Thursday, 20 October 2016

A Voice In The Dark

Treey asked me yesterday why I haven't blogged for a while.

There is no single answer for that.

It's a combination of things I guess.  Lack of time is one of them and lack of inspiration is another.

Is not that I don't have anything to say, plenty of things happen on a daily basis that I could write about but I guess I'm just going through an inspiration lull.  It happens, it will pass, I'm not too worried about it.

Last night there was a bit of a commotion outside.  This is happening on a more and more regular basis.

The focus is a block of flats behind the flats opposite my house.

The flats opposite my house are well maintained and mostly privately owned, there is rarely any kind of trouble or noise from them.

The other block of flats lead towards the town at a right angle to these flats forming an L shape.  These flats are council owned.  They were built in the 60s and they are fairly run down.  There has been talk over the years of pulling them down and replacing them with new housing.  They could be nice flats.  They are in a great position and near to the town.  They are a good size, so much bigger than modern boxes with well proportioned rooms, big windows and balconies.  Put them alongside the river of canal and they would be seen as premium housing!

These flats are seen to house what some people may call 'the dregs of society'.

Those aren't my words or beliefs.

It's true to say there are people living there with drink and drug habits.  It is also true to say that there is a high level of unemployment within that community.  It can't be denied that there are people who live there who do not envisage any other way of life for themselves.

It would also be true to say that there are people living there who are none of those things and are just victims of their own situation.

It can't be a pleasant place to live.  If I can hear the commotion from my house how much worse must it be to have it going on outside your door?

Sometimes the altercations are very loud, they sound violent, the police are called.

Sometimes, like last night, it's a single voice of a seemingly desperate person.

I don't know the details of last nights commotion.  I could hear a girl crying and shouting.  I suspect a man was involved (although I couldn't hear clearly).  I think she was outside trying to make him hear, to get a reaction.

I wanted to tell her to STOP!!!

To walk away.  To forget he existed (if it was indeed about a HE).

To move on, to build a better life, to be the only person she needed with anyone else only adding to her life rather than being dependent on them.

I wanted to shake her and ask her what it was she thought all the shouting and crying was going to achieve.

Was it going to make everything alright?  Was it going to fundamentally change whatever was going on?  Was it going to make life good and happy?

No - it wasn't.

I don't know her, I don't know what it was about, I'm not really in any position to judge or even have a view but I do.

I probably haven't been in her position but I do know what it's like to feel as desperate as she sounded.

I also know that if someone is capable of making you feel that desperate then you have to walk away from them.

I know that they will keep you in that place until you loose sight of yourself and that feeling of desperation will always stay with you.

I wish I could show her that what she thinks she wants is just a facade, it's not real, there is so much more out there and, even if there isn't then it's better to be on your own.

I wanted to tell her to start living her own life - to start OWNING her own life.

I wanted to tell her that there was another way.

I could be so wrong about what was going on last night but i wasn't wrong about that desperation.

I hope she sees a way out of whatever situation she is in and I really hope she finds ways of being happy.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

The Curious Case Of Miss Gabrielle Ray

Monday was bin day in the Mac household.  The wheelie bin is only emptied once a fortnight while the recycling is taken on a weekly basis.

I pulled the bin from it's position in the small area to the front of my house (not for me the long haul down the drive Val) and on to the pavement outside the gate.

I noticed a piece of paper on the ground where the bin had been.  As I picked it up I realised that it wasn't a piece of paper after all but a postcard.

A very old postcard...

So I took it into the house to look at it more closely.

On the front was the picture of a lady wearing a large hat with flowers in her hair.  The style was early 19th century and the name on the front was Miss Gabrielle Ray.

On the back was some writing:  "Mr Richard Jolly on his 30th birthday" and, under that, "P.S. Ray is only a stage name of mine".  The postmark is April 23 05.  At fist I assumed that the card had been posted in 2005 but, on closer inspection, it was clear that the stamp was much older than this and it could possibly have been posted in 1905 which means that it could actually have been written by Ray herself.

I was curious so I did a little digging.

This is what Wikipedia has to say about her:

Gabrielle Ray (28 April 1883 - 21 May 1973), was an English stage actress, dancer and singer, best known for her roles in Edwardian musical comedies.
Ray was considered one of the most beautiful actresses on the London stage and became one of the most photographed women in the world. In the first decade of the 20th century, she had a good career in musical theatre. After an unsuccessful marriage, however, she never recovered the fame that she had enjoyed. She spent many of her later years in mental hospitals.

