Note 22…International Women’s Day..

Can’t let this day pass without mentioning a few inspirational women in my life.

My mother, Eileen Winifred Edith Hatch…lived to the age of 91 and spent the last few years of her life in a nursing home having had a massive stroke. During this time, she never lost her sense of humour and she never complained. I hope I can be the same if I should ever have to face a similar situation. We may not have always seen eye to eye, especially in my teenage years but on the whole, we got along pretty well and when I look back now I realise what a tough woman she was.

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My Mother in 1982

My dancing teacher, Joanne Marsden Blackwell I began to learn to dance at the age of three. Ballet, modern, tap…every discipline in fact. I loved her and I loved to dance and still do, when the old hip doesn’t interfere! She is sadly no longer with us. My lasting memory is of her very long finger nails always painted bright red and she always had a cigarette on the go when not teaching. She was energetic, determined and passionate about dance.  – No photo I’m afraid, all the old ones are in a box in store. What a shame.

My first mother-in-law Jackie Rickard. She introduced me to good food, good clothing, (Jaeger), dry martini and red wine. Whatsmore, she never held it against me that I divorced her son. We’re still good friends today. A woman of strong character and a wonderful Grannie.

Grannie at 90th

Jackie on her 90th Birthday

Maralyn Williamson. We worked together in the Hartley Williamson School of Dance for many years and I think we made a great team, giving the children of North Devon a glimpse into the world of dancing, allowing them to appear in all the great ballets…on a small scale of course.  She has taught me a great deal about classical ballet and I have taught her…let me think now…

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Maralyn and I on stage presenting certificates after a show I think. Always smiling! Date unknown but probably – in 1990 something…

Of course I have been inspired by some outside influences too… The Brontes especially Emily Bronte that’s why my daughter is called Emily. Ninette De Valois was the inspiration for my name (according to my mother). Dame Judi Dench and Dame Helen Mirren I sooo wanted to be her in the National Youth Theatre. I’m bound to have left someone out, but, International Women’s Day or not… I have to cook the lunch now so must go…

Note Number 19…Valentine’s Day…

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So Many Hearts in the World…

I’m sure that millions of couples are celebrating their love today and that’s all fine, but, spare a thought for those who are alone either because they’ve lost the person closest to them for any number of reasons… or there isn’t anyone special right now. The Man and I don’t celebrate St. Valentine’s day because we think it’s all commercial garbage and we reaffirm our feelings all through the year, not just on February 14th. That’s how it should be, we think. I didn’t know the origins of Valentine’s Day so I ‘googled’ and found this and this and a whole lot more but it’s all a bit confused and quite unromantic to say the least. Take a look for yourselves.

Enjoy your day and maybe knock on the neighbours door if they’re alone and need a cheery greeting…but don’t buy your red roses until tomorrow….when they’ll be at least half the price!

Let’s send our love to those on their own
And blow them a kiss and a light.
To shine like a pearl and give strength
In their hearts all through today and tonight

Let’s send good feelings to those who are lost
And give them our friendship to share
Take more than a minute today, to be sure,
That those less fortunate than you, know you care

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Sending all the above via balloon…

Note 16…Dog Names…

Jpeg in Dorset January 2017 – 8 years old this March (or thereabouts) 

‘What’s your dog’s name?’ asks a stranger.
‘Jpeg,’ I reply.
‘What? Like the file name?’
‘Yes,’ I say.
‘How did she come to be called that?’ they ask, with a laugh and sometimes a scoff.

If I have time I tell them…

In 2009, our second summer in Italy, we were preparing a float for the Festa Delle Cove – the festival of corn (like harvest festival) read more here. We were sitting, with friends on a load of straw and picnicking outside our uninhabited and unrestored farmhouse. Along the road, and in through the open gate came three dogs, a brown one, a black and white one and a little sandy coloured puppy. They hung around for a while, ate a few titbits (yes titbits, not tidbits, that’s American apparently, although equally correct). When full, they wandered off into the afternoon sun the same way they’d arrived. A few hours later, the puppy returned alone and was determined to stay. We think the other two dogs might have been her parents and recognised a couple of suckers so sent her back in the hope she would be adopted and no longer be their responsibility.

