Monday, 29 September 2008

The return of the geese, and the turnip apparently.

I know that several of you who are kind enough to follow my blogs hale from Norfolk but now live in other parts of the country, in fact in other parts of the world, so I am going to try and include something Norfolky in my musings.

Today it's the return of the geese. Where I live I am right under the flight path for the tens of thousands of geese that come here to overwinter on the muddy flats of the Wash, where they roost at night. So twice a day we hear the honking of them, look up and see huge skeins, small skeins, some with only a dozen or so geese, others with upwards of forty or fifty. To me, they are beautiful, I love to watch and listen and for as far as the eye can see - well mine anyway - are skein upon skein of geese. In the morning they fly over on their way inland to munch on the sugar beet tops and other delicacies in farmers fields, and in the evening, replete and ready for a kip, they fly back over. As soon as I hear them, I have to stop what I am doing to look out of the window, or stand in the back garden to watch and listen to them for as long as I can. Yet I seem to be the only one doing this. People walk by when the geese are flying overhead and don't even look up, aren't gobsmacked by the sight of so many birds at one time, not even when silhouted against a pinky gold sunset when it looks even more spectacular. I have lived here 20 years and for as long as the geese have been flying over, and for as long as they continue to do so, I shall stop and stand and stare and marvel, and wonder too, how many of them have been here before, and do they recognise houses, gardens from up there?

And turnips are making a comeback too, it seems. For some people, they have never gone away of course. So why this sudden interest in a rather unprepossessing looking vegetable? Well of course it's all to do with celebrity chefs using them and popularising them. All well and good, but there are those who say that this has caused the prices to increase quite a bit. 'Twas ever so.... But north of the Border of course, neeps and tatties is a national dish, so they might be surprised at the fuss being made of this common vegetable here. Personally I prefer swede, but a mixture of root vegetables plus a butternut squash, roasted and blitzed makes a tasty soup, left chunky with added sausages - and I'm talking GOOD QUALITY sausages here, not those pink plasticine-like things that pass for sausages in some supermarket chiller cabinets - it's a filling and economical meal for a family. Or just cooked in a hearty casserole topped with cheesy scone (cobbler) topping is a filling meal on a cold winter's day.

But it seems we are returning to the days of 'make do and mend' if media reports are to be believed. (Hmm, no comment!) People are having shoes mended instead of throwing them away and buying new, so new cobblers businesses are opening up. Clothes are being repaired by professionals, and more and more people are queuing up for an allotment to grow their own. All due to the credit crunch. Yet it was only a couple of weeks ago I read that people who repair household appliances like washing machines and freezers for example, have reported a downturn in business, many of them going out of business as a result, because these white goods are so low in price these days that it's often cheaper to throw one out when it goes wrong, than to buy new. So who do you believe?

The Norfolk accent is one of those, that when it's spoken by a true old boy of the county, can be really difficult to understand. If any of you heard of the Singing Postman several decades ago, you will know what I mean. But I much prefer to hear a dialect - preferably one I can understand! - than that everyone speaks in a bland, regionless tone. I was talking about language and nationality and being proud of where you come from with a friend recently, who had been worried that I mistake her for an American when in fact she is Canadian, and proud of it. I am British, but when asked always specify I come from Yorkshire, rather than saying I am from the North of England which covers a wide area. Most people can tell I come from 'somewhere in the North' as they vaguely put it, often waving an arm in the general direction of the north at the same time, but not which part. Even in Yorkshire, you get variations of language... those from the east riding speak with a totally different accent to those from the west riding, who again speak differently to someone from the south of the county. But all these accents and regional dialects should be kept alive, don't you think?

I am lucky living in a part of Norfolk that hasn't been affected by flooding, but over on the other side, the eastern seaboard side, there is talk about flooding deliberately, to flood an area of the Broads to help prevent coastal erosion. Great swathes of land will fall victim to what is called 'no active intervention' to prevent further coastal erosion. Many of you will already know that this is a serious problem along certain parts of the east coast of Norfolk, especially around the Happisburgh area. These new plans though could see the loss of six villages in the Broads area, loss of churches and whole communities and many people, including all those affected by this plan, are up in arms over this. Of course, the loss of villages, for one reason or another, goes back centuries.

