Tuesday, August 31, 2010



What a lovely day - blue skies, fresh air and it felt warm.
We went to Dorking to collect our takings and put out some more stock - and to talk of course.
Bill and I continue to sell well - amazing.
One item I sold was a relief to me. Almost 2 years ago I had bought a pair of Wade candles - attractive and would have contained wax and wick. I assumed there would be much interest in them - I was wrong. I had paid £25 for them, thinking they were special. Recently I reduced the price drastically. They have gone this week for just £15 - a £10 loss; but better to have £15 back in my purse after all that time.
Another item sold was a Poole Pottery cruet set that I bought in from somebody just last Monday.
Strange to think that we have just one more day there now until the middle of October.

We then went to see Julie. Julie - French lady, who normally works with us on Mondays at the shop.
She has had a bad time recently after a fall, with a wound on the leg which became infected. It is not so painful now.
The district nurse is still going in every couple of days to re-dress the wound.
Injuries heal so much more slowly when one is old and the feeling is that Julie could be 85.
As I talked with her on the phone this morning I realised that she had not left the house since before the fall.
I wondered if we could take her somewhere.
Oh, she was so excited at the prospect.
We drove into Epsom town centre and parked in the big shopping mall.
We took her to lunch.
I enjoyed my lunch immensely - meatballs and Moroccan couscous. But I shouldn't have had the couscous - I have been so careful about no wheat for the last week. I have felt much better for it - not so tired and my gut was on the road to behaving better.
Never mind - it won't kill me and maybe the pleasure was worthwhile.
Then Julie said she would like to pop into Waitrose for some yoghurt. She bought a bit more than that - like a child in a sweet shop was just thrilled to have so many good things in front of her eyes.
We went back to her house - a wonderful traditional 1930s house with a lovely secluded garden. We sat on the terrace for a cup of tea.
It was very peaceful.
But not as peaceful as Julie thought. She even commented that there were no dogs, cats or birds, so no animal noises. Bill and I heard and saw quite a few birds.
Bill then sorted a TV problem for her. It didn't need much technical know how as it happened. The problem was that her TV was only getting BBC1.
Oh Julie - she was not handling the remote with enough dexterity and therefore not actually getting to the other channels.
But I promised not to tell you that - she didn't want the world and his wife to know how silly she was. Well, actually what she didn't want was her own family and friends in the shop to know.
And they don't read this blog - so that's OK.
Anyway, most of us older people have some hang ups and difficulties that might make the younger generation think we are old fogies.
I am glad we have given her what was a special day for her. And as I said to her - we like treating ourselves, and it was a pleasure to include her in our treat.
Julie was tired after all the activity. I certainly hope it won't have set her back physically and that the leg has stood up to some walking about.
So, a lovely day. I hope the sun keeps on shining.

PS - Remember that I commented yesterday about how well attended the athletics meeting was - and that there were over 40 hammer throwers.
Well, the hammer throwers also like to put the shot and throw the discus.
I gather the discus competition didn't finish until 8 o'clock!


Monday, August 30, 2010


Athletics Meeting.

What day is it?
Apparently it has been a Monday - but of course it has not been a normal Monday; the shop doesn't open on a bank holiday Monday.
Which is just as well - for we were able to give time to Crawley Athletics Club.
It was a very good meeting - just like the good old days, when athletes turned up in their hundreds.
There had been a real dip in interest a few years ago and the timekeeping could feel a bit boring.
But today it was full of interest and kept us busy for 5 hours.
I had hoped to do a photo diary of the day - but once the track running started there just wasn't time - hardly time to drink a cup of tea.
There were 6 timekeepers - which is enough. And because there was also electric timekeeping we were not much more than a back up.

Before the meeting started, I grabbed a cup of tea and tried to take some pictures of the hammer competition.
That hammer competition certainly upset the timetable for field events, with over 40 competitors.
One of the competitors was Mick Jones - British record holder (very much in the autumn of his career now).

As you see - it can be hard from outside the cage to get a good shot.
At least I have Mick and hammer in the picture - some of my attempts were lacking either athlete or implement!
They whirl that thing round pretty fast.

So, I took a picture of Karl. He used to be a good thrower for the club. Today he was measuring distances.

There's the stand - it was much fuller a little later.
The timekeepers sit on those steps at the far end of the stand roof.
Actually the seats are beyond the roof and in rain, we get wet.

As I walked back there were athletes on the track warming up before their sprint races.

Were my children ever that small?
Well - no not at athletics events.
These youngsters are Under 11 and being sorted out for the 75metre races.
I wonder if any of their parents will look back 30 years (in 2040) with some nostalgia to their child's first big meeting.
I was looking back 30 years - Jamie was 11 and taking part for the first time. We didn't organise anything for under 11s in those days.