From there I went on to find a few blogs dedicated to her life, her career and her postcards.  It's be fascinating finding out a little more about her.

There are a few things about the card which throw a little doubt on it's authenticity.

The writing is on the right hand side where the address should be.  It also appears to be a label possibly stuck over the original text.

It's hard to tell but there may have been writing on both sides of the card at one point but it's so faded and damaged that you really can't tell.

The postmark ...  COULD it be 1905??  I'm not sure.  Did they even use postmarks like this at that time?  Again, I don't know.

The stamp I know IS original and the postmark is where you would expect it to be (partly covering the stamp) so it must have been stamped in a genuine post office - would anyone actually go into a post office and ask them to stamp an old postcard?  Seems unlikely.

The card itself isn't worth anything (and yes, if you were wondering, if I discovered it was worth thousands then I WOULD sell it!) as many thousands of these cards were produced and even if it did turn out to have been written by her (and there is probably no way to find out) then it would still only be worth a few pounds.

But it is intriguing so I will see if I can find out who Richard Jolly is/was and if he (or his family) would like to have the card back.

Of course I can't assume that he was local.  Anyone could have picked this card up at a card fair and there could be any number of reasons why it ended up under my bin.

I like a bit of mystery though so until and unless I discover any further information I shall keep it in my cabinet and look at it from time time.

Monday, 3 October 2016

Make Mine A Pint!

Because seriously, who only wants half a Beer especially when it looks like THIS:

Ok, so I'm not really talking about the stuff made from hops - I'm talking about this picture-postcard village just along the coast from Lyme Regis in Devon.

The name Beer isn't actually derived from the drink either, it's named from the old Anglo Saxon word "bearu" meaning grove which referred to the forest that surrounded the original settlement.

You wouldn't have believed that it was the beginning of October yesterday.  The sky was blue with barely a cloud, the sun shone and it was just a BEAUTIFUL day.

See what I mean?

As you can see, this isn't a sandy beach it's actually shingle and pebbles which can make it quite hard to walk on but at Beer they have an ingenious solution to this problem:

You see those strips on the ground between the boats? Well, they are actually rubber mats laid over the shingle.   The top of the beach has more of these creating walkways leading to some lovely little seafront cafes and making them accessible to everyone even wheelchair users.  I'm sure that initially they were used by fishermen to enable them to more easily access their boats  but they have been adapted to benefit everyone.

Only part of the beach has these mats, there is still plenty of unadulterated beach to wander along:

Boats to have your photo taken next to

Rocks to sit on and look enigmatically out to sea

Or even stand on (they are VERY versatile ;-) )

Beer has a long fishing heritage which  is still very much alive today as you can see from the photos of the boats above and fresh fish and Beer crab is for sale right on the seafront.

In the past Beer was equally well known as a smuggling base and the home of notorious Devon smuggler, Jack Rattenbury. It was also famous for fine lace including the lace flounce for Queen Victoria's wedding dress crafted in Beer by Miss Jane Bidney and her team of 200 workers.

Beer is also full of pretty buildings and cottages which, even in October had gardens and hanging baskets bursting with colour.

A stream runs down the side of the main street to the sea with planters full of flowers bridging it at regular intervals

We really did pick the perfect day to spend in Beer.  In summer it can become a little overcrowded but yesterday, although there were plenty of people still around it didn't feel at all like that and yet it was as warm as any day in August.

Beer certainly is a shining jewel in Devon's crown.

Friday, 30 September 2016

The Lovely Post (the kind you love to get)

Earlier this week I was feeling a bit sorry for myself. 

This cold is dragging on a bit and dragging me down.

I'm definitely on the mend but I can't seem to shake the cough that's keeping me awake at night.


I happened upon a post by the lovely Sarn at Stamping For Pleasure.  Sarn makes the most beautiful cards and I love stopping by to see what she's been up to.

On Monday she posted about a get well card that she had made.  I mentioned in the comments how much it cheered me up just seeing it and that I was going to pretend it was for me.

Well, next thing I knew Sarn dropped me an email and said she would like to SEND me the card so it really WAS for me and I didn't have to pretend!

How lovely was that?