Many villages in Norfolk alone have been lost or moved.... the village around Houghton Hall, or what passes for a village since it consists of a few houses only, was moved in the days when emparkment was common. This was when a landowner decided that a village in its current position was in his way, blocking or spoiling his view often, and so it would be moved, as with Houghton, or New Houghton as it was called when moved. Other villages have been deserted and abandoned when the land became too poor for people to work and make a living from it. Some villages, maybe consisting only of a few houses originally, moved and grew around newly created village greens many centuries ago now, and some were swept away to create military training areas in the Breckland area of the county.

And of course the sea is now the main predator of coastal villages. Between the 14th and 18th centuries many villages were lost to the sea as the cliffs were eroded, and this remains a worry to this day, when you would perhaps think we knew better, knew enough to try and prevent this happening in vulnerable areas like the east coast of Norfolk for example.

Well, these are the musings for today, coming out of a mind that is rather like a loft waiting to be converted...full of 'stuff' that isn't much use to anyone really.

Friday, 26 September 2008

Random musings on a fine autumnal morning.

It's one of those days that typifies autumn for many people.... this morning dawned bright but chilly, condensation on windows and cars, glittery, pearl-drop laden cobwebs hanging like Christmas decorations along bushes, trees in the distance were pale in the mist, and it was cold enough for that first step out of the warm bed to be an 'OOH', sucking in breath kind of moment and for the first cup of tea of the day to be more than unusually welcome.

Now, mid-morning the sun has a lot of warmth in it for the time of year, and I have just wandered around the garden, knelt down to stroke the cat who is relishing the warmth of the sun on her old body as she lies amongst the cyclamen under a laburnum tree (so that's why they never grow and multiply?!), and then went to water the butternut squash. It's the first year I have tried this, my favourite squash I think. Pumpkins and those pretty little gourds are fine for giving away at Hallowe'en with the former, and decorating with the latter, but this year I am growing to eat. I love it sauteed with eastern spices, mixed with other root vegetables in a warming stew, in rabbit stew with parsley dumplings, and made into a soup with chopped crispy bacon and croutons on top it's just the thing for a chilly day. A perfect lunch with home made bread.

This time of year has me baking bread more than any other, I think it's the snug feeling of being in a warm kitchen when it's cold outside. I also tend to make more soups... a glut of tomatoes has me making tomato and basil soup, tomato and pepper sauce for pasta to store in the freezer. I plan on making carrot and coriander soup tomorrow, a new recipe not tried before, so fingers crossed. There is something satisfying about making soup.. and making preserves from the garden produce, like blackberries, loganberries... green tomato chutney... and as we seem to have more walnuts than usual I wonder shall I try pickling them? My dearest friend Grace used to love them, but I never dared try one, it seemed such a weird thing to eat. Walnuts were never my favourite anyway, but it might be interesting to try and pickle them I think.

Several American friends are planning their Hallowe'en events, and have asked me if it's celebrated over here. Sadly it seems to be more commercialised here than there, and in many cases is just an excuse for the trouble makers and young louts to go around scaring old people or getting 'treats'. I am sure that there are many areas, possibly rural ones like mine, where it is celebrated with children going from door to door, accompanied by an adult keeping their distance, and when it is looked on as a fun time. I like to think this goes on maybe more than it does?

I wonder how many of you reading this will be bloggers? The interest in it seems to be growing, and I can understand why. Initially I just thought I'd have a go at it, hoping that someone might read it and maybe even make a comment. From the messages I have received privately, it seems more look than comment. Maybe they didn't find anything worthy of comment - should I be more controversial then? But it's gratifying when someone does, when they say nice things. We all like to be liked I suspect, no matter how often and loud we may say it doesn't matter to us. But I have rather got hooked on having a bit of a blether to you all every week now, much to my surprise.

But from having my own blog I have now found several others I regularly visit... such as yarnstorm, which is the blog of Jane Brocket who wrote a wonderful coffee-table kind of book but which I use such a lot rather than leaving it to languish on said coffee table (come to think of it, I don't have one anyway!). It is all about the Gentle Arts of Domesticity, and a lovely blog to read as well. Then there is chapteriii, written by Lesley in southern California, recently discovered but a firm favourite already.

