Monday, 26 April 2010

The perfume patch, Philippa and Premiership

Oh heck! Someone is reading my blog! A. in Oz has just emailed me to say she is going to order the Julia Darling book (which is about ONE family's life- not generally about family life- in Newcastle). It is frightening to think someone is reading this. I MUST learn to put photos herein.

All the red and white England flags, including mine ,are down; it is folded and installed back in top shelf of the wardrobe till next April 23rd; however I might dig it out again for Eurovision even if our song is naff!

I have been eating out a lot- B.& C's birthday at Avanti; Aroma with friends; Bacchus, Paradiso then an excellent SSAFA concert with more friends. D3 took that opportunity to have a dinner party for friends. I am thinking thin and doing lots of walking but.......

H & I went to hear Philippa Gregory talk at Alnwick Castle- part of the Hexham Book Festival. I think she has convinced me I shouldn't bother writing; Philippa is SO intelligent, well researched and articulate- I am about to give up- particularly since my class didn't kick in any inspiration. I am reading 'Cold Mountain' now.

Hyacinths remind me of the sweet perfume lingering in the silent darkness of the corridor in the Princess Mary maternity hospital (now expensive apartments) the night I had D3; every time I have hyacinths I plant them around the edge of my rose garden (patch!!) by the patio; it is filled with 'Cheerfulness' which are drifted smiling and white to the left of my bench. Summer sun has drawn us out to lunch al fresco in a garden heady with perfume and colour. Kerria's tiny, gold pompoms (Jews'mallow) and 'Red Robin ' leaves flush the fence at the back of the western border; aubretia and 'snow on the mountain' carpet the front of the bed. I walk the bounds.......

Spring has hit the Toon big time.The grass verges are studded with dandelions; the trees are unfurling their first, limey green leaves; the Town Moor is nestling a herd of black and white cows; the city is lined with slow moving crocodiles of black and white shirts all moving to St. James' Park; lawns are sprinkled with daisies and the cricket pitch resounds to Asian 'whites' smacking leather balls on willow.

The RVI and the Sanderson Childrens' hospital are both now heaps of rubble with turquoise gumboils arising on Queen Victoria Road to replace the former.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

For England and Saint George!

2010 is passing so quickly... my Mother's Day balloons are wilting; my poinsettia(British, so hardier?) is thriving & still Christmas red but green leaves are appearing too.... I will expect you all to be in red and white on Friday April 23rd for St George's Day!! Also Shakespeare's birth and death day.

Icelandic ash is giving the election campaigns a run for their money; Hah! I kind of applaud Mother Earth who has just said to mankind (especially all those folk who use planes like taxis without considering the damage)- 'You thought you were in charge of the earth BUT- here is a reminder that I am- so look after me' Since most religions have a version of Genesis Chapter 1 wherein humanity is told to be good stewards of the earth we should all share Earth care- Thursday is Earth Day. Yes, I know if the offspring were living abroad I would have to fly once a year(ish) but otherwise H1 knows I don't fly unless I have to- and for several reasons. Also I think Britain is beautiful; each season is different and I think we should invest in this island's economy rather than elsewhere.

On Sunday H1 and I went to Greenhaugh to walk- but rain splattered so we visited Tower Knowe at Kielder watching the wealth of finches on the bird station outside the cafe; then we sat in a viewpoint above the lake & read the Sunday papers; we called in at the Holly Bush Inn & were made as welcome as last time.

D3 and I went to see a brilliant production of 'Laughter in the Rain' the story of Neil Sedaka, at Sunderland Empire; they may now get better shows than the Theatre Royal but south of the river they are a bit lacking in theatre etiquette! Surely if you have to come along the rows with plastic pints you should go to the pub not the theatre!-especially when the 'lads' dribbled on the lady in front. Folk got up in mid show to move along and out of rows. Grr! Bobbity Boo in front of me bobbed her head from side to side (not quite in time to the fantastic music) throughout the show.... and-WARNING-they charge £3.50 a ticket (not transaction) if you are buying by telephone.

