Category Archives: Diary snippets…

Medieval Snapchat…

Surprising what can be found lurking in a twelve-year old’s worn leather bag…

I have pondered the poignant content several times since its discovery and wonder if it will have the same impact on you as it did me…

It reads:


 

”                                                                                                                                  1340

25th June

To whom may be reading this,

Hello, I’m Timothy. I hope you’re reading this many years after the time in which I write this. And that my letter finds you well. I am hoping that whatever this awful disease is, it has found a cure.

Today it is the 25th of June 1340, I am writing this at the age of 12 years and today is also my birthday. It has been two years and 2 days since this horrible disease has become upon us.

My mother explained to me that the cats and dogs are carrying it and it’s there fault. But due to this terrifying thing, now whenever I walk through what used to be our lovely village all I see now is animals, like cats and dogs being blamed and killed. I see crosses on doors of houses telling us not to go in, everyone holding bunches of flowers and flowers sat in lonely windowsills. I see strange men wearing long black coats and an oddly looking pointy like mask although Mama tells me that there the doctors helping the poorly people, but she won’t tell me why they wear those strange masks. On the odd occassion I overhear conversations from people saying that it’s Mars and Saturn that have moved closer together and made the air bad. Sometimes when I go up to the local shop I see men whipping themselves, apparently it’s because God has been punishing us all because he’s angry, although I think Mama’s right, and God is better than that and wouldn’t punish in such a horrid way, instead would forgive our sins and give us another chance.

My birthday’s been different this year, by that I mean worse. Last year we didn’t celebrate like usual. I still had Mama and Grandmama but no other family or friends, but now I know why. But this year we didn’t even celebrate. I mean, Mama was here, obviously, but no one else, though I guess that doesn’t matter because now I just pray that this will all go away, and everything can go back to how it used to be, when the village was lovely and there weren’t any doctors, if that’s what they even are.

Right now, I’m a bit worried about Mama, the other morning I heard her being sick, and then yesterday one of the creepy looking men knocked on the door. with his long cloak and black pointy mask, and he was asking for Mama and ever since he came we have a cross on our door, flowers all around, the living room, my room, though I don’t know about Mama. She won’t let me in to see her now, and I haven’t seen her since yesterday and it’s now 8:00pm. I just want to hug her and make sure she’s ok. The supposedly doctor comes in the mornings with a jug of water and 3 meals, I’m guessing breakfast, lunch and dinner. I just closed my blinds ready to sleep and the streets are filled with quick, crawling, black coloured rats.

I really must go to bed.

Timothy.”


It wasn’t really found in the crevice of the wall of an ancient cottage…(although, to my mind, it could have been) and the punctuation, spelling and grammar are as delightfully un-honed as the written narrative of any child of that age…

It was actually a piece of school homework about the Bubonic Plague written by one of my grandaughters whose twelfth birthday happens later this Summer…

I was so touched by the empathic part of her imagination that I asked her permission to reproduce it on here now that it’s been handed in for marking at school…

(…and if it doesn’t get an A+, I’m off to see the teacher…. 😉 xx)

 

 

It’s all in the name…

It’s not the first time I’ve been to the house—

Some time ago, before there was one in the village, its back room housed a little shop where I could stock up on essentials —-

Today’s mission, though was in quite a different form—

“Does anyone know someone who would dog-sit one day a week?” read the advert—

“Maybe I could help—” I replied.

I was invited to visit the Jack Russells’ owner and his pets at 2pm this afternoon.

“Come and meet Belle,” he said, leading the way to the conservatory. Tails wagging, the two dogs greeted me exuberantly. As I took a seat, Belle immediately jumped onto my lap and made herself comfortable.  Her master told me the story of how he and his wife had rehomed her from a dog-rescue centre.

Belle jumped down as her companion came over, vying for attention—

“After she’d been with us for a while, we wondered if she felt lonely when we were at work,” he went on to explain, “so decided to go to the RSPCA centre with her and let her help us to choose another dog of the same breed—”

He went on to tell me that the one they selected had a sad start to life. He had been rescued from a yard where he was kept with seventy other dogs— Two years on, though, he is healthy and well-adjusted and it was evident the pair of them got on well together—

“What’s his name—?” I asked—

“Ticker—” came the reply—

————————————————————————————————————–

Although the symbolism of all this will only be apparent to those who know me, sometimes, it’s the little happenings in life which completely bowl me over — xx

 

The Hospital Visit…

What’s a gal to do to get some sympathy around here—-?

