs, I wouldn't have had our life together any other way.

But today isn't simply our wedding anniversary. Eleven years ago today I had just reached the end of the first year of my second career as a parish priest. DH and I had temporarily exchanged our Welsh farmhouse for an Edwardian vicarage and I was busier than I think I have ever been in my life, before or since. Not only was my diary (which I have open in front of me as a reminder) crammed with pastoral visits, parish meetings and other appointments, but we had our eldest grandson staying with us while his mother prepared for the birth of her second child.

On the evening of the 29th I had two successive meetings at the vicarage and DH was left to put Grandson#1 to bed, while I tried to concentrate on parish affairs, knowing all the while that DD was in labour. Finally, at 9.30, the last member of the parochial church council said goodnight and I was free to discover whether I had become a grandmother again. You can imagine my jubilation on discovering that, while I was busy discussing the minutiae of parish finances, Grandson#2 had indeed made his entrance into the world and Grandson#1 had become an older brother. 

Eleven years on, Grandson#2 is in his last term at primary school and looking forward eagerly to the adventure of starting secondary school after the summer holidays. Those years have flown, as did the thirty-four which preceded them, yet I can still remember every detail of that quiet, happy and rain-sodden April day when DH and I said ‘I do’.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Hare today…..

….or rather last Sunday, when we looked out of the bathroom window to see a hare lolloping gently across the farmyard towards the gate to the orchard field. Grabbing his super new camera, DH was able to record the way the hare settled down in a patch of rough grass near the gate to nibble a leisurely snack, followed by a quiet grooming session, before indulging in a long and well-earned nap. We kept checking back over a period of at least two hours to find it still there, obviously secure in its camouflage, even in such an exposed situation.

The photographs were taken at an awkward angle with a zoom lens from an upstairs window, but give, I think, some insight into the way hares manage to survive without a bolt-hole in which to take refuge. We were mesmerised.

Mmm, that's good!

Ah, that's better!

I'm not asleep, I'm just resting my eyes.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Sixty years on

Am I still recognisable?

A random thought at the end of a lovely birthday.

Good night and sweet dreams......

Friday, April 19, 2013

A box full of memories

Earlier this week I was happily sitting upstairs at my desk, still in my pyjamas, drinking my mid-morning coffee and reading blogs, when there was a knock at the kitchen door. Despite my protests at my state of undress, DH insisted on my coming downstairs, where I was greeted by my youngest sister who dragged me outside to see the surprise she had found for me for my birthday next week.

There, on the makeshift bench by the door, sat an old hand sewing machine, which she had just found outside the local antique shop and snapped up, knowing that I had been searching for just such a machine to replace my hated modern electronic one. Now it is sitting on the table in the conservatory while I clean and polish it, before trying it out for the first time.

Having checked a specialist website on old sewing machines, we believe it was made in the late 1920s, and in its probably chequered career it has lost all its spare bobbins and the key to its lovely wooden case. While DH ferreted among his hoard of ‘things that may come in useful’ for a substitute key, I went off to search through my crammed and untidy sewing-box for any bobbins left over from the ancient Singer treadle machine, which, in a fit of temporary insanity, I long-ago replaced with the modern monster.

After an exhaustive search I did indeed find a spare bobbin, which will soon be residing in the nifty accessories compartment in the sewing machine base, along with packs of almost vintage machine needles. However this was only the beginning.  

Having gradually emptied the entire contents of the sewing-box onto the spare bed in my search for the bobbin, I found myself trapped in a hoard of almost-forgotten bits and pieces, heavy with memories and nostalgia.

First there were the buttons, so many buttons. Spare buttons from clothes long gone, including probably almost every suit or shirt DH ever wore in his working career. Cards of buttons from abandoned knitting or sewing projects, mute testimony to my ability to get distracted, and a medley of old buttons, obviously kept just because they were attractive or unusual. 

Among these were three small, pretty, flowered buttons, which catapulted me back to our first married home and the flowered maternity dress my mother made for me and which I wore during both my pregnancies.

Then there was a chaos of hooks-and-eyes and press-studs (remember them?) and spare zips and bits of Velcro, and even the odd buckle from the children’s sandals, kept just in case…. Tangled among these was a somewhat dusty length of black velvet ribbon, which I last wore nearly forty years ago, when it did duty as a necktie for the academic dress required for me to attend the formal ceremony at which I belatedly received my degree.

In another compartment lurked the battered, curved top of what had once been a brass darning-mushroom, together with a small, heavy, horseshoe magnet for picking up dropped pins and needles. Both of these once belonged to my grandmother and were passed on to me by my mother for my little sewing kit, when I left home for college in the mid-1960s.

With those was the now battered felt needle-case or hussif, made as a Christmas gift for me by DD when still at primary school. The inner 'pages' are now rust-marked and one of the appliquéd holly-leaves is missing, but I still treasure it.

Finally, at the very bottom of the box, hidden under the dressmaking scissors and pinking shears, I discovered a couple of the tiny garments I made on my old treadle machine for DD’s Barbie doll back in our impecunious youth. I even made a snowsuit from old sheeting for DS’s Action Man, but that has sadly vanished.

Perhaps I should stop teasing DH for being such a hoarder, as I try to convince myself that what I've been hoarding aren't just things, but irreplaceable memories.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Ssssh! Did someone drop a pin?

Life has suddenly become a whole lot more peaceful in the Transit household and DH and I are heaving a big sigh of relief. This morning, five weeks after I first had problems with my hearing and three weeks after I had to postpone a doctor’s appointment because of the snow, I was finally able to get my ears spring-cleaned and the difference is well-nigh miraculous.  

