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Thursday, 29 November 2012

Rain - what rain?!

 Today I met up with the friend I had planned to meet last Tuesday when I did my walk in the rain into town.  What a difference in the weather!  I drove to Dorchester enjoying the sunshine and the views where we met in the car park and then took the bus into Weymouth using our bus passes.

 We had a cup of coffee in Marks and Spencer before setting off to walk along the beach which was all but deserted.  No ice cream vendors, no Punch and Judy and no donkeys today.  It was wonderful to be out in the fresh air and sunshine although it wasn't warm enough for a paddle or even to sit on the beach.

 We walked along chatting and catching up with the gossip all the while keeping our eyes on the pebbles in search of any tiny treasures.

We were headed towards Bowleaze Cove a little over 2 miles away.

We finished up at the long white building you can see in the above photo which turned out to be The Riveria Hotel which back in my Weymouth college days nearly 50 years ago was a holiday camp and owned by Pontins I believe.  We discovered that it was open for business and that the bar served sandwiches and light meals so we had our lunch there.

Just look at that sky - hard to believe we were suffering torrential rain earlier in the week isn't it?

I loved the patterns on the concrete supports here  - do click on the photo to enlarge it and see what I mean.

We wended our way back after lunch and by now it was probably about 2.30pm and the sun was lower in the sky - days are so much shorter this time of year and we both wanted to get back before darkness fell.

 See how the light is now golden and there is a sense of evening already.  There is an urgency about days out this time of year a feeling that one must make hay whilst the sun shines and the number of daylight hours in which to enjoy time outdoors being reduced one had better get a move on!  We duly caught the bus back to the cars at Dorchester.  The scenery looked so different on the drive home and whereas this morning everything was bright in the sunshine on my return drive the distant hills were drawn in charcoal and the sky was a water colour of lemon, rose and blue streaked with deeper mauve which it was difficult to differentiate from the hills (well it was whilst driving and needing to look where I was going!) - the sheep looked whiter in the fields and cropped the grass seeming unconcerned about the coming night or even the falling temperatures (only2.5 degrees by then) but perhaps wearing woolen coats they had sufficient to keep them warm.  The Old man's beard draped over the hedgerows like rather grubby duvets would hopefully provide some warmth for any small creatures in the hedgerow and the birds were making their way across the darkening sky presumably to their roosts.  How lucky was I to be heading home to a warm house where I have a cosy bed for later!  I was home and with the kettle on as darkness fell at 4.30pm

Some of the little treasures I found in my pocket along with a load of damp sand!  I particularly like the shell which has a look of carved ivory don't you think?  I also found a few bits of sea glass something I don't think I have found before.

Thank you to all those who left such lovely comments on my previous post.  Sadly Cas I have to admit the shawlette isn't finished in fact it is once again a ball of yarn as having managed to knit a shallow triangle as required I actually thought it looked a bit like a dishcloth round my neck after all so unravelled it and the ball has joined my ever increasing yarn stash!!

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Is it safe to look over the battlements?

 This is the view from the bedroom window this morning - might not look much to those of you living in sunnier climes but to us here in Somerset this is wonderful!

 After the torrential rain and strong winds of last night it was good to be able to go out in the garden and to see the sun shining on the bare branches of the trees.

 See there is even blue in the sky this morning!

 Hiding beneath the fallen leaves are a few brave primroses peeking through - is Spring around the corner perhaps?

A couple of cheery marigolds still blooming too as if to say "All is well after all!"

And outside the back door some pretty little cyclamen - is there a lesson here that "In the depth of winter within us lies an invincible summer" (with apologies to Camus for altering his words).

My thoughts go out to those who have suffered in the floods - for us it has only been disruption of plans and not the heart breaking mess of water in the house; for some not for the first time recently either.