It is the job of the track judges to agree on the order that athetes finish - and also to make sure all the rules are adhered to.
It can be hard in a sprint race when people finish very close together to decide on the order.
I can recall today a race when 1st and 2nd were just 1 hundredth of a second apart - almost impossible to know who was the winner.

The timekeepers time of course.
Each person is responsible for timing the same position throughout the meeting - or more than one position when numbers are short.
Once the marksmen have the athletes ready, the starter whistles.
The chief timekeeper then waves to acknowledge that track officials are ready.

And there is Jim, one of the starters - whistle at the ready I think.
And so the competition was over - at the track.
Bill and I continued later at home.
I have all the results given by the electric timekeeping system and so we compared to the hundredth of a second with what we had on our watches.
Then we can work out our average error.
Bill was the victor! But he was disappointed because, for him, he had a bad day. He was nearly as bad as me!
And to be honest we were not actually that bad.
My average error over 91 times taken was 4.46 hundredths of a second.
We could fault the signal from the guns.
We expect to see a good clear flash from the gun - no, we do not start on the bang.
But our starters are not able to get good ammunition at the moment and all we see is a puff of white smoke.
People of a technical nature will realise why we don't start on the bang - sound takes time to travel.
Tomorrow I think we will go to the shop - to collect any monies and have a tidy up.
We should also go and see Julie - who has not been able to get to the shop for some weeks after a fall.
Jamie has a good blog posting - a village fete, including a picture of John


Sunday, August 29, 2010


Discovering items and family.

It was Sunday - up early of course.
We went to Pease Pottage - and I found things to buy; interesting things, which I enjoy having and will enjoy displaying in the shop and hopefully will bring some profit.
I spent a little while pondering on one item. We had got three or 4 aisles away when I knew I had to return to it.
I will photograph it tomorrow.
It is an Edwardian fire screen with stained glass, framed with brass. It is heavy.
I had already asked the price and was told £45.
On my return I asked again and still it was £45, at which I looked a bit doubtful, I guess.
"Make me an offer" said the seller.
I like that game!
I offered £35 - assuming that I would get dragged up to £40 and we would strike a bargain.
Instead the seller just accepted my £35.
I was so pleased to get it.
It needs a good clean. But almost everything else has been written up and sits in the garage waiting for its moment.

A little later we went to meet our nephew, Scott. It is really ages since we have seen him. He served in the navy for many years and ended his navy days in Plymouth. He met a Plymouth girl, a nurse, married and settled into a new job.
He and Vicky, his wife were in Crawley for the weekend with 2 month old Lottie - another great niece for us.
It was lovely to chat with them - such a very nice couple. It feels sad that Scott has grown to manhood without us really knowing him. But at least now, through the wonders of computer communicating we will feel a part of their world.
And Lottie?
She is absolutely gorgeous and smiled and gurgled.

Scott - you are looking rather like Jamie these days.

Great Aunty P enjoys the role.
Lottie is one quarter Burmese and she inherits her beautiful colouring from her Burmese ancestors - but I can see Monk in her face as well.
This afternoon Bill watched the Grand Prix - well done Lewis Hamilton.
Later I sat down and watched another film - one I have seen a good deal of before...."Finding Neverland". It is a charming film (and sad) - and has the added bonus of Johnny Depp.
So, I sat there, peeling potatoes and doing veg for a roast dinner.
Tomorrow we will be timekeeping - no doubt I will have to be chief. It is a long meeting arranged by the Crawley club.
Of course we will be short of timekeepers - but at least we have the electric timekeeping system.
The first August bank holiday meeting we attended was in 1980.
Jamie was beaten by a speedy coloured lad of about 11 or 12 from Herne Hill Harriers.
Wonder what he is doing now.
So, our 30th anniversary tomorrow.

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Saturday, August 28, 2010


Time for a sit down on Littlehampton sea front

That was more like it!
If only all the other days in August had been like this one! We have enjoyed fresh air and sunshine.
We were at the Ford car boot sale at about quarter to eight.
There were so many people there today.
We have found some interesting things to sell and admired other things that we couldn't afford to take on board as stock.
The trolley was well loaded as we went back to the car.
Then we went to Littlehampton for breakfast - back to The Balaton today.
Littlehampton was buzzing - a seaside resort, on a sunny Bank Holiday weekend.
It is a destination very often for church or community groups from south London - mostly Afro Carribean and full of colour and life.
We enjoyed watching them at play and taking a few candid photographs - beautiful young women and bright clothing mainly!
But our aim today was to share with you the Littlehampton bench.
It was officially opened this week and is 324 metres long - though not every part can be sat upon.
It is hoped to extend the bench in the future so that Littlehampton would have the longest bench in the world.

