Wednesday 31 October 2018

A Cheat

This year we had a wonderful summer, weather-wise, according to my memory.    However, my young granddaughter recalls it as a wet summer.   We live right next door to one another...

Memory is a bit of a cheat, I know,  selecting certain memories, erasing others.  We had lots of sunshine and heat, too little rain - perhaps too much heat, for some.       I can only think that perhaps there was a rare day of rain which spoiled some outing or other for her.

So far we have had a beautiful autumn, lots of sunshine and some wonderfully warm days with blue skies, brilliant sunshine.   The drift of bonfire smoke on the air, crunchy leaves underfoot and even the occasional butterfly enjoying the warmth.    I need to fix those wonderful days in my memory.

The last few days have been cold, a seeping creeping type of cold.     We have had very heavy rain showers, sleet, hail and lead grey skies.    Even those trees which normally blaze out a fiery red and orange are dull and dismal.

Recent walks along the old railway line have been squelchy and muddy.    The colours  mainly purplish browns, brownish greens, greyish brown and dirty yellow/yellowish brown.   Lots of browns.  Rather like walking through a bowl of soggy bran flakes.   

The hedgerows are still beautifully illuminated by orange and red rosehips and I had the pleasure of spotting a family of rabbits scampering away, and some very quiet female pheasants, refugees from the weekend shoot and, most excitingly, two large and very beautiful deer.     Soggy bran flakes, it seems, have some advantages over crisp and crunchy ones.

Yesterday, I reached the point where I either turn back and retrace my steps, or cut through the fields and byways and enter the village on the far side from Parsonage Cottage.     The wind suddenly became fierce, blowing in from the north, heavy rain fell.   I pulled up my hood, the wind blew it down.   We fought all the way home, he won.   I was drenched.

There came a point where even Toby, the dog who really doesn't like getting wet, realised that it was futile to take his usual detours around puddles, trying to avoid wetting his paws because he was drenched, too.     

He is a Labrador crossed with something,  possibly a cat, given his dislike of water.

The jury is out.   Will my memories be of sunshine or rain, warmth or cold?

Today dawned frosty and very cold but the sun has been shining brightly.   The colours have been restored, thanks to the brilliant sunshine.   It clouded over for a while, but the sunshine is back.  Another splendid truly autumnal day.  Trees are acquiring a different kind of beauty, their stripped back winter form,  structure on show.   A different kind of beauty, but I like it.

Now I have run out of time, lost the thread of what I was going to say. 

Ah, well!

Monday 29 October 2018

Crinoline Lady and Scottie Dogs Giveaway

Many years ago, I was given a folder with lots of old fashioned iron-on embroidery transfers inside.   Quite a few of them date from the 1930's and '40's.       I had great plans to use them, but the truth is that I will never get round to it.

I was going to take them to a charity shop, but...

Does anyone out there embroider?      Would you like a bundle of iron-on transfers?   Some come with a colour guide, most are simply those tissue paper blue printed transfers, make up your own colour scheme.

There are two copies of the dog.

A whole heap of other designs, some large, some small.

One set of love birds.

All are available and free to a good home.    Just leave a comment if you would like any/all of them.

Friday 26 October 2018


Let me say at the outset, that I am not a trained cook or even an enthusiastic cook.  I do, however, cook.   My enthusiasm is saved for baking and only comes to the fore when I am in the right mood, exploring a theme, or have nothing better to do.

Almost 45 years of marriage and three children have diminished the fun of getting three meals a day together.    I cook all our meals from scratch, not because I am a saint, but simply because they taste better, the textures are as they should be and, most importantly, I know what has gone into them.

Ready meals, ready-prepared foods, no matter how high class the shop, or fancy the packaging, are made to be profitable in a highly competitive market.    They contain additives, to extend the shelf life and lower the cost. 

When I bake, I use butter, sugar, flour and so on, basic ingredients, I do not use hydrogenated oils or emulsifiers, or palm oil.

I can feel myself going way off tack here.  Focus, Elaine!

The point is, I can cook and I do cook.    I know how to cook.   The basics I learned from my mother, the rest I learned as I went along through life.   

These days there seem to be a lot of people who haven't been educated to identify good food, and even if they have, they don't feel they have the time to cook - or, more probably, don't know how to cook.   

