Friday, 8 January 2010

2009..a year to remember!

I will certainly not forget last year in a hurry, as well as being a rather good year for us all there were a couple of things that made it very special indeed

Firstly, it was our Ruby wedding anniversary in April and we decided that as this was such a special event we would choose a very special cruise in order to celebrate it. We started off with five days in LA which was brilliant, we thoroughly enjoyed doing all the touristy things..hard to choose my most favourite but the Paul Getty museum was pretty amazing. Then there was a two week cruise to Hawaii...not quite the weather we had hoped for but totally wonderful and romantic! Paul had arranged lots of exciting treats that kept popping up throughout the cruise, it really was an absolute treat. Although I was a blubbering wreck when a bouquet from all our children was delivered to the cabin! We looked so young in 1969 at the beginning of what has so far been a very happy and exciting adventure. In 2009 we certainly look older but I still think we scrub up okay, even if Paul's dicky bow is wonky!

Holidays do feature rather prominently since we both retired and we managed a couple of breaks in the UK as well as two cruises this year! It was good to take my Mum to Northumberland in July. Our trips out had to be planned according to mobility scooter access, sometimes a little limiting but mostly we managed to find some nice places..occasionally being thwarted when the pavement suddenly came to an end with a steep step and no slope

Paul seems to take countless back views of Mum and me when we're on holiday together...I suppose that's his usual view of us!

We have just started thinking about where to take Mum this year and think that perhaps Norfolk again will be a good idea. If we can get the same chalet as before on the edge of the river there will be plenty to sit and enjoy without having to go out every day.

Towards the end of the summer Paul and I had a week at a wonderful Watermill which belongs to a couple we met on holiday the year before. It has been converted into holiday flats and is a superb place to stay, nestling in a remote valley in Pembrokeshire

We had such a relaxing week and it was so good to spend time with such lovely people and enjoy their hospitality, sadly the weather wasn't good enough for us to take up their invitation of a glass of wine in their hot tub which sits high up on the hillside behind the mill! Rough sea also put paid to our trip to Ramsey Island for a spot of birdwatching.

One of the most memorable events of the year came about as a result of at last being persuaded to research my family history. Since Paul retired five years ago he has spent many hours working on his and has found a whole raft of old relatives. I always felt rather reluctant to start poking around, particularly in my father's family as my parents separated when I was 8 months old and from then on we lived with my maternal grandparents and I knew little about the other side of my family. However, once I started I was totally hooked it was so absorbing and within a few hours I was becoming acquainted with my great, great, great grandfather from 1783...this felt very strange as I'd not known my own father.

My father was a widower with two very young children when he met my Mum, she looked after them when they got married so I had always known that I had a half brother and sister but had never met them. I made contact with my father's sister which thrilled my Mum as they were best friends when they were sisters-in-law, it was lovely to chat with my aunt and she was able to fill in a lot of blanks for me. Having gotten into the swing of this ancestry lark the obvious next step was to try and trace my half sister (her brother had died a couple of years ago) and at last I felt ready to do it. It only took a very little sluething to find her address and contact her... two months ago we met for the first time in 61 years! It has knocked us both for six but we feel that if we take it slowly we will be able to forge a proper relationship, she is lovely and I liked her instantly...we look similar too and there seems a real connection between us. There have been long phone calls, lunch together and next week a meal out as a foursome with our husbands. I feel it's perhaps too soon to include a photo of us both just yet..but may do soon.

There has been knitting during the year too...only socks completed though with one or two other projects either abandoned or still unfinished. Sometimes I feel I'm not really savvy enough for knitting patterns..only today my dear friend Mazzam had to gently suggest turning over the page of the pattern book to find charted instructions for the fancy bit of cable for which I swore there were no instructions..doh!

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Tribute to an unknown Uncle

After years of good intentions we at last managed to visit the grave of my husband's uncle in St Brieuc on the north coast of Brittany. He was lost at sea on HMS Charybdis in 1943 during WW2. His wife knew he was missing for several years before knowing for sure that he was lost. She never wanted to visit his grave and no other member of the family did so either. We always felt sorry about this and decided that as this year would have been his 100th birthday it would be a fitting tribute.

Always eager for a little adventure the four of us (husband Paul, his brother Colin and partner Christine) booked cabins on the overnight Plymouth to Roscoff ferry.Our cabins were surprisingly comfy and we all slept well, an early start though as we arrived Roscoff 6am, giving us a good long day to drive to the cemetery and then to explore the countryside. It was a national holiday for Ascension Day so many shops were closed, fortunately some food, coffee and cake shops were open in the morning so we didn't go hungry. There were lots of folkloric events happening in various villages..local food, crafts and lots of dancing which was brilliant. Although visiting Uncle Don's grave was moving it wasn't as emotional as we'd all expected and we were so pleased we'd gone.