It arrived yesterday and it's just as pretty in the flesh as it was in Sarns post - maybe even prettier, look:

Thank you lovely lady, this is one card I will cherish forever!

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Chazzing (Because It's Not ALL About The Beach ...)

Did I really just SAY that???

Ok, so it's MOSTLY about the beach but SD and I did spend some of the Summer mooching around various Charity/second hand and Vintage shops.

I'm so glad we share that love because then I have someone to carry stuff for me it's great spending time together and between us we have found some really cool things.

I know not everyone will get my love of old kitchenalia but (as you may remember) trying my hand at being a food blogger so those Thermomix people would send me a freebie didn't really work out that well ...

So old stuff it is!

Incidentally - Chazzing is a phrase coined by Emma Kate who's blog is full of such stuff and beautifully restored furniture and Emma Kate herself often running amok with power tools (a woman after my own heart!)

Some of the stuff we find is actually usable but most of it is destined to either sit in the cabinet in the front room or (when I get more organised) one of the glass fronted cupboards in the kitchen and some of it will hang on the kitchen wall once I've decorated adding a splash of colour.

So, want to see some photos?

Ok, well, I faffed about with these a bit trying to be arty - not sure I really pulled it off but never mind ...

I bought this Farmers Market Wall hanging thing from Home Sense with some of my Birthday money - it will eventually hang in the kitchen but for now it seemed like a good way to display stuff
Most of these thing probably date from the 60's 70's with their painted wooden handles and I like the worn look where some of the paint has rubbed off with use.

This ones for Val - I told you I had one too!  

I bought this tiny VW jelly mould from a very odd couple at a car boot sale at the beginning of the Summer.  I didn't really take to the man at all and hesitated about buying it.  He was asking £3 which seemed like a fair price but I went away to think about it.  When I went back only his wife was there and she said i could have it for £2:50 so I bought it and went happily back to show SD.

As he was looking at it the man from the stall suddenly appeared behind him.

'Bought it then did you?'

I nodded thinking 'isn't it obvious I've just bought it unless you think I pinched it while your back was turned!'

' Spose she let you have it cheap - could be worth a fortune you know - I should have put it on Ebay - HOW MUCH DID SHE CHARGE YOU FOR IT????'

SD stood in front of me - 'Then maybe you should have put it on Ebay in the first place - can I suggest that if you have an issue with your wife selling it then you take it up with her?'

Bless him for thinking I need protecting from bullies.

Bugger me if his wife didn't come over a few minutes later sobbing because he's shouted at her for selling it!

What a knob! - I did consider for a moment letting her have it back but I'm not sure it could have fixed the problems in that marriage.

Anyway, this is what all the fuss was about and, although it's probably not that common, it's certainly not worth the fortune he suddenly decided it was once it was sold:

The enjoyment in owning this was somewhat tarnished by this just like the mould itself.

Mostly we have good experiences when we buy stuff.

I love this set of Salter scales with it's unusual oval shaped bowl

And these tiny rabbit and fish moulds

But, it's not all about the kitchen either (although SOME of it still is as you can see by the Spong mincer still in it's original box!)

 SD picked up these old tins - the yellow one is for Iodised Throat Lozenges for the /voice, Mouth and Throat (it says on the tin)  all for the princely sum of 1/9 in 'old' money.

The round tin is Bibbings Carbolised Areca Nut Dentifrice Tooth Powder - which apparently removes tartar, whitens teeth and prevents decay sold in 9D tins (again, 'old' money which I'm sadly too young to really remember).

The Rupert Bear book is only from 1983 which makes it 33 years old but considering it's a paperback it's survived pretty well and it's so sweet.

Another thing that isn't old is this:

 A set of crayons I bought for Miss Mac when she was about 4 from Laura Ashley.  I found them when I was sorting through some boxes and now they live in my cabinet with all the other things I love.

But, like I said, it's not all about the kitchen (not that that IS but you know what I mean).

The tin is another SD find.  It once held Medium Navy Cut Cigarettes and this tin was to commemorate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

It now hold the Singer Sewing Machine booklets in the photo.

 One thing you can't see clearly in the photo is this:

The original receipt for a Singer Sewing Machine

 The sewing machine belonged to Big D's Great Grandmother and it was given to me after she died - I found this in one of the drawers.

The receipt is made out to Miss Ivy Chapman (Big D's GGM) on the  17th August 1920 for which she paid the princely sum of £14.16.0 (after a 20% discount).

