Saturday 30 December 2023

Libraries I Have Known

 I have just finished reading The Lost Bookshop.  I was desperate to know how things were resolved, but at the same time I didn't want to get to the end.

I don't want to spoil the book for anyone who hasn't read it so I won't reveal the plot, but I will say that it covers multiple timelines with beautifully drawn characters, and features social injustice, romance and just enough 'magic' to make it very special indeed.

Books have always featured large in my life.  So have libraries.  I fell to thinking about the libraries I have joined and enjoyed throughout my life.  I can quite clearly recall eleven of them, although there could well be a couple I have missed out like the mobile libraries.

The hushed libraries of old were very different from the bright and cheerful (noisy) places of today.  There are no strict librarians shushing the noisy folk, more is the pity.  

On one recent visit to the library in Louth, there was a woman loudly counselling someone who had relationship issues.  There was no escaping her booming voice, she was not discreet.  It didn't seem to upset the chap she was talking to for he asked if he could see her again next time.

These charming old cottages are just across the road from the library (the building with the green sign) I was going to take a quick snap of the library but the rain was tipping down and I abandoned the idea.  The cottages are much more attractive anyway.

I have delighted in borrowing books from libraries large and small, British libraries, several abroad, even the tiny one at a Seafarers Centre.   I remember the pleasure and the excitement of using each and every one of them.

Irritating as it is to hear loud voices, or excited chatter, it is also reassuring when I see that some schools do take their smaller children around showing them how to use a library.  I hope that some of those little ones are starting out on a reading adventure which will give them such pleasure for life.

Linda - one of these days I must try the Greek lemon and eggs thickening method.  Knowing Jonny and Mingming, I imagine they will be very spicy - put in an order and she'll go easy on the spices for you!

Joanne - Isn't it funny the memories which are there, just waiting for something to trigger them, then whoosh! we are back in the moment.  I am happy to say the new little pump is doing sterling work, which is just as well because we have had several hours of rain again.

Friday 29 December 2023


 Christmas was quiet, but very enjoyable.  

The leftovers have been eaten, and the turkey carcass is on the stove, simmering away to make a nourishing stock for soup.  George is a happy man as he has a stash of new books waiting to be read and an even larger stash of chocolate.  Happiness!  

Frankie and Harry have gone off with their parents to have their first taste of ice skating, Frankie has been very keen to have a go.  Davina, her mum, is also eager to get back on ice - it must be over 20 years since she last skated.  It should be interesting.

George and I have been working out.

Parsonage Cottage is not connected to mains drainage, instead we have to rely on soakaways assisted by a small submersible pump.  This usually works perfectly adequately but we have had a considerable amount of rainfall in a fairly short period of time.  The pump gave up the ghost the other evening.  By the next morning some serious drainage work was required.

Imagine, if you will, the equivalent of a deep well filled with grey water (nothing disgusting, just household water) which was overflowing through the floor of the garage.   We two oldies quickly donned work clothes, rubber gloves and wellies then gathered up a quantity of buckets and set to work.  I could have done with a milkmaids yolk for my job was to carry the buckets to the lower hedge and empty them.  It took quite some time but probably helped burn off some of the Christmas calories.

A new submersible pump has now been fitted and normal service has been resumed.  How easy it is to forget these hardworking little pieces of equipment which just beaver away in the wet and dark places.  Life in the countryside.

We will be heading into Louth tomorrow,  George will check on your house, Jonny & MM.  While he does that I will go to the greengrocers to top up our supplies of fruit and vegetables.  

Jonathan sent this photograph of some spicy pork sausages which Mingming has made for him.  I can think of a few meat-eaters over here who would happily tuck into some of those, especially if they were sliced and topped a pizza, they love their chorizo pizzas.

Susan Heather, Jan, Linda, Frugally Challenged, Henny Penny and anyone else who has recently commented: Thank you.  I wish you Health, Wealth and Happiness for the New Year.  

