Monday, June 30, 2008

The 'Ton' up Kids!!!!

Yesterday we went around to Mum and dads to take some photos of one of their scooters, we have put it on EBay. (three is one too many!!) Anyway while dad and I were busy sorting out the scooter that they want to sell, Mother and Beth decided that their time would be better spent zooming up and down the footpath outside mums house like a couple of delinquents !!
Beth thought it was brilliant she had never had a go on one before and she loved being able to 'drive' it. Mum should have known better!!
When I downloaded the photos I realised that they will scrap beautifully, both are wearing matching red tops and are driving matching red scooters!!!

My Town Monday - George Bernard Shaw

I must say that until I started to take part in My Town Monday - Thanks Travis!!! I had no idea that my town and surrounding area was such rich source of authors of lots of different genres!!
This week I am going to tell you about a rather famous man George Bernard Shaw.

George Bernard Shaw (GBS) was born in Dublin on the 26th of July 1856. Shaw's first profitable writing was music and literary criticism, his talent was for drama, and during his career he wrote more than sixty plays. Nearly all of his writings deal sternly with prevailing social problems, but are lightened by a vein of comedy to make their stark themes more palatable. Shaw examined education, marriage, religion, government, health care, and class privilege and found them all defective, but he was more upset about the by the exploitation of the working class; his writings seldom fail to censure that abuse. An ardent socialist, Shaw wrote many brochures and speeches for the Fabian Society. He became an accomplished orator in the furtherance of its causes, which included gaining equal political rights for men and women, alleviating abuses of the working class, rescinding private ownership of productive land, and promoting healthful lifestyles.
Shaw married Charlotte Payne-Townshend, a fellow Fabian, whom he survived. They made their home in Ayot St. Lawrence in a house now called Shaw's Corner. GBS spent a lot of his time writing in a revolutionary for the time, revolving shed, which he moved around to follow the sun. He named this shed 'London' so that his staff could tell any unwelcome visitors to his home that he was working in the capital!!
Shaw died there, aged 94, from chronic problems exacerbated by injuries he incurred by falling while pruning a tree in his garden.
He is the only person to have been awarded both the Nobel Prize for Literature (1925) and an Oscar (1938). These were for his contributions to literature and for his work on the film Pygmalion, respectively. Shaw would have refused his Nobel Prize outright, because he had no desire for public honors, but accepted it at his wife's behest: she considered it a tribute to Ireland. He did reject the monetary award, requesting it be used to finance translation of Swedish books to English.
For those of you who haven't made the connection, Pygmalion is better known as the film 'My Fair Lady' Nowadays the house and land is owned by the National Trust and is open to the public. For my part I have been there several times and the gardens in the summer are absolutely beautiful.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

English Country Garden.

I have never been a very good gardener, I come from a long line of exceptional gardeners, Dad, Grandad and way back in my family history we were farmers.For years I have had a picture in my head of how I would like my garden to look but I have never managed it. This year we have replaced the fences and I decided to give it a make over.

I really love traditional cottage garden flowers so I have Old English Roses, Lavender, ragwort,Lupins, Clematis, Pinks and sunflowers. I really want them to be able to set seed and come again. I had one brave sunflower manage to do that, the rest have been planted. They are all doing very well, thanks to the wonder of miracle grow and slug pellets! So this year this is my corner of the world, complete with my Tesco's half price 'Bistro' set. (Not sure when I'll ever be able to get enough time to sit out there and make use of it!!!)

Friday, June 27, 2008

Its all go at the moment.

This week seems to have been a hard slog, lots going on and lots to do. Carl is going to Lourdes with the school as a RedCap helper for the Arch Diocese of Westminster. Beth and I went on Tuesday night to hear all about the preparations and what the arrangements would be.
He will be leaving school at 5am, I say again 5am (Yes that's the one in the morning!!!!) They have to be at Stanstead airport early as they have been specially selected to accompany some of the more seriously ill pilgrims, who will be travelling with medical staff and will be staying in hospital once they arrive in France. I think that the Redcaps will be offering their 'brawn' in assisting to move people around. This year is a special year to visit as it marks the 150th anniversary of the apparitions seen by Bernadette Soubirous in the Grotto in Lourdes.

