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Archive for the ‘family and relationships’ Category

Quite a few months ago my future son-in-law decided to bake a cake. Now, under normal circumstances there’s nothing remarkable about that at all….except that he had never before baked a cake 🙂

The end result was – delicious, albeit somewhat lopsided and needed refinement. In that regard there has been no problem, over the last few months he has progressed in leaps and bounds and now whips up a cake in the blink of an eye…with his secret recipe fillings that are to die for. Delicious. I have no problem at all eating as much as possible when I’m home…if there’s any left LOL…his fiancé quite likes them too!!

After a conversation with my daughter about what he’d like to do with this new-found enthusiasm for baking going forward, I decided that a talent like this needs to be encouraged and nurtured, and so, as an early birthday present, I sent him for cake icing lessons.

After some research on the internet I found a lovely young lass by the name of Billie who has her business in Deal, which is just a short train ride or drive away from home, and so I booked him in for a 3 hour lesson.

The big day came and off they went, my daughter drove them there in Fiona and they made a day of it with her going along to view the proceedings and capture the moments. What fun.

The lesson progressed exceedingly well and the comment I had from Billie is that she thought he’s a natural, was very steady and patient and she couldn’t quite believe he’d never iced a cake before.

The final result…looks remarkably like a wedding cake and I wonder if there’s a future career in that direction 😉 I’m well impressed at the end result. I used to do cake-icing myself in my younger days, and iced and decorated a few wedding cakes as well as sold a great number of occasion cakes, so to see this talent in our little family is marvellous.

So, here’s my future son-in-law; Simon….a possible future Bake Off 2019 contestant!!

bake off contestant 2019, cake icing lessons

getting started

bake off contestant 2019, cake icing lessons

making excellent progress

bake off contestant 2019, cake icing lessons

a future Bake Off contestant in the making

I wonder if I should enrol him? LOL

If you’re wanting to know more about Billie’s cake icing lessons, here is her website

 

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I was chatting to my daughter yesterday and remarked that I had been particularly blessed this year. Usually when you get to the end of the year you kinda feel like there is more that could/should be done before the year ends (well I do), and the last few days of December are spent cramming in just a few more activities. But this year I can truly say that I have had a year jam-packed with adventures, and for that, I am truly grateful.

inspirational quotes

Die with memories, not dreams

So to that end I decided to list my 2017 adventures, and was astounded at how much I had actually done, and how many places I have actually been to besides all my Camino 2017 practice walks that took me to some fantastic places. So this is my final blog for 31 Days of Gratitude – Day 31 – 2017 in review.

January

New Year’s Day swim 01.01.2017 Broadstairs Beach, Isle of Thanet, Kent

New Year's Day, Broadstairs

New Year’s Day, Broadstairs

Wedding Dress shopping with my daughter

wedding dress shopping with my daughter

wedding dress shopping…so much fun

Isle of Wight, Hampshire, England

visit the isle of wight

A visit to the isle of Wight

Places I went while I was there; Nettlestone (1086 Domesday Book village),20170116_144130-01 Bembridge Windmilll, Brading Roman Villa, Carisbrooke Castle, Cowes, Ryde, rode on a Hover craft, The Needles and Quarr Abbey.

And Osborne House


Magic Lantern Festival – Chiswick Park, London

Canterbury, Kent

Canterbury, Kent

Canterbury, Kent

February
Oxted, Surrey – the Greenwich Meridian runs through the town

Oxted

A closer look at Oxted

Limpsfield, Surrey – a Domesday Book village

Down House – home of Charles Darwin

Down House; home of Charles Darwin and his family

Down House; home of Charles Darwin and his family

Tatsfield, Surrey – a Domesday Book village

tatsfield surrey

South East England’s highest village; Tatsfield. Ref wikipedia: “In Anglo-Saxon England, Tatsfield lay within Tandridge hundred. In 1086 it was held by Anschitill (Ansketel) de Ros from the Bishop of Bayeux. Its Domesday assets were: ? hide. It had 2 ploughs. It rendered 60 shillings (£3) to its feudal overlords per year.”

