Wednesday 6 December 2023

December 6th - Driving Home for Christmas

 One of my favourite modern Christmas songs is Driving Home For Christmas by Chris Rea. 

This is the story of how he came to write it (info from the Guardian website)

Chris Rea, singer-songwriter

The story of Driving Home for Christmas is like a classic festive story. It was 1978, coming up to Christmas. It was all over for me: I was just about out of my record contract, and my manager had just told me he was leaving me. I just needed to get home to Middlesbrough from London, but the record company wouldn’t pay for a rail ticket, and I was banned from driving.

You do some crazy things when you’re young. My wife got in our old Austin Mini, drove all the way down from Middlesbrough to Abbey Road studios to pick me up, and we set off back straight away. Then it started snowing. We had £220 and I was fiddling with it all the way home. We kept getting stuck in traffic and I’d look across at the other drivers, who all looked so miserable. Jokingly, I started singing: “We’re driving home for Christmas … ” Then, whenever the street lights shone inside the car, I started writing down lyrics.

We eventually got home at 3am. It was so cold inside the house that the snow tumbled on to the doormat and didn’t melt. There was one letter – from PRS America. My song Fool (If You Think It’s Over) had been a hit in the US, so there was a cheque for £15,000. We went from being down to our last £220 to being able to buy a house. The song went in my old tin full of unfinished stuff.

Some years later, my career had turned around and [keyboard player] Max Middleton and I were testing two new pianos. We started joking around, playing this Count Basie-type thing. I pretended I was Nat King Cole. Someone said: “That’s a great tune, that. You should get it down.” I went back to my tin, and the words to Driving Home for Christmas fitted perfectly.

I’d never intended to write a Christmas hit – I was a serious musician! So initially, the song came out on a B-side. Then a DJ flipped it over and started playing it, so Max suggested we re-record it and add some strings. Max played the distinctive jazzy intro, we did a classic 1950s Christmas carol-type arrangement, and loved it. At first, it was another radio hit – but then it started re-entering the Top 40 every year.


I love the idea of a musician having a tin of un-finished work - like  a crafter with unfinished objects and works-in-progress  and I reckon he's done quite well out of this piece since 1988! 

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Tuesday 5 December 2023

December 5th and Help With The Tree?

Apologies for not replying to comments yesterday - I had 3 year old middle grandson for the day. I got the Christmas tree out of the garage and fitted together and put the lights on right ready and the theory was that he would help me put all the bits on - but he preferred the dinosaurs, after getting the car box out as usual!

Which for some reason had to played with on the TV cupboard

He was fascinated by the nesting 'Russian Doll' Santa which he'd long forgotten from last year.

So I had to put the bits and bobs on all by myself. It's the older things this year as I don't remember when they were last out of their bag.

Including the reindeer made from pegs by oldest (or maybe youngest) daughter when she was in Brownies.

And a little cross stitch - that I made many years ago

That's the decorating done for 2023!

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Monday 4 December 2023

December 4th and Christmas Cards

A Children's Christmas card from the Edwardian period with a pop-up surprise. Rats and mice often featured on Christmas cards and quite often dead animals too. I suppose death wasn't so much of a secret 100 years ago. 

From my book 'Christmas Fare' by Judith Holder and Alison Harding. Published in 1981. Judith had a collection of old Christmas cards  (and others were from a museum that was in Barnstable) and used them to illustrate the book, which is all about the history of various Christmas Food.

Finally got my Christmas cards out of the Christmas drawer to write the ones I need to post in the Scout Post box on my once-a-year trip to Ipswich. I found all of this years cards in charity shops in their January sales or at boot sales. I always choose cards to send that I would like to receive myself which probably isn't the right way to do things but never mind and buying them in the January sale is possibly not in the true spirit of Christmas either - Oh well.

The owl ones are my favourites - might keep one for myself!. I've also got some special family cards (Grandson, Son and DiL etc etc) this year, I don't always but found some on offer at 3 for the price of 2. A proper cheapskate!

I've received my first Christmas card here - very early but it was lovely to receive it. It was from one of Col's cousins who I bump into now and again as she lives in the same village as son and DiL. 

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Sunday 3 December 2023

December 3rd and O Come all Ye Faithful

Although it might have been written earlier it is thought that James Francis Wade who was a copier of manuscripts wrote the verses and the music of this famous hymn while living at the Roman catholic College for Englishmen at Douai in France in about 1745.
They were included in a packet of manuscripts sent to the English Roman Catholic College in Lisbon in 1750 and found their way to England in 1785.

