Sunday, December 30, 2012


Memories of Barker's

This has been the first day since I don't know when that we have seen no other people.
I have caught up with a few things....I hadn't dealt with my shop sales for the week before Christmas, which was perhaps my best week ever.
But seeing no people has not prevented communication.
First there have been some phone calls.
And then this picture sparked a lot of communication.

Lovely isn't it? So full of nostalgia for a long ago time....a time before we were born of course.
It sparked off lots of memories.
Our brother in law was a Barker's man......but not until the 1950's.
Barker's owned taxis and Roger worked with his father in the taxi workshop.
Later Roger went on to own his own taxi company and workshops.
He still drives a taxi today.
Messages and comments came thick and fast.
I especially liked this comment about my brother in law.

Roger Elms could rebuild the Austin Cambridge, from a written off wreck, to pristine in a week, 

clutch in an hour, and they were not easy to work on. 

Good that somebody remembers his skills.

We will be entertaining this wonderman (and Bill's sister too, of course) tomorrow night. Goodness I had almost forgotten about New Year's Eve.
It doesn't feel as significant as in my youth.

Saturday, December 29, 2012


More socialising.

It was a long and special day yesterday.
We arrived at my brother's house at about 11 o'clock and spent the day with a happy collection of my, sister in law, niece, nephew and their spouses, a great nephew, my half brother and sister and their mother ( my father's second wife) and 3 half nephews and nieces.
The party also included some family friends.
How fantastic that we were so well fed and entertained for the day.
We enjoyed a roast beef dinner and Christmas pudding - or other lighter puddings for those that preferred that,
In the afternoon there was a session of present exchanging.
Thank you family for interesting things.
We are a family who have made a point of not adding too much materialistic to Christmas presents - often the presents are second hand and none the worse for that.
In fact - all the better for that!
A grand tea was laid on.
The Christmas season is also the colds and flu season....and some were feeling laid low by the bugs.
Worst off was the 2 year old - a high temperature and total apathy for much of the day about the goings on.
But most had a good run around in the garden during the afternoon for a short while.
I took lots of photos....too many really for a blog posting.
You can find them on Flickr.

If anybody wants any of the photos, please ask. They can't be copied from Flickr.

One of the pictures - my brother and his grandson, who was alert enough to show a little interest in a train book for a short while.

We hadn't planned for another day with family contact today.....but life is good at throwing us bonus days.
We went into the town centre for a short while this morning.
We needed bread and a calendar/diary to hang in the kitchen to keep us organised through 2013.
We also bought a bottle of Suffolk beer for a brother in law, whose birthday is today (he loves Suffolk).
We decided to walk home via their house - not wanting to disturb them for too long, for we knew they were cooking dinner for their immediate family to celebrate the birthday.
But we went in and had a red wine with them.
I guess we were on the point of leaving...most of their guests had arrived, when the door bell rang and there was Bill's and his sister's cousin, who lives in Yorkshire.
We had all been hoping to see her and her husband during this Christmas week sometime.
So, sit back down and have another red wine!
Much chatter and joy at meeting up again.

I guess it was the red wine combined with much socialising, but we both dozed away for the afternoon.
I roused myself to cook a roast dinner - the last of our 4 bird roast that we had enjoyed on Christmas Day.

Thursday, December 27, 2012


A second Christmas begins.

Boxing Day was great.
We spent the day with Bill's sister and her husband.
Great food and drink.
He cooked the Basque chicken for us and we finished the day with her Dundee cake.
Both superb.
It was gentle and relaxing and just perfect for us.
Today has been more normal.....except it feels a bit like Christmas Eve.
Tomorrow is a family party day.....the one day when we do present exchanging.
And presents need to be wrapped.
I did that this afternoon - after we had been out to buy wrapping paper.
Yes, just wrapping paper and a couple of basics like bread and milk.
But we came home with enough to fill the freezer with food for January.
Asda had reduced things well - the things they needed to get rid of.
Like four chicken breast fillets for £1.37 - that's 34p each. I bought 8.
I also bought a chicken for £2 and 2 salmon fillets for £1.10......and more things.
Bill finally came round to the idea that he would create a 2013 calendar...he has been doing a photographic calendar for many years to a high standard.
But I sensed that he might not be feeling so willing this year....normally it would have been done long before now.
So, I planned a calendar of my own.
Once planned, I wanted to do it.
So I have spent the evening slaving over a hot printer - Bill's printer, which is far more efficient than the Epson I bought. That will have to go.
So we will have 2 calendars this year. We selected pictures with no reference to each other - and they have turned out to form quite different reviews of the year.
They are our own memories - but tradition has it that we also give one to our hosts tomorrow. I hope they like them too.
It's getting late and I still have November and December to do.
Good night.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


