Sunday, 2 October 2022

Just Keep Going...

Many people are really struggling with life right now, for all sorts of different reasons. I found lots of images for this anonymous quote. I really liked this one, for its autumnal colours, and because it says 'us' and 'we' - this is something we are doing together.
I was about to hit 'publish' and then I saw the typo at the end of the quote.
"strom" is a Viking word, meaning a strong tidal stream. Maybe it is not a typo after all. As Isaiah 43 says
Don’t be afraid…you’re mine. When you’re in over your head, I WILL be there with you. When you’re in rough waters, you will NOT go down. 

Saturday, 1 October 2022

Winter Weeds?


Despite the title, this is not another gardening post. There is an old English expression, "winter-gewēode" which I found in my Word Hord book. It means winter weeds and refers to the clothes worn in winter time. As a child, I remember people using the expression widow's weeds, when a woman wore black clothes following the death of her husband. 

It seemed strange- why were these clothes weedy? As I learned from Hana Videen's book, there are two very similar words in Old English...

wǣd [pronouned wadd] meaning clothing, and

wēod [pronounced way-dd] a useless plant or weed

The term winter-weeds  was around at the time of the Battle of Hastings [but widow's weeds are not recorded until around 500 years later, in the Middle English Old Testament, Genesis 38;14]
It is the first of October, and the nights are getting longer, the weather is getting cooler - so I shall sort out my wardrobe - lighter summer dresses will be put away, warm woollen skirts unpacked. This system has worked well for me for many years - and it is a good opportunity to cull the clothes.
There are some summer garments I have not worn since retiring, and they will be sent off to the CS if they are saleable, recycled if not. And the wonderful vacpac bags will compress the remainder. 
The downsizing/decluttering continues.

And I am not sure that I have really regretted getting rid of anything yet - although I did say to Bob that I might have used my Palm Tree in the Nativity Tableau. Then I realised I couldn't have put it in the stable, and it is not weatherproof or strong enough to stand outside! The October page on my calendar is definitely an encouragement in this respect.
So today will definitely be a day for weeding out my wardrobe.
Or as the Old English would put it
Time to 
wēod out the wǣds

Friday, 30 September 2022


This is a special post on behalf of my friend
. I know many of you reading this will also be followers of ElizabethD [Barbara] at "Small Moments". She lives in Cornwall and for some years now has been primary carer for her husband. She messaged me this morning to say he is now reaching the end of his life. She is being supported by family and friends- but she has asked for your prayers.

Many of us have grown very fond of this wise and gracious lady - Bob and I were privileged to visit her and her dear husband in their home, two years ago. 

I don't want to say any more right now - just to pass on her request, at this sad time. Thank you. 

In Which Ang Becomes A Stripper

The latest Memory Bear has just been completed - this time with only three shirts, not the usual four. It is for the mother of a young man who died too soon - and lived mostly in teeshirts and jeans. So I used some denim to make the backpack. I always ask if the family would like any leftover fabric returned - they usually say "No, you can keep it"
So I have a bag of shirt bits in the loft. I got it down this week, and sorted and ironed everything. Buttons [and interesting labels] were removed and stored - and then I cut off cuffs and collars, and separated the pieces into fronts, backs, sleeves and yokes. 
I cut every piece into a rectangle, and put large trimmings into a rag bag for Bob's workshop, small pieces into the bin. I ironed all the rectangles, and got out my BigShot Die Cutter, and my fancy new dies.

The instructions say you can cut up to eight 
layers - and if you fold the fabric carefully, make strips 5 yards long!

However my strips are mostly around 24" long, which is the length of the die - and about the length of a shirt back. It did not take me very long to produce hundreds of neat strips 2½" wide.
I have another carrier bag of shirt bits to 'strip', and then I am going to start planning my quilt. I borrowed this book from the library for inspiration.
It is full of quilts made using Moda 'Jelly Roll' packs, but I want to create my quilt using Memory Bear Strips. Once I have all my strips, I shall play around with them, and see what ideas I come up with.
But Kirsten has just sent me a package- so the next instalment of The Postcard Project has to be done first.

Thursday, 29 September 2022

Off The Beat, On The Box

There are fewer 'bobbies on the beat' these days. But there are still plenty of 'bobbies on the box'. I quite like Police/Crime Dramas on TV - British ones, 'Eurocrime' and shows from the USA. With the autumn setting in, and evenings growing darker, the TV schedules are adapting...
Perez [Dougie Henshall] has finally flown south from Shetland [in search of a new electric razor?] and left Tosh and Sandy to run the police station.
The ending felt a bit unsatisfactory - is his mate Duncan [Mark Bonnar] still in prison?
Ridley [Adrian Dunbar] has finished his blues number, shut the lid of the piano and shuffled away into the night. Is he embarking on travels with his wee donkey? 
I have yet to watch Bloodlands [with James Nesbitt] - I didn't see series 1, and so won't start on series 2. It has not had good reviews.Does anyone have any comments on this one?
I did watch Crossfire during an ironing marathon. Keeley Hawes was a policewoman in Line of Duty, and plays an ex copper in this one. Her spouse is Lee Ingleby [who was George Gently's sidekick for years] This one was rubbish - I ended up not really liking any of the characters [apart from one particularly thoughtful couple, who were less self-centred than all the others]  At least the ironing got done!

