Saturday, 26 May 2012


 There seem to be fields of rape everywhere this year - or is it just me not noticing at other times? I went out for a drive no more than half a dozen miles from home and these are just a few of the fields I took photos of.
As you can see the distance is covered in a heat haze - that's the Chiltern Hills in the distance.

It's such a bright yellow, not an English colour at all in such vast patches. What a shame it isn't flax!

More fields in the distance - and more of those little black beetles which seem to love this crop - and us, if we're wearing anything yellow...

Several fields in the distance,

And another one - I wonder who that dusty car belongs to???

The verges seem to be covered with cow parsley which bows in your wake as you drive past.

Lovely England.

Griff Rhys Jones has written an article in Radio Times saying if we don't keep an eye on things landscapes like these will disappear under the weight of wind farms, houses which are being built, (and this is me) never mind HS2, roaring across some of this countryside.
He does say that there are plenty of beautiful places, too.

Monday, 21 May 2012


I had a tooth out today and remembered another snippet of infant school life.
I can just about remember a hall with parents and children - that should be mothers rather than parents - sitting round the walls. I remember we were in the opposite diagonal corner to the desk where a man was sitting who was The Dentist!! It seems that when it was my turn Mum had to drag me across the floor where I promptly bit him. And this was just an examination. I bet she was mortified! I can't remember if there was any retribution.
Much later, when I was a little bit older, I was taken to a dental school somewhere in London, to a room full of dental chairs while trainee dentists practised on us. It obviously made an impression on me. The only problem with dental treatment is - you can't talk!!

Sunday, 20 May 2012


What do you remember of your first days at school? I thought I'd see how many memories I could bring to mind, just snapshots taken out of context.

We lived in a block of flats which had shops underneath and Mum leaned out of theflat window to take a photo of my first school, St.Mary's, in Westminster. On the left-hand side, just past where the car is parked, was the school playground and every playtime Mum used to come down the road to pass a cup of cocoa through the railings.  The windows on the right of the entrance belonged to my classroom, the teacher's name being Miss Purdy. This was reached by climbing the steps in the echoing cavern once you'd passed the entrance. Perhaps this was the days when married teachers weren't employed. The classroom had a rocking horse in it which I don't remember playing with and I did so want to have a go. In the afternoons we had to rest, which struck me as a daft idea... I can't remember whether there were the desks we associate with 1930s classrooms, one or two seater forms plus a desk with lift-up lids. I can't imagine we sat round tables as infants do these days. Whatever was there Mum could see the 'horse's tail' bow with which my hair was tied when she leaned out of the window. 

I remember a boy, name not remembered, who was smacked by the headmistress, Miss Vickery, and the charm bracelet she wore jingled interestingly each time her hand landed on his palm. I'm sure she didn't use a ruler.

This memory must come from later on - painting pots were old paste jars which were emptied and cleaned in cold-water sinks near the toilets. Looking back perhaps these had originally been outside loos and had had a see-through roof put on sometime in the past to make them 'indoors'. This photo is from Market Lavinton Museum's site.
Somewhere, but where I thought they were, of course, they aren't, if you see what I mean, I have some of my first sums written in coloured chalk and Times Tables (Mum never threw anything away - I know where I get that trait from!) But I can't find them for love nor money. Perhaps they'll turn up when I'm looking for something else... 
This is another 1938 photo, with the school in the background. There's that horse's tail bow, and some of the children I used to play with who lived up the street on the right, behind these buildings. I wonder what happened to them all? I expect they were evacuated, too, as mostly parents Did As They Were Told in those days as Authority always knew best. The only names Mum has written underneath the photo are Kathleen Mahoney and Vera Cox. I have no idea what I'm holding, a toy of some kind, though not my dear old teddy. Interesting that this photo was taken in June, the other children are in summer dresses and I'm in a hand-knitted jersey - nothing's changed there, then!

We weren't far from some sunken gardens in Millwall where I remember an Italian selling ice cream from his handcart with a sunshade over it. Nowadays you'd wonder where it was made!

Walls used to have sellers on tricycles with a huge refrigerated box on the front - who would stop when you waved at them - and you could choose what you wanted. Snofrutes were water ices in a cardboard cover and were tasty with a strong fruit flavour, not at all chemical. Someone I used to teach with and still have contact with, lived just a few streets away and she remembers them too...

.There was a jellied eel shop, too,with chunks of ice and eels cut up into pieces among them - which didn't appeal to me at all! I can't remember my parents eating them.

We lived quite near Strutton Ground where there was a second hand shop and one time we passed it there was a velvet bonnet, real or theatrical, hanging in the doorway and that was something else I coveted. No such luck, no money for frivolities.

