28/06/2015 § 8 Comments
Many, many years ago growing up in rural west Wales, my first boyfriend was the farmer’s youngest son from over the field. His mother was a real matriarch – 4 strong boys she raised – she was ambitious and scary and loved me like a daughter.
She ran the farmhouse like clockwork – and knew all that was happening on every inch of the farm. Pet lambs followed her into the huge cool kitchen, with its dark flagstone floor and black coal-fired range that blasted out heat even on the hottest summer day. Dogs were chased out of the kitchen with the broom – as were the hens. The boys devoured everything she cooked – and she was an awesome cook. Mostly it was good, straightforward food – nothing fancy, but lots of it. Beef, eggs, potatoes, veg from the garden and fruit from the hedgerows and kitchen garden. But when there were visitors or a fete at the village hall, she always produced the most amazing sponge cakes. I remember her telling me her secret – WEIGH THE EGGS!
Well, she left her kitchen and her sons some years ago when she was well into her 80’s. I think there was a little part of her that still loved me, at least that what she said when I last spoke to her, but I never got over the feeling that she never forgave me for marrying someone else and producing his amazing children instead of her own grandchildren. She was in tears one night, when we were visiting the village on holiday and my little brood had won some prizes in the local village fete – she sniffed into her hankie whilst sitting next to my mother and said “your grand-children should have been ours to share”! Oh dear. That’s life, I suppose and some things aren’t meant to be.
I remembered her today when I saw the little collection of eggs that Flora’s been laying over the past few days. I’ve had a dreadful lurgy/flu-like bug and haven’t been up to doing or cooking anything much. Truth to say – I’ve spent a few days in bed with a temperature and feeling very wobbly. Feeling a bit chirpier this morning, I decided to make a sponge and I followed Mrs P’s advice from all those years ago – I weighed the eggs!
Three eggs came in at 5 oz (I have imperial weights on my old scales still, which is fine because everything had to weigh the same) – butter, flour and sugar. A spoonful of freshly boiled water after mixing, to relax the mixture and WOW – a perfect sponge …
Oh, it was lovely – still is (I haven’t eaten all of it)! I know it won’t last long once my sons J1 and J2 descend tomorrow. Thank you Mrs P – I’ll always love you a little bit too, and that youngest son of yours, and your secret for the perfect sponge. Thanks too, to Flora for producing the most amazing eggs!
14/02/2015 § 8 Comments
It’s wonderful to be in love, or to have been loved, to give love, to feel love …
We often gave each other hearts – Himself and me. They were dotted around the house hanging here and there from a cupboard or hook so I decided, after decorating the bedroom that I’d like to group them together.
I rescued a silver birch branch from a local wood and on the grey feature wall in my calm and tranquil room, I gathered them together with a couple of special photographs and now I have a Wall of Hearts. The woodland theme brings me peace and the gentle fairy lights woven around white twigs, with one of my fairy light lanterns, create the softest light.
Wishing you all a LOVEly day … on Valentine’s Day.
26/09/2014 § 2 Comments
and more expertly ridden by my daughter …
I had an amazing day out yesterday, with the pretty Welsh cob shared by my daughter. What a wonderful little horse. With curry comb in hand and polo mints in pocket, I relived all of my youth and happiest days, messing around at the stables and finally having a walk and trot around the school myself. I never thought I’d ride again but once in the saddle, that magical view of the world between a horse’s ears, completely made my day.
Thank you, Thank you – C & S xxx
10/04/2014 § 6 Comments
there’s lots going on at the moment with celebrations and concerns in equal measure!
Let’s celebrate first with a week in Cornwall ::
It’s our 30th wedding anniversary on 14th April and we’ve decided to spend the whole month of April enjoying trips and jaunts around and about. We gasped as we caught our first glimpse of Porthleven harbour – still no boats. Earlier in the year, winter storms smashed the huge wooden baulks leaving boats unprotected in the inner harbour. Ten sank in the storm and the remaining fishing fleet and pleasure boats were still on land, up on their chocks in the boatyard and harbourside. Hopefully by now, they’re all bobbing about in the harbour enjoying some Spring sunshine.
The Napoleonic cannon still on the edge of the seawall since the waves moved it.
Then Cardiff for a few days …
A wonderful couple of days in Cardiff, at the St David’s Hotel overlooking Cardiff Bay. We boat tripped up the river, instead of catching a bus into the city centre. I shopped till I dropped and we had an amazing time!
We had decided not to buy each other anniversary presents, but to wait until something grabbed both of us. The art deco Smiths clock did! We loved it as soon as we saw it, high up on a shelf in a new vintage shop in Wellfield Road, Cardiff. Now it has pride of place on our mantlepiece, to commemorate our 30 years of marriage.