At the end of the day, we packed up and left to go back up to town and the puppy was still there. ‘If she’s still here tomorrow I’ll think about keeping her. She is so sweet.’ I said. I should add here that I had mentioned, several times over the previous couple of years that I would NEVER have another dog.
Next morning, she was gone, and I was relieved until I saw her sitting on the doorstep of the house at the top of the road. I spoke to our Italian neighbours, ‘Oh, she’s yours? I’m so pleased, I thought she was lost.’
‘No, she’s not ours, I’m taking her to the Comune later today. She’s a stray.’
‘Oh, what will they do with her?’
The neighbour indicated his answer by making a slicing movement with his hand across his throat.
‘No! That’s awful. Please don’t do that. Give me until tomorrow morning to think about it, I didn’t want another dog, but…let me think please…I just have to speak to my other half.’
The neighbour shrugged and agreed, but only for one day, he had to get rid of her the next day.

We went to the bar that night and sat around outside drinking wine and talking, as you do and I told one of our English friends about the little lost puppy.
‘You must keep her Ninette, there’s no question about it. What does she look like?’ This lady was a confirmed dog lover as were most of the people around the table but they weren’t rushing to offer the stray puppy a home you’ll note.
‘Wait a minute, I took some photos today, I’ll go and get one,’ I said and ran home, printed off a photo and scooted back down to the café. (I can’t believe that in 2009 I was still taking all my photos with a camera not a phone…?)

‘Here she is,’ I said and presented the paper to the table and they handed it round with ‘oohs’ and ‘ahs’.
‘Oh look,’ says The Man, ‘It’s Jpeg, see? It says so at the bottom of the page.’
I took the print and yes, that’s what it said under her lovely photo.
JPEG1000236 (see below)

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We kept the puppy, obviously, and the name stuck, she suits it and we like it. I don’t like dogs with ‘people’ names although some are okay. Jpeg is perfect…well, her name is anyway! You can see from the photo her skin was in a terrible condition, she had tics, fleas and goodness know what else. She was very quiet and listless most of the time, really sweet, but she soon perked up and became a bundle of energy needing lots of running and attention! There are a few stories to tell about Jpeg, but I’ll save them for another time.

Tell us how your dog or cat got their name…

Italy September 2009 – skin looking better… Ahh, she was so cute…

Note Number 12, Out With The Old – On With The New…

It was a great family Christmas…now it’s over and I’m missing them all already. It’s been fun, frustrating, full-on, flippant, fancy, fulfilling, fabulous, farty (well all those sprouts and stuffing don’t you know?), feel-good, fortified, fantastic…f*** that’s enough Fs for now!

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A Game of Qwirkle in Progress

Haven’t made any resolutions but we did have a fab time with our neighbours and my sister-in-law and brother-in-law on New Year’s Eve.  We ate chilli followed by bread and butter pudding, then we played Qwirkle – a game I can highly recommend for most age groups. Try it if you haven’t already. Some of us drank a good dose of vino… Fun was had. At 11.45pm we went outside where The Man had previously lit the fire-pit so by then it was roaring beautifully.  To see out the ‘old year’, each of us secretly chose one or more emotions/habits, that we would like to ‘get rid of’ before 2017 came in.   We wrote them on scraps of paper and then threw them into the fire. It was something that we had done at my son’s wedding in Thailand two years ago and it seemed a good opportunity to repeat the experience.  It felt good, ‘letting go’.

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Fire-Pit Burning Well – goodbye 2016 hello 2017

Good luck with 2017 all of you and we hope to see as much of our family and as many friends as possible during the year – The Man will insist on a maximum of three nights only if you have to stay. I’m sure he’ll make some comment below as to why that is.

Note Number 10…London Visit…

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Trafalgar Square in the Misty Afternoon (sounds like a title for a story)

We’ve just got back from a quick visit to the big city, London. It was surprisingly quiet for the time of year. I actually hate crowded pavements when it’s difficult not to bump into another body, especially when they have their headphones on and their eyes glued to their smartphones…there were a few of those. We were also not squashed like sardines on the tube, but it was busy enough. I find as I get older I get paranoid about being on the underground, particularly when the train grinds to a halt between stations, I immediately think something awful is going to happen.  But, I was saved any of these anxieties so a pleasant few days were had.

