Thursday, 31 March 2011

A Visitor At Merry Towers

Milou invited a guest to breakfast this morning.

Well, when I say "invited"....maybe the invitation was a little forceful, in the light of modern manners and etiquette...
For the first time my two cats met their match in the bird world. Even the normally feisty Kate quailed under his beady gaze and raucous squawk. Milou had caught him and brought him in, but then lacked the courage to finish him off (thankfully).

He escaped through the kitchen window. 

Monday, 21 March 2011

My Birthday Weekend

I've just had the most wonderful birthday. On Saturday I went to a pub meet with a random group of people from a message board I occasionally post on; we met up at The Beacon in Sedgley, my favourite Real Pub.

A great time and a lot of laughter was had, shamefully we were still there way after chucking-out time, at which point some of us started out for home, leaving the others to go to another pub...I called at a chain pub with Dave for some nosh, then we went home. While we were at the meet he gave me his birthday present - a lovely green skirt. I now have Two Green Skirts (one for best).

The next day, Dave took me to Matlock Bath for a quiet day together...we walked along the Lovers Walk, nipped into Holy Trinity church to nosey around after the service, went into the Victorian Baths which have long since lost their splendour but gained a bizarre array of large (and small) fish, then up to the Rising Sun for grub. Stroll around Cromford afterwards and then home via the Stables at Monsal Head where we had a pint of stout.

So - thank you to all for your birthday wishes, and thank you Dave for making my weekend even better than I had anticipated.
Keep the faith.....Love under will.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Love - the beginning

Back in April 2007, I answered a phone call that lead to my life being changed for ever....the repercussions of that are still being felt, even now.
In 1981 I was in my late teens, and starting a new job at a local well-known factory. I was your typical office worker; not particularly well-off, doing my best to dress in a conventionally suitable office manner...heels, pencil skirts, that sort of thing. I met up with a young man who attracted me straight away – he had long hair. And I mean LONG. Mine was coiffured into a neat bob....we looked like polar opposites. We became great friends, we had a similar daft sense of humour, and when I left the factory some years later, we stayed in contact. Eventually we drifted apart, my working life took me out of the area, we had less time to meet up, our lives went in separate directions. I never forgot him, though.
Fast forward to April 2007. I was still reeling from the shock of my husband’s sudden death, I was at home (by this time I wasn’t working), and wondering what to do next. When I answered the phone, a familiar voice said hello, and asked if I remembered who he was. I replied that I knew the voice but couldn’t place a name.
It was Dylan, my friend from so many years ago. A mutual friend had told him my sad news the day after it happened, and he wanted to know how I was now the funeral was over, and everyone had presumably gone back to their own lives. I can’t remember much about that conversation now, other than I was in my usual fairly upbeat mood, and sounding quite positive. We exchanged email addresses and over the next few weeks we started a very occasional correspondence. I have to admit I wasn’t the best of correspondents; quite often I didn’t have much to say, and by the summer of 2007 I was beginning to struggle with the realisation that widowhood doesn’t suddenly come to an end, it goes on and the absent partner actually doesn’t come back.
One sunny afternoon I was sitting outside with next door’s cat, a beer and a King Edward, and thought I should mail Dylan; I had had a mail from him some time ago and hadn’t replied. I went to fetch my laptop, switched it on....and there it was, a mail from him. How spooky! I mailed him back and wrote: “Just had a wee thoughtette – what about meeting up for a pint and a chat?” I just thought it would be nice to talk face to face, instead of by mail (which I was still struggling with).
So, eventually, on 16th August 2007, I took my knitting machine to Nantwich for a service and repair, then drove over to a pub near Dylan’s place of work. I was late, but thankfully he was still there, waiting for me on the car park. The long hair was gone; cropped all over; (in fact, it was me who had the long locks by this time)... he looked sadder and much less ebullient than he used to do, but he had a huge grin on his face when he saw me.
We collided with each other in a huge hug; then went inside for a drink and a chat. It was great to see him! We talked and talked, like the intervening years hadn’t been all that long really...I remember him telling me about his friend who has a shop selling ethnic stuff coming back from Thailand or somewhere with a three foot long, things hadn’t changed all that much, had they...but something was changing for me...I sat talking to him and looking at his forearms and felt some long-buried emotions coming slowly to the surface; I fancied him.  Certainly never expected to feel like that again.
We went back to our cars, having made him late back at work; he took a couple of photos of us with his camera on a self timer; we had a last hug, then left. I remember driving home feeling lighter and happier than I had in a long time.
I switched on my email when I got in, and there it was, from Dylan, just a short mail:
“You are bloody gorgeous”.
into the bewildering storm of grief
True love walked in, and held me safe
Then blew my world apart with undreamed of delights
A true meeting of minds, bodies, hearts.
Home at last, held fast in arms of love.
Face to face, and soul to soul
love saw boundaries and soared over them
Unconfined, free, it found strange wings and flew
Not thinking, or caring, where it would land.
my love took me wandering
over rocky crags, where I saw God;
through leafy green lanes
down into mossy green dales
In cathedrals made by man
In loftier ones, formed by the Creator.
but love proved weak, did not keep faith
Fear drove it back to a place of safety
a place that was not there
A place where love was not to be found
Only a leaning dependence, an unwillingness to let go.
Love finally left me here alone
With bitter memories of betrayal and pain
With loving memories of a meeting of hearts.
Past griefs healed over; by new griefs, replaced
Tearing open a heart that only wanted to love
And be loved, in return.
Now my love is scattered on the breeze that blows
over the crags, and onwards to the moors
No trace left of him that felt those strong impulses
No trace of his physicality
All that remains is love itself, pure and true.