 On a personal level I have been lucky and enjoyed a day out with friends in Salisbury on Friday between the rainy days we were lucky enough to pick a dry bright one but the floods seen from the train were awful though with the trees reflected in the lakes which should have been fields actually quite beautiful in their way though I am sure the farmers and animals didn't see it like that!  I was a bit late in getting the camera out so missed most of what I wanted to photograph here!

This "boy" seems to be enjoying watching the water swirl below him in Salisbury doesn't he?

I gather we must batten down the hatches again later today so I must make the most of the morning.  Hope that those of you in flooded areas are OK and managing to keep dry.

PS - Spoke too soon just an hour after posting this and it's raining again!!

Tuesday, 20 November 2012


November is a between seasons month when it isn't really autumn nor yet quite winter and I love the variety of weather we experience during this month.  Here is a photo taken last week when we had a blue skies and sunshine day.

 Today I was to have met with a friend for a walk along the beach at Weymouth or somewhere and a pub lunch to follow but she had a cold and we have postponed that outing to another day.  In spite of the wet and windy weather we have here today I decided a walk would do me good anyway and arranged to meet another friend in town for a coffee and some French conversation instead.  I donned my boots and waterproofs and set off along the usual route.

 I thought how lovely it was watching the patterns made by the raindrops on the surface of the lake and listening to the pattering of the rain on my umbrella.

 I was the only fool out walking this morning and even the ducks had disappeared somewhere but I enjoyed my walk safe in the knowledge that a cup of tea or coffee and some shared time with a friend awaited me and that once home again I would be able to shed my wet things and be warm and dry again soon.

 I thought this photo taken recently summed up November weather- mainly dull and monochrome yet with the occasional bright spell.  I didn't place the coloured leaf it was like that all on its own!  I would hate to live in a climate where every day was warm and bright any more than in one where it was always grey and wet - I need the variety and the surprise of waking to find a lovely bright morning after days of dismal weather.  I enjoy walking in any weather except perhaps when it is really windy and there is much of beauty to discover at any time of year.  Time spent walking is thinking time and time to be on my own which is as necessary to me as breathing and I don't much mind what the weather is like as long as I don't have to stay cold and wet - it might be different if I was not able to get warm and dry after my walk.

The sun is low in the sky at this time of year and we need to make the most of it whilst it is there - a walk needs to be taken in the morning as after lunch it is getting a little late unless it is a short walk as darkness falls soon after 4.00pm now.  But there is something special about the early darkness when we are able to shut out the world by pulling the curtains and to snuggle down for the evening indoors.  I think that living in the modern world we are in danger of losing touch with the seasons - now that I no longer go to work all day every day I am free to notice the sunsets and the darkness falling, the differences in the trees and plants and the weather too and for that I am grateful as it feels like a link with my ancestral past in some way.  In November I no longer want to feel the grass beneath my bare feet or to sit in the sunshine with my book or to be doing something all day long but to light a fire and dim the lights - candles are good here - and go to bed early.  After all in evolutionary terms it isn't so very long ago that we would have had to slow down in the winter months as without electricity and 24/24 access to all things via the internet and telephone, without the wheel for our transport and so on we'd have to walk more but maybe to do less in the winter months.  So let's hear it for November and the coming winter even though I know I will be one of the first to suffer from the lack of light when my "grey blanket" falls in January!!

Thank you to all those who have left comments on my recent posts especially the advice on knitting my shawlette including some patterns.  I have almost finished it and may well make another using up some of my stash.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Prayer Flag swap

Reading Yvonne's blog post about prayer flags here I commented on how beautiful I thought they were and Yvonne asked me if I would like to make one and do a swap with her.  Having researched what a Tibetan prayer flag is I felt that the idea of putting up a flag so that the wind could carry the chosen sentiment across the world sounded a good idea so of course I agreed to do a swap and here is the lovely flag I received.

I particularly liked the little embroidered flowers surrounding the word Peace.  Thank you so much Yvonne.