Isn’t there a time — like when you’ve been casually shopping in Bath, are heading back to the train station and have an accident involving a bus which results in you being winched up to a hovering helicopter and transferred to the Operating Theatre of a Bristol hospital for emergency surgery — when it’s perfectly justifiable to lie in a bed recovering and feeling sorry for yourself?

—but with the friends she’s got, there’s simply no chance—-

Visiting time yesterday had her being presented with this form of advice in a Rehabilitation Pack:

(click on the image to reveal its confidential information—)

The contents of the pack, which had been delivered under the wrap of a plain-brown-paper-bag, were soon examined and utilised in a photo-shoot:

Of course, we know that our dear friend comes to this page occassionally so please forgive me for broadcasting your prescription on here but I couldn’t resist—

Get Well wishes come in many guises — this is one of them— 😉 xxxx

The Advent-urers’ Night Out…

Imagine my embarrassment—

“Don’t forget to wear something Christmassy!” was the brief before we set off for a trip on the train from Bishops Lydeard station last evening—

Bedecked, then, in a loud-red, knitted minidress with ‘Mrs. Claus’ embroidered on its front; purse, pen and mobile phone tucked into the seasonal accessory of a handbag crafted from felt in the shape of a snowman, I met up with seven friends on the platform—

It was draughty in the Waiting Room so we followed the group of fellow passengers across the tracks to the Railway Museum —- and walked straight into the clutches of 1929 —-

I looked around at the assembled crowd — many of the women were gowned  in sparkling, Charlton-styled evening dress, feather boas draped across their slight shoulders, their hair adornments obviously being the origin of the word ‘fascinators’; their beaus in smart dinner suits, white ties and trilbys; then there were ladies of aristocracy in elegant fur trimmed coats and hats, some accompanied by he-who-could-afford-to-keep-them-in-such-comfortable-and-well-groomed fashion, others who, from the batting of their eyelids, seemed to be travelling alone but would welcome male company should it be offered—

Oh, for a cloak, to wrap around my dress which shouted “Fifteen quid in The Range, Christmas 2016!” but I had chosen to cover it with a see-through, plastic-but-with-lace-effect jacket which did nothing to hide the garment — even the blush on the snowman’s cheeks seemed to deepen the longer I gazed around the room—

Hurrah! A distraction — All eyes, which had surely been focused on my faux pas, were averted as a Detective Inspector came into our midst—

“There has been a serious incident at Thymely station,” he informed us. “Tragically, a lady, Mary Unbright, has been found to have died in the station’s Buffet—and we have reason to believe she was murdered!”

There was a united gasp of astonishment from his audience—

“We also believe the three suspects will be travelling on the 19.00hrs train to Minehead — I shall be boarding but would be grateful if you could help in anyway that this crime may be solved. Just keep your eyes and ears open to any conversations you may overhear in your carriages—”

He must have sensed the unspoken feelings of the group of around a hundred for he then went on to divulge some confidential information—

“The characters, Bea White who we think delivered a sprig of mistletoe to the table occupied by the deceased and an employee of her husband, Mr. Chris Tingle, together with the bereaved sister, May Yordayze are all people of particular interest in our enquiries —-”

He didn’t need to spell out descriptions as, conveniently, he was able to point out each suspect as they passed amongst us on their way to catch the evening Steam Train—

Well—once we had clambered aboard, our chatter filled with the shocking news, and were seated at our table, we really needed that glass of wine that the steward kindly brought us —- dishes of dainty little canapes had also been served and, as we nibbled, we also wondered how we could possibly bring the nature of good citizenship to the fore and assist the Detective Inspector in his mission—

A nudge from my companion and a whispered “There’s Chris Tingle—!” followed by “Ooooh! and there’s Bea White!” had us furtively straining to listen in to their conversation— Hmmmmmmmmm!——–

No sooner had they swayed their way in rhythmn to the chuggity, chugg motion of the train to the next compartment, than the poshly spoken but dressed in the colour of mourning, May Yordayze walked through (on the way to the W.C. we presumed.) As we sort of returned her smile with an imitation of the same, she paused to speak with us but then had to move on as the steward was bringing plates of our chosen meal; a turkey dinner with all the trimmings for me —- yummmm—- perfectly cooked and delicious! —- yet, as I tucked in and reflected on what May had told us— another ‘Hmmmmmmmmmm!’