Monday 25 December 2023

Merry Christmas!

 Merry Christmas!

I got up at 5am, sorted out breakfast for the cats, then put some special Christmas coffee into the percolator which belonged to my parents.  My brothers and I bought it for their silver wedding anniversary gift, which makes it at least 51 years old.  It still works perfectly and I like to use it on special occasions remembering good times with them.

As I sipped my second cup there was a scratching sound at the window, Davina had arrived to start the task of taking a surprise gift over to her house.  A drum kit for Frankie.  

In the darkness of the early morning we trotted back and forth across the garden, quiet as elves to deliver it.  It is not the first time that Parsonage Cottage has been used to store surprise gifts.  

With Jonny and MingMing in Shanghai this year, and our older son and the three grandsons at their home in London, we expect to have a fairly quiet day.

Only fairly quiet, because Davina and her family will come across to open the gifts we have bought for them.  They will have some coffee or a cheeky little Bucks Fizz and then they will melt away until we make the trek across the garden and go to their house for Christmas Dinner.

It should be a jolly affair as we will be joined by the other set of grandparents.  We will stay long enough to share the celebration meal and then play a silly game or two.  The other grandparents see far less of Frankie and Harry so we like to let them have a clear run for the rest of the afternoon and evening.

We will come back home, take off our finery and kick off our shoes, possibly have a nap, read a book and enjoy a small tipple of something special and make some calls although none of that will happen until the demands of the cats have been met!

Jonny, MingMing, I send all love to you.  We miss you but hope that you have dined out and had some fun with your friends.  

My blog-world friends, I hope that you have a wonderful day, whichever way you choose to spend it.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday 23 December 2023

A Magic Lantern Show & Carols

 This small country church was built in the Georgian style in 1738 on the site of a larger building.  It seats 100 people; we numbered a few less than that, around 60-70,  but it felt comfortably full.  

Unlike the Carols by Candlelight of last weekend, this time we did have a priest, Father Terry, a retired vicar from slightly further south in Lincolnshire.  He was accompanied by his very well behaved, and elderly, dog, Barney.  

Speaking of dogs, there were at least two other dogs in attendance, one a miniature rough coated Dachshund, the other was a charming medium-sized dog who reminded me of Pip - but only in looks.  Where Pip would have been looking to cause maximum mayhem this dog was content to sit and watch the proceedings.

Mulled wine, mince pies and cream were served afterwards along with mugs of hot chocolate topped with squirty cream piled high with mini marshmallows scattered over the top - adults had theirs with a little tot of something extra to warm their toes, allegedly.

There was one unexpected visitor, a very large black moth.  I am not a fan of moths but I am happy to say that it kept well away from the candles, and there were many.  

After the readings, prayers and carols we were treated to a very unexpected 'Magic Lantern Show' with the slides used to illustrate some of  of the carols.

Talking of magic, the village was the home to a magic wand 'factory' for many years.  I don't know where it was located but after the company went out of business the property reverted to residential.

I said that this church is located in a village, and so it is, but not a village in the sense that there are any shops, pavements or parking places available and very few houses.   We have to park along a dark lane, squeezing into the hedge, then make our way along mostly unlit lanes to the welcoming entrance to the church.

Luckily, one house had helpfully placed Christmas lights all the length of their hedge, which made it a little easier to see our way.

We also had our trusty torches with us and were well booted to make our way along the dark muddy lane.  

All part of the fun of the evening.

Again, it was a great way to spend time with a slightly different community.  There are two more local Carols by Candlelight events which I could attend, but probably won't.  Don't want to spoil a good thing.

Sue in Suffolk - Hello and Merry Christmas!  I closely follow your monthly library book posts - they have proved to be most helpful.  I hope you will be seeing all your grandchildren for the holidays.

Rachel - Thanks for the advice, I will do a bit more tinkering and have a go at some point.