The war graves were just a very small part of an amazing cemetery, every grave was a big marble affair covered with flowers and plaques from various family members. After another brew up and picnic outside the cemetery gates (wondered if boiling a kettle was a bit disrespectful but after a local wished us 'bon appetit' we decided it was ok!) After that we found a couple of beaches and had a lovely afternoon with Moules et Frites for lunch. Before going back to the ferry we found a wine shop near the port (bet that never closes!) and stocked up with some very cheap plonk. After another good on the top bunk which was fun, we found ourselves in Plymouth again at 6.30am. Too early to find anywhere open for breakfast so we drove across Dartmoor for a couple of hours then stopped at a lovely Hotel for a rather posh breakfast and a lounge around with their newspapers. Then managed to pull in a visit to Castle Drogo near Exeter before finally heading home. We crammed so much into two days and with having the two overnight crossings the whole jaunt cost about £250 for all four of us!

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

I don't like 24!

There I've actually said it and Jack Bauer hasn't come after me...yet! Surely I can't be the only person to dislike this series, all my family are obsessed and talk about plots and characters as if they're known to them personally. It must be in the rules of the series that it can't be watched alone, take the other night....son Tom and his wife Laura who are living with us at the moment have a far superior flat screen telly in their room but had to come down and watch with my husband Paul. Do they all hold hands incase it's scary I wonder? Thank goodness for our V+ box that's all I can say!

Last month I was really impressed with a flower arrangement at daughter Lucy's and wondered why it looked so good. It was all to do with a twiggy sort of ring which fitted into the vase and held the flowers. Lucy had salvaged it from an arrangement she'd had for her birthday. I searched the internet for something similar but couldn't come up with anything, not knowing what it was called didn't help. I was delighted to find that Lucy had managed to track one down as part of my Christmas present...clever girl had thought to try Interflora where the original gift came from. So here is my sisal collar in action, by adding some random garden foliage to some beautiful flowers we were given by friends we ended up with a really stunning arrangement

For the last few years my very best non-knitting friend Elaine has been helping to care for her husband's Aunty Vera. This lady was well known to us all at the Library where we worked as she would often pop into town on the bus to see Elaine. Sadly, as she was overtaken by dementia her trips into town and further afield became a cause for concern, on several occasions she was taken home by the police. When she died a few months ago Elaine asked if I would like all Vera's knitting and sewing bits and pieces. How could I refuse...knowing she had been a keen seamstress, knitter and beader I guessed I would be in for a treat. What a treat it was too...fabric, containers of knitting needles and all the usual sewing equipment. So many fascinating old boxes and tins just full of buttons. There are several buttons that I really love and I'm determined to use them on some project or other in the future.

It would seem that for or a knitter your whole life ends up in your knitting bag, I know that I often pop things in mine knowing I'll soon find them again because I'm always rummaging in it. Vera must have done the same as we found all sorts of personal bits...lipsticks, Carter's Little Liver Pills, receipts, notes, numerous suspender buttons and most poignantly her turquoise eye shadow. She was well over 90 but up until the last couple of years she always put on her make up to come into town...especially her trademark eye shadow!

Wednesday, 31 December 2008

What a year!

We've just enjoyed the last family meal of 2008...almost all our chicks around us, the grown up ones anyway. Our Christmas day was very quiet as three out of our four were with their in-laws this year, we waited until the day after boxing day when we were all finally together to open presents and have a wonderful day with everyone.

We enjoyed our cruise so much, three weeks being just the right length of time...think we may have created a precedent there! It was funny seeing Christmas decorations in the Caribbean sunshine and walk round shopping malls to reggae carols! Being away so close to Christmas messed with my head though and rendered me incapable of any sensible festive planning, as I thought though, it happened whether I was ready or not!

The first week when we were in the Med the weather was just right for sightseeing, quite cool and occasionally showery but nothing to spoil our fun. I couldn't resist a couple of knitting photos, the first one was at Trevi Fountain in Rome

Then in front of St Peter's Square

I'm sorry to say I didn't get a huge amount of knitting done on holiday and tonight is the night I really must finish those socks so they can go home with Lucy tomorrow lunch time...that extra second we're having should swing it for me!

As usual we've been mulling over the year's happenings and wondering what's in store for us as a family in 2009. We have so much to be thankful for...and we are. Two wonderful daughters, two brilliant sons & sons and daughters-in-law we would have chosen ourselves. Between them so far they have given us two granddaughters and two grandsons...we can hardly believe we are so blessed. The big sadness of this year for us and our children has been losing their much loved Gramps.

