Sunday, May 20, 2018

Mothers and Grandmothers.....

    Last week I put both feet in it, regarding my lovely Barcelona family. I was thinking of going out for a few days, and hoping to help with my little Grandson, when Son's Partner had to fly off to Warsaw because her very elderly Grandmother was poorly and not likely to live much longer. To cut a long and complicated story short, I sent a loving message of condolences to both my Son's Partner and her Mother before the beloved Grandma had actually died. This was not my fault, because someone else had anticipated the event, but nevertheless, I did actually send the messages before checking. Oh dear! Many heartfelt moments later I was sending apologies and feeling dreadful. It's lucky for me that my family are so understanding, so that when the dear Grandmother did pass away, a couple of days later, I was able to send a very sincere message without feeling a complete fool. Once again, a Mother's place was in the wrong - I should expect it by now!
    And I'm not off to BCN in the immediate future because it's Big Grandson's 14th Birthday on 30th, and his Half Term too, so I imagine I will be on duty here for the holidays.
   Well, it's  the Royal Wedding today, and a lovely day for it. I'm not watching it at the mo, writing this instead, but I'm listening to the radio, so I guess I'm semi-involved. When you think of it, Ms Markle is just about the furthest she could be from the traditional royal bride: she's divorced for a start, and 'mixed race' as it is politely put, she is older than Harry by a year or two and she has been a star of the small screen (in old-fashioned terms, a show-girl). If only she was Jewish as well, we would have the full set! But it just shows how far our own Royal Family, and our society as a whole, have come in adapting to real, modern life. I'm immensely cheered by the fact that it shows an overall tolerance which was certainly not the case in previous years.
      Having watched the ceremony - irresistible really - I'm even more impressed with the way their two cultures have been intertwined for the occasion. I could have done without the extra-long white train on the white dress, but otherwise the new Duchess looked just lovely. I was also impressed with her Mother - when you think that this lady had flown across the Atlantic on her own, met the Queen of England for tea yesterday, and is now sitting watching her daughter marry a Prince in St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle, it could all have been overwhelming, but she is somehow both modest and dignified, beautifully dressed in an understated way and thoroughly calm in the situation. I'm not one for religious ceremonies, but the Evangelical Bishop from America was a regular blast of fresh air, and the Gospel Choir singing 'Stand by Me' was genius. A final thought from me: Blimey, Meghan Markle, a divorced, mixed race American television actress is now a Duchess and has the Queen of England as her Grandmother-in-Law! It's the stuff of fairy tales.
      My favourite bit is the celebrity watching (the Beckhams and George Clooney in particular), and I intend to do a bit more of that before I switch off and watch the Cup Final. I'll be cheering for Chelsea I think, only because it's better to have a team to cheer for, and I'm not a great fan of  'the Chosen One'. If Man U don't win he will be so grumpy...I wonder what his Mother is like?

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Shakin' all Over...

      I've got one of  those days when I'm extremely shaky and can't seem to do anything about it. Luckily typing and driving aren't impaired by this, and I'm not sure why it should be  so bad today!
The only possible cause I think is the news I got yesterday that my lovely maisonette in Hove  is on the market again! After a scant three years!  And I lived in it and loved it for 13 years. I feel both sad and angry about it, though why it should rankle ((great word) I'm not sure. It does though, because I believed that the lady who bought it from me loved it too - though she did proceed to change just about everything so perhaps that was a clue!  She put in three new bathrooms, a new fitted kitchen, and painted the whole place white - so most of the character it had was promptly diluted. Apparently she has kept my fabulous chandeliers, which is some comfort, though that may be because she can't reach them. Ah well, I know I'm planning to leave here in search of somewhere that feels more like home, so perhaps she is doing the same. We are all different after all..
      Watch out Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, they have fixed their wedding date for 19th May, and I can only warn them that this may not be an auspicious day. According to folk lore, marrying in May is not advisable, and I can vouch for that: my first (!) marriage was on Friday 19th May 1961, and what a disaster that was. We were married at Caxton Hall in London, which was very smart, and I wore a pink silk suit and a black (designer) hat. The week before, my Sister's fiance had been killed in a horrible car accident (although she was amazingly unhurt) so there was already a pall literally hanging over the event. I have to say it went from bad to worse after that and lasted a mere 15 months, which was more than enough for me. And I recoiled from marriage so completely afterwards that I didn't contemplate doing it again until 1975!  Still, that's only my experience and it was all a long time ago - I'm sure the young Royals will be fine, and I wish them every happiness.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Memories on a Sunny Day..