In 1841 Frederick Oakeley was the minister at the Margaret Chapel in London's West End and gave this version, which he had translated from the Latin, to his congregation. It was known originally as 'Adeste, fideles' (Come Faithful Ones). In both versions it had eight verses and usually the eighth is only sung on Christmas Day.

(Information from 'Famous Hymns and Their Stories'  by Christopher Idle and 'Best Loved Christmas Carols' compiled by Martin Manser)

This version is from the Northern Baptist Association - The Big Sing in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 2008.

Probably one of the best know Christmas Carols, sung everywhere every year.

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Saturday 2 December 2023

December 2nd and Cold 'Cures'

I love my grandchildren but I wish they weren't so keen on giving me their snotty colds. Primary schools and Pre-school groups are a hot bed of germs! I spent a Sunday afternoon with the two nearest in November and then had the 3 year old Middle grandson here for the following day and sure enough, by the Wednesday afternoon I was sneezing, snuffling and snotty just like him. It only lasted a couple of days but left a tickly cough that hung about for another few days. Thankfully that went too.

This is one remedy - it's not a cure but does make you feel better while drinking it. 2 slices of lemon (I always keep a sliced lemon in the freezer), a spoonful of local honey, a pinch of ground cinnamon and a smaller pinch of ground ginger or some ginger syrup or a smidge of easy-ginger from a jar. Pour on boiling water and drink as hot as you can with a couple of paracetamol. 
Nicer than a proprietary Lemsip sachet and without the possible side effects of phenylephrine hydrochloride!

After that I made a batch of 'cold cure' soup. It's mainly a tomato soup using onion, grated carrot and a tin of tomatoes plus added garlic cloves, a little lazy ginger and a red chilli pepper. I made this first a few years ago from a Jack Monroe recipe but made it way too HOT as I'd added too much ginger and chilli powder. This batch, with just one fresh chilli pepper was more edible - I had one bowlful and have 3 servings in the freezer for another time. While looking back to find the recipe I found another idea that came from one of my books 'From Mother to Daughter' by  Vivienne Bolton.

Cider and Rosemary Cold Cure
Boil a large sprig of rosemary in some cider for 5 minutes. Strain into a glass and carry up to bed, get under the covers and drink. This cure is said to induce sweating which will kill the cold.
That sounds quite good. I'll steal some rosemary cuttings from one of several places I've seen it growing (churchyard, car park by a village hall, car park by a supermarket) and try and grow a plant.

Behind the first door on the advent calendar was a kingfisher perched on a bush. I hope the rest also fit in with the picture. I'm not keen on Advent Calendars that have random things like a toy trumpet in the middle of the sky! 

Friday 1 December 2023

December 1st - Advent and Winter

 Usually December blog posts are 'Advent Photos' . That was what I did in  2017, 18, 19, 20, 21 and 2022. That's what you call stuck in a rut!

This year I'm being a bit more varied - a few photo's, a few book illustrations, some folklore and a few poems. This, that and t'other.  Plus everyday happenings as usual.


The Anglo-Saxons called  December Wintermonath  before they became Christians, and Helighmonath meaning 'holy month' afterwards. In Chambers Book of Days I came across the word Dubblachd  which I believe is the modern Scottish-Gaelic for December meaning Dark Month.

I'm calling 1st December the first day of winter - if it was good enough for the Anglo-Saxons, it's good enough for me............ although some will say - wait until the 22nd.

First Day of Winter

Like the bloom on a grape is in the evening air
And a first faint frost the wind has bound.
Yet the fear of his breath avails to scare
The withered leaves on the cold ground.

For they huddle and whisper in phantom throngs,
I hear them beneath the branches bare:
We danced with the wind, we sang his songs:
Now he pursues us, we know not where.

Laurence Binyon (1869-1943)

I remembered, just in time, that way back in the summer I'd come across a new advent calendar at a car boot sale. It's my favourite type of picture - a snowy scene - like the cards I buy for sending. I just searched back through labels and found I paid only 50p for this in April. - Bargain. 
So the Autumn display has been put in the cupboard and the Advent Calendar, the December plate and a  couple of Christmassy bits replace them.

