Family time

29062514_10156119337463187_2238331049648062464_nt2014 was the anniversary of both my grandparents’ birth. Although sadly they are both now no longer with us, my aunt decided to have a party to celebrate their 100 year anniversary.
In total there are currently 34 children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, with another granddaughter born since the celebration took place. We were asked to bring along something that reminded us of them and so I took a brown tea pot! My Nan always had a pot of tea on the go and because she couldn’t remember who had sugar, she gave it to everyone.
This led me to wonder what would have happened if my grandparents, Jack and Rose, had never met and how all our lives were created as a result of their union. My husband had previously done a lot of research in the family tree and he put together a more simplified version to show everyone. Other people brought along old family photos and copies of birth certificates and it was good to be able to put faces to names. We also started a memory book of things we remembered about hem and there house where we would often visit and stay over. It was a very large house with three rooms downstairs and 5 bedrooms over 3 floors. There was also a cellar which I had never seen in a house before. It had its own unique smell, a combination of dampness and coal dust and as children we weren’t allowed in there on our own which only added to the mystery.
My aunt had a copy of a letter from my Nan’s half sister. saying how my grandparents met. My granddad would go to my Nan’s parent’s house to play darts with her brothers and romance blossomed. They married at Whitsun 1939 and you could say he hit the bull’s eye!
Going back 6 generations, my great great grandmother was the landlady of a public house at Whittlesey called the Dog in a doublet. Its location is quite isolated on the edge of the fens. Although it is quiet now, when the pub was built the river Nene was like the motorway of its day, busy with boats and small craft all day taking goods to nearby Peterborough
More recently, my grandmother was evacuated at the start of the war with her twin boys. They were sent initially to a farm at Alconbury and then to Peterborough in Cambridgeshire where we all still live.
Life was hard with my grandfather away during the war as an ambulance driver so she took in washing and let out rooms to lodgers. Now with a total of 6 children I guess there wasn’t much time to relax and drink that nice sweet tea!
On the day, lots more photos were taken and new memories made. Some of the younger members had never met their grandparents and only knew them from the stories they had been told. The newest member born just last week has Rose as a third forename. What a lovely idea to mark 100 years.
Proud to be one of the 34


From side line to start line


We first became aware of parkrun via Helen and got involved when my husband took photos on one of her takeover days. We saw a couple of friends who asked when we would be running but just laughed and replied ‘We’re no runners!’
As Helens 100th parkrun approached she asked us to join her on the day even if we walked the course. I laughed, and although we did go along on that day, it was to take photos and enjoy her chocolate cake! Again, as the Great Eastern run came along and Helen was taking part, she said that she planned to take the tail runner role the Saturday before so as to be ready for the half marathon the following day and so we agreed to walk with her. And what a day it was! It was pouring with rain, cold and overcast. My first thought on looking outside was to go back to bed! But we went along, as did hundreds of others, not at all put off by the weather. We walked with Helen and Cath, the other tail runner and Helen’s dog Frankie. We even ran very briefly as I thought if we run it will be over quicker and we can be home sooner. It did feel good to finish and we wore our ‘smug pants’ for the rest of the day.
We have carried on most weeks since then and yesterday was our 15th run. We mostly do it as a fast walk as the beauty is, it is not a race and you can never be last. There is always a tail runner to support you. It is for walkers, runners or ‘a bit of both’ which is where we are heading, jogging for a few minutes at a time.
Back tracking a bit, in 2014 I had a moped accident and couldn’t walk without crutches for a month. I am glad to say I am now fully recovered with no real lasting problems. Whilst it would be over dramatic to say I didn’t think I would walk again, I did wonder whether I would be able to walk very far. So to think we now look forward to Saturdays so we can take part is a real blessing.
It is more than a just a walk in the park. It’s a great way to start the weekend and a very social thing. Everyone is friendly and we have met some new friends. You also get a sense of being part of something bigger, rather than just running round on your own. Last week there were over 700 people taking part, the most they have ever had.
Some breaking news to end……… last week when we went along there were free running magazines available so we took one and saw a race advertised at Grimsthorpe castle in June. The Grimsthorpe 10 offers various distances including a half marathon. So we took a big step and entered the 5km run! Who would have thought it?
So the next time Helen mentions parkrun to you, and she will, give it a thought and better still, maybe give it a go! See you on the start line…………

Christmas memories

15400423_10154737041418187_8520831363012796304_n-xmasThe very first thing that happened on Christmas morning, before anything else was my mum had to make Pyrex bowl full of stuffing and stuff the turkey. Once this was done we could have cups of tea and breakfast and most importantly PRESENTS!

The other regular drama was that she always bought a turkey that was far too big, so big in fact that she couldn’t lift it and any such manoeuvres had to be done by my dad after much bantering.

Once all this was over, the rest of the day could continue calmly. I remember all the different food that we only had at Christmas, whereas now everything seems to be available all year round. Once satsumas where in the shops, I knew Christmas wasn’t far away.

‘Eat me’ dates appeared and all sorts of nuts that couldn’t be cracked with our antique nut crackers. My mum always complained that my Granddad ate them all in one sitting and she never saw any of them

We had crystallised orange and lemon slices in a circular box and French fancies. It was years later that I realised you could buy theses at any time but I guess they were more expensive than other cakes. The Christmas pudding steamed for hours on the stove then had to be adorned with a sprig of holly from the garden and set fire to with a dram of whiskey. This was served with sterilised cream which had to be shaken for about 3 hours before you were allowed to open the tin. The final ritual before lunch was the sharpening of the carving knife which was done with much gusto and probably was not repeated until the next Christmas

As for the presents, I rarely had any surprises as I always searched the house in the preceding weeks on the hunt for goodies. I have even been known to unwrap the end of a present under the tree and then stick in back again. As an adult I’m a bit better now, but not much!

