Monday, 25 June 2012

Moving On..

This is the lovely Marilyn on crutches.  Sadly I've looked decidedly less glamorous as I've hobbled round school for the last week.  There was a low point on Thursday evening when I had to hang around for four hours to play one short piano accompaniment in the Key Stage 3 Prize Evening.  There was an even lower point on Friday morning when torrential rain got the better of me somewhere between my classroom and the Head's Office.  I staggered into the meeting, apologising for looking like a bag lady...
"My Dear Jan," the Head replied smoothly.  "Bag Ladies don't wear Berghaus!"
It didn't make me feel much better... The coat in question was a present from Mark about seven years ago.  It is well-used, much loved and well on the way to being extremely scruffy.  The Head was just being polite ~ bless him!

Anyway, things are looking up in our household.  Mark went back to work today.  I also did most of today off crutches.  I have an immensely busy next few days - concerts, parent's evening, a fashion show and the Prom - so it's been a relief to be able to move around unhindered.  In all this chaos I haven't been posting much, but it's been lovely to read everyone else's news.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Love Letters from the Past

I was very taken with Elaine's recent post about letter writing at Life in the Slow Lane. It prompted me to take another look at a some rather special letters that I've been looking after since my Grandad died.  These are letters to my Great-Grandmother from her first fiance.  They start in the winter of 1893/94.

This is one of the first letters.  It's clear even then that my Great-Grandmother worked long hours on the family farm and had very little time to meet her 'suitor'.  It seems that he wrote if the weather was too bad to visit, or if one of them was too ill to meet.  Even at this early stage there are also some letters that he has written to clear the air after an argument.  It's rather strange to read the justifications of an argument that took place 120 years ago!

Every letter through 1894 and 1895 ends with an affection 'sign off' and loving PSs.  There are also a few Valentines cards in the pile and other cards that he sent her for amusement.  Unfortunately the relationship appeared to flounder in 1896.  My Great-Grandmother is accused of prioritising her work on the farm over making time to see her 'beau'.  There are several complaining letters when she has clearly cancelled at the last minute.

Finally, at the bottom of the pile, there's an envelope with a plain piece of paper wrapped around this small scrap... It seems that he was finally tired of waiting.  My Great-Grandmother couldn't bring herself to keep the letter where he broke off the engagement, but she cut the date from the top and kept it in an envelope with all the other letters.

She also kept the ring and I now keep it safe with other family heirlooms.

Eventually my Great-Grandmother found 'the man of her dreams'.  He was an engineer from Stafford who cycled to north-east Manchester to find work in 1900.  He was happy to let her run the farm, while he worked in a factory less than a mile away at the bottom of the hill.  They had three children - two girls and then a boy.  The boy was my maternal Grandad and he eventually followed his father into the same engineering trade.

I never knew my Great-Grandmother but I understand that she was profoundly deaf.  Family tradition says that she became deaf following the shock of her first broken engagement.  After all these years, we'll never really know the truth.  I just feel very lucky to be able to look after a little 'time capsule' from 120 years ago.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Work in Progress

Over the last few weeks I've been busy with my crochet hook and I've started a new project.  I pulled together some wool from my stash in blues, brown and pale peach.  I then bought some 'vari-coloured' wools to bring the theme together.....

My plan is to make squares of 6 rows, combining my colours in various ways.  All the squares will then have a 7th row of a pale colour (maybe cream, natural or beige) and  I hope to be able to crotchet them together with a ridge effect in the same pale colour.  At the moment I'm working on the corners.  Here's the first one laid out on the floor of the conservatory (with a bit of the second corner in the background). 

I'm taking my time with this project and really enjoying the porcess of messing around with the colours and yarns. I've no idea when it's going to be finished!  I have, however, finished a couple of cushions to go with the throw.  It's been nice to snuggle up with things that I've made myself during the last few days.

Finally, thank you to everyone who commented on my previous post.  I found everything that you wrote really helpful and I'm resisting the urge to charge around like a lunatic just because it's stopped hurting quite so much!