It's certainly felt like winter for the last couple of days with much colder weather - and  frosts overnight and I've started putting the windscreen cover on the car again  but I was really fed up on Wednesday evening when it turned to thick fog with possibly freezing fog later as I was supposed to go across to Woodbridge to the theatre for an 'Evening with Adam Henson' event. He was talking about Christmas on his Rare Breeds Farm and I'd booked it weeks ago. But it was just so foggy, took me 15 minutes to go just a few miles with another 15 miles on country roads to go so I turned round and came home . Better safe and out of pocket than in a ditch! Driving at night in fog is something I've always really hated. What was even more frustrating was that when I looked out a few hours later the fog had lifted so it would have been OK on the way home.

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Thursday 30 November 2023

Z is for ...........

...........the end of the alphabet, and wishing I hadn't started it as it was nowhere as interesting as my efforts last year!

Zzzzzzzzz could be for sleeping. Something I only ever do at night, have to be really poorly to sleep during the day. Luckily I don't usually have problems sleeping, sometimes it takes me an age to fall asleep and other times I'm gone without thinking. 
Usually I wake up once or twice but only for the loo and usually get back to sleep straight away. I've never understood getting up in the night to do something if unable to sleep although it must be OK for some people but it would be too cold for me and would wake me up even more. Some nights I have really weird dreams, especially if I fall asleep laying on my left side - and if anyone could explain that - I'd love to know why. 

Thank you to everyone for A - Z comments through the month. Remind me not to do it again next November!

Back in December - which happens to be tomorrow.

Wednesday 29 November 2023

Y is for Yule and Yule Log

The word Yule predates 'Christmas' in English (from gēol in old English) but it's meaning was vague. Variations of 'Yule' existed in most Germanic and Scandinavian languages (jól in old Norse meaning a feast) and seemed to describe mid-winter  days and festivities. The word went out of fashion and Christmas was used from C12, although Yule carried on being used in Danish settlements and was a common dialect word in the North. (Info from The English Year book see below)

The idea that a large log of wood -  The Yule Log should be burning in the fireplace on Christmas Eve or all of Christmas day was well known for more than 300 years. It had different names in various places - The block log, clog or brand but could be found all over the British Isles.

This is taken from my book 'The English Year' by Steve Roud and comes from Herefordshire in 1886

A respectable middle aged labourer tells me that in his boyhood his father was always careful to provide a Christmas Yule Log. On Christmas morning he would put a bit saved from last year's log on the fire and lay the new log on top of it, so that it might be kindled from the last years piece. Before the new log was quite burnt out he took it off, extinguished it, and put it away to kindle the next year's log.

The idea of keeping part of the wood was to ensure the luck of the house continued but it was also thought to offer protection against fire and witchcraft. 

From the same book.......Folklorist Charlotte Burne recorded

In 1845 I was at the Vessons farmhouse in Shropshire. The floor was of flagstones and observing a sort of roadway through the kitchen and the flags much broken, I asked what had caused it and was told it was from the horses hoofs drawing in the Christmas Brand.

Not many houses with open fireplaces big enough for  yule log now - perhaps just a few old farm or manor houses.

Nowadays a Yule log is more likely to be made of a chocolate swiss roll covered in chocolate butter icing ridged with a fork to look like a tree trunk ,with a plastic robin perched on it and icing sugar sifted over the top.
 I'm not doing a Christmas cake this year  as I always get left with eating it all through January so instead I'll do a chocolate yule log, with a bought chocolate swiss roll - doesn't matter if it's left for me to eat at all! 

I tipped everything out of my very old cake candles and decorations tin - which has travelled Suffolk with me for more than 40 years............

But although I have plenty of candles and holders, a church, Joseph, Mary and Jesus and some random ballet dancers, the only things for the top of a log are some tiny bits of plastic holly. I shall see if I can find a robin next time I'm out.

Back Tomorrow

Tuesday 28 November 2023

X is for Xmas

 I didn't like using Xmas for Christmas but understand from those in the know about these things that it's now recognised as being  legitimate and OK to use and not just a lazy way of writing about the season.

So for X this year  I decided to visit some local Christmas/Xmas Fairs/Fayres and take a photo at every one I could get to.  Perhaps have a coffee and cake at all of them too. Although I had to give up that idea when straight away the first 3 were on the same morning!

This was the first, where I just found a couple of books, had a coughing fit, (the cough was the remains of a snotty 3 day cold given to me by middle grandson when I looked after him!) went into the coffee area to get a drink........ and hot sausage roll for breakfast and forgot to back into the church bit for a photo. 

