Saturday, 6 June 2009

Cyber Friends and Beaujolais

Yesterday was quite an extraordinary day. Against all wise advise I went of to meet two men I had met on the internet! Not one, who I may have been able to fight off and defend myself against had he turned out to be an axe murderer but two of the beasties!

Yes! It was the day that I had long been looking forward to when we would meet! LB is over here in England with his wife and between being dragged the length and breadth of Europe and seeing more landmarks, stately homes, places of historical value and famous cities than is healthy and wise, he managed to escape the clutches of The Itinery to spend some time meeting TS and me.

It was exciting but quite nerve wracking I have to admit, we have all talked and emailed online, I have had the pleasure of speaking to LB on several occasions since he has arrived in the UK and I had made plans by telephone with TS the previous day. We had exchanged photos so we knew who to look out for (we still managed to walk past each other at the train station and when I called to say I had arrived, TS said I think you may have just passed us, we laughed, I had spotted these two who looked a little like my prey and they had spotted me!)

I had been going to drive part of the way down and I had been dreading travelling along a once familiar route full of memories but at the last minute it was decided I would travel down to the capital by train.

I love setting off anywhere and from the moment I leave my house it is part of the adventure for me, so armed with my novel and a latte I settled myself on the train for the 75 minute journey, such relief in the end that I avoided the drive.

It was surprisingly comfortable, all greeting each other and saying hello and we made our way to a Fish and Chip restaurant not far away where we fed LB his first taste of North Sea Cod and we all chatted and laughed together, very surreal when you have only ever had communication over the net.

We exchanged small gifts and LB has promised to pass on a gift from me our mutual friend Bonnie and then we stepped out into the streets of London to explore a little.

We visited Regents Park, colourful, beautiful and sadly not as sunny as it had been the previous few days so after a photo opportunity by the fountain, we sought shelter from light rain in the park cafe and chattered more over hot cups of tea.

We took a leisurely stroll the distance back to the station they had collected me from and they said they would see me off on my train.

And now for the silly bit that neither of them know till they read this and I hope it will make them smile.

I had purchased my train ticket not knowing quite how long our day would be and so had ended up with an "Off-Peak-Super-Saver" ticket. This means I can travel at the 'discounted' rate of £47 but not until after 7pm at night. Not wanting to make them feel uncomfortable or embarrassed about leaving me stranded at 5.15pm I insisted that they leave me to peruse the new sparkly shops at the refurbished St Pancras Station and go get their tube home.

We said our warm good byes and we all parted.

I browsed the shops a little and then decided to go and see how much it would cost me to upgrade my ticket so I might travel home on the next available train. The ebony faced man behind the ticket desk examined my ticket and punched lots of keys on his keyboard, he hmmm'd and mmmm'd and pressed a few more options. "It will cost you £67 madam" he said.

I smiled my sweetest smile and said thank you, I think I shall go an have a coffee until 7pm

I wandered back towards the shops spying a modern bright wine bar full of travellers waiting, meeting and passing the time I thought I would go in there, it was after all around 5.45 by now and quite a decent time to consume alcohol not accompanying food!

I was served straight away by a tiny attractive very french barman and I ordered a large glass of red wine.
He asked which one in a thick accent and I told him I trusted his selection. "But vot du you like? *****? or ******? Fruity? ******? Fullbodied?"

As it was only fruity or full bodied that I could make out I smiled sweetly once again (I was making a habit of it today!) and said fruity would be wonderful. "Beaujolais?" Perfect I said with confidence.

He presented me with my glass of lovely 'large' glass of wine. Oh the glass was large alright but to me it was half empty!!

"Zat vill be £7.10" he crooned in his thick accent

I placed my most serene look on my face selected a crisp new £10 note from my purse and passed it to him with grace (trying to keep the 'I can get 2 bottles for that price' look out of my eyes)

I took a seat half way inside the bar and settled myself. I took out my book and sipped my expensive 'large' glass of Beaujolais, I silently toasted LB and TS and smiled to myself as I enjoyed the last remnants of my adventure until my 7.15 departure back to the real world.

Cheers guys and thank you for a wonderful day

Thursday, 28 May 2009


Right outside my patio door, on the other side of a tall wall that runs the length of my garden is a beautiful tree.

It is a Linden Lime and one Britains
rarest hardwood trees. About 100 years ago, it was not considered native to the UK but it is now fully established in Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and the Chilterns in Buckinghamshire. It is a large tree and can easily grow over 120 feet high. It is apparently, far more common on mainland Europe and particularly favoured by the Germans as their "Linden Tree" and it is told that dried lime flowers make an excellent drink as lime tea.