Wishing you all a lovely weekend!

Thursday, 14 June 2012


On Tuesday evening I ended up in a wheel chair in Worcester Hospital's A+E department.  Yesterday I  was so grumpy and furstrated that I couldn't even bring myself to post about it.  Today I have a calmer mind - so here's the story....

I got home in good time on Tuesday evening because I was conscious that Mark had spent the day on his own and time can hang heavily when you're convalescing.  Mark listened to my rant about the day (I had been pulled into some terrible politics at work) then suggested a gentle stroll before tea.  We did the shortest loop round the village, which is just over a mile.  I then cooked dinner.

By the time I'd finished eating I was aware of a painful red patch and a little swelling on the side of my foot.  I pointed it out to Mark and we both thought that it could be an insect bite.  He went off to meet some Car Club friends and I settled down to catch up on a little light blogging.

After some 40 minutes my foot was so painful that I didn't know where to rest it.  I rang Mark and asked him to come home via a shop and pick up some Piriton, as I assumed that I'd just got a bad allergic reaction.  By the time he got home I couldn't put any weight on my foot and I couldn't bear anything to be in contact with it.  Off we went to the hospital.

Fortunately it was very quiet and I didn't have to wait very long.  I was convinced by this time that I'd broken a small bone in my foot or something.  It was extremely painful!

Anyway, the Doctor explained that I haven't broken anything.  I have Plantar Fasciitis - otherwise know as Policeman's Heel!  From what I can gather, the red spot on the side of my foot is where the muscle (tendon?) in the arch of my foot has been damaged.  This was compounded on Tuesday evening by inflamed tendons across the front of the ankle.  Ouch!

The Doctor told me to rest my foot up, use ice-packs every two hours to keep the swelling down and take regular Ibrufen.  As a result I'm at home for the next few days too!  The pain has subsided and I'm now using the crutches the hospital gave me to get around. 

Neither Mark nor I are good patients so it's hell in our house at the moment.  This morning we offically banned the words 'frustrated' and 'work' from our conversations!  It's my plan to go back to work on Monday with the crutches and see how things go.  Mark, on the other hand, has been told by the Doctors to stay at home until at least the 25th June.  He is SO grumpy (but I still love him very much!!!!).  I'm just hoping that this marks the end of our run of 'bad luck' health-wise.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

A Wander Round Worcester

Firstly, a warm welcome to my new follower - Julie at 'A Tale from Toadstool House' - and thanks to you all for your continued messages of support as Mark recovers from his op. 

You've probably realised that Mark is the kind of guy who is always busy doing something and, as a result, he's finding the post-op restrictions extremely frustrating.  Today we turned a short loop round the city centre into a major potter with lots of stops for photos.  We parked 'BJ' in the car park by the Race Course and crossed the bridge to walk along the river-side path by the Cricket Ground.

Some of the best shots of the Cathedral are from this side of the river. 

There's also a lovely open view across the meadows to the Malvern Hills.

This is the point at which the Birmingham to Worcester canal joins the River Severn.  The whole area around the canal basin is going through a slow process of re-generation.  They have built lots of new flats on the old industrial sites but many remain unsold.  It's just not a good time to build on this scale.

After a little more walking past the lock and the weir we arrived at the new footbridge.  This is another part of the regeneration scheme.  It has opened out a whole network of footpaths and cycle routes to the south of the city.

By this stage Mark looked ready to sit down for a bit, so we had morning coffee and cake in the gardens of a hotel by the river.  The 'Brownie' was amazing - it had huge chunks of white and dark chocolate in it!  The sugar and caffeine got us going again..

We walked up from the hotel to the small park on Fort Royal Hill.  This is definitely the best view of Worcester Cathedral and the surrounding medieval buildings.  It's a shame that there's a modern block in the foreground.

We then followed a little of the canal bank to complete the loop.  I was lucky enough to get this photo of a swan with her young family as we wandered along the towpath.

