history, Home, Inspiration, Laughter, love, real life, Spirit and soul

Billy Joel

What evokes memories for you? For me its music and songs.

I hear a song, or a particular singer, and it takes me instantly back to a time when those songs were being
played on the radio, or on an old record player. It drags me back to a different time, and often a different kind of life.

I was washing the dishes today, when I thought I would listen to some songs by Billy Joel. For those of us of a certain age, those songs will take you right back to the 70’s & 80’s! His songs were so very innocent, to me at least. All about America and the different types of people who lived there, the Italians, rock and roll and Jazz.

In the early 80’s I shared a house with a group of people from all walks of life. A university student & a guy who was a small time drug dealer amongst other things. A chef and his girlfriend who worked in a restaurant in Putney, South West London- they lived a topsy-turvey life, working evenings, and late into the night. Coming home anywhere between 11 o’clock and midnight. We can’t forget they didn’t have those late night licences and opening hours then.  Neighbours would turn up – and the party would begin -the mad mechanic called Steve and the guy who was an artist and a writer who looked like cat weasel with his wild grey hair and beard and his amazing knitted jumpers, they were the few I remembered! Have you ever tried to sleep when there is a ‘party’ going on? Me neither I’m a very sociable person when I want to be.   Of course it was very bohemian life style – mattresses on the floor, and old leather sofas. The loud music and the ‘cigarettes’ being passed around. They soon got fed up with asking me to partake, I wasn’t interested. Very naïve of me their life style – but I was a 20 year old, not long out of the Welsh valleys.  In fact I have to say I had no idea about that life style.

What a short interesting time in my life that was. We all moved to the YMCA in Surbiton in 1981 after the lease of the house expired. A short life lesson learned for me I know. And as Billy Joel is still playing, it again takes me back to that house where I celebrated my 21st Birthday and learned to appreciate neat Jack Daniels.

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Animals and birds, Families, history, Home, Inspiration, Laughter, real life, Spirt and soul

36 Steps

13 steps from the street to the house,
13 from the back of the house to the garden,
10 from the garden to the lane at the back.

A treacherous journey between the grey walls of hand hewn rock,
and green moss.
Slipping and sliding over wet slabs of paving.
To the house,
to the garden,
to the lane at the back.

The outside lavvy, a cold and scary place
spiders ready to jump,
just as you settled in for your constitutional.
The cold wet chain hanging from the white porcelain tank.
Daren’t spend too long,
not even ½ pennies worth!

Ivy covered walls to the garden,
The first step too tall for little legs.
The 2nd 3rd and 4th much easier.
Then up to the top –
you felt you had already climbed the mountain!

The sloping garden, no grass
but full of plants and flowers.
A fir tree to climb
and a shed, with a coal hatch never used!
The shallow steps up to the lane.
And freedom.

Blackberries to pick
Floxgloves to wear on fingertips
Chickens to tease,
horses to feed,
paths to climb,
newts to catch,
tadpoles in jars.
And mountains to slide down on trays!

Those were the days of my youth!!!!

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divorce, Families, Family, Inspiration, Laughter, loss, love, marriage, New life, real life, Spirt and soul, women

Life after divorce.

I married relatively young. I was 22 when I married. I was 27 when I divorced.

I had known my husband since I was 19, and during those 8 years of marriage I had settles into a life of friendship and solidarity with those around me. They were mostly his friends. I made my own circle of friends with those I worked with. But we tended to socialised with his friends and their wives.

We went to weddings, saw babies arrive and shared their lives of both joy and sadness.

Then just like that it all disappeared. On 16th October 1987 our marriage was dissolved – as the official paper work says – and on 10th December 1987 that was it. Final. The final piece of paper was issued, and my marriage, and my life as I knew it was ended.

My girl friends who were married to my then ex-husband’s friends all disappeared as if I had never been part of their lives.  It was before the days of technology, if you wanted to meet with someone you rang them from your home phone. When they were home from work. There were no mobiles, no social media.  No easy way of contacting someone. So when I left my relationship – I left the old way of life behind.

