Category Archives: Family

Season of mists and…blah, blah, blah…

So, Autumn has arrived. Here in the UK, it’s arrived with sunny days and fairly warm temps, but I’m not ready to let summer go yet. I’m a summer baby and seem to thrive best with warmer weather and brighter skies. Put me on a beach with a pina colada and I’m a happy woman 🙂

Well, if we have to have autumn (and by extension, winter) it’s currently not all bad. The trees are looking amazing in their burnished glory, and there are some interesting little late-flowering plants popping up in the garden.

20180910_100958Walks with Vivvy are always interesting, but this autumn I’m finding them even more so. A city girl born and bred, I absolutely love living in the country. Around the village where we live there are fabulous walks, and they’re always journeys of discovery.

Recently, I discovered a new walk to the next village a few miles away which took us by acres of what I’ve named the bamboo fields, although I’m sure they’re not (Kit will probably put me right on this). I spent a fun ten minutes playing hide-and-seek with Vivvy, and now, when we go that route, she runs into the bamboo and looks out to me as if to say “come on mum, time to play”.20180910_101131

I also found plump, juicy blackberries growing wild and grabbed a couple of handfuls in an unused poo-bag (sorry) so we had a lovely apple and blackberry crumble at supper that night 🙂 There are copious amounts of sloes at the moment, reminding me that one day I’m going to attempt sloe gin (side note: I spent years thinking the sloes were blueberries – don’t laugh, city girl, right?)
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So, all in all, I can’t complain about the demise of summer. At least, not quite yet 🙂

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I’m Super Late

Jillian here. I feel like the white Rabbit. I’m late, I’m late. I knew yesterday was my day to post but somehow, the day escaped me and then today did, too. I got sick from movie theater popcorn and have been kind of worthless since then. So, forgive me for my lapse.

I had a busy August. Traveled to see my son and his wife in the Orlando area and met the grand dog for the first time. Such a sweet hound. She never makes a sound and is so gentle and sweet. Precious.  We went on a lovely boat ride as well and had some nice meals. We just kind of hung out as my son had a deadline and my daughter in law had an open house for her real estate work. She and I did go boutique shopping one day and taste tested a ton of olive oils at one place. My son is very stable and settled with his wife and his architecture work. He’s found his bliss.

My younger son moved to the Chicago area and we had to get him set and all packed. His dad drove him up towing a U-haul trailer. It’s crazy expensive to have a car up there so we’re keeping it here. While it’s hard to let go, I want him to be happy and this is what he wanted to do. The good thing is he’s living with his best friend from school- they’ve been buds since the 4th grade and his friend has been living in Chicago a year with his girlfriend – they got a bigger apartment so my son could come up and see what kind of work he could find as he finishes his German studies. His goal is to be a translator and already has French and Spanish. He’s going to take some kind of proficiency exam while up there in order to qualify for the German part.

Seeing both my kids happy is something I’ve prayed for all their lives and having one already settled is great. Just have to keep praying that the other one finds his bliss as well.

Have a great September. 8C2F49D0-A7D4-4EC1-AA29-24584F012111AB713081-CFE9-4748-9E52-8FE3A230BCB4285F741F-04F4-4A18-B3F0-EE40AD8ACE0A09006E05-BA19-425B-8213-66A6A1017533

 

Silly Memory That Still Makes Me Smile

Jillian here. I was working on an upcoming blog post for a friend for the month of October which is apparently Family History Month. My post for then is about my two great aunts. One of which I knew well and one who died before I was born. It reminded me of a funny event involving the one I knew and I thought I’d share it for my post here this month.

My family is from North Alabama. Even though I never lived there, we visited a lot.

My great aunt Lit was my paternal grandfather’s sister. She was married to a man named Charlie Sandlin and I loved, loved him- her, too, but her husband was my pal as a kid. My grandparents owned a house on the Tennessee River and Uncle Charlie and I would swim the mile and a half across it all the time- we’d try to touch bottom way out in the middle. Sometimes we could and lots of times, we couldn’t. The Wilson Dam was not too far away and the water levels rose and fell as the dam was used to let boats in and out of the lock.  It was always deep in the center, but sometimes, near shore, you could walk out a number of feet and pick up stray clams in the mud. All the kids grabbed them a lot and then we’d put them in steaming water to see them open. Charlie was a big ole kid and we had a special bond.

Uncle Charlie had a brother named Buddy and he was an inventor. It was a lot of fun to see him on occasion- usually running into him at a store or something like that. He didn’t come out to the lake house and I didn’t know him well and never met any of his kids or grandkids.

