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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.

I had not realised how long it was since I last posted a blog until JW and Jennie posted their recent blogs.

This year has just flown by. I know that time is supposed to speed up (relatively) as you get older, but this is beyond a joke!

I last posted before Christmas so here is a precis of our activity (or lack of it :)) since then.

We started our Christmas celebrations in November when Jennie and I took her two boys to the theatre to see “Singing in the rain”. I had a slight worry that they might be disappointed with the stage version as they had enjoyed the film so much, but it was an excellent production, and we all had a lovely evening. The boys especially took great delight in real water raining down on the stage and the cast had great fun splashing in the puddles.

We had a traditional family Christmas and E. (the youngest) was old enough this year to appreciate everything.

We were very lucky not to share the devastation of the storms and floods, just the misery of rain and grey skies for what felt like months.

We have not been able to plan any holidays this year as JW had more health problems, so has been availing himself of the NHS again. He has been in twice to the cardiac unit where he has had two lots of stents put in (9 in all). After that he was attending physio twice a week as part of the cardiac rehabillitation. However he now does his exercises at home and will just attend for check-ups. The cancer follow up continues to give good news (PSA still under 0.1%) and he has had the last injection.

We decided that we would explore more of our own country this year, starting with this area. Our first visits of the year were to our local NT property, Tredegar House and gardens. We have been back several times including once when the parkland was almost under water!

I have a list of places and areas to visit, but more of that in future posts.

 

Most people enjoy pleasant surprise gifts and I am no exception. Recently I received one from my cousin John. He sent me a list of our ancestors on our maternal grandmother’s line which stretched back to 1480!
He had very generously been given permission to extract this from the research of Martin F. Jackson. This is meticulously researched and documented by church records and wills etc.
I have always been interested in my family roots, but until about 10 years ago knew only the knowledge passed on by my mother and older relatives. Most of the facts passed on by my mother have been verified by actual records, but her knowledge only stretched back to her grandparents. The other family members passed on family legend and I suppose all families have unverified tales of family fortunes which have gone astray, attachments to noble families etc.
When I discovered the wealth of information in pubic records offices, the scope widened considerably and then the internet increased the availability to amazing levels.
One of the first problems I discovered was the frequency with which my antecedents changed their Christian names. I searched in vain for my grandfather because he was always known as Edwin, (one of my cousins was named after him!) only to find that his given names were Arthur George. Once this was established I found ancestors back to 1790.
My maternal grandmother had a more common name and I could find nothing about her father, so I put a query on the Nottsgen forum and a very kind lady, June from Edinburgh, sent me a very full family tree back to Daniel married in 1803 in Sutton in Ashfield Notts.
Now, thanks to my latest gift, I find that Thomas was born in Ellastone Staffordshire 1480 and the family moved to Cubley Derbyshire in 1556 and stayed there until Daniel’s birth in 1775.
I like reading historical novels and now I have the added pleasure of fitting in which of my ancestors was alive at that particular time.
I find it fascinating trying to fit them in to general history. Thomas was born during the War of the Roses, were his family Lancastrians or Yorkist? I do hope they were the latter as I am very much pro-Richard, and believe that he was much maligned by the Tudors. I suspect they may not have been as Thomas junior left a will disposing of “considerable assets.” Maybe they were apolitical and just kept their heads down in their little Midland village! They also survived the Civil War and the Great Plague in he 17c.
I think the 18c must have been kind to both my maternal and paternal lines as they both had long lived members, one being born in the reign of Queen Anne and dying in the year of Trafalgar.
Oh for a loan of DR Who’s TARDIS sometimes 🙂
One thing I was gratified to note was that, if the children survived infancy, they lived to (what was then) a ripe old age, 60s, 70, 80s and two into their 90s!
I have been greatly helped in my research by the generosity of strangers. I find most amateur genealogists are kind people who willingly give information, some of wich they have spent years accumulating. There are others who spend their free time logging gravestones, church records etc. and putting it on line for the benefit of others. To all these friends I say a BIG THANK YOU.

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)

Two weeks ago I had a lovely birthday.  It began with cards, flowers and presents and then a superb lunch, cooked by Jennie and GG for the extended family where we ranged in age from 8 weeks to 91 years. This reminded me of previous birthdays (of which there have been many :))

When I was a small child, in wartimes, it was usually an extended  family tea. My mother used to hoard any extras to the rations over the weeks before to put on a special spread. Sometimes this had been supplemented by food parcels from my father who was on the North Atlantic convoys. I don’t know how legal this was but he bought food and presents on his shore leave in America. Often he was given extras by the kind family, the Winfields who befriended him in New York. He also seems to have made a friend of the ship’s cook because I remember at least one splendid coconut cake we received. I was lucky to be a summer baby because there were always stawberries and raspberries. No cream or icecream, just top of the milk (in those unhomogenised days), evaporated milk or “mock cream”.

I usually had a new dress for the occasion. This was either one my clever Mum had made or another of those parcels bought in America.