This was the second Fayre of the day and I found  nothing I wanted so just had some tickets for the Grand Prize Draw - which was more of a donation to the church as I never win anything!

Very busy

                 And this on my way home was the third of the day and again I didn't buy anything 

                                                                      Not so busy here 

I popped to another on Sunday 19th at Stowmarket Leisure Centre, but forgot a photo. It was called a Grand Christmas Market rather than a craft fayre and was much bigger but I couldn't stay long as it was full of burning scented candles and soaps and other smellies and set me off coughing again. Several of the people who had been at numbers fairs # 2 and 3 the day before were also at this one.

Then on Saturday 25th it was off to visit a couple more (the things I do for a blog post!) First at Debenham Leisure Centre

Very busy, lots of different crafted items for sale. But as usual nothing I really needed - makes me feel very guilty and I know I'm really odd in not wearing jewellery, make up or needing smelly candles and I've already all the Christmas decorations, cards, hats, scarves, gloves and Christmas crackers that I need. Someone had jewellery using old fashioned pen nibs from the 40's/ 50's - nice idea but they looked lethal!
But I did pick up a small, sensibly priced, holly wreath for putting on my Mum and Dad in Laws grave and a little bunch of dried bits to add to my Christmas greenery vase next month.

The second, below, was at the  Church in Son's village, where I met up with the family. It was crowded. (That's my two small horrors in the photo - not a random photo of someone else's children!) Found out from the family that Youngest Granddaughter had been off school for a few days since last I saw them with  Scarlet Fever! Where the heck had that come from. DiL said that one day in the week they were very short of staff and children at her school due to various illnesses. So many things doing the rounds. Probably not helped by all the Christmas Fairs!

We all had a cuppa and cake at this one and several goes on the tombola where I won a bottle of some sort of flavoured fruit juice and a bottle of eau-de-cologne - both of which I gave to Daughter in Law to use for something.
A lady here had some beautiful willow baskets in various shapes and sizes - I was Very tempted, as baskets are a weakness - except that once I have them I'm never sure where to put them and really I have enough already in use and no where to display any others.

 The last time I went to this big Christmas Fayre in the town centre, was on a Saturday in December 2018 - 7 months after Colin died. That time they had one of those small artificial ice rinks. I remember feeling very sad among all the families enjoying themselves and didn't stay long.

Since Covid they've moved the fayre to a Sunday and it's got much bigger . Son and DiL went last year - I think- and said it was crowded and mainly food stalls.
I was in town anyway as I've recently started going to the big United Reform Church (URC) in Stowmarket for their Sunday service. It is much busier than the small version in my village, so I can hide at the back, sing hymns, sit quietly and slip out at the end. The church has a nice feel to it too and very welcoming. My cousin's husband was preaching on Sunday - dragged out of retirement I think! and surprised to see me there.

It wasn't very busy through the street when I arrived in town so plenty of room to walk through to church and I was surprised to see a small 'big' wheel.

It seemed to be mainly food and jewellery stalls as I continued up the street and I thought I'd have a better look round after church.

But when I came out of church the street was PACKED! (Just like I remember Ipswich Town Centre on Christmas eve many years ago!)  I didn't get much of a look around or more photos - much too busy-  but it was definitely almost all food stalls. You name it - and you could buy every nationality there. But if you didn't want food there wasn't much to see! I battled my way back to the car park - which was also crazily busy- and thankfully went home. 

Sunday was also the turn of my village to have a Christmas Craft Fayre. So after lunch I strolled up the road looked around the stalls ...........jewellery, candles, knitted Christmas decorations, dog snoods(?!) and once again bought nothing. I did have a £1s worth of Grand Draw tickets - didn't win obviously. I didn't take a photo as the place was empty apart from me and the stallholders.

That was as many as I could manage for this X for Xmas/Christmas Fair/Fayre  blog post but there are still more happening in December in various villages around which I may or may not visit and probably still feel guilty for not buying anything again!

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Monday 27 November 2023

W is for Wordle

First of all must say thank you to everyone for comments and memories about getting/not getting vaccinations. A conversation without nasty comments was good.

From Wiki ..................Wordle is a web-based word game created and developed by Welsh software engineer Josh Wardle. Players have six attempts to guess a five-letter word, with feedback given for each guess in the form of colored tiles indicating when letters match or occupy the correct position. The mechanics are nearly identical to the 1955 pen-and-paper game Jotto and the television game show franchise LingoWordle has a single daily solution, with all players attempting to guess the same word.

