Tuesday 31 January 2017

Glad To Be Back

I will blog about it all later! 

Monday 30 January 2017

Norman Mania In Albania

People have accused me of making this up - but it really is true. The rest of the world reveres the great Albanian, Mother Teresa, a nun - and the Albanians revere the great Briton, Norman Wisdom, a comedian!! This all dates back more than fifty years...

A Britain that experienced the psychedelic surrealism of Monty Python’s Flying Circus and the so-called ‘satire boom’, featuring such edgy programmes as 'That Was The Week That Was', no longer had any time for an old guard slapstick figure like Norman Wisdom. However, at the same time, Albania was experiencing a dictatorship that violently suppressed any such satire. 
In the age of the Cold War, the country was controlled by Enver Hoxha [aka The Iron Fist of Albania], a neo-Stalinist dictator with a great hatred of the decadent, capitalist West. 
Sir Norman's were the only Western films that were allowed to be shown during the dictatorship. Hoxha deemed that Sir Norman's films, in which his alter-ego Pitkin got the better of his bosses, were a Communist parable on class war

Although Norman Wisdom’s comedy was seen as dated and old-fashioned in his home country from the advent of colour television in the early 1960s, he became a legend in Albania.  Sir Norman’s popularity increased even more through his charitable support for orphanages in Albania. In 2002, comedian Tony Hawks, and lyricist Sir Tim Rice got together and wrote a song called “Big In Albania” – the 87 year old recorded it with them [calling themselves ‘Norman and the Pitkins’ in honour of his hapless film character] and it was filmed in the country. It got to #18 in the Albanian Charts

When he passed away, in 2010, the government declared a national day of mourning for the comedian. Teuta Starova, the deputy head of the Albanian embassy in London, said: “There’s been a big reaction to his death in Albania, people feel very sad. During the Communist regime, when life was harsh and we were very isolated, he was the only window we had into Western culture. Through his films Albanians learned to appreciate British humour. Lines from his films became part of everyday life. For us, he was as big as Charlie Chaplin.” 

Sunday 29 January 2017

Sisters In Christ

Mary and Martha in a bronze stature by Annette Everett. The piece is titled "Duet". The artist says; 
A story is told in the New Testament about two sisters. Mary sat at the feet of the Saviour and was taught by Him, and Martha, who felt encumbered about with care seeing to everyone's needs. This sculpture is about the Mary and the Martha in each of us; we are both Mary and Martha. Our life is a balance of the necessary responsibilities that demand our time, and the quiet moments spent in spiritual and creative pursuits. Mary's gaze is directed upward, representing our spiritual and creative intent. Martha's gaze is directed down, earthward, her arms full of chores that must be done, focused on her duties and responsibilities. Both qualities are necessary and noble. If either part of our nature is neglected, we are incomplete and unhappy. The two figures, tied together with flowing skirts, form a single graceful whole.
When you read this, I shall be with my friend Siobhan in Albania, meeting with the women there from the Women's World Day of Prayer movement. Our strapline is "Informed Prayer- Prayerful Action" This sculpture reminds me that we must hold spiritual disciplines and earthly responsibilities in balance. 
I think it is a beautiful sculpture [thank you Jim for telling me about it]

Saturday 28 January 2017

From Albania, Anyway

Mother Teresa MC, known in the Catholic Church as Saint Teresa of Calcutta, was an Albanian-Indian Roman Catholic nun and missionary. She was born in Skopje in 1910 and died in Kolkata [Calcutta] India in 1997. I think she is probably the world's most famous Albanian. Since her death, in some quarters her work has been discredited, and her motives questioned. 

However nobody can deny that she sought to bring comfort to the poor and the dying - and that much of what she said was wise and helpful.
This blog recently quoted something I had written here, and one of the comments which followed that post reminded us of something Mother Teresa once wrote. I think it is worth passing on - particularly for those who might feel a bit discouraged at the minute, anyway...