I then tripped off to Wales, to see Dad – the boys in tow!
Now we’ve an anniversary meal with all 3 of our children to look forward to this weekend and I’m planning a few surprises so will maybe share with you next week, after I’ve surprised them!
I’ve quilt commissions and fairs to plan for but, like a huge dark cloud over 28th April, my wonderful husband is having yet another major operation. Let’s hope the cloud of concern is quickly replaced by a silver lining and lightning recovery.
23/11/2013 § Leave a comment
but I’ve been busy!
Some of my work will have to stay secret for a while longer as a major commission has been undertaken and is probably the most amazing quilt that I’ve ever made. It’s a Christmas present from a major well-known British organisation for one of their clients – so … WOW – W O W !!!!
Fitting life in around this has been a bit of a jigsaw, but we spent a few days in Cardiff last week – thoroughly enjoyable and pictures from google (I decided not to take the camera and immediately regretted it) – I’ve linked to the photographers’ websites below.
We stayed on the fifth floor overlooking Cardiff Bay where, from our balcony, we were treated to evening displays of exquisite flight by starlings coming home to roost in the reed beds at the Wetlands Reserve. I was totally awestruck.
Cardiff is my home city and has changed dramatically since I left in the 1970’s, as a teenager. I had a whole day to myself to take the bus, browse in shops, visit the vibrant Market, have tea at St John’s Church tearoom with homemade cake. Then another bus to Albany Road and Wellfield Road, where my mother used to push me almost daily, in my pushchair. I thought about her a lot that day, remembering the material she bought for my 5th birthday dress – pink with white flock polka dots – I remember that dress so well; a painting book and paintbrush where you just added water – do you remember those books? The colours appeared magically as you washed the page with soft brush strokes, trying not to smudge the colours?
Mum loved Cardiff, she loved the buzz of the city shops, she loved the independence of her day after dropping me off at school, she knew the City like the back of her hand and drove her little old beetle car all around. Just like the one below (minus the white wall tyres) – a 1954 VW beetle called Bessie!
PPW 147 – Mum’s favourite car
We also had a most memorable evening at a very special Graduation Ceremony – an Honorary Fellowship Degree of the university where he taught for so many years, awarded in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the education of students – for Himself.
I was in the front row of the theatre as he regaled the audience and former
colleagues with hilarious tales of his working life
– back on form – on stage – a larger than life character –
my amazing husband!
So, we’ve had a memorable couple of weeks, enjoying meeting up with friends and family at home as well as jaunting through some incredible Autumn landscapes on trips out and about.
Enjoy your weekend – that Autumn light is something special this year.
04/05/2013 § 7 Comments
be with you!
The 4th of May has always been a special day – it was my grandfather’s birthday. He was a kind, gentle, wise old man. He was my Gaga – a made-up name from before I could say Grandad, I suppose. He must have been 72 when I was born and always lived with us (or we with him), I’m not sure which. He was very tall and ramrod straight, self-contained and quiet.
My grandmother had spied him walking to work in London, in the late 1800’s. She’d thought he was a policeman, because he walked so tall. She set her sights on him – I’ve no idea how – and they married. My mother was born when he and she were almost 40 years old, so maybe having children later in life isn’t such a new phenomenon. Nana died when I was 4 years old, so I grew up knowing him and feeling secure in the quiet knowledge that I was very much loved.
He loved his daily routine of a late breakfast, his newspaper, a light lunch, a very long afternoon walk with his walking stick, pottering in the garden, watching the cricket on a tiny black & white television, listening to the radio – always the news. I never remember him being ill – not ever, not even a cold.
He taught me to count – buttons in my grandmother’s button barrel. He was a huge help with any of my school history project when a wealth of interesting facts could be recalled with ease. He’d worked at a high level in the Board of Trade, as it was then, and had stood for Parliament in 1929.
I loved him dearly. He died when I was 18 and he was 90.
I’ve searched and searched for a photo, but they must all be at my home in Wales so I’ll think of him today, in a wealth of happy memories.
31/12/2011 § 1 Comment
Out with the old and in with the new!
Much as I absolutely leap with joy and anticipation at Christmas – all the excitement, decorations & preparations – once the day itself has passed I have very limited patience with all the kerfuffle!
I love the Christmas cosiness of our lounge with the tree and sparkling lights …
and once we have bid ‘Farewell’ to the Christmassy decorations on New Year’s Eve, I strive to keep some winter magic –
to prolong the chilly season and enjoy a fresh start for the New Year …
to wish for snow and enjoy my collection of Russian china and troika boxes …
to add a dash of vibrant colour with some Mary Rose Young pottery …
to keep candles and lanterns twinkling bright …
to fill the vases with fresh flowers!
