Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Did Grandpa influence SOME LIKE IT HOT!

 grandpas bands in Chicago . He is the band leader and my mother is the little girl on the right
When the great war ended my grandparents moved briefly to Canada where my mother was born. Grandpa was Canadian . He had trained as a pianist but he was gassed during the war and was left with partial paralysis in his hands. This of course affected his musical abilities .  The family moved to Chicago and had four other children. It was a bohemian background , completely different from the safe  English country background of my grandmother . He formed several bands and played in nightclubs , music halls but never really made the big time. It was rumoured that he knew Al Capone. It certainly was true that he witnessed many a gang fight and was haled off to jail once for witnessing a fight. It was of course the prohibition period ..hard times for musicians. Money was not consistent and this played on my grandmother's health, bringing up five children was no easy job especially with an extravagant husband who thought nothing of spending his last dime on his musical passion. In 1933 my grandmother was  struck by lightening , thrown across the room whilst opening a window .She survived but was permanently traumatised  by thunder storms for the rest of her life .  This precipitated a nervous breakdown and  eventually they returned to England on the Majestic  in 1933  almost penniless, a wild bohemian family and settled in the village of  Winterbourne Whitechurch at the top of the valley surrounded by woods and wild meadows ...Paradise and guess what my grandfather purchased an ebony grand piano  before anything else . I can hear my children say "PLUS CA CHANGE "    

Monday, 27 August 2012

slightly dotty I know

I am a cat lover. I have two. Cats have been part of my life ever since I was born . I had a strange experience nearly five years ago. One of my cats, the huge black and white one ...Pussy very original I know but he was only supposed stay for two days until the cat charity was going to take him away . He was a stray. He actually knocked on my door and insisted on coming in . After two days I completely fell in love with him and ten years later he is still here and adored . Any way five years ago he started to lick me  obsessionally on my arms. It worried me and I forced myself to go to the Dr. I never worry about my health but something told me that my cat was concerned . I even discussed it with my best friend Deborah...of course she thought that I was completely mad .   To cut a long story short I was diagnosed with breast cancer and since that moment he has ceased licking me.I am now in remission.

 A few days later a healer visited me . I have to say that I did not take it seriously , however as I knew her I felt compelled to let her help me .  She insisted that the cats left the room so that she could concentrate which they both refused to do . Instead they slid under the sofa .occasionally poking their heads out whist she proceeded to meditate  and lay her hands.  I was in fits of giggles and desperately  tried not to offend her . I was asked to surround myself with a colour which for some reason I was unable to do . Instead I surreptitiously put myself in the meadows of my childhood where I had  collected wildflowers as a child. It was peaceful .
I eventually was admitted into the conquest where I underwent an operation to remove the tumour. I was coming round when I heard my name softly called but I was so happy so content ..I was in the meadow of my childhood enjoying the perfumes , listening to the birds I wanted to stay,however in the distance I heard a strange conversation about Oswald Mosely. A young voice was asking if he was a fascist ...and it woke me up immediately . I left that beautiful meadow to respond . "Of course he was." They did not understand my anger but I knew what I was angry about . I still remember the police disturbing our beautiful meadow during the war whilst searching for the black shirts. Strange how life runs in small circles that we cannot eliminate .
 I met great people in hospital although I nearly upset the surgeon one day. He jokingly asked if the plastic bag holding my drips was really appropriate . When I looked down at the plastic bag I realised that it said "SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL BUTCHER " not very tactful.
 My allotment saved the day, the wildlife , the flowers , tending the green house was my  real healer  it was afterall my magic meadow .  

I love st Leonards on Sea

 Thornford Great Aunt Mary's wedding
 father with beloved parrot who liked to drink whiskey NB head disappearing an ensign photograph no doubt
 Mother holding a new born baby
above family picture of great grandparents with children below grandparents wedding

The famous ensign camera

This camera has witnessed  events through many a continent....births ,  weddings , celebrations , friendships , love affairs , best friends and long lost or forgotten friends....even funerals and wars   I still hear the click of the lens as a child I stared defiantly into the lens my eyes screwed up against the burning sun ...longing to dash away into the woods to pick wild flowers and add to my collection  , search for birds nests  and dare I say eggs  , dip nets into ponds for newts , frogs or slimy frogs spawn. Many of the photographs will appear in this blog but you will have to contend with heads disappearing where the camera was too old or the photographer less than professional .                                  

Girls who wear glasses don't receive passes ?

I had this drummed into me time and time again as well as the inevitable nickname of four eyes . It did not help matters that I had a lazy eye which meant my wearing a cardboard handmade patch over the right eye in order to make the  left  eye work . Fortunately a squint did not develop .  This actually meant that most of the time I was completely blind .My glasses were always in a crooked unbalanced state and stuck together with various plasters , where I either had slept in them or I had whisked them off and stuffed them in my pocket , where they were forgotten  when some boy that I had a strong crush on passed my way. I note that there are very few pictures of my wearing glasses as I went through my doubt I had whisked them away vainly . There was very little choice in the fifties, my first pair were the round brown  tortoiseshell and the second pair ghastly shell pink plastic. They were replaced with various terrifying frames which at the time I thought were highly sophisticated. Arriving in Paris in 1961 I binned them and did not wear glasses until the 90's. Now I actually enjoy wearing glasses. Perhaps one of the most poignant moments I had was clearing my parents house in Headley Down  . In the garage was a box of memories which my parents had kept  and there amidst the treasures I found my second pair of glasses in its original case. Now they also have place on my Welsh dresser.   

Sunday, 26 August 2012

wild allotment

I will write about the allotment later just thought that I would wet your appetite . AS you can see I am a wild gardener and loath the trendy raised beds and bark paths...mind you its hard work but I love it .

My weekend is not complete without visiting Great Park Farm in Catsfield  . It is a family run nursery set in wonderful surroundings and well designed gardens. The healthy plants, grown mostly in the greenhouses,  are a great temptation. I often see Garden designers whisking away plants for their clients .   The farm shop supplies seasonal vegetables and home cooked food. The  cosy  reasonably priced  restaurant , a cafe really is superbly run producing cakes that you would die for  . The cheese  flan today was excellent. One could  not wish for a more attractive surrounding  especially with the constant chatter of the wild birds as lunch was  served  as you look out to the beautful gardens .   

sundays do not change

As a young child, Sundays were often spent at various cricket pitches much to my annoyance watching my father play . I would always escape to the local graveyard or church ,fascinated by the dates and history of the tomb stones and the  ornate  interiors of the churches . My disappearance often caused concern and on occasions the police were called.They were not impressed by my choice of escape nor my parents insistence that I would be in a church "exploring "most likely reenacting the part of a grieving child by some grave. My fascination with graveyards and churches still remains however I no longer reenact the part of a grieving adult .

IT was therefor no surprise that I discovered church of St Thomas of Canterbury In Magdelaine Road in the first week of my arriving In St Leonards on Sea in 1986 . The interior is ornately stenciled  

Saturday, 25 August 2012


I remember this day well. My father, a keen photographer took this photograph on the beach in Folkestone in 1945/6 with his ensign camera which now sits on my welsh dresser . It is by far my favourite photograph,  my arms outstretched, welcoming , not a care in the world as the camera clicks I am not sure how this blog will go , I have an idea that it will dip in and out of patient it might be fun !I invite you to join me .