Of course you have the wedding photos and holiday snaps in an album to look at. And that was the difficult part, as it was painful reminder of how full my life has been before my divorce. Those women had stood by me through the joys of wedded life and the pain and sorrow of infertility. Then after the separation – the breaking of ties with my past life.

How could I ask my female friends to stand by me, while their husbands stood by my ex. It was an impossible ask, and so they fell away like autumn leaves from a tree. I would not ask for divided loyalties. And they would not have to know the horrors of my final months and the sadness I had to endure.

Then 20 years later, when lives were very different and I had certainly moved on, a face from the past appeared. One of those lovely old friends of time from long ago, someone who had helped me to learn to drive, who sat with me while I drove us around for practice.  She was a friend of my new neighbour, what was the chance of that? As the time has gone on, we have met as a group, and I often talk of my ‘old life’. There is no animosity, only sorrow that things turned out the way they did. And shock that I had gone through my last year as a married woman to her friend in such harrowing circumstances.

And luckily she is still friends with another old friend from the group. And by the help of social media I am in contact with this very dear friend. We attended each other’s wedding all those years ago as young women and helped one another through the tougher times. And the first thing she said to me was ‘I have never forgotten you’. It brought me to tears, for all those lost years and lost laughs and memories.  

I won’t lose these friends again. We can’t catch up on my lost years of friendships – but going forward that friendship has a different feeling.  

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Inspiration, Laughter, Motivation, New life, real life, Uncategorized, Whatever, Writing

Not-so-sunny Bank Holiday

What to do on a not-so-sunny Bank Holiday?

A little bit of gardening I think, lots of weeding to do, all those little weeds that hide in the cracks of the walls, and bricks. Probably cut the grass – hubby will do that, I’ll just help move all the benches around so he can cut under them.

I’ve got a few planters around, that are looking pretty sorry for themselves, need to re fill them with fresh soil and some new plants. Probably Geraniums and Carnations. They are so easy to look after- nothing to do but water them!

I have a beautiful bird feeder that I attach to the patio door. The bravest of brave come and feed from it! Others sit under and wait for the seed to fall to the floor, and they scoop up the seeds, and fly off into the hedge at the back of the garden. I have hidden a coconut fat feeder in the same hedge, and the blue tits who aren’t so brave sit and feed upside-down on the enriched fat with meal worms in. I have a table top bird feeder too, and I put bread and more bird food on the top.

Its a simple garden but its filled with wild life. Squirrels that have made their home in and around the gardens visit to eat the fruit I leave out, apple cores and 1/2 eaten fruit left behind by the grandchildren. Bread- white, wholemeal, granary, artisan – you name it – the pigeons and magpies are there. Picking it up and shaking it from side to side, and watch in confusion as it flies off in all directions. Now this is where all the little sparrows and robins come in handy, they pick up the crumbs off the grass. Its their bite size pieces that they can manage.

Its a great place to sit and watch them all. They aren’t so brave when you sitting in the garden – but I suppose that’s to be expected isn’t it?

We have had a family of robins in the garden for 3 or 4 years now. I think there are three nests the male has, two in our garden – and one next door. You see him flying between then and back to the table or the feeder. He sits on the garden chairs waiting for me to put the food out, and then starts his little routine, bobbing through the hedge and making his way across the grass, gliding to the bottom of the table then up to the feeder, and back into the hedge again. This is the best picture I could get before they flew away.

In the spring we also have a nest of tiny black bees that have taken up residence behind a bricked up chimney. They have made use of the fact there are gaps in the filling, and over the years have made their little perfectly round entrances that they fly in and out of. We aren’t worried about them, they are not harming anyone. They avoid us, as much as we avoid them. Its nice to watch them flying in, legs full of pollen, landing on the tiny ledge, and going into the chimney.

Doesn’t look like there is going to be much of anything else going on, just a bit of bird watching today then?

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Domestic Goddess, Families, Family, history, Inspiration, Laughter, love, Motivation, New life, real life, Whatever, women

1st week of retirement

Well, I’ve got that first week over with! It was a little surreal I have to say. I have been planning this now for about a year, but because of COVID I put it on hold (together with anything real) until the planned date was the end of March 2021. So it’s been in the fore front of my mind for a long time.