Christmas Day at the lake.

Christmas Day....and we changed our plans.
Ruth facebooked that she would be going to Tilgate at 2 o'clock - did anybody want to join her?
Mmmm! Not sure! I was in my nightclothes and planning for a good long rest.
But hey! I don't miss opportunities for something different.
We met my half sister and her 2 boys and a friend from Ukraine and her son to walk in the forest and heading down to the lake.

The boys had been hiding in the trees.

What fun! Not another child in the play park. Just our 3.

Nobody there - so maybe Bill could indulge in some play too.

The lake was our destination.
Felix had a remote controlled boat to play with.

The moorhens stayed out of the range of the boat.
The boys were trying to annoy them of course!

I think that the mandarin duck might have escaped from the nature centre.

Ruth and the boys.
"No, Otto, you do it like this"

Bill knew how to do it.....thought it was fun.
Might have to get him a radio controlled boat!
Old Crawley residents will notice the new neat dam at the end of the lake.

Otto waits his turn - clutching the precious Fireman Sam boat.

Suddenly the late, low afternoon sun broke through and created a golden glow over the trees.

There must have been a little rain too.

We were treated to a tiny Christmas rainbow.

Wonderful sunshine glow over the town, with St Mary's Church (about half a mile from our home) standing out proud and tall and bright on this special day.

Scroll down a little to see us at home, enjoying the lazy eating, drinking and resting that we had planned.
Both parts of the day were really good.


Christmas Day at home

We had truly lazy plans for Christmas Day.......but plans can be modified.
The plan had been to stay in nightclothes all day, potter, eat, drink, watch TV and rest. - youngsters call it a PJ day.
So, I prepared some vegetables in readiness for the eating part of the plan.
Then we got dressed quickly to join some family members and a friend up in the forest to walk to the lake.
The rain had stopped and suddenly it seemed like a fun thing to do.

But first - here are some lazy day pictures.....the eating mainly.

The time is quarter past five.
The walk is behind us.
I am carving the meat.....I often wonder how come I get to do carving; surely carving meat is a man's job!
A wine bottle and glass are at my side!

That looks so good.
This year we chose a 4 bird roast.
In the middle you find duck and goose wrapped in turkey. This is wrapped in savoury stuffing and chicken and then wrapped in rashers of bacon and a honey glaze.

Meat is carved. Roast potatoes and roast parsnips are in the roasting pan.  Feeling hungry!

One of us just couldn't wait for a roast potato.

That's my dinner - with lashings of cranberry sauce.
The roast was exceedingly good.

After dinner and Dr Who and a doze, I took a few snaps of our Christmas decorations.

Black and white - ancient and modern.
The white are 1950s plastic.
The black I bought recently when shopping with my grand daughter and we discussed decorating for a Goth Christmas.

I love the old Christmas decorations - 1950s style.
This Father Christmas turns and plays a merry Christmas tune.
The tree is made of wood and painted silver.
We have been out in the past and found a suitable branch and painted it silver ourselves.
But now we have a ready made tree that we bought in a Christmas sale.

I made a collage of Christmas cards.
Some years ago I made the decision not to send cards.
It seems that I was at the head of the trend!
It is noticeable just how many other people are not doing cards these days.
I should think there are half the number we might have got 20 years ago.
It doesn't matter.
The people who matter are in frequent contact anyway and some people have now become good memories from our past.

