Sunday, March 28, 2010

Meet the Ancestors

When I was a child visiting Gran, I feared the stern man in the brown photograph on the sideboard who judged me while I played. How wrong can you be? This man, my grandfather, I have learned was generous, kind, a loving family man happy with or without money. A boy who had lied about his age and ran away to join the Royal Marines at 17 in 1915 and crosed the Atlantic 23 times, torpedoed , avoided capture by speaking Welsh he was thrown back into the sea and was in the water 2 days and 2 nights clinging to a piece of wood before being rescued. He came back to be a hero. A man who single handedly saved an ammunition train which was on fire and was commended with a plaque at Preston station, together with a reward of £90, some of which he spent on a bike for the family to share. I never got to meet my grandfather, he died at 38 years old leaving nine children, my father being the eldest at 14. But in a way, I did meet him, as my father grew up to be just like him. I can also add he must have had a really good sense of humour because every child in that family knew how to laugh. I wish I could have met him.

My great grandmother, Hannah Mann ( photographed with her eldest daughter, Rachel), on the other hand, must have been really tough. She had worked in Pasturefields asylum in Derbyshire as a very young girl before she went on to become a ladies maid in Hebden Bridge,Yorkshire where she met and married railway points man John Beech. They moved to Shropshire, where she became a mother to eight children. She was widowed when the youngest was eleven and ran a boarding house for railway men. I like to think of Granny Whitchurch, as she was called, as a regular Pride and Prejudice Mrs Bennett, who, according to the records I have found, seemed to marry her four daughters off to the unsuspecting boarders, one of them being my grandfather Cadwalladr from the sideboard above.

My maternal grandparents were also a kind and jolly bunch. They were in the hospitality game. My great grandfather was a meat carver in a restaurant, great granny came from a family of publicans. They knew how to party. I know this because my nan and grandad threw some whoppers. Everyone had to do a turn. My Mom played piano, accordion and tap danced, my uncle was a good magician until he forgot to swap the watches! My grandmother and great aunt did the Can-can much to my embarrassment and another aunt could always clear a room when she insisted on ending the party with' One Fine Day'.

My grandmother loved dressing up and very large hats. One day, she was walking down the road in a large fur coat and then very fashionable, mop hat and I remember my father saying ' Come and look, is that a bear or your nanny coming down the road?' My maternal and paternal families married into each other twice. I bet the weddings were fun. This is a snap of my Mom and Dad's bun fight!

One family tie which binds us is we all grew and still grow our own veg!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Something Old, Something New

Bri and I think we need another new interest and after watching the Natural History Museum programme it struck us... yes... of course we need to go fossil hunting ( no jokes about have a glance at each other and you found one, please). Knowing that we don't do travelling, we need to keep it local to the West Midlands so we need to find a fossil digging site not too far away, how? where ? If anyone knows about this subject please let us know, preferably so we can go in good weather as we also don't do cold , wet and windy. Also preferably clean as we don't do muddy, oooh, also we don't do uphill so no rock climbing. Don't forget, we are not allowed sharp instruments, but if anyone can help us, please get in touch.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Do It Yourself Lunch

I have been driven mad by food since our outing to The Butlers Arms. I need to have real food in my life, not arty stuff with no substance. So, still feeling cheated by our misadventure, today I am cooking us an obscene amount of fresh veg soup which is bubbling away and with it we shall have crusty bread and, to follow, a banana, apricot spiced loaf which I am watching rise in the oven at this moment. Now that to me is lunch.
I watch Masterchef and always feel women have to live up to this fancy stuff they produce but we don't, we just need our families to enjoy what is cooked with love. John Torode's new gimmick of cooking and having the contestants guess the ingredients, has done me the world of good as no one recognises the meat or lobster main ingredient with all the unnecessary marinades and over spicing So I think there is still hope for all of us home cooks who value and respect expensive ingredients a little more than the T.V chefs do. We will , however, try The Green Man at Middleton next week after our fellow plot holder Hazel and Terry and Yvonne have given it the thumbs up.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Happy Anniversary 'House'

Today, we have lived in our house for forty years and we still love it. So today should have been a happy day, instead I have had the grumpies. I hate going to the hairdressers since mine sold her shop I find it stressful and haven't had a good cut since. So, to cheer me up, I suggested to Bri that we should 'do lunch' somewhere new for a change. Big Mistake!! We tried the Butlers Arms which we pass on our regular route to the garden centre. We point at it each time we pass and say, 'we should try it out'.
It was grim in there to say the least, being cold, dark and dreary, still we stayed, hopeful of at least there being something different on the menu. I ordered warm black pudding salad with apple and sauteed potatoes and a poached egg on top. When it came, it was a very small portion and covered in a vinaigrette dressing, so covered, that my tongue is still pickled andI am still hungry! Bri ordered a pea and tomato tortellini which was o.k but nothing out of the ordinary. Not exactly of Master chef class. No bread accompanied it until I asked the waiter. However, it was only lunch and at £5 per head not unreasonably priced.
We have decided to stick to our old haunts where we know for sure that we are going to get a good meal our favourite being Bromley Hayes Garden Centre which specialises in really good carvery lunches, steak and kidney pie, chicken and leek pie with great suet pastry, all home made. That's more like it, comfort food! But, coming home to our little house wth our happy little Molly made everything just fine.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Day I Have Waited So Long For...

...finally arrived today. I have dreamed of Molly becoming a quilters cat but, apart from the odd run across 'em while you are working, she has paid no mind. Today, while I was working on the final edges of my Bears and I quilt to finish it, she settled down on it and watched me stitch the whole of the edge. When I looked up into her little face, she was watching the needle and cotton going in and out and getting drowsier by the minute. She obviously doesn't find it as fascinating as me but it's a start. I have really missed Amy, my old cat, who never missed a stitch. Here's hoping Molly will like her new hobby as much as Amy in years to come.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Coming Along Great

We have worked SO hard the last two weeks getting the plot into really good shape, making a nursery box, clearing paths, slabbing the bottom of the mini greenhouses, and actually sowing our tomatoes, leeks and flowers. Our last construction job will be to lay a path with the stuff our friend sent us from Harrogate. It is a flexible path and will suppress the weeds between us and Julie. Today, though, we got a bonus, it is Julie's birthday and she invited us over to her plot for cake. It was yummy, soooo yummy I can't wait for her to give me the recipe. Spring must be really just around the corner now, we are waiting impatiently... Happy Birthday Julie.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Great Expectations

Today was another good day down the plot. Yesterday, we finished mucking up the beds which left us the raspberry canes to cut down along with the buddlea and the famous shed to clean out.
Well! The shed was like walkingionto "Miss Haverhsam's" with the whole of it covered in cobwebs, spiders (big ones) and moth cases, empty I'm glad to say. It took two solid hours to empty, sweep and clean it with Jeyes fluid but I have to say it is a "Pip" now and awaiting action.
Bri spent those two hours on the raspberry bed which is now looking good - just some wire to mend around the posts to keep them from escaping and running amok. We are now ready to produce this years bounty.
Meanwhile, at home "I Got Mail" I had been looking for a book on Amazon and Google which was the first book ever bought for me besides Annuals. I always got mine from the library. It was from my Auntie Violet and while I was doing our family tree I was reminded of it fondly. So, I searched and searched and found "Mistress of the Air" by Dorothy Carter. It was Christmas 1953 when Auntie Violet bought it for me. I wonder if I will still love it now?