Sunday, 8 November 2015

My Memoirs - Dad and his gun.

It's poppy day here today - the day we remember all the soldiers etc. who died whilst serving Great Britain in any of the wars we've been in back when. It's a time for thought, deep thought and for thinking about our loved ones.

The picture here today shows my dad, Fred Mills, with his gun, defending the coast of Holland, Noordwijk during World War 11.  I don't know when the picture was taken but I'm pleased to say that dad did not die in the war. He came back. When he came back he wasn't the same person who left. I think the wartime made him more unsettled, more adventurous than he would have been before he went.  He wanted to be a pharmacist but he became an engineer.  In the war he was a Royal Engineer.

One of my regrets in life is that I didn't ask him more about he time in the war. Maybe he didn't want to talk about it, but I didn't ask! I did listen when he chose to talk, but not enough and I feel guilty about that. 

Now I am trying to find out more about what he did in the wartime. I know that he went to Noordwijk and he was stationed in my mother's house, which was right near the sea. He and several other 'Tommies' stayed there. That is where they met and after the war, my mother came over to England to get a break and they met up again.  My mother was only 17 when the war broke out so she spent the best years of her life under Nazi occupation and he must have been horrendous for her. She, herself, was very brave and fought for the Dutch resistance.

During today's Remembrance Service at the Cenotaph in London, the Queen was accompanied by the King of Holland, Willem Alexander and it brought a lump to my throat to see them there together. Queen Wilhelmina was exiled in England during the war years. The King was here today because Holland are celebrating 70 years of freedom from the Nazis.

So I wore my poppy with pride today and remembered the members of my family and others who fought for our freedom.

My dad, second from the left in the back row.  I wonder where all these men are now? Most of them dead I think, but did they all come home? Did they live happy lives? I wonder.


Sunday, 27 September 2015

I recently got the results of my DNA analysis and there were a few surprises.  Turns out I am only 39.4% British (which includes Scotland, Ireland and Wales). The rest of me is European and northern European for the most part. I would have expected to be at least half British but no I'm an import!
Larry on the other hand, my American husband, is more British than I am! He is 50% British and the rest is a real mixture from all over the world. 
Ancestry Composition tells you what percent of your DNA comes from each of 31 populations worldwide. This analysis includes DNA you received from all of your recent ancestors, on both sides of your family. The results reflect where your ancestors lived before the widespread migrations of the past few hundred years.
On the site we get a lovely coloured picture showing all the regions of the world where our dna is linked but I was unable to copy that here.
It appears that if one is female, then only the maternal line is available to see because a female has two X chromosones and a Y is needed for the paternal line to show up. I could get that from a direct member of my family like a brother, if I had one. The only direct male relative I have with a direct line to my paternal grandfather is a cousin. I tried to reach him today to ask him if he would do the test and share the results but he was out so I'll have to try again another day soon. He may not be willing to do the test. It's not a blood test, merely a sample of saliva given over for analysis. It's easy to do and fairly expensive but well worth the money for the results that come back - everything from ancestry composition to health reviews.
My health reviews were favourable but I discovered that I am a carrier for Hemachromatosis, which causes the blood to retain too much iron with unwelcome results. The iron can attack vital organs like the liver, heart etc. I do not suffer from this myself, as far as I know, but I will need to tell my sons in case it crops up in their lifetimes. Apparently being a carrier is something quite common.
I also discovered that I am part of the X2b4 haplogroup on my maternal side. This is a rare, small group but very widespread, popping up all over the world but with particularly high occurrences in the Orkney Islands of Scotland, in some Native American Indians and particularly in the Druzes community in the middle east. They predominate in Syria, Jordan, Israel and the Lebanon, which is probably why I have slightly Arab type features with darkish skin and hair (grey now of course). There is a group to belong to on the site where I looked at people who look a bit like me. Interesting.
This is my composition. I highly recommend the site. 

Northern European
British & Irish
French & German
Broadly Northern European
Southern European
Broadly Southern European
Broadly European
< 0.1%
Sub-Saharan African
< 0.1%
Broadly Sub-Saharan African
< 0.1%


Infuriating hold ups

Over the last couple of weeks or so I've had computer problems. I installed Windows 10 and all went well for a couple of days and then Bam! it stopped working properly and try as I might, I could not find a solution. I decided to restore back to Windows 8 but found I couldn't do that either because my 'Settings' had gone!!