And then we have the blog of gardener James Alexander Sinclair, last but by no means least. To some of you this name may mean nothing at all, but to watchers of television gardening programmes here in the UK, his name is familiar. Think of James and you think flamboyant, in manner, language and style. He uses big words a lot, and actually knows the meaning of all of them too, without recourse to a dictionary! Now that's impressive don't you think? He designs beautiful gardens, and his enthusiasm for the subject comes across loud and clear. Something he shares with other well-known gardeners who appear on our screens... Monty Don, so enthusiastic about organic gardening, composting and such, and if I may be allowed a rather frilly, feminine comment which doesn't normally sit easy with me, he is rather pleasing on the eye too!! And the lovely Carol Klein, the lady who is passionate about getting plants for free... no, she doesn't say we should go round stealing from other's gardens, well not without permission, but then it wouldn't really be stealing would it, but that we grow our own from seeds and cuttings. Her enthusiasm is infectious, and that's what you need in someone who is in front of a camera, talking to a nation of garden-lovers. Someone who can inspire you to have a go, get off your bum and out in the garden.

Ours is looking pretty good still, and I just wish I could always remember the name of plants so that when friends come and see something they like and ask the inevitable question, I can just answer without hesitation. Some I can remember... others always elude me. We have a pretty blue flowering shrub, the leaves a dusty green, which is doing better this year than before, but I have to through several names before getting it right... caryopteris, ceanothus.... then it hits me... no it doesn't, I've forgotten it again!!!! We have some pretty small flowers flopping out of a border, self-seeding in the gravel path alongside the border, and I haven't a clue what they are. They begin flowering in Spring, come out white, then fade to lilac, then to a mauve colour and stay in flower months. Then the seedlings start to flower, going through the same cycle of colour changes, and some are still at the white stage so will be providing a little pool of colour for a few weeks yet. The blowsy mauve poppy has produced a bud after being cut down, but I worry that it will be too cold, or not warm enough for long enough, to enable it to flower properly.

Well, this brings my ramblings to an end. I originally called this blog The Three R's because I thought I would be doing some ranting, as well as raving and rambling. It's something I am known for, being opinionated and free with those opinions, whether you want to hear them or not. But it seems I have chosen to keep this positive and light-hearted, keeping the rants for other outlets. And the news at the moment is so depressing and negative isn't it, that we all need a bit of light relief. I remember hearing yesterday that several of the worlds wealthiest people were saying that if the American plan to help solve the financial crisis didn't work, then doomsday was twenty four hours away. Well, last I heard it hasn't worked out, so what next?

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Ain't life grand?

Sitting in the garden this morning, enjoying my first mug of tea of the day, on the bench by the fruit and nut trees, feeling the warmth of the sun as it rose and thinking, as the cat stretched and rolled about on the damp grass (foolish cat!), and listening to chickens clucking and chattering away to each other, what a lucky woman I was to have this. This beautiful space, many areas secluded thanks to hedges and shrubs, summerhouse and sheds. I have often watched holidaymakers as they drive through the village, and wondered what they think of it? Are they envious that they don't live in somewhere so beautiful? Are they glad they live somewhere with a bit more life? Do they feel sorry for us with none of the bright city lights, the large town shops, the shopping centres, do they think we are missing out?

When I have been out for the day, or the morning, and drive home, see the village sign for the first time and knowing I will soon be home, I always look at it with fresh eyes, never feel downcast, always uplifted. Just the thought of coming into the house, into my country kitchen with all it's pretty mismatched crockery on the shelves, bunches of herbs and lavender drying from the hanging rack, rag rugs on the floor, makes me smile inside and out.

And at the moment we get a lot of people just cruising round, hoping for a glimpse of the lovely Stephen Fry, and gorgeous young Karl Davies possibly. For this is KINGDOM country, the market town of Swaffham is the Market Shipborough in the series, and somewhere I occasionally make the effort to drive to, it being almost an hour away, for a forage in Waitrose, and just to see what's going on re the filming. The huge fleet of location vehicles is parked up on the outskirts of the town, those that are not being used, and in the centre of the town, where a lot of the filming of the solicitors office is done, is where the locals go about their business not giving it all a second glance, but people from outside (like me) can't help but stand a while and gawp (wishing I were about forty years younger in the case of the young Karl!) And having seen him at closer quarters than usual, he is really quite handsome. And Mr Fry, larger than life, as you would expect. (Have any of you read his blog I wonder?)