I hope it has been the Christmas you planned and wanted.
But maybe plans were changed and other good things came your way.
I have been very pleased to be in touch with and visit so many of our family and friends in the run up to Christmas.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


Christmas Day - photos to follow.

Christmas Day will have soon slipped into history for another year.
Tomorrow I will deal with memories and post some photos on the blog.
We got up very late.
My plan was to stay in my nightie all day. But we abandoned that idea and dressed to go for a walk and play with  Ruth and the boys and a young mother from Ukraine and her son.
The boys had a radio controlled boat to power and so Tilgate Lake was the destination.
The rain had stopped and it was quite mild.
Good to get out and have some fresh air.
When we got home I changed back into nightie and dressing gown and cooked the dinner.
The 4 bird roast had gone in the oven before we walked.
It was exceedingly good we thought.
We enjoyed a big dinner - but no pudding. Just didn't need it.
We watched Dr Who......after which I fell asleep for a while.
It has been good.
Hope it has been good for you too.

Monday, December 24, 2012


Ready for a happy day.

I assume that our bodies cope with most things - but when given the opportunity to shut down, then that is what they do.
This evening I am exhausted.
Totally exhausted.
I am so happy now that we have some time to rest and potter on our own.
We have seen so many people in the last week or so - not as many as we might have planned to see, but we have hardly been at home for some days.
Today we have been busy - very busy.
Fortunately, as far as we know, everything that left the shop had been paid for!
Steve had to spend quite a while working out how to get a recording of yesterday's incident out of the machine. He did it and we enjoyed a while watching it.
The woman had a book of mine under her arm for a long time....I wonder why. It would have been priced at about £4. We saw that she couldn't cope with the book once she had assumed she was safe to bag the phone. It was not an ordinary old was a metal stick phone and came with a heavy wooden bell box.
Meanwhile customers came and went.
Gifts were being bought along with items for home use.
The very last sale of the day was to a boy - about 18, I would guess. I spent a while looking at brooches that his mother might like. Which one did I like? Well I hope she likes the delicate one I chose with inlaid abalone shell.
Well, a cup of tea and sleep beckons. I have been enjoying so many messages and pictures on facebook.
Father Christmas must be prepared for glasses of milk, mince pies, apples for reindeers and so on. People are dressed up, some are cooking or have cooked things, lovely pictures of a family meal in Thailand (not our family). Family and friends are ready for a day that is special to them.
Bill and I will have a long lie in and then get up and cook a big dinner, watch Dr Who and no doubt fall asleep again with some ginger wine. No walk is planned this year.
Happy Christmas everybody.

Sunday, December 23, 2012


A good half and a not so good half.

A day like life really - a mix of good and bad.
I suppose it was bad that we woke up and got up later than planned.
My first job (after a cup of tea) was to walk round seeing neighbours.
That was such a pleasure.
The first flowering plant went to some fairly recently moved in neighbours who I had never even spoken to until this morning.
The family live at the other end of our row. They stand out by being different - a family and an elderly mother in a wheel chair. Father has long flowing hair and frequently wears white clothes typical of his ethnic background and place of worship.
This morning we found a Christmas card from the family through the door and it was obvious that they had probably sent one to everybody in the row.
I was touched that they had used this time of year to reach out to their new neighbours. And he (Tariq) was equally touched that I responded.
What a lovely man - I knew that I would always be happy to talk with him in the future.
I had also decided to include, this year, another family of a non European background. We have known them for many years actually. They come originally from North Africa and I believe have some Moslem connections. Abdel is lovely - indeed we know that this family make for really good neighbours.
Abdel and Nassima were out....that's the parents. The door was opened by Hannan - haven't seen her much for ages. Well, it was obvious why we have not seen much of her....she finished at university this summer.
I just thought she was so special - a lovely girl.
She thinks we should go over for  a tea or coffee some time soon.
My little plants have made us some good new friends.
But they have also confirmed the friendship and neighbourliness of those we have known for ages.