Ben Miller is back as Professor T [having stopped being a policeman in Death in Paradise, where he got stabbed to death] It's fun - almost as good as the original Belgian series. And Frances De La Tour continues to delight, at the ripe old age of 78, as she plays his eccentric mother.
A new series, which began on Sunday, I found really enjoyable, and thought provoking. It is set in St Andrews- a beautiful Scottish town where I have had two lovely holidays. 
And based on a book by Val McDermidd [whose crime novels are always well written] with the screen play developed by Emer Kenny [Bunty from 'Father Brown']
There are two more episodes to go, and Bob and I have been discussing whodunnit and why. KP is refreshingly 'normal' - none of the inner angst which besets too many TV cops. Lauren Lyle plays the title character in a totally believable way. I have not read Val D's KP series [yet] but I understand there have been significant changes for the TV show. Not least the decades when things happen. 
Did you watch any of these shows? How did you rate them? 
Bob is now talking about visiting Scotland for a holiday sometime. St Andrews, rather than Shetland, I suspect.

Wednesday, 28 September 2022

To Die For?

One thing on my "retirement-to-do-list" was to make a quilt. There are loads of boxes of fabric in the loft, despite giving away more than my own body weight in stuff before the move. Earlier in the year we were in a CS in Norwich and Bob pointed out some boxes of Quilting Dies. "Are they any good to you?" he said. They were new and unopened 
They were for the Accuquilt system, and although two sets were for a 12" machine, I knew one box of shapes would work in my 6" Sissix Big Shot. 
I splashed out £10 on this set which would prepare shapes quickly and easily. The following day my dear friend Val and her husband visited us - they were on holiday in Norfolk. She told me she'd bought herself an Accuquilt cutter when she retired. It had a few dies, and the strip cutter was really useful. But she said the dies were so expensive!**
I was in Norwich again a couple of days later - they'd still got the two 12" sets, but had reduced them to half price, £20 each. They were soon sent off to Kent! "oh I'm so glad to get rid of them" said the Manager "they've hung about for months and I was going to bin them"
I was busy with memory bears, and grandchildren, and other stuff. Quilting plans postponed... Then in July our local wool and fabric shop in Dereham closed down. They had a pack of Sissix dies to cut 2.5“ strips, along with the cutting pads reduced to less than half price. Yippee! 
I borrowed lots of books from the library, and trawled the Net looking for ideas. I made two quilts in 2010 which are in the back bedroom, but I want to do something different this time. 
And my plans are starting to come together, watch this space...
**I've since discovered that the total cost of these three Accuquilt sets would be in excess of £700!

Tuesday, 27 September 2022

I''m Spitting Horse Feathers

I am fuming. REALLY upset. Whilst the country is still getting its act together after the death of the Queen, the government is pushing through all sorts of measures to 'help the economy' which are so short-sighted, and will end up spoiling our countryside. Here's their poster about 'investment zones'
Paragraph 3 says "reforms to increase the speed of delivering development"
Which will be done through the "liberalised planning rules to release more land for housing and commercial development" mentioned in paragraph 2.
Let's look at a map
The green areas are the counties designated as 'investment zones' - yes #22 is Norfolk where I live [#12 is Dorset, #18 Kent and #14 Essex- all lovely counties where I have lived] But please note the purple and orange areas in these countries or along their coast. These are SACs and SPAs. 
And the official GovUk website will tell you that Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs) are protected and designated sites under the EC Habitats and Birds Directives. The Directives list habitat types and species that are considered to be most in need of conservation at a European level. An obligation for this is a programme of species and habitat monitoring across the site. 
Yet this government is planning to scrap these protections, and allow planners, builders, and big diggers tp plough up our countryside, destroy habitats and ruin the natural environment.
The RSPB have tweeted about this [and let's face it, they are the number one experts in tweeting and twitterfeed] “Make no mistake, we are angry. This government has today launched an attack on nature,” the RSPB tweeted. “As of today, from Cornwall to Cumbria, Norfolk to Nottingham, wildlife is facing one of the greatest threats it’s faced in decades.”