How do you plan for these things? The first thing I did was to go on some retirement training provided by the organisation I worked for. I walked in foolishly thinking it would be all about the best day time TV programmes to watch, the best place to buy fluffy slippers and what is the acceptable time to open the wine and/or gin! Actually it was far more helpful than that. They spoke about investments and wills and protecting you assets for the future. Its sounds rather dull – and to be honest it was a little, but very informative. I did learn things I never knew before. It also gave you time frames for the agencies you needed to contact to start the wheels in motion for this to happen seamlessly.

My count down started in December – the day I wrote my notice, and handed it to my manager!

I have been working since I was about 16. This is the first time apart from a short period when I had my two children I haven’t had to go to work every day. Not that that was an opportunity to sit and do nothing!

My first Saturday job was in the good old fashioned shop F.W.Woolworth It’s a long disappeared shop from the high street. In 2008 the chain went into administration and all shops had closed by the following year. It was a well know shop famous for its pick ‘n’ mix sweets, and ability to sell just about everything. Vinyl records, books, garden plants and tools, ladies underwear. Tinned foods, paint, nuts and bolts, children’s books and toys. The shop I worked in was in a little Welsh high street in the Rhondda. At the time I worked there we were in the throes of some dangerous activities in the British Isles. They called it the ‘Troubles’ – fighting in Northern Ireland spilling out to England and to Wales. I add this to my story – as the first job each Saturday was checking under the counters and displays for bombs! Seems odd now when you say this out loud – but the organisation involved had been known for placing incendiary bombs in shops and places where crowds of people met. Luckily I never found anything like that – just a few Riley’s chocolate toffee rolls and jelly babies that had fallen off the plastic scoops the day before and rolled under the cabinets!

I next worked for a few weeks before Christmas in a fruit and veg wholesalers, making up orders, weighing fruit and veg, and packing them into large cardboard boxes ready for deliveries. Problematic? Yes  – I didn’t know the difference between a Satsuma and a Mandarin orange. Or the different cabbages and potatoes. I soon learned!

My next job was as a waitress for a catering company. They generally did weddings, and anniversary celebrations. A great place to work as a 17 year old. Lots of banter from the ‘older’ waitresses – who were probably only a few years older than me – but seemed so much wiser on how the world – and the minds of men – worked! An eye opener to be certain. I worked here most of the time I was in college, it gave me the money to be able to go out and party. It was hard work, trying not to tip plates of food down the dresses of brides! The wedding venue was above a row of shops – the kitchen was at the back of the shops- a logistical nightmare. Although there was a dumbwaiter lift that took the food from the ground floor to the venue, the empty plates were carried down by the waitresses!  One advantage was that at the end of the night – the company took everyone home in a mini bus, more opportunity to listen to more about these young women’s lives. And I saved money on bus fare!

I left home the day after my 19th birthday, and moved to London as a nanny. I’ve worked in a makeup factory on the production line,   I then moved into the offices sales. From there I worked for an insurance company in the sales office – before computers – manually working on their sales cards. What a job!

I tried working in a pub – but that only lasted 1 week! It was too complex for me to remember the drinks, the prices of each drink, and then using a manual till and giving change- all while smiling and looking like I knew what I was doing – no chance…  I’ve typed architectural reports, sent messages on telex machines for the tax office, worked for a local hospital in the Nurse education department typing and preparing exam papers, I’ve typed meeting minutes as the secretary to the chair of the board of governors at a local school, produced a newsletters for the local scouts and organised fund raising events. I’ve been a pot washer and a waitress in a local restaurant.   I’ve cleaned offices, and polished brass handrails. And I’ve sold eggs on my own market stall! Whew! Lots of those job gave me the money to put down a deposit on a flat with my boyfriend.

I’ve  worked in a stationery company as an import sales clerk, a PA to the operations director, and then a computer operator – all for the same company over a span of 5 years. I them moved to an insurance company where I was an assistant manager.  

Then I had my two babies. But I didn’t give up work, I was my husband’s book keeper, and I did regular deliveries across south London while carrying my babies in their little carry tots in the car.

