Sunday, 31 January 2010

Memorable Moments with a Toddler

I was reading through the post of another blogger who was sharing how having put her young toddler to bed he had got up and sprinkled baby powder over the whole room. From my perspective I can see both sides here, the child having a great time making such a mess and the Mother frantic about clearing up and the health implications for the child.

It took me back to some memorable and scary moments when my son was a toddler. He always woke early and liked to start his day before we did. Added to that he always wanted to know how things worked. I'll stick with 5 of his memorable episodes here.

1. Hearing him awake I went in to investigate and found his face smeared with a red syrup. He had drunk a bottle of cough mixture. Now this cough mixture was on a high shelf above his cot. Somehow he had managed to climb up and knock it down. The rest of the day was spent in casualty having his stomach pumped out before spending some time in the poisons unit. It is hard to explain the guilt one feels as a Mother when something like this happens. If only, if only, if only! A hard way to learn a lesson. When it was time for discharge the following day we knew he was better as the nurses were glad to see him go. He had been turning the winding gear that altered the position of some of the patients beds.

2. The second episode found us responding to a call "I have swallowed a key"! It took us a while to realise that this key was a Wing nut that he had unscrewed from the side of the cot. (Don't think cots are made like this anymore!) Another trip to casualty for X-rays followed by a long wait watching for the appearance of the Wing nut once more.

3. Once he moved from cot to bed and was much more ambulant and was able to go downstairs alone we were in for some more fun! Arriving in the kitchen one morning my dear son was sitting on the floor in a pool of one dozen broken eggs, with the fridge door open happily smearing the yolks around and making them 'pop'!

4. On a visit to town one day when in a large department store we endured an embarrassing time when darling son went to investigate the mannequins in the open fronted windows. He was wanting to see if they were real or not. However in his enthusiasm he knocked the first model over and if you have ever seen a stack of dominoes fall then you get the picture. Of course today these windows are completely closed in and locked.

5. We had taken the children to the Pantomime and at the end he wanted to see where all the characters had gone. We were close to the front and before we had even had time to react he ran on to the stage and slipped under the heavy fire curtain just as it was coming down.

I must add that he was never a naughty or rebellious child but extremely bright and curious. However he did give his Mum some hairy moments to remember.

What memorable and scary moments have other bloggers had to endure, do tell?

Thursday, 28 January 2010

More of 1965 Garden and Happenings Today

I came across some more photos of the Dahlias we planted in our first garden in 1965. The others you will see in the previous post. Some bloggers had asked how we managed to grow them so well. I remember that they were quite hard work in that they had to be dug up every year and the tubers stored in 'flowers of sulphur' in the dark over the winter.

We grew many more flowers in that early garden and I used to bring them indoors and display them around the house.

This week we have been spending money. I had two new sofas delivered on Tuesday for my front sitting room. The existing ones were 20 years old and beginning to show their age. It has taken us well over a year to decide which to buy. I wanted small ones with firm cushions and plain, not ornamental sides. We found the stores were full of really large sofas and most of them very squashy with very wide arms. I also needed to have something that would fit in with the existing decor as we are not planning on changing that.

Do you like my cat by the way. He is called Jelly Cat. Alan bought this for me some years ago. Certainly not quite the same as the two gorgious Siamese cats we once had but cuddly all the same!

We also bought a new vacuum cleaner. I am so thrilled with this one. It is so tiny and light I can hardly believe it (when using it one pulls out the telescopic handle). My last one was 1700 watts and was so heavy I could hardly carry it upstairs. This one is 750 watts and it does a far better job than the last. I got it on a special promotion saving nearly 100 pounds and a voucher to send for a free set of quite a number of extras.

Lastly, I found this S*ilver C*ross Dolls Pram in a charity shop. I looks like the real thing and cost me £4.99p. I shall put it away until Bekah is old enough to use it.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Gardening in 1965 and Stonehenge in 1976

I walked to the bottom of my garden today - the first time since mid-December. With snow and ice and some flooding from the rain it did not entice me out there at all. I made a mental note of all the pruning and weeding and tidying that will need doing in February and March and then decided to cut back the tops of the frost damaged roses. In the cold wet weather the buds just rot and don't look nice at all.

I came indoors and my thoughts drifted back to my very first garden in 1965. When we purchased our first house there was just a lawn and 2 apple trees so we set about producing some colour with flowers. In those days Alan had a passion for Dahlias so he did his bit and I raised seeds and planted around them. I was none too keen on the Dahlias as I do not like Earwigs but they did create a good show with many measuring 12 inches across. They can be seen here slightly faded as the photos have been scanned from transparencies.