Beccy Speight, the charity’s chief executive, said: “Nature is already in trouble. Taken together, these announcements, combined with the rumoured watering down of the new land management schemes for farming, could be the final nail in its coffin...Our economy and our health depend on a thriving natural world.”
The Wildlife Trusts, and have joined the RSPB in criticising these plans. Craig Bennett, the trust’s chief executive, said environmental organisations were previously reassured over nature protections lost through Brexit, but now nature is in “catastrophe”. In a strongly worded tweet in support of the RSPB, the Wildlife Trusts said: “Make no mistake – we are also incredibly angry. We stand with RSPB England in calling out the unprecedented attack on nature launched by UK government over the last few days. We’ll be challenging this together and asking for our supporters to stand with us....Farming reform was supposed to be the silver lining but now the government looks set to renege on that too...We need more nature.”
I have never belonged to the RSPB [to be honest, 6½ yr old Rosie can identify far more wild birds than I can] and thoughtlessly** considered the majority of its members to be middle aged men carrying fancy cameras with long lenses, chirpy children in anoraks with binoculars round their necks, or older women carrying folding stools and flasks of coffee to sustain them as they sat in the hides. All very pleasant, affable people who would not say 'boo' to a goose [in case it flew away and deserted the nest] but now these gentle nature lovers will be rising up in droves and spitting horse feathers [no birds injured in that activity] 
The National Trust is also critical of these plans [I do belong to the NT] 
As a Christian, I am called to be a good steward of Creation.  I want Rosie, George, Jess and Jacob to be able to enjoy this beautiful countryside as they grow up. 
Liz Truss is Member of Parliament for South West Norfolk - just along the A47 from here. If she ever deigns to visit her constituency, I may go and join the demo.

Monday, 26 September 2022

"Pomp And Circumstance"

During the Period of National Mourning, many events were postponed or cancelled. Including The Last Night Of The Proms. So no Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance March, no sea-songs, no Kanneh-Mason, no Harriet Walter, no flag waving or cheering...
But we got plenty of Pomp and Pageantry in the last fortnight didn't we? Nobody does the 'ceremonial' stuff quite as well as the Brits imho.
Many of the mourners were in sombre black, but the flags, the uniforms and the flowers were a riot of colour. Gold and jewels present everywhere - in the splendour of the crown, orb and sceptre on the top of the coffin, the bright sashes, the rainbow stripes of medal ribbons, the 'scrambled egg' braiding round shoulders, caps and cuffs.
I thought the BBC coverage was excellent [ok there was the occasional technical hitch, but given the miles of cabling, hundreds of microphones, and dozens of cameras, I thought they did Jolly Well]
One commentator said "We will each look back on this time, and have our own special memory, of something that stood out for us"
The last state funeral [not a ceremonial one] was for Sir Winston Churchill in January 1965. I was nine. We spent Saturday morning glued to our tiny monochrome TV set. 
I remember four things distinctly from that day
  1. Hearing the music "The Dead March in Saul" for the first time. Dad said it was by Handel, who wrote the Messiah
  2. Watching MV Havengore transport the coffin up the Thames- as there was an RAF flypast, and the cranes at the dockside dipped in respect
  3. Richard Dimbleby's solemn commentary in perfect English
  4. Going with Dad to join the long queue outside the chip shop afterwards - like many other families, we hadn't thought about preparing lunch!
What will I remember about Monday's ceremony?
Ten royal mourners behind the coffin, marching steadily for 1¼ miles. One of them a woman of 72 - and 5 of the men aged over 60. The oldest, Prince Richard of Gloucester aged 78. [further back were the Duke of Kent, 80, and Prince Michael of Kent, 86] 
That's a mighty long way to march when the eyes of the world are watching you. Especially when you are feeling the loss of someone you had known and loved all your life. And you are a pensioner yourself
Two BBC commentators in particular - the lovely Welsh lilt of Huw Edwards, and the rich Irish brogue of Fergal Keane. [Scots, English and other accents were available, but these two stood out for me]  They spoke wisely and well, and were not afraid to leave times of silence and reflection- no need to fill every second with pointless jabbering.
Those two little children - Prince George and Princess Charlotte. They behaved impeccably. [I recall my girls were a similar age when they attended my mother's funeral - obviously a much smaller affair, only a few hundred there - but it was still a significant event for them] 
The Queue - which we will no doubt talk about for years to come. 
But why did that woman go round seven times - and was she not therefore selfishly taking the place of six others who finally got to the front of the queue and were turned away? David Beckham humbly queuing with the 'ordinary' people, in honour of his Grandad. The initiative of the person who realised that no food could be taken into Westminster Hall, so arranged for all the confiscated, but unopened, packets of crisps, biscuits, and drinks to be redistributed to homeless and hungry Londoners. 
The rainbow over the city which summed it all up. 
"I trace the rainbow thru the rain, and feel the promise is not vain, that morn shall tearless be..."
One thing Fergal Keane said seemed so poignant that I stopped what I was doing and wrote down his words. The procession proceeded steadily at 75 paces per minute, guided by Lance Cpl Chris Diggle, on his horse Apollo. I'll always remember that FK described it as 
"The steady beat of the drum, the metronome of grief"

I refuse to be drawn into discussions about what Holly and Phillip were doing [they do not matter to me] 
Or why the Prime Minister read the Bible passage as if she did not understand the words [surely someone would have rehearsed it with her?]
Having queued for my Covid Booster on Friday, I did just wonder- couldn't they have saved a lot of time if everyone exiting the Lying In State Queue was offered their jab there and  then before they went home? That would have got around a quarter of a million inoculated!

What will you remember of the day, if anything?