When my youngest was 4 weeks old- I went back to work as an early morning cleaner in the local Beefeater restaurant, while my hubby looked after the two boys until I came home and he went to work.  I’ve worked in Waitrose as an early morning cleaner and in a private hospital as an evening cleaner and seamstress.  Things were tough and I did what I had to do to keep food on the table and to stop us from going under.

I’ve worked as a book keeper for a carpet shop, and managed one of their shop. I’ve worked in a centre for Adults with Learning Disabilities, a fruit & vegetable import company as a sales clerk, then an Office manager in a team that provided wheelchairs. Finally I’ve spent the last 17 years &  ended my career as a Lead Administrator for a mental health service! Although during those 17 years – I didn’t let the grass grow under my feet – I was offered two secondments. Firstly within the performance management team – looking at data and how to improve things. And as a project manager working with a team who were undergoing change.  I’ve also done my sons paper rounds when they were ill, and to give them a weekend off every so often.

Is it time for me to hang my gloves up? No chance – I’m not ready to stop yet. My brain is still active, and so are my fingers. I’m looking to start some training that will allow me to go into schools and read with young people. Reading – whatever it is – is the way to learning, and independence. And as an avid reader – it hasn’t done me any harm through my life has it?

For someone who didn’t do very well in her exams, didn’t go to university – I’ve realised that life hasn’t been about learning on paper- but learning through experience. Maths isn’t my strong point. But working in retail has helped, especially when the business is yours- you don’t want to give the wrong change it’s your profit! I had an amazing accountant who helped me understand VAT when it was 15% then 17.5%, and suddenly the maths fell into place, by using it for practical matters! Making what little money you have go round also sharpens your sense of budgeting, and with it – maths!

For me retirement is about doing things at my pace, and if I want to work on days it suits me. I’m lucky to be able to do this now, and not when I’m too old to enjoy the choices.

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Families, Family, Inspiration, Laughter, loss, love, real life, women

Mother

Tomorrow we say goodbye to my mother-in-law Maureen. She has been with me through the fun times, through silly times, the sad times of loss and the happy times of marriage and children.

I knew her longer than I knew my own mother. My father in law graciously gave me away at our wedding as I had already lost my dad and my lovely mum. We are a family unit and always will be. I wanted to write something for her funeral to be read out, but didn’t have the courage to do something, so I wrote something for my hubby – her adorable son – to write on the card for her flowers from us.

You will always be my mother
and I’ll miss you every day.
I’ll miss your disposition
and the thoughtful things you say.

Your gentle touch and shining eyes
will just be a glimpse away.
I won’t ever forget you mum -
here in my heart each day.

And of course I write this for my mother – who I miss every day.

<a href="http://<span>Photo by <a href="https://unsplash.com/@franho?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText">Francesca Ho</a> on <a href="https://unsplash.com/s/photos/yellow-flower?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText">Unsplash</a&gt;http://<span>Photo by <a href=”https://unsplash.com/@franho?utm_source=unsplash&amp;utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_content=creditCopyText”>Francesca Ho</a> on <a href=”https://unsplash.com/s/photos/yellow-flower?utm_source=unsplash&amp;utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_content=creditCopyText”>Unsplash</a></span&gt;

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Inspiration, Laughter, love, mental health, real life, social media, Spirt and soul, Whatever, Writing

The Wordsmith

 

The Wordsmith is a solitary bird

Imagination jumping from rock to boulder

Sadness to sunshine

Reflecting and refracting.

A colourful imagination

And maybe a darker soul.

A quick wit with a slow burn.

Seeing things other see

But in a different language.

 

How many of us hide a Wordsmith in our heart?

 

Thinking, writing, re-writing

Paper, scraps or brightly coloured pages.

And pens or stubbly pencils

Or a simple keyboard.

The end is nigh and peace comes.

The jumbled thoughts march,

March in lines across the page.

Uniform only in colour, no rhythm

No rhyme, or regimented and lilting.

 

Written in private, written for reading

Written for The Wordsmith, or the extended Family.

Does it matter?

It takes two!

The humble Wordsmith and the reader

Read with passion and tears and laughter.

The reader putting soul into the bones of the words.

 

Enjoy – go forth and share,

Or keep privately in your heart and your head

And in your note book with flowers on the pages.