Tandridge & Crowhurst, Surrey

Tandridge & Crowhurst

Tandridge & Crowhurst

Dublin, Ireland

 

Trim Castle & Trim, Ireland

March
City of Winchester, Hampshire, England

Winchester

Winchester

Torquay, seaside resort – Devon

torquay

Torquay

April

Pisa, Florence, San Gimignano, Poggibonsi, Sienna, Lucca – Italy

 

May

Newcastle, Co. Wicklow, Ireland

Newcastle, Ireland

Newcastle, Ireland

Belfast, Northern Ireland

 

Giants Causeway, Northern Ireland

 

Dark Hedges – Game of Thrones, N. Ireland

the dark hedges northern ireland

The Dark Hedges – scenes for Game of Thrones were shot in this area

Sevenoaks, Kent, England

 

June
Tonbridge, Kent, England

Ironbridge, Shropshire, England – UNESCO World Heritage Site

Lenham, Kent, England

Lenham

Lenham

July
Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales route – Southwark to Canterbury

Battle of Britain Airshow, Headcorn

St Augustine’s Way – Ramsgate to Canterbury

August
Arundel, and Arundel Castle, West Sussex, England

Bromham, Houghton House with my lovely friends Lynne & Tim and Elstow (birthplace of John Bunyan) – Bedfordshire, England

Bronham, Houghton House, Elstow

Bromham, Houghton House, Elstow

Zip Line with Zip World in London with my daughter

September
Walked the Caminho Portuguese – Porto, Portugal to Santiago, Spain 240 kms – Both UNESCO World Heritage sites

Coimbra, Portugal – UNESCO World Heritage Site

Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain

Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain

Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain

October
Montgomery Castle, Montgomery, Wales

Montgomery Castle, Montgomery, Wales

Montgomery Castle, Montgomery, Wales

November
Caernarfon Castle, Wales – site where Prince Charles was crowned Prince of Wales

Caenarfon Castle, Wales

Caenarfon Castle, Wales

Ffenistogg Railway Line Train ride; Caenarfon to Portmadogg through Snowdonia

Ffenistogg Railway line Caenarfon to Porthmadogg, Wales

Ffenistogg Railway line Caenarfon to Portmadogg, Wales

Climbed Mount Snowdon, Snowdonia National Park, Gwynedd – highest mountain in Wales

Mount Snowdon, Wales

Mount Snowdon, Wales

Montgomery, Powys, Wales – The Treaty of Montgomery was signed 29 September 1267 in Montgomeryshire. By this treaty King Henry III of England acknowledged Llywelyn ap Gruffudd as Prince of Wales.

Montgomery, Wales

Montgomery, Wales

December
Snow in Wales

Snow in Wales

Snow in Wales

Christmas in Broadstairs, Isle of Thanet, Kent

xmas 2017

Christmas 2017 with my delightful family

And in total, between 01.01.2017 & 31.12.2017 I have walked well over 1100 miles.

What an extraordinary year; 2017.IMG_20171231_100927_404

p.s. Days 14-30 Days of Gratitude will follow shortly….I eventually ran out of time 😉

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31 Days of Gratitude and today I’m grateful for cats.

I love cats, I always have. From my earliest childhood memories, it’s always been cats for me. Despite that most of our early years were filled with dogs of all shapes, sizes, breeds and colours; Satan our Alsatian, Jasper our Cocker Spaniel, the 3 Pepe’s our Dachshunds aka sausage dogs, Blackie our mixed breed and many many others inbetween….for me it was always cats.

When my daughter was growing up we had pets of varying shapes, sizes and species; goldfish, hamsters, rats, dogs and cats. We once had 3 Maltese Poodles and 3 cats, a goldfish and a hamster. Then slowly but surely we finally ended up with just cats….