Well, schooldays pre-war seem to have slid into all kinds of other memories, too. Maybe I'll do When I Was Evacuated sometime. I hope it triggers memories for you, too.

Thursday, 10 May 2012


When I was shopping in Waitrose on Tuesday I saw these and couldn't resist buying them on a cold, grey and damp morning. Mind you, they weren't exactly cheap at 8 strawberries for £1.99, which is 25 pence each. When I peeled off the plastic film the smell was worth the cost! It was a real strawberry smell just as if it was summer. Well, they were British and I did enjoy them, they were worth paying for.
Another snippet - I've been getting jackdaws flying in as they've discovered the metal mesh globular peanut holder hanging on the feeder pole. I hoped this bird would try to get one out of the open top but only presented himself for a photo opportunity. He decided not to help himself so no photo of the balancing act this time - perhaps later.
And this is the surprise. This morning I was sitting facing the patio door and quilting when I glanced up (between stitches) and saw this lovely little animal just a few feet away from the window.
 It's one of the cubs belonging to the vixen exploring the garden on his own. It disappeared behind some greenery then reappeared some minutes later and trotted off down the garden, still investigating as it went. I watched to see where it went but it vanished behind some plants - did it go under the bottom shed, I wonder? There's room for it to gain access - or did it go down the side and so out into the field?
I'm pleased I managed to catch these photos of something else visiting the garden. Taken from indoors, as usual.
(The problem of a date on the photos as been sorted out, thank goodness!!)

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

VE DAY, 67 years ago

All those years ago it was VE day, 8th May 1945 - Victory in Europe, though the war was still going on in the Far East and wouldn't be over until 15th August that year.
I was 12 and I can remember thinking that now the war was over I'd be able to get the bus into Croydon and buy some red, white and blue striped ribbon. Shades of the 1936 Coronation, I think it must have been. But of course nothing would happen that fast so no ribbon that day!
All the parties passed me by - no being allowed to gad off into London to mix with Grown Ups... We didn't have a radio so I didn't hear anything of the celebrations and, of course, no TV. (I also missed the Glen Miller broadcasts.) Life went on as normal, rationing, shortages, just no air raid warnings. The first time I heard a factory siren I nearly fell off my chair. The war was over, why is the siren going???
I know we had a bonfire in the middle of the road although how enough unwanted items were found which could be burned I have no idea. Just the idea of a huge bonfire - and the light of the flames from it, after years of Not Showing a Light - was heady. There was a large patch of burned road surface but no-one cared.
Then there was the street party for the children. People didn't have cameras so readily in Those Days so this is a professional photographer's effort at getting everyone into the picture, taken from an upstairs window as you can see from the out-of-focus window sill. I'm sitting in the chairs which are facing the photographer, the second child on the left, with small plaits. How I wanted long plaits which were 'moveable' not the stubby little chunks I had! (I wanted patent leather shoes with ankle straps but never got those either - not long-lasting enough.) I can remember the names of lots of the adults but not that many of the children. The 'legs' in the top right-hand corner are standing about where my home was so possibly some of them belong to my family. No railings, all gone for scrap years ago. I wonder what the food was since everything was rationed?
(The photo is small because, somehow, I've done something to the camera which means I get an unwanted orange date stamp when I download to the computer. I don't know how to get rid of it, no instructions for that in the manual...)
About 15 years ago I used to sit in Aylesbury reference library and make notes from the bound copies of the Bucks Herald in 1945. I made an edited version of the newspaper which was published on 11th May. 'VE Day. Aylesbury goes gay in celebrating Victory in Europe' was the headline. Midnight dancing round the bonfire in Market Square....under cover of darkness someone had...painted the lions in red and blue respectively, the legs of Baron Chesham were painted white, the lions later had V signs added; but there was an undercurrent of restraint because the war with Japan was not yet over...
I can't find a photo of either Baron Chesham or the lions (only a very mini photo of the latter in a long view). Not having a very good day with illustrations. But no Elf and Safety, council or police restrictions on a street party.

Saturday, 5 May 2012


This might have to be the last crochet blanket of this sort that I make. I have arthritis in my left thumb joint where it meets my hand and crocheting for any length of time makes it a-c-h-e... This measures 39" x 52"-ish and has taken since about Christmas. I was really 'off' any kind of handicraft in the early part of the year so, at last, this is another one to cross off the list of Waiting To Be Finished things on the go.
I hope I can finish bordering the Granny Squares and then putting those together - with crochet.
Still plodding on, very slowly, with a lap quilt I'm hand quilting and that's going fairly well, especially if I have something to listen to. At present, it's 'Sharpe's Trafalgar' on cassettes, which I prefer to CDs. Only thing is they're abridged where CDs aren't...
And I've just cut some papers to start another long-hexie quilt.