They have packed days planned starting with Breakfast at 7am followed by mass and then trips to the grotto, back for lunch, more trips to the basilica and grotto. Followed by dinner and then trips to the moon light procession. Also along the way they are attending Benediction. They will get free time but its looking like that will be around 10pm onwards!! While undertaking all this activity they will work in pairs and look after their allotted 'Malade'.

On the last day they will have a group afternoon, last year it was a trip to a climbing forest which Carl has done before when we have visited France. I am hoping that he will find this a great experience a change to help people less fortunate that yourself and to have fun with friends at the same time. (with the added bonus of 3 possible mass' a day, snigger, snigger!)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Guess What ???

Well it hardly seems possible but twenty five years ago Tom and I got married. Where has that time gone?? I can remember the day so clearly, I had a bad back having slipped a disk two weeks before. I was unable to kneel at the alter so Father John kindly placed two chairs on the alter for us to use.The muscles in my back were so painful that I walked down the aisle under the influence of Valium and to the sound of the Trumpet Voluntary!!
It was touch and go if my sister Valerie would be there, eventually she came out of hospital that day just in time for the Wedding. The weather was glorious hot and sunny. Dad had a poorly toe and only managed to wear shoes for half the ceremony, had to revert to sandals for the second half. My bridesmaid Kay cried the whole way through. Madeline was petrified that she would fall over while walking down the aisle. My mini bridesmaid Rebecca, was only 18 months old and she did very well, behaved perfectly.
So what else do I remember?? Well the photographer was hell bent on getting the perfect photo, he pulled great chunks off of trees and vegetation. I remember that we all got together to prepare for the reception, we had a caterer for the food but we supplemented it with extras of our own. My brother in law, Ted, made our wedding cake, a beautiful two tier affair, which Tom had to collect from Whitby, 250 miles away the week before!!
My brother Keith was unable to get leave to come to the wedding as he was a serving paratrooper at the time. I think his not attending has had a severe affect on him, he is currently on his third wife and every marriage has been a church affair, he is obviously trying to recreate 'the Wedding that got away'
Money was tight so I made my own bridesmaid dresses , all four of them, I also did all the flowers and buttonholes. Mum came with me and bought my dress. All that is left of that now is the tiara, I cut the dress up to make a christening robe for the children, (still have the christening robe though!) My friend from work Alan, provided the wedding car, his dad even had a chauffeur's outfit that he used for the day!!
We had our reception in the hall attached to St Saviours Church in Abbots Langley, that hall has now been replaced. We spent the first night of our honeymoon in a hotel in Watford.
With the tiny bit of money we saved we even had a honeymoon in Austria. We went with a bargain basement company called Summer plan, we flew from Lydd International airport with a company called Janus airways, the plane was so old and rickety I am sure that the 'J' should have been dropped!!! Happy days!
So here we are 25 years later with three children a dog and a couple of budgies. I am looking forward to the beginning of July when we are getting together with family and friends for a celebration 'tea' at the golf club!!!

Monday, June 23, 2008

My Town Monday - Poppies!

Well its that time again, My Town Monday. Today has been one of those glorious Balmy summery days that you have to make the most of here in England, one blink and it will be Autumn and Pumpkin time again. As I write this the temperature outside is a very nice 23.6 C. The wind is blowing and it makes you feel good to be alive.
Sunday afternoon we took a trip to a local Pub, (the Crooked Chimney, a subject for an up coming post !!) When we noticed these stunning Poppies growing in a field next door, judging by the path that had been worn through the nettles from the car park we are not the first people to discover these beauties!!
Poppies look so delicate as they are blown around in the breeze, but they are deceptive, they blow almost flat and then spring back up again.There are hundreds of buds so I expect there will be a spectacular show for a few more weeks yet. There didn't seem to be anything else growing in the field apart from wild flowers, daisies, forget me nots, blue speedwell, Huge Thistles and scarlet pimpernel. I hope they all set loads of seed and come back next year.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Growing Up??

