Saturday, 31 October 2009

Ellie meet your Grandad.

When speaking to my niece the other day, I felt quite sad when she said she doesn't remember her Grandad, my dad. She asked me to write a blog about him. So Ellie, I hope this will help you to get know your Grandad, albeit posthumously.

My father, Brian Neville Young was two people to me. One before his stroke and one after. The first memories I have of Dad are when I was very young, I would wait for him to walk up the road when he had finished work and I would run to meet him, he would swing me up and carry me home. I was a Daddy's girl. Mum says that as I got a bit older they used to call me "The news of the World" because by the time Dad got into the house he knew everything that had happened at home that day!

Dad worked for British Rail, as a guard on the trains. My older sister, brother and I liked to travel on the train in the guards van with Dad. We would watch him wave his green flag to tell the driver all the passengers were on and it was safe for the train to pull out of the station.
As a British Rail employee Dad was a member of the railway social club and we would go, on the train, to Faversham for a night out. At Christmas there was always a big party at the club and we had a lovely tea and a present from Santa.

In the summer the club would organise a day out and the dads would play cricket and we kids played in the paddling pools. Dad always enjoyed this family time.I remember my Dad baking bread. Every now and then we would wake on a Sunday morning to the wonderful aroma of freshly baking bread. One year Dad made Hot Cross buns, they were the size of dinner plates and tasted delicious. I don't know where Dad learned his baking skills, perhaps his mother, my Nan. She was always baking. Although as a Northern family I wouldn't have thought the menfolk were encouraged to cook, surely that would have been considered "women's work"!

I think I must have been about 9 or 10 years old, when Dad decided that he would get rid of the coal fires in the house. He bricked up the grates and then decided to climb up on top of the roof to take the chimneys down. Well, I am sure there are safer ways of removing chimneys! I recall Dad hanging on to the chimney whilst hitting it with a huge sledgehammer. My mother was terrified as she watched from below. Luckily it was only the chimney that came down and not Dad.

Family holidays were usually taken in Devon and Cornwall. Dad didn't drive and the train journey made going on holiday more exciting. You might think we would have been blase about train travel, but I, for one loved it. When we arrived at our destination we would take a huge black taxi to the caravan site. Just about every holiday Dad would bury us kids in the sand, right up to the neck! or build a rowboat in the sand. I am not sure who had the most fun, the children or the parent. Dad was a child at heart.

Every Saturday we used to go shopping in town, and every Saturday Dad stopped off at the local bookmaker to place his bets. Saturday afternoon you couldn't get a word out of Dad except the "Go on boy, go on!" as his horse approached the winning post. When we were a bit older Dad would always ask us to pick a horse on Grand National day. I felt very grown up.

Mum and Dad gave some wonderful parties. I can still hear the neighbours joyful, if a little intoxicated singing as Dad mixed their drinks slightly stronger than he should have. Dad's favourite line was when he asked my mother, who's name is Iris if she would like a drink. He never failed to get a laugh when he told her "Pass your glass I". It still makes me smile even now as I write.

I remember Dad as easy going, he seemed to be content with his lot. Yes he could lose his temper, he was human. And one thing I know which had a profound effect on me was the way he called me "Thick" or "stupid". He never meant it literally, I'm sure, it was just a throw away remark when I did something wrong. But I grew up believing I was, in fact thick and stupid.

These are some of my childhood memories of my Dad. I could go on but I will stop at this point. I will write about my grown up memories in another blog. I will finish this one by saying, I loved my Dad and I still miss him.

Eagle eyed? Not!

When I came downstairs to the kitchen this morning the sun was big and bright yellow, casting a warm glow over fallen leaves in shades of Autumnal golds and oranges. I opened the back door to let Zak (our scruffy but adorable mutt) out and noticed the birds on the roof of the house opposite. Nothing unusual about that, I hear you say. Well no. Except that the birds in question are in fact Peacocks!

Surprised? I'm not. This is a common sight here. Until we moved here I thought peacocks lived on farms or in parks. But we have five peacocks that wonder down our road on an almost daily basis. Well actually one peacock, one peahen and three immature males. I am not sure what a young peacock is called, probably just a chick.

Many of our neighbours feed these majestic, rather pompous looking creatures. In fact the mature cock has a name. George, which I think is fitting as he is rather regal.

Another bird we were excited to see when we moved into our house, was an eagle owl. Yes, an eagle owl, perched on a telegraph pole just yards from our kitchen window. Philip and I were amazed and rushed for the binoculars. We focused on the bird and were watching it for at least ten minutes before we realised.... it is made of plastic! The owl is supposed to be a deterrent to other birds. The telephone company perched him there because the starlings were causing problems on the wires. Oh boy! did we feel silly! Still, we laughed and when we tell our family and friends the story they laugh too, at us probably.

Friday, 30 October 2009

A loving spoonful

Our kitchen is a hive of cottage industry! The understairs cupboard is filled with jars of home pickled onions. On top of the fridge is a huge bowl of home made mincemeat, from which I take much pleasure in stirring every time I pass. Their is a huge pan bubbling on the cooker, filling the air with wonderful aromas, apple, onion and vinegar. My eyes are stinging and my throat is sore.