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centred.
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.
Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.
Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.
Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten.
Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.
Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God.
It was never between you and them anyway.

Mother Teresa

Friday 27 January 2017

Just In Case

When I was out at Rosie's Rhymetime Group in the Library, alongside the shelf of books for sale, I found a random basket of odds-and-ends priced at 10p each. So I purchased this cute little spotty tin suitcase and relabelled it.

I have no idea what the weather will be like in Albania this weekend. Last weekend it was a little bit chilly in Ferndown. The knitting pattern I used for the cardigan for Isla [the 18" AG doll owned by my friend] included one for a hat - so I used up a leftover ball of soft grey green yarn to make a hat and scarf.

I put the hat and scarf in the case, with clear instructions as to what to do next. My plan is to send the case back in a few weeks, containing another outfit.

Thursday 26 January 2017

Two Years On, And Still Travelling

It is exactly two years since we left Kirby Muxloe and moved to Ferndown. I cannot begin to list all that has happened - good and not so good - in that time. But although I still miss my dear friends back in Leicestershire, this is clearly the right place and the right time for us here now. God has blessed us with good friends and kind neighbours here too.
Today I am travelling again - just for a long WWDP weekend in Albania. Not quite so much luggage - just two bags. I've had my haircut too - the back of my neck feels very cold.
See you later!

Wednesday 25 January 2017

Our Diet - In Black And White [And Clean]

Did you watch Horizon last week? Dr Giles Yeo, a Cambridge biochemist [originally from San Francisco, gaining his Masters at Berkeley] investigated the current craze for "Clean Eating". He demonstrated that although the 'stars' of this movement tend, on the whole, to be attractive young women [Ella Mills-nee-Woodward, the Hemsley sisters, Natasha Corrett, Amelia Freer etc] many of them developed their ideas from work done by 'gurus' who all seem to be middle aged/elderly men in the USA.

It was rather alarming to hear stories of quacks [some had rather questionable medical qualifications] who put people on gluten free, alkaline, or other types exclusion diets. These men not only charged them loads of money, but promised cures for cancer and a lot more besides. And some of their customers died - and some of these men have been prosecuted for malpractice.
Sadly the doctors didn't seem to see a problem. Nor were they willing to accept that their hokum did not stand up to rigorous scientific scrutiny.
The young women - who still appear to be healthy and attractive - have, for the most part, withdrawn any endorsements they may have given these guys in the past.
“What even is clean eating after all? I never said I was clean! I’m about purity, not eating clean!” ...When the Hemsley sisters spoke out against clean eating at the launch of their pop-up shop in Selfridges recently earlier this month, they denied all links “It is a media-coined term,” Jasmine insisted “We have never, ever used the phrase ‘clean eating’.”
Which is all a bit sad really- I have very few problems with this chart

I cannot claim to have eliminated all refined sugar and processed food from my diet - but I eat far less than I ever used to. And I think I am more of a 3-4 medium meals a day rather than 5-6 small ones.
But more whole foods, fruit and veg, and a balanced diet are definitely on the menu for us. I like the definition on the BBC Good Food page