Well Beth had her friend Emma over to stay last night and I didn't have to tell them once to be quiet, in fact they took themselves off to bed and were asleep before I went to bed. Could this be a turning point? I really can't remember a single sleep over where there hasn't been noise!!
This morning they got themselves sorted with breakfast AND emptied the dishwasher, unheard of. I may have to have a lie down.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Back from Conference

This past week I have had the pleasure of going to Bournemouth for UNISONS national conference. I traveled down on Monday with Sharon and Stuart. We arrived at our hotel around 5pm just in time for the first meeting at 6pm. his was a 'whats happening this week' sort of meeting in the near by Marriott hotel.

The next morning Conference proper started. We were weighed down with paperwork, motions, composite booklets, New sheets, questionnaires so much stuff that they gave us all new hessian bags to carry it around in!! We all had allocated seats in the Bournemouth Conference centre, we sat in our region areas. Stuart was there as the Chair of the Young members forum and he very bravely stood up to move two motions in front of a packed audience of around 3000 people!!

We had different speakers everyday and we debated lots of questions and decided the way the union would move in the coming year. There were very few contentious issues this year and we only managed three card votes (they always make things interesting!!)

We were very lucky with the weather, beautiful sunshine and a breeze just about all week. We made friends with other delegates and went out for dinner in the evenings, we were lucky enough to be able to check out the Chinese,Indian, Italian and a very nice Brasserie all within walking distance of our hotel.

I hadn't been to Bournemouth for ages and I was very impressed with the area, the sea was stunning and the beaches were spotless, I felt like I was on the French Riviera!! Next year its Brighton, I can't wait!!!!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

My Town Monday - Dame Barbara Cartland.

Well as this task has been started by a writer I have decided to talk about Dame Barbara Cartland, one of our famous residents and prolific authors. In her life time Dame Barbara wrote over 700 top selling books including some biographies.
Born at 31 Augustus Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, she was the only daughter and eldest child of a British army officer, Major Bertram Cartland (born 1876 died 27 May 1918), and his wife, Mary Polly Hamilton Scobell. Though she was born into an enviable degree of middle-class comfort, the family's security was severely shaken after the suicide of her paternal grandfather, James Cartland, a financier, who shot himself in the wake of bankruptcy.

After a year as a gossip columnist for the Daily Express, Cartland published her first novel, Jigsaw (1923), a slightly naughty society thriller that became a bestseller. She also began writing and producing somewhat racy plays, one of which, Blood Money (1926), was banned by the Lord Chamberlain's Office. In the 1920s and '30s Cartland was one of the leading young hostesses in London society, noted for her beauty, energetic charm and daring parties. Her fashion sense also had a part in launching her fame. She was in fact one of the first clients of designer Sir Norman Hartnell, who was later appointed dressmaker to Queen Elizabeth II.
Barbara Cartland's image as a self-appointed "expert" on romance drew some ridicule in her later years, when her social views became more conservative. Indeed, although her first novels were considered sensational, Barbara Cartland's later (and arguably most popular) titles were comparatively tame with virginal heroines and few, if any, suggestive situations. Almost all of Cartland's later books were historical in theme, which allowed for the believability of chastity (at least, to many of her audience).

Despite their tame story lines, Barbara Cartland's later novels were highly successful. By 1983 she rated the longest entry in the British Who's Who (though most of that article was a list of her books), and was named the top-selling author in the world by the Guinness Book of World Records. In the mid-1990s, by which time she had sold over a billion books, Vogue magazine called her "the true Queen of Romance". She became a mainstay of the popular media in her trademark pink dresses and plumed hats, discoursing on matters of love, marriage, politics, religion, health and fashion. She was publicly opposed to the removal of prayer from state schools and spoke against infidelity and divorce, although she admitted to being acquainted with both "Sins"
Barbara was married, from 1927 to 1932, to Alexander George McCorquodale, They had a daughter Raine McCorquodale (born in 1929)After the McCorquodales' 1936 divorce, which involved charges and countercharges of infidelity, Cartland married a man her husband had accused her of dallying with — his cousin Hugh McCorquodale, a former military officer. She and her second husband, who died in 1963, had two sons, Ian and Glen McCorquodale.
In 1991, Barbara Cartland was invested by Queen Elizabeth II as a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in honor of the author's nearly 70 years of literary, political and social contributions.

