drEAming, random thoughts

drEAming…we shall remember

Most of the men in our family came back from the war but my granddad’s elder brother William Henry was not so lucky he died in the First World war at the battle of the Somme.  He joined up as a volunteer into the West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales own) and was sent to the front in France with many other young lads.  The battle of the Somme began on the 1st July 1916 and went on until 18th November of the same year.  By the end of the first day almost 20,000 young men had lost their lives after being mowed down by a barrage of machine gun and rifle fire.  Such a huge loss of life.

William was killed on the 10th day of the battle, only twelve days after his 20th birthday.  My granddad always kept a picture of William in full uniform on the wall above the fireplace – pride of place – and he would fix a fresh poppy to the frame every November like a sprig of holly at Christmas.  I wear my poppy in remembrance of William and on behalf of his mother Flo (my great gran) and his brother Ernest (my granddad) who are no longer here to put a poppy on his picture.

William Henry had a short life and a hard life.  He was born in 1896 and his younger brother, my granddad Ernest, followed nine years later in February 1905.  It is only recently through researching our family history that my brother discovered by accident that by the October of 1905 the family were seeking refuge in the local Workhouse in Sheffield.  We are not sure if it was having a second mouth to feed that led my great grandma and granddad and their two children into such extreme poverty and despair to the extent that they needed the help of the workhouse to avoid starvation.  By this date both my great grandma’s parents had died so she could not call on them for help and we do not know much about my great granddad and his family only that he died in 1926 at the age of 53.

The workhouse records only log their date of entry but obviously they got over their difficulties at some point but no one in our family ever mentioned the ordeal.

Intrigued by this discovery I wanted to know more about the conditions in the workhouse and so I did some research of my own and came across an account of a visit to the same Sheffield workhouse in 1896 by a professor of Surgery at Sheffield University when he was investigating the workhouse system.  They admitted casual paupers (as they were called) at the rate of a dozen a day – some came and went as they needed help.  The men were expected to break stones and pick oakum apart and the women had to do nine hours work washing, scrubbing and needlework.  I have the impression that even married couples did not lodge together unless they were over 60 and children were also separated from their parents and only allowed a Sunday visit.

My great gran was a wonderful person everyone loved her – she led a very contented life looking after the family and must have been devastated to end up in the workhouse and not be able to provide for her family as she would like.  I never knew my great granddad – he died a few days after my mum was born and my great gran went to live with her daughter (my grandma) and my granddad until she died at the ripe old age of 98.  Maybe the short time in the workhouse gave her the strength of character to survive to such an old age.

Thank goodness though that the workhouse is a thing of the past – it is hard to believe that members of my own family had to endure such hardship and how we perhaps do not appreciate everything we have today and more!

In memory of you William and my great gran Flo. xx

 

 

 

 

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drEAming, mEAndering, out and about, random thoughts

autumn journeys…

Fond memories of times past.

On our way to Edinburgh last weekend we took a detour off the A702 to visit the pretty historic conservation village of West Linton.  Fifteen miles outside Edinburgh and at the foothills of the Pentland Hills this tiny village, steeped in history, with evidence of pre-historic occupation is one of the oldest market settlements in Scotland.

In 1974, a mere twenty years of age and studying Fashion and Textiles at Cheltenham Art college I stayed here for a weeks holiday with my then to be husband (with his long curly hair) in this tiny caravan that we had hired.  The same caravan site we found is now a housing estate!

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To say all the other vans on the site were larger than this is no lie – we booked the caravan through an advert in the local Cheltenham paper and had no idea what we were letting ourselves in for other than it was affordable for two ‘impoverished’ students.  On arrival at the site we wandered around every caravan looking for the right number and kept disregarding this one until after eliminating all the others it finally dawned on us that yes this tiny 2 berth was our home for the week!!

We had no transport of our own as we had been ‘dropped off’ by my parents who were on their way to Pitlochry for a holiday in their own touring caravan.   To get anywhere we had to rely on the local bus service going either north to Edinburgh or south to the little town of Biggar.

Each morning we would walk into the village of West Linton and wander round taking in the history and scenery and always ending with a coffee in the Old Bakehouse where the waitresses all dressed in long Victorian styled Laura Ashley print dresses complete with white mop caps and aprons.

 

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It is now a Bistro and looking more like a pub inside than a tea room.

We could still recognise most of the shops – the post office, the chemist and especially the newsagent where we bought a jigsaw to do during the evenings and had to sleep on top of it when we made the bed up at night as there was no other table top.

 

 

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We remembered the quaint cottages and unusual street names…

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the intricate wall plaques and historic artefacts dotted around…

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and the curious central clock tower…

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We had a pleasant walk around reminiscing about those few wonderful days – going back after so many years  was quite emotional.

Before we left we had a final look at this little building in the square, today it is used as the Village Centre – but back then it was a registry office for births, deaths and marriages.

 

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This tiny building evoked such strong memories for us tinged slightly with sadness of what might have been.  We were young, in love, and like many, full of hopes and dreams for our future and each day as we walked past we were so tempted to go and get married – just the two of us with no fuss.  The only thing that stopped us in the end was the fact that my mum would never have forgiven us!