What really bothers me - and it was unfortunate that Dr Yeo [what a polite and cheerful chappy he was!] did not have time to cover this - is the effect that these 'clean' diets are having on so many people [particularly young women] Ruby Tandoh wrote an excellent piece in the Guardian.
If you declare some foods 'clean' - you must therefore be defining others as unclean/dirty. And the inevitable result of this is the development of "orthorexia" - an eating disorder where people only allow themselves to eat the 'right' foodstuffs. These best selling books with glowing fresh faced girls on the covers, carefully avoid the word 'diet'. But H&H say "All our recipes are gluten, grain and refined sugar free" Natasha promises "52 exclusive vegetarian and gluten-free recipes" Ella's trademark is "simple yet tempting plant-based, dairy-free and gluten-free recipes"
As Yeo pointed out, the proportion of genuine coeliacs is very low - and they usually know who they are. There is no significant benefit to cutting out gluten for the majority of people. I have good friends who have been vegan/vegetarian for years, before this crowd were weaned - and they ensure their diets are balanced with adequate complementary proteins. I respect their reasons for their food choices - some for moral, ethical reasons, others for genuine health issues. But I am really worried about impressionable young girls who are excluding a significant number of foodstuffs from their diet in the belief that they will become poster-girls overnight.
Yes, obesity is a massive problem in the UK, almost as bad as in the USA - but so is the continued rise in anorexia, bulimia and other eating disorders. My heart goes out to those who suffer at both ends of the weight spectrum, and to their families who are desperate to help them. 
I am not denying that many of the recipes in these latest books are delicious - I love a good, crisp salad, fresh sweet fruit is a joy, a bowl of comforting vegetable soup is a glorious lunch on a cold foggy day. However they don't paint the whole picture. I also love to go to the Bakehouse in Ringwood for a sourdough roll spread with creamy butter, and  accompanied by a cup of well made coffee...or enjoy a roast chicken dinner prepared by Liz or Steph.
This has been a bit of a rant. Sorry. I wonder what I shall be fed when I am in Albania? I suspect the women there do not have the luxury of eschewing bread, meat and milk in favour of chewing chia seeds, quinoa and coconut milk.

Tuesday 24 January 2017

Our Diet - In Black And White [And Gold]

On Friday I picked up a Waitrose Weekend newspaper and spotted this ad from the Food Standards Agency
It looked vaguely familiar in content.
Ah yes- September 2014, the European Food Safety Authority put out this advice

Basically the same information;
  1. Cook/fry/toast your food to a golden yellow colour not burnt-brown
  2. Follow the instructions on the packet
  3. Eat a balanced diet
  4. Don't store potatoes in the fridge.

All of which seems fairly obvious and sensible stuff. 
  • I never intend to burn things! 
  • I like to think I eat a balanced diet. 
  • There is too much else in my fridge to store bulky potatoes in there.
The only issue that perplexes me is that of potato storage: the advice is keep them at above 6° . I keep my spuds in the garage in a box with a lid. It is not airtight,  but keeps out verminous intruders,  and the light.  This has always worked for me, I haven't found that inside storage has worked,  the house is too warm. But currently it is incredibly cold here. The garage is colder than the fridge! We are eating fewer spuds at the minute,  so I don't have many in store,.  When the girls were at home,  I'd buy a large economical sackful.
How do you store your potatoes? 
How do you react to this latest dietary advice? 

Monday 23 January 2017


I have mentioned this useful site before. I am seriously pruning our book collection and every month or two I go along the bookshelves to see what can go. Many of our books are precious and will be kept, and one day may be passed on to our children [and grandchildren?] should they want them.
There are altogether too many books out there. As the writer of Ecclesiastes declared Of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.
Too right!! 
I try to re-read my 'classic literature' on a regular basis to see if it merits shelf space. This year I have set myself a new challenge; each month I plan to re-read a book from my youth which genuinely affected my thinking and actions. Anything read between about 1975 and 1995. I suspect that a high proportion of these will be books from Christian publishers on the subject of "The Life Of Faith" as it was often called back then. Maybe a few secular volumes will creep in. 
I have heard people say "This book changed my life!" For me, only one Book has ever truly done that. And that Book is one I refer to daily....but there are others which have challenged me, encouraged me, informed my thinking.
Hence ABTIK - A Book That I'm Keeping
Each month I plan to take down one of those "neglected former favourites" and see if it still speaks to me. These were books that mattered 20,30,even 40 years ago - do they still have a message, personally, or generally in today's "Post-truth Society"? 
All written in the days before iPods, iPads, iPhones etc - none of the widespread, instant sharing through Facebook, blogs, or Twitter. When most of what I read was on paper, not a screen.
I have no idea where this excursion will take me - but I hope I will relearn positive lessons I have forgotten, and reinstitute good habits long neglected, and be re-enthused with some of the better of my youthful passions  [no, that last phrase sounds far too pompous!!] Watch this space for a monthly book review. You may be reminded of a volume you once read and then forgot, or perhaps be introduced to a good one worth getting to know better. Wait and see...

