Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Sum interesting Facts and Figures

For Julie's Month in Numbers, I am stepping back in time. During the month of February, my blog has had a family history feel about it due mostly to this anniversary. While sifting through some family boxes looking for photographs for that blog post, I found a collection of old coins that fascinated my grandchildren.  

click on image to enlarge

In a recent post here, Alexa shared a gorgeous layout and offered the hexagon shape as a free download. It was an opportunity too good to miss. I love hexagons and I had been thinking for some time how I could use the chalkboard paper collection from Kitchy Digitals. Then it hit me that they were both perfect for this project. An added bonus is that Julie has been running a Month of Sunrays on her blog during February and, although I haven't been participating, I thought it a good idea to offer up this splash of yellow before the month runs out.

I haven't blogged as much as I had intended this month. A variety of illnesses struck most of the family for the past couple of weeks. My elder daughter broke her little toe. Her foot was blacker than the blackboard above. Both grandchildren have terrible coughs and have been off school and away from nursery. One of my son-in-law's also has the bug. I had a chest infection for two weeks but on a brighter note, my younger daughter is now on a steady 10 mg a day dosage of her steroids. 

Let's hope March leaps into action and clears away these winter germs. We sure could do with some spring around here!

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Makes me Smile

Don't you just love those conversations you have with a three year old? My grandson and I were at the supermarket sitting in the Coffee Shop. He was having a Babyccino, with marshmallows on the side (sh, don't tell his parents), and I was having a cup of tea. He was very chatty and had drawn quite a crowd of admiring grannies who were already hanging on his every word. He was chatting about his house and my house and how his house was a new one and my house an old one. 

I have only myself to blame for this conversation because in the car on the way to the supermarket, he had asked me why there were wires over the road. I explained to him that older properties often had overhead electric cables and newer houses sometimes had them underground. As we continued chatting over our hot drinks, I mentioned that because his house had a new address, the builders had placed the cables underground. There was a long pause and he said: 'Granny, I don't wear a dress. I am a big boy and I wear trousers'. 

I couldn't agree more.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Saturday Stitching Memories-2

Continuing on with the embroidery theme I wrote about here, during my late teens, the embroidery fell by the wayside for quite a number of years due to being introduced to a sewing machine by my grandmother. There were clothes to be made! 

I finally re-commenced hand stitching after the births of my two daughters. By then, I had discovered patchwork and would add embroidery to crazy patchwork squares. I still have a few samples of embroidered squares that I made

I would use scraps of fabric and sometimes dye my own.

Now I use embroidery in a very different fashion to those early days. It is more about creating art with the stitch.

This is a section of a piece I have stitched about our local beach.

There is something very satisfying and therapeutic about the rhythm of stitching that is difficult to describe. I do feel that being creative in any shape or form - be it through art, scrapbooking, knitting, music, poetry, or whatever - is a blessing, for it is easy to lose oneself into that medium and forget any outside pressures.

I will be back next Saturday with some more stitching memories. In the meantime, whatever your craft, enjoy it to the maximum.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, 16 February 2012


For the past couple of weeks I have had a chest infection. It hasn't been an easy time. There is my sick daughter to think about and I haven't been able to see as much of my grandchildren as I would have liked, especially as it's half term this week. 

Looking on the bright side, I have been extremely grateful for this

My daughters gave it to me at Christmas and it has given me so much pleasure. It is very light to hold, easy to read and gentle on the eyes. You can download a book immediately and while I have been, to quote an old-fashioned saying, laid up, I have appreciated this immensely. My elder daughter on giving this to me with her sister, joked that my local book store might be nervous about losing one of their best customers. I am happy to say that the Kindle will never replace the way I feel about a book; holding one in my hand, enjoying the artistry of it's cover, checking out the typography, reading it and slipping in a chosen book mark from my rather large collection. Seeing books lined up, and often spilling out (!) on the bookshelves, the Kindle cannot do that. What it does do, is supplement my reading capabilities, and what better pleasure can there be than that.

Enjoy your day and don't forget to pop back on Saturday for some more stitching memories.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

An important date

Today, being the 14 February, I want to celebrate... but not for the usual reason.

Today is the 70th Anniversary of the loss of life of my Grandfather's brother, Thomas Wilkinson, VC and all the other brave men who fought so valiantly in WWII on the 14 February 1942 on HMS Li Wo.

from the National Archives

Uncle Tom, who I wrote about here, loved the sea and adventure. Can you imagine back in the 1920's a young man setting sail for the China Seas, living his dream? I know that he did, for my mother adored him and could hardly wait as a young girl for his shore leave so that she could listen to his stories of the Far East.

This book was one of the reasons I commenced researching Uncle Tom. It was given to me by an Uncle, my mother's elder brother. On the fly cover it says: The savage, incredible truth of the most decorated small ship in the Navy

During my research, I have come across many stories and items relating to the events of that momentous day. To honour Uncle Tom's memory and his love of the sea, here is some of that memorabilia.

front and back cover
click on the images to enlarge them

I managed to purchase a copy of this comic on eBay, and also found this certified cover number 53 of 226 issued dated 14 February 1987.

Uncle Tom's former employers, Jardine Matheson, generously gave to me a copy of this book

wherein on page 146 is the following

They also sent me a copy of their in-house magazine, Thistle, that celebrates 175 Years of the Right People and Uncle Tom is mentioned as being one of the Right People.

