Monday, December 31, 2012

Oops, just made it..

    Just scraping in before midnight and the start of another year! It's going to be 2013, can you believe it? To bring you up to date, I  long ago finished the writing course, which was very good and motivating, but I managed to get a bad case of Bronchitis just as the course was coming to an end in November, and that really laid me low for the next six weeks. It wouldn't have been  so bad if my local GP hadn't ignored the cough (what my Mother used to call a "graveyard cough") and dismissed me saying that it was merely a virus. Two weeks later she dismissed me again, though she gave me some anti-biotics with the hope that they "might take the edge off it". They didn't. I carried on in the hope that I would just get better, as I  have in the past, and in the end was grey, choking and feeling like death.... Actually it was very scary feeling so ill, and being unable to breathe.  I finally went to a well-recommended private doctor who was just marvellous. He actually listened to me and took roughly ten minutes to diagnose the problem, His words were  "You have acute Bronchitis and should have been in hospital." So, that's where I've been, not actually in hospital, but in bed for what seemed like ages, and then slowly getting back to normal. I'm pretty much there now, and have had a really nice Christmas and New Year.
     Let's hope I can get on with life and  be a bit more communicative in 2013. Happy New Year to you all.


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Making Soup....

Guess what, I've started (yesterday) a writing course, called "Making Soup" which I hope will help me to gather my wits, along with all the other stuff that's cluttering up my life, and write it all down. The metaphor of making soup is a very good one - the inspiration of the Course Leader, as she explained that we will all be following this process, metaphorically, over the next 6 weeks, and will progress through all the preparation stages up to the finished "soup". And  if we're lucky (or simply determined enough) in the process we will have made progress towards some kind of written Memoir, Autobiography or Life Story. There are six of us in the Course, and as far as I can see, we represent six totally different, and equally interesting, points of view on what we each, individually, want to achieve.

    For me, getting the raw material into some kind of order will be a major triumph, and will allow me to finally part with all the old pieces of paper etc, that have been weighing me down (and filling my so-called "Study")  for the last many years. Yesterday we did our first writing excercise, which included practising some Morning Pages (something I have tried before, courtesy of Julia Cameron in "The Artist's Way") and then an exercise in imagination. What totally took me by surprise was the way in which my subconcious mind fastened onto a vivid picture from my past, an actual experience from many years ago (before my children were born), which had so much significance when I looked at it in the light of now, today, and how my life has been influenced by those long-buried (or so I thought) experiences. What a clever exercise. I don't know if our Course Leader expected the results she got - and we all had to read out our writing - but I was terribly impressed. Of course I can't speak for my fellow students, but our Leader is certainly expert in her field (or cup'o'soup) and I imagine she coaxed similar results, and feelings from the others. Anyway, it was a very encouraging start and I was inspired to continue yesterday evening and to write some more Morning Pages today. And even as I write this, my dear old Blog, the influence is continuing. Let's hope it will carry on. For the moment, I'm aiming for some kind of Family History.. I think.. more later...

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Time to Write it Down...

Blimey.. new Blogger has finally caught up with me and it certainly is super-smooth. I'm impressed. Not so impressed with my lack of dedication to writing though.. and I don't know if I'll get it back, but it's worth a try.

   Summer, such as it was, has been and gone in Brighton. This year we had torrential rain just like everyone else, and then a lovely few weeks in August. So, I'm suntanned and look as if I've been somewhere hot - but no such luck. Only the Skate Park, the Paddling Pool and the beach, and we had lots of picnics. That doesn't sound too bad, does it?

   What have I got to write about? Well, I'm getting together all my family history stuff: old diaries, photographs and anything I can find to put into an autobiography - which sounds a rather grand title for what I have in mind. It's something I have been wanting to do for quite a while, and this year it seemed to me that I'd better get a move on. After all, we don't live forever, though we might like to think we do! Talking to my sister about this has thrown up some surprises too, because she remembers so much more stuff than I do, and she remembers things differently too, which just shows that every memory is personal and seen from a different point of view. Sadly, my Sister is the only person left that I can compare notes with: our parents and grandparents, aunts, uncles etc are all long gone - and they've left behind scant details: only the odd scrap of paper or faded photograph. But, strangely, no letters or other pieces of writing. This is odd, especially considering that they all wrote letters, cards and notes to each other all the time, principally because that was the only means of communication. We did have a telephone, but very rarely used it (and my Grandmother - my Father's mother - was so suspicious of any new technology that she simply wouldn't use the phone). It's even odder to me since I have always written things down. I've kept old poems, dreadful short stories and other bits and pieces that I wrote many years ago; in fact the only things I did throw away were old love letters and poems written to and for me. And I really wish I hadn't done that now...

    Anyway, that's my preoccupation at the moment. So I'm surrounded by boxes and envelopes full of old photos and I'm sorting through old files, letters, diaries and notebooks. It's probably going to take me ages, but I have this urgent desire to leave something tangible for my children (and grandchildren) to read and relate to, so that they will know where I came from and where they have come from. A bit of family history will at least be some kind of record, albeit from my point of view. I'll let you know how it goes.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Euro-Disney. A Real Treat.