When I bought our house in Cape Town I never imagined we would end up with 5 cats at once. It was an unspoken rumour in the neighbourhood that I was the ‘cat lady’. If there was a stray or a lost cat I would have people at my door telling me they had found this or that stray and would I take it in!!! Obviously I couldn’t take them all but a number found their way into our home and hearts by design and stealth.

We moved to the Cape from the Transvaal in 1994 and took along 2 cats and 3 dogs. The dogs eventually moved house but the cats stayed. In time the number fluctuated; some died others arrived.

Misty – aka Kitty, a beautiful grey Russian Blue, rescued by my sister as a 4 week old kitten along with her sister and hand fed till 8 weeks and then given to my daughter as a gift. She was one of the most chilled and relaxed cats you could imagine. Nothing fazed her and being the matriarch it was up to her to welcome the future members into the family bosom. She never fussed about anything, and as each new member arrived, she would look them over and go back to sleep.

Sascha – a gorgeous tortoiseshell we bought at a pet shop. She cost ZAR 5.00 (less than £0.05 in today’s money). I remember my daughter pleading if we could have her, and me saying oh she’s only R5!!! Well that little girl cost me more than any of the others…she had one mishap after the other and plenty of vets visits. I took her to work with me for the first few weeks…needless to say not much work got done. After we moved into our house in Summer Greens she disappeared one day. We never did find her. 😦

Gizmo – a little black rescue cat with ears that were bigger than her head, saved as a kitten from some horror that was swinging her around in a plastic bag. She adored my daughter and disliked me LOL Whenever a new cat moved in she would flounce up the staircase having a hissy fit as she went, and sit there hissing her opinion. She never quite got the hang of welcoming any new members to the family. Unfortunately in time she had to be put to sleep as she developed a salivary virus that was attacking her system and after months on steroids we had no choice; her kidneys were failing. Poor baby.

Shanwa – my daughter’s little boy. Also a rescue cat he came to us at much the same time as Gizmo although he had a slightly better start that Gizmo. A stunning white and ginger cat, the two of them looked adorable together. He soon surpassed Giz in beauty and stature and grew into a stunning boy. He also adored my daughter but seldom got a look in with Ms Jealousy Gizmo. But he was chilled and just loved being with us. Sadly run over one night by a car racing through the neighbourhood, we heard the thump and when he dragged himself through the window we knew he was in trouble. A desperate race to the emergency vet late at night was to no avail. My daughter held him in the back of the car and actually felt his soul leave his body and pass through hers. A sad goodbye

Felix – one winter’s day as I started the engine of my car a long skeletal cat covered in sores and almost no hair slunk out from under the car…virtually unable to walk he staggered. I stopped the car and put out some food and water for him. This went on a few days, so I started feeding him regularly and as soon as he was able to trust me I put him in the car and took him to the vet. It appears he had been abandoned after his previous owners left the neighbourhood GRRRR. He stayed at the vet for nearly 2 weeks, they bathed, neutered and treated him. When he came home his hair was tough and harsh, the sores on his skin healing. Within months he had filled out and his hair grew soft and thick; the most beautiful ginger boy you could imagine. I adored him. He used to lie on my body, stretched out he tipped my knees to my head. A beauty.

Daisy – I remember one summer evening I was cooking supper and this beautiful little black and white regal princess came tentatively in through the back door. She walked through to the lounge and stationed herself under a high stool, sitting upright and still like sphinx  for about 15 minutes or so and then she left. This went on for a few days and then she brought the family : 2 little kittens. She had been sussing out the place to see if it was suitable for her babies. They were quite big so one of our neighbours offered to take one and we kept…

Tinkerbell – the cutest fluffiest ball of fur you can imagine. She was adorable. Unfortunately the vet made an error when determining her age, despite my comments to the contrary, and before long she along with Mummy was pregnant. Obviously she was way too young to have babies so we had to have her spayed 😦 Poor baby. But she rallied and grew into a most gorgeous girl. Mummy went on with her pregnancy, but it was too soon after the first litter and one weekend she ended up delivering 5 tiny little scraps…virtually hairless and with see-through skin and unable to suckle. Emergency visit to the vet on the weekend and R3,000-00 later we took Mummy home without the babies…they all died. To our absolute distress. But she rallied and before long, now spayed she recovered. They were the closest two cats I have ever known and stuck together like velcro. If you were looking for one, you found them both.