One thing is for sure. The events of 14 February 1942 will never be forgotten. Only the other day, I received an email from Diane Snow, who I mentioned here, to say that all her research on the Li Wo (held by the Imperial War Museum in book form) now has a co-author, Nicholas Tucker. Nick is ex-RAF and has another side of the story to offer. I am so excited for her and can't wait to see the book in print. Keeping memories alive is so important to me and while there are people in the world like Diane, I know that her Uncle Billy and my Uncle Tom's story will never be forgotten. And that is something worth celebrating. 

Wishing you all a Happy St Valentine's Day and hoping you get to spend it with those you love.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Saturday Stitching Memories

When I was a young girl, my grandmother taught me how to sew, and so began a lifelong love affair with fabric and thread. I first embroidered napkins, then tray-cloths, before moving onto larger items such as tablecloths. I made lots of tray-cloths, armchair covers, and handkerchieves as gifts for relatives and friends. 

A tray cloth embroidered when I was 8 years old

My mother was a fantastic knitter, but couldn't sew on a button to save her life (her words). She was so happy when I began to stitch. In those days, every week she had a magazine called Woman's Weekly. I remember it had a very distinctive blue and pink cover and is probably my first memory of a woman's magazine. Mum collected the magazines for their knitting patterns and every so often, there would be an insertion of an iron-on embroidery pattern. These came on a sort of tissue paper onto which a pattern had been drawn in blue ink. If you used them carefully, you could get quite a few prints.

 You can still see the blue ink peeping through!

One of my favourite patterns was of bluebells and I made a tablecloth for an Aunt, placing the bluebells in each corner and linking them with leaves around the four sides. I was about 9 years old at the time and it was a labour of love that took me almost a year to embroider. But I can remember now the satisfaction I felt when it was completed; it feels like yesterday. I wish I had a photograph, but back then I didn't own a camera.

I do, however, still have one tablecloth in my possession. I think it was embroidered when I was older, around 14 or 15. The colours of the Anchor threads are just as vibrant today as they were in the late fifties. 

 This is the pattern on the four corners

 This is the pattern that joins the four corners together

It is interesting looking at these embroideries now. Would I still use those colours and placement today? Probably not! And yet, they still look fresh. The tablecloth has been used many times, the tray cloth never but they mean so much to me for my hands and heart have the memory of every stitch.

Join me again next Saturday as I will be sharing more Saturday Stitching Memories. I have Sian over on From High in the Sky to thank for suggesting that this theme may be of interest to you, dear reader. Later on in the series, I will show photographs of embroideries I have collected from around the world. In the meantime, enjoy your weekend.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Oh to be 3!

This little boy likes watching Octonauts on Granny's computer, usually on a Wednesday.

This week, Granny is missing him as she has a chest infection. Luckily, she was able to spend time with him last weekend, as this little boy turned 3. His parents organised a Pirate party in the local village hall. Here is an overview

This little boy had a wonderful time, though refused to dress up as a pirate! There was a magician, who taught the pirates and pirate girls how to spin plates and the birthday boy a few magic tricks. This little boy's Uncle and Aunt made and painted lots of artwork to decorate the room. This little boy's cousin came to the party from Wales, despite the awful weather. This little boy's friends were wonderful pirates and tucked in to a delicious tea.

This little boy's daddy made orange jelly boats and his mummy made a fabulous galleon birthday cake.

This little boy is loved so very much by his Granny. 

Back soon with more family tales. In the meantime, keep well and warm wherever you are.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Table for Two?

Early in 1997, my younger daughter and I travelled around the UK looking at Universities that she might consider for the next year. On our way home, we were passing near to Salisbury and as she had never visited Stonehenge, she asked if we might make a detour. I remember it was a cold, frosty day and somehow because of this, the stones stood sharply to attention against the eerily bleak landscape. There were not too many tourists by the time we arrived, so we were able to take in their magnificence without too much distraction.

As it was getting late and the roads were becoming icy, we decided to stay overnight in Salisbury and managed to find a room near to the Cathedral, quite a bonus. When we checked into the hotel, we were asked if we wanted to dine in the hotel as they were rather busy that evening. We had a table booked for 7:30 pm and having an hour or so to spare, decided to look around the Cathedral. By chance, it was Evensong and the cloisters rang out to the sound of the choir's uplifting voices as we approached. We were spell-bound.

Back at the hotel, we went down for dinner and as we approached the dining room we saw that the lights were dimmed, everything looked very pink, and there was soft music playing. About twenty sets of eyes swivelled round to stare at us in the candlelight. The room was full of lovey, dovey couples. As we had been travelling around, we had completely lost track of the date: it was Valentine's Day! We made a hasty retreat and, convulsed with laughter, had room service bring up our supper. Remembering how we were very nearly the 'Odd Couple' still brings a smile to our faces.

This story has been brought to you via Sian's Storytelling Sunday. If you love a good story, may I suggest you head on over here for some jolly good reads.

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, 3 February 2012

Leap Year!

February already. Must be time for a new banner and time to reflect on love. It is a leap year after all. How will you be spending the bonus day at the end of the month?  Time also to remember all you folk who only get to celebrate your birthdays every four years on the actual day. But I digress... 

I am most fortunate to have the photographs I have used for this month's banner. They show Parents, Grandparents and Great Grandparents. What's truly amazing, is being able to show my grandchildren a photograph of someone who is their Great Great Grandparent, and that only came about because of someone's kindness in sharing it with me. More about this on another day.

Here are the Grandparents on their 44th wedding anniversary in 1952 

During the month of February, I hope to re-visit this family theme and our ancestors. As someone mentioned to me recently, We are nothing but for them.

Happy leap year month.