After much shared pondering, a jolt and a whistle alerted us to the fact that we had reached the destination of the seaside town of Minehead. We stepped onto the illuminated platform on this dark December night and took in the charming view of North Hill with its twinkling lights of cottages set on the steep contour — The accompanying tune of Jingle Bells playing through the station’s speakers gave the scene the full flavour of Yuletide—

All too soon it was time to use the return part of our ticket so back to the tinsel-trimmed carriage to further discuss our suspicions as to who-dunnit—

Now the stewards were busy bringing bowls of Christmas pudding with hot custard or generous slices of Strawberry Cheesecake to the diners—- more appreciation of the fare served to us—-

Thoughts then, back to Mistletoe —- could it have been ——- ??????

Jottings down of our speculations—- scribbled conclusions—-

Oh, here comes the Detective Inspector—-

“I’ll take your notes, if you don’t mind— they may help—-”

Off he went with our jumbled notions—-

For the first time on our journey, we wiped the condensation from the window—a peer into the darkness had us noticing the place-name-sign of the little station of Creech Heathfield—

“We’re nearly home—”

As we alighted at Bishops Lydeard, the railway staff directed us back to the Museum where, we were told, the Inspector would like to speak to us—

Still intrigued, we followed the instructions—

Notebook in hand, Detective Inspector Archie Bauls addressed us—-

The case had been solved! The culprit was immediately apprehended and will, as I write, have been taken into custody—

All that remains is for me to thank Art Deco Productions for the chance to be a part of this Murder Mystery —- sheer moment-by-moment entertainment —- and to all the voluntary staff of our West Somerset Railway for their dedicated, attentive and excellent service —- and to my fellow passengers that, although totally improperly dressed, my embarrassment only needed to be fleeting as simply no one seemed to mind—– 😉

A most lovely evening—–

 

A Right Royal gift…

img_0091

I knew it was a bit special as soon as I saw it, so I bagged it at the local hospital’s Fete yesterday—

A beautifully crafted cot quilt — an ideal gift for the latest addition to the family; our new great-grandson, exactly one-week-old today—! 😉

As I ran my hand across the smooth poly-cotton surface and compared the texture to the snug feel of the brushed cotton underlayer of the coverlet, the lady at the stall made my intended purchase even more desirable by telling me that she used Prince Charles’ shirt material to make it—

My mental image of the future King of England discovering that his garments now bore square-shaped holes was soon dispelled, however, when she went on to say that she orders bolts of material from the manufacturers of his shirts—

—- so, if it’s fit for Royalty, it’s just perfect for the little one I have in mind— 😉 xx

Summer Holiday…

North Wales -- August 2016 008

Think of a beautiful island…

The language could have been a barrier had it not been that the road signs also bore English translation and most of the people we met also spoke in our mother tongue—

A five hour journey had brought us to our destination with its spectacular scenery — mountains, forests, moorland, lakes, beaches, verdant countryside —

Lush—!

With the Snowdonia National Park just a stone’s throw (or little car journey—) away, last week was spent exploring a charming and characterful region of North Wales, courtesy of our hosts—

Tuesday 23rd August…

North Wales -- August 2016 066

Each day was blessed with blue skies and sunshine and on day one we were driven through the little towns of Denbigh and Betws-Y-Coed to the vast lake, Llyn Brenig, where we strolled its banks and shingled shoreline and enjoyed a hearty picnic lunch before travelling on through the Dee Valley to the beautiful market town of Llangollen, then up to the heather-clad moors and down the famous Horseshoe Pass, taking in the breathtakingly majestic views — A visit to the 17th Century Rug Chapel with its magnificent decor and back, via Ruthin, to our accommodation where the pool offered us welcome relief from the warmth of the afternoon sunshine — An evening meal taken al fresco brought the close to a lovely day—