We are having a real Indian summer at the moment, though I am not sure what constitutes an Indian Summer to be honest. But the lady who delivers my book orders and I agreed yesterday, that it was summer at last, unexpected, and both of us cross that we had gone out in the morning dressed for the coolish day it looked set to be, only to find ourselves wishing we had put layers on that could be removed. Anyway, the mornings are chilly, with pretty pearly cobwebs adorning every surface it seems, ready to catch the unwary out as you walk under archways, between buildings where they are strung across from fencepost to window frame. So beautiful, but I hate getting them across my face, and always wonder where the spider might end up!

Evenings too, are turning chilly, enough for us to contemplate setting fire to a few apple logs just to help take the chill of the sitting room. But it feels like we are rushing forward into autumn and winter too fast by doing this, so out come the snuggly blankets or a shawl, and we do fine.

But the days, ah the days are becoming really warm, with temperatures at twenty degrees yesterday, clear (almost) blue skies, warm sunshine, and set to remain the same for this weekend. But then colder next week apparently, so maybe the log basket will get emptied after all!

A lovely time of year to be knitting though, or crocheting a blanket. Inspired as I was by Jane Brocket and her ripple stitch crochet blanket, I decided to make one of my own, and have used colours which have a particular meaning to where I live. So, am using a flinty grey for the flints used in local buildings and a rusty red for the Norfolk Red bricks used similarly. A mid-blue for the flax grown in this area, and bright yellow for the oil seed rape and purple for the lavender. There will be a green for the sugar beet tops, another popular crop, orangey pink for the sunsets and a pale summery blue for the skies. As this grows, it will keep me warm on these chilly nights!

I have a glut of tomatoes at the moment, some little ones in hanging baskets, and outdoor bush ones as well, and plan on making a batch of tomato and thyme soup, and some pasta sauce, both of which will store in the fridge in jars, to be used in the next couple of weeks. I bought some dried yeast and bread-making flour too, and am looking forward to using it when it turns a bit cooler next week. For now, it's apple and blackberry pie for Sunday lunch pudding, flapjacks for the grandchildren and husband has put in a request for some mince pies... well, who said they were only for Christmas!

Bye for now.... the pfg wearing pink DMs.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Furbelows and fancy things

I love living in the country, couldn't imagine myself living anywhere else, and never have. But it has its drawbacks... for me, one of these is not being near a decent craftshop, or a craftshop of any kind, nor a bookshop! I rely heavily on the internet for my shopping in these two areas, but once in a while, we have a blowout. Maybe only a couple of times a year, but it's so lovely to go into a big craft shop, marvel at all the lovely things you can buy these days. It may not be anything like the haberdashers of old, which were generally rather dark places, with interesting drawers of 'things' and a smell all their own, but if you are starved of a shop like this, it matters not.

I gazed in wonder at all the buttons (even though I have found a brilliant place on the internet), at the trimmings, the fabrics, the notions, all the kits for embroidery, cross stitch, tapestry, the cubbyholes full of the most glorious wool. Now this is definitely where the shop wins over the web, because you can feel the wool, pick it up and roll it around in your hand, rub it against your cheek, marvel at the true colours and texture which you simply don't get online. I dipped my hands into bargain buckets of wool, the odd couple of balls of this one, that one... ideal for cozies, fingerless gloves, the odd small lacy scarf, a hottie cover. I hummed and hah'd over the soft, expensive wool, knowing I wanted it, but not knowing what I would do with it exactly. At one time I would have bought it, but that way lies a cupboardful of wool, unused, many years later, and I promised myself would be more restrained in the future, only buy small quantities of wool I KNEW would be used up within the next six months or so.

I spent ages wandering around the fabrics, and in the end bought many fat quarters as I intend taking up quilting again. I bought some white with red stripes, with green stripes, with red dots, with green dots, with ebullient red roses, and together with a plain scarlet and plain leaf green, these will make my first small quilt in years. I also bought some rather retro/60s looking, deep blue background with stylised purple, green, orange, yellow flowers, and some plains to match, plus a striped navy and white, which will also all go together.