 

 

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Animals and birds, history, Inspiration, Laughter, real life, Spirt and soul, Whatever

Something to make us smile

Today we are just a little part of history. And we need to make sure that we stay grounded to get us through the next few weeks and months.

This is a picture blog from me. Hope you enjoy some of the things that make me smile and laugh.

Enjoy!

sentry crow

When you need someone to protect you, why not use a sentry crow!!

roe deer

Oh Deer Deer, is there enough for me to eat here?

crowds of ducks

If I stay still, they might not notice I’ve got duck food in my hand!

ducks shopping

Come on ducky, I cant see any duck seed in there!  

smiling squirrel

Any chance you have some food in there? Please? Pretty please!

greedy squirell

Might be good enough….

bottom squirrel

Gymnastics for squirrels

 

 

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Inspiration, Laughter, real life, Uncategorized, Whatever, women, Writing

Is it twilight or night time?

That time of night when the bedroom is dark, but just light enough for you to get out of bed without banging your foot on the bed side table, or falling over the random pair of shoes you have left under the radiator.

Enough light for you to head down the stairs to the peace of the kitchen to make a sneaky cup of tea and toast.

What are you doing!!!!! It 4am.

It shouldn’t be any time to be creeping around the house. It should be the time you are snuggled up in bed – asleep. Not tonight though. You wake up for some unknown reason, and that’s it…..

If you were an author and writing a book about those romantic twilight hours when the world is asleep, but animals and young lovers are bight eyed and busy tailed, it would sound plausible. But I’m not an author. I’m not writing a book about the misty twilight hours. I’m writing about the night time- yes lets address this as it is. The middle of the night when the rest of the northern hemisphere should be asleep – and you are awake!

Shall we start this again?

That time of night when the bedroom is dark, and cold. The light from outside fights its way through the blinds, and as you turn around in bed for the 10th time at 3.30am it shines right in your eyes! Your husband’s phone has pinged a few times, and when you unplug your phone from the charger a WhatsApp message comes up and lights up the whole room. It’s from your son telling you he has landed in some far off place at 2.30! No wonder you are awake – it’s like Piccadilly Circus.

That’s its then. The ‘thought worm’ enters your head – well to be honest he is actually always there, but he loves the twilight hours! There is absolutely no chance of any sleep now.

Good Morning!

 

 

 

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Animals and birds, Domestic Goddess, Families, Family, Food, Inspiration, Laughter, love, real life, Whatever, women

Who is in control?

I’m away on holiday with my other half. We are celebrating his birthday.

I love to be organised.  I need to have things in order, what I’m eating, where I go. My work needs to be arranged in advance. So when I’m on holiday I find that I’m a little out of my depth! Others are doing things for me, making my decisions. And will have had to be organised in advance, so I literally don’t have to be.

I find it a little disconcerting.

Of course I love being looked after and relish the idea that I don’t have to cook or wash up. But I have to make the bed, tidy the pillows and push the chairs back. I even wash the little cups before the cleaners come in to the room in the morning. Yes – I’m the woman who has to clean the house before the cleaner comes in – if I had a cleaner…

We are in a complex, in an apartment. That is a posh hotel room – with a little kitchen. We are overlooking a beautiful golf course, surrounded by trees. The geese fly over head to get to the lakes that surround the accommodation, and squirrels run up and down the trees finding their next meal. Of course the place is kept spotless. The cleaners wizz around on their bikes, and the maintenance people are in electric vans. They have it down to a tee.  Each villa and apartment is made with the same material and fitting so when something brakes they don’t have to work out what is needed – its all the same, so is easy to repair or replace! Brilliant, quick and efficient!

For someone who is so organised and controlling – this is the place of my dreams!

Now we are going for dinner tonight. It has taken us a few attempts to decide what restaurant we want to go to. We wrote the names of all the choices on pieces of paper, and picked the one that we were going to tonight. Please don’t tell me we are the only ones who do this. In fact I find it focuses the mind! If our first choice isn’t really the one we want to go to – we discard it and actually commit the one we want to go to!  So we are going out for a steak to the French restaurant, and if I can I will sit on the right hand side, near the window so I can watch the world go by!

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