       At last the sun is really shining and it's actually warm. My little garden has a show of spring flowers and if my mobile phone hadn't died on me, I would try to put on a couple of photos for you.
The little darling blooms really cheered me up yesterday, and I sent some photos of  tiny bouquets to friends and family. Alas, soon after that I dropped the poor phone again (the screen was already badly cracked) and it turned out to be terminal. Annoyingly, the phone still rings but the screen remains resolutely blank and I can't answer it. Daughter and Son both came to the rescue and I will have a new mobile later today - a replacement was long overdue.
      I am also about to sort out my computer so that I can back up the writing I am doing now. Having started this 'Memoir' in Barcelona, I am determined to carry on with it. I stayed four weeks in Barcelona, and have now been back four weeks - and in that time I have written (and edited) just over fifteen thousand words. I make that seven thousand five hundred words a month, which is not bad. But I do need to keep motivated: it has taken me seventy-odd years to get on with it so I reckon there's not a lot of time left to finish it. I guess there is more to write about the older you get, but my question is, how interesting will it be? And of course there's the stuff you forget, and the unreliability of our memories. I have compared notes with my Sister, and it's amazing how differently we recall events - there we were growing up in the same family, in the same place and at the same time, and yet our experiences and perceptions are often completely different. There is only eighteen months between us, so you would think that our memories would be similar - no such luck!
       Anyway, the main purpose of getting the stuff on paper is to give my children and grandchildren a sense of their own personal histories. We have only the smallest scraps of information about our family, and the memories I have mostly come from repeated stories and a few old photographs - surprisingly there are no letters or written notes, and considering that my Grandparents all wrote letters and there were two or even three postal deliveries every day too it's odd that none of them survive. So in putting this together, my hope is that my family will read it and know where they have come from, even if they don't know where they are going!

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Oh Dear...

        I'm adrift, in the doldrums, not knowing which way to turn, in other words, up a gum tree! It may be Spring, but I don't feel like springing anywhere. Sad, because I came back from Barcelona full of life and plans for the future - only to be met with many reasons why I can't just take off; the main one being my big Grandson, who would be pretty devastated if I suddenly wasn't here to be backstop when he needs a safe, secure place to stay. I, it seems, am it! This is not really such a surprise to me, simply a reminder that family ties are the strongest and can't just be abandoned. Neither should they. What would we be without them - I can't imagine how I would feel now if I had no-one as family - that  must be a very lonely place, so if I have to hold back on escape plans for now, it's not the end of the world. I can move house, just not too far!
      The other day I was talking with my BBF (Brighton Best Friend) about sleep and dreams. She now sleeps very well, having had a long time when she didn't. It was a surprise to her when I said  just how important dreams are to our overall health. I only know this because I have read quite a lot about the research that has gone into the subject. She was convinced that she doesn't dream, but I told her that if she didn't dream she would probably be pretty ill. Apparently our dreams are actually the essential part of sleep - we can survive being deprived of ordinary sleep, but if we are deprived of our dreaming time, we quickly become very ill indeed. Some of the sleep trials I read about had to be stopped for this very reason. Ironical then that I had one of the most vivid and horrible dreams the very next night. I woke myself up at about 3.30am;  I was shouting "GET out, Get OUT" and thrashing about so violently that I knocked over my bedside table with its load of books, reading lamp, radio etc. All of which is very heavy. It scared me a bit, as I was shaking and had completely lost my voice! I don't know exactly what it meant because I couldn't recall the whole dream, but I have no doubt that was me somehow trying to put all the latest trials and tribulations in order. My voice is still shaky two days later, and I'm taking it easy....
     Yesterday I made the mistake of keeping a date I had for lunch with two of the ladies who live practically next door. As I had volunteered to chauffeur us to the lunch, I didn't feel that I could cry off at the last minute, and thankfully my dodgy voice meant I couldn't talk much.  But oh! I won't
be doing it again. The 'Carvery' we drove to in the country, was enormous and packed with people of a certain age, all stuffing their faces. The phrase 'pigs at the trough' came to mind, and I could hardly bear to look at the mountains of food they had on their plates. If we are all 'digging our graves with our knives and forks' this was the perfect example. I ate very little and came back feeling rather sick.
    And on that joyful note, I'm off. I hope I haven't depressed you too much....