Years later, after Uncle Charlie died, I was in law school in Birmingham, Alabama and met a guy in one of my classes named Jimmy Sandlin. I couldn’t resist asking him if he was from Florence, Ala. He said he was and I told him I had a great aunt named Lit who married a man named Charlie Sandlin and he had a brother named Buddy. I asked if he knew them.

He said he was Buddy’s grandson but I was wrong about his Uncle Charlie because his uncle was married to a woman named Marie. It was just so weird, I couldn’t believe it. I said, “I promise you, her name is Lit and it has to be the same person- how could it not be?”

Shrugging, he said, “What can I tell you? Uncle Charlie’s wife was named Marie. I swear.”

I went home and called my dad to find out exactly what Uncle Charlie had been up to with two wives. My dad laughed and laughed and when he finally got hold of himself, he said, “Her name is Lydia Marie and the family have always called her Lit.”

Man! Did I feel silly, but you know what? In all my life, I’d never heard her called anything but Lit.

The next day, I told my new friend we did indeed share a great aunt and, from then on, we called ourselves cousins-in-law.

How about you? Any stories about mistaken identity?

Here’s a picture of the two great aunts I’ll be on my friend’s blog talking about in October. Lit is the one in the seat and Hoovey (another one with a nickname as her real name was Louise) is the one on the arm of the chair. Image-1 (2)

 

Tourists at Home

Recently, while my mum was staying with us (she lives a couple of hours away on the coast), we decided to spend the day in the nearby Georgian city of Bath. The weather was absolutely glorious, so instead of focusing on shopping as we usually do, we decided to act as tourists for the day and take in some of Bath’s major attractions.

20180611_130351First we visited Bath Abbey. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked past the Abbey and enjoyed various concerts inside it, but acting the tourist I discovered that it’s one of the most visited places in the south west of England, and one of the largest examples of perpendicular Gothic architecture in the country. It was founded in the 7th Century and rebuilt in the 12th and 16th Century, and has been a place of pilgrimage for hundreds of years. In 973, the first king of England, King Edgar, was crowned here, and the service set the precedent for the coronation of all future Kings and Queens of England.

After admiring the Abbey, we decided to treat ourselves to 20180611_124624morning coffee and a Bath bun at the Pump Rooms just across the grounds. Built in 1706, the Pump Rooms form part of the Roman Baths, and still retains some of the original Georgian features. While dining, visitors are treated to music provided by an excellent pianist, and there’s the opportunity to ‘take the waters’ of the hot springs still poured via the original marble vase, now over 200 years old. The waters are said to have curative powers. (sidenote: it tastes foul). 20180611_114031

The Pump Rooms were very fashionable amongst 18th Century high society.  Jane Austen mentioned it in some of her novels “Every creature in Bath was to be seen in the room at different periods of the fashionable hours”, and it provided inspiration for other notable authors, namely Mary Shelley, who wrote Frankenstein while staying nearby.

As we wandered around the city, my mum was fascinated by the living statue street performers. But on such a hot day she was very concerned that they were out so long in the sun without a  break. Knowing my mum’s caring nature, I had the impression that at any moment we would be heading along to the nearest supermarket to order a supply of water for distribution amongst Bath’s outdoor performing artists! 🙂20180611_130335

We thoroughly enjoyed our day as tourists, but we did manage to get some shopping done, too. Why change the habit of a lifetime?

Smarty Pants

20180619_090513Smarty Pants … the new nickname AJ awarded Ms. Vivvy after she passed her Kennel Club Good Citizen’s Gold Award last week. She is incredibly pleased with herself, and I swear she knows that she’s done something of note, LOL.

It was quite a gruelling assessment (if not for the dogs, it was for the owners – phew!). We started at 10am and completed at around 11.45am. The tasks included: walking to heel along a busy road and not getting distracted by cars, people, noise and other dogs; A free run on the field where they had to come to an emergency stop when told (Vivvy was brilliant, and stopped immediately even when a swift decided to swoop down across her eye line at precisely the moment I shouted ‘stop’); and to retrieve a toy and bring it back to the owner. It also included being handled by someone unknown to the dog, leaving a bowl of food until given permission (which she’s been trained to do since puppyhood), and weaving in an out of bollards while staying close to heel.

There was also a two minute stay, thirty seconds of which required the owners to go out of sight of their dogs – something we’ve been working on for a while with little success, because usually as soon as I go out of sight she comes to find me, LOL. But bless her, she didn’t move an inch on the day.