But I love it!

We really are doing well with our Christmas gifts. Anyone who recieves a gift from Philip and myself should know that much love was put into the making of it and much fun and satisfaction was taken from it. I only hope that each and every recipient will enjoy eating or using their gifts as much as we have enjoyed making it.

I am trying out so many new crafts this year, I only hope I am capable delivering the goods. I wonder if Santa Clause and his helpers have as much fun whilst making their gifts! I think our job is easier though because we are giving what we think our loved ones will enjoy. Santa has to make his gifts to order.

Appologies for writing about the festive season so early. In the past I have not even wanted to hear the word "Christmas" till Decmber is upon us, but this year I am happily making plans, writing lists and making gifts. Although when it comes to my two grown up sons I have to admit I am completely stumped. Oh well I have got time to come up with the perfect gift.

Beautiful baby. I longed for you, ached for you.

I loved you from the minute I knew you were growing inside me. I didn't yet know who you were but you were my baby.

When you were born I was overwhelmed with love and wonder, and a deep, deep desire to protect you. No-one was meant to hurt you my child.

I failed, as every parent is bound to fail. We cannot keep you from sorrow or pain how ever hard we try.

You have been my life - my joy - my reason for living.

You are grown now my son. And it is I who has hurt you most. This was not my intention and it cuts me to the core to know that I have lost you.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Getting Pickled!

This morning I have achieved another first. No, I haven't walked on the moon or discovered a cure for the common cold. But I have pickled my first onions, well Philip and I did them. Philip is a pickling veteran but this is my maiden voyage in the world of pickling. The house smells of vinegar and onions and so do my hands.
It may seem silly to some , but I have a wonderful sense of achievement and pleasure from my morning's work. I am easily pleased.
What makes this all the more pleasurable is that our pickles will be given as gifts at Christmas (sorry I know it is very early to be thinking about Boxing day Eve.)
Usually I refuse to even think about the festive season untill December is upon us, but this year I am excited already and it's still October. We have decided to hand make all the gifts we will give to our friends and family. I have always wanted to do this and we have some great ideas. What I like about this kind of giving is that each gift will be personalised to the friend or family member. Which means we spend a lot of time thinking about each of our loved ones and their interests or personality. It's fun and reinforces my appreciation of them all. I am blessed with great friends and a wonderful family.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Wasted day? Oh no.

"What a wasted day!" I thought to myself as I realised that I had sat at my computer all day. I had so many plans for today. I was going to start peeling and soaking the pickling onions. They are still sitting in their skins.

I was going to write a christmas present list. I know it's still two months away, but i am making all my gifts this year. The paper is still blank.

I was going to research recipes for pickles and preserves and write a list of ingredients I need. I still don't know what I need.

And I was going to sort through my card making things to see what I need to make christmas (sorry, there it is again) cards. Needless to say I didn't do it!

I have completely wasted a whole day!

But wait just a minute..... I have chatted with at least half a dozen friends and family members through facebook and messenger, how is that wasting time? If it wasn't for my PC I wouldn't keep in touch as much as I do. Yes, there is the telephone, but it costs money and is not always convenient. I know typing messages is not the same as hearing a loved one's voice, but today I got to see instant pictures of my friend's little baby girl. And had a chat with my much loved niece in Spain.
My nieces and nephew's are spread out all over the length of the Country ( and Spain) and untill I had Facebook I didn't speak to or hear from them from one yaer to the next, now I chat to them regularly and keep up to date with what is going on in their lives. I have got to know them. So, no, I have not wasted the day. I have spent some valuable time catching up with much loved family members and friends. What could be more important?

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Supermarkets... yes they are convenient in as much as you can park right outside and you can buy everything under one roof. But I long for the return of local shops, the high street butcher, greengrocer and fishmonger. I remember as a child being taken shopping and yes, it took longer to get the weekly provisions but in every establishment we were given a friendly greeting and a smile. My mother would stop and chat whilst being served and it was a pleasant experience. These days it seems to be all about time. Rush round the supermarket no time to stop and pass the time of day.

The butcher, the baker, or the candlestick maker knew his stuff and was always at hand with advice on the best cut of meat and how to cook it, the right size loaf or the longest burning candles. Now days the supermarket staff are not usually experts in any one field and, as hard as they might try, cannot be expected to know all the answers.

Forgive my half baked ramblings, I am becoming a grumpy old woman. I must use my loaf and remember that this is progress, apparently.

Monday, 19 October 2009

As a woman of a certain age I find my memory lets me down more and more each day. I frequently find the washing up liquid in the fridge or the milk in the cleaning cupboard!!! I often forget names of people I see quite regularly. But isn't it strange how I can recall the names of classmates from 45 years ago and relive, in graphic detail, some of the things we used to get up to?
I recently found an old primary school friend through Friends Reunited. I started school with Lynn at the very tender age of four and a half and went through primary, junior and grammar schools with her. We were not always star pupils but we had some fun! Reminiscing about our childhood makes me smile and indeed laugh aloud at times. The memories come flooding back in technicolour. Name after name pops into my head and I can see the faces so clearly. I am that little girl again.