Sunday, 13 March 2011


Your average suburban garden doesn't always offer a thrilling range of wildlife, but if you (and your neighbours) have a pond, you're guaranteed a good frog population (one year we had a newt too). I find these little critters fascinating and can sit like a true saddo, watching them.

They are in the throes of spawning always amuses me to see them thrashing around in the most unseemly couplings, like the worst excesses of a Roman orgy....threesomes seem to be a favourite, the air punctuated by the contented grunts of the bull frogs. It's the poor old female I feel sorry for, squeezed in the middle of what looks like an unwanted embrace, with a forbearing expression; "I wish they'd go away and leave me to my knitting...."

This morning I've pruned my best roses, some of them fought back, but they now look neatly groomed and waiting to bloom later in the year. I love roses, and can't wait to get the garden done this year as it will be turned into the rose garden I always wanted.

I love this time of year. New life, new beginnings.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Spring's nearly here!

The goldfinches are back!

Well, one of explain, I can't say I ever noticed these colourful little birds before, but just after Kent died I noticed a pair of goldfinches on the bird feeder just outside the kitchen window. They returned every year about the same time, apart from last year when I don't remember seeing them. Well, I've seen one twice now, so I popped out to buy a new niger seed feeder (and seed).

Having a pair of expert killers living here does have an effect on the bird population...they stay away when the cats are out, but when their ladyships come back in, the birds quickly reappear.

Hmmm......need to get out in the garden. Certainly plenty to do out there.

Lenten abstinence

No, there isn't a hidden glass of wine just out of shot.....

Now, that's more like it.

Just to rub salt in, two ladies settled themselves down opposite me with a bottle of wine and two glasses. They poured it out and discussed the taste....I could have wept....

Still - when I do get my glass of wine, it's going to taste soooooooooo good!

Friday, 11 March 2011


Last night I heard Brahms' Requiem performed by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and choir. The first, short part of the programme were some Schubert and Brahms songs sung pleasantly enough by a Danish soprano with piano accompanist (interesting to watch his technique), and the Requiem was the main course. Rather than use the standard Catholic liturgy, Brahms instead chose passages from the Bible, mainly the Psalms and other consoling verses to bring peace to the bereaved, rather than battering them over the head with visions of hell and damnation.

Indeed, the piece begins with the words Blessed are they that mourn, and ends with Blessed are the dead. It was taken at a good pace, and was well performed by everyone. If I had a criticism it was that at a couple of points the sopranos seemed a little insecure of pitch, and the trumpet/trombone section a little cracked-sounding as they had been the last time I heard them at the Philharmonic Hall; but these are small carps and didn't detract from the enjoyment of the piece.

As an accompaniment to this Lent's meditations, it was excellent. The final passage was indeed extremely moving and I will admit to shedding a few quiet tears as I left the hall. When I walked outside into the dark night, I looked across to see the spiked crown-like top of the Metropolitan Cathedral, with its stained glass partly lit up; it seemed to speak to me of comfort.

The morning meditations are proving successful; today I was up early and had got quite a lot done by 7.30am. So far, so good.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Lent Meditation

Even a quick few minutes has beneficial effects. This morning's calming concentration on tranquility helped to transform a major crisis into a task of manageable proportions - something I was helpless about yesterday was easily done within an hour. I also learned that when there isn't anyone around to help, I actually CAN achieve things on my own.

All positive stuff!

Wednesday, 9 March 2011


The start of Lent, traditionally a time of reflection and abstinence. This year I have been lucky enough to join forces with two friends on a programme of daily meditations (and bible study for me). It will be interesting to see how this works out. We have already agreed on the things we are giving up, and I've found a slight technical hitch with mine already!

I also have another, enforced, abstinence; the loss of someone in my life who I cherished. A hard lesson, and one I would not have chosen.

My hopes for this time of Lent are that I will find a refreshed spirituality, and the chance to put the grief and pain of the past few years behind me.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Life's An Elevator... goes up and down.

It certainly did yesterday, met up with two people, one meeting went really well, the other one ended fairly disastrously. It is too easy to focus on the negatives at times, rather than remember all the positives; and when we do major on the negative aspects of life we allow the downs to overwhelm us.

Today there is a beautiful sunny morning, which helps focus the mind on those positive things; a new day, new growth on the trees and bushes outside, the cats' eagerness to stay outside for longer every day; a renewal of life.

With every ending, there is also a new beginning.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

The banana conundrum

Went outside this morning to find a dead banana on my drive.
It wasn't there last night. It is not one of my bananas.
So - how did it get there? Did it use its last dying gasps to crawl there and finally expire?
Will we ever know?
Life is full of such mysteries.


Something I love to do (don't always have time, admittedly) in the morning, once the hungry horde has been fed, is to light several sticks of incense and then go round the house, putting them in their incense boxes, seeing curls of perfumed smoke circling upwards. A small thing, but special somehow. To me it's like giving a blessing to the home and offering the day up to the Deity of Choice.

Today is a significant day for a Special Person, so today's blessing is for him.
Happy Birthday, Dylan.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

St David's Day

Four years ago today my life changed completely. I can say without doubt that it was the worst day of my life.

I woke up as normal to go to work, let the dog out as usual, and went to check on my husband who had gone to sleep on the settee - a sleep from which he would not wake up.