This is the same building in 1974 with me stood in the doorway.

West Linton 1974

We finally married in 1976 during the July heat wave a church wedding with sit down reception of ham salad and trifle for 60 guests with disco afterwards.  We had the full works – wedding dress and veil, bridesmaids, cake and all the trimmings (which pleased my mum) and although so far it has been happy ever after we do wonder what course our lives would have taken had we married in West Linton.

drEAming, random thoughts, rEArranging

simplifying and the art of ritual…

 

I realised today that I have taken on too many commitments for the end of the week and I am going to have to try to rearrange some for another day.  We are out tomorrow night with friends, then having some friends around for supper on Saturday and at the moment I am scheduled to go out on Friday afternoon for my birthday treat –  afternoon tea with my friend and neighbour.

 

I am sure I will struggle to get the house prepared and will be running short of time.  I desperately need to have my hair cut and I had wanted to treat myself to a massage.  Added to which every time I look out of the window – any window I see many jobs to do in the garden.

 

I mention the above as I am now reading Chapter 2 entitled ‘In praise of minimalism’ from the book I mentioned ‘L’art de la Simplicite’

subtitle – Time: waste less, make the most of more.

In this chapter it talks about simplifying your life and embracing every moment including time to do nothing.  If I had time to do nothing I would have heaps of time to get everything done…wouldn’t I?

 

Simplify your domestic tasks and find time to develop your creativity, pamper your body and sharpen your mental faculties.

This is most definitely one of my goals – how to achieve this is perhaps the one big question in my life.

 

I do love domesticity even the tasks some people may think of as mundane – washing dishes, ironing clothes and putting everything back in place neat and orderly.  To do this with everything though I find difficult and tasks start to pile up over the week.

 

Reading on the book talks about repetitive, everyday tasks and developing simple actions as rituals.  I must confess I have never thought about eating or cleaning as a ritual but it has caught my attention.  Rituals, it says, can bring comfort – they should be a source of extreme satisfaction.  She then suggests some rituals such as the ‘writing ritual’, the ‘bath ritual’, the ‘shopping ritual’, and the ‘flower ritual’.

 

She suggests you think about your own personal rituals and what they bring to your life.

 

I was surprised to find I have quite a few rituals already-

The morning ritual

A morning ritual of showering and getting ready for work but not on my days off.  (Just to clarify on this – I do shower but I may have pottered around the house for an hour in my dressing gown beforehand!).  On my working days it means I am ready to start the day at a reasonable hour and could answer the door to anyone from 8am onwards not looking too scary!  Not so on my days off.

The going to bed ritual

I have a ritual for going to bed – I will always remove the dirt and grime of the day from my face with a cleanser then use washing cream to freshen my skin and put on plenty of night cream – I need it –  but I never make it to bed at the same time each night.

The breakfast ritual

I have a ritual for breakfast – I usually eat the same food – Yoghurt, sometimes with fruit followed by muesli and soya milk – I am not sure this is a great ritual and would like to vary my diet more. It is however a breakfast that keeps me going all morning if I do not get a break.

The pedicure ritual

I pamper my feet at least once a week with a soak, a bit of a massage with oils, plenty of creams and potions and a pedicure although I never get as far as painting my nails.  I have ugly feet so try to make them look better by treating them well.  So I think I can include this as a ritual and one that actually helps me to feel better about my feet – they are probably the softest most cared for part of my body!!

The shopping ritual

I have a shopping ritual but it hardly ever occurs on the same day.  I like going round to Sainsbury’s one night after work and sitting for 10 minutes in their café having my hot chocolate treat before having a wander round the clothes, the housewares, the magazines and even the plants.  Then I will go hunting for grocery bargains and lastly choosing from all the fresh veg.  The downside of this ritual is the temptation!

 

The writing ritual

The book mentions writing as a ritual – I did write a lot more in my journal but since I have been blogging I find this is infrequent now and this is a shame as rereading my journals reminds me of my life’s journey and all those little things I might have forgotten if I had not written them down.

The coffee and a chat ritual

I also have a ritual of popping round to my neighbour’s house on a Friday afternoon to share our weekly news and have a cuppa – lovely.

The fallen spiritual ritual

I used to have a ritual of going to church – latterly the Quakers but I rarely go now.  Of all the things I would like to do going back to the Quakers would be way up the list.

 

It is apparent now I have catalogued my rituals – well the ones I can think of tonight – that I need to look at doing them more regularly in some cases and fine tuning them a little more in others so that they are what a ritual should really be – a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order – and where I can take simple pleasure from these tasks.

There are other rituals I would like to develop – perhaps buying flowers every week for the house – maybe even growing cutting flowers, reading a book, sketching or painting daily, taking a daily photograph, crafting …I could go on but I have to be realistic.  This exercise has shown me I can perhaps fit in a few more rituals to my daily life if like the book suggests I manage to simplify my domestic tasks to allow time for creative ones.

