Saturday, 26 February 2011


Gillian, my lady gardener, came yesterday to start the gardening season - a month earlier than previous years. She's been coming to me for a couple of hours once a week since 2005.
I've always kept a gardening book so I knew what I'd bought, where and the cost, what had been sown or planted and all the other work I'd done in the garden. However, getting older limits what you can do - It's so much trouble struggling to get up that it's not worth trying to kneel down these days, so my gardening is limited to strolling up and down the path with the book during the week making notes about what needs to be done. I can still prune, sweep the path, a short burst of anything that needs attention at ground level but I'm mostly a gofer and tea maker.
The picture above is the pink hellebore (at Gillian's feet) and a selfsown primrose among the bloomin' oak leaves. I have a couple more pink hellebores which flower later, including one which my daughter brought from Holland last year and which has a nice fat bud on it now. To Gillian's left are the common creamy hellebore although they do have different markings. They self seed like crazy!
This hedgehog holly produces flowers every year but they don't turn into berries.
Gillian cuts my little patches of grass which separate different areas of the garden, wheels the barrow away when it's full of weeds, prunings etc and brings back the pots of bulbs which have spent the winter behind the shed at the bottom-ish of the garden.
The honeysuckle which covers my trellis arch is sprouting. A couple of weeks ago I asked Stuart to come and oil the weathervane which had been stuck all winter and wondered why he was laughing when he returned. A honeysuckle had wound itself round the upright of the weathervane and, although cut, hadn't been dragged off! Mind you, the weathervane is tilted because the pigeons find it a comfortable perch, the space between the owl's wings just fits their undercarriages.The tilt is exaggerated because of where I'm standing - and it's raining!

Wednesday, 23 February 2011


While I was reading Bernard's blog this morning and he mentioned a repaired keyhole at the church in Sydenham, I remembered I'd taken a photo of a different kind of gate latch at Westcott Church when I was there in 2006. Once I'd searched through my different caches of photos I eventually found it.

It's a simple idea but effective with a large staple on one side of the gate, a latch on the other side which swings across and a heavy metal peg on a substantial chain, fastened above the staple, is pushed through the loop. I wonder if the village blacksmith made this.

There must be so many examples of handmade and practical items around, I really must look harder!

Tuesday, 22 February 2011


Unless you live along the proposed route of this Government Vanity Project you probably won't have heard of it, perhaps only in passing. Campaigners against this project say the environmental impact has not been assessed, it's not 'green', the business case is based on unrealistic assumptions. There's no benefit to Bucks as the trains will power through on their way to saving 20 minutes on a trip to Birmingham from London.

It will affect people in Stone Parish as the line is scheduled to run near Bishopstone and Hartwell House, just about a mile from where I live. It's not just the line but the area which will be cleared each side of the track - wider than Wembley football pitch - but there will be viaducts, embankments and tunnels plus a depot.

This isn't taking into account the Listed Buildings, homes, businesses, farms etc which will be either destroyed completely or have to live with the incessant noise. No one ever considers wildlife in these kind of situations.

The sign at the top of this blog is the usual one which is seen, sometimes marking where the line would start to where it would end, giving an idea of the width of the proposed work, but the one immediately above here is by the Chiltern Society which represents an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty - well, it is at the moment, at least!

There's a website which covers the aspects which will ruin our County for ever - do look if you have a moment. It's By typing stop hs2 into Google you'll find you'll find plenty more plus a map of the route of the proposed line.

Sunday, 20 February 2011


Do you look in your Spam box? I don't, I don't even think about. I went there the other day and was annoyed to find comments there which you've left and were perfectly valid to go in the post they referred to. Something makes a decision and opts out comments 'it' thinks are spam. I wish it would let me make the decision about whether I want to keep it or cancel it!

One of the comments was from my granddaughter, Sarah, who is at Uni taking Costume Design and Photography, who sent a message to remind me - on the Twenties blog - that she'll be 20 this year. Ah! my youngest grandchild!

She's more interested in the photography side of the course and these are a couple of sample covers for the Vogue assignment which is this term's subject. I have her permission to post these.
But, at the moment I can't even get into the spam page, I just keep getting 'information' which doesn't help. How do you retrieve comments from the spam box to put them into the blog they were intended for? Does anyone know???

Friday, 18 February 2011

THE END by A.A.Milne

This is the fourth or fifth time I've had a go at this post so I hope it goes well this time!!!