It's almost a year to the day since my first post and I've been a resounding failure as a blogger! What little I've managed has been great fun and I always promise myself to do it more often. Perhaps that should be my New Year Resolution...only time will tell on that one. My real hope for the coming year is continued good health and safety, protection and happiness for all my precious family. The same for my very dear and lovely friends..knitters and non-knitters alike, they give me more joy than they will ever know!

Thursday, 23 October 2008

An amazing weekend.....and some important holiday packing!

We've had an unusually busy few months with some lovely weekends away. By far the most memorable was the one we spent in Guernsey at the beginning of October. Earlier this year we joined The Charybdis Association which is to do with the ship..HMS Charybdis on which my husband's uncle was lost in 1943 during WW2. It was torpedoed off the coast of France together with HMS Limbourne and a total of 500 were lost. The bodies of 21 Royal Navy and Royal Marines were washed up on German occupied Guernsey others in Jersey and France. The Germans carried out a funeral service with full military honours, the Islanders seized on this occasion to show their loyalty to Britain and respect for those who had died. Five thousand islanders attended in silent defiance and 900 wreaths were laid over the area, it was the first opportunity for mass solidarity and made a huge impression on the Islanders which is still remembered today.

Every October the Association is made very welcome by the people of Guernsey when Charybdis weekend is celebrated. The weekend started with a formal dinner which was attended by The First Sea Lord, other Naval Officers and Guernsey dignitaries and carried on a pace with receptions, coffee mornings and lunches, church service, march and wreath laying at the cemetery and a final concert by the Royal Marines. It was all very emotional and probably one of the most moving things was witnessing the laying of a wreath at sea by the eight survivors of the sinking.

These guys, all now in their late eighties, had amazing stories to tell and enjoyed having us newbies there who hadn't heard them before! One of them had been a signalman who worked alongside our uncle who was also a signalman, talking with him really brought alive the memory of an uncle who died before we were born.

Here is the most important part of my holiday packing!

We are off on Tuesday next week for a three week cruise, first week in the Med then five sea days and a week in the Caribbean. We've been on several cruises but never such a long one and feel rather concerned about leaving our elderly mums for so long.

I hope I've got enough knitting and reading..the socks were supposed to be for my husband as he chose the yarn but somehow they just aren't big enough for him, so youngest daughter Lucy who's feet are bigger than mine is delighted to be next in line. The scrummy pink Merino is for a bolero each for our two granddaughters Abi and Ellie..cousins who love to dress alike. I'm looking forward to reading Kate Morton and Debbie Macomber is a firm favourite

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Home Sweet Home

Safely home from our holiday in France...certainly a holiday with a difference for me!

Euro Disney and Centre Parcs were wonderful but I was poorly for the first five of the ten day holiday. A nasty tummy thing which started the very first evening in Dover..scary that, knowing we had the ferry crossing and a three hour drive across France the next morning. I managed better than expected but spent the next four days in bed, venturing out to Disney for a few hours but soon scuttling back to my bed via the shuttle bus. Had I felt better I would have queued up to get a photo of Winnie the Pooh holding my sock as it was I just managed to hold it myself infront of the Fairy Princess Castle!
Once I was feeling better I just loved Centre Parcs near Paris at Le Lac d'Ailette new this year, lovely two storey cottages in a lake setting rather than the forest setting we're used to here. As usual bikes were the only form of transport and we loved cycling fact we loved it so much that today we've bought a couple of bikes for us to take out to local country parks and cycle paths, definitely won't be using them on roads!
It was so good spending time with our grandchildren and I really loved being with my daughter as we usually only see each other every few weeks and I miss her lots. I'm not going to risk any more photos as I get myself in a bit of a mess when I'm using my laptop and our home pc is out of action...again!

Saturday, 21 June 2008

Not another holiday?

Oh yes there is!

There is an earlier one to mention first though...another mobility scooter adventure infact, with my Mum this time. We took her to Norfolk for two weeks at the beginning of May...those two perfect weeks of sunshine. First stop was Docking, to a lovely cottage in a village near Brancaster beach in North Norfolk then on to Brundell in a fantastic chalet plonk on the very edge of the River Yare, just perfect for Mum to sit and watch all the activity on the river. We had our own tame mallards who came to be fed every day also a little dinghy for my husband to play with.

As before when holidaying with scooters we had to plan our trips very carefully but managed some really good outings. Usually gardens, garden centres and farm parks were a safe bet as most are scooter friendly. Have some lovely photos but Blogger just will not let me upload them...again!

Next week we are off to Euro Disney with youngest daughter and family then on to Centre Parcs near Paris. So excited to have a 10 days with grandchildren Ellie(4) and Josh(2). They did the same trip last year and Ellie can't wait to see everything hope I'll be able to show pics of them.