Do you have rituals in your life?

cleaning, decluttering, drEAming, nEAtening, organising, random thoughts, rEArranging, simplifying

simply reading and planning and doing…

What a shock to the system being back at work this week and how tired I have been each night  – far too tired to blog.  The good news though is that my working Thursday is now a thing of the past – I will be doing Monday to Wednesday at work and Thursday to Sunday at home – a much better balance in my opinion. I couldn’t wait to get started.

It was quite a long holiday break that we had this year well over 2 weeks and it is surprising how difficult it has been to pick up my routine now we are home – I say that like I have one – I do for the most part!

Now I need to develop a new routine to take me forwards so I have been thinking that Thursday will be my official cleaning day.  That does sound like I don’t ever clean on the other days of the week and sometimes this might be correct on a busy week but I usually manage bits and pieces of tidying rather than cleaning as well as the basic chores of washing up and making beds.  After a few days sitting in the office at the computer I find it is quite nice to do something active and domestic so cleaning will fit in well.

Over our holidays I have been doing a lot of reading – you know the kind of book that is titled –  ‘help I need to get my life and home sorted out and in balance’.  I have a stack of books on the subject by my bed – some from the library and others from my book shelf for a reread or on my Audio books to listen to while I dust.  I am especially into a little book I discovered in the library called ‘L’art de la Simplicite – How to live more with less by Dominique Loreau,  it can seem a bit repetitive in places but I am liking the approach to ‘simplism’.

I apologise in advance for the poor photo quality I was dog tired when taking these pics last night.  I think Thursday may be the designated cleaning day but Friday is going to be the designated recovery day.

The areas I am looking to improve are housekeeping or house management (if you want to encompass the whole of running a house and its upkeep), health, finances and fitness.  I am looking for ways to make each category simple and less time-consuming to deal with.

From my reading there is a common thread running through the advise and that is to have less stuff to deal with – back to the decluttering then.  The other common thread is routine and habit – even in the area of fitness choosing just 2 exercises to do daily is better than nothing and gets a routine and discipline going.  I decided this is just the approach I need together with my leaning towards the Lean and 5S  that I have spoken about here before.

 

To get stuck in on my first designated cleaning day I decided that I would perhaps fall in line with the fly lady zone but when I went on her website it was the living room this week and I felt our main bedroom needed a good going over more urgently and decided on this instead.

I emptied each of the drawers and the wardrobe – cleaned everything down and had a bit of a declutter and I found a few items that I hadn’t used since the last clear out so decided they were for the charity pile.

Everything looks neater and fresher and a bit of a sparkle now.

I have been using Neal’s Yard frankincense Intense face cream and serum since Christmas (a bit pricey but worth it and goes a long way) – this was part of my Secret Santa gift and I am well impressed – I can feel the serum working straight away and it glides over my skin easily.  I think the texture has improved all though the blemishes and freckles I accept will never go away.  The sun damage to my fair skin was probably done much earlier in my childhood when the effects of the sun were not as well understood.  Anyway back to the story – I picked out everything I am using each day in creams and lotions and potions and any leftovers of stuff I will not be repurchasing are to go in the use up box.  If unused and unopened they will go to charity.

So in my drawers now I only have what I like and use.  It is very liberating to do this and I aim to do the same throughout the house – no more hanging on to things just in case – not even the free sachets.

Sorting the current selection of clothes in the wardrobe was harder as I confess I found 3 items I have bought recently and not yet worn and shock horror still have tags on – I think too late to return though.  It isn’t that I don’t like them but I am thinking if I haven’t managed a day to wear them yet after 6 weeks perhaps they are not exactly my favourites.

One of the tops in particular was a bit of a mad buy as it reminded me of my Art college days – a summer weekend at Reading Festival sleeping out under the stars listening to Genesis dressed in flowing embroidered cheesecloth with my long tousled ginger hair and probably no suncream in sight but not a care in the world other than how to get through the mud to the washroom!  The top I bought in Sainsbury’s 25% off week is a fine cheesecloth like cotton, gypsy style with embroidered panel and probably represented this memory – I have put it on 3 times now to go out in it and then changed at the last moment – I am no longer this free-flowing gypsy person!  I think it is going to be a charity gift.

Of course I have only been able to do my own clothes and so I just arranged OH’s ties neatly on the rack fixed to the inside of the wardrobe door knowing that a lot of them will not be worn again but at least they look ‘organised’ until I can get OH to look through them.

I will have to revisit the wardrobe again but I have given those ‘I’m a bit unsure’ items a final chance to be worn – if not they will go out at the end of the summer.  I sometimes find that there is a reason for not wearing something apart from it feeling tighter and if something does not feel quite right then I am not happy wearing it.

By the time I had done all the sorting I only managed to vacuum the walls, the carpet and the surfaces and didn’t get to move the furniture out – that will have to be another time.

Of course because I will not be working Thursday the figure on my monthly pay slip will be much reduced from now on and I shall have to economise further to take into account this drop in income.  Our fridge at the moment is virtually empty – this is good as it means we have manage to eat up everything we bought for the week.  I am sure I could scrape a couple of meals together from the store cupboard and freezer but there would be little fresh veg – home-grown courgettes, carrots and frozen peas are left over and I have a tin of sweetcorn and maybe an egg or two – perhaps Fritters!

Just off to plan my other days off now – have a good weekend.