Isn't it fantastic?

There was of course also SD'd Top Hat that I picked up in a vintage shop in Penzance

And this tin which makes me smile because it pretty much sums up my life!
That isn't EVERYTHING we bought but the post is probably long enough for now.

Is it just me who loves this stuff - AM I completely mad? Does anyone else out there collect this kind of thing?

Monday, 26 September 2016

It's A Coffee Morning Jim (But Not As You'd Know It ...)

So, Friday was the Macmillan Coffee Morning day.

It's a serious business raising money and awareness for those fabulous nurses but well, this WAS organised by our park group so it was ALWAYS going to have an element of comedy about it wasn't it?

I arrived a few minutes early to find several of our member already there having set out the tables and begun loading them with homemade cakes.

'Where the feck have YOU been' mumbled Bob as I put my humble offering of a dozen cup cakes on the table.

'It's like the bloody Sahara round here - put the fecking kettle on!

I glared at him and put the fecking kettle on.

'Buy a tombola ticket' demanded Marg - 'I didn't spend all morning putting tickets on them just to have them sitting there you know!'

I wandered over to the tombola.

'Well', I began, 'I don't really EAT tinned meatballs OR those jelly fruits (which, when I looked closer appeared to have gone out of date in May 2012) and I'm not really in the market for a scarf either ...'

'It's NOT a fecking scarf' snapped Marg.  'It's a SNOOD!!! - Now buy a fecking ticket!!!'

I bought a fecking ticket and collected my puce coloured scarf/snood wondering if I could sneak it into the next Bingo raffle without anyone noticing.

Suddenly there was a pounding on the door making poor Eve,  who I hadn't noticed in the corner, slop tea all over Sam, her little Jack Russell who had been sitting quietly on her lap.

'HA' shouted Sue erupting into the room - 'You all thought it was a demented Woodpecker didn't you?  But it was ME!!!'

She proceeded to pull a pack of sausages, a block of cheese, a jar of pickled eggs and box of grapes out of her tartan shopping trolley reminding me of that time that Rowland rang me up to enquire if a boil in the bag cod was a suitable thing to take to a bbq.

She examined the cheese closely. 'Just cut off the bits with teeth marks' she told me and it'll be fine.

'Can I entrust you with this' she whispered gripping my arm and pushing her face SO much closer to mind than I would have liked.

Into my hand she pressed a phone and a little silver tin with a marijuana plant embossed on the front - I quickly put it in my pocket.

'I shall be seven minutes' she said - 'I'm going to talk to the crows and you know what that means!'  She winked at me and left (for the record - I have NO idea what that means ...).

'Are you looking at my BUM' she shouted at our noble secretary as she left the room.

'No, no, no, no, NO' he replied hastily looking at his wife, 'I was just ....'

'Because if you WERE I'll have you know that these are NOT my BEST pants'  then she left banging the door behind her.

We all looked at our noble secretary.

'What?  WHAT??' said the poor man.

'Near drove me mad t'other day she did' grumbled Marg. 'At the flag raising - where were YOU by the way' - she looked at me accusingly.

'I was sick' I bleated.

'Said you'd be there' she said giving me a stern look.

'Sorry' I whispered trying to look sorrowful ...

Tried to pull me out of my wheelchair up the bleedin' steps to the flag pole and there's me barely able to walk - fecker wouldn't take no for an answer - had to tell her to feck off and leave me alone in the end!'

'Marg!!' I gasped in horror - 'that's no way for a lady of 85 to talk!'

Eighty five she screeched - Eighty Bleeding Five!!!!  I'm not eighty bleeding five, I'm eight fecking FOUR!!!'

Just then Ronnie burst in like a breath of fresh air.

'Cake' she sang - 'I bring cake!'

'We've GOT fecking cake' snapped Marg - 'Buy a tombola ticket and why have you got those silly purple streaks in your hair - you're FAR too old for such nonsense '. (this from an 84 year old who swears like a navvy!).

'Well, I don't really eat ...'

'Just buy a bloody ticket' I muttered out of the side of my mouth.

She bought a ticket and looked in horror at the meatballs in tomato sauce she had won before hiding them under the table and sitting down with a cup of tea.

'I SAW YOU THE OTHER DAY' Shouted Sue as she came back in precisely 7 minutes later.