Sunday 22 January 2017

Eight Years Ago

Rick Warren, Pastor of Saddleback Church prayed this prayer back in January 2009 at Obama's Inauguration. I thought it was worth re-reading his wise and well-considered words this weekend. God bless America...

Almighty God, our Father, everything we see and everything we can't see exists because of you alone. It all comes from you. It all belongs to you. It all exists for your glory. History is your story. The Scripture tells us, "Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God. The Lord is One." And you are the compassionate and merciful one. And you are loving to everyone you have made.
Now, today, we rejoice not only in America's peaceful transfer of power for the 44th time. We celebrate a hinge-point of history with the inauguration of our first African American president of the United States. We are so grateful to live in this land, a land of unequalled possibility, where the son of an African immigrant can rise to the highest level of our leadership. And we know today that Dr. King and a great cloud of witnesses are shouting in heaven.
Give to our new President, Barack Obama, the wisdom to lead us with humility, the courage to lead us with integrity, the compassion to lead us with generosity. Bless and protect him, his family, Vice President Biden, the cabinet, and every one of our freely elected leaders.
Help us, O God, to remember that we are Americans, united not by race, or religion, or blood, but to our commitment to freedom and justice for all. When we focus on ourselves, when we fight each other, when we forget you, forgive us. When we presume that our greatness and our prosperity is ours alone, forgive us. When we fail to treat our fellow human beings and all the earth with the respect that they deserve, forgive us. And as we face these difficult days ahead, may we have a new birth of clarity in our aims, responsibility in our actions, humility in our approaches, and civility in our attitudes, even when we differ.
Help us to share, to serve and to seek the common good of all. May all people of goodwill today join together to work for a more just, a more healthy and a more prosperous nation and a peaceful planet. And may we never forget that one day all nations and all people will stand accountable before you. We now commit our new president and his wife, Michelle and his daughters, Malia and Sasha, into your loving care.
I humbly ask this in the name of the one who changed my life, Yeshua, Isa, Jesus [Spanish pronunciation], Jesus, who taught us to pray:

"Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. 
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. 
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen."

Saturday 21 January 2017

Good Snood

Bob's sister Denise gave me a ball of wool for Christmas.  The ball band said there was sufficient yarn in the one ball to complete a Snood.  Denise said she found that hard to believe. She thought that I would like the challenge. 
I  sat in front of the TV for a couple of hours and produced this... 
The instructions said cast on 60sts, and work in stocking stitch till almost the end of the yarn.  Cast off and sew the seam to join. Useful tip -  when working out how much yarn you need for casting off,  allow four times the width of the row.  This was 23 " so I left 8 feet of yarn. 
The project  used almost every scrap of yarn,  and I would describe it as a cowl rather than a snood [surely a Snood should be wide enough to make a hood?  This is more of a collar] I think the one on the picture on the band may have been arranged to look bigger than it is. 
But it is warm and cosy. Thank you Denise! 
Dimensions are 23 inches by 7 inches,  and it was knitted on 8mm needles [60 stitches]  in stocking stitch ,  then seamed into a loop. 

Friday 20 January 2017


Our annual National Trust Membership will be up for renewal soon. When the girls were a lot younger, and we lived on the Kentish edge of London, we found it was a good use of resources.
There were so many beautiful places within a stone's throw of where we lived, and we could easily pop over to Chartwell for an afternoon, or wander round Knole, or Ightham Mote.