Oh, there you are! I've been looking for you without success for a few weeks, believe it or not, because something has happened to my blog page and I couldn't find where to start a new post. Anyway, here I am, having looked up another blog in desperation! I was trying to tell you about our visit to Euro-Disney, back in June, which was a treat for Grandson for his eighth Birthday. Our trip started at the unearthly hour of 4.30am, when my alarm went off. I had booked a taxi for the station, luckily, and so arrived on time at Brighton to catch the 5.40am train to St. Pancras. Eurostar is lovely, and once you're on it, it doesn't seem to matter about the v. early start. We had brought some picnic stuff, and so passed the time until we arrived in Lille. Next we caught the Disney Express, which took another hour or so and arrived at the Disney Park at about midday. Luckily it was lovely weather too; not too hot but nice and sunny. Grandson's favourite part of the journey was seeing so many windmills (the new eco-variety) from the train as we whizzed through the French countryside. When we arrived we couldn't check in to our hotel immediately, so we started looking around the Park - which was not what I'd expected at all. It's rather like being on a magical film set - there are pink and white castles, larger-than-life Disney characters wandering about among the mere mortals, there's music from the movies - perfect reproductions of old building and working trams, trains and stage-coaches. Daughter and Grandson were anxious to get started on the fun, so we queued a bit for some rides, whizzed around a lot and gazed in wonder at everything. I had a gentle ride on an old-fashioned Carousel (with proper painted horses), but didn't fancy the fast and furious ones, so I watched a lot of the time - but even that was great fun. Maybe the word magical is over-used, but I really hadn't seen anything even remotely like it before. Next we wandered up through the Village to our Hotel, which was possibly the biggest hotel I have ever seen - and one of three at Euro-Disney. We reclaimed our bags and found our room, which was a large family room with two queen-sized beds, a superb ensuite bathroom and a dressing area. Lovely. I collapsed on my bed and immediately fell asleep for an hour or so - don't know what the others did but when I woke up I felt fine and we ventured out again for more magic. And so our day continued with fabulous fireworks and amazing film projections onto the castle, another magical experience which was all put on in honour of Euro-Disney's 20th Anniversary, but felt as if it was just for us. We staggered back to the Hotel at about midnight, and were all asleep within minutes - not surprisingly! Next morning we joined the throng for our (time ticketed) breakfast;I swear there were 5 thousand people in our hotel. But again it was all perfect - the staff were both charming and helpful, and the breakfast was marvellous. Lovely french croissants and brioches, fresh juices and masses of fresh fruits, really good coffee, hams and cheeses for meat fanciers, and a constant stream of willing helpers replenishing everything. So, suitably refreshed, we caught the little white train outside the hotel and set off to the park again. More walking (we walked for a minimum of four hours each day - you don't see many obese people here!), and more exciting rides for Daughter and Grandson. The highlight of my day was taking a trip on a real paddle steam boat round a real island and seeing a pair of herons nesting on the sheltered side of the island. We spent the afternoon by the outdoor pool in the sun, with Grandson swimming and splashing about while we took turns to splash about too. Later, after showering and changing, we went to the Rainforest Cafe, which Grandson loved becaused it was very dark,overgrown with damp ferns and had occasional pretend thunderstorms with flashing lightning and loud thunder. Daughter and I loved it because the food was great and we could enjoy a bottle of French rose for a very reasonable 18 euros! And so our Disney visit continued..we had three days and two nightss, and I have to say that we only managed to do half the things that were on offer. Would I go back? Yes I would. I was completely surprised by how much I enjoyed it - and it was without doubt the best Birthday present an eight year old boy could have had. Grandson brought back a little Mickey Mouse as a souvenir, plus some great photos of him with Mickey, Donald and Goofy. My souvenir is a shiny chrome wine stopper in the shape of Mickey's head, which is studded with fake diamonds; it's just perfect and makes me smile every time I see it:-)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Cambridge Revisited...

Two weeks ago, we took a day trip to Cambridge - or rather I went along, with Daughter and Grandson, for the ride, and in so doing took an unscheduled trip back in time. How strange that Cambridge was there, and I was here, for all those years; it's still as glowing and as beautiful as when I first saw it, 27 years ago, on a similarly glorious day in May. But of course its wonderful ancient buildings, perfect green lawns and wide blue skies have seen and endured centuries of human life that grubs about in the dirt below and barely makes an imprint on the City itself. I had a feeling of melancholy, real sadness mixed somehow with pure pleasure at the enduring beauty of the place. My memories, of family life inextricably woven into the fabric of Cambridge over the fifteen years we lived there, are both sad and happy - removed too by the distance of 10 swift years since we moved away. I felt that Cambridge had absorbed both my history and the histories of my two children, who are no longer children; we are part of the grey and golden stones warmed by the sun and chilled by frost, the shining old cobbles, the familiar spires. As I wandered through those oh-so-familiar streets, along the Backs and across the bridges I felt an overwhelming sadness that those years have flown away - they exist only in my memory, shining brightly as they do - but are completely out of reach. I remembered flying along in a row on our bikes (a mother duck with two ducklings in hot pursuit) into town on a Saturday morning, watching the children paddling at Lammas Land, playing tennis on Jesus Green, meeting at the Fort St.George on Midsummer Common, our perfect house overlooking the Botanical Gardens, the picnics, the Summers, the Winters, the space in our lives that was and always will be Cambridge. I loved it, I love it still, and I can't have even one precious moment of it back again.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Rain, rain, go away...

