Friday, 9 November 2018

Remembering ....

When I was little, the occasional riotous behaviour of my father and uncles and their friends seemed rather fun and I used to feel sorry when Granny  and the aunts would look disapproving. It's only years later that I realise just how much all these young men spent their twenties putting themselves back together again after the war.

I've recently read my eldest uncle's diary, in which he describes how he found himself catapulted into the war and how, at first, being at war just meant scrubbing a decidedly scruffy boat from one end to the other endlessly. His main worry was how his mother would cope without his wages, which helped her feed and clothe his younger brothers and sisters. That it would be years till he found himself at home again never occured to him or that he'd be at sea, in one way or another, till his sixties.

 Much as I loved him, Matthew was no literary giant and the diary wasn't an easy read but a lot was fascinating. If nothing else it explained his lifelong reluctance to bow to authority.

He mentions their attempt at tailing the Graaf Spee and how it was perhaps as well that they never got too close given that their 6 inch guns had been installed in 1901 and definitely not up to the fire power and range of any modern ship. Perhaps it was just as well that my grandmother didn't know anything about what exactly her eldest son was up to just then. Never one for quietly accepting her fate, or anyone else's, she'd have been banging on the Admiralty doors, demanding better arms for them all at the very least.

Monday, 15 October 2018

Frogs And Suchlike

The 'fridge echoes. I've hunted the cupboard shelves. Quinoa (Heavens, how old is it?), a half full, plastic container with a hand-printed label saying "VERY  wholemeal flour" which I remember made some depressingly healthy buns and some elderly raisins. A tin of sardines in water, but I'm not quite  that hungry. Oh, I have found a small tin of sweet corn … is that nice on toast?

Perhaps not. And a pot of Marmite dated January 2003, does everybody British have one of these ? Trouble is, I don't like tinned food so I rarely buy it except for tomatoes which I then keep for an emergency, but I've even eaten those. And all the pasta .  Since I have now dared to get back on the bike again, I'd better find a couple of shoes that match and go to the shops.

  All I really want is some grapefruit juice now I can't, of course, but a bag of mandarins do. Three pots of cottage cheese and a pork chop. Peanut butter, some smoked mackerel and sweet peppers. Meuslibollen ( yes, they really do have meusli in them and they're lovely with cheese in ). And some more tinned tomatoes for the next emergency.

The reason for the food shortage is Barbara Kingsolver's Flight Behaviour. Thoroughly enthralling and the reason why I've been glued to my sofa. But I have been doing a jigsaw, too. A recycling shop challenge which might or might not be complete, though since it only cost 25 cents it probably isn't. The edge pieces are all there anyway and hundreds of frogs.

(Sorry, I've resorted to the manufacturers online catalogue photo  since posting my own photos has become very hit and miss.) And I'd like to post this before 2019.
P.S. I've finally finished the puzzle and it was complete !

Sunday, 23 September 2018

Well, That Made A Change.

You know those surprise weekend breaks that people have been rushing off for for the last couple of years? To Munchen or Bratislava ? Well, I had a variation this week ....  

Food-wise it couldn't be recommended, eight cheese rolls being rather too much of a good thing and I don't know about you, but I prefer to take my toothbrush and a nightie away with me , but everyone was terribly friendly and the coffee was very good. It was a couple of rather busy days, not recommended if you wanted a rest, but it did make a change.

Last Saturday I felt a little peculiar and I still felt strange on Sunday, so when Youngest Daughter phoned on Sunday evening I couldn't really talk to her. Then Friend 'phoned and I didn't do much better but had luckily already decided to talk to the doctor on Monday or Tuesday. It's all right. Next time I'll just call an ambulance straightaway  and put everyone's mind at rest. I'd had a TIA.
I now sound fine, have had every test known to man and seem to be condemned to taking another form of Statins but I've been told that I might not react so badly to these, they're milder.

Since it seemed that I wasn't going to get home till I did, I'm swallowing them and keeping my fingers crossed. These are quite gentle which might be easier for both me and my great-greatgrandmother to put up with … apparently even vaguely Keralan people can only tolerate them so well.

I definitely don't want to be difficult. (The young specialist looked about twenty but I feel she and her gang looked as though they'd be bossy and I was determined to get out before series 3 of The Good Place was going to begin.) Besides, I'd read all the magazines and I'd eaten two lots of salmon and broccolli… I felt I'd wrung the whole experience dry.