Wardle created the game to play with his partner, eventually making it public in October 2021. The game gained popularity in December 2021 after Wardle added the ability for players to copy their daily results as emoji squares, which were widely shared on Twitter. Many clones and variations of the game were also created, as were versions in languages besides English. The game was purchased by The New York Times Company in January 2022 for an undisclosed seven-figure sum; the game was moved to the Times website in February 2022 and remains free for all players.

I was very late finding Wordle  , which is now heading towards # 900. I don't pay the 50p a week, which allows you to see if you've solved it in the best way - compared to a robot. I think I read there are either 3,000 or  5,000 x 5 letter words, whichever is right it will be running for a few more years before repeating. 

Here's my results for each morning this month. When I finished the puzzle  I hopped over to drafts to record my effort.

 1st Nov. NOISE in 4 tries.  242 played . 98% correct. Current run of 80.    average
2nd Nov. UNTIL in 4 tries  243 Played. 98% correct.   Current run of 81.    average again
3rd Nov. ARDOR in 6 tries 244 Played. 98% correct.Current run of 82. ARDOR??It's ARDOUR here!!
4th Nov. MANIA in 6 tries  245   " "        "   "    "         "       "    "  of 83.    tricky!
5th Nov. FLARE in 3 tries   246  "  "         "    "    "          "       "     of 84.    much better
6th Nov TRADE in 3 tries   247   "    "         "     "    "       "       "    of 85.   seemed easier today
7th Nov LIMIT in 5 tries      248  "    "            "     "                        of 86.  much thinking needed
8th Nov   oh dear I failed . The word was NINJA - not really used much in my vocabulary! Bother! 
9th Nov GLAZE in 5 tries    250 Played. Now down to 97% .    Run of 1.
10th Nov LEASH in 3 tries  251 Played.  97% correct. Current run of 2. That's more like it!
11th Nov  ACTOR in 3 tries  252  "  "       97% correct.   "    "     "    of 3. That was a lucky one.
12th Nov MEANT in 2 tries 253  ""  "    97%   "  "    .    "    "     "     4 . Wow that hasn't happened often.
13th Nov GREEN in 3 tries 254 " "   "     97%  "  "      "     "     "   "   5. Much luck involved
14th Nov SASSY in 6 tries  255  "  "  "   97%  "   "      "     "      "      6.    Very tricky
15th Nov SIGHT in 5 tries  256   "   "      97%      "       "       "       7.  Many options after getting IGHT
16th Nov TRUST in 4 tries  257  "   "      97%    "     "      "    "           8.  Average
17th Nov TARDY in 3 tries 258     "     "  97%   "       "     "      "        9. Blimey that was lucky!
18th Nov THINK in 3 tries  259   "    "     97%  "  "         "      "         10. Another lucky hit after TH in 2
19th Nov QUEUE in 5 tries  260  "     "    97% "    "         "    "           11. Had to be a Q
20th Nov CANDY in 3 tries 261  "    "    97%    "     "     "     "          12. Another bit of luck
21st Nov PIANO in 3 tries 262    "    "     97%   "       "     "   "           13. Seemed easy today
22nd Nov PIXEL in 4 tries  263  "    "      97%   "     "    "     "          14. Flash of inspiration!
23rd Nov QUEEN in 3 tries 264  "    "     97%   "   "      "      "        15. Surprised at another Q 
24th Nov THROW in 2 tries  265  "   "    97%   "      "       "     "     16. That was a good guess!
25th Nov GUIDE in 5 tries   266 "    "     97%  "   "     "     "    "      17. Back to average
26th Nov SOLID in 4 tries  267  "    "     97%  "    "       "    "          18.  Good

I won't put today's on here to avoid a spoiler for anyone who hasn't done it yet.

Back Tomorrow

Saturday 25 November 2023

V for Vaccinations

 Back in the 60s children's vaccinations were given at school. A team of nurses went round the schools - I guess a letter went home for parents to give permission? or maybe we just got them regardless! I can't remember much about it happening - and now I'm not even sure what we were vaccinated against. What was that one we had that had a small circle of tiny needles that left a pretty pattern for ages?