Decorations included chocolate tree decoration that very rarely lasted until Christmas day, paper chains and lanterns and delicate glass baubles that had to be carefully packed away in egg boxes each year

Extra alcohol was bought  in case friends called in but as my parents were not big drinkers, bottles often lasted from one year to the next especially port and advocaat.

My Nan always had a pear shaped tin of Princes ham in her pantry and as tins had no sell by dates on then I dread to think how long she had it for.

Presents over the years included the usual favourites of bikes, dolls prams and cots, and gender stereotyping was the norm. Smaller presents were always left in my bedroom in a flannelette pillow case by a shadowy figure….. And the mince pie and sherry left for Santa were always gone in the morning. Funny that………

In recent years and after much grumbling I have cooked Christmas dinner for the family. I always thought there was some great mystery to it and it was a job only a mother could do well. I seem to have pulled it off though and in fact quite enjoy it. Who knew?

Happy Christmas!

Peterborough parkrun

14080991_10154382892678187_751960061_nWhere the rubber hits the road……

Every Saturday there is a 5km parkrun at Ferry Meadows, our local country park. Several times recently we have volunteered to take photos of all the runners. It’s a lovely time and a very social thing

Several friends have asked when we are going to run it rather than watch and I just laughed.

But last time we went a friend was doing her 100th run and asked if we would join her that week. Again I laughed. I’m no runner. The last time I ran was at school and I was never very keen on it even then. But the great thing about parkrun is it’s not a race so speed is not important. You can run or walk or do whatever you like as long as you finish

Speaking to her afterwards, her enthusiasm was contagious and when I left her I decided I would walk it. She mentioned a date in October when she hoped to walk rather than run and asked us to walk with her.

And I’m going to do it!

Not only that but I plan to do it before October so when she asks us, we are already prepared and experienced.

So yesterday, on one of the hottest days, I set off to walk home. I got about half way and the got the bus. But hey, everyone has to start somewhere, right?

Next job; buy some trainers rather than these silly shoes.

Watch this space

The allotment

13522495_10154237740838187_1987508178_nWe went to a friend’s allotment to collect some plants and cuttings that he had to spare. I’m no gardener but thought I couldn’t go wrong with some rhubarb bushes and strawberry plants. They have a huge area to look after and it looked like a lot of hard work to me. What struck me though was that it was secluded and almost hidden and would be the perfect spot for some ‘me time’. I imagined having a little square patch of land, with maybe a small shed with bunting flapping in the breeze. A flask of tea and some nice chocolate. Digging and planting did not feature in my plans, just sitting and watching and chilling in the sunshine. ……………………..

But life isn’t like that is it? We don’t usually benefit from others hard work if we only sit and watch. I love other people’s quotes and I saw one recently that summed this up.

‘A comfort zone is a beautiful place but nothing ever grows there’



Recently we went away on a retreat. We have been before and I love it. But it can be a bit of a shock to the system. It requires you to stop, suddenly. There are no distractions, nothing you have to do, nowhere else to be, no list of jobs that jostle for your attention, no mobile phone, no internet, no distractions, nothing………… how does that make you feel?

For some, reading that, it might sound lovely, whilst for others it may sound a challenge, maybe almost frightening. Just to be alone with your thoughts is a struggle for some. I know friends who turn the TV on as soon as they get home as otherwise they find it too quiet. Some people may have never spent time on their own, been in their house alone or even been in a room on their own. Aloneness and quiet may be alien and unwelcome. It seems that everywhere you go now there is music playing, whether it is the supermarket or out for a meal. Why can’t we just enjoy the silence, it seems almost as if we are not allowed to be quiet. Walking down the street you see people on mobile phones or with headphones listening to music, not really present in their circumstances

But even in the quiet of the retreat, it is never completely silent. I noticed the wind in the trees, birds singing, the hum of insects, the noise of farm machinery in the distance. It makes you aware of how much noise you make yourself and how you crave conversation. But it is possible to shut everything out and let the world turn without you, at least for a while. The couple who live there are lovely and so welcoming. I feel privileged that they allow us to share their space with them. They have a dog, a retired greyhound and even she is silent, never barking or making a fuss.

If the idea of sitting quietly for even a few minutes is new to you, why not try it. You might like it!

Handbags at dawn

Why are handbags such a gender specific thing? Why do women need to carry round all this stuff 24/7? Men only seem to need wallet and keys and put anything else in their partner’s bag anyway. When we went to a wedding once I had to take an extra large bag to carry my husband’s spare camera lenses, what’s that all about?

A quick inventory of my bag showed the following life essential items……money, comb, mirror, perfume, tissues, pills, snacks, gum, keys, sweets, pen and paper for those never ending lists I love to write.

Even on my wedding day I carried a small purple bag, specially made for the occasion. Inside was my front door key (why….?), a miniature bottle of brandy (for emergencies) and some chocolate (of course, what else would I need?)

A few years ago I had my bag stolen. I used to carry loads of stuff and I lost everything which took a good deal of sorting out. I stopped using a bag at all after that and only took some cash with me. But sure enough I upgraded to a bag again after a while, even if a scaled down version. So ladies, take a look in your bag, and if you can’t afford to lose it, leave it at home! This might also help with that nagging back problem, for goodness sake, how much does all that stuff weigh?