It was quarter past eleven by the time I got home.
We went to Horley for a good plate of eggs benedict and then on to Dorking to help in the shop.
Steve had been on his own for a couple of hours.
We arrived just in time!
Shortly after I had sat at the desk he rushed by, demanding to know if the woman who had just left had bought a telephone.
She hadn't - but she had one in her bag!
Steve rushed after her and apprehended her firmly.
"Let me go" shrieks were heard along the street.
Some thought she was being attacked.
I phoned the police. Soon the street had police personnel running along to sort things out - before I had finished talking.
This woman must be brazen or crazy.
She is known to us, and the police.
Indeed it is not the first time she has been apprehended by Steve.
She also had items from other shops in her bag - just as last time.
She was handcuffed and carted off - Christmas in the cells?
Then police were with us (mostly Steve) and taking statements.
All is well. The police were fantastic - Steve was fantastic. The goods are back with us.
And gradually we got ourselves back into a proper way of dealing with customers - whisky glasses sold, spoons sold, a silver plated champagne bucket sold and so on.
I sold a book for me.
I tidied up a bit and then we went home - ready to go back tomorrow morning to see how many people will be wanting things on Christmas Eve.

Saturday, December 22, 2012


Lesley's menagerie.

I am tired.
Days of visiting lots of people has worn me out.....that and doing it with claggy sinuses.
But it has been fun.
Today we went to see an old school friend. I guess calling unannounced can be a bit cruel.....poor Mags had been enjoying a lazy morning and had just gone up stairs to wash and dress for the day; we interrupted the dressing part of the routine.
But who cares what people are wearing (and yes, she was wearing something!) when you have lots of chatting to do!
From Mag's house near Horsham we were off to Handcross. Marion was not at home.
So we continued on to to visit Bill's sister in Haywards Heath.
Lots more talking!
Bill's sister and her husband are animal lovers, collectors and hoarders. I would think the animals take most of their attention. There are cats, a rabbit, 3 guinea pigs, 3 birds and some fish. And only the fish are confined to quarters!
Well the rabbit has taken up residency in the small conservatory - doesn't bother with his hutch.

The guinea pigs are in hutches - but love to come out for a cuddle; and I was happy to oblige.

The hutches are in the living room.

There are cages for the birds but they fly freely round the room.

Here they are on the curtain rail.

I have no pictures of cats.
One, sadly was not at home. He has spent much of the last 2 weeks at the vets. Mulder is surely in the last part of his life.
I hope the people and the animals have a happy Christmas....and presume that by Tuesday they (the humans) might have found some space to sit down and eat their dinner.
It surely is a home where the animals take precedence over the animals. Bless them!

Friday, December 21, 2012


People and plants

Somebody from America asked me today if it is a British thing to go visiting lots of friends and family just before Christmas.
I am sure I am not alone in doing this.....but I replied that it was a Grandma P thing.
Having decided that Christmas cards were not my chosen method of reaching out to folks, I had to replace it with something.
So, now, each year we stock up with small flowering plants - from a nurseryman at a car boot sale, and then take them to as many people as we can reach out to.
It is so gratifying when people tell me of past plants which are still surviving and flowering regularly.
We can't post them of course.
I haven't actually done it yet, but a printed letter of greetings and news will be posted to the few people who we can't reach through the computer.
The same will be sent by Email to other people who I am not in touch with everyday through facebook, blog or email.
I have got very behind with this part of my Christmas routine.
But I will get there.
Today has been like yesterday - people to see, plants to deliver, cups of tea to drink.....and later a good tea with family. We were out and about for about 10 hours.
We began to get our Christmas decorations in place on this Winter Solstice day - very much a day worth celebrating; but we didn't have time to do all we wanted.
Tomorrow is another day for decorations and also for more visiting.
I will add a few pictures of young family members- for those that won't be seeing them any other way.
I have some beautiful nieces and nephews - all of whom are great!

So proud that I had wanted to take a photo of his drawing.

Christmas hats that we had given to our nephew and niece.
They opened their presents early because they had been enjoying an early Christmas Day in our part of the country.

Thursday, December 20, 2012


Christmas time - tea and biscuit time!