At the moment the bench snakes along the sea front between two shelters, where one could sit out of the rain.
It weaves behind litter bins and round lamp posts.
It is possible to have wooden slats engraved with one's name - at a price.

In the shelters the bench circles and loops making it fun to look at and to play on.

Surprisingly comfortable.

These last two pictures are from a web site.

It was well gone 2 o'clock when we got home. We made a cup of tea and slumped down in front of the TV, entranced by Oklahoma - the musical.
I saw that at the cinema with my Mum when I was about 12 or 13 - presumably very unaware of the dark overtones.
I sat and wrote up my purchases.
So, a lovely day. Tomorrow we will stay closer to home. We will go to the Pease Pottage boot sale and be back in time to go and see the very newest great niece - Lottie who is up from Plymouth.


Friday, August 27, 2010


Is it art?

Yesterday we pondered on the question "Is it art?"
The picture above is said to represent the fragility of both the individual and the general human condition, being tempted ever closer to the grey abyss.
In the 21st century mankind is turning away from the traditional order, rejecting the patterns of history and leaning over the edge into the unknown.

Do you agree with this interpretation? I will add a little more at the end.

I have not been anywhere today - no shopping trips.
This afternoon I began the task of writing up stuff in the garage that has been bought over the last few weeks.
Of course I have forgotten now what I paid for items.
Quite a lot has been done. But the dining room table still needs some attention as I seek to get things done before we go away.
Of course I got distracted by a less than urgent task.
I have been through my old stock and already arranged some boxes with things destined for a car boot sale.
But when?
Maybe we will get down to Ford with it all before Christmas; maybe not until the spring.
We could store it in Frieda's garage next door.

Bill has printed lots of pages for our photograph album which tell the story of my birthday treat. I hope you enjoyed the blog.

We will be going to Ford tomorrow morning - it seems like ages since we were there; in fact only 2 weeks.
I look forward to a rain free morning and some items which will contribute to the antiques shop business.
We will then walk the length of a bench on Littlehampton sea front.
It is a little longer than you might imagine - 324 metres long.
And it is, in its way, a work of art. It twists and turns and undulates. We will enjoy photographing it.

Art is a very subjective medium. People can think what they like about anything that has been created.
If an art pundit has established a name for him/herself then others might listen....and no doubt feel rather inferior for not seeing what the experts can clearly see.
But the interpretation of the bricks in the picture you have seen is not the opinion of an expert.
I made it up.
The bricks are no more than part of the building site outside our house.


Thursday, August 26, 2010


My birthday

Here is the story of my birthday treat day - well, some of it.
There was eating and drinking going on as well.
Too much eating and drinking really!

Some family and friends had thought ahead and sent cards a little before the big day. Well done those people!
We were out before the postman arrived later in the morning.
The quote on the card on the right, made for me by an old school friend says "Grandmas are just antique little girls".
How apt.

This one was taken today to allow all those good wishes to be recorded.
It was still dry when we left home - but the forecast was not good.
Our destination was Eastbourne - officially Britain's sunniest resort; well, not yesterday it wasn't.
The Towner art gallery is very modern and set in Devonshire Park.

I loved these modern chairs.
The building is a masterpiece - but we were there for the art - paintings and photographs.
Eric Ravilious spent time at a spot close to my heart on the South Downs.
When I was a child our parents' only chance to give us a holiday was to buy second hand camping equipment and find a field that would be suitable. All our equipment and our bikes.....and the cat..... were loaded onto a lorry; we didn't have a car. We camped for 3 or 4 weeks, sometimes exploring our own spot and at other times cycling to Newhaven for the beach or further out to all the Sussex villages.
Camp (and the place was just known as that) was a field on Furlongs Farm, below the top of Beddingham Hill, with views across to Mount Caburn. The farmer was Dick Freeman - but much of his farmhouse was let out to artists (must be pronounced with a strong Sussex accent!).
The artists had been coming and going since the 1930s.
One was Eric Ravilious, whose style of art I really appreciate.

Here is a corner of Furlongs Farm, looking up to Beddingham Hill.
In the 1950s there were still haystacks on that spot. I can remember being involved with the building of the stacks and being fascinated by the elevator which took stooks to the top to be moved around by men with pitchforks.
This is a later picture of me outside Furlongs Farm.
It claims to be 1958.
Look at me! Not dressed for a day on the farm. I probably had complained about having to go there at all. I was a teenager (just) and choosing not to be interested in my parents' lives at all. If I hoped for anything that day it was probably that Brian would be there - Dick Freemans' farm boy.