Then there was Patches who crept into our lives one Christmas Eve. I found him sleeping on our laundry. An adorable little boy we loved him to bits. Sadly when he was still but a kitten who loved to lie in the sun, our neighbour rode over his head with their car….I can’t tell you how much I hated that man. It nearly broke me picking up that little body. We buried him in our backyard.

The last of our every changing menagerie before we left the country to come live in the UK was a family of 5; Misty, Gizmo, Felix, Daisy and Tinkerbell. At the time I wasn’t sure how long I was going to be in the UK, so a friend of mine took them in as boarders, but as it turned out I relocated and they were so settled by then that she kept 4 of them…except poor little Gizmo.

We used to go visit them all whenever we went back to South Africa and it broke my heart to leave them behind.

Now 16 years later we have our Elsie. A fabulously fluffy gorgeous little Miss. A rescue cat who had been very badly treated before being rescued, my daughter adopted her 2 years ago. She is a beauty and adores my daughter. She tolerates me LOL. Mind you I hardly ever see her, travelling as I do, so whenever I walk through the door, she’s like ” who are you again?” But if my daughter is not around, my lap does suffice. So long as I don’t hug, kiss or cuddle her. A bit of stroking is fine but not too much. Elsie is the most photographed cat in the world. Hahahaha.

31 days of gratitude, cats, family cats

Our Elsie

At my current assignment I have the joy of looking after a gorgeous wee tiger of a boy; Charlie. Just a kitten, he is a mix of something or other and just stole my heart. I’ve been very bad and let him sleep on my bed. We have loads of fun in the morning and I have the bites and scratches to show for it. Being a yearling he is still feisty as hell and goes from sweet and loving to wild and crazy. I often remind him that it’s not really a good idea to bite the hand that feeds him. But I love him to bits. I shall have to acquire him in time LOL

31 days of gratitude, cats, family cats

Charlie

So yes, cats. They are absolutely the most amazing creatures and I am so grateful for the opportunities I have had to have these beautiful souls in my life.

Today I am grateful for cats and the love of an animal.

31 Days of Gratitude – Day 8

 

 

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Hot on the heels of remembering my Mother on what would have been her birthday, yesterday. “I wasn’t there that morning my father passed away“…….Today I’m reminded of my Father who died 2 years ago.

For many years, probably decades in fact, I had a really fractious relationship with my Father and as yet I find it difficult to mourn for someone that left home when I was just 5 years old and my little sister just 2.

Of course while growing up he was my idol, I adored him and cried many desperate tears when he left after a visit. But in time he moved on, remarried and then the visits became less frequent, birthdays missed and behaviour criticised. The first 8 years weren’t too bad, we saw him on holidays and due to 2nd his marriage acquired a new brother, the same age as me.

But as the years went by, the criticisms grew more frequent and the disappointment began to show, and so the relationship deteriorated. I grew up and wanted to get married, he refused to give me away and I never forgave him for that. He went on to have another son, divorced that wife and married again, having 2 new daughters.

He only ever wanted sons. I got that. But I never got that despite that he didn’t raise me, he still felt it was his place to criticise me and find fault. I spent many years trying to please my father, to no avail. When I was in my 30’s I was promoted to Regional Personnel and Admin Manager for a large Courier Company in South Africa with 5 branches countrywide and the Head Office…..his response “are you sure you can manage that?”. I gave up.