Then we moved to Leicester and there was nothing in that fine county. For 20 years we didn't go to NT properties.
But Dorset and the surrounding counties are full of them, as is Norfolk, where we spend 99% of our holidays.
So we were delighted when the lovely people at Kirby Muxloe gave us a year's membership as a leaving gift in early 2015.
We seemed to be getting good value from it - so this time last year we decided to renew membership for another year.
It costs us £105 a year - less than £2 a week - one cuppa per week in an average coffee shop. Has it been worth it? Well I did some calculations and in the past 12 months, had we been paying entry fees each time, we would have spent in excess of £150. So yes - we have saved a fair bit of money.
And I have loved the opportunity to walk often in the grounds of Kingston Lacy, less than 10 miles away or to make repeat visits to Oxburgh and marvel at the embroideries of Mary, Queen of Scots. And then there's the benefit of free parking at various spots along the North Norfolk coast.
Yes it is a luxury - but I think it is money well spent. 
It is not obligatory to have a fancy cream tea in the restaurants, or buy jars of chutney in the gift shop [delicious though these things are] Spreading out a picnic blanket and eating our own food in the sunshine is just as much fun, especially when we have other friends and family with us. If we continue as members for 5 years out of the next 10, we will then qualify for 'seniors discount' [it is not automatic for people in their 60s]

NT places are beautifully maintained, competently staffed - by paid employees and enthusiastic volunteers [thank you Peter and Jenny and all your colleagues]  I hope my subs help to preserve these parts of our heritage for future generations. Watch out Rosie, Gran is going to be taking you to all sorts of places!
And of course, it is transferable - next time I get to Belfast, I can use my card for Mount Steward Gardens, the Giant's Causeway...I may even risk the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge again. Watch out Mags!
Do you belong to the NT? 
What's your favourite place to visit? What's the thing you study most? 

  • The big old houses
  • The architecture? 
  • The artworks? 
  • The gardens?
  • The second hand bookshop?
  • The tea rooms and giftshops?
  • The outdoor locations - beaches, nature reserves, seal colonies...

In 2017 I'd like to see the primroses and bluebells at Kingston Lacy, and visit Brownsea Island
Thank you Octavia Hill - did you ever imagine your vision would grow into a movement like this?

Thursday 19 January 2017

Folding Ballerinas

Eleanor tells me that Albanians are very particular about not wearing outdoor shoes inside the house.  Steph kindly got me a pair of lightweight slippers in her lunch hour,  to tuck into my suitcase next week.  Being the child of a thrifty mother,  she even managed to get them for £2 in the sales. 
I  don't know why,  but I was really really amused by the label.  It describes them as "folding ballerinas."  
I somehow imagine Darcey Bussell,  or the late Margot Fontaine neatly placed on a shelf, 

occupying the smallest possible space. 

I  have been skipping round the house in my new shoes,  but I am not very balletic. 

 More Bustling Daftly than Darcey Bussell!! 

Wednesday 18 January 2017

Faleminderit, Andrew

These are Albanian men in their national costume. The picture below is Andrew, an English Baptist Minister in Beckenham, Kent. Our families have been friends for over 30 years. 
Our families have much in common [ministry, teaching, maths, bicycles...] About 20 years ago they generously let us have a week's holiday in their house whilst they were away. 
There are quite a few Albanian people living in Beckenham.  So about 10 years ago,  Andrew decided to spend a sabbatical in Albania,  learning their language.  He has grown to love this nation and goes back every year to visit the 10 Baptist churches there. He is fluent in Albanian. 
His wife Eleanor reads the blog,  and emailed to suggest I rang them last weekend. 
So now I can say "faleminderit" "ju lutem" "si jeni" "shume mire" and "Zoti ju bekofte"
That is thank you,  please,  how are you? Very good,  and God bless you. 
Also" nuk mund  te ha djathe ose gjize" which is I cannot eat cheese. 
That last phrase is quite important for me. 
Thank you Andrew and Eleanor,  for all the information you shared with me.  I  wish you could both come on the trip.  Zoti ju bekofte! 