I was driving home from somewhere or other and this poem popped into my mind so I decided to illustrate it as best I could.

When I was One,

I had just begun.

We lived in Winchester Street in London at the time and I'm in my pram on the pavement. Needless to say I don't remember this at all! The railings in the background have 'spear points' on the top, not favoured by architectural salvors or maybe they're illegal nowadays.


When I was Two

I was nearly new.
Once a year my Dad would hire a car and we'd 'do' all the relatives in one go - they lived a long way from London - all the way to Woking and Bracknell. This is taken at the cottage in Bracknell where an elderly couple lived. I know now they were my maternal great-aunt and her husband. My strongest memories (the only memories, actually and from years later) were that the toilet was outside and didn't flush. When I queried this I was told that men came to clean it out so I guess it was a privy. There was a piano in a front room where the curtains were drawn to keep sun off the furniture and left a green underwater light. The garden had a rose arch but that's all that stuck in my 8 year old mind. I wonder if it's still there?


When I was Three,

I was hardly Me.

Good old hand knitted cardis. Once a year we had a week's holiday 'at the seaside' though I have no recollection of how we got there. Perhaps it was by coach? My Dad isn't in these photos but my Gran, who lived with us, is in most of them. This was on the front in Margate - with Dreamland still there to be visited and rides on the scenic railway and merrygorounds and ice cream. The book is called, 'Cherry the Boot Boy'... The pushchair did service for many years, too.


When I was Four,

I was not much more.

Mum's favoured hair style for me - a 'horse's tail' which I was stuck with for years. No plaits for me though I managed those by the end of the war. This is Southend pier, which means we went north of the Thames, into foreign country... South Londoners went south - to Brighton, Margate, Ramsgate, Broadstairs. I wonder why we managed to infiltrate Southend??? Looks like typical English summer weather, too.


When I was Five,

I was just alive.
Heavens! No horse's tail! This is a studio photo, probably Jerome's, as they seemed to have the most studios at this time - I'm still a couple of weeks away from being 5. Nowadays I'd look at the material and think it would be ideal for patchwork.

But now I'm Six, I'm as clever as clever.

So I think I'll be six now for ever and ever.

Guess which is me. The other children are in summer dresses, and what do I have on? A jersey, naturally. I can't make out what I'm holding, it doesn't ring any bells at all. My friends lived close by and we all went to the same LCC school - which is in the background. The infants had a sleep in the afternoons which seemed very odd to me, I wasn't tired. The playground was on the opposite side of the road and Mum would bring me a cup of cocoa at playtime when the weather was cold...we lived in flats a few hundred yards away. Apart from the afternoon sleep all the memories I have of school are washing out paste jars used for painting, and the headmistress, Miss Vincent, slapping a 'naughty boy's' hand, her charm bracelet rattling and clattering. Mum kept sheets of sums, cut out paper d'oyleys and all my letters sent home when I was evacuated in 1939.

I was evacuated to Brighton with the school and this is on the seafront in November 1939 when I'm 7. Another jersey and the usual pleated gymslip and, I would think, the sort of plaited cord which tied round your waist.


Having bored everyone with that here's a spoof on the poem above from a book by Christopher Mayhew called 'Now we are Sixty (and a bit)'.


At sixty-one

I had too much sun.

At sixty-two

I had dreadful flu.

At sixty-three

I couldn't pee.

At sixty-four

I felt really poor.

At sixty-five

I took a dive.

But at sixty-six, to be perfectly frank,

I'm as fit and as strong as a Sherman tank.

That's all Folks.

(You have to be of 'a certain age' to recognise the sign-off line!)

Thursday, 17 February 2011


I was shopping in Risboro' this morning (before the sun came out) and spotted a few bits and pieces which might be of interest.

This butchers'shop has always had interesting blackboard notices - one says 'Wild Rabbits' so I wonder what would happen if it said 'Tame Rabbits' one day, would anyone notice??? Anyway,
I went in to ask whether it meant old and expensive or some old lady was being recycled but the assistant assured me no-one was missing...

This is another advert from 2007 but who read it as it's written???

Coming back round the corner I came face to face with this - my usual bugbear - outside the sandwich shop/cafe which had the Exiting Job Offer (though that wasn't their spelling!

Sounds as if it's something in Hobbit-land.

Across the road, outside the town library, there's a memorial to a US pilot who died when his aircraft crashed in 1943, saving a disaster in the town.
And the text on the plaque.

