Note Number 30…Simple, Saturday Shopping…

And on the left we have Leakers Bakery at the Market and on the Right Mike English from Fruits of the Earth.  (he has a lovely wife called Sue who also runs the shop…follow the link and you can see her!) 

Today I did local, high street shopping. I drove the car to Bridport and parked up in the car-park, took my shopping bags and proceeded first to the bank to get some cash. The market was in action with stalls lining West Street, East Street, South Street. The day was sunny with some ‘light showers’ so I took my umbrella which I used once and then proceeded to leave in every shop that I visited and then had to return to collect it!

I went to WH Smith to buy Writing Magazine, (looking forward to reading that this evening) I would have bought Writers’ Forum too, but there was no copy available. I popped into Boots the chemist, and I then went to the Holland and Barrett Health food shop and bought some Protein Powder for The Man who apparently needs to take it each night with milk to stave off the cramps after a long bike ride. There is, by the way, a new bike so now three in the shed. It’s a pretty fancy one and, ‘absolutely necessary’ for the summer of course, (doesn’t he have one of those already?).

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Ah…a new orange helmet –  to match the new orange shoes…a cycling Beau Brummel 

I went into my favourite dress shop Butterfly Boho and managed not to buy anything (even though I’ve got a lot of spending to do to catch up with The Man and his bikes). The owner told me that she’d just bought a load of new stock and that it would be in the shop by mid-week so I will have to go back on Wednesday.

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Butterfly Boho…my favourite clothes shop in the world! 

I browsed the market stalls, stopping at Leaker’s Bakery (they have a shop in the town as well as the market stall). I bought a loaf of soda bread and I was happy to buy some Dorset apple cake but I was given three, free, wedges. Apparently the baker had forgotten to add any sugar so I (along with several others) were treated to a freebie with the proviso that we returned to give a true account of the taste…and to say whether or not it would be worth marketing? Our conclusion after ingesting the portions, was that, yes, the sugar was definitely missed, but actually the taste was not at all bad and that the apple gave some sweetness. Our suggestion would be to make it again but, perhaps add a little amount of sugar.

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Soda Bread and Sugar Free Dorset Apple Cake

Animal House Pet shop for dog biscuits, food and treats. Everything a dog owner needs in here.

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Animal House Pet Shop 

Next stop the super duper Wholefood Shop, Fruits of the Earth where I purchased local organic asparagus, sweet potato and avocado pear. Also, the wonderful shop had argan oil, an absolute necessity for an authentic Moroccan Lamb Tagine (according to Anthony Worrall Thompson). I went into several shops and some of them hadn’t even heard of the oil and some had but reckoned you put it on your face…I got some strange looks when I said I needed it to cook with.

Fruits of the Earth shop front and the Argan Oil…for consumption not face (but I guess I could give it a try when I run out of olive oil?) 

Now then, I know that I visited a few chain stores as well as the local stores but the experience of shopping in the high street is a pleasure. Charging around the supermarket and throwing my things first in the trolley and then in the boot of the car or a leisurely stroll in and out of the shops, can be compared to taking time drinking a fine wine, accompanied by delicate canapés, or, chucking cheap and nasty plonk down your throat with a packet of cheese and onion crisps.

Admittedly, you have to carry the shopping a bit further, in one or two large shopping bags but balanced properly, I didn’t have a problem. I walked further, enjoyed the view up to Colmer’s Hill from Bridport, passed the time of day with other shoppers and a general feeling of wellbeing came over me. Relaxed and happy I returned to the cottage with my goods. What’s more I added several thousand steps to my daily target!

West Street shops and Market Stalls, View to Colmer’s Hill and Snook’s Famous Hat Shop (didn’t visit here today but I often have) 

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.

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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.