Bronze Assessment Nov 15So, our golden girl now has the hat-trick: Bronze, Silver and Gold. We’re very proud of her.20160726_175911

Where to now? Well, we’ve been thinking about applying for her to become a P.A.T dog (Pets as Therapy). When my late aunt was in a care home, we took Vivvy and she was absolutely amazing. Lots of the residents wanted to make a fuss of her and she absolutely loved it. She was very calm and it was lovely watching her bring a smile to people’s faces. There is also the opportunity to work with children who have problems reading. It’s been discovered that when children read to dogs their confidence and reading ability greatly improves. So there’s much to think about and many options open to explore.

Whatever she does next, we know she’ll be a little star. We couldn’t be more proud of our Golden Girl.

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Taking a well earned rest!

Of April Rain, Cold, Audits and Lemons

Jillian here. April thus far has been interesting here in the panhandle of Florida. It’s been abnormally cold. We always get a lot of rain in the merry month of April (yeah, I know the poem says May) but this year, it’s different as it’s not a warm rain. The days are not sunny and lovely (not many anyway); rather, they are cold and overcast. It’s been in the 40s Fahrenheit at night and we even had a fire in the fireplace yesterday as it never got much over 45 all day with the overcast skies. My son was shocked when he saw I’d made a fire. He said, “It’s April, Mom.” My response, “And I’m cold.”

We had torrential rain already on several days and Saturday, the 7th was especially heinous. Hobbes wouldn’t even get out of the bed. Poor thing.

I have a position I have to be audited in every four years. It’s never a bad thing but it is stressful to have someone going through your records and giving you a grade on how you’re doing. That was last week, so I am in the clear for four more years. I collapsed when it was over on Friday and didn’t do much all weekend. I watched my beloved Liverpool play on Saturday (Had to get up at 6:30 am for that) and read a book by Christopher Fowler. He’s such a great story teller. This was a book from the year 2000 called Calabash.

Today, I went to lunch at Sonny’s BBQ and ordered iced tea. The waitress asked if I wanted lemons. I said no.  She not only ignored that, she brought not one, but two glasses of tea with three lemon slices each. When I was ready to leave, she brought me another in a takeaway cup with three more slices of lemon.  I didn’t have the heart to tell her I didn’t want all that so I left them in the drink. I think that qualifies for my good deed of the day, doesn’t it?

Stay warm, my friends! IMG_4356 (2)

Rain, Rain, Go Away…

At last April is here. Spring! Except here, spring is rather slow to get going, thanks to all the rain and wind and snow. Even this past weekend, Easter (I hope you all had an enjoyable one), parts of the UK experienced a white Easter, though not for the first time. Here where I am in the West Country, we didn’t have snow but it rained like it was never going to stop. Which means… what I had hoped to enthral you all with on this post hasn’t happened.

Yes, I’m talking about the garden revamp. It has been such a horrible winter, far too cold and wet for either of us to do anything out there apart from pruning my buddleia and a fuchsia and pottering in the new greenhouse bringing on new seedlings and plug plants. The ground is so sodden and heavy it’s going to take a lot of drying out before we can even contemplate putting a fork or spade in. So far this spring we only been able to enjoy a morning cup of coffee out there once. Usually by now I’m out there every morning having my early morning cuppa. Thus, apart from cursing the weather, it’s been a month of more planning and ideas and thoughts as to what we intend to do both outside and indoors. We keep putting off the dreaded downstairs makeover, at least until such time as the garden is good and the central heating can be switched off.

Last week saw my mother’s 92nd birthday, so a jolly family get together to celebrate ensued, with my brother coming over from Spain for a few days’. It was a small gathering this year, just Mum, us for children and husbands. It’s so good for us all to be together sharing a lot of laughs and memories along with the chocolate birthday cake. I do wish we could get together more often.

I do want to share with you is the latest update on my great nephew, little George, only he’s not so little any more. Following major hip surgery two years ago, you may recall he needed further intervention late last year as bone on one side of his hip/leg hadn’t fused properly, causing him pain and a reluctance to walk or do his exercises. I’m pleased to report the second surgery went far better than expected. All the metal inserted on the right-hand side has been removed and a small plate inserted on the left side to encourage the last bit to mend. Now there’s no stopping him. He asks to walk himself most of the time, using his walker instead of the wheelchair, becoming more and more independent, although he’ll never be totally and will always need the walker. And he’s just as mischievous and cheeky as ever!

Later this month he’s off to Florida, one of eight lucky children, for a 2-week vacation to Disney World thanks to a local charity that has been doing this sort of thing for disabled youngsters for 25 years. He is going to have one amazing trip.

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