All 3 of my children were vaccinated when they were small against all the childhood illness that were preventable. They had fewer days off school than I had, when measles, mumps and chicken pox did the rounds in the 1960's. My grandchildren have had even more vaccinations and will be spared many more nasty things. I heard on the radio that Chicken Pox vaccination is another one children should get in the future in England, it's already given in many places.

Flu vaccinations are offered in this country for anyone over 65 and others at risk. There's a special flu vaccine for children - they are given it from age 2 or 3. There is a long history of research about preventing flu, going right back to the 1940s in the USA and from the 1960's here. This year would be my 4th year and my flu vaccination was planned for the 2nd November and had to be cancelled due to flooding - the vaccination team couldn't get to the local health centre.
It was reorganised for another day and I had heard tales of just how long people were forced to wait outside in a queue to go in for the previous vaccination sessions in October. 
Thankfully no such problems when I got mine done on the 14th, no queue, just a "steady stream" the nurse said. No side effects this year again either.

My blog posts are not usually controversial, so no trolls or vile comments. But this statement is sure to create some.........I'm not having a covid booster vaccination and didn't last year either! And I've never tested myself for covid either - Shock Horror!

Waiting for the comments ..................................

Back Monday

Friday 24 November 2023

U is for Upset?

The U I had planned  didn't happen.

Last Years U was  Underwear - specifically the garment called a Liberty Bodice, a properly written post!.

So I was Upset that I'd not made an effort for this year. Upset? Really? no of course not! takes a lot more than that  to upset me nowadays.

When you have lost the person you have shared everything with for 38 years, small things can't upset  anymore.

Other words beginning with the letter U.

 Umbrage = To take offence at something said or in the case of blogs and comments - written. I'd like to take umbrage at comments that seem to be boasting of things they do better than others but I can't be bothered!

Umbrella = I have  2 small fold up brollies that live in the car, they are both a pain to open and are looking a bit worse for wear. Umbrellas were never allowed to be opened in the house when I was young - bringing very bad luck.

Unheated = My radiators were unheated for just over a week due to a boiler switch glitch. There was hot water but no central heating. I was very glad of my wood burner and convector heater. 
Ian, the heating engineer was very busy but he finally got here yesterday with a new switch that sorted it out. Just in time before a forecast of a drop in temperatures.

Here are 300+ more words starting with U. Just in case you are playing Scrabble or doing a crossword!

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Thursday 23 November 2023

T for Treats

 There's no one here to make me a cuppa so having a coffee out has become a regular treat . For most of the years before Colin died we didn't do coffee and cake out, we preferred to save our money for other things. We even took a flask and lunch on all the trips to Addenbrookes hospital rather than getting something from the machines or café.

So that's treat number one.

Treats two and three are edible and only bought at Christmas.  Two is something for the month after Christmas.  I don't drink alcohol and no longer eat chocolate on it's own but love these chocolate liquors. The price goes up the closer it gets to Christmas so I bought mine in October, and treat three is for a few cold grotty days in January when something warming, sweet and just a bit different is needed.

It's also a treat to have the occasional  takeaway meal,

 to come home from the library with a big bagful of books to enjoy and

 to settle down in a warm room of an evening to read them.

Back Tomorrow

Wednesday 22 November 2023

S is for a Second-Hand Post

S is for Sorry - I just ran out of time/energy/ideas so here's a repeat of last year - with a couple of updates -  when I covered lots of things

 Suffolk.............A good County to live in, no cities and no motorways and there are still quiet places. The family history shows that many generations before me have also been born and lived here all their lives, as far back as the 1700's at least.
Suffolk people are well grounded, we know Suffolk has been here for ever and will probably stay much the same too. We quite like being ignored by others who think it's just a large flat county with nothing much to see! 

Susan Mum wanted to call me Jane, but apparently Grandma said I would get called "Plain Jane" so I was named Susan Jane instead. When I got to Grammar school there were 5 Susan's in my year - which was annoying for everyone. There was one Jane but she left after a term or two. Mum shouldn't have listened to her Mother! I'm only Susan now to my cousins and to myself if I tell myself off!

Stowmarket.............main town in Mid Suffolk, the place where I was at Grammar school, went to Youth Club, and the cinema, hung around with friends and went shopping for all the years before we moved East to the smallholding, and now I'm back shopping there again. Asda is just off the town centre and Aldi, Lidl and Tesco all have their own carparks a little further out from the centre. Not many empty shops in town either. 2023 - A year later there are many more empty People moan about how many smaller independent shops have closed in the last 20 years, but that's the same everywhere. There will be one more empty shop next month as I noticed the Cancer Research Charity shop is closing - 2023  Sad that it closed -it's still empty, you know things are bad when even the charity shops who don't pay full business rates can't afford to stay open.