Here is the one I made and sent to her - please excuse the crumpled tissue background - I had it all packed up ready to post before realising that I hadn't taken a photo - I like to keep a picture of anything I make and give away as I sometimes want to refer back to it - so had to open the packet and then reseal it and all as I was just about to leave the house for the post office!  I chose Hope as my prayer word as I feel that as long as we have hope almost anything is possible as I discovered when I posted this little presentation back in December 2009.

If only more hope and peace were spread across the world we might all be better off!  I will not be leaving Yvonne's lovely flag outside too much though especially in the current weather.  Perhaps if I hang it near an open window it will still work?!  

This is apparently my 300th post - can that really be true?!  I feel I should write something really exciting and interesting but maybe that will have to wait for the 400th!!

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Mixed bunch today.

We woke this morning to snow - unusual this early in the year and probably because I was only saying recently how we used to dress up in scarves, gloves and all the warm clothing we could find for Bonfire Night (5 November) and that nowadays we don't seem to need to and my gloves are still hidden away since last winter.  As it had been pouring with rain in the early hours it didn't settle here and the sun is now shining though still very chilly.  I notice that the hills beyond Sherborne towards Wincanton are still covered though.  Brrr winter is upon us!  See on the internet that round Bath and Radstock (not a great distance from us) they have had up to 6 inches of the stuff - see here

You may be interested to learn that the winner of the first prize in the Patchwork exhibition I went to recently was the one many of you liked best - this book one with the hare and the tortoise pages.  The prize this year was a leather bag - last time it had been a super dooper sewing machine donated by the manufacturer.  Economic climate affects everything!

When I was in France my friend and I took a meander up the main street of St Junien and stopped at a wool shop as my friend had noticed a box of oddments outside and one of the balls would be perfect for the hair on a doll she was in the process of making.  Once inside to purchase her yarn I noticed a lovely scarf - I think they are called shawlettes being a shallow triangle knitted in simple garter stitch and with a fringe.  Scarf was not for sale but the yarn was so I bought a skein.  However although it would be really simple to knit I have no idea how to calculate how often I would need to increase to get the required angle.  Any of you knitters able to help?  Apparently I should use size 5 or 5.5 mm needles but that was all the info I got.  I was assured that one skein should make said scarf but they had no patterns and even if they had I can't read French knitting patterns!

I mentioned recently that I felt another Childhood memories post coming on so if you are not interested look away now!

Medicinal Memories

Wandering round the supermarket recently I noticed how many items they have for sale of what might be called a medicinal nature - cough medicines, pain killers, vitamins, and so on and I thought back to the ailments we seemed to suffer from and the medicines we took back in the early 1950s. Of course there were no supermarkets back then and if one purchased any remedies it was from a chemist shop recognisable by the large glass bottles filled with coloured solutions in the window.  I think that the chemist used to actually make up the prescriptions and not just dispense manufactured one as now too.  For an interesting article about old fashioned chemist shops see here. Olive oil could be purchased in very small bottles at the chemist - I don't think it was ever used for cooking or certainly not in our house! 

From a very young age we were dosed with cod liver oil - provided for those under a certain age by the government along with delicious Clinic Orange which was supposed to ensure the upcoming generation grew strong and well after the deprivations of the war years.  Cod liver oil was disgusting and a big teaspoonful was administered daily and left a horrible oily coating in the mouth and the taste was awful.  No sweets to be offered after either since sweets were rationed!  Then there was Virol which I loved and was happy to take with its lovely malty flavour and the thick sweet texture like condensed milk!  I remember the orange and blue enameled advertisement boards on every station saying things like:  "For Health and Vitality" or "Growing boys/ anaemic girls/ delicate children/ nursing mothers need it"!  We all needed it seemingly.  Having recently watched The Wartime Farm one might see why!!

Keeping "regular" was considered important too and to this end doses of Syrup of Figs were often administered.  I remember my mother once accidentally giving me 2 tablespoonfuls instead of 2 teaspoons and worrying herself sick but needless to say I was fine!  We were made of sterner stuff in those days I think.  Not sure if it gave me a clearer complexion as mentioned in the ad or not!