I understand that it is much more difficult, for people on their own, to get motivated to cook a decent meal each day.   When all my children had either moved out, or were away at university, my husband was away working abroad, I had to do the same.    I could quite happily have settled for a slice of (homemade) bread and a piece of cheese, with an apple for pudding...actually, I still could. 

It is the don't know how to group which concerns me the most.     Children are growing up in homes where takeaways and ready meals, oven chips and cheap burgers or pizzas are the norm.  Vegetables and fruit are a mystery to them.

This is certainly true of some of the children in my daughter's class.   She recently moved schools, and has begun teaching in a very low income/deprived part of Lincolnshire.   The children in her class are the new intakes, the very youngest ones in the school.    She was determined to introduce them to good food, teach them some of the basics of cooking and baking - these are children of just 5 years of age.

Of course, these days, this involves a lot of permission forms, risk assessments, and so on.    Then she set about her first lesson, a very gentle introduction which she hoped would get the children's interest, chocolate biscuits.    Not necessarily healthy, but definitely designed to make them happy.

The children had a wonderful time, the biscuits turned out brilliantly, they learned a lot about measuring and mixing, baking and waiting.    The most interesting thing to me, though, was the reaction of her teaching assistant.    She got into a blind panic.    She can't cook, can't bake.      My daughter is 40 years old, her teaching assistant is heading towards 50 years of age, married and has had a family of her own.

The second lesson was vegetable soup.   This meant that they had to peel vegetables and help to cut them up - terrifying thought - but the soup was made and some of the children learned, for the first time, that onions make you cry.   Many of them had never seen a vegetable being prepared, ever.   Again, lots of teaching opportunities.      The children all tried the soup and, apart from one or two, they LOVED it.   It was something new to them.

Remember, these children are from very low income households, often with other problems going on in the background.    They are country children but most didn't know where vegetables came from.      These lessons have become the highlight of the week for them.

We can only hope the lessons and skills they are learning will be lodged in their memory banks and serve them well later in life.
You never know, even the teaching assistant may one day find that she is able to cook a meal.

ps  I have to smile, my daughter doesn't cook at home.   She has a husband to do that!

Thursday 25 October 2018

Soldier Soldier Tutorial

Frugally Challenged, over at Trundlingthroughlife blog asked how I made these little soldiers, so I have cobbled together these instructions.    If anything is not clear, please do ask.   Thank you for all your comments on my previous post, I will be replying, as soon as I have a little time.

The little soldiers with the wooden hats (original version) are easy to make, but you will need two types of dowling, a drill, and a vice for holding things steady.

You need to cut a piece of the thicker dowling (I think mine was 18mm diameter) which will become the hat.       Drill out some wood, so that the hat will sit on top of the peg, like a hat.    Then drill a smaller hole, the thickness of the smaller dowling, right the way through the hat and also down into the top of the peg.

This will allow you to secure the hat to the peg.     You could simply use wood glue, though I am not sure how secure and long-lasting that would be.

Fix them together and then cut the thinner dowling level with the hat.  That is the tricky bit completed.

While I was out walking Toby, yesterday, planning how to present this, I came up with an alternative version, one which doesn't require dowling or drills.   You probably spotted the new boy in the line-up...

Why not make a Busby?   Dark brown wool made into a pom pom, then severely trimmed to make the shape of a hat.   Glue this in place.   Much easier, but maybe not quite so secure.   Equally charming.

That is the construction side, but let's not forget the painting.

I use acrylic paints because they give good coverage and are long-lasting.

I also neaten up the edges with permanent markers, very fine tips - these are particularly useful for finishing off the faces, but be careful not to smudge and be sure to leave them to dry - I speak from experience.

Work them in stages.

I draw the design on, then block fill them in, gradually adding more and more detail, neatening and refining.   

Final thing will be a tiny hoop which I will screw into the hat, then I will loop a golden thread through, ready for hanging as a decoration.

Have fun!

Tuesday 23 October 2018

Something about a Soldier

(Step by step instructions to come, in another post.)

The weather has been breezy, but mild, perfect for some long walks with the dog.  Down through the farmyard and out into the Wild Wood.   Long hours of work sewing, knitting, and painting, mean that these walks provide an opportunity for some exercise and much needed fresh air.

