Just managed to post the map of cities I’ve visited and seeing it up there, set me to thinking about the places I have been to and just how lucky I have been. Years ago, we couldn’t afford to go anywhere abroad and spent our holidays in the UK, like a lot of our friends and relations. We enjoyed caravan holidays in Devon and Cornwall, places I had stayed with my parents when I was a child. I love the beaches of Devon and the ruggedness of the Cornish coast.
I remember once, when I was about 10, my parents sister and I, stayed in a house called Anne’s Cottage near West Portholland, overlooking Veryan Bay. It was a magical place for us children. Friends of my parents and their two children came with us and, although it rained quite a lot of the time, we didn’t care. The four of us spent every morning on the beach, which was only a short walk from the cottage. We searched rockpools for crabs and walked along the shoreline looking for shells. We bought nets from the little shop in West Portholland and told our parents we were going fishing. But it wasn’t until we all went on a visit to Mevagissey, that we actually caught anything.
The four of us went out with a local fisherman, looking for mackerel. I caught 7. I remember being absolutely delighted and there is a photo of me somewhere grinning from ear to ear, standing proudly alongside a smiling, gap-toothed fisherman, holding my catch for all to see. My sister is scowling because she hated every minute.
Another year, we went to Devon and stayed in a caravan near Goodrington Sands, heaven for my sister and I. One day after having a picnic on the beach, we returned to the caravan and my mother started washing up the plates and cutlery we had taken with us. A little while afterwards, she let out such a shout, we all came running to see what had happened. She burst into tears and told us that she had lost her wedding ring and as my father tried to calm her down we set about trying to find it. The search stopped when it got dark, with my father reassuring her we would try again the next day. Looking back, as we had no idea where she had lost it, it was a pointless exercise, but we felt we had to do something.
Eventually after two days searching, my father told her that he would buy her a new ring and we would all go into town and look for a jewellers. We finally found one and my sister and I were asked to wait outside. I remember feeling miffed, I wanted to look at the rings too. After what seemed like ages, my sister started dancing about saying she needed to go to the toilet, so into the shop we went. Just as my father was paying for a new wedding ring and my mother was proudly admiring it on her hand, I evidently announced, in a loud voice, “mum can you hurry up as we need to go to the toilet”. We were rushed outside pretty quickly.
I know hindsight is a wonderful thing, but we really did have some fantastic holidays.


Makes you think…

I was very sad to hear of the death on Saturday of Harry Patch, Britain’s last surviving WWI veteran, he was 111. I saw the interview with Simon Weston and found it very moving. He had seen so much in his lifetime and still thought war “a waste of time” and people should talk more.

I find the interest shown in him and his fellow soldiers, by so many people fascinating. A page has been set up on Facebook to remember him and so many of the posts on there are from people who have no idea of the sacrifices made by Harry and his generation, or indeed by the next generation who fought in WWII. They never lived through bombings, rationing, deprivations that hardly bear thinking about, or any of the other things that made the people who did, value and protect what they had, no matter what it cost.

I got to thinking about how lives have changed. Harry and his friends would ride on bikes without helmets, live in houses with no central heating and in lots of cases, no running water. No shops opened on Sundays, but they didn’t starve! They would have to work from a young age to help support the family but mum was always at home. When they played they had things like catapults and air guns, if they fell out of a tree, got cut or bruised or tripped over in the cobbled streets, there would be no lawsuit. They ate white bread plastered with butter and sometimes covered in dripping, they had full cream milk in their tea, but were not overweight as they had to walk everywhere.

I know life was not as idyllic as it appears in some films and televsion programmes, it wasn’t always sunny and there wasn’t always an abundance of food or enough money; but by and large the values that they lived by were better than we have today. Family and friendship were extremely important as was religion of one form or another. Neighbours supported each other, the police were respected and teachers were looked up to.

With the passing of the years “self” has become more important. “What’s in it for me” is still heard more loudly in one way or another than anything and the thought of doing without just doesn’t bear thinking about, as the crime figures show. Harry and his friends had a hard life compared with today; wouldn’t it be wonderful if, by the publicity surrounding his passing, people get to understand the values Harry lived by and learn to accept what they have, not think that they have a god-given right to have everything they want handed to them on a plate.

Start the week….

Back to work today. The weekend seemed to fly by, partly because the decorators arrived at 8.15am on Saturday morning in an attempt to beat the weather and get some paint on walls before the heavens opened again, they have been trying to get the outside of the house painted for the last three weeks, and partly because I had lots of shopping to do.