North Wales -- August 2016 086

Wednesday 24th August…

North Wales -- August 2016 030

An early start the next morning and we were given a guided tour of Snowdonia — With my camera at the ready, I soon realised that no amount of clicking could truly capture the beauty of the stunning landscape; the lofty grandeur of the mountains with their rivulets of falling water was an awesome sight and had me overawed at the wonders of Nature — On, then, to Criccieth beach via Caernarfon and Porthmadog and another lunchtime feast which had been prepared for us was relished as we sat looking out to sea— (and watching the antics in the road-side parking bays as a young Mum blocked the last available space for some time by cunningly manoeuvering her toddler’s buggy into it — It transpired that the whole exercise had been to ‘save’ the space for her friend who pulled her vehicle into it half-an-hour or so later — 😉 )  A quick stop at the supermarket for provisions on our way back to our home-for-the-week where the patio doubled up as our open-air dining room for a barbequed meal as dusk fell —

Criccieth

Thursday 25th August…

2015-07-05 Trip to the Trossachs via Chester and Hawes 005

Last year we spent a few pleasant days in Chester on our way to Scotland. The charming atmosphere of the City had us hoping to return one day — little did we know at the time that an opportunity would arise this year for us to do just that— Today, a trip down that Memory Lane had been scheduled into the agenda! First stop had to be the unforgettable Albion Inn with its respectful theme dedicated to all those who served in the 1914 – 18 World War — Unfortunately it was closed when we got there (which just means we shall have to go back again another day!) so we took the shortcut through the gateway to the Roman Gardens and then down to The Groves to sit on the promenade at the side of the River Dee. From here we walked a part of the City Walls, pausing now and again to observe the hustle and bustle in the streets below or to take photos of the grand Tudor-styled buildings with their whitewashed walls, glossy black beams and leaded light windows — Stepping down to the boardwalk of The Rows, we gazed at the displays in the shop windows and then found our way to Chester’s Cathedral. A moment there to just sit quietly and reflect before once again strolling the streets and alleys where we were tempted by a Restaurant’s invitation to lunch — Another well filled day in kind weather so no matter that heavy showers of rain fell that evening—

North Wales -- August 2016 056

Friday 26th August…

Denbigh castle

With our companions otherwise engaged today, we did some sightseeing on our own— The first challenge was to find our way out of the maze of lanes in the middle of which our tranquil holiday destination lay— Eventually we hit the main road (—well—it was  a ‘B’ road but actually had road markings so — ;)) and spent some time around the main towns in the district — Denbigh, Mold and Ruthin— The local pub, renowned for its cuisine, was the arranged venue for our evening meal and an easy stroll across a couple of fields had us soon ensconsed in its cosiness and well-satisfying our appetites—

The Golden Lion

Saturday 27th August…

A Denbighshire lane

Sometimes it’s just nice to appreciate what’s right on the doorstep, so to speak, and today we decided to further pursue the puzzle of the maze of lanes on foot — At leisurely pace, we strolled alongside the flora and fauna of the hedgerows, aware of the freshness of air in this part of the country, the peace and quiet, the only sounds being that of birdsong— An invitation to join our friends for a home-cooked meal that evening was the finale to a wonderful, relaxed holiday in this corner of our beautiful island—

North Wales -- August 2016 071

Sunday 28th August…

New Severn Bridge

—-and homeward bound—- It’s always a bit sad to say “Goodbye” but the journey back to Somerset through the Wye Valley, across the gateway to England (the ‘new’ bridge across the Severn Estuary) was a picturesque outing in itself, perfectly rounding off a week of meeting new people, making new friends and discovering a new area of this green and pleasant land—

With a big ‘Thank you’ to those who made it that way— xx

When the British Spirit rules…

Westminster

No matter anyone’s political persuasion, my guess is that the whole of the British nation must have been touched by the scenes in Westminster’s House of Commons and outside Number 10, Downing Street yesterday—-

Following three weeks of unease with the happenings in Parliament since the ‘Brexit’ vote on June 23rd, a new chapter was opened less than twenty-four hours ago —

