Sunday, 27 December 2015

A New Grandchild!

Our lovely grandson Dylan (aged five) is going to get a brother or sister next June 2016. We are all very excited about this forthcoming event and have marked the calendars accordingly!

Thing is, will it be a boy or a girl?  Larry and I already have five grandsons between us so the chances are another boy? or maybe not! A girl this time?

We'll just have to wait and see, won't we.

Meantime, I'm going to be busy with my knitting needles and sewing thread.

Patchwork Quilt - I've been busy!

Over the last few months I have been very busy making a patchwork quilt for Jim. I finished it just in time for Christmas, phew!

As all quilters know, we end up with lots of bits and pieces after a project is finished so with this quilt I wanted to use up some of those pieces. The flowery blue material is from a dress I made for myself last summer and the pretty Dutch material is from a piece my friend sent me to make something. I've had it in the drawer for a while.  I was going to make a shirt for Dylan,my grandchild, but then I thought he probably wouldn't wear it. He's into super heroes these days!

I varied the edging border with nine patch squares, which made it more interesting for me to make and now that it's finished, I'm pleased with the result.  Do you like it?


Saturday, 19 December 2015

Christmas Cribs

This afternoon Larry and I went down to our local church to visit the Crib Festival there.  I couldn't wait to show you some of the exhibits, which were exemplary.  The children have put in a lot of work to get their cribs ready in time for the festival and deserve to know that their work is much appreciated. Local primary schools joined in too.


Sunday, 13 December 2015

Country Matters and The Lavender Tea Room

I love to visit Country Matter and The Lavender Tea Room from time to time. I went the other day and took some pictures of their wares. 

I'm please to say that they now have a website. You can find out more information about them here. The website opens with The Lavender Tearoom but also covers Country Matters.

Feeling in a Christmassy, December Mood!

Once December comes, I love to choose a suitable book to read for the Christmas season. This year I've picked two.

The first is 'The Snow Child' by Eowyn Ivey. Here is the synopsis:

'Alaska, the 1920's. Jack and Mabel have staked everything on a fresh start in a remote homestead, but the wilderness is a stark place and Mabel is haunted by the baby she lost many years before.  When a little girl appears mysteriously on their land, each is filled with wonder, but also foreboding - is she what she seems, and can they find room in their hearts for her?'

It is a fairytale and I love fairytales so I'm sure I'll enjoy it.  I read some of the reviews on my Kindle and they seemed so favourable that I'm sure I've made a good choice. I shall read it at bedtime. I'm sure it will send me off into the land of dreams quite nicely.

The second choice is 'Christmas at Fairacre' by Miss Read. Miss Read is my favourite authoress and has kept me company many, many times. This book is an anthology of her best Christmas stories and includes the titles 'No Holly for Miss Quinn', 'Christmas at Fairacre School' and 'The Christmas Mouse'. Here is the synopsis:

'Winter may not be everyone's favourite season, but of all the year's festivals Christmas takes pride of place and has lost none of its magic.  Outside, the winter landscape has a beauty of its own:  bare branches against a clear sky, brilliant stars on a frosty night and perhaps a swathe of untouched snow.  But these beauties are best when seen from the comfort of one's home with a good fire crackling and the smell of crumpets toasting for tea...' Miss Read.


I've done most of my Christmas packing, but as I check my list for the umpteenth time, I wonder what I have forgotten?  Even worse, who may I have forgotten?  Do you, like me, keep a few spare presents just in case? It's a good idea, isn't it.

What do you like to read over December?  Are you like me and like to delve into a fantasy world or do you prefer the holiday brochures encouraging you to think of the warmer weather and blue skies?

Monday, 7 December 2015

Sammy Update

This is our second grandson, Sammy.  He's two and a half years old now and a very happy, cheeky little chappy. He loves his cuddly toys and building bricks:

I wonder what Father Christmas will bring for him this year?

Hasn't he got the most adorable smile?


Panda settles in.

This is Panda, our new cat.  He was a stray who just turned up a couple of months ago. He was hungry and out of condition and asking for food so of course, I fed him and soon he became a regular caller.  After a month or two we decided to take him on so we took him to the vet to see if he was chipped - he wasn't. We had him chipped and inoculated for all the nasty diseases that cats are prone to and finally after a few weeks had gone by, we had him neutered.

Millie was not amused. She still isn't. She tolerates him but only just. He, on the other hand, looks at her as if to say 'what's your problem?'. He is placid with her so maybe she will get to like him one day.

Meanwhile he loves rugs! He likes tunnelling under the rugs and rolling over and over, making a right mess!  When Larry took this picture Panda was nearly asleep.

He is a big cat and eats a lot. He also eats what Millie doesn't but that's probably a good thing because she is getting a bit chubby.

Here he is again:

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!