Twenty six (or twenty one) year old Clyde Cosper and his crew left their B17 base in Bedfordshire on a mission to bomb the U boat pens at Bremen. Bad weather caused the plane to encounter problems and the pilot ordered the crew to bail out while he stayed at the controls, steering the plane away from the little town of Princes Risborough. It crashed just outside the town and the full bomb load exploded. The pilot was awarded the Air Medal and Purple Heart. Some memorabilia is on show at Wycombe Air Park.

A local lady organised for the memorial to be built and in 2001 attended the opening of the State Veterans Home named after Clyde Cosper.
Nice to know he's not forgotten.

Saturday, 12 February 2011


This is another post without illustration- sorry...

Do you find that, in your life, a certain series of numbers follows you around? For me it's the 20s.

My birthday is on the 27th;Stuart, my son was born on 28th; his son, James, was born on 27th and my daughter in law's birthday is the 26th.
I was married on the 25th, divorced on 29th - after 20 years.
I have lived at 26, 23 and currently at 20a.
I broke my shoulder in a fall on 20th October.

What next???

Thursday, 10 February 2011


Last night I was looking through my Dictionary of Phrase and Fable where all sorts of extras get filed - alphabetically, of course! I came across this and thought it might raise a smile on a gloomy, rainy Thursday morning.
I'm inclined to think it's a London based poem, just based on the language but it's also a social comment on the 'working-class' life probably about the late 19th or early 20th century. A 'two-up. two-down' house in a road of identical homes, a scullery (where the running water and sink was) and the loo outside. The parlour would have been the Front Room, not used, kept for best and for important visitors.
The cutting comes from an old This England magazine and was in the letters section under the name of Jim McCue in SE1 - Lambeth. Unfortunately, I didn't date it so don't know when it was published. Read it out loud if you have a problem...

We wunce had a parler for tea on Sunday,
John cleaned his bisickle ther on the Monday.
Charles and his fren Hamelia Rite
Sat in the dark ther on Toosday nite.
An Wensday, bein erly closin,
it sooted me to ave a dose in;
On Thursday it were used fer nowt
bekors the missis scrubed it out.
On Friday it was clean and tidy,
redy for the Vicar's lidy;
Feeling extra ale an arty,
On Sattiday we ad a party.
But ther aint no party now-
an wi?
The L.G.B.
e ses ter me,
You giv up this ere luxeree,
Tis not the likes ov you, ses e,
as shud be avin cumpernee-
besides you av a skuleree.
Wots rong wiv you, e ses ter me,
Is that your wiges is, ses e,
too i.

L.G.B. perhaps means the Lord Gor Blimey but it's not certain.

It's certainly 'how the other half lived'.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011


I could happily say 'Don't come back', to this one! I was late getting going this morning and dressing by the upstairs window I spotted this bird on the path, eyeing up the goldfish. But the heron deterrent and the tangle of soft netting (put round the pond in the summer to stop the young cat across the road fishing for his supper and flattened somewhat by the heavy snow) put the kybosh on that idea!

I pattered downstairs to get the camera and puffed up again by which time he'd walked this far down the path and was about to disappear behind the trellis, so only one chance for a shot.
Then he flew onto the fence, sitting in the sun, warming his feathers and keeping an eye on the world. He was there for some time gazing around. I went down, hoping to make him fly away, which he duly did, but low down so no chance of getting a flying shot.

I have an interesting book by Francesca Greenoak called 'All the Birds of the Air - The names, lore and literature of British Birds.' It came from a charity shop for next to nothing because it's one of those paperbacks which 'breaks' into sections the minute you use it so lives with an elastic band round its middle.
The piece on herons says they have been with us since well before historical times, maybe about 400,000 years. The word Heron is Norman French and they were considered as prey for hawking. The birds were also used at banquets in the Middle Ages. Interestingly the local names for a heron seem to be in counties from the Midlands 'up' and plenty in Scotland. Only two 'southern' names, Ern in Somerset and Jack Hern in Sussex.

Bernard has put a piece on his blog about snowdrops in Great Missenden churchyard last year so I looked to see how Stone's snowdrops were doing this year. Nothing like the amount in Missenden's churchyard but enough. Like so many churchyards
ours is much higher inside than the ground outside but there's a special reason for ours being like this apart from hundreds of years of burials.