It was heartening to watch and listen to the good-humoured and light-hearted banter and seemingly fond gestures of ‘Farewell’ from everyone assembled on the familiar green benches to David Cameron as he stepped down from his duty as Prime Minister—

—and who could not be moved as, with that glossy black door as a backdrop, he spoke to the citizens of this country and lovingly paid tribute to his wife, Samantha and his children, Nancy, Elwen and Florence just before the family’s departure from their home of six years —

It was the feeling of, at last, meeting the person behind the politician which caused me a little tear—

A little while later, hope for the future of Great Britain arrived as Theresa May, following her meeting with Her Majesty, our Queen,  addressed us and pledged her intention of forming a government compliant with her agenda of dealing with the matter of social injustice, having consideration and creating opportunities for everyone from all walks of life, that each person may make the most of their skills and talents as we move into a new era—

A day in which the British spirit shone brightly —-

10 Downing Street

 

 

A Strawberry Moon Wedding…

rose petal confetti

If someone had told me the wedding venue cost just over £226 to build, I would have been prepared that the ceremony was likely to take place in a tent —

—but that wasn’t what it said on the Invitation Card—

Right then, Tuesday 21st June; the Summer Solstice and a fine, dry window of weather in an otherwise showery week—

Handbag packed; — card and gift for the Bride and Groom, hanky, camera — tsk! — forgot to get confetti! — Thank goodness for it being the season of Roses in full flower — a couple of bloomfuls of pretty, sweetly fragrant petals popped into the bag — sorted and ready for the off—!

Of course, when the open-top, chauffeur-driven Bridal car pulled up at the chosen location and she hitched up the skirts of her off-the-shoulder, golden gown in order to alight and step out onto the flagstones of the pavement, there were no guy ropes to negotiate — it wasn’t really a marriage under canvas that we were about to witness—

The short flight of stone steps led to one of Taunton’s Ancient Monuments — the Grade II listed Municipal Buildings, built in 1522 by one of the town’s benefactors, Bishop Fox (at a cost of £226.5s.10d) as a Grammar School.

Although the building has been extended over the centuries, the Office Registered for Marriage is housed in the original wing and it was to this historic room that we were guided as we waited for the service to commence.

All heads turned and cameras clicked to capture the moment that the Bride and her Bridesmaids, in chiffon dresses of deep purple, little flower girl in cream with gold embellishment, made their way down the aisle between the rows of seats to join the Groom —

As they exchanged rings, sealed their love for each other with their vows it was apparent that, no matter the happenings in this hall over four and a half centuries, this was their Moment — it belonged to them and them alone—

Out, then, into the sunshine as Mr. and Mrs— and, having had photos taken under confetti showers with the four-hundred-and-fifty-something-year-old building as a backdrop, on to the Reception to mingle with family and friends —

Here, in a country village tavern, the Medieval theme continued with a hog roasting on the spit and music gently strummed on guitar and fiddle well into an evening which was illuminated by the light of a strawberry moon  —

May the happiness of your Wedding Day travel with you through the rest of your lives — Congratulations, Carlos and Clare — and thank you for inviting us to share your special day — xx

municipal buildings taunton

In…Out…

The Hokey Cokey

“In…Out…In…Out…and shake it all about—“

—so, lyrically, waxes the song—

Right arm in… right arm out…

— left leg in… left leg out… and so on — culminating in the whole self linking with others and pulling together in order to dance the finale of the Hokey Cokey—

Tomorrow will go down in History as the day Britain decided whether to remain with or leave the European Union—

— so which way to go—?

Although we may have listened to the debates, feel that we now know enough about the issues to qualify us to make the sensible choice for the sake of our Nation, followed the lead of those in whom we trust, it’s presently impossible to forecast the result of the poll—

— and yet, whatever the outcome of the vote, I just know the whole body will support itself by uniting and making the decision work — ‘cos that what the British Spirit does —

“—that’s what it’s all about—“

Union Jack Flag

A Lakeside Wedding…

Rings

There was a time when she considered her stash of Tomato Ketchup and Chocolate Buttons to be a ‘marriage made in heaven’!