So why is it that my short term memory is so bad at times but childhood memories so clear? Alas, i think I know the answer... AGE. It gets us all in the end. But I for one will not give in without a fight! I intend to grow old disgracefully, kicking and fighting all the way. I may lose my teeth, my hair and my faculties but I will not lose my love of life, my free spirit nor my childlike ways.
I was Young in name when born and I am Young at heart still and always will be.

Now what was I saying? What was who saying? Where am I?

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Up till about two years ago I cared little if I lived or died, in fact at times I wanted to die so badly. Well more "not to live" is a more accurate disription of my feelings. Living was such a huge effort,. I was so tired that even the simplest tasks were too much. Some days I didn't have the energy to get out of bed.

What a selfish, ungrateful person I was.I knew this but that just made me feel worse. I was married to a sucessful man, I had two gorgeous sons, a lovely house in the most stunning countryside. I had holidays abroad and great friends. Yet I was In the depths of depression. I wanted out.

Now I am so thankful that I am alive. I did get out, but not out of life, just out of THAT life. Now I have a new life with a new partner in a new place. I am a new me. No, I am the real me. After years of trying to be what or who everyone else wanted me to be, I finally realised i could not be happy until I allowed myself to be me.

It is only now that I accept me for who or what I am that I can live my life fully. I don't spend a lot of time worrying about what others think of me. In fact I don't spend an awful lot of time thinking about me at all, except to delight in the way I am part of this big, beautiful world.

It is a spectacular Autumn day, resplendent in warm, rich colour and texture and I am so happy to be alive!!!

Friday, 16 October 2009

If you go down to the woods today you'll never believe your eyes.
WOW! I never knew there were so many types of mushroom growing in our woods. I certainly didn't know that there were big red mushrooms with white spots like the one in my photograph. I thought that mushrooms like this were things of fairy tales, where fairies and gnomes sit.
But I found this flyagaric mushroom very close to our home in Durham and I just had to have a picture.
I have recently entered into a new relationship with a man who is quite knowledgeable about all things wild. My very own Hugh Fernley Whittingstall. We often walk in the countryside and through woodland in search of wild mushrooms. I have a childlike fascination in nature which, until now has not been fed. We have picked and dried many different varieties of fungi and I am amazed at how different each one tastes. We are very careful in identifying each one and only eat the ones which are very obviously edible.
On our walks we have picked big juicy blackberries, cobnuts, apples, wood sorell and mushrooms. It is wonderful to forage for food and bring it home to cook, so fresh and tasty. Wild blackberry pancakes for breakfast..... YUM.

Natalie Rose

Next month, November will be the anniversary of the birth of my beautiful baby girl. Natalie Rose would be 28 years old on 25th of November 2009.

When i was a child people would ask me "what do you want to be when you grow up?" my answer would come with no hesitation " a mummy" It's true, right from a very early age I wanted to grow up and have children of my own. You might say that I was not a very ambitious child, but that was my ambition.

I was a fairly bright child and did well in school, until, that is I passed my eleven plus and was sent to Grammar school. I did not want to go, and I hated it there. I got out as soon as I could.

At 19 I married and after two years of desperately trying for a baby I fell pregnant. I was over the moon. Right from the moment I knew I was pregnant I was totally in love with my baby. I didn't yet know this tiny miracle of life growing inside me, but I would have killed for it.

On Wednesday 25th November my little girl was delivered. She was so utterly adorable. After 48 hours I was allowed to take her home. Natalie was my world. My husband went back to work after a week and I spent every minute with my little girl.

In March 1982, my husband's work took him away to Scotland and Natalie and I went to stay with my parents in Surrey, mum and dad loved having their grand daughter there. My husband drove through the night to get back early on the Friday.

The next morning, Saturday 6th March 1982 we were going shopping for a birthday present for Natalie's other grandma, my parents in law were looking forward to seeing Natalie.

Natalie was crying in the back of the car, then she went quiet and we assumed the engine noise and motion of the car had lulled her to sleep. On arriving at the shopping centre, I picked my baby up from her carry cot. Something was not right. Natalie did not stir. I turned her round to face me and saw, to my horror that her lips were blue. In a panic I pushed my baby girl into my husband's arms and screamed at him to take her somewhere for help. He ran, I threw the buggy back into the car then chased off after him. I did not know where he had gone! I rushed to the first aid post, they weren't there. I rushed into Boots the chemist. A lady from the pharmacy was holding my baby and trying to breathe into her tiny little mouth.

An ambulance came, those wonderful medics chased through the shopping centre and we followed blindly. With blue light flashing and sirens wailing we were taken to the hospital where we were told that everything possible had been done but our baby was dead.

The next days were a blur. In fact the next year was a blur for me. And 28 years later, as I write this I still feel the pain and fear that I felt on that day. I don't know how I survived this but I have. I have 2 wonderful sons now but no-one could ever replace my little girl.

Natalie lived for just 16 weeks. 16 weeks is not long but those 16 weeks are the most precious weeks of my life. I am thankful to have had my beautiful little girl and i can recall such sweet memories of her. She gives me strength.