Christmas Time - Mistletoe and wine......well, not yet.
For us it has been a day of Christmas time - cup of tea and biscuit time.
We began - later than we should have - to begin delivering the little cyclamen plants to our family and friends close at hand. Sorry - no flowering plants are being posted!
"We must be firm" we said to each other...."Tell them that is no time to stop"
Of course it didn't happen.
Brother in law, Dave answered the door to us and immediately put the kettle on.
It was lovely - we don't see Sheila and Dave very much; And Sheila was at work, so Dave could hold the floor for a change. Though we were sorry to miss Sheila.
Time spent chatting and playing with Danny the dog. Extraordinary - the minute I removed my little camera from my bag, Danny turned his back on me and hid. I hadn't pointed it or flashed it. He just knew what I might be up to.
Then we delivered to my family who live close by. Jenny had to get out shopping.
Michael and Beverley were out. I hope by now, they have found the little cyclamen in  a plant pot by the front door.
Pam was at home.....time for a cup of tea! Time to play with another dog.
Called on Carla on the way back to our house - she was at work. We admired her lovely bauble wreath and left the plant by the front door.

We warmed up some pumpkin soup that had been in the freezer and then set off again.
We would just get 3 plants delivered before dark.
Or so we thought.
Or did we really think so?
We would call on Den and Ru first - a couple in their 80s, who live in the house next door to the one where all Bill's family grew up.
So much reminiscing about the good old days.
Time for a cup of tea and delicious home made shortbread coated in chocolate.

So, tomorrow we we will be out again.
But I also want to pull out our Christmas decorations and get as much up as we feel is fitting.
This evening I have cut the cards we have received to make a collage on the door of Christmassy pictures and greetings.

Snapshots of the day.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Preparing for the feast under the mistletoe.

Another late morning for us.....lots of sleep.
This afternoon we thought we would get the main part of household shopping done - just bread, milk, veg and fruit remain which needs to be bought fresh every few days.
It was pouring with rain and we set off to East Grinstead to see what Aldi could provide for our festive season.
Now I can respond positively to the question "What will you be having for Christmas dinner?"
We will be having turkey, duck, goose and chicken! Four layers of meat and a layer of stuffing rolled to make a large joint. It should keep us well fed for a few days.
Our plan had been to call on my sister in law after shopping was done.
It was dark by then (half past four) and still pouring with rain.
We didn't take the most obvious route and ended up on the Tunbridge Wells road. But that was fine...we could drop down to Dormansland (home of many an ancestor 150 years ago) and then turn into the lane we wanted.
But it was dark and raining....bright headlights dazzled our vision and we didn't find the road.
We decided to return to East Grinstead and go back home.
We remembered that even in the light we often miss the drive way to sister in law's house.
Tomorrow can be a day of calling on people and delivering our little flowering plants with which we celebrate local kinships and friendships. Better work out a good route and take a diary so that we can promise to call back on people after Christmas when we will have more time and I will have less germs.

Now back to yesterday evening. As predicted the photos were not really good....nay, even quite poor, some of them.
The light was poor and I didn't want to use flash....and those dancers would keep moving about!
But here are a few to give you a flavour.

The Broadwood Morris Men.
They will be performing outside various pubs over Christmas and New Year, so we will go and enjoy them again.

I think I have captured colour, movement and joy.
This group of dancers is Magog.

Maypole dancing.

Martin Wyndham Read.
I do recall him from my teenage years when I was a member of the Crawley folk club.

The huge ball of mistletoe was lit up for the entire evening.

The dragon and flute.

After our Christmas carol singing, the music continued as performers and audience mingled, some danced together, and each person waited for their piece of the mistletoe ball.

And here's me with my mistletoe....lots of lots of berries; so maybe I shall get lots and lots of kisses!

Looking forward to hanging it on Friday - Winter Solstice is my time to decorate and celebrate.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


Night out with folk.