Kept safely stored in her locker in Early Learning’s Staff Room, these two items helped to see her through each busy day — the ketchup sachets used to flavour her lunchtime snacks, the chocolate discs finding their way to the drawer beneath the shop’s counter to perk up those moments between serving customers—

— but times change — and Abi met Dan —

Yesterday, thoughts of chocolate and ketchup were (almost) distant memories as we celebrated their Wedding Day at the Lakeview Manor in East Devon—

Brides always look beautiful but when the young lady in the exquisitely-fashioned, slim, white, lacy gown with its modest train, her blonde hair prettily coiffed under the half veil, was someone dear to the hearts of everyone who had been invited to join her on her special day — well — the radiance of that beauty is impossible to describe in words —

The Registrar led the simple ceremony in the Manor’s Hall, giving particular emphasis to the symbolism of the rings which the couple exchanged and the ladies amongst the sixty guests were seen to be dabbing at their eyes with pocket hankies as the Bride and Groom pledged their vows of love and commitment to each other—

Half an hour later, those assembled stepped into the warm sunshine bedecking the grand lawned area around one of the lakes for the photo shoots. A mini skittle alley and croquet course had been set up to keep the littlest guests occupied while the photographer employed his skills, grouping people together in the surroundings which Nature had decorated with water reeds, woodland flora and foxgloves, and capturing moments of the day on film—

Time then to be seated in the Marquee for the Speeches and the meal — The Table Plan had groups of six each heading for one of the ten tables set with calendar dates — The significance became apparent when we sat at our cream-linen covered seats dressed with hessian bows and posies of gypsophila — December 1st was the date of our table and a little notice informed us it will be the day the newlyweds fly to Florida for their honeymoon. Also set at the table along with our cutlery were wedding favours for each of us; small corked jars filled with M&Ms — every tiny, white-coated chocolate bean inscribed either with ‘Love from Dan and Abi’ or with a miniscule photo of the pair—

The Speeches, delivered by the Father-of-the-Bride and the Groom’s chosen Best Man, caused ripples of chuckles and once again had the fastenings of the ladies’ dainty clutch bags clicking and unzipping and the reaching for tissues as we learned more about Abi and Dan and their journey from the day they met when Mothercare took over the Early Learning store to this joyful gathering today—

A delicious three-course meal was then served and, I did mention earlier that ‘thoughts of tomato ketchup were now (almost) a distant memory’ — but not so distant that a mischievous friend and former colleague hadn’t remembered and had a hearts-and-bows package placed at the Bride’s place-setting on the top table — When she peeped inside, Abi found she had a gift of one-hundred-and-fifty sachets of her favourite condiment (one-hundred-and-forty-eight left in the bag once her meal arrived!)

The happy and relaxed atmosphere continued through the evening — a photo booth had been set up for everyone to have ‘silly’ pictures taken with accessories of wigs, hats, novelty glasses, all to be included in an album for the new Mr. and Mrs. to look back on through the future—

Creamy-white roses crafted from sugar-icing adorned a corner of each tier of the Cake, the cutting of which was the cue for a buffet supper to then be served — Now the trestle table was laden with sticky-chicken-drumsticks, sandwiches, salads, cheeses, quiches, savoury filo pastries and the choice of a slice from the chocolate, lemon or vanilla tier of the Cake—

Oh — of course! There had to be a Candy Trolley! Bowls of Flying Saucers, Pink Shrimps, Foamy Bananas, Jelly Hearts, Cola Bottles, Jelly Babies (— there seemed to be even more confectionery than there had been confetti!) tempted the guests to pick up tongs and fill brown paper bags with sweets to their hearts’ content—

Often, a book is passed around at weddings for anyone to write a little message; today, the best man carried a well-honed slice of a pine tree, complete with its ring of bark, around to us that we may sign as an indelible record of the day— (it gave a different meaning to the phrase ‘logging-on’!)

As dusk fell, the band started playing — The Indie Killers kept us entertained then until the wee, small hours with their Rock and Roll numbers — Such was the energy on the dance floor that some of us were content to just sit and watch as the Bride and Groom led the foot tapping and twirling,  the Bridesmaids then joined them, swirling in their silver-grey floaty-chiffon gowns, and soon the floor was filled with everyone enjoying themselves at the end of a wonderful day— but for Abi and Dan, just the beginning of their ‘Happy-Ever-After’ story— xx

lakeview manor