Cartland was openly critical of her step-granddaughter Diana, Princess of Wales's divorce from the Prince of Wales, which caused a rift between them, one mended shortly before Diana's fatal car crash in Paris in 1997.
Her physical and mental health began to fail in her mid-90s but her spirit and courage were undiminished, and she remained a favorite with the press, granting interviews to international news agencies even during the final months of her life.
Her last project was to be filmed and interviewed for her life story. At that time,(2000) her publishers estimated that since her writing career began in 1923, Dame Barbara Cartland had produced a total of 723 titles. After years of wearing her trademark anti-wrinkle cream and heavy makeup, she had herself photographed repeatedly without any cosmetics before she died. She was 98 years of age at her death.
Due to her concern for the environment, she requested to be buried in a cardboard coffin. This request was honored and she was buried at her estate in Hatfield under a tree that had been planted by Queen Elizabeth I.
Barbara Cartland was a grand somewhat excentric lady, she cared for her community, she served as a councilor for 9 years, she was passionate about the plight of travellers and she gave part of her land over to them so that their children could have a stable place to live and could educate their children. That site which was named Barbaraville after her is still going strong today.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Athletics - The final time.

Yesterday was the Welwyn Schools Athletics meeting held at Gosling Stadium. It started at 4pm and it seemed as if every car in WGC was trying to park there. I drove around for what seemed like hours to find a parking space, I eventually had to abandon the car on a grassy hillock. Beth, not known for her athletic prowess, had been chosen to take part in the Girls throwing event. We had been practicing hard for three days in the car park to perfect her technique. When I arrived they were already on the field and the competition had begun.
I stood on the hill along with what seemed like half of the town cheering the runners and the other competitors. We had a successful event as a school, winning several races, coming second in long jump, high jump and relay. Beth did very well and came 6th out of 18 for her throwing! (just snuck into the rankings as 6th was the last place to get a sticker of recognition!!)
The whole event didn't finish until 6.30pm when we were faced with the escape from the car park from hell!!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Try Something New.......

I really enjoy all sorts of craft and I am always on the lookout for new and different things to turn my hand to. This month is my 25th Wedding Anniversary and we are having a party at the beginning of next month. This got me thinking about the arrangements for my Wedding and how we had to do things on a shoestring. A balance between what we wanted and what we could afford. I cut the costs by making all the bridesmaid dresses, using silk flowers I made the bouquets and button holes. I also made paper flower arrangements for the tables.
So planning for my Wedding Anniversary Party got me thinking about what we would do this time around. So a search of the Internet for paper flowers gave me lots of ideas. I had a go at making Paper Roses. I am really pleased with the results and I think I am going to use them for my table decorations!! - I am still in the experimental stages and I think I may well add some real leaves from the garden for a bit of interest.
These were made out cream Tesco bargain serviettes 77p for 50 enough to make 100 roses!!!

Monday, June 09, 2008

My Town Monday - View from My Trampoline

Well this weeks entry for My Town Monday is a very personal take on the theme. On Sunday afternoon, I was taking it easy outside on my daughters trampoline, you know, hot day, cold drink, Sunday newspaper, wracking my brain for this weeks entry. I really wasn't too keen on going back inside to research anything about my town, so I have decided that you will get a very up close and personal version.
I live in a small street in the town of Welwyn Garden City. We have a very small back garden which is somewhat dominated by the huge trampoline. It has killed off all the grass underneath and to be honest I wasn't too keen on having it in the first place. Last year I was off work after an operation which was right at the beginning of the summer, the kids were at school and I suddenly realised that it made a fantastic sunbed!!
Yesterday afternoon I took my camera out and spent half an hour observing what I could see from my sunbed. This is what I found.....
We are on the flight path of two major London Airports, Luton and Stansted, plus the local Panshanger Airfield. As a result I counted 47 planes of all sizes flying in 'my' airspace. I was surrounded by flowers, mainly roses which are my favourites, the red ones are right by the trampoline. I even got to watch some bees gathering nectar from 'another plant' (ashamed to say I have no idea what it is!!)
At the end of the half an hour I was joined by my daughter, who ended my peace and evicted me from the sunbed.
I even caught the sun while doing my research!!!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

School Trip.