When we moved into our 'new' home 17 years ago it was November, the end of autumn and on the brink of winter. Its branches were stark, bare and eerily naked. As spring announced its arrival so did the bud like leaves on every branch, opening and growing to create the captivating lime green canopy of shade over my patio area.

Around 5 years after our arrival the 'owners' of the neighbouring garden called in tree surgeons. Apparently the length of its branches were dangerous and it needed 'dealing' with. I listened to the noise of the power saws and watched its beautiful limbs being massacred, I wept when I stood and looked up at its remains, now dark raw stumps and wondered if my beautiful tree would ever recover.

Of course, it did. Over a few years I watched as each spring its branches grew again, thicker and stronger and longer and once again its lime canopy overhangs my garden.

Due to its delightful colour on a bright sunny day and the lending of its protective arms over the wall of my garden I have forgiven it the onset of never-before-experienced-hayfever each June/July as its fluffy lime 'flowers' come to fruition and infiltrate the air with pollen, I have overlooked the litter-lout dropping of trillions of tiny dried and wizzened flowers at the end of summer and I
have watched fondly as its leaves turn hues of gold and orange and then are discarded in their thousands over the length and breadth of my garden.

And then come winter it stands brazen in its nudity, offering no defence to the birds or squirrels that use it as a playground, but stands defiantly against the elements until spring returns.

I wanted to show you my beautiful companion through the seasons.

Thursday, 14 May 2009


Among all my family memorabilia is a beautiful photograph of my parents wedding. My Mum is a twin and finding themselves both engaged the 'Crewe Twinnies' as they were known locally decided to make it a joint affair.

So it was on a sunny Saturday afternoon on the 16th August 1952 that my grandpa walked down the aisle with a bride on each arm, promising the Minister that he would have them they 'right way round' for the awaiting grooms.

At a time when there was still rationing in place from World War II their dresses were handmade by my Dads youngest sister, both identical, with matching veils, head-dresses and flowers, the only thing they wore differently was the strings of pearls around their throats.

57 years on my Mum still has her wedding gown, now yellowed and very diminutive looking, boxed up at the bottom of a chest of drawers my father made for their home. I loved looking at it and imagining being a bride as a child and now it is a wonderful fragile piece of history, stored with love, hope and memories.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Simple Times

I am fortunate to have access to many photographs of a past age. My fathers family especially had a love of photography and I have pictures that date back to the late 1800's depicting my great grandparents.

The picture above is of 3 sisters. Millicent, Jessie and Augusta.

Millie is my grandmother, my fathers mum. I remember her as an elderly bedridden woman who smoked like a chimney, had a passion for playing cards and crossword puzzles and was the owner of the thickest dictionary I have ever seen!

Gussie was a school mistress and taught English. She was very strict and believed that children should be seen and not heard. As young children we quickly learnt it was better to still perfectly still and quiet until we could escape into the back yard of the small house where the fascination of an old mangle, outside 'privvy' and a lawn roller allowed our childish imagination to conjure games.

Jessie was the last to pass away, I was 17 when she died, she was 94.
She had the most beautiful snowy white hair and the clearest blue eyes almost till the day she died. Poinsettias and Advocaat always bring back memories of visiting her at christmas time, oh and walnuts and nut crackers.

But here in this picture, their youth and beauty are captured forever, such pure simple times.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Pansy Faces

I spoke of simple pleasures in yesterdays blog. This morning I walked down to see my elderly parents and before leaving my Dad did his usual of pottering around the garden with me. He has planted huge beds of pansies and they all sat brightly in the sunshine today, even the blue ones looked merry as they displayed their funny little faces for an impromptu photo shoot.

I love the spring, with all its little bursts of colour and new life, it seems to spark new hope and smiles.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Simple Pleasures

I have had a delicious day today. I am on a weeks holiday from work, nowhere to go but as with most time at home your 'holiday' gets eaten into by everyday mundanities.
Monday saw me at home with MIL, Tuesday saw me running around with my eldest daughter keeping opticians appointments and applying for my new passport.
But today has been my day.

I have both daughters out at school and work, my husband at his place of work and MIL out all day with my brother in law. So I have had almost the entire day to enjoy.

I had a late breakfast of scrambled eggs and smoked salmon with hot black coffee. I perused my emails and sent a few messages. I put out the chairs and sunlounger and read outside in the garden for a while, then when the sun had come out fully I stripped down to my pants in our private haven of a garden and spent the next 3 hours relaxing in the sunshine.

I feel like today I have really unwound, had a wee holiday and gathered my thoughts and wits.

I feel quite calm and relaxed despite all the turmoil that is going on around me in my world at the moment. And as I sip my glass of rich red wine I am planning a shower, clean pyjamas and a fairly early night.

Today has been a day of simple pleasures and they are so appreciated