Linda - I hope you are able to save those photographs.  I find that my original blog, along with this rather newer one, have quite a few little treasures which I have posted over the years.

Joanne - It was another very special and enjoyable evening.  Miss Read would have enjoyed it but it would have been far too tricky to try to get her safely installed there.

Billy Blue Eyes - Don't worry, I remember that you are a really good cook.  I was actually teasing my husband with those comments, he can almost open a tin of beans and make toast these days, he just doesn't!  This small country church (we are lucky to have so many small, but perfectly formed, ones around here) but it is well loved.

gz - the church stands on the site of an earlier, larger, church which was abandoned in 1735.  There was a very large country house not far away and an old coaching inn which dated from the early 1500's although the present building is not quite that old, nor is it still an inn, that business closed about a decade ago.

Friday 22 December 2023

Belated Replies & Another Carol Service

Rachel Phillips - Apologies for the delay, and thank you for the greeting.  Happy Christmas!

Linda, Vicar, and Susan Heather - thank you for your early greetings and your comments on the previous post.  Frankie has very clear ideas about the man she will consider marrying while she pursues her career.    I wish you all a Happy Christmas!

gz - Season's Greetings!  Thank you for the welcome.

I should have responded to these in my second post - sorry.  I was too focused on trying to get the technology to work.

 Jonny and MingMing - thank you so much for the lovely Christmas hamper.  A wonderful surprise and very much appreciated by your Pa and I. xxx

Today has been spent dropping off a few Christmas cards and gifts to friends in the village.  It is still very windy, but much safer than it would have been had I attempted it yesterday.  It was good to get some fresh air and stretch my legs.

I also spent an hour or two trawling through my old camera discs, rediscovering photographs which I thought I had lost forever.  One or two of them may find their way into some posts.  It is so interesting to be able to read the date line on each one, trouble is that it underlines how quickly the years whizz by.

This evening Davina, Frankie and I are heading out to a nearby village church for another Carol Service.  Frankie is doing the reading - something which doesn't faze her at all.  This is the tiny church where she and Harry attended Sunday School for so many years, they both loved it.

It is set in another very small village with a small population, but the properties are considerably more expensive than those around here.  It has hosted some very famous names from the music world because there is a recording studio there.  

Enough of my ramblings for today.  Jonny, MM, stay safe and warm - your dad told me about how low the temperature is over there at the moment - and once again, many thanks for the gift.x

Thursday 21 December 2023

I Don't Want to be Like You, Grandma

 Oh, the pain inflicted upon me as those words fell from her lips.  😉

Captain Hook, when she was in her final year of primary school.

A couple of days ago, while we were having tea, Frankie announced that she does not plan to be like me.  She won't be a housewife who has to cook meals for everyone and do the cleaning.

Good for her!

She doesn't quite know what she does want to do, but when she chooses a husband, he will have to be willing to do the cooking and the cleaning...  Good luck on that one.  Not so difficult with the cooking, perhaps, not so sure about the rest.

Linda, no sunshine just grey skies and gales.  I haven't checked yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if the wreaths I made for the gates haven't blown all the way into the North Sea!   Have you had one of those wonderful sweet treats yet?

Bovey Belle, I was so very sorry to read about all the "challenges" you and Keith are facing.  I know you are a strong woman but I hope you get some help soon.
Millie has decided to ignore the tree now, not sure if she is just lulling me, waiting for an opportune moment to have fun.  Your household of cats keep you on your toes, but they are definitely worth the trouble.  I hope things pick up soon for both of you.

Hello Joanne, lovely to hear from you.  I will tell Miss Read about the booklet, she will be thrilled by the news.  As to the church, we will continue to do what we can, also trying to add a few more events to interest other people.  The fight continues.

Susan, Millie is a minx, don't be fooled by her angelic looks!  She is one of those cats who is all charm one minute and then suddenly the claws and the teeth sink into her innocent victim, usually me.  Sweetness and light follows, for a while!   