Crispy crunchy leaves underfoot, glowing red rosehips in the hedgerows, all help to add texture and beauty.     The walks work some magic and I set to with renewed enthusiasm.

I am still having fun making the peg dolls, so there will be a few more yet.

A bit of work with a drill and some dowling, in order to make hats for my peg doll soldiers, then out with the paints and brushes - and we have some cute little soldiers.   They are not quite finished, but almost there.

Did I mention that I get bored easily?   Variety keeps me happy and productive.

I hope you are having a good week, everyone.

Don't forget to have a look at the moon, it is looking quite spectacular this evening.

Sunday 21 October 2018

Magic Pain Killers and Peg Dolls

Even if I were able to obtain laudanum these days I definitely wouldn't know how much was in a drachm, however, thanks to M L Riley, and her little black book of handwritten kitchen notes and recipes from 1892, I now know that a drachm is 2 salt spoons.   It would be even more handy if I possessed a salt spoon.

Magic Pain Killer

Spirit of harshorn, 1oz
Olive Oil, 1 1/2oz
Cayenne Pepper, 2 drachms
Laudanum, 2 drachms
1 tbsp salt
2 tbsp brandy

Shake well in a bottle, rub the affected part with it.   It removes pains and swellings.   It is a magic remedy...allegedly.    Recipe taken from Annie's Edwardian Cookery Book.

Drawing Ointment
(for festering wounds)
Soft brown sugar
Household Soap

Mix one ounces of soft brown sugar with one ounce of plain household soap which has been softened by being cut into shavings and mixed with a teaspoonful of warm water.  Work well together so that you have an ointment consistency.  Spread on a piece of lint or clean cloth and bandage on to the wound.     from Hebridean Cookbook by Lillian Beckwith

I am thankful that I don't need either of those at the moment, as long as I remember to get up and move about every now and then, and keep doing the back exercises, a nuisance, but they do work.

I have moved on (for the time being) to making some peg dolls for the bazaar.  People request these year after year, I suppose they make useful little 'extra' gifts.   Each doll is unique, no two are dressed the same because I enjoy making them that way, dressing some for a day out, others for a day in.  They are my 'everyday' angels.

These three peg dolls are the first in a new range.   Madness!   They each have a hand sewn skirt/underskirts, plus tiny hand knitted jumper, some have hats/bags/mittens, according to my whim.

I still have some of my mother's old knitting needles and a few balls of wool.   This style of dressing the pegs came about by my need to do something fresh to relieve the boredom and goes to show, that despite the fact that I have never taken to knitting, all those years of attempting it, learning the basics and how to do some of the fancier stitches for Aran patterns, shapings, etc, but mostly just from 40 years of watching my mother constantly knit, have actually paid off.

I just made up the patterns for their jumpers and so on.   It wasn't exactly rocket science, but I was quite chuffed with the result.     My mother would be thrilled to think that she had managed to teach me this much!

These little snowmen will have hooks driven into their heads, they are tree ornaments, both sides are painted up as snowmen.     Not my original idea, I saw it somewhere else, unfortunately I can't remember where, so I can't credit them.   They are very cute, fun to do, though I could wish for a steadier hand - time creeps up on us in the most peculiar ways.

These, along with my fancy angels, all sequins and lace, are my offerings so far.    I have some other ideas simmering, so watch this space.

My self-allotted task today will be to paint some pegs to resemble 'Nutcracker' - no doubt the wobbly hand will show up, I can only hope that this adds to the charm.  😀

As you can tell, not much housework is getting done these days.      A quick dash around with the hoover and, occasionally, a duster, plump up the cushions, and that is about it.     My creative head is full of ideas but I keep getting interrupted to make meals, mow lawns and help cut back the wild growth from summer.   

All this sewing/knitting/painting time is allowing my mind to roam free and I have had lots of ideas for incredibly interesting posts - of course none of them will make it to the blog because I haven't got the time.   

Wednesday 17 October 2018

Village Life + Quince Chronicles Part I

A blaze of autumn colour trails along the side wall of the village hall.     Our small village hall used to be a Wesleyan Chapel, and was built around 1800.      When the 'new' chapel was built in 1895, the old chapel became a store shed for a horse and cart.