Then a wander over to the paper crafts side, and here I filled my hands with packs of stickers, with some Christmassy ones for quick and easy cards... just a small square card, sticker placed on a contrasting, smaller piece and fixed with a sticky dot, cost no more than a few pence to make, and are one offs, each of them. Other people may have the same idea, but the chances of them using exactly the same combination of cards is unlikely. I bought some peel off MERRY CHRISTMAS stickers in silver to add to my special friends cards. I looked at the punches for cut outs, at the fabulous cards and papers, at all the scrapbooking materials, and even though I do love some of the creations I have seen, this is one craft I haven't tried, and don't really think it's for me somehow. I do have scrapbooks, but these are of the old-fashioned kind, the slightly thicker card outer cover, and the pages of different coloured blotting-type paper inside, filled with photos, cards, mementoes of holidays (bus tickets, entry tickets to museums, menus and such like). These modern day creations are truly works of art and admire anyone who has the patience to create them... a wonderful heirloom for your children and grandchildren, if they are the types who would appreciate something like that.

My husband patiently walks around with me.. I always smile to myself because whenever we go there are always several cars in the car park occupied by a lone male behind the wheel, snoozing or reading the paper, having a crafty cigarette, whilst their spouses are inside having a fabulous time. Occasionally you see a husband accompanying his wife, always you see mine, who walks along carrying the basket, or goes off to look at something that has caught his eye perhaps. And he pays at the end too!!

We then went to another emporium, a place selling old pine furniture, but also lots of fancy things, storage boxes by the hundreds, in various shapes and sizes and styles and every colour imaginable. Candles and pot pourri, beautiful hand made cards amongst the more common mass-produced. Gorgeous hand-thrown ceramic bowls, a particular weakness of mine. Scarves in a rainbow of colours hang from mannequins, old iron lamps, bird feeders. Bags, embroidered, felted, leather, suede, patchwork... another weakness. Colourful cutlery and storage tins and jars, fat bellied teapots that cry out for a knitted cozy and afternoon tea in the garden under the apple tree when we get home. Cake stands to fill with pretty fairy cakes and walnut shortbread when friends come to have morning coffee. Candlesticks... not another one? he says. It's true, I can't resist a pressed glass candlestick. Nor a fat little jug to add to the dozens that already dangle from hooks along the edge of shelves in the kitchen at home.

This is another of our treaty day out shops... but alas, it had suffered a major power outage and many of the areas of the old buildings were barricaded off for safety, and the cafe which sells delicious home made soups and pasties, gooey cakes and sandwiches oozing with savoury fillings, could only sell cold drinks and the left over cakes on display. And they could only accept cheques (we had no cheque book with us, so many places won't even take them these days we never think to have it with us in the case of emergency like this, yet we should really, electricity liable to go off at any time for any reason these days it seems), and not enough cash to buy more than a few storage boxes. These are to keep stationery items like pens and cartridges, sticky tape too, and one like a little suitcase with a gorgeous rose-patterned paper exterior and jazzy black and white stripe interior with silvery handle which is for sewing threads. I do have a beautiful sewing box, but the lid is stiff and the box unweildy, another of my impulse buys that I later regretted. And the other box I bought simply because I loved the lime green bottom and the star-covered lid... I know I shall find a use for it, after all, a woman can't have enough storage boxes, or pressed glass candlesticks, colourful bowls and chubby jugs, can she?

Friday, 12 September 2008

Affairs of the heart.

Down the lane from the church in my village are some pretty former farmworkers cottages, mostly lived in by locals, permanently, none of your holidayhomes here thank you very much. Built in a time gone by, when houses had front gardens and not 'off road parking', and when back gardens were big enough to keep livestock, grow all the vegetables and fruit for a family, and not the modern apology of a square box of lawn to go with the square box of a modern estate house.

There are four of them, two pairs of semis, young couples with children live in one pair, and in one of the other two lives Sam, an old boy of seventy or so. The house next door to him had been empty a while, since the elderly lady who lived there alone sadly passed on a year or more ago. There had been some wrangling over the house, but eventually it was put on the market earlier this year and snapped up fairly quickly. It was 'in need of modernisation' would be a kind way of putting it I suppose, and was bought by a single young man, quite a novelty in this area! 'A bit of eye candy for us ladies for a change!' joked Sheila, the landlady of our local.

Sadly the eye candy wasn't actually going to live in the house. I haven't quite figured out how news gets around in small places like this, with only a village store-cum-post office, a pub, and a crafts gallery with coffee shop attached. But somehow it did and this young man, called Jeffrey apparently, had bought the house on behalf of his aunt, a lady in her sixties, and he was going to be overseeing the doing up until she got back from a trip to America. There were various tales about this American trip going around... she was a famous writer doing a lecture tour, an actress in an off-Broadway production (the gossipers daren't hope for a real 'celebrity', just a minor one would do you see!), but the reality naturally turned out to be more prosaic when we found out more about her.