This is a view of camp - looking out towards Furlongs Farm.
Click on the picture to enlarge it a little. (then return by using the back arrow on the computer).
Notice the very flat section we are camped on - with a steep drop down to the valley floor just beyond.
This Ravilious picture shows that flat bit of land - just to the right of the little spinney, which had grown bigger by the time our family were on the scene.
And now I have my own copy of the same scene.
Camp would have been down the slope a bit, to the right of the track - I think.
Eric was an artist and he used his skills to alter the landscape a little to create the flowing lines that he wanted.

The Long Man of Wilmington.
By the time we had finished with pictures - and there was another gallery featuring Sussex scenes - it was raining.
We walked along the sea front towards the centre and a cafe.

After lunch we moved on to Bexhill.
This was the home of my grandparents and the birthplace of my Dad.
So I had seen the De La Warr Pavilion before - but I don't think I had ever been inside.
The building is a work of art - art deco style, completed in 1935.
I love it.

The stair case is a fantastic work of art too.

We walked around - inside and out. But not for long outside, the rain was quite wild.

We were on the balcony for this picture.
We had been admiring the sea, when I turned and saw our reflections in a window.
There was "proper" art within the pavilion.
Though it did lead us to question "What is art?"
This work by Tomoko Takahashi was interesting - wondering what you would see next as you walked past an arrangement of junk....but is it art?

This work by the same artist pleased me more. At least I could understand that he had used some thought about what should be in the room.
The other exhibition was on the flat roof and has achieved critical acclaim. It is a vast set of sculptures by Antony Gormley (he of Angel of the North).
I have read about it and read artistic explanations about the depth of emotions and meanings.
But I didn't really get it!
Its title is Critical Mass.

Maybe it was just too cold and wet up there on the roof.
Maybe my emotions were about not wanting to be out there - maybe that's what the figures were telling me.
My last picture shows the Sussex seaside in August - well, just one day.
It looks even more dreary than it should because my lens got wet and I hadn't really wiped it dry.

That's Bill out there.
So, that was my birthday. It was just as I wanted it.... yes, I would have liked the sunshine.
But I prefer to like things as they are - and wet was what it was.
In fact the birthday continued with the company of Julie and Roger.
I had been looking forward to wine - but I am old enough now to take heed of my body. And yesterday it told me that enough is enough!
But who needs wine to feel content?
I felt content - and tired.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010


A celebration of culture.

Good grief - do birthdays have more hours in them than normal days?
I seem to have packed a good deal into the day.
It is now almost half past eleven - so I am not giving much attention right now to recording our doings.
We have admired and discussed the work of more than one 20th century artist - even been involved with art created within the 21st century.
Eric Ravilious was the star of course.
But we have also walked amongst iron men created by Anthony Gormley.
So - some culture.
There has also been eating and drinking.
Mid morning a drink and a shared flapjack at the art gallery.
Reminded me that I still think Darjeeling tea is the best.
Lunch was not what I really wanted - we went into one place that would have been ideal, but the wait for food to be served was about 40 minutes, so we moved on.
Afternoon tea was at the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill.
Fantastic building.
That is where the Gormley men were.
And we have bought art - I have some Ravilious - but not the finely produced prints. I couldn't justify £200.
And Bill bought 2 framed prints that were created first to be displayed in railway carriages. These were in a charity shop; the staff had been well advised, for they were not cheap - but I think probably have greater value than we paid for them. Ashley is friends with the man who wrote the definitive guide to collecting these pictures.
And it has rained - a lot.
It rained really hard at times.
Miserable weather - not what August should be at all.
I think people have told me that there was sunshine on this day 66 years ago.
This evening we have been with Bill's sister Julie and her husband Roger.
Lots of go0d conversation - and not just about ailments!
We 60 somethings do seem to have amassed ailments a plenty!
Tomorrow there will be photographs.
Good night.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


New Year's Eve - for me.

Well, that's it then .....another year over and a new one, filled with good intentions about to begin.
My intentions are always good you know!
It should be my epitaph - "she lived with good intentions!"

But today was Tuesday and a certain amount of rest has been needed.
I have written up some stock - the things that I bought in yesterday.
The picture shows some of it, and as you see the items are not what I usually have. But the little coffee cups and saucers are attractive and the sort of things that people collect - they are not too big and the costs can be low.

The one in the foreground - grey and blue shows Mount Fuji. When you hold it up to the light a head of a woman can be seen in the base.

Tomorrow we are going to the seaside - an no doubt we will see the sea. But our objective is the modern art gallery in Hastings to see a special exhibition of work by Eric Ravilious.
I love this picture. My childhood holidays were spent in a tent close by this farm. We played in the farm buildings, helped with the harvest and in my case, I mostly ignored the colony of artists who rented the tumbledown farm.
Happy birthday to several other people that I love who have birthdays this week.

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