Whilst thinking of old photographs I thought I would include these 2 of Stonehenge in 1976. The interesting thing here is that at that time one could just park the car and walk around the site, sitting and touching, picknicking or whatever. Not like today where everything is fenced off and one can only look from a distance as well as paying an entrance fee and driving into an enormous car park. One of the downsides of mass tourism.

My children can be seen here with Jane 'holding up the pillar!'

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Shapes and Shadows in June

I drive past this church fairly often and one sunny day last June decided to stop and take some pictures. Just felt right in the midst of the dark days of winter to revisit here. We are visiting St. Paul's (Bentley) Anglican church situated just at the back of Pilgrims Hall.

I was particularly taken with the shadows today

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Say No to Snow and Yes to Tea

Picture courtesy of the Daily Mail
including information taken(in my own words) from an article by
Tony Rennell in same newspaper
In the fourth week of snow and ice and sub-zero temperatures my thoughts turn to the pleasing and warming effect of a cup of tea. Also reminding myself that in hot weather hot tea is the most thirst quenching drink I know and cooling to the body too.
Tea is something I grew up taking for granted, but not so since I have learned a little of the history of how tea was first brought to England. It would be far too much information to relate here but thought I would try and give a few snippets.
Apparently in the UK alone we drink 150 million cups or mugs of the liquid a day. We have a Scotsman called Robert Fortune to thank for this. Fortune was a seeker of the exotic, an explorer and student of plants just like his Victorian contemporary and fellow botanist Charles Darwin. As Darwin went on to try and discover the key to life (it is not my intention here to challenge that fact) we can thank Fortune for bringing us this pleasurable and relaxing nectar.
Camellia sinensis, tea, was his favourite species and the closely guarded secrets of its origins where what he sought, found and then stole eventually benefiting us all (well that is as long as one likes tea!)
According to Sarah Rose in her new book he pulled off the greatest theft of trade secrets in the history of mankind. At this time all tea was grown in China, its sole country of origin, which had a monopoly on the trade. Apparently for two centuries this was not an issue. The Chinese picked the tea, roasted it, blended it, kept the best of the crop for themselves and sold on the dregs of their Pekoes and Souchongs at a handsome markup. The British lapped it up even though it was at this time an inferior brew that they were getting.
To supply the demand the London based East India Company exchanged the Opium grown on its plantations in India with tea from China. This began to fail when China began to grow its own Opium. The British response was to begin trying to grow its own tea in India, in the foothills of the Himalayas, which resembled the tea growing areas in China. However this was much more difficult than expected as for centuries the Chinese had zealously guarded their secrets of its cultivation. Early attempts to grow tea in India were a disaster. The directors of the East India Company knew they had to get someone into the heart of the tea growing areas in China to learn the secrets and to get hold of the right seeds.
They contacted Fortune and sent him to China travelling in disguise.He was already acquainted with China having been over there for a Royal Horticultural Society Expedition where he returned with various flowers that are still to this day adorning flower beds here.
On his return journey he shaved his head, wore a pigtail and Mandarin clothes and managed to pass himself off as a Chinaman. He even sipped tea the Chinese way from a porcelain bowl without milk and sugar and called himself Sing-Wa. He eventually managed to get himself deep into tea growing country. The first important fact he discovered was that Green tea and Black tea were the same plant but differently processed, one fermented the other not. He also found that the Green tea intended for Britain had a dye added (a form of Cyanide) as the Chinese thought the British wanted a much deeper colour so people were in effect being poisoned.
When he eventually managed to acquire all the plants he needed he had them meticulously shipped to India but on the journey an official broke the seals to take a look and they ended up going rotten. Fortunatley Fortune was continuing with his exploits in China and began an even more arduous journey that was frought with dangers. The area was beset with Warlords and peasant uprisings against the Emperor. However he did not give up. It was in one of the local temples that the Monks introduced him to more tea secrets. The importance of water on the boil but not over-boiling, and using pre-warmed cups and larger leaves for better flavour.
Finally he brought all his years of gardening experience to bear on the shipping of the seeds to India. He also brought away Jasmine and Bergamot plants (which the Chinese used for flavouring), as well as ovens, woks and spatulas and special rolling tables and began a small tea industry in India.
According to Sarah Rose, India's Himalayan tea industry would outstrip China's in both quality, volume and price. As a result tea was no longer just a drink for the rich.
If you want to read the complete and fascinating history behind these few lines then the book to read is:
FOR ALL THE TEA IN CHINA: Espionage, Empire and the Secret Formula for the World's Favourite Drink by Sarah Rose.
In closing just a few hints on making a perfect cup of tea, first taught to me by my Grandmother.
The water should be freshly drawn each time (to do with oxygen) and the kettle must be properly boiling. Warm the teapot beforehand and use a good loose tea (I use Assam) one teaspoon per person. I was always taught to put the milk in first and not too much. Sugar is added to taste at the end.
For your information, Black tea which is Britain's favourite brew, gets it's flavour and colour from a natural oxidation process following the initial drying and rolling of the leaves. Green tea is made from leaves which are heated after picking to destroy the enzymes that cause oxidation, then rolled to release their flavour.
Oolong comes from China and Taiwan, and is a cross between Green and Black and gives a taste somewhere between the two.
White tea is the world's rarest. It is made from the buds and young leaves of a special tea plant variety grown in the Fujian province of China and can only be picked for just a few weeks of the year. Reported to be much better for one than Green tea. (I don't know, I have never tasted it)