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

I Had No Idea ...

Until last weekend I had no idea that my life was missing something so fundamental. Other people had cats or canaries, Guinea pigs or ant farms. A mouse in the skirting board. Dandelions on the lawn or mushrooms in the cellar… But Gloria and I soldiered on without any of these things.

 And then I went down to Amsterdam on Saturday to have lunch and a wander round with YD. We went to Hortus, the Botanic Gardens, and mooned over endless beautiful ferns and palm trees of all shapes and sizes. We're not gardeners; between us we have five plants, one of which is the balding, albino Basil in my kitchen. But we loitered by the purple Velvet plants and the little signs inviting us to stroke them, and we crushed mint and verbena leaves. We stabbed ourselves with an armoury of needle sharp cactii and admired our reflections in lily pad filled ponds. We were enchanted by the Butterfly house and peered through the windows of the Caterpillar House ( No Entry, presumably in case one inadvertently treads on a few). And just as we were beginning to feel hungry and reckoned we'd seen our moneysworth of greenery, I saw what  my balcony's been missing , an Elephant's Foot Palm, otherwise known as a Ponytail Palm.

 I know that Gloria would love one as would the pansy that grew after I'd planted some paprika seeds and the pink daisy-things that seem to be growing  horizontally next door …

I think I'm getting the hang of gardening …….

Friday, 31 August 2018


A small girl came to Keep Fit yesterday with her grandmother and was telling me all about school.

She said  she's going to go into class Four she thinks but it might be class Ten but she's not going to learn to read because her brother already can so it would be a waste of time for her to learn too but she can skip with a rope already and there's a spider in her kitchen and did I want a go on the trampoline but I might break my leg because I'm a granny and ……

 I do hope she enjoys Year One.

Sunday, 5 August 2018

The Best Option

Husband had Alzheimer's for years before it was diagnosed, years before slight irrascibility became occasional rage, before getting lost became the norm.

When the small day care farm couldn't keep him safe anymore and there was no alternative to a fulltime care home, we found somewhere nearby, beautifully run by a team of charming nurses, where it didn't matter that he slept all day and wandered about all night, got hungry at four in the morning and liked playing the keyboard during breakfast.

They gave him plant pots which he overwatered,  let him make toast at midnight, wear his pyjamas all day,  push another old chap's wheelchair up and down the corridor for hours much to their joint delight.  I'd bring him the paper every day and chocolate biscuits, an old friend brought wine, he'd be sent magazines and sweets, his sister 'phoned … and he mostly tolerated it.

But two years later he could no longer taste anything, television frightened him, music irritated him, the sun was too bright and he didn't recognise the moon. He'd ask if he'd ever had a job or gone to school, ask what a fork was, who I was. Then he didn't talk anymore. Stopped eating and drinking, stopped breathing, stopped living.

And now for the first time in years, he's free. As one of the daughters said, he's found a nineteenth century wilderness where he can live off the land, surrounded by trees and birds. And sad though it is, we're happy for him.

Friday, 22 June 2018


Max Liebermann's wonderful Parrot Man is only still in Den Haag's Gemeente Museum because I couldn't quite work out how to get it out of the exhibition without someone objecting. And they were selling an excellent poster of it in the shop downstairs which did look rather easier to bring home on the train. I would have lugged them all home given a chance … certainly the Anton Mauve one of the rather exasperated farmer's wife looking at the lamb … you can see her thinking, "There's not enough wool on that for a pair of socks and it's eating for three."

Having sat so long sitting staring at the paintings in the Summer Impressionist  exhibition that a passing attendant asked me if I was alright, I went down and ate an enormous Brie sandwich with sweet peanuts in it ( I don't know why they'd been added, they really weren't a good idea so I fished them out… but the coffee was good ). 
Then I went back upstairs to the Art Nouveau exhibition on the other side of the landing. And found more rooms full of things, every one of which I needed, really needed. 

I mean, if I needed one I could probably knit myself a tea cosy. I've certainly got enough odd bits of wool to knit ten tea cosies … but none would be quite as pretty as Berthe Bake's .

I took masses of photos which I seem to be working out how to load but it's still all a bit hit and miss so do look at the museum's website. There's masses of pretty things and quite a few that you wouldn't give house room to. It's rather like windowshopping.

 Meanwhile, there's an Escher exhibition to see, here. 
Next week.

Summer Exhibition