Tuesday 17 January 2017

Bowled Over

I think I may start a Pointless Gadget of the Month post. Bob and I both admit to a fondness for useful gadgets. But they must be useful and earn their keep. I was interested to read about the Full Stop Bowl which is supposed to help dieters. The idea is that it represents a normal human stomach.  So you fill it with food and that regulates the size of your meal.  You just eat enough to fill your stomach, and aim to take around 20 minutes over this. You are allowed 3 meals a day. No more. 

There is an explanatory website here.  I looked at the empty bowl 
The website says it is 24cm in diameter. I've estimated the volume to be around 950ml. A normal stomach-full is reckoned to be about 1litre. The review in the Guardian was not very complimentary  -  read it here
Personally, I don't see the point of spending the best part of twenty quid on a plastic dish with its own sphincter.
Our day-to-day crockery is IKEA Dinera. The cereal bowl holds 450ml, and the shallow large bowl holds twice that. 

We frequently have our meals in these bowls,  and I am happy with them and their capacity is usually appropriate for our needs.  I do not need to be reminded of my innards quite so graphically. Furthermore,  that large flat rim of the Full Stop Bowl is just crying out for a triangle or two of bread and butter,  or fingers of toast, or a small banana,  or pot of fromage frais...  Which rather defeats the object of the exercise. 
The bizarre shape would not accommodate certain foods very easily. A Cornish pasty, large pork chop, slice of pizza... 
I  am choosing the Full Stop Bowl as my January Pointless Gadget of the Month
What would you choose?

Monday 16 January 2017

Dolly Mixture

Do you know about American Girl Dolls? 
Unlike Barbie,  who is nearly 60, these girls have only been around for 30 years or so. They are intended to represent girls aged between 8 and 11. Their wardrobe reflects that. No stilettos or bras,  just wholesome childhood playmates.  Originally the dolls wore costumes from various points in American history,  but then the range expanded with lots of contemporary outfits and a wider choice of hair colour and skin tones, enabling girls from all ethnicities to find a doll just like  themselves. 
The pukka AG dolls are carefully made, with prices to match.  Even the similar ones do not come cheap, and their outfits are also beyond the range of most girls' pocket money. 
These dolls are collectibles in the USA and Canada, and increasingly in the  UK.  Many adults collect them, dress them, and fill their houses with them! 
But that doesn't help a little girl who has just one doll and would like to build up a wardrobe of clothes. 
One of my young friends at church had a Doll like this for Christmas.  She brought her to church on Christmas Morning.  I asked if she'd like me to make a her doll new outfit.  It's ages since I did any doll's clothes.  
The Internet has dozens of sites.  I found a good cardigan knitting pattern,here, and made a simple elasticated skirt to match. This could be the start of a new project for 2017 I suspect! 