After that I didn’t seek his approval. Time moved on, we grew up, I got older and eventually I moved to the UK. A relationship that was tenuous at best, was further strained by distance. Years went by without any much contact and the last time I remember really talking to him was on my 60th birthday 2 years ago. That was such a surprise, but time, as time proved, was running out. There was to be no opportunity to repair the relationship. C’est la vie.

One of my favourite songs that I love listening to is ‘The Living Years’ by Mike & The Mechanics. I remember how, when I first heard this song, how much it resonated. It reminded me of the relationship I had with my father…or lack thereof.

And so the years go by and although a sense of regret lingers, I feel no pain and no loss, but I think of him every time I hear this song….That’s good. I hope.

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31 Days of Gratitude and today I’m grateful with a full heart for the love of a good woman. Today would have been my Mother’s 86th birthday.

Mom and C as a baby

my Mother and daughter. taken 3 years before my Mom died.

I’m grateful that I was born of a strong woman with good genes. Although many of those genes passed me by (except her good looks of course 😉 ) some of those that managed to find a hold are my love of chocolate, curiosity and reading. My Mother was an amazing cook and baker. Her cheese scones were to die for.

I have wonderful memories of my Mother playing with us, taking us out into the snow in South Africa (a rare phenomenon where we lived then), her wicked sense of humour and her love for her children and grandchildren.

31 days of gratitude, the love of a good woman, love of a mother

My mother as a young woman, me with the dark hair (7) and my sister with blonde hair (4)

She was a brilliant seamstress and made us (4 daughters and 3 grand-daughters) some stunning outfits….she even made both my sister’s and my wedding dresses. She carried on creating gorgeous outfits for people long after we grew up. In fact she was in the middle of creating a stunning wedding dress for a client and an amazing wardrobe of clothes for a lady with dwarfism just before she had the strokes that killed her.  Every tiny outfit she made was perfectly cut, styled and lined and fit like a glove. Sadly she didn’t get to finish those final outfits…..

She died at the age of 52, just 7 weeks or so before her 53rd birthday.

From her I learned to cook, to sew (unsuccessfully)…not because she was a bad teacher, but because I had no patience. She always loved her flowers and gardens wherever she lived; her particular favourite were yellow roses. She had green thumbs and fingers and could grow just about anything….her gardens were always an explosion of colour.

31 days of gratitude, the love of a good woman, a mothers love. remembering my mother

my daughter often sends me yellow roses – she knows how much I love them

I’m grateful that I had the time I did with her, albeit way too short and sometimes fraught with arguments….something you’re inevitably going to get with a house full of strong minded women.

I saw this posted on a friend’s timeline today and the words resonated with me because of course my mind is filled with thoughts of my Mother:

“None of us are getting out of here alive, so please stop treating yourself like and after thought. Eat the delicious food. Walk in the sunshine. Jump in the ocean. Say the truth that you’re carrying in your heart like hidden treasure. Be silly. Be kind. Be weird. There’s no time for anything else”. Anthony Hopkins.

Poignant and powerful words, especially today as my family and I remember the wonderful person who was our Mother and Grandmother who should have celebrated her 86th birthday today. As well as which, today, 3 people on my Facebook timeline; 2 friends and 1 family have posted about the loss of someone close to them. It brings to mind the refrain that we should live every moment with passion and joy. We have only one life, and we’re dead a heck of a lot longer than we’re alive.

My delightful daughter started a thread on the whatsapp family thread; asking what favourite things we remember about her? It’s been really interesting to see what memories each of us have of her….all varied and yet they carry a common thread…love for her family. I’ll list them here.

Things I remembered (amongst many others, but these sprang immediately to mind); her crazy sense of humour, macaroni cheese (I make that a lot – in fact my client is getting that for supper tonight LOL)

31 days of gratituee, learning to cook, preparing healthy meals

one of mine and my daughter’s favourite meals; macaroni cheese. a family favourite.

potato salad (I made one today for lunch in her honour), pea soup, her music tastes, the colour of her hair – burnished gold aka auburn and her eyes – green, her colourful flowing kaftans that she wore all the time, her love of reading – mostly spy thrillers, and her sewing skills.