This old photograph shows you that it was a two-storey building, quite a commodious shed, then!   The building was given to the Parish Council in 1911, for public entertainment.   By the 1920's/30's it was heavily used for plays, dancing, meetings and even 'Smoking Concerts', so named because free cigarettes were distributed during the interval, along with the refreshments.   They were very popular!

It was a much used and busy venue right the way up until the late 1980's when it was decided to to remove the old chapel gallery and windows (the upper floor was removed) and add a new kitchen and toilet facilities. 

It gave the building a new lease of life and once again the building buzzed with village gatherings, plays, concerts, fairs and fun.    Not so these days!

I continued my walk up the road and headed for the mobile library van. 

They used to park right outside the village hall but these days they park up near the junction, the change being made so that a disabled resident would have a shorter distance to travel.    She paid one visit to the van, then decided it wasn't for her.    The van continues to park there, in hope.

Meanwhile I am normally the only person to use the service, which means that whether I want to take out a pile or books or not, I feel that I have a duty to do so.    Of course, normally that isn't a problem, but right now I am so busy with one thing and another that it was an effort I could have done without making. 

Wouldn't you just know it though, the shelves were groaning with tempting volumes, I staggered home (the far side of the village) with a dozen books which had waved at me from the shelves.

Two old books on local history, a book about embroidery, crime novels, and best of all, 'The Secret Life of Cows'.     It is a book about cows, surprise, surprise.     It is a fascinating read and confirms what I have long observed, that a cow is not 'just' a cow, but more of that another time.

I have watched this handsome bull grow larger all through the summer.   He, and just one cow, have spent the summer in a field in a nearby village.     He is interested in everything, but most of all he loves his food.   When I took this he was waiting for his morning rations to be dropped off.

I disappointed him, but he posed anyway.

I managed to squeeze in a quick visit to watch my grandchildren decorate 'their' windowsill for the harvest festival.    The cheesy grin tells you how chuffed my granddaughter was with what they achieved.     They were being photographed by one of their Sunday School teachers, so I thought I would get in on the act and photograph her, too.

My baking adventures with quince continue.   

A few days ago I made a Ginger and Quince Cake.  It was described as part afternoon tea, part pudding, and suitable to be served warm with custard, or on a pretty plate with tea and scones at teatime.    It stores well, keeps nice and moist.

I have tried a slice and found it to be moist, thanks to the chunks of quince, with a little bite because it also contains whole pecans, and flavoursome because of the diced chunks of ginger - recipe called for preserved ginger but I used crystallised ginger because that was all I had in the pantry.

The photographs are terrible, but the cake is delicious.  I will post the recipe over on my kitchen blog later in the week.  It can be found in the 'Quinces' book shown in the photograph.

The next dish I try from it will be a savoury one.   

I quite like the sound of 'Hot Lightning'...

Sunday 14 October 2018

Florence, after the Angst

Yesterday was another busy day.   

This morning I had to smile when I got up and found Florence had fallen asleep, propped up by my work basket, her head cushioned by a ball of wool.   Quite when that happened, I don't know, but she does look very cute.     I half hoped to find that she had been busy finishing off my fairies, but no.   Perhaps she had been out dancing or partying.

Months of meetings, note-taking, typing, finding suitable photographs and a smidgeon of hard work have all paid off.      Yesterday I collected the printed booklets and, on the way home,  dropped a copy, plus the invoice,  off at the local 'squire's' house - he will pay the bill on behalf of the local parish council.

Next job was to collect Toby and take a walk along to visit Miss Read and hand her the finished version of her booklet.   

So that is it, warts and all.    Now I can concentrate on getting a few more bits finished for the bazaar, and then the rest of the time will be my own - ha! as if.

My granddaughter was 'tidying' my doll dressing fabrics yesterday, and discovered the remnants of a skirt which used to be hers...  It was a lace and silk concoction, a party skirt, which she had long grown out of.   For a moment her emotions were poised, they could have gone either way, luckily I had the dressed fairy to hand, she could see how the fabric had been dyed a soft pink and then embellished with bits and pieces.   It got her stamp of approval.   Thank goodness.

Out in the front car park, construction work continues.