Finally I called up Microsoft and asked for help. After nearly three hours with a technician, they said they would elevate the call to Level 2 and call me back the next day.

Next day came and I got the call back. The technician thought the User Account had become corrupted and so he installed a new one, transferred all my files over and then deleted the old one. That was yesterday and so far, so good.

I have decided that in future I will not update Windows until I get a new computer with the newer version on it.

Windows 10 is not much different to Windows 8 as far as I can see but then again, I don't use all the facilities on it. These days my use of the computer has diminished a lot.

There has been an issue with Sony laptop computers. I thought for a while that that was the trouble and I would have to wait for a fix (promised in October) but it turned out that was not the problem after all.

Now I have to reset lots of things in my new User Account.

If I was starting out afresh at a younger age I would try to afford an Apple Computer. Larry has one and his is six years old and whilst a little slow, it is still working well and he doesn't seem to get nearly as many problems as I've had with Microsoft. I could go on and on but those of you who already have a PC will know exactly what I'm talking about, I'm sure.


Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Thoughts on the migrant crisis

It's hard to know what to think in the midst of the migrant crisis. My thoughts are tossed this way and that like a small boat on the waves. One day I feel one way and the next day I feel the other way. As the days roll on though, the situation becomes clearer and clearer. There is a war in Syria. Does anyone really know what it is about? Is it poverty? drought? bad government? a combination? 

There is no doubt that in these days of excellent communication, people are far more aware of what is going on in other parts of the world than ever they were before. I'm not sure this is a good thing. Television has done wonders to bring the affluence of the American dream right into the homes of the poorest Africans, even though they might only have one television set in the whole of the village to watch on.

I sit here in my cottage and I wonder why we have to be involved in a war that is going on so far away? What is it to do with me if the Syrians are being tyrannised by their own rulers? Is it my problem? Should I be involved? offer up my home to a desperate family? Send money to the cause? but there are so many causes and so little money. We are told that Great Britain is giving more than anyone else in Europe. Giving money to the refugee camps in Syria, which keeps the people in their own country, which is surely where they really ought to be. There is not room for any more refugees here in Britain. We are a tiny island, already overrun by foreigners. Surely it is better to keep the people in their own country. Then they will not be forced to make the perilous journeys across sea and land in the hope of a better future?

Those that have been welcomed in Germany are the lucky ones but will this just store up trouble for the future? What will the indigenous peoples of Germany do in years to come when they too are overrun with muslims? How will they cope and for the immediate future, for how long will they be able to keep their borders open? and what will happen when the authorities say 'enough!'? Are the Germans seeking atonement for the past, I wonder? Will they be giving houses which once belonged to the jews to their new arrivals? How will they cope when the new arrivals demand Sharia law in Germany?

In my opinion our government here in Britain, under the leadership of David Cameron, has so far dealt with the problem in a measured way. We have not leapt in and thrown open our borders. How can we do that when we are already full to the brim? We are threatened with invasion from the refugees in Calais. They have even started walking through the channel tunnel to get here. What will we do if and when they arrive.  I'm sure they already have. Some have been sited in fields near where I live. What will I do if one knocks on my door? or 50 or 100?

The European Union is breaking down. Open borders do not work. It is time for Britain to leave.

What do you think?


Friday, 4 September 2015

All set for the winter.

It's been a busy few weeks at the cottage. Firstly we had the central heating system renewed.  This was a huge job but the workmen completed it within a few days and we are very pleased with the result.

The picture above shows the large tank in the airing cupboard. There was also a huge tank of water in the loft, which fed the tank above and a complicated system of heating wires that ensured that we always had hot water. Now the two tanks have gone and that has given us a lot more storage space in the airing cupboard although, of course, we have lost the warmth. Larry put in some lovely shelves and a hanging rail so I can now store what I want. Needless to say all that created a job for me because I felt obliged to have a clear out and sent quite a bit to the local charity shop.  You may not believe what I had been hoarding around that huge tank!

Here are the 'after' pictures. Lots of shelf space and a lovely hanging rail as well. Bliss.

It was fun to load up the new cupboard.

