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...   

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Running out of Wine.

      It's a terrible state of affairs to be without wine - it's only temporary of course,  but I haven't got the energy to go out now and rectify it because it's pitch dark outside and there's a pretty fierce dog next door that makes a terrible racket when anyone opens the door. Never mind, I'll have to grin and bear it and at least I have chocolate..
      The weather here in Barcelona still hasn't got over the sulks. Yesterday it started off looking much brighter, but as soon as I decided to get out and sit on the open-topped Tourist Bus it took a turn for the worse and was decidedly chilly. I sat it out though, determined to get the best possible view of the City, and it was worth  it. I sat next to a very adventurous and chatty young American woman who was doing a whirlwind tour of Europe: one day in Barcelona, one day in Rome, one day in Florence - you get the picture. I had to admire her stamina. She got off the bus at the Sagrada Familia, which I have seen before and is utterly astonishing. I wished  her good luck and off she went in good spirits.
      I was heading for Parc Guell, the place to see Gaudi's works in a lovely wooded setting, but what I didn't realise was that it would mean practically climbing a mountain to get there. I did it though and wandered round marvelling at such eccentric and stunning works. As I have said  before, I don't really do sight-seeing, but rather enjoy going at my own pace and stopping when I want. I was doing fine until I got lost and wandered off up a mountain path in totally the wrong direction. It took a while and a few Catalan directions to set me straight, but I made it back to  the bus stop and sank gratefully into a comfy seat for the rest of the Tour. Once again, I was so pleased to get back "home" and relax with a glass of wine. Oh no - I didn't need that reminder. Perhaps I will venture out...

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Another Mother's Day

    Another Mothering Sunday and this one I'm spending in Barcelona with Son and little Grandson. Son's partner is in Warsaw for the weekend, with her Mother and Grandmother who is very poorly. She is very old - in her nineties - and seems to be fading away. It is inevitable, I know, but nevertheless very sad.
    I woke up very early thinking (wrongly) that the clocks had sprung forward! So I had a lazy cup of tea in bed, and then a very tearful phone call from Daughter, who was terribly upset that I was not with her - for the first time in her life!! She was sobbing, and obviously feeling quite desolate. It didn't help that neither of  her children were there either, having spent the night with the latest ex-partner, father of Gracie and adopted Father of Will. Oh God, life is so complicated these days. I could do very little from here but commiserate and send long distance love.
    Later, after a very nice croissant and coffee in my local cafe, I wandered over to Son's apartment, where he was entertaining not just one, but two small boys: one of grandson's little friends was staying for the weekend as his jet-setting parents had gone off for a party in Ireland.. So Son was coping with two small children on his own on Mother's Day (and the night had been a bit of a nightmare as they hadn't slept very well). To add to the general chaos, the little visitor had a stomach bug and was having to rush to the loo very frequently. Poor little chap, he was pretty good-natured about it, and when we all went out for a bit of lunch, he coped very well and managed to eat his burger without any problems. All I can say is it brought back memories of many a Mother's Day spent alone with my small children, and though it was sometimes a bit lonely, each one was lit up with their love, hugs and special little gifts and cards. I had to laugh when little Grandson said, with feeling, "We don't have to do a card do we?"  How things  have changed.
    Yesterday it was nice and sunny here, for a change, and I decided to set off and do a bit of sight-seeing and also go in search of a little hand- painted bowl to replace the one which has been chipped by Grandson. But oh, I'm the world's worst tourist - I'm rubbish at sight-seeing and I don't much like shopping, which is what it seems to be about. I wandered up and down the Ramblas, and once was enough for me. I sat down to gaze around at intervals and did see some amazing buildings, but on the whole I'm not cut out to be a tourist. I finally dragged myself back home, having become an expert on the glittery kind of Spanish ceramics that I wouldn't give houseroom to (sorry, I think that's a split infinitive). So pleased was I to get back here that I made a celebratory cup of tea and then promptly fell asleep on the sofa.