They do say you should be careful what you wish for, and since we officially have a drought, most people have been wishing hard for rain for the last few months. Well, here it is, and it hasn't stopped for the last couple of weeks. Today was the limit though; there was torrential rain all day, combined with an icy wind, and as I had to go out several times, I was thoroughly soaked every time(and I have discovered that I don't have a pair of watertight shoes...) Ah well, but it is strange how bad-tempered a day of non-stop rain can make you, or rather me! I have to admit I was really cross, swore vividly every time my umbrella got stuck in something and had to change my tights and shoes for each outing. By the time I finally got back indoors with Grandson after school this afternoon, I was fed up to say the least. And Grandson's shoes leaked too - not helped by the fact that he insisted in paddling in every puddle and rivulet on the way home. So he had to have dry socks and shoes too - and guess what, the minute we were indoors and consoling ourselves with tea and biscuits, IT STOPPED RAINING. Sorry, but I think that was personal.

I was so crotchety that I didn't want to sit and eat with my students, so I cooked their supper and then made some feeble excuse and sat eating a boiled egg and soldiers in solitary splendour. I don't think they minded, and it made me feel a bit better.

Tomorrow is a London day, so I really hope it won't be like today. I'm meeting an old friend in Peter Jones Coffee Shop on the top floor (where else?) and then we're going to the Decorative Fair in Battersea Park to look at beautiful things we can't possibly afford. Later, in the evening, there's an informal get together for CDP people, and since we were both at CDP approximately a hundred years ago, we're going along to enjoy a glass of wine and see if we can recognize anyone. Last time it wasn't too difficult because everyone wore a name badge, so if the faces didn't look familiar you could delay embarrassment by putting on your glasses to read their names. I'll report back and tell you how it goes...

Well, it's time for me to go to bed, and would you believe it, it's pouring with rain again. I'll tuck my hot water bottle under my feet and just get cosy with a book. Roll on Summer....

Saturday, April 7, 2012

AWOL for five months... is that a record?

Oh my, I'm pretty much the worst blogger on record aren't I? How I have left it so many months to put fingers to keyboard, I don't know. And it's not as if nothing has happened either. Things happen every day, good, bad, or ordinary and it's a real shame not to record at least some of them. Anyway, no major disasters I'm happy to say, we are all in one piece.

Son and his girlfriend are now living together in his new flat, bought when he (at last) sold the old one. The new flat is in East London, close to Victoria Park (somewhere I'm really not familiar with) and is very nice. It's bright and light, with a newly done kitchen and bathroom - and I think the best part of it is that he's no longer sharing with his gay, gaming-obsessed, spliff-smoking old mate!! Sounds terrible doesn't it, and I think it really was for the last couple of years. Still, it's behind him now, and it does mean that he appreciates having his own lovely clean, fresh space to himself (well almost, but sharing with his girlfriend is at least his choice!). He's also about to change jobs, and is working out what to do next. Whatever it is, I feel sure he will make a go of it. He has certainly been working very hard for other people for the last few years; it's probably about time he did the same for himself!

Daughter has been through changes also, being promoted at work (which she richly deserves) and then, as recently as last weekend, splitting up with her boyfriend of just over a year. This doesn't seem to have thrown her too much as I think she knew the relationship wasn't going in the direction she would have liked (towards marriage and real commitment to both her and Grandson). And it was her decision, which always helps I think. Ah well, we all live and learn, and I think she will be fine. She is, without doubt, a survivor.

Grandson is doing well too - he is very happy at his school, which he started last September, and has made friends and settled pretty well. The boyfriend situation hasn't affected him too much because Daughter and the Boyf weren't living together, so there was a distance which has actually helped - I'm relieved that he won't have to do too much adjusting. It is another change though, and he has had lots of those in his 7 going-on-eight years. However, he is still a lovely and very loving child. Long may it last. He is going to be 8 at the end of May, and Daughter and I are taking him to EuroDisney for a weekend to celebrate. He is very excited about this, and I'm sure it will be great. I'm less excited (and you won't get me on any of the rides) but I'm looking forward to it too; we're going on Eurostar and will have time to see Paris on the Sunday before we come home. It will be the Jubilee weekend, so probably a good time to go.

Well, it's Easter weekend, and jolly cold it is too - freezing after the summery weather we had here in March. Son and his lovely girlfriend are in Warsaw for the holiday, visiting her mother (they were here last weekend), Daughter and Grandson are coming over for an Easter egg hunt and lunch tomorrow (they've been to London today on a lovely outing) and I've got masses of narcissi and daffodils out in the garden, frogspawn in the pond, and purple sprouting broccoli sprouting in my new vegetable patch. It doesn't get much better than that, does it? Happy Easter Bunnies to you all - and don't eat too much chocolate...