Happy New Year
27/09/2011 § 1 Comment
is where the heart is …
This is my home in Wales. We moved here when I was 14 and I’ve always loved the place. One of the main attractions for me was the promise of a pony of my own! Prince was just 3 when we bought him and he lived to a ripe old age. On Sunday mornings I’d bring him to the front yard and he’d stand, with his head over the stable door, watching lunch being prepared in the kitchen and waiting for titbits!
Nestling into the side of a rolling hill, ‘Home’ has stood here for over 250 years. The walls are 2′ thick and there’s just one tiny window at the back to protect it from the draughty south-westerlies.
I’m intrigued by words and how their meanings differ as they are interpreted by individuals. Earlier on I found a definition of ‘home’ …
“Home is a house or place where a person or family lives or where someone was born”
so by rights, this home isn’t my home at all. I don’t live there any more and I wasn’t born there. But despite living in our lovely home here in the south of England, this little cottage holds a special homely place in my heart.
Maybe it’s something to do with memories and possessions that make a house a home? Many years ago, I put together a collage of photos for Mum & Dad. Some have since slipped a bit, but to tell the truth, I rather like them lopsided and overlapping …
All those memories of our little family at home – all those moments captured in an instant.
Home is definitely a special place, secure and loving with a glow that gets brighter when we imagine ourselves there or open the front door. “Honey, I’m home!”
I don’t think you have to live there to know where it is and I hope it’s OK to have more than one!
Homes Sweet Homes – wonderful!
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13/09/2011 § 1 Comment
Oh – did you see the moon last night?
Shine on, shine on Harvest Moon up in the sky;
I ain’t had no lovin’ since January, February, June or July.
Snow time ain’t no time to stay outdoors and spoon;
So shine on, shine on Harvest Moon for me and my gal.
A bright and clear harvest moon brought back memories of old-time dancing at the village hall when I was ‘just a gal’!
Our old corrugated tin village hall was packed out every Monday evening with locals, as we were led through dance steps by an impatient, upright gent accompanied by his adoring wife. There were times, when learning a new dance, that a few of us would be almost totally consumed by fits of the giggles as we attempted to ‘hover and whisk’ and waltz around the hall.
The hall itself was split level, which complicated matters somewhat! There was always the chance that an during over-enthusiastic waltz someone might miss the corner and end up on the lower level! Farmers, shopkeepers, mums & dads, teenagers & pensioners and courting couples all circled around to the music and many toes were bruised by the following morning!
On special dance nights we’d be treated to a half-time feast of tea with sandwiches, cakes and trifles. In true village tradition, nothing was ever organised – food simply appeared with some firm favourites like Mrs P’s sponge cake topped with red jam and coconut and Joan’s cream trifle scattered with hundreds and thousands!
Sometimes the farmers arrived late, if the weather had been good and the harvest was coming in. Then they’d appear all freshly scrubbed and ruddy-faced, smelling of carbolic soap and Old Spice!
All our full moons have names – now I only found that out quite recently! A little research reveals that there are often several names for the same moon, but I think that September’s moon is quite safely named the Harvest Moon as it refers to the time of year after the autumn equinox when crops are gathered in. Maybe, before mechanisation, farmers would continue to harvest by moonlight – how romantic!
May all your dreams be waltzes under the moon!
03/09/2011 § Leave a comment
I couldn’t sleep and began to think back to my childhood …
We spent every summer on holiday in North Devon. The 3 of us and our boxer dog packed into Billie for the journey and the ferry across the Severn.
I skated with Dad on the lake at Roath Park, in the winter of 1963.
Dad went to see Dr Zivago on a Saturday afternoon in 1965 – on his own!
The mountain slid onto the village of Aberfan in 1966. A generation of children in the primary school were killed. We watched grainy images on our little television and Dad took blankets to the local collection point.
Summers were long and hot. I had a tricycle with white tyres and a swing in the garden. Winters were cold and I wore a blue sheepskin coat, which lasted for several years!
I waved Dad off to work through the breakfast room window and went to a funny little school in a large house! Mum brought me home for lunch – banana sandwiches. I remember teatimes watching the television, my tea on my lap.
I loved Champion the Wonder Horse.
My grandparents lived with us and I adored my grandfather. My youngest son reminds me of him so much – calm, sensible, funny and very tall! I’m rather like my grandmother – love sewing, an unruly head of hair and firm opinions!
Sometimes it’s fun to look back and see what’s changed. I must look out some old photos next time I visit ‘home’ in Wales. Now that’s something to look forward to … but first, a good night’s sleep! What do you remember from your childhood?