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Last month I reached the grand age of 75, so I am now one of the “vulnerable elderly citizens”  (almost as beloved of politicians as the “hard working families!”)

My first gift was a free TV licence from the government

On the Sunday before my birthday we visited our local stately home with the family and had a splendid cream tea in the Orangerie. (Gracious living at its best)

On the actual day Jennie gave us a birthday party tea, complete with balloons and hats!

Two days later Jennie and I went to see an excellent production of “War Horse” at the Millennium Centre.

When I see 75 written down it looks so old. Inside I still feel 35, still 8st  with all the energy I had then. Sadly I am no longer 8st and though the spirit may be willing the body is not and as for walking miles forget it!

Can it really be 70 years since the little girl with two fair plaits eagerly joined the mixed infants at Bentinck  School? I was the youngest of the family and all the cousins and had been so envious of my brother and cousins when they went to school.

64 years ago that same little girl walked along the boulevard,proudly wearing the scarlet and grey uniform of the grammar school.

56 years ago I started my Nursing training.

52 years ago I visited Norway for the first time and so began about 10 years of sharing my time between England and Norway.

The first babies I delivered will now be over 50, I wonder how they have lived their lives.

48 years ago I had my great adventure on the Bergensfjord.

41 years ago I married JW

35 years ago I had my lovely daughter, Jennie.

Since then the years have just telescoped into one another and Jennie is grown up with a family of her own and my grandchildren are growing up at a rapid rate. I do have one consolation in that my 2 year old granddaughter is a carbon copy of her mother so I have the joy of those early years, (which flew by so rapidly)  all over again.

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The first month of 2013 is already near its end and I have not written a blog since before Christmas. Where do the days go?
We had a lovely family Christmas with Jennie and co. It was a lovely sunny day and it reminded me of how Sundays used to be. The streets were empty and had that just washed look from the rain during the previous night, and everywhere seemed peaceful and special. I am sure there were many cold, wet, snowy or foggy Sundays but, in the “rose-tinted” way of memory I only remember the sunny days, just as I remember the sunny days we spent on the East Coast every summer!
Jennie and I took the boys to her local church, which is a very friendly and welcoming church. The men stayed home and minded the baby and watched over the dinner.
We had a splendid repast and then spent an enjoyable time opening presents, breaking off only to watch the Queen’s Christmas message. Everyone seemed very happy with their presents.
I was very lucky. One of my presents was a ticket to see Anton and Erin next month when they make their annual vist to Cardiff. Jennie and I have been every year and have enjoyed it tremendously.
JW worked very hard finding my presents this year. I have been trying to find out more about the part my father’s ship HMS Biter played in WW2 and he had found two books which each had chapters about Operation Torch and the Atlantic convoys. He also found details of Captain Abel Smith who commanded Biter from January 1942 till July 1943 so I was able to fill in some gaps. I remember that we used to get Christmas cards from Captain Abel Smith for a few years after the war. I think that has stuck in my memory because I had never heard that name before (except for Adam’s son!)
Another present from JW were two wall maps, one of the world and one of the UK. I have this rather “nerdy” fascination in seeing where I have been and where I would like to go. I spent a pleasant afternoon sticking in coloured pins. (I know, it takes all sorts 🙂 )
Since Christmas we have had alternating cool sunny weather and rain, with a break for a couple of weeks snow. This has all disappeared now but the ground is still soggy, however I was surprised to see that the spring bulbs are coming through already and the dwarf iris, primula, cyclamen and chionodoxa are in flower and the leaves of the potentilla are beginning to unfurl, so can spring be far away? I won’t believe it until the snowdrops bloom!

This time last year we were in a very apprehensive about so many things. We had had a tumultuous sort of year, deaths of close friends, Jennie  miscarrying a much wanted baby, the stalemate of the housing market which was providing no buyers for Jennie’s house and then, of course, the devastating news that JW had prostate cancer. He had also discovered that he had a potentially serious eye condition.

By the autumn JW had started the hormone injections but we did not know when the radiotherapy treatment would start, or how successful it would be or how it would affect him.