Children back then suffered from the usual childhood illness like measles, mumps, whooping cough, chicken pox and so on and sometimes from more serious ailments like scarlet fever, diptheria, TB or polio and sometimes diabetes. One thing we rarely suffered from was obesity - getting enough food was the problem rather than eating too much in the post war days. Luckily I never had any of these last illnesses and was quite happy to have time off school when it was closed due to an outbreak of scarlet fever but then realised I wouldn't have anyone to play with as we were all in quarantine, I did get the other more usual illnesses though apart from whooping cough!  Being ill in those days wasn't a pleasant experience when you could lie on the settee and watch the television all cosy and warm with the central heating on but rather a miserable lonely time when you were tucked up in bed with a book and left to get on with it most of the time!

Winter of course brought the usual crop of colds and coughs - hardly surprising considering that we had bare legs even in the depths of winter.  Below the knee we wore long woolen socks kept up with elastic garters and our bodies were well wrapped up in warm coats with scarves tied crosswise over our chests (for some reason it was considered necessary to protect our chests from the cold) and woolen hats or bonnets for the girls and knitted balaclava helmets for the boys but as girls wore skirts and boys shorts the bit between our garters and our knickers got chilled and our knees were usually blue with cold!  I do remember as a child of about 3 or 4 having a green woolen tweed coat with a velvet collar which came with a matching bonnet and leggings like the little girl in blue above so I must have been a bit warmer then.

When I had a cold or a cough my mother used to make a little saucer of butter, sugar and vinegar all creamed together for me to take with a teaspoon.  I guess it was a home made version of glycerine lemon and honey but using what we had to hand!  Another option was to liberally coat my chest with goosegrease (usually only possible after Christmas when the goose had well and truly been cooked!)  Can't imagine how or if this worked and must surely have made my vest all greasy!  Then there was Vick vapour rub which I always thought had something to do with my non existent father whose name was Vic(tor)!!!  Or the dreaded Friar's balsam whch was added to boiling water and one sat with one's head covered with a towel breathing in the vapours - it worked for a while but the effect very quickly wore off and you had the added danger of getting scalded too.  Tissues hadn't been invented and so old clean rags were used for wiping noses- not sure if they went on the back of the fire after use or were washed for next time!

When we lived with my grandfather any ailment could be cured with a cup of his "herb tea" made by drying elderblossom, horehound and other nameless herbs and then steeping these dried herbs - I remember them living in the cupboard beside the fireplace after being dried on a sheet of yellowing newspaper in the sun - in boiling water.  It was truly foul stuff and so worked a treat for any imagined illnesses as rather than drink the stuff I always felt suddenly miraculously better!

Chilblains were another thing that some of us suffered from - again probably caused by getting chilled and then warming our hands or feet on the stove at school or in front of the fire at home.  The recognised treatment was to rub them with a block of green waxy stuff called Snowfire.  I remember one girl at school had to wear fingerless gloves as her chilblains were so bad and this was long before such things were a fashion accessory and they were normally only worn by old men at that time!!

I remember little pink strips of Aspro 5 or 6 tablets to each and obviusly cheaper than a boxful - bought by my mother or aunt at the little shop nearby.  I used to read the things that it could be taken to relieve and always wanted to know what period pains were!  Maybe that was why they had needed them I don't know and I never had any of the tablets though I liked popping them from the little blister they were packed in.

Were we any better or worse off back then I wonder.  I think we had to be more self reliant and I do wonder if the pendulum has swung too far now that there are pills and tablets for all manner of problems most of which as well as relieving the original problem are the cause of another for which further medication is required which causes..... ad infinitum.

Sorry to have wittered on  and if you are still with me many thanks to those of you who left such welcome comments on my previous blog - I read and appreciate each and every one.