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Behind My Life

I do not make New Year resolutions but felt it wise to remind myself of this poem and share it here with you.

Behind my life, the Weaver stands
And works His wonderous Will.
I leave it in His all-wise hand
And trust His perfect skill.

Should mystery enshroud His plan
And my short sight be dim,
I will not try the whole to scan,
But leave each thread with Him.

Not till the loom is silent,
And the shuttles cease to fly,
Shall God unfold the pattern
And explain the reason why.

The dark threads were as needful
In the Master's skillful hand,
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern which He planned.

Author Unknown

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

The Snow Today

We are in our third week of severe weather with more on the way and no end in sight at the moment. Numerous airports closed, others with cancelled flights, difficult travel with many standed on the A3 road to the coast over night after a large truck knife jacked blocking the road.

Thats the downside of this cold spell caused by a front from the Arctic blocking the milder weather from the Atlantic. The upside is that it is extremely pretty and picturesque for those of us who are able to go out and enjoy it. So if you would like to enjoy it with me then we begin with a few scenes from the garden beginning with the above showing the birds enjoying it too.

We have left the house and are making our way to the park virtually at the top of the road.

We have turned left and now do a right into the park just to the right here.

This field used to be a minature golf course where we spent many summer evenings in years gone by. Now it is a wild flower meadow.

We now have a couple more fields to walk around (I like to walk the perimeter)

How well these newly planted Dogwood, in the formal area, contrast with the snow.

Back home and it is snowing again

And still snowing as darkness falls (3.50 pm) although you cannot see it here

Friday, 1 January 2010

Praying in 2010

Ring Out, Wild Bells

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light;
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
For those that here we see no more,
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes,
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease,
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson

This poem written by Tennyson so long ago is still appropriate for today, my reason for posting it here.

So Happy New Year to all who visit as we look ahead into 2010

Sitting here at my desk this first morning of the new year I am overwhelmed at the goodness of God through yet another year. I am particularly thankful for the opportunity afforded me to see the new year in, in the way that we do.

We began at 7.0 pm meeting next door with about 30 neighbours who are part of our house church set up. We ate a delicious meal together - either chicken or salmon served with a six vegetable cheese topped crumble,roasted tomatoes and new potatoes, followed by a delicious mix of deserts.

This was followed by a mixture of silly party games. We were divided into teams and given a roll of Christmas wrapping paper, a few decorations and a roll of cellotape with which to make something resembling a Christmas tree! The one seen here was the most elaborate but they did not win as they 'stole' other bits and pieces from around the house to enhance their ensemble. Very good effort though.

Here we see the winner!

Our team did not do well with our tree - our roll of cellotape did not work - you know the type, you just cannot find the end! However we did manage to make a tripod stand with the cardboard inside the roll of paper.
As we moved later into the evening with games over, we moved into a time of waiting on God for new revelation for the new year before a time of praise, worship and prayer. We were so taken up with exhalting our Saviour we were totally unaware that we had moved into 2010 until about 12.10 am. After a time of hugging and greeting each other it was time to go home.
For me the end of a blessed time was to momentarily revisit the old year by phoning my dear blogging friend Sara in California.