So far, all we know is that she is called Esme, 'spinster of this parish and many more before' is how she introduced herself in the post office in a rather loud voice, and laughing at her own wit. She wears the kind of clothes you would probably expect from someone like that, sensible shoes, twinsets and pearls, with tweed skirts in various shades of heathery hues. Apparently she sold her Edwardian terrace in Norwich and then took herself off to America to visit a long lost cousin or something, leaving 'dear Jeffrey' to buy the cottage and do it up.

She has called the cottage Walnut Tree Cottage, because of the walnut tree in the garden, laden with nuts at the moment, which she rather took a fancy to. This led some of us with a mischievous bent to be thankful there wasn't a big compost heap she took a fancy to!

She seemed a little disappointed there wasn't a WI, or an active ladies bowls team, no decent bookshop for miles and a rather irregular newspaper and milk delivery. She was assured it came every day, but there was just no guaranteeing what time of day that might be, since Tom, he who delivers both, wasn't always reliable at getting up, depending on how late he'd stayed in the pub the night before. This went down like a lead balloon as Esme is very anti-drink, and smoking, and swearing, loud music, rude people, people who can't keep appointments... all this, and we've only known her for a month!!

But one thing we do know is that she has her eye on Sam. Now OK, so far as old gents go he's... well, no oil painting you understand, and the designer stubble around his chin isn't designer stubble just indicative of the fact he can't be bothered to shave every day... but it does give him a slightly roguish air. As does the caped raincoat he wears, the large hat helps too. But underneath Sam is just an old bloke who's never married, never wanted to marry, prefers his own company to anyone else's. Over the years, several of the older, single ladies in the village have shown interest, but in the end, all have given up.

She has been asking about him, been seen to go around armed with casserole dishes, or a bag of apples off the tree in her garden. She won't get anywhere though, we all know that, and eventually she'll know it too.

On a happier note though, we have a wedding in the church this weekend, the first in a long time. This is not a large village, and there aren't many youngsters living here, because as with a lot of places like this, they have all had to leave to find work. But the exception to the rule is Andy and his bride-to-be Lisa. Both work in Norwich, and commute each day by car, but live in a house his parents have had built on some land they own at the edge of the village. Not that this was a handout, the youngsters are buying it in the normal way, but everyone is so excited at the prospect of a wedding in the old church. It's never seen so much greenery and flowers, ribbons and candles, and on a miserable day like today, when I went for a nose, they had lit some candles and it looked so pretty, you almost hope it's miserable tomorrow. Candles lend such atmosphere don't they?

Anyway, rain or shine, it will be a lovely day for the village, because there's an open invitation to everyone to the party in the old barn on his parents farm, which has also been done up, after a good clean out, and due for conversion next Spring. Though where the village Christmas party will then be held, who knows?

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

The end of an era.

I was saddened by the news this morning that Fleetwood pier had been destroyed by fire. Not simply because this was yet another piece of our heritage lost to flames, each of those has saddened me, but this was Personal, with a capital P.
Some of you may never have heard of Fleetwood on the Fylde coast, up from Blackpool. At one time it was a thriving fishing port, and I was lucky enough to live there from the age of two to sixteen, starting off in an Edwardian house just two hundred yards from the beach, and from the window seat in the sitting room, if I stretched my neck a bit, I could see the pier.
It was a part of my daily life almost, it was just THERE, and you always thought it would be. The news this morning brought back so many memories; of a carefree childhood, of happy-ish school days, nature rambles with my classmates, tram rides to Blackpool on these noisy, clackety old things that I loved and now miss. Of playing on the beach, and watching the marionette show that set up in a small hut in the Marine Gardens each summer. Of thinking how strange it was to have two lighthouses, one of them inland - what was the point of that I wondered? And why was the prettier, more lighthousey of the two, the inland one?
I remember having lunch every Saturday with my late mother, in a cafe called The Morocco Bar or something like that I think, though looking back there wasn't much Moroccan about it. Of buying my first stockings and other undergarments from a shop nearby, run by a very precise and proper lady. I remember buying craft materials for various projects from the shop next door to the cafe, and of weekly visits to the big old library down by the docks, where it smelt of old wood, old books and old librarians sometimes!
I had my first job in Fleetwood too, working as a clerk in a carpet showroom, but then we left the town, moved a few miles nearer Blackpool, though I still visited Fleetwood regularly.
These days there isn't much of a fishing fleet left I don't think, but there is a huge shopping area on the rejuvenated quayside, and it's still a popular place to visit for holidays, quieter and more sedate in a way, than blowsy Blackpool, just along the coast.
But the pier was one of those traditional piers, lots of noise, slot machines, that annoying little marionette in a glass case that laughed and was supposed to make you laugh, though it never worked on me. Then there was that grabber in another glass case, which tempted you to try and get hold of something completely useless but which you longed to have all the same.. of course, you never managed it, but that didn't stop you trying. Sugary drinks and salty crisps, sand in your Clarks sandals and hair getting sticky from the salt spray if it was windy.
The walk along the pier, looking at the water through the gaps between the boarding, then leaning over to look at the brown foaming sea way below you, with adults warning you to be careful, and not lean over too far. But as a child, the dangers never entered your head really, did they?
So sad to think it has all gone, but let's hope it gets rebuilt, as near as possible to the original ideal of a seaside pier.