Not only have I stopped cupping my ears to follow conversations and TV dialogue, but I’m now asking DH to speak more quietly, rather than begging him to speak up. Radio and TV sound levels are no longer unnaturally (and for DH almost painfully) high and I can again use the phone with ease rather than extreme difficulty. To my joy I’m noticing  a multitude of tiny sounds, which I think I may not have heard properly for a long time and even my tinnitus seems less obtrusive, now that I’m no longer straining to hear.

To add to this general sense of well-being, spring hasn't so much sprung up here as exploded. After only 3 or 4 days of warmer weather, the drab fields are covered by a mist of tender green as the grass at last begins to grow again, and the hitherto empty hedgerows are suddenly starred with primroses and celandines. Though the trees are still bare, the first leaf buds are opening on some of the bushes and I think we may even see the blackthorn blossom very soon. Our first brave daffodils have been joined by a flutter of narcissi and, as the last of the drifts rapidly melt in the sun, I think we can finally wave farewell to this long, long winter.

Image via Google

Friday, April 12, 2013

Free at last!

Two days ago, here in our Welsh fastness, there were two knocks on our kitchen door.  After nearly three weeks of isolation we'd almost forgotten what that sounds like.  The first, in the afternoon, was one of our farmer neighbours (whom we've known since he was a teenager) who said he'd been talking to our other farmer neighbour (whom we've known since he was born) and had come to see how we were coping. DH told him about the Tesco delivery and assured him we could manage until the snow disappeared. 

The other knock was at 8pm, just as I was about to dish up our meal, and it was the younger neighbour, apologising for having taken so long to get to us and telling us he'd just ploughed the lane with his lowered tractor bucket! He couldn't do it until the snow had started to thaw properly, as by the time the council had cleared the road between his house and our lane, our drifts were too deep and too frozen for him to attempt. Apparently all the minor roads around us were snowbound for at least 3 days after the snow fell, which is an unusually long time for council roads, even minor ones, to stay blocked. The last time that happened up here was the great blizzard of 1982.

So we're free at last and yesterday afternoon I was able to go out to a meeting I was sure I would miss. I love DH very much, but it was so nice to see some other faces and talk to different people for a while. Now I’m going to have to find something else to blog about……

Image via Google

Sunday, April 07, 2013

S is for sky....

…..and of course snow.....

…..and  supplies.....

The top of the lane, where we shall meet Tesco on Tuesday. Hurray!

We shan't mention spring yet, shall we?

Thursday, April 04, 2013


First an apology, in case any of you thought I was busy sending out spam. Yesterday  afternoon, as part of my efforts to forestall the scheduled disappearance of Google Reader, I registered my blog on Bloglovin’ in order to give me another way to follow blogs and to offer my readers the same way to follow my blog. As part of the process, I was asked to publish a post to ‘claim’ my blog, the content of which inadvertently appeared as the garbled and spam-like message some of you will have seen. Unfortunately, once launched into the ether by the Blogger dashboard, no post, however short or incomprehensible, can be retrieved by the hapless blogger, hence the apology.  

Secondly I’m starting to think spring may just be starting to appear over the horizon, despite the continuing fridge-like temperatures up in these hills. A couple of days ago I took a little stroll to check on the progress (or lack of it) of the thaw in shrinking the drifts in our lane.

The view north....
....and south, with the house just visible through the trees
The view east.....
...and west. At least there's some green around.
After I’d recovered from the shock of seeing that almost all the snow still left around us is concentrated in or next to our lane, I had a wander around the back field in search of daffodils. I knew I’d seen them poking their hopeful little spears out of the grass before the snow came and then they vanished. Now they have reappeared and are even starting to show some glimpses of yellow. Who knows? We might actually have some daffodils in bloom before the end of April, and if the bench up there at the top of the slope can extricate itself from its snowdrift, somewhere to sit to enjoy them at close quarters. Hope springs eternal…..

Monday, April 01, 2013

Easter bonnets be blowed!

On the coldest Easter Day on record in Britain, I sensibly marked the day, not with a new spring hat, but with new, warm and woolly socks. J Time enough for flowery Easter bonnets when I can actually see some flowers, rather than the patchwork of green and white which still decorates these hills. 

After an unsettling and in some ways difficult Holy Week, Easter Day was lovely. The TV morning service from historic and splendid Paisley Abbey was beautiful and deeply satisfying. The sun shone for at least some of the time, and all day long snow and icicles swooshed and tinkled encouragingly onto the roof of the conservatory and the surrounding ground. This means that ten days after the bulk of the snow fell, our solar panels are at last free of their icy covering and able to generate electricity properly again.

Being unable to go shopping, on Good Friday I was forced to dig out my recipe for hot cross buns and make my own. I didn't go to all the bother of making pastry crosses or glazing them, but they were still delicious and have vanished remarkably fast over the past couple of days. After all, my dough doesn't have preservatives in it and we wouldn't have wanted them to go stale, would we?  We even had eggs for Easter – sadly not chocolate, but scrambled for lunch, but, as my mother would have reminded me, it’s the thought that counts. 

And now it’s April and summer time has started. I have a strong suspicion that spring and summer will come all of a rush this year, but at present spring is on hold up here and we just have to wait patiently for winter to relinquish its lingering grip. It’s also April Fools’ Day, so I will leave you with a link to a simply splendid spoof from the British newspaper The Guardian. Enjoy…..