'On that exercise bike in the park - going like the clappers you were and at your age too!

By now Ronnie was staring to look slightly affronted at the constant reference to her age.

''I was under the bush with Williams and Smy' said Sue  and with no further explanation she picked up a piece of cheese, stared at it for a moment and then smoothed out an errant tooth mark that I had missed with her thumb before placing it back amongst the grapes.

As she started to rearrange everything on the table I heard a sharp intake of breath from Marg.  Sue peered at her over her glasses.

'I'm annoying you again aren't I?'  shes said.

'Yes!' snapped Marg - 'Just leave it the feck alone!'

'I CAN'T' said Sue.

'You CAN'

'CAN'T' - 'CAN' - CAN'T' - 'CAN!!!'

'I CAN'T - my doctor said so and he's had me tested but I suppose you think YOU know better what with you being a MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL and all!!!!'

I distracted Marg with a fondant fancy while Mary tempted Sue away by walking slowly in front of her shaking the tombola tickets to the far corner where there was still some supermarket own brand rice pudding to be won.

'Bugger' muttered Eve as William, our noble secretaries Grandson bashed her ankles yet again with  his tricycle as he rode by scattering crumbs of stolen sponge cake behind him.

'And another thing' said Sue crossly to our noble secretary - ' I don't even WANT a chair!!!'

No, no,no,no,no, YES stammered the poor man - 'I KNOW you don't want a chair'.

'You should make your signs clearer' Sue went on reprovingly - 'I thought I was making a £5 donation to the cause and you try to give me a bloody chair!


'No, no,no,no,no,NO! - I know ... - I'll come and take it away ...'

'I think I'd better take William home' said Mary - Eve looked very relieved.

'Come and give your Aunty Sue a big kiss' leered Sue heading in his direction.

'Yes, do it' exclaimed Ronnie in delight - 'Just sweep that beard to one side and pucker up' she chortled.

William looked dubious - Mary looked horrified.

'Just wave to Aunty Sue' she shouted gaily dragging William towards the door.

'Less than 70 quid' said Marg with some satisfaction having upended the donations box onto the table in front of her.

'Of course when I did the coffee morning we never raised less than £150!'

She gave poor Mary who was still hovering in the doorway and who had spent the last few days slaving over a hot stove baking cakes a smug look.

'Oh, just FECK OFF' muttered Mary under her breath.

 Shortly after that we packed up and trundled back to our respective homes until the next time a community event should bring us all together to spread love, joy and harmony.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Living And loving

I was reading a blog yesterday written by a lady who, amongst other things, has a great love of live music.


It got me thinking about how lucky I am that SD and I share this love and can indulge ourselves on a fairly regular basis.

For me the 80's were pretty much taken up with childcare and, while I don't begrudge a moment of that it did mean that there wasn't really time or money for much else so I didn't get to see some of my favourite bands in their heyday, the closest I got was listening to the chart countdown on the radio or watching Top of the Pops.

Thank god so many of them had staying power and are still around today!

I sat last night trying to compile a list of the bands/artists SD and I had seen together. When I ran it past SD he thought the only one I'd forgotten was Hugh Cornwell (the original lead singer of The Stranglers) - sorry Hugh, you were AMAZING!

So far together we have seen (some more than once):

The Manic Street Preachers - Super Furry Animals - Echo And The Bunnymen - Adam Ant - The Stranglers - Public Image Limited - Madness - Bad Manners - Wheatus - The Kaiser Chiefs - Heaven 17 - Pop Will Eat Itself - Jesus Jones - The Damned - The Dickies - The Wonder Stuff and of course Hugh Cornwell.

It's a pretty impressive list isn't it?  And we have tickets to see The Specials and Feeder later in the year.

This isn't really a 'proper' post, it's really just me trying to keep track and to remind myself how fortunate I am that I get to do all of this with someone who shares so many of my loves in life.

We may have taken FAR to many years to get to where we are but I'm looking forward to a future of more bands, more beaches, more festivals, more 'chazzing' in charity and second hand shops (which I MUST write a post about SOON), more fruit picking, more drinking beer in pubs listening to local bands, more dressing up in silly outfits and partying with friends, more lying on my back in the dirt painting the underside of cars, more messing about at the farm, more sitting in the sun high on the cliffs in Cornwall.

Just more living and loving I guess.