Jennie was pregnant again, but waiting anxiously for her first scan. She was also worrying about whether Handsome would get into his first choice of secondary school, and whether they would ever be able to move into a bigger house. Her sister- in- law was coping both with being a first time mum and grieving for her own mother, who died suddenly a few weeks before the birth.

It was a confusing time and we were unable to make any future plans.

This year is so different. Our “great niece -in -law” is now a sturdy little girl. Jennie and family are happily settled into their new home and enjoying the increased space both in the house and in the garden. She successfully produced our beautiful, healthy happy granddaughter, who is being Christened tomorrow surrounded by friends and relatives. Handsome has settled seamlessly into his first choice school. Handsome and Cheeky both adore their new little sister. Cheeky has changed from being the baby of the family to being helpful big brother.

JW had his eyes treated by Laser treatment. (no lasting after effects) and had the radiotherapy treatment in the Spring, and so far it has been successful. He will, of course, be reviewed regularly, but we are optomistic that it was caught in time.

We have been able to look forward and stop marking time. JW and I have booked not one but two cruises!

This autumn we are booked onto a cruise to Portugal and the Canaries. My natural inclination is to travel North, but at this time of year that is not very practical, so we are hoping for a bit of sun before the winter sets in.

The second cruise is next summer and stays close to home, cruising around the British Isles …from the Channel Isles to the Orkneys. A cruise that has attracted me for many years (I might even see whales abit closer than on previous cruises!!!)

The other “faith in the future” gesture is that we have invested in a VW motor home. We are hoping to visit and revisit the wonders of our home islands. We shall become “Old Age Travellers” having missed out in our youth to become “New Age Travellers”

Maybe now I will not see the Great Wall of China but I can see Hadrian’s Wall, I won’t climb Everest but I can go up Mount Snowdon (in the train)

This time last year we were returning from a cruise to North Cape, a journey I had wanted to make for many years, feeling that the sad year we had had so far had taken a turn for the better. There had been sudden deaths and various sadnesses culminating with the news of the miscarriage of our third grandchild a few weeks before we went away.

JW and I had booked in for medical checkups, expecting everything to be fine especially for JW who hardly ever needed to visit the doctor, so it came as a terrible shock when he found that his PSA was very high and he was referred to the Urologist, and subsequently found that he had prostate cancer. He had had no symptoms, so it came completely out of the blue. Fortunately everything was managed efficiently and he had superb treatment both at Velindre Hospitaland our own GP surgery and he was told recently by his consultant that his PSA was now under .1%. Of course it will be monitored for a few years yet but they are very optimistic on a full recovery.

We had also booked in for eye tests and once again got a nasty surprise when they told him that he had a pre glaucomic condition. This too was treated efficiently, (thank goodness for the NHS or we would be bankrupt by now.) Over the past year he has been magnetised, radioactivated and lasered. We hope that is the end of it for now.:)

The good news started in August when GG’s sister had a safe delivery and Miss M entered our lives. In the Autumn GG and Jennie first announced that they were expecting a baby, and then had an offer on their house which had been on the market more than a year and immediately found their dream house. Everything went smoothly and they moved in in February, and then our beautiful grand daughter was safely delivered in May and enchants us more every time we see her.

Our elder grandson has got into the high school of his choice, so another worry gone.

I hope I am not tempting the evil ones but things really do seem to have turned around at last.

I hope you all had a great weekend.

As a “dyed in the wool monarchist” I thought it was all brilliant, or, as the latest buzz word has it, “amazing”. Nearly everyone interviewed on TV has said that it was amazing.

Our celebrations started on Friday when Handsome and Cheeky had a day of celebrations at school. Cheeky really entered into the spirit of it by getting his mum to paint his face with a union flag. He further celebrated by drawing the union flag on the paving stones of the terrace at home with his chalks. (He has since had to re-draw this after the torrential rain on Sunday)

Saturday we had a party at Jennie’s house. It was the usual family members plus our beautiful new grand daughter who made her cousin M (who is now 9 months old) look very grown up all of a sudden! Sadly our oldest member Uncle P was unable to come so JW  and I were the older generation.

