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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.


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)

The planets must have been aligned for longevity in March 1921 because this year, in my small circle of friends and family there were three celebrating their 90th birthdays. We thought it was to be four but one of my neighbours had miscalculated Mr P.’s age and he was a youngster of 89 years!

The first birthday was Uncle P.’s.  He has lived in the same mining village in the South Wales valley all his life, except for the time he spent in the forces during WW2.  He was the youngest of a large family and although he has never married he has always been very much involved with the lives of his nieces, nephews, great nieces and nephews and now his great-great nieces and nephews.

He is a well known figure in his community and very convivial. In recent years he has helped to set up a small museum to commemorate the miners who lost their lives in a mining disaster nearly a century ago. He loves to be taken to concerts in the St. David’s Hall, or out for family celebrations and is a keen supporter of Wales and Cardiff rugby teams.

The second bithday was my cousin Mabel. She was the second daughter in a family of six. We lived a bus ride away from them and spent many of our wartime Christmases with them and I have many happy memories of those times.

She joined the WAAFs at the beginning of the war and there met,  Bill, a Cockney who stole her heart and I was their bridesmaid when I was about three years old. They were happily married for many years until Bill’s death in the 1990s. Since her widowhood she has lived alone, but she has many friends and a close relationship with her three children and their families. A few years ago she and her brother went off on a Caribbean cruise and since then she has taken several short holidays every year. This year she already has four holidays booked.

The third was N., a neighbour just a few doors away. She was born and bred in Cardiff and moved into this house soon after it was built 25 years ago. She loves a good gossip and is a fount of knowledge on local matters and the history of who lived in these houses. Sadly her only daughter died a few years ago, but her son-in-law and granddaughter helped her celebrate her birthday.

All three of these remarkable people were born just after a decade when so many people died, mining disaster,  WW1, Spanish ‘Flu. Their childhoods were lived through a National Strike, the Wall St crash and the following depression and unemployment, when there was very little help from the State and then, just as they were coming to adulthood the world was once more plunged into war for 6 years, followed by the austerity of the 1940s.

Despite all this they are all reasonably fit and mentally alert. They lead independent lives with little outside help and seem to enjoy each day as it comes.

I remember during the last depression in the early 1990s talking to Bill and he shrugged it off and said, “Don’t worry about it. It will all come right, it always does!”

Maybe the hardships they suffered, especially in their formative years, has given them a sturdy constitution. Whatever it is I just hope that if I survive to 90, I will be as fit physically and mentally as they are.

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.

My daughter, Jennie, suddenly said last week, “I’m glad we skipped a generation Mum”

I had often wondered, when she was growing up, if she had resented or regretted being a child of “elderly” parents as we were nearly forty when we had her and most of her friends had parents 10-20 years younger than us, so I asked why she had come to this conclusion.

“Well,” she explained, “I probably would not have learned to cook and sew etc if you had been younger. Not many of my schoolfriends’ mothers did anything like that.”

This set me thinking that maybe growing up in wartime and austerity post-war had set me in good stead for any hard times that came along later.

Money was short at that time as well as rationing. Many families existed on the service allowance whilst their fathers were away . Some mothers supplemented this small allowance with part time work or occasional work, but only a few worked full time. My mother did a few hours helping in a local shop, but this really just paid for extra treats for us e.g. theatre outings and my dancing shoes and my brother’s football boots. For the rest she used her talents in cookery,knitting  and dressmaking. Nothing was ever wasted and in the dressmaking she made garments out of prewar garments! I remember one particular suit of my father’s which she unpicked washed and turned inside out to make a fasionable skirt suit for herself and a pair of trousers for my brother. The skirt of her suit was later turned into a pinafore dress for me, and the bits left over were pegged into a rug!

 We spent many happy weekends visiting Aunty Cis and stripping the hedgerows of edible berries. Everything that could be preserved was made into jam or bottled in Kilner jars and stored in the cellar. Mum had ingenious ways of using leftovers, from stale bread to tired vegetables (mostly made tasty by the addition of Aunty Cis’s cheese ration), so I never remember going hungry and we were always smartly turned out.

She always did weekly accounts and wrote down all the essential payments for the week in a little red exercise book, and only then could treats be considered. I think this is when we learned the difference between “want” and “need”

We were luckier than some thanks to the large family and often received a shilling or sixpence when an aunt or uncle visited. Even then we learned to save some. Saving stamps were sold at school and in the post office, sixpence and half a crown (2s.6d). These were stuck in a special stamp book with 12 to a page. When the page was full you could either cash it in or put it into a post office account, which then earned a bit of interest.

I never felt deprived, as they say “what you never had you never miss” and I am glad that Jennie has assimilated some of the lessons I learned from my mother. She has certainly turned into an excellent cook and will try her hand at most handycrafts, and enjoys it which is the main thing:)

 Today was my eldest grandson “Handsome’s” eighth birthday and we celebrated with a family lunch. I was amazed at how much he has grown up over the past year. He chose the restaurant, issued his own invitations and  booked the table. It is lovely to see him so confident. I also appreciate the fact that we all get on so well together as a family. He invited us, GG’s mother, sister and her partner, great uncle and godmother. It really felt like a “proper old fashioned family do”  I know  many people who don’t get on with their in-laws and it is so sad, they are missing so much. Our family ranged in age from 4- 86 and we all enjoy meeting  and catching up with one another.

The meal was very good and at the end the restaurant staff brought over his cake and a “crown” made from balloons and everyone sang Happy Birthday to him. I suppose it is a sign of his growing up that he asked for a lemon drizzle cake rather than one shaped like a TARDIS  or light sabre etc.

The younger grandson also behaved very well. It is a delight to be able to take them out without having to apologise for their behaviour or food fads, all credit to Jennie  and GG in their parenting skills!

Second post for the  nablopomo challenge.

When I was very small I thought everyone in the world was related to me! This is not really surprising as many of the  people in the in the small market town where I spent my first 3 1/2 years were. My grandfather had been one of twenty four children, all of whom had survived into adulthood, married and produced a multitude of cousins for my father. Some emigrated to Canada and Australia or into the city,  but many of them remained within walking distance of my home, so although all my grandparents had died before my birth, there was no shortage of elder statesmen to take their place.

My mother was the youngest of 12-14 children (there is some doubt about how many died in childhood, my mother said she was the twelfth her sister claimed she was the fourteenth) Seven lived into adulthood, one died in his forties and one was killed at Loos in 1918. She also had many cousins also with families.

Most of the young cousins were boys and I was the youngest girl by about 15 years so I had the strange idea that girls turned into boys and then some of them turned back in their mid teens:)

We were a very close knit family and frequently visited one another, took holidays and Christmases together, handed on clothes, surplus vegetables, furniture etc.

When I was 3 we moved into Nottingham and I discovered that there were other people in the world who were not related to us, which was quite a shock.

I have sent all my cards, packed my presents, done the “Christmas Cleaning”, put up the Christmas tree and done most of the food shopping, so I can now depart for my Christmas trip to London with Jennie  tomorrow with a clear conscience!

We have tickets for Hamlet (my Christmas present from Jennie and GG) and, although we shall not be seeing David Tennant after all due to his back injury, I’m sure we will have a great time. I am also hoping to go and see the house my Great grandparents lived when they were first married in 1863. By coincidence it is half way between the flat I lived in and the flat Himself  lived in when we first met.