Sunday, April 1, 2018

..Happy Easter Bunnies

        Oh dear, Easter is upon us and it's still cold and dreary here. I'm sitting at my table on this grey day and wishing myself back in the sunshine of Spain. My Barcelona family have gone on an Easter trip away from the city and are in Calella de Palafrugell for a few days. They have sent me some divine photos, plus Easter wishes, and I must say that I would much rather be there enjoying the warm sun.
      The rest of my family, the Hove branch, have gone off to an Easter event which is in a park somewhere  and involves clues and hunting for all sorts of things,  probably Easter eggs included. I opted out of this as there are I think at least a dozen of them going - including new Man and his children, sisters, cousins, nephews and nieces, the dog and Uncle Tom Cobbley and all! My Daughter, big Grandson and little Granddaughter will be there of course, but I felt I would be decidedly out of my comfort zone, so here I am talking to you instead.
       I may take a trip to the Garden Centre, though I don't feel inclined to buy any plants at the mo.
It's just too cold and wintry to expose anything tender to the elements. And I don't feel inclined to add anything to my garden just now - at least I have the Spurs match to watch later: it's the Chelsea vs Spurs game at 4pm, so I'll be glued to the Live Streaming!
       I have decided in my head that I won't be living here in the future - I need to move to somewhere I can feel at home. This feeling has come upon me gradually, but is now a certainty.  I have realised that I am living in a place that doesn't feel like home, and we all know how important that feeling is. It may take a while for  me to find the right place, but as I have always managed to do so in the past, I'm sure it will come to me. You may think I'm crazy to be even considering all this moving stuff again after only three short years, but it's no good! Lovely as this house is, it's in the wrong place and has the wrong feeling. I've tried to feel at home here, but it doesn't work. For a start I'm surrounded by old ladies and though I'm probably considered to be just that, I don't feel like it, and probably never will. You won't catch me staggering around on a stick or going into a Care Home: over my dead body is all I can say!  And, as I'm sure you know, it's hard living somewhere you don't feel a part of.  Looking back, I have lived the longest in places I have loved: after my childhood home in Hornchurch  (which was an Essex village then) 20 years, there was Randolph Crescent in Little Venice (12 years), Bateman Mews in Cambridge (15 years) and then New Church Road in Hove (13 years). All the other places were stop-gaps, and when they weren't right I stayed for a maximum of 4 years in each! That says it all to me. So look out, here I come, looking for yet another place to call Home.                                                                                                 

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Home Again, Home Again,Jig Jig Jig.

      I can't say I'm happy to be back in cold old Shoreham-by-Sea. It's blooming freezing and looks rather dreary after Barcelona. At least Daughter came to pick me up at Gatwick, which was lovely of her because there was plenty of snow still hanging about and otherwise my journey back home could have been rather miserable. She was looking very beautiful and full of beans: she seems pretty happy at the moment, and feels that she is in a good place. I really think that my being away for a whole month was good for everyone concerned. Daughter and big Grandson have managed everything just fine without me interfering (or 'helping' as I like to think of it) and though he has given up on Air Cadets while I was away, I'm not entirely unhappy with that. With the way the world is going, I'd actually rather he wasn't in a para-military organisation.
     My flight back from Barcelona was fine, a bit delayed but the Captain  managed to catch up the time and was very jolly when he told us about it. The plane was half full of teenage Spanish boys and girls who were obviously headed for language courses in England. They were a very jolly lot too, and cheered loudly when we landed.
      I have been home for a couple of days now, and I'm delighted to report that, despite missing the Barcelona lot and not liking the cold one bit, I am still keeping up the writing. I'm also looking at property for sale in Barcelona! I wish! As I always say, I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Bye Bye Barcelona..

       Typically, on my last day in Barcelona, I woke to a deep blue sky and glorious sunshine. It has been cold and grey grumpy weather for just about the whole month I have been here, so this morning was both a joy and an irritation. Anyway we had planned a day outing to the beach for St.Patrick's Day celebrations which were again typically weird, or so I thought. Where I wonder is the connection with St. Patrick and a rowing race between three handmade boats, out on a decidedly choppy sea in  Barcelona? It's true that the commentator was actually Irish, though he was on a microphone in the roped off compound which was barely in sight of  the sea, let alone the actual race. And to do him  justice he did tell a few dreadful Irish jokes. There was Guinness on sale, just about the only drink, and there were burgers. In the end my curiosity got the better of me and I walked down to the jetty where the action was, just in time to see the next lot of three handmade boats set off for their race. The sea was so choppy that the boats kept disappearing, and I was lucky enough to witness the drama of the afternoon, when one of the boats actually capsized and a handy powerboat was called out to the rescue. It was pretty dramatic and the hapless craft was hoisted on to the powerboat and delivered safely back to rousing cheers. All great fun, but how on earth it's connected to St. Patrick beats me.
      Today Grandson was Spiderman all day - and he didn't stop running and jumping while were at the beach. Son is in London for a week so we didn't have his calming influence, but all their friends were there, and they are a lovely bunch. Most of the couples are one half English, and their children generally speak at least two languages: English/French, English/Polish, English/Spanish etc, and of course the children are going to Spanish schools and Nurseries, so they are absorbing both Spanish and Catalan at the same time. The net result of all this is that sitting on the beach is like being at a multi-lingual festival, and it's very impressive to have a 3 year old translating for you. My little Grandson regularly turns to me and says "That's Polish Nana" when he and his Mum are deep in conversation.
     I'll be leaving this perfect apartment with regret. It has been just wonderful to sit at my laptop and write in a calm and peaceful environment without distractions and interruptions. And without feeling parental, or grandparental, duties looming. I've started something, so I mean to finish.
     And now, back to packing ready for tomorrow. Bye bye Barcelona...