I was reminded of the day 60 years ago when my parents hosted a similar party. We were the only house on our part of the road to have a TV set, so it was open house for the neighbours  and relatives. The TV set was a tiny 12″ screen in a magnificent walnut cabinet with doors, and there was a huge H aerial on the roof!

In spite of the size we all crowded round and watched the beautiful young queen drive in her golden coach. It was like a fairy tale. There were representatives from the Commonwealth  and all parts of the world driving or marching in what seemed like an endless procession. Everyone fell in love with Queen Salote of Tonga, as she waved gaily from her open carriage, completely ignoring the rain. I never dreamt that I would one day visit her far away island in the Pacific.

The TV then was only black and white, but we did see highlights of the coronation in colour later at the cinema.

After the televiewing we joined in with the street party. I couldn’t help comparing the food this time with that we had 60 years ago. No pasta salad (the only pasta I knew in those days was macaroni, either with cheese or in a milk pudding), no beefburgers, no fancy breads, no peppers and only one sort of lettuce leaf. We had sandwiches, cakes, plain crisps, cakes and jellies all carefully hoarded for months as there was still rationing for some things. This year the superstores were bursting with “party food”, the only problem being what to choose!

My new grandaughter was sporting a special jubilee suit (see JW’s picture).

I had a lovely new dress for the coronation, dark blue gingham with a very full skirt held out by its own frilly petticoat and adorned with a scarlet sash  and a fabric rose. I felt very grown up in it and bored everyone with my constant twirling.

Although separated by 60 years there were many similarities and both were very happy occasions. I don’t remember any further celebrations after the actual Coronation day but this year I had three more days  to enjoy. 🙂

Another Christmas and another New Year to add to the memory chest.

The decorations all packed away for eleven months. I am not one of those who need a different colour scheme every year, I am far too sentimental and traditional for that. I love the memories evoked by our decorations, some inherited from my parents, some from JW’s family, some made by Jennie and her children and the newest ones collected on our recent travels. 

The cards are put away so that I remember who to send them to next year. The letters re-read and kept for answering. I send letters in about half the cards. Recently I had read that some people hate getting Christmas letters and was wondering whether I should send so many, so it was reassuring to hear from several of my correspondents that they looked forward to hearing all my news. I love hearing their news (even the occasional one who boasts about the family achievements!)  When they are from distant friends it reminds me that they too have grown up  children and grandchildren and some even have great grandchildren.  I still tend to think of them as I knew them, so my nursing friends are still only in their early twenties and my school friends even younger!

An encouraging fact to come from my letters was that nearly everyone knew someone who had had prostate cancer and, with treatment, had recovered. I had not realised that it was so prevalent. Has it always been so I wonder? Maybe they are more able to detect it early now.

The Christmas cake, mince pies and other goodies have all been consumed so no excuse now not to adjust the diet.:)

The year has started well with Jennie’s latest scan. I had been having difficulty not telling anyone before, but Jennie was, understandably, nervous about spreading the news, so I couldn’t tell anyone the joyous news that we are expecting another grandchild in May.

We have the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee to look forward too and if it is anything like the Coronation and the Silver and Gold Jubilees that should lift the spirits of the nation after all the doom and gloom from the politicians and financial “experts”.

For the sports fans there are the Olympics and World Cup too, so something for everyone to look forward too.

It has been some time now since I wrote a blog but I am still here and thought I should make my presence known again.

I hope you all had a Christmas as happy as ours. I suppose ours started a few weeks ago when Jennie and I took Handsome and Cheeky to the theatre to see, “Joseph and the amazing technicolour dreamcoat.” We all knew many of the songs from watching the TV programme when they searched for a Joseph, and the story from the bible, but  I didn’t expect so much humour. It is lovely to see the boys enjoying live theatre.

We started Christmas “proper” on Christmas Eve at the carol service and Nativity, where Cheeky was a very sweet and solemn King.