A few days later I caught a cold and was laid up for a few days but I'm better now.

The next project was to take down the oldest shed in the garden. More of that in the next post.


Sunday, 9 August 2015

Dylan update

I love this picture of my grandson Dylan. It was taken last week on the occasion of his being a mascot at a local football game. It was a friendly, Luton versus Walsall. He and his two cousins were all mascots and as you can see from the picture, he was having a great time.

Recently Dylan went lavender picking at a lavender farm near here. Isn't it beautiful. The smell must have been wonderful too.

He's quite a poseur.  Here he is posing at the airport, I believe, on his way to holiday in Morocco.

I'm so proud of him.  Soon he will leave Nursery school and start school proper.  Doesn't the time fly!


Monday, 3 August 2015

Building Bridges - The refurbishment of the suspension bridge in my local park, Wardown.

Last week Larry, Jim and I went to see the official opening of the newly refurbished suspension bridge in Wardown Park, Luton, Bedfordshire; which will take visitors from one side of the park to the other. The bridge was officially opened at 2.15 p.m. by the Mayor of Luton who cut a big red ribbon and declared the bridge open. The picture above shows the first people over the bridge.

Notice in the next picture that only one person is wearing a straw boater hat. This would not have been the case in 1905 when the park was first opened.  In those days everyone would be wearing a straw boater. Luton is renowned for its hat industry and several members of my family were employed in it. Notably my little nanna and my auntie Connie were always trimming straw hats and there were stacks of them in every corner of their houses.

A local amateur theatrical group represented times gone by with their wonderful costumers depicting how things were at the turn of the 20th century. I particularly loved the lace bonnet in the next picture.

We have cause to be proud of our beautiful park. Don't the willow trees look wonderful in the next picture.

Here I am in an 'I woz here' picture taken just before the grand opening:

Have a guess what it cost to refurbish the bridge as you see it now? It has been closed for two years ever since Larry first came over to England so he had never walked over it before. Well, hold on ... it cost £300,000, which the Mayor described as 'money well spent' and everyone agreed. However, it didn't happen without a lot of planning and finger crossing. At one time we thought we might have to raise the money ourselves and that would have been a hard thing to do in this age of austerity. Somehow the money was found and the renovations started in the Spring of this year. I, for one, am very glad it happened.

As the Mayor mentioned in his opening speech, whilst the bridge was closed, people tended to stay on either one side of the bridge or the other and many didn't bother to walk around the lake to get to the other side.  This struck a note with me. 

How many times in our lives do we fail to do this? To go the extra mile to help someone in need or just to make contact with people we haven't been brought up with? How many times do we 'cross the bridge? I know I am as guilty as anyone else when it comes to crossing the bridges in my life. I have not reached out to other people of different cultures living in my own street as often as I should have done.

When I went to live in America for a few years I discovered what it felt like to be that person of a different culture, living on the other side of the bridge or in my case, the pond! Not many people reached out to me and made me feel welcome. I went to church regularly and helped in the church office as a volunteer, hoping to make friends and meet people. I did meet people but nobody went the extra mile to make me feel a part of their lives. I was longing for someone to invite me round for coffee or for a meal with Larry but no-one did. I don't blame people for being reticent. After all they don't know what they're letting them in for, do they. It takes nerve to invite a stranger into your home and it costs money to cook them a meal and give up your free time to make them feel 'at home'.

When I came back to England I determined to be more open and take people to my home more often and for a while I did this. I'm sure they were grateful and I made new friends. However, like the birds of the air, we tend to stay in our own flocks don't we!

The other sort of building when it comes to bridges is the sort when we have fallen out of favour with someone. Sometimes the years go by and we forget what the quarrel was all about in the first place. Neither party is prepared to make the first move and so the feud goes on for years. Have you got someone in your life with whom you have lost contact over the years because of some petty quarrel? I know I have. If so perhaps now is the time to make amends. With all the many forms of communication we have at our disposal these days, it wouldn't take much to pick up a phone, write a letter, e-mail or text a 'how are you?' message would it? and it won't cost £300,000!

Let's build a bridge today. Go on, you know you want to.

I'll leave you with a picture of Jim and Larry standing on the bridge in Wardown Park for the first time since it was refurbished.