Wood Henge is being built.    It is a bit further along than this now, the apex roof line is beginning to take shape, where just the uprights have protruded for the last couple of months.     Local wood being used to make an open-fronted garage/log store.     

I'm not sure quite how much work will be done on it today, the winds may have dropped, but heavy rain is forecast.     Not that it will bother me, my work is indoors.    A bit of housework and then a lot of sewing, maybe watch an old film.    Indoors things - apart from dog walks, of course.

How about you?

Friday 12 October 2018

My Kitchen in October

Designed for practicality, not looks.   I like to have my most frequently used kitchen tools handy!

My excitement over my potential quince harvest was somewhat tempered by the surprising contempt in which these golden globes are held by so many people.

We planted two quince trees last year, one lost all the fruit very early on, the other one has gone on to produce three dozen beautiful fruits.

I had hoped that they would have a few more days of sunshine to help ripen them, but the weather has other ideas, about a quarter of my crop has fallen, due to the high winds.    Four more fell while I was typing these few lines, so I have been out and picked the lot, rather than risk having them all bruised.  I have thirty-two of them left, some are huge, others quite small. 

People complain that they are rock hard and difficult to peel and cut, but I found them surprisingly easy to prepare for cooking, so far so good!   I put two of the smaller ones into an apple crumble, grated, and then mixed in with the apple.     Wonderful.   The fruit took on a pretty pink colour and the flavour was greatly enhanced.   Success!

There are lots of recipes I intend to try out, but next I wanted to try out a savoury dish, stuffed quince.   It was simply quince cored and cut in half, then baked for twenty minutes.     Make some patties out of finely chopped onion, mince, spices/herbs/seasonings to your taste.   Put one on each quince half, then bake for another 25 minutes.     I made a fresh tomato sauce to go with it, but gravy would do, then served it with brown rice and buttered kale.

I would normally insert a photograph, but my phone is refusing to let me share any pictures at the moment..

It was delicious - and no, I didn't use real mince, I used a vegetarian substitute, because that is my choice.   Meat eaters could use lamb, beef, goat, camel, whatever animal you fancy!

So far, so good.   They are delicious, sweet or savoury.   Each and every one will be used in the kitchen.

Fresh bread for Friday, crusty, chewy and delicious.  A quick and easy no-knead loaf fresh out of the oven.

Yet another photograph which I can't share, even though it let me send it to instagram.   Hey ho!

There are gremlins at work.

Ha, I have found a way round it - here is a cropped screen shot from IG.

The new cooker is working well, so is the double ended wood burner stove at the other end of the kitchen.     It has been a mild autumn so far, so we haven't had to have the heating on, but I must admit that just every once in a while I have found myself backing up towards the cooker, to warm my back (!)  in the way that I used to do for the Rayburn - only to realise that it is no longer there.

Old habits die hard.

Tomorrow I plan to bake a quince cake.    I also need to help my grandchildren to make a large salt dough sheaf of corn, they have to decorate a church windowsill for harvest festival.     That should be quite fun.     I have gathered some bits and pieces which may help them, some hessian, a couple of baskets, some lovely long leek seed heads (to give height to their display) a couple of home grown pumpkins for colour, the wheat sheaf we can make, plus anything else they think may do the job nicely, the church mice could be enjoying themselves for a night or two!

Much of my time is still being spent on making the fairies, why oh why didn't I just make a few each month throughout the year?   

I love it really, personal dresser to fairies, what is not to like?

The cats love it, especially old Sparky.   She steals any glittery trims or ribbons she can get a hold of and the wooden balls which I use for heads are whisked away for a great game of football.   Toby watches with amazement as she whizzes them all around the conservatory floor, he glances at me, then back at her and presumably wonders how she can get away with it.

I need to head off to try to sort out my mobile phone problems.    Enjoy your weekend.

Wednesday 10 October 2018

Torture in the Village Hall

I enjoy singing, in private,  but I have a truly terrible voice.    Even Toby the dog cocks his head on one side and looks sad when I sing, I draw comfort from the fact that at least he doesn't howl.

I learnt that my voice was rubbish when I was eight or nine years old, my friends were trying out for the school choir and urged me to, as well.  The choir master was kind, he told me to come back when I hadn't got a cold.   I got the message!!