I will look upon the shoe tree in Heaton Vale with a different eye now having finished 'The Taxi Driver's Daughter'. Julia Darling gives a quirky but perceptive view of family life in Newcastle upon Tyne with the inclusion of tiny but meaningful details; I shall be careful what I say to taxi drivers from now on too.

Herding Hill Farm tearoom provided us again with BEAUTIFUL cakes after a sunny 7 miles in Hadrian's Wall country.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Julia Darling

One of Iceland's volcanoes has put dust in the upper atmosphere stopping UK flights- is that summer over ?!

Our Basilico outing included a discussion of books; thus K arrived with 'The Taxi Driver's daughter' written by Julia Darling and set in Newcastle upon Tyne.... so far very good; she was the friend & business partner of Ellen Phethean in setting up a publishing house to get womens' literature published. Which reminds me today is my sister J's birthday though in her lengthy, unaccounted-for silence she has been no Darling!

More gifts at walking-a homegrown leek and veggie recipe from H and seedlings of a dark hellebore (Lenten Rose) from K; I have planted the latter (and a rhubarb tuber) already- and found the blackbirds had done what I forecast & pulled out all my sweetpea seedlings. Forsythia glows everywhere; Whittle Dene banks are drifted with primroses and cowslips; we are purpled with violets and daubed by tulips. H1 'tested' a pint of Matfen Magic and (rivalling Gibside's) cheese scones at the Brewery.

On yesterday's walk I overheard a gentleman talking about how he hadn't spoken to his daughter since 2003- SNAP! I felt like telling him 'life is too short' when he said she'd asked to visit him in hospital & he'd turned her down.

We have lost a good friend this week- in the silence of my extended family M chatted to me- in the supermarket, in the street and at all our social gatherings; my friends are good and I will sorely miss M.

The election 2010- May 6th seems along way away ; the media have it wrong; they tell of Joe Public's indifference to the campaigning etc., but in fact the public are wanting to vote but consider politicians unworthy of precious votes. Why reward them when they seem to have led us into recession and claimed massive expenses?

I don't feel immersed in melancholy but this reads like it!

Tuesday, 13 April 2010


Maybe I am socialising too much; we waddled from Basilico with friends down the High Street to the Queen Vic and today I have been out twice for coffee with friends; I am sure it is just a passing phase & I will find my waist again after everyone goes back to work/school.

We also went to lovely Golden Wedding celebrations of good friends; I wonder in these days of cohabitation and rapid divorces among the young, how many of those will be celebrated in the years to come?

D3 and I went walking at Warkworth. The Castle motte was beautiful- on the east side of the mound the daffodils were fully out whereas those on the north side looking down towards the village, were colouring up but not quite open yet. Definitely worth a visit! After our picnic on the banks of the Coquet, we walked from the Hermitage Inn, over the ancient bridge,up the dunes, along the shore to the point, inland to Shortridge Hall and back along the river (spotting herons, mallards and swans). Daffodils everywhere.... blossom on the hawthorn hedgerows..... pink cherry blossom and white apple blossom- who needs to go abroad when Northumberland lies before them?

Did you know until 1998 it was treason to kill swans as they all belong to the Queen?

The General Election has been announced; who to vote for? or to vote at all? I have brought my family up to believe 'women died to give us the vote'- but none of the politicians seem worthy of our votes; we vote politicians out but no one party is worth voting in- sleaze! paying bankers for doing a duff job! open door immigration policy (what policy?); allowing NHS rules on crosses/bracelets/hijabs etc to change. Certainly my local Lib Dems are great for the ward but Ron MP wannabe has not answered any of my requests whereas Doug Henderson has. Definitely floating voters here who will have to think hard before May.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Philippa Gregory , the Bowes-Lyons and gardens

I have finished reading 'The White Queen'; those Plantaganet relationships were so complicated and each generation was a collection of the same names- Elizabeth, Edward, George, Richard etc. Hmm! bit of a new slant on the Princes in the Tower.....

Ridley Hall was the base for the walk on a beautifully warm day this week; scones, jam and cream meant that hill seemed so much steeper than if I had been in my sylph-like , pre Egg slimness. This home of the Bowes Lyons brought back memories of 35 years ago-of being announced as 'The Lady.....' on those stairs by David Mannion. It must be a 'how the other half live' experience for those students of Haydon Bridge High School who board here among the beautiful wood carvings. The grounds of the Hall and Beltingham Church provided a glimpse of Bowes Lyons life; yes! The Queen Mother did call in at times.

