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.


Thursday, 30 July 2015

Millie likes to help

Millie is getting to show her age - nine! She still has her moments of erratic behaviour, darting about all over the cottage and flying in and out of the back door into the garden but these moments are getting fewer. Also she is beginning to show a little middle-aged spread. I sympathise with her because I'm at the same sort of stage in life myself.

Larry has been busy rug making recently. The rug in the picture is for our dining room. He's done a lot more since the picture was taken.  In fact he's reached the half way stage and now he's put it to one side because at last the parts for his new project have arrived. He is going to make a beautiful rug for his daughter, hopefully in time for Christmas. There was a hold up with the canvas. They didn't have the right size so he's had to wait and wait. Now he needs to get a move on to finish the new rug in time for Christmas.  He's worked out that if he works on it for three hours every day, he should finish it in time. I'm not so sure it's possible but we'll see.

In the meantime, Millie is looking after this one till he has time to get back to it.


Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Exhibits from the competition at Fibre East on Sunday

I e-mailed the pictures to myself from my I-phone today because I just couldn't get the computer to grab them. So here are some of them. In the entrance hall were some beautifully woven scarves and wraps, which Larry was particularly interested in since he is the weaver in the family. I was impressed with the variety of patterns and the quality of the goods on show.

A mermaid tailed wrap won first prize. I couldn't get it all in one photo. Here is the main part of it.

and here is the tail end of it. It really was magnificent and a gorgeous colour, starting a lighter green and finishing this beautiful watery dark green. Hopefully, if you click on the picture you will be able to read the description from the artist.

Here is another wrap that caught my eye. It looks so chic and warm. I must get Larry to make me one (she said hoping). Click on the picture and admire the clasp too.

There were many varied exhibits all having their own special qualities. Take a look at the scarf in the middle of the next picture. Don't you just love the curly spirals at the end.

It was hard to capture the next lot of exhibits because we were kept back by a rail so we couldn't touch and handle the objects. I leaned forward as much as I could, but still couldn't get quite the detail I wanted.  However, here we have examples of some very fine hand spinning. I think the red labels were first prizes.

After we'd had a look round for an hour or so we stopped by the food tent for a drink and a snack. The rain, which started the moment we left the house, was getting harder and it wasn't long before it became a deluge.

Here's what I mean! This was the seat next to mine and I had to swipe the rain off mine before I could sit down.

We are however used to the rain here in England and it didn't put me off my bacon roll and coffee.

All together we were there for four hours and had such a good time. We spent quite a bit but our purchases will keep us busy through the long winter evening to come. We came home tired but happy and that is all you can ask of a nice day out, isn't it.


Monday, 27 July 2015

An Exciting Weekend

I've just had a lovely, exciting weekend. Firstly on Saturday we had a visit from two of the grandchildren, Dylan and Sammy and their daddies.  It was great to see them playing together. There's always funny moments when there are children in the room. Dylan told Sammy, who was playing nicely with a train set, that he used to play with that when he was a baby!  He's only four years old now and played with the train set last year.  So sweet.

Then on Sunday, even though it was raining, Larry and I went to the Fibre East show nearby, held in a school and in marquees in the grounds. We took a spare pair of shoes in case we got so muddy we didn't want to get back into the car.

Unfortunately I couldn't upload the photos I had taken on my I-phone because it wouldn't synchronize with the computer. I don't know why. Maybe it was having an off day. However, if you click here, you can go to the Fibre East website and see the pictures from last year. You'll need to scroll down the page on their website a little first.This years pics aren't up yet, but there is a good photostream from last year.  It was an amazing show with so much to see that both Larry and I had a sensory overload by lunchtime. I made some purchases and since I took these pics with my other camera, they uploaded nicely.

The picture at the top of this page was of some roving I bought from Taylor-Made Yarns. Sharon specialises in art yarn using Wensleydale locks and she makes some remarkable things with it. Here is the link to her website.

The next picture shows some roving which I bought from Maggie Stearn. I love the soft colours she makes. Take a look at her website and see the lovely things she makes.

Lastly I bought some roving from Saras Texture Crafts. Check her out here.

I've kept to the same colour line because then I can mix and blend when spinning. For now that is ok for me. If I start using too many colours I will soon fill up the house and never get through it all.

Monday, 20 July 2015

A few days away

Larry and I have just been away for a few days at Weston-Super-Mare, on the west coast of England. The main purpose of the visit was to visit my son Rob. who now lives there with his partner Kelly. They only moved a few weeks ago but seem to have got their abode round very nicely.

The weather was not wonderful there last week, but in between the showers, we did get quite a bit of sunshine and when the sun shone, we went out. The tides are very high or low in that part of the country and we were amazed at how fast the tides went in or out during the day. In the morning about ten o'clock the tide went right out, almost to where you couldn't see it at all and later on in the day it came right in again. I'm told it comes right up to the sea wall sometimes. These pictures were taken at mid morning and as you can see, the tide is almost fully out.

With a name like Jones, Larry must have Welsh relatives.  Here he is looking across the sea to Wales, which is easily visible at certain times of the day.

I was enjoying sitting on a bench in the sunshine observing the world going by.

The island just in the distance here is called Steepholm Island. Every few days a boat can take one out to have a look at it but it is only possible to alight on the island at certain times of the day. Unfortunately it wasn't convenient for us to go this time. Please click here to read more about this fascinating island. There are 6,500 islands around the coast of Britain and this is just one of them.

It's always sad to say goodbye again. It is over a year since I saw my son and who knows when we will get together again.

On the way back we had to change trains at Paddington Station in London. As you probably know, Paddington is the famous station where Paddington Bear was found some many years ago now. There is a seat and a statue to commemorate this event so we took our pictures to remind us.


Sunday, 12 July 2015

My Memoirs - family history - My Oma's early life

My Oma, Stella Jenner, grew up in Lowestoft, on the east coast of England. She was one of nine children born to Arthur Taylor Jenner and his wife, Margaret Jenner (nee card). Oma was the second eldest.

When she was a young lady, she travelled to London and from there to be a governess in Holland. It must have been a very great step for her to take, especially in those days. Accompanying her was her friend Gwen.

Oma was born in 1890 so we are talking about around 1910, pre first world war. It was a different world in those days.

The pictures above show Oma in her governess's uniform. The first picture shows her friends, probably all governesses. Oma is standing on the left.

It must have been a very steep learning curve for Oma, to leave her own country and travel to Holland.  These days that wouldn't seem so far to go. In fact I can be there from my own town, by plane, in 40 minutes. In those days one would have to travel from Harwich to the Hoek of Holland by boat and the boat trip alone would be 6 hours. Once there, Oma would have to learn Dutch and the Dutch culture, which is quite different from our own, here in England.

This is the house where Oma went to work:

She worked for the family Rie...... and in the end she had six children to look after. The pictures are taken from Oma's fotobook, which is now more than a hundred years old!

Here she is with some of the family:

English nannies have always had a good reputation  in other countries and I would love to have been one myself. However, I didn't want to go travelling and work in another country and I didn't have to. At the time I was growing up, I didn't have to because I was able to find employment near to where I lived and my life took a completely different direction.

One cannot help wondering though, what life would have been like to do something completely different to what one did before. Something to dream on.

I am writing these memoirs so that my three sons have an idea of where they come from and the people and places that went before them.