Sunday 15 January 2017

Small Fry

How are you getting on with the new plastic £5 notes? When my word for the year is Hope, I find it vaguely depressing that on the reverse Winston Churchill is offering me nothing but "blood, sweat toil and tears." I am rather fond of the older note, bearing the portrait of Elizabeth Fry, and the picture of her working with the prisoners
Born Elizabeth Gurney, to a Quaker family, she grew up in Norfolk. Her mother [part of the Barclay's Bank family] died whilst she was quite young and she helped care for her siblings. She had a strong faith, and a love of needlework. [Norfolk, Nonconformist, Needlewoman...definitely one of my heroines] Elizabeth married another Quaker, Joseph Fry [from the chocolate family] and moved to London, where they had 11 children.
She is perhaps best known for her sterling work in penal reform, and especially care for women prisoners. She taught the women incarcerated in Newgate to read, write, do basic maths, and to sew. Thus they were able to find gainful employment on their release. She arranged special bags [containing fabric pieces, needles and threads] to be given to those facing Transportation to Australia. On the long voyage, the women could make themselves a patchwork quilt. On arrival the quilt could keep them warm, be sold to buy food, or used as a proof of their skills so they could obtain work in the colonies. In 1840 she opened a Training School for nurses- Florence Nightingale took a team of "Fry's Nurses" out to the Crimea. She seems to have spent her entire life in going about doing good. 
I found some extracts from her journal - one is a simple prayer appropriate for anyone [like me] with an apparently unending to-do list
O Lord, may I be directed what to do and what to leave undone
The other quotation seems particularly apt for these days when people refer to "post-truth" and nobody seems quite sure whether those in power are 'being economical' with their words
I give myself this advice - Do not fear truth, never give up the search for it - and let me take courage and try from the bottom of my heart to do that which I believe truth dictates
For number of years, I have kept a folded up fiver in the back of my diary, as "emergency cash" in case I ever find myself in need of a little cash when I am out supply teaching. This tiny packet has been my 'Small Fry'. It's never been needed, but I have taken it out now, to make sure it is spent, before these notes become obsolete.  But Elizabeth wasn't small Fry, I think she was truly great. 

Saturday 14 January 2017

RIP Mr Jones

Yesterday the death was announced of Lord Snowdon - born Antony Charles Robert Armstrong-Jones in 1930. You can read his full obituary on the BBC Website here. In his teens, he developed polio and had to lie flat on his back for a year. His Uncle, theatre designer Oliver Messel, helped alleviate the boredom by arranging for visits from celebrity friends [Noel Coward, Marlene Dietrich] and also getting Tony interested in photography.
By the end of the 1950s, Tony was acknowledged as one of the foremost photographers of his generation, taking pictures of the rich and famous.
Through this, he got to meet our Queen's sister, Princess Margaret. Both possessed a strong rebellious streak, and they got engaged, and then were married in 1960.

This is the first "Royal Wedding" I remember - it was so exciting seeing this glamorous princess in her elegant gown. I'd not been at school very long, but avidly read newspaper reports. And wished I could be a royal bridesmaid like Princess Anne [and I pitied Charles and his awful haircut]
Sadly the wedding ended after 18 years and my Mum always maintained that if Margaret had been allowed, back in 1952, to marry her first love [Group Captain Peter Townsend] then life would have been very different for them all. Who knows?
I imagine the media will have much to say over the next few days about the behaviour of Margaret and Tony - they did not always conduct themselves with the decorum expected of Royals. Maybe they wished they could be ordinary 'Mr and Mrs Jones'
But that could never be. After the divorce, Lord Snowdon married again, twice, and had many other relationships - lasting happiness seemed to elude him. But he was undoubtedly very skilled with a camera
Because of his polio, he was trouble by a limp for the remainder of his life - and did a phenomenal amount to ensure good facilities and proper access for disabled people - including a famous row over the Chelsea Flower Show which resulted in admission for guide dogs, and eventually a purpose built garden for those with mobility issues.

He leaves five children - siblings and half-siblings 

David Armstrong-Jones, 2nd Earl Of Snowdon 
Lady Sarah Chatto
Lady Frances von Hofmannsthal
Jasper Cable-Alexander and Polly Fry

Friday 13 January 2017

Ang Is Off On A Lek Trek**

I dropped hints recently on the blog about something exciting happening to me in this new year. 
Well it's this...
I am going to Albania!

No, I still cannot quite believe it either, but in two weeks from now I shall be starting my journey down to southern Europe, for a weekend in this small country about whose history and personalities I know very little [other than King Zog, Mother Theresa and Norman Wisdom.. I shall speak more of these three later]
Our WWDP here is twinned with the Albanian WWDP, and I am going with another committee member at the invitation of the ladies there, to join them for a special weekend conference.
If you have ever visited, do please share any useful travel advice ASAP!!
[**the lek is the main unit of Albanian currency]