Tuesday 19 December 2023

The Guilty Party


She protests her innocence, but I know better.  I caught her in the act.  She has never really embraced the art of tree climbing, unlike Sparky in her youth, but she just couldn't resist the bright shiny balls dangling just within reach. 

The Christmas tree is safe as long as I make sure that Millie has some baubles to scoot around the floor of the kitchen.  

Next task is to try to clean that cute little face - easier said than done, she is a wild child when it comes to matters of hygiene.

Our reliable old workhorse of a washing machine finally gave up the ghost, after 16 years of service.  The men have just delivered and fitted the replacement, so once it has finished doing a special cycle to clean out the drum I will be able to set it it to work.  The laundry basket is full to the brim after a week without a working machine.

Yes, we could have done some things in the good old fashioned way, but not with the weather as it has been. 

Talking of weather - remember this lovely afternoon, Jonny & MM?  

Hubbard's Hills in the warmth of a September afternoon.

Happy memories.  We could do with some of that sunshine now.

Once again, thank you for the lovely comments.

Frugally Challenged - I am glad you agree.  My strong sense was that we had managed to include several people who would not normally step inside a church.  It was nice to see them.  My daughter chuckled when I told her that a blog-friend vicar had commented.  She wanted you to know that her preference is for a bit more of the High Church experience, unlike her mother.   Miss Read is amazing.  She is less mobile, almost blind, but she keeps on going.  I love chatting with her, she is dear to me.

Linda, I wish you could have been there, I know you would have enjoyed it though I fear that even with the heating you would probably have been chilled to the bone!

Anonymous, we will fight as hard as possible to hang on to it.

Susan Heather, we would have enjoyed your company.  I know you would love this little church with all the history that goes along with it.

Joanne, Lovely to see you dear friend!  I am delighted to say that we raised a lot more than we expected.  Trouble is that we need to multiply that by several thousands to do all the work needed.  We will do our best.

Monday 18 December 2023

Candlelight, Holly, and People

 One wreath made and delivered to a friend.  I am always amazed at how much greenery goes into one wreath.  I walked around the gardens and Owl Wood, cutting and snipping, filling a very large trug to add to the Christmas tree offcuts.  The massed greenery looked sufficient to make three wreaths.  Ha!  No, later today I will take a wheelbarrow around with me, that should hold enough for the large wreath for the courtyard gates. 

A bit more padding out and that was the first one ready.

The big event of the day was the Carols by Candlelight.  We have no vicar, haven't had one willing to take over the 9 churches in this country parish for a number of years now, so it is run and organised by the three churchwardens, some retired school teachers, and me.

The church is perfect, not too large, not too small.  It is, however, falling into disrepair, damp being the worst problem.  Every penny raised from last night will go towards maintaining the place.  It needs so much more.  It is the kind of place which that dreadful Archbishop would probably be happy to sell off.  We mustn't let that happen.

Last night it was filled almost to the brim with people aged from well into their 90's, right the way down to a 6 month old baby.  It was a happy gathering, the largest we have had since we put on the first one, three years ago.

The atmosphere was jolly, lots of goodwill, happiness and the singing was much improved on previous years.  There were people from at least five or six different villages, including (methinks) some who sing in a choir.  Indeed, two of them looked as though they could sing some rather good sea shanties, but instead they belted out the carols and other jolly songs.  We were also treated to the first verse of 'Once in Royal David's City' being sung by a superb, properly trained singer.   Spine tinglingly good.

Darkness had fallen and the only thing lighting the countryside was the light from the arched church windows.  Torches were necessary to help pick our way through the graveyard, past the ancient yews, and into the warmth of the church - warm because the heaters were on, a rare treat.

Candles in all the windows, lots of red-berried holly strewn around and warmth.  It wasn't just the warmth from the heaters, it was the warmth of friendly folk gathered together.