It's back to school tomorrow - the final haul through to the summer holidays and one of my busiest periods.  Next week is quite quiet - but then I have four different concerts, a parent's evening, a Key Stage 3 Presentation evening, an Oscars Night, a Fashion Show with live music, and a residential trip with Year 10 pupils in Derbyshire all in the space of a month.  Urgh.... I suppose that it pays the mortgage!!!!

Mark, on the other hand, is going nowhere tomorrow.  He has been told very firmly that he's got to sit at home and let his face mend for a while longer yet.   Tom (the cat) is delighted.

Friday, 8 June 2012

A walk round Chepstow

Thank you to everyone who left their best wishes for Mark on my last post.  The stitches make him look like he's auditioning for the part of Frankenstien's monster - but he's definitely more himself again today.  Obviously he can't drive at the moment so I took him out for lunch for a change of scenery.  We went to a quiet little cafe in a garden centre on the far side of Worcester.  The drive through the lanes was lovely despite the awful weather.

Here are a few photos that I took of our visit to Chepstow on Bank Holiday Monday.  This is the bridge over the River Wye.  I am standing in Wales and the far side of the bridge is England.

Chepstow is at the beginning/end of two long distance paths - the Offa's Dyke Path and the Welsh Coastal Path.  This is a new mozaic on the bank of the river that gives a little information about each of the paths.  I was intrigued to read that the Coastal Path is 840 miles long.

There's a beautiful Priory Church.  The west end is 12th Century, while the rest has been rebuilt at later times.

I found this family tomb in one of the transcepts.  It's ages since I last saw one of these memorials with all the children lined up across the bottom.  There are 10 girls and just 2 boys.  She married twice so there are also two husbands! 

After a picnic lunch we visited Chepstow Castle.  It's quite large, with five courtyards stretched along the ridge above the Wye. 

There are loads of nooks and crannies to explore...

I amused myself trying to get some effective atmospheric shots through the leaded windows..

It's been a slightly wierd halfterm really.. certainly not as relaxing as usual.  I think the combination of  Mark's op, Jubilee celebrations, guests and this dreadful weather have all 'played on my nerves' a little...!  Nevertheless, I have done a fair bit of crotchet.  Every cloud has a silver lining!

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Jubilee Celebrations..

On Saturday afternoon I settled down in the conservatory to make 14 metres of bunting.  I used some coloured paper (courtesy of school!) and a few sheets of wrapping paper with a design on both sides.  Once I'd created a template the cutting out process was relatively straightforward.  Next I stapled the triangles to the ribbon.

I was extremely pleased with the over-all effect when the bunting was in place..

I had enough paper left over to make some napkin rings.  I was really pleased with the way that my china and Mum's china mixed together for that '1952 look'!

Here's the family together at Sunday tea-time.  (My brother-in-law and Mark are just out of picture.)  I frequently use the conservatory for family gatherings because it's lots bigger than our dining-room.  We had a traditional 'high tea' - with the addition of 'Coronation Chicken'.  Everyone dressed in 1950s style clothes or red, white and blue.

Here are all the puddings.. I made strawberry blancmage and rasberry jelly.  There's also battenburg cake and fruit cake on a two tier cake stand near my Mum.  My family normally go for the healthy option so I also prepared loads of fresh strawberries.  I was amazed that they were completely ignored on Sunday while everyone wanted second helpings of jelly and blancmange...

On Monday we took Mark's Mum and my parents out for the day to Chepstow.  We went in 'BJ' (the Discovery).  Everyone was very impressed with the space, comfort and visibility.... and her ability to act as a picnic venue in a cold wind!  In the evening we went up to Hanbury churchyard to watch the beacons.  This is the view to the Malvern Hills, looking across most of north-east Worcestershire.


Today Mark has had his operation.  It seems to have gone OK, but 50 minutes is a long time to have your face operated on under local anathestic.  We've been back home a couple of hours and I think he's still in shock.  I'm trying to be a good nurse (but get very queasy when blood is involved!)

I hope that you all had a fabulous Bank Holidays.