At last I was able to get in the garden though DIY stores did their damndest to stop me. I have planted up my first box of spuds. I think sweet pea pods are poisonous yet I have planted sweet peas , mange tout and french beans in sections along the squared fence; H1 had better watch out! Early on tonight he mentioned us going for a drink but after we had given lifts to Ds who were going on the gallivant, he declared a need to go straight to Asda for a takeaway- the drink had obviously disappeared from his starving?! brain, Grr! So much for still courting when you are married. I hear David Cameron and the Tory party might give us tax breaks in order to reward us for connubial bliss- it better be loads of dosh- don't you think, M?

Monday, 5 April 2010

Happy Easter and traditions

Evening- the best part of the day; the sun is lighting the gable end of the house opposite us; not before time! We have had a lovely weekend, in spite of not because of, the weather....dull, rainy, quite chilly....

D2 arrived back in the UK and headed up north. D1 calmed down from the gruelling schedule she has kept up for some weeks now; D3 actually managed to get some time to come home!

I am off to watch the football and meet friends at the pub & will finish this later by which time we will know if Newcastle are going up!!!Huh! I am not so sure they will be Premiership quality but let's at least get up there! H1 has just said " Newcastle is promoted" I think I might have to eat an Easter egg to celebrate.

I am back and can't go to bed as I need to clean my teeth but I have too much chocolate in my mouth as yet- merely in the interests of clearing up again (does this sound like my post Christmas blogs?!)

I feel sad to have washed up 5 plates & flutes & now we are down in numbers again. We have laughed hysterically at Articulate and Cluedo and been out for a meal at Avanti again. We organised the wine,(p)egg hunt with P, bonnet & paste egg competitions and of course egg jarping- A and G always get to the semi finals then get dunched out by some 4yr old- but such 'high class rubbish' (to quote Fr J.) is all in the interests of English , nay, Northern , tradition- and good fun; age makes no difference as we all laugh together and create memories for the young.

We went to the Free Trade for a drink and view of England's most wonderful city (unbiased view); the ex Belle & Herbe (now Butterfly Can't remember) provided us with fab food; a game of bowling meant D3 won (to H1's irritation) whilst I kept them both up.

The boots and water proofs are dry at last; the house no longer looks like a chinese laundry.

Lots of friends are away on holiday it seems.

You know what? I think friends and relatives are transient... being made in and kept for certain times/incidents/stages of your life then disappearing again as you or they drop that interest or they no longer need you. Very few stay with you lifelong.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

April Fool / Maundy Thursday

At last - some sunshine after days of stotting rain.

Ingram Valley presented us with rain and a wonderful day; D1's class were a joy once again. Farmer James showed us how disability means nothing- Moss & (3-legged) Sam the sheepdogs brought in his flock to whistles & childrens' wows at the speed they travelled outby.We learned about horses, cattle (& a HUGE bull called Caleb)and watched lambs being born & wrapped in plastic coats like sausages; however if the forecasted weather arrives and if the snow is as bad as the forecast then Jim says he will lose many of his newborn lambs.

We 'cashed in' my raffle prize from the Rag Ball & went to the Tyneside Cinema; friends had recommended 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo'. Yikes! an excellent film but it was rather sexually explicit. I really like the Tyneside with its Arte Nouveau decoration & history.

The Ouseburn is right up to flood level- will the new bridge lifting stop it backing up? Blockpaving has a lot to answer for-it so removes the interception layer which slows down flow & decreases(ie speeds up) the lag time of surface water back into water courses (water delivery to streams etc formerly spread across several hours, now hits the water courses very quickly). Why doesn't Newcastle Council provide subsidised (recycled of course) plastic eggbox type surfacing which allows grass to grow through while allowing parking on top of it?

We went walking at Bolam/Shaftoe Crags with the group; the sun came out as we stood to eat lunch watching herons and swans on a temporary pool. Our waterproofs are now whizzing around in 'inky' water in the washing machine.