While we were on our school trip we visited Windsor Castle. I really enjoyed this part of the trip and Beth got to try on some old armour and some modern day armour in the form of Police stab vest and helmet.
This morning the whole class put on an assembly to tell their parents all about their trip. I got a mention !! When we were at LegoLand we took a ride on the new Dragon Water Ride. There was no queue, so we asked the attendant if we could stay on for a second time. He said no, unless we had a very good reason. So I told him he was the most handsome man in the park!!(he wasn't!!) He let us stay on!!! I am not really sure that was a good idea as we got absolutely drenched.
On the plus side my black toe nail is looking a whole lot better!!

Monday, June 02, 2008

My Town Monday - The panshanger Oak.

This week I am going to tell you about the 'mystical' Panshanger oak tree. I was recently away on my school trip and one evening the conversation turned to this Oak Tree, it seems that some local folk don't believe that it exists, its a fairly well kept secret!!
The history surrounding this oak is colourful, there are lots of ideas as to the age of the tree ranging from the oldest unconfirmed estimate of a thousand years, to a more reasonable 450 years!!
This tree is said by some to have been planted by Queen Elizabeth I. Sir Winston Churchill, who planted an oak nearby, grown from one of its acorns, described the Great Oak as the “finest and most stately oak growing in the South-east of England”.
In 1855 a chap called Mr Pallett measured the tree to be seventy-two feet tall he reported - The western is the fair side of this gigantic Oak, and should be seen by all who pay it a visit. It rather has the appearance as if some years ago it had been struck at the top by lightning, that the lightning passing down on the sunny side of the trunk, made a cleft in about the centre (whence a starling was seen to fly from its nest), and, still passing down, apparently injured a horizontal branch near the ground, afterwards severed from the stem.
The Tree is well supported and preserved, excepting the cleft before referred to, which could easily be protected from further decay.
At five feet high it measures twenty-one feet in circumference, and contains 974 feet, or nineteen loads, twenty-four feet.
Its age is problematical, and it would be interesting to know if any record exists of the planting. I should rather imagine the Tree not to have been planted, but that the acorn, falling into a very rich stratum of loam grew very rapidly. As it contained 315 feet in 1719, it could hardly be less than 200 years old at that date, which would make it 374 years old at the present time. So far as appearances go, and from its shape and size, I believe it may live as long in the future as it has in the past, to be a centre of attraction for many generations.
In 1946 a report was made in the 'Hertfordshire Countryside' Magazine - In 1822 Strutt said it scarcely seemed to have reached its prime, though the spire was already dead. It was then 19ft. at 3ft. above the ground and supposed to contain 1,000ft. of timber. The top of the tree had been killed by lightning, which travelled down the trunk, severing the sinews, so to speak, of one or two of the main branches, and causing them to fall with their extremities on the ground though they still remained alive.
In 1905 the girth was 21ft. 4in. at 5ft., and since then there has been no further growth, though several of the branches still produce foliage and fruit.
Today the tree is alive and strong and it is thought that the life span of a solid oak couls be a thousand years, 300 years to get to full size, 300 years to mature and 300 years to die, give or take a few years.
Looking at photos of the tree its hard to appreciate just how huge it is !

Sunday, June 01, 2008

I have Created!!!!

Finally at last I have found a spare few minutes to make a few charms. I am going away for a weekend in July and we are doing a charm swap, so I spent an hour putting a few together. I am very pleased with them, I hope I'll be able to swap with some of my friends!!
It feels good to be 'doing' things again!!