Oh my poor readers!
Deprived of a blog posting yesterday.
I wasn't ill - but extremely tired.
My body behaved perfectly at the shop during the day yesterday and then closed down once we got home.
Lots of it.
I didn't do very much during today either....yes, there was some sleeping.
And - hooray!
I felt very ready to go out for the evening.
We went to Maypoles to Mistletoe - an evening of folk music, dancing, stories and rhymes and the traditional mummers' play.
The main man was Martin Wyndham Read - a professional folk singer for 50 years, who grew up in these parts.
He has produced Maypoles to Mistletoe for 40 years now - the first was in Crawley and there are 4 performances this year.
Why did I never know of it before?
It was good - above all it was fun; but also poignant as the sense of each season was explored.
The show reached its performance with cold dark December .....and Christmas.
We ended with some boisterous singing of Christmas carols.
I felt very at home - a long time since I actually went to folk clubs. Maybe the time is right to return.
I liked being in touch with the seasons.....being in touch with my pagan side!
I came home with a large bunch of mistletoe - the first of my pagan greenery for the season.
I took some photos - from a distance, without flash - so they are probably all rubbish. I will look tomorrow.

Sunday, December 16, 2012



Oh woe is me!
Really not feeling up to much.
Sniff, cough and atishoo!
It is just as well we didn't follow through on tentative plans to go to Wiltshire today.
I have worked a bit - stuff bought yesterday is written up. Not all of it can go to the shop tomorrow. I put some on our own shelves for me to enjoy over Christmas.
I have a  roast dinner cooking in the oven.
I am thinking I shall be in bed shortly after our meal.
I remind myself that the evenings always feel worse when you have a cold - tomorrow morning will feel better.....I hope.
Hope you stay free of the various winter least a cold is preferable to the Norovirus gastric bug.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


Treatment for the common cold.

Yesterday I wouldn't allow myself to think that I had a cold.
But I have.
And my chosen treatment for this malady? Off out early to buy at a car boot sale and after some breakfast, a walk in the bracing breeze.....or fierce wind, depending on how you look at it.
I have to laugh at the reaction of a computer user who googles "treatment for the common cold" and gets my page of ramblings.
I bought well at Ford.

My kitchen looks like a shop!

This is just some of  what I bought. I got all of this from one stall.

No, that's not true - I bought the 1960's mirror from a couple that we have got to know.

We had our eggs benedict in The George in Littlehampton.
Then walked along by the river and on the beach.
The wind cleared my head a little.

We enjoyed watching birds.
Have you ever watched sea gulls stamping on the ground to bring the worms to the surface? They look quite comical.
There were also flocks of starlings swooping about.

This evening I feel weary.....but I think I would have felt just as weary (maybe worse) without such an enjoyable morning.

Friday, December 14, 2012


A day out.

What a lot of rain today! Not the sort of day really for a day out - but one had been arranged.
Bill's sister, Pam, came with us to pick up cousins Ann and Betty for day out in Tunbridge Wells.
We had lunch at The Opera House. It is a Wetherspoon's pub.

Then I dragged them into the museum and art gallery.
The art gallery had works of art and craft by young artists that were for sale.
The prices were high.
But it was lovely to see some of the work.

This is part of a larger picture depicting The Pantiles in Tunbridge Wells.

It has all been created with a sewing machine.

The museum has a wonderful and extensive display of Tunbridge Ware.
This box depicts The Pantiles. My camera has picked out how Tunbridge ware is made, with strips of different colour woods.

I have used this picture before in a blog posting.
It shows the Pantiles box as the human eye sees it.

Through the dolls' house window.

Then we old folk managed to have some silly fun...... we tried on hats in the children's dressing up box.
Replica hats.

That's Betty with Bill.

My eyes settled upon the net - didn't see just how tatty this hat had become.

Pam felt more at ease in the top hat.

Self portrait of mad bonnet woman!

Sadly, Ann missed out on the hats. She felt she couldn't manage the stairs up to the museum and gallery.

The rain had eased by the middle of the afternoon. We thought we might take a stroll along The Pantiles. But I realised we would need to find somewhere to park the car very close, for Ann.
We didn't find anywhere.

So we drove back - through roads and lanes, deeply puddled......almost at flood point.
We stopped in Edenbridge for a bit of shopping.
The cousins were taken to their homes.
And we got home exhausted.
I have a minor had better remain minor. I have a sinus infection of some sort - make me feel hazy and head achy.
Sleep beckons.

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