We strolled around St James’s. Walked to the West End, had a meal at Joe Allen’s, took in a show, the Carol King musical, Beautiful. Which was amazing and a nostalgic journey for me back to the 60s.  In general we had a wonderful time and the icing on the cake was the arrival of my daughter and family on Sunday. We had a meal at the Windmill, Clapham Common, a busy pub with excellent food and situated right beside the common and a convenient playground.  The build up to Christmas has begun and even The Man enjoyed himself, no doubt because of the absence of any ‘Christmas Music’ a part of the season he just cannot abide.  I’m inclined to agree with him but, I do like to hear a few popular carols and songs around the 24th/25th December.  It’s when it all begins in September that bugs me.

I’ll leave you with a few photos.

I was excited to see some young ballerinas entering the Royal Ballet School, which is opposite the stage door to the Royal Opera House.  The Bridge across the road joins the two together so that dancers can get from one building to the other without going outside. I imagined they were taking part in the Saturday Matinee of The Nutcracker.  What lucky young dancers.

Various shots of Covent Garden….

Left: A photo for my bro’. Centre: St James’s Palace.  Right: The Lamb and Flag, one of London’s oldest pubs famous for the battering almost to death, (but not quite) of  playright, critic and poet, John Dryden in the alleyway outside.  Also visited by many other famouse authors, poets and artists including Dickens. 

The lights on Regents Street and New Bond Street – The Man thought the one on the right was a fish bone. I told him it was a peacock feather, but I could see where he was coming from. 

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Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree

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Canadian flag for our Canadian friends worldwide…

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And Finally, Walking to the pub on Clapham Common on Sunday Ahh….

Note Number 9…Thoughts on Christmas…

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Wreath Bought Today…money went to charity. Next year I’m going to make my own but still give some money to charity.

I’ve had good times I’ve had bad times…most of my friends, present and past, have had lives that follow a similar pattern.  But as you get older it becomes more evident that we humans are greedy things. We want our cake and eat it. We want too much in the way of material things and are never happy to be content to just have what we need. It’s nearing Christmas so I suppose that’s what’s making me feel this way. The constant flow of Christmas email offers coming into my inbox is frightening. The advertising in magazines, newspapers and on the television is bombastic. The pressure is on!   There are so many people in the world with absolutely nothing. No home, no family, no food, nothing – and no prospect of things getting any better for them. It makes me angry and sad…  and I know I’m a hypocrite, because I’m not going to give up everything I have and hand it all over to the needy.

In the past I have been without, literally, I have had nothing in my handbag or pocket and searched down the sides of the sofa (at least I had a sofa) for a few coins so that I could collect enough of them together for a meal.  I’ve also had times when the table has been overflowing with food and the cupboards are bursting.   I have worried about only having 50p in my purse and I have worried about having only £50 in my purse. It’s all relative. I have had my fair share of tragedy, losing my dad when I was only thirteen and then losing my lovely son when he was only twenty-seven. But, those events apart, I have been lucky in so many ways.  I am lucky right now…the weather has been pretty rubbish but who cares?  I am free, I’m not hungry and I’m comfortable. Most days I can please myself what I do. I have grown older and wiser.  I’m a bit overweight and should try to lose it – but why? I’m healthy and happy and until I can’t actually get my clothes done up, I’m going to try not to worry about a few pounds of excess body fat.

I could never be as good as those people, who give up their Christmas Day to feed the homeless and needy before they have anything for themselves. But, I fully intend this year to try to do something helpful each day of the holiday. On Facebook I saw an advent calendar and each day it had a good deed to do, which I think is a great idea – much better than eating chocolate!  Doing something kind or helpful does not mean that you have to deprive yourself of anything, it doesn’t even have to cost any money.  Just make sure your neighbour has everything they need…whatever their age. Visit the local home for senior people…(trying to be PC) and maybe take a bottle of sherry for them to have a glass on Christmas day.  I’m sure we can all think of something charitable to do? So far in December I haven’t done enough good deeds but I am trying, honestly.

I bought a wreath for the door today, it cost £10 and the money will go to charity. I’m not going to buy a load of Christmas decorations because it is a waste of money and we won’t be here for Christmas day but with family in Bristol (can’t wait).  How lucky am I to be sharing time with my children and grandchildren and of course The Man…he’s a bit of a bah-humbug.  I’m honestly not a Christmas grump but, I’m going try hard not to be too indulgent this year.