Seeds.................. nearly time to investigate what seeds I need for next year's vegetable growing.

Shopping....... I'm one of those strange people who don't mind going food shopping, specially now I'm not in a hurry. I've always done it on my own- it's not a chore. But clothes shopping is a completely different thing - don't like that or shoe shopping at all. Life is so much easier with supermarkets having clothes as I can look at what they have when I'm there for food. I've only ever done grocery shopping online once and found it a real faff!

And a new bit.............Scout Post

I shall get my Christmas cards written for my cousins in Ipswich and Felixstowe next week and drop them into a collection point for the Scout groups of those areas to deliver. It costs 35p for each card  and all the money raised goes to the Scout's funds. This all started 35 years ago with one Ipswich Scout Group delivering in their local area and has spread. 

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Tuesday 21 November 2023

R is for Retirement

 Averages are meaningless.

Never-the-less here's a chart I found of various incomes in retirement and what the average person could use their income for. It's a year or so out of date now after so many price rises.

The average income of a single pensioner was £246 a week between 2020 -2021.

I'm eternally grateful that Colin loved his County Council Bridge Inspecting job and they give me a spouses pension because of his death. I have a savings bond using the downsizing money and those and my state pension means my income is in between minimum and moderate.........although closer to the minimum.

Have to say that £54 a week on food seems a lot, my spending is less than that and I see that those on minimum income are not expected to have a car - they all must live somewhere with public transport! because the majority of people in villages and countryside have no alternative. £580 for clothes and shoes is way more than what I spend too - thankfully.

Some people think I worked until 1980 and then never worked again, so have been retired for 40 years already! Not quite true. It is true that I never had a full time paid employment outside of home after eldest daughter was born. My library assistant salary was way down the pay grades and I really didn't like being bossed about by the new young graduate librarian anyway, so it seemed sensible to stay at home and find ways to save money. Which, by never wasting a penny, growing food and watching all the spending, we achieved. Every now and again I did some part time work that fitted in around the children. 
I have.........
  • Cleaned a house
  • Cleaned a village hall
  • Grown herbs to sell at the PYO fruit farm
  • Picked fruit on the fruit farm for their freezers
  • Saturday Library  assistant job
  • Been an after school and holiday childminder
  • Run a small home based nursery group
  • Been a lunch time school playground supervisor in a primary school
  • and in a Middle school
  • Sold herbs at a WI Country Market
  • Census enumerator
  • Poll Clerk on election days
And all the time we were doing up houses and moving up the housing ladder.

Then after moving to the smallholding I had animals and the campsite to look after and vegetables, fruit and herbs to sell and for several years we bought and sold country themed books at local country fairs and I also sometimes made cards and cakes for a WI Country Market.

Although my retirement isn't as planned...... Colin dying aged 61 didn't come into any retirement thoughts .............I seem to be managing well and actually have spare pennies for those coffees out and second hand books.

I realise I'm one of the lucky pensioners that are so disliked by many!

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Monday 20 November 2023

Q is for Quite a Nice Mixed Book Collection!

 Had to fit the November library book photo into the month somehow!

These are the books I had reserved and collected last week.

There are 5 crime, including two books of short stories, 1 children's book, 4 non fiction, 2 general fiction and a DVD .

As usual there are some there that I have no clue about and must have ordered after seeing them on a blog or somewhere else. For instance - what on earth is 'How To Cook A Wolf' ! (Actually it's a 1942 cookery book published for wartime in the USA). I know I'll enjoy 'The Raging Storm' and there's a Christmas poem book there to give me ideas for December posts.

Last month I brought home these below and  finished the tenth yesterday -  'The Bookseller' by Mark Pryor -  the excellent debut novel of a new to me author published in 2012. Details on those finished are on the Books Read 2023 page. I didn't bother with the historical novel by Ken Follet - it was just too long and didn't like two of the old crime fiction so abandoned them after a few pages.

I think I'd missed hearing that the author Anne Perry had died sometime this year which is very sad as I'd enjoyed all her various crime series mostly set in Victorian London.
One less author to check for new books on Fantastic Fiction 😢  

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