Blogging all over the world.

Well, this is the pfg, out in the big wide world wide web of blogging.

As those of you on purplecoo will know, my blog is called The Three R's blog because it relates to the Rantings, Ravings and Ramblings of an approaching old-age, New Age granny. Who wears pink DMs. (That's Doc Martens for the uninitiated!)

My first blog was a quiet little thing, it just poked its snout around the door, had a look to see if anyone was watching. They are such a friendly and supporting lot on that site, so different to some others I have heard about, where there is a lot of froth about and not a lot of substance, where status is all, appearances come a close second and sometimes behaviour degenerates into childishness. So I am told.... but I had been told that blogging and chatting on forums was fun, especially on purplecoo, so I stuck my toe in the water and found it all to be true.

After much encouragement, I decided to take my blogging out to a wider audience, and if the ladies at purplecoo will excuse me, I will just repeat that first one, for the sake of those not yet privy to my three r's.

I talked about this marvellous book I had just bought, called 'The Gentle Arts of Domesticity' by Jane Brocket. In the book the distinction is made between domesticity and domestication, to my mind rather like the difference between home-making and house-keeping. When my children were small, I like to think I combined the two... well, you have to don't you? I was creative and housewifely, doing the chores and playing games, making preserves alongside greetings cards and stripey jumpers and mittens.

Then when the children were no longer children and wanted to lead their own lives, I was in my early forties and went back to work, but realised after a couple of years or so, that I had done this just to help me through the transition period between being a hands-on 24/7 mum to a sometime when they need a bit of advice mum. I know many ladies find it hard, this empty nest syndrome really hits them like a ton of bricks. But it wasn't so for me.... I didn't miss them exactly.. what's to miss about half the washing no longer there, no fridge raiders taking my last bit of cheesecake, no BOOM BOOM of music I didn't understand or like, nobody on the phone on the rare occasion I wanted to call someone.

No, I didn't miss them, but I needed to re-define myself, and the period at work helped me to realise it was time to get back to the domestic goddess bit. So out came the bags of knitting wool, the glue, the glitter, the ribbons and the beads, the paper and cards, the half finished sampler(s), the needlepoint cushion cover, the cross stitch tablecloth. Once again I was back into making preserves, pottering in the garden, going for quiet walks by myself, reading in the summerhouse, having a quiet meditate under the apple trees, making STUFF, and quite simply, enjoying being me, by myself.

Of course, I looked forward to the end of the day when my darling husband came home, and still do, it's the highlight at the end of my day, something to look forward to, seeing that lovely smile, knowing he's happy to be home, away from work. And he is greeted by a totally relaxed wife, who has spent her day doing just as she wants.

I have to say I am not into exercise, even though I know it is good for us, essential some say. But I figure with a large garden to look after, and the hourly sessions I spend on a couple of mornings a week doing heavy housework, like washing windows, cleaning cupboards and so on, well, that has to be enough exercise, surely? Well, it is for me.

So there you have it, a rambling from the pfg, who now signs off, wishes you happy reading. But I will be back - soon. You have been warned.

Blogging all over the world.