Christmas Day we were invited to the excellent family meal cooked by GG’s brother in law. There were ten of us, from the newest member M, who cast envious eyes at the food we were all enjoying, to the oldest member, uncle P who will soon be 91.

Boxing Day Jennie and co. came round to us for the day. The boys are a delight to give presents to  because they are so appreciative. Cheeky immediately started reading a poem to us from one of the books I gave him and they all played the new board game, (proving that they can enjoy simple things as well as the DS and Lego)

Thursday Jennie took me to see the Russian State ballet perform “Swan Lake” to the accompaniment of the Orchestra of Siberia. The prima ballerina especially was brilliant. It is quite a long time since I went to the ballet so it evoked many memories, going to ballets with my Mother or with  Grandad R, dancing in various concerts. One concert was particularly brought to mind by “Swan Lake”, the Nottingham Festival ballet in 1951. We performed the “Dance of the cygnets”at Wollaton Park in front of the large lake there as the sun went down. It was quite magical.

I saw an article last week which said that large numbers of over 65s spend Christmas alone, so I feel especially blessed that we have our family around us, and I hope that you are all so blessed.

I hope you all had a lovely time on St. Valentine’s day.

I had a beautiful bouquet from JW and was surrounded by family most of the day. Before lunch Jennie  and I went shopping and then after lunch she collected Handsome and Cheeky from school and they helped me get a family tea party ready. GG came after work and our niece from Liverpool, who was visiting her old university stamping grounds, came with her family, so it was a cosy time. Nicki  has a daughter 6 months older than Handsome and a very lively son 6 months older than Cheeky. The children hadn’t seen each other for  a few years but they all got on well together and disappeared after tea to play, what sounded like,  hilarious board games. It seems no time since it was Nicki, her sister and Jennie rolling around the floor playing games.

St. Valentine’s day is a double celebration for JW  and me because in 1973 we announced our engagement. We had decided in January 1973 to get married  but wanted to tell my parents first so waited till we visited them in February and then, as it was so near to St. Valentine’s day, decided to make it public  on the 14th.

I find the workings of the minds of children fascinating, especially those of my grandsons. The elder, 9 years old, weaves stories (usually with a space/sci.fi base.)

The youngest, 6 years old, tends to work out what is logical (to him!)  Todayhe was reading a story to his brother. It was a story about two children being shown the sights of London. When they got to Buckingham Palace the grandmother in the story facetiously remarked, “What a big place. The Queen must be kept very busy cleaning such a big place.”

Cheeky stopped reading and in a disgusted tone said, “This is just silly, everybody knows she doesn’t do her own cleaning!”

“Who does it?” asked his brother.

“The knights, of course,” came the reply.

Immediately the vision of knights in armour and armed with mops and buckets flashed before our eyes and then the even funnier thought of the modern day knights, the business men, politicians, sports stars and stage personalities being given their tasks for the day.

During  summer the recess of parliament could be used for the annual spring clean.

JW  capped all our wild speculations with, “Sir Alan (Sugar) would obviously be given the Windows (Think about it :))

We had a lovely day today. We had lunch cooked by Jennie,  a lovely roast chicken dinner. I am so glad that we raised a daughter who can cook. 🙂

She and GG have had a busy time lately since they decided to put their flat on the market and move into a house. The flat looks very enticing, everything scrubbed and polished, so I hope they find a buyer soon.

As well as all the preparation work she has also found time for her new pastime of hand dyeing wool. She has produced some very attractive yarns, which I am sure she will be showing on her “blog site” soon.

The boys are both growing at a terrific pace and getting more and more interesting every week. Handsome, the 9 year old is now enthralled by the mythology of the Greek Gods, and, with the enthusiasm he gives to anything which grabs his imagination, he can already reel off the genealogy of many of the Gods. I had forgotten how children this age absorb knowledge like sponges.

Cheeky, the six year old, is into suduko. Grandpa  started him on it recentlyand he slid into it quite naturally and now asks if he has anymore ready for him!  He also added, “I suppose they are kid’s ones!”

We are so lucky that we were able to move closer to the family and that we get on so well together. When I read about so many disfunctional families and family feuds I count myself very blessed.