A Lunatic Asylum was built in Stone, opening in 1853 and meant to serve the whole county. With the mental health knowledge of the time it was expected that patients would stay for a few weeks, be 'cured' and go home. As the patients died they were brought to the village churchyard to be buried - there was nowhere else to take them, unless relatives took them home. In 18 years almost 400 patients had been buried in the village's ground and there had been some unease
for some years that there wouldn't be room for the villagers when their time came.

Eventually, in 1871, an Asylum cemetery was opened, for patients and workers, if the latter wished. It was across a large field opposite the Asylum gates to a small space which is now surrounded by trees; it was enlarged in later years. No headstones were allowed and records are closed under a 100 Year Rule though earlier information can be found in the Record Office. One of the most frequently asked questions we get at Bucks Family History Open Day is - Do you have any information on so-and-so who died in the Hospital in the 1920s (or1930s)?.You can get an idea of the height of the ground from the road in this photo. Why are snowdrops en masse so hard to photograph effectively. They seem to melt away and end up like a layer of frost!

Monday, 7 February 2011


This is from a piece in a Saga magazine dated July 2010. The article is about speaking to your computer which then does the typing for you but this goes a little further.

Mind you, I'm a bit unsure how it will be received - it depends on your sense of humour.

In a post I made in January I'd found a spelling mistake which totally changed the meaning of the small ad's listing in a local free magazine index and no one commented on it. I emailed the Editor and she returned with 'I don't understand'. Instead of Window Cleaner the heading said Widow Cleaner using Pure Water in either case...

Saturday, 5 February 2011


At last the snowdrops in the garden have opened. There aren't very many of them in each group but they'll increase year by year.

They have other names beside the one I've used as a heading - Candlemas Bells is one, Candlemas being 2nd February. Another is Eve's tears. Have you heard of any more, perhaps local, names?Please let me know if you have....
(The stray cat is sitting on the patio doorstep waiting for his second handout of the day and fascinated by the circular vacuum cleaner trundling round on its own...)

Thursday, 3 February 2011


I'm interested in WW2 memorials, gravestones etc. and am always pleased when I find these forgotten tributes to fliers who were killed.

The graves in the photo are in this shady quiet corner of Westcott churchyard, in Bucks, just off the A41 between Aylesbury and Bicester. They are of men from the UK and New Zealand who died in several accidents at Westcott during 1942 and 1943. The airfield was used for training and one Wellington pilot overshot the field, stalled and crashed, catching fire; another Wellington crashed while returning from bombing practice and all members of the crew died.
The airfield was also used for leaflet dropping raids and as the war ended over 20,000 liberated POWs were brought home via Westcott.
Remembrance poppies are placed on the graves in November.
The airfield is now an industrial estate.

God’s Acre

God’s Acre, a meadow starred with flowers,
Where wind blows feathered grasses to and fro
And bees hum in the silence and owls glide
From bell-cote ledge as they did long ago,
And Westcott church still drowses past the gate.
Fat clouds float overhead; it rains or not,
It matters little to the villagers
Who sleep so soundly in their weathered plot.
But others lie beside the village folk,
They came from other places, other lands
To serve in time of peril years ago
And stayed to rest, a brave unlucky band.
The silence of the churchyard then was rent,
The roar of bomber engines clawed the sky
To fall and crash to earth, a bloom of red.
Now under white stones in a row they lie,
The English and New Zealanders alike,
The pilots, navigators and air crew.
I wonder if their ghosts on moonlit nights
Sit talking under skies where once they flew?


This post memorial in Ford, a hamlet near Haddenham, was erected a few years ago at a ceremony which was attended by members of the public, officials and the band from RAF Halton. It commemorates two airmen, one of whom was Canadian, who died here in 1944 when their Wellington crashed. A pot of heather has been left in the centre of the memorial wreath of poppies and there are two small groups of snowdrops, one on either side of the central post.

The memorial is on a small crossroads in the hamlet. I wonder if any passers-by have stopped to look or even thought about what it is?

I was in Prestwood this morning and remembered this plaque I'd seen a couple of years ago. It's had a chequered history being passed from one resting place to another and now graces an outside wall in - a garden centre! At least it's been saved from being scrapped.

Two Wellington bombers, on a night exercise in 1944, collided over Prestwood killing 11 men, both crews except for one survivor found wandering in a dazed condition. The fliers were Dutch, British and Canadian.