Another time my father bought me a new birthday outfit was for my 16th birthday. Dad came home from work on the Friday and asked if I would walk up to the post office with him. I was wearing an old cotton dress and wearing a rather ancient pair of sandals, but as it was only a walk to the post office, I jumped up and went with him. When we had completed his business he suggested that we walk up the road and look at the shops. I began to feel uneasy when we carried on up the road and into the city centre. In those days a “trip to town” entailed dressing up a bit. My mother always wore a hat and gloves and I at least had a wash and brush up!

He then proceeded into one of the department stores, with me trailing reluctantly behind, and we bought a new dress, jacket and shoes. I think the assistant must have thought I was some urchin he had taken pity on, (but it was a very nice outfit!)

When I reached my teenage years most of my friends were members of the school guide company (99th Nottingham) and several of us had birthdays within 10 days  in July so we sometimes celebrated together. They were a super crowd and now 65 years since we left school  and even though we are very scattered geographically, many of us have kept in touch with each other. Not all of us with everyone but each to a few so between us we convey news between us. Some, sadly, are no longer with us but the only two I haven’t had news of recently are Halina our Polish friend and Chris Bond who I saw briefly when Jennie was a baby, so if anyone has news of them I would love to hear it.

When I was a student nurse I was usually working on my birthday, but we usually had a pyjama party in the Nurses’ Home after work.

On my 21st bithday I was working on the Obstetric ward at the QE in Birmingham. After report I walked onto the ward feeling a bit miserable that this momentous day should be passing without acknowledgement, when the patients started singing “Happy Birthday”  and one of the Midwifery Sisters followed me in carrying an iced cake and suddenly I was inundated with cards and flowers and presents.

In the intervening years I have celebrated my birthday in various parts of the UK and Norway  My last birthday with Dr Alf was celebrated in spectacular fashion at Glyndebourne. It was Dr Alf’s 40th year in General Practice and I was leaving London 1 month later, so he arranged what he called a staff outing on my birthday, which happened to be a Sunday. It felt very strange to be walking out of our flat in evening dress on a Sunday afternoon, but we had a lovely time.

Now we have come full circle and Jennie is arranging family parties and we are so lucky that we get on well with GG’s family and share with them.

JW and I have had a year dominated by hospital appointments, both JWs own and those of the frail neighbour he helps, and at last we have spaces on the calendar, so, spurred on by what feels like incessant rain over the last three months, we have booked a cruise in November in the hopes of seeing some sunshine before the winter sets in.:)

It is an act of faith, first that no more nasties lurk in the medical undergrowth and second that we will not be called upon by Mr Cameron to give our services (free gratis of course to help our country)

A few months ago when large cuts were announced for the Police Force, the officers who were handed their P45s one day received letters soon afterwards asking if they would like to use their years of experience on a voluntary basis as “Specials”

Recently when the cuts to the Armed Forces was announced we were told that the TA would be enlarged to fill the gap. There was no mention of where these TAs were being recruited from and, with the best will in the world, how many bosses can afford to give staff the time off for training and possibly a whole year off for overseas service?

I am waiting for them to invite retired nurses and midwives to return to work in order to save the NHS wages bill. I don’t think I would be very happy working to the orders of beaurocrats and spending my time coping with the mountain of paperwork!

JW is thinking he will have to brush up on his tractor driving skills and wondering whether he could bear to work on one of the highly mechanised dairy units…..he used to know all his cows by name.

No, I think we will stick to our holiday plans and even if it continues to rain we are going on a boat so we don’t even have to build our own Ark. 🙂

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. 🙂

JW  has started his radiotherapy treatment and is now about halfway through. So far he has not had any severe side effects, but it does make him tired and everyday has to be arranged around the treatment, but we are so thankful that it was discovered in time for him to have the treatment and that the NHS is providing it.

When we received the dates for his treatment we saw that he had one week free before it all started so decided to take a break while we could. As it was March and the weather could be unreliable we wanted somewhere which did not rely on it being fine. I remembered seeing a report about a hotel in Devon described as a sport and craft centre so looked it up, liked what we read and booked ourselves in for a midweek  break.

Manor House Hotel, Devon

The hotel is much bigger than I expected and was busier than I thought it would be at that time of year.

On the edge of Dartmoor

There are two hotels in 600 acres on the edge of Dartmoor. There have 6 golf courses, crazy golf, pitch and put, tennis courts and numerous indoor sports halls and swimming pools. There is a large craft centre where a variety of craft sessions are offered from woodwork to pottery and drawing etc. so there was plenty for non sporty types to do and caters for all ages. there were groups of golfers,  families with three or four generations and a few groups who met there every year and booked from one year to the next.

It is a rather like cruise ship with all the decks on one level, so a bit sprawling but we soon found our way around.

The room was comfortable and the food was very good. Three meals a day were included in the overall price as were the various activities.

I signed up for two Pilates classes, aquarobics and enamelling and JW (the warrior) for pistol shooting, rifle shooting, archery, falconry and bowls!

I also tried the reasonably priced spa treatment, and had a relaxing massage and mini facial. (I must admit it wasn’t quite the sheer luxury of the Thai practitioners on the Balmoral, but was about a quarter the price and felt good afterwards)

The little  Morris Traveller took us there and back very safely and we returned home refreshed and well satisfied with the break– we will probably go back sometime and try some of the other pursuits.