I’m not a religious person but appreciate the part of Christmas that brings people and families together. I do not appreciate the commercial side of Christmas at all and hope that you, readers, will take time out to think of those less fortunate than yourselves at this time of year and I will do the same.

 

 

Note Number 2…Where Did You Get That Hat…?

 

Last night, Saturday 10th September, I attended the Vittles and Verse poetry evening in Lyme Regis. I did read a couple of my own poems and they were well received (I think!) The event is held every month and I’m going to miss a couple while The Man and I travel back to Italia for an autumn visit but I’ll be returning again for another session as soon as I get the chance. There are some amazing poets in Dorset.  I’m talking about the others Not Me!

Being in the poetry mood – I thought I would write Note Number 2 in the theme of rhyming couplets…Well – the Panto Season will soon be upon us!

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Charity Shop Window – Most of the shop windows in Bridport featured hats on the day.

Bridport Hat Festival Saturday 3rd September 2016

In Bridport one fine Saturday
The residents, their hats display

Of many colours, styles and shapes
It’s lots of fun and jolly japes

Roger Snook from the hat shop in town
Gave a knowledgeable talk at the Rose and Crown
(actually it was The Bull Hotel but that doesn’t rhyme)

He told us stuff about hundreds of hats
So much, that I’ve forgotten the facts

I’ll share some interesting bits with you
If my memory is able to drag up a few
(see further down post)

The Man and I were unprepared for the day
So improvised quickly – let us just say…

I favoured a fascinator with feathers so chic
He bought a luminous chicken – minus the beak

Music and dancing buzzed in the street
The atmosphere was festive ‘twas all such a treat

In Bucky Doo Square as the clock struck one
A group photo is taken – it’s jolly good fun (not)

The rain held off ‘til about half past two
So events ran smoothly – as they usually do

Next year the festival will be with us again
And I’m already designing the hat I’ll wear then!

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The Man as a Chicken…me in my Fascinator only Mr Snook said thay were orginally known as a ‘TANTALISER’ which I think sounds far more interesting.

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Mr Roger Snook with his array of hats…..

Snooks hat shop has been in business in Bridport since 1896 and although the town is known for Rope Making the hat making industry was also significant in the town because they used the flax for weaving them.  Mr Snook wanted to point out however, that the family are not hat makers but hat retailers.  He can pretty well get you any hat that you want, at a price though!
Roger Snook’s other job, apart from running the family shop, is to look after the town clock which he asures us chimes 13 times at midnight every New Year’s Eve. I’ll have to pop along this year and make sure he’s not telling porky pies. The shop holds a large selection Fedoras which I do believe The Man is going to check out as he rather fancied this blue one. Although he might choose the Al Capone style with the rolled edge Hmmm.

Al Capone on the left…blue Fedora on the right

The Panama hat originated from Equador and we were given a demonstation as to how to correctly fold one.  They are rolled up and kept in a tube but should be ‘let out’ at least once a year.  They must ocassionally be hung up in the bathroom whilst a shower is being taken so the steam will help to keep flexibility – don’t let it drop in the bath, this was not recommended.  I’m not sure I have a picture of a Panama hat…what a shame but I think this rather large pink and white ladies hat is an example… (not traditional I know)

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A Few Facts from Mr Snook…

A Deerstalker is also known as a Fore and Aft. (I think this is also the name for an army/navy hat that can be worn either side to side – athwartor fore and aft).
The Fez was banned by the Turkish Government in 1925 as part of modernisation reforms.
The Hat Pin was invented in Gloucester, England.
There are 4 pints in a Ten Gallon Hat…and the name is derived from Route 66 in America because it takes 10 gallons of petrol to get from one petrol station to another on Route 66. (I’m still not sure why they would name the hat after this unless everyone driving  on Routee 66 wore one)
In 1896 Mr Bowler, Lord Cobham’s game keeper invented which hat? You guessed it…the Bowler Hat. Originally from cow hide stretched over a post but devloped from that point.
In 1910 it was the most popluar hat in Bolivia. Sold to the people as a hat which would increase fertility if they wore it.
A Pith Helmet is called thus because it was/is made from reeds. They were orginally white and were dyed using tea to camouflage them in the desert during the Zulu wars.
Poirot is the only person who wears a white bowler hat (is this true? I may have got that wrong).

Lots of pictures of hats now….

 

 

 

And finally….