Luckily it is one of those afflictions which can be well hidden, most of the time.

Monday afternoon saw ten of us - yes ten(!) gather at the village hall for the monthly TED's meeting.  Our group has slowly grown from just four regular attendees, which is great.   It does mean that we have to work rather harder to make the meetings interesting for the expanded group. 

The small core group are all happy to do local history, but we can't expect all the others to become quite so engrossed.

A nibble of home baking, a pot of tea and the offer of coffee, made everyone relax and feel welcome.   As usual, the hall felt chilly, despite the warmth and sunshine outside.  Next month will see us having to switch on the wall heaters, which will mean that by the time we finish our meeting, the chill will just about be  gone.     Hot drinks will be even more necessary then.

Our one and only man had come along with lots of old photographs and information about the village so these were passed around and discussed while the refreshments were enjoyed, best china, of course. 

We had yest more discussions about the booklet, more discussions and plans about the Christmas bazaar, the hanging of the old WI memorial tablecloth, and then, it was time for the torture.   

Out came the keyboard and the music books, followed by four pages of songs which we were expected to sing.   

Carol played keyboard, we sang... if you look at the photograph, you can see her head is turned away, she had a fit of the giggles.     Our assorted voices came out high and quavery, low and raspy, with every level between.   

No one was in tune.   

It was truly terrible.

We all had a wonderful time, the hall was filled with laughter.

As soon as I could I escaped to the kitchen to wash dishes and tidy things away. 

Much safer.

Guess what we are doing next month.

That's right, our older members enjoyed it so much that they want a repeat performance.   Aaaargh!

Sunday 7 October 2018

The Pig Who Caught a Cold

Old Fred lived in our village almost a century ago.   Like many people in those days, he kept a pig in a sty at the bottom of the garden.   His pig was lovingly cared for and fed as well as any pig that was being fattened for the table.    It was Fred's pride and joy.

Unfortunately for Fred, just before it was time to slaughter the pig, which would have kept him and his family fed for the best part of a year, it became unwell.   Old Fred decided to stay up all night to look after it, but the pig died in the night.   The next morning Fred asked a friend to help him bury it.

A little later that day an even older neighbour called in to see him, and was told the sad news about the pig.

"Why, it wud ha' been all rate if you ha' killed it, it wud only ha' been a bit of a code*."

They dug the pig up, cleaned it off, bled it, hung it until the next day and then cut it into various joints and shared it with the neighbours.

Amazing as it seems, no one was any the worse for it.

This tale was told to me by our lovely Miss Read, she assures me that it is a true story.

*code=cold in broad Lincolnshire, or so I am told.

Saturday 6 October 2018

Owl Wood and Parsonage Cottage in Autumn

Leaves are falling and Owl Wood is taking on the sounds and colours of autumn.    The squirrels keep scurrying around picking up the acorns and anything else which comes their way.      Toby knows when they are around, their smell gives them away.    He wanders around with his head in the air, scanning the trees and looking for the tell tale movement of branches as they head off for a more peaceful area.

There have been some wonderfully warm days which have bathed the quince tree in golden sunlight, giving my carefully nurtured fruit the chance to ripen before I have to pick them.   The three remaining pumpkins are very large, but not fully ripe yet, most of the butternut squash have been harvested and put into store.    I am still working on processing Bramley apples from the very productive tree by the back door.

I have harvested the last few grapes, supervised by Millie, of course.

I managed to mow the lawns yesterday, hopefully for the last time this year, but it all depends on the weather.    I really dislike spending the winter looking out across vast swathes of untidy grass.   The gardens are gradually settling down into their winter mode, though there is still a way to go in some areas.

This sunflower continues to bloom and is still looking very cheerful.

It towers above this shed in the side garden, sheltered from the wind and in the second sunniest spot in the garden.

There is a definite nip in the air and rain has fallen for much of the day.    Apart from a tiny bit of housework, and cooking some breakfast for two unexpected visitors (my grandchildren) who turned up on the doorstep at 8.30am saying that their parents were still in bed and could they come and spend some time with us (!)  I have spent much of today working on the dolls for the bazaar.

The log burner is lit, I have my fabrics, threads and brushes to hand all I need is to up my production rate!   

Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Friday 5 October 2018

Your Starter for Ten:

Thank you for all your wonderful comments yesterday.        I will be responding later.

This was my view yesterday morning...

The Angel of the North, by Antony Gormley.  For anyone who would like more information about this very beautiful sculpture, click here.

It is a powerful piece of art which is best experienced in real life.    When I say 'powerful', I really do mean powerful.

Stand by the Angel and you can feel a kind of energy.

When I first went to view it, a couple of decades ago, I had already decided that I didn't like it.   Then I stood alongside it.     I don't think I have ever had such a strong reaction to a piece of art  before.

Yes, it is a mighty structure, but that isn't what generates the power.      Stand right next to it and it changes from an enormous structure of metal into a living, breathing entity.

No doubt art snobs will say differently, but that is how it makes me feel.

I had to travel to the area for a family funeral. 

Back home again now, but busy catching up on all the things which should have been done while I was away.

Stayed here, just opposite The Angel.     The views are quite splendid!

Thursday 4 October 2018

The Other Woman

Meet my Grandma.     Her name was Martha, but she was always known as Cissie.   

This second photograph is of her mother, my Great Grandmother, Sarah.  She had nine children, eight daughters (my grandmother was her second daughter) and one son - he was number nine.   Perseverance and persistence paid off!

Sarah's mother-in-law, my Great Great Grandmother, was another Martha.   The only image I can find of her is this photograph of some portraits which one of my distant relatives owns.     The man is my Great Great Grandfather.    He looks very stern, and from what I have read about him he may well have been so.


The star of this post is my Grandma - Cissie, the woman in the first photograph.    She looks so sweet and quiet, though I do detect a core of strength in her, or perhaps that is because I know her story.     

Around the end of the First World War, Cissie met a man and fell in love.   

Before long she discovered that she was pregnant, and in early March 1921 she gave birth to a daughter, my aunt.     Cissie was 37 years old and unmarried.

To put this in context, this was just after the first world war when women over the age of 30 had only just been given the right to vote, and workhouses were still in existence.    People who couldn't support themselves and their children, or who were not helped by their family,  would be likely to end up in the workhouse, a place to be avoided if at all possible.

Some families would quietly absorb the child into the family group, others would have their 'errant' daughter sent off to be confined in a mental institution, there are many cases documented where this resulted in the women being incarcerated for decades, simply because they had a child out of wedlock.   

I won't explore all the avenues of thought and fact on this subject, tempting as it is, I will try to stick to the story.

Cissie had met the love of her life, we don't know how or when.    It was scandalous enough to become pregnant, but the 'sin' was compounded by the fact that he was a married man and already had a family!

Cissie, a spinster, had lived at home with her parents, in Middlesex.     My grandfather, and his first family, lived in Lincolnshire.      How did they meet?  Where did they meet?  When did they meet?   Forever lost to time.

My grandmother got her surname changed (by deed poll)  to match that of my grandfather, and moved up to Lincolnshire to live just a few roads away from where my grandfather's first family lived.    He no longer lived with his first family, he chose to be with my grandmother.

Today, this would be a fairly unremarkable story, but it all happened almost a century ago and must have been quite scandalous.

Somehow it was all 'managed' and grandfather's two families (the children, not the first wife) became friends, indeed we still are to this day.      Of the enormous pool of relatives, the ones we mostly socialise with are from this branch of the family and Cissie is still remembered with enormous affection by those few remaining ones who are old enough to remember her.

My great grandfather was never mentioned in family folklore, so perhaps he disowned his daughter for bringing such shame upon the family!    Maybe he was as strict and unbending as his own father was reputed to have been. 

Great Grandma was quietly supportive;  my mother used to delight in telling me about the enormous wicker hampers, filled with food and clothes,  which her grandma regularly sent to them, right up until her death when my mother was ten or eleven years old.

My mother, born six and a half years after her sister, knew about the other family, visited them, played with them and loved some of them.      She grew up believing her parents to be married, but hadn't given it much thought, until she fell in love with my father.

They became engaged, began to plan their wedding.   Documents were required for the legalities.   To her total devastation she discovered that her parents had not been married and that she, to use her own word, was a bastard.     That had a deeply wounding and profound effect on her and scarred her for the rest of her life, but that is another story.