Now I say “had to” but really I didn’t! It is just that the older I get the less enthusiastic I am about shopping and so when I do feel the urge to hit the shops, I get out there before the feeling wears off! However, my shopping trip was not very productive. What is it with fashion at the minute? I don’t want shiny metallic tops that come down almost to my knees, I just wanted something nice and plain that I can wear with trousers, to the office, (I find trouser suits are much better for work)and everywhere I went, it all looked the same. Rack after rack of orange and lime green, and to make matters worse everywhere had sales on so there were lots of tops crammed onto rails which made them very difficult to see and so creased, just don’t understand how anyone could think that was the right way to sell anything.

I ended up in House of Fraser and although they had a sale too, it was much more civilised. Great bargains everywhere, I was really pleased with my purchases – four hand towels and three bath towels, well they were half price!!

Yesterday was a sad day…

We went to the funeral yesterday of a very dear friend. It was a sad day. It was a Humanist Funeral, I have never attended one before and at first found it strange that there were no hymns to sing, no vicar or priest to offer prayers. But rather a service dedicated to my friend, a tribute to his life and achievements and to what he had meant to his family, friends and colleagues.

Gradually, as the celebrant read out the memories, told to her by his family, in a warm and sincere way, I came to accept that this service was just what he would have wanted. He was not a religious person, yet the service did not give any offence to those in the congregation who were; merely just telling the story of his life and the things he loved and held dear and helping us all to understand that though he was no longer living with us, our memories of him will keep him “alive” for ever.

There was a mixed reaction afterwards, some people didn’t like it at all, some, like me were at first a bit unsure but then came to realise that it was perfect for our friend. It suited his personality, the quiet unassuming way he always had in life had been continued in celebrating him in death.

It was something rather special.

Continuing the diet saga…

Well the diet or “healthy eating plan” has been going OK, except for the birthday party on Sunday! How can you not eat birthday cake, when it looks so scrumptious and smells so good and has chocolate shavings all over the top of it, need I say more???
I am over it now and back to chicken and salad……………

Dieting – what’s that about?

On my return from holiday that I discovered that I had gained a few pounds so I decided that I had better get a grip and do something about taking the weight off.
Now, in my younger days this would not have been a problem; just not eat till dinner time then have chicken and salad and, bingo, the excess pounds would just drop off. But when you are older, this is not an option! If I don’t have something to eat before lunchtime, I become a bad tempered ratbag of a woman who, if you have any sense you avoid like the plague!

So what to do to lose the holiday bulge?

Well like so many others before me, I have a gym membership, taken out in the firm belief that I would go at least three times a week and look like Elizabeth Hurley in three months’ time! Why do we do it? May as well put the money down the drain, the gym owners must be laughing all the way to the bank; is it just women who are lacking in a bit of self discipline on the excercise front, or are there men out there who have done the same thing. Anyway, I have actually been to the gym five times in the last six months, not good is it?

So, accepting that I am not and never will be a “gym bunny” I decided that I would take the healthy eating route to getting my weight under control. I think I have a healthy attitude to food already – I like it – but looked again at where I could possibly make adjustments. Butter – lovely melted on brown toast; the spread stuff just doesn’t do it for me and anyway, I read somewhere that butter is better for you, so I’ll just scrape it on and scrape it off, should do the trick. I have decided that I can live for a while without too many carbs, evidently they can raise blood sugar levels, so no potatoes except for the odd jacket and only wholewheat pasta, lots of veggies, fruit, chicken and fish, sounds like a plan!

If I lived on my own, I know that I could crack this dieting lark, but I have a “significant other” in the form of the RH (retired husband) whose main pleasure in life, apart from cigars, tv, holidays and the dog, is to sit down to a lovely home cooked dinner of all the things I am about to take off the menu. As I do the cooking I think I should choose the food, he is not going to like this one bit………………..

Interesting news…….

Following on from my previous blog, it seems that the government in the UK have decided to bring forward their discussions on retirement. It seems there is some talk of doing away with a set age for retirement. Now, while I don’t claim any responsibilty for this change of heart, it is encouraging to think that I was on the right track!!

I think the next questions are going to be – how long will it take them to sort it out and what changes are they going to make to the state pension as there will obviously be people who want to retire and stop working.

Depending on what brainwave they come up with in regard to the pension, it will be great for us “oldies” to know that we are still of some use in the workplace and can carry on working as long as someone has the sense to employ us. Just think of all that experience that will not now be going to waste, we may be rather mature but we still have brains and common sense, the latter sadly lacking in some of the decisions made these days!