I ran the raffle, so most of my time was spent selling the tickets, ably assisted by Frankie.  It was easy selling them, the prizes on offer saw to that, the real work came in folding and tearing the tickets for the draw.   

Miss Read was there; I managed to have a couple of chats with her.  She told me about the old heating system and how it had to be lit two days before a Service and the aisle carpets rolled back to allow the heat to rise from the pipes below.  

After the singing and the readings we served mulled wine, coffee and mince pies.  Yet more tickets for the raffle were sold, which made for some rather frantic folding before we moved onto the draw.

First prize was a Christmas Hamper filled with some delicious Christmas treats and wine.  That was won by a woman from the next village.   

I am delighted to say that a young girl won a very pretty angel which I had made from my old gel prints.  She had had her eye on it from the moment she saw it, totally ignoring the larger and grander one made from old music sheets.  That angel was meant for her, there was no 'fixing' the draw, she won it fair and square and was as happy as could be.  So was I.

So, for the first time in a while, our lovely old church was filled with happiness, laughter, community spirit.  I think it was a success because it was a simple gathering, simple readings, familiar songs and, dare I say it, no vicar.  

Perhaps that is a terrible thing to say but I honestly believe that a vicar would have put off at least half the people there - too much formality.  This was just a gathering, meeting and greeting old friends and new friends, community singing and some tasty treats.  

The church always has a wonderful atmosphere, I often call in when I am out walking the loop around the three villages.   Last night the building came alive.  Candlelight, holly, and people.

Once again, thanks for the comments.  Lovely to hear from you, Linda - and Billy Blue Eyes!  When time permits I will have another go at trying to find a way to comment/reply.  Too much going on at the moment.

Sunday 17 December 2023

Sunset and Cat Cuddles


At the moment I am not able to reply to comments, blogger allows me to create a post, but not to comment.  I have the same problem with other blogs.   Thank you for your comments - all of them so unexpected and gratefully received!  Merry Christmas!

We have had some wonderful sunsets of late.  This photograph gives you some idea but doesn't do full justice, they have been fiery and very dramatic.

We brought the Christmas tree inside yesterday.  The height had to be reduced by two feet, which is great because the cut branches will be useful for the wreaths I have promised to make for friends.  It has one set of multicoloured lights on - old fashioned, but Christmas tree lights were always multicoloured when I was growing up.  They gladden my heart - though for some reason the red and yellow are not showing in the photograph.

I have promised Frankie that she can dress the rest of the tree in any way she likes.  The decorations will all be cheap and rather dull, dating back at least a couple of decades, to when we lived in Cleethorpes, Jonny.  Remember Rooftops?

We haven't had a Christmas tree for a number of years, mainly because we have always had large dogs with waggly tails, as well as young and crazy cats.

Now we are left with one elderly, and one middle-aged, cat.  I feel that perhaps the tree stands a chance of remaining upright - but the unbreakable baubles are being used just in case. 

The two girls have not snuggled up like this for quite some time, they are much more likely to have a spat than a cuddle these days.  Sparky is definitely fading a little and the little ginger ninja is flexing her claws and reaching for more power.

I have a busy day ahead.  Three wreaths to make, mince pies to bake and an evening of Carols by Candlelight up at the old church.  Frankie is delighted to have been asked to do a reading and then, while coffee and mince pies are being served, she and Harry will help me to sell the raffle tickets.  

We are all missing you.

How about a blog from you two?

Glimpses of your life in China?

Saturday 16 December 2023

 A Christmas Card for Jonny and MingMing

I wish that you could be here for Christmas but, as that is not possible this year, I thought you may like to see this blog reinstated so that you can share in our festivities.

This is just quick snapshot of the sideboard in the kitchen trusty old reindeer, pinecones, candles, and your lantern, MM!

Remember, I am rusty, so having to feel my way around blogger and my phone, again.   I will do my best. 

Mum xxx