Memories from other members of the family are; her laugh, her hugs, sense of humour, naughty streak, playing scrabble, love of properly made tea (yes, as my sister said: no guesses where I get that from LOL), love of travel, love of roses, she was a party animal, making Christmas puddings, her OTT Christmas decorating, fabulous birthday parties for her daughters and grandchildren, her love of plants…she had a jungle in her conservatory… and as my one sister said…..the list is endless.

My Mother wasn’t religious but she was a very spiritual person. I remember just a few weeks before she died, her brother who she hadn’t seen for some years, suddenly visited out the blue. I recall how she phoned both my sister and I to tell us about the visit and her chilling words stick in my mind even today “one of us is going to die”. We just didn’t know it would be her. She had a very strong bond with my paternal grandmother and often she would stop mid-sentence and say “Grandma’s in the room”. She could smell the  lavender my Grandmother wore. I remember one time, a few years after my mother died, my sister was making an outfit for one of her daughters and got stuck with a particular section…after trying for ages to get it right she burst into tears and said “Mon, help me please!” And she did. The outfit came together.

My Mother had 4 daughters and she taught us so much.

And even though it wasn’t (she was a strict disciplinarian) and isn’t always a ‘bed of roses’, most of our memories are good. How blessed we were and how well she is remembered.

Today I am grateful for my Mother (I chose well) and the love of a good woman.

31 Days of Gratitude – Day 5

 

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Okay so today I’m grateful for being able to cook. LOL I know that sounds really weird, but it is a huge benefit being able to cook. How often have you heard “he/she can’t even boil an egg”.

Yesterday I mentioned about working as a Carer and how it fills my desire to travel. One of the most important aspects of working as a Carer is being able to cook healthy nutritious meals. Most of the people I’ve worked for have it written in the job description : “likes a good home-cooked meal”. Okay that I can do.

Now to be honest I don’t like cooking. I find it tedious and a complete waste of time. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy eating 😉 Just not the time it takes to prepare a meal. I’ve said for decades that the day they invent a tablet that turns into a beautiful plate of food after being heated in a machine like a microwave, is the day I will cheer loudly and celebrate.

I love the smell of a good meal, I love the taste of a good meal, but I do not like the preparation and the cleaning up afterwards. Boring and tedious.

I was lucky to grow up during the 60’s and 70’s in South Africa. Firstly my Mother was a brilliant cook and taught my sisters and I how to cook. Although even then I didn’t enjoy it, I learned. Then at school, before it was considered sexist to have Home Economics for girls and Woodwork classes for boys, we had cooking classes. During those classes we learned how to prepare an extraordinary range of food, from vegetable to full on roast meals.

And for that I am grateful. I am grateful my Mother taught me how to cook, I am grateful I learned even more in school.31 days of gratitude, learning to cook, preparing healthy meals

I am able to prepare really good, basic home cooked meals for my clients and of course I was able to prepare really good healthy meals for my daughter when she was growing up. I still do… whenever I spend time with her and her fiance, I prepare a dish of macaroni cheese…..always goes down a treat.

31 days of gratitued, learning to cook, preparing healthy meals

one of my daughter’s favourite meals; macaroni cheese

My daughter is now following suit and prepares some amazing meals for the two of them

Cooking is a skill. It doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Some people just have a knack for it, like my sister just younger than me who cooks a dream. But on the whole, cooking is something that needs to be learned….I was lucky enough to have been taught.

31 Days of gratitude 🙂

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So excited to be part of this fantastic challenge #walk1000miles 2017

It’s literally changed, improved and saved lives, and taken people of all ages, from toddlers to oldies, from all walks of life, in all manner of situations, out and about; in cities, towns, villages, hamlets and the countryside, to and from and in all parts of the world – whether it’s 500 or 5,000 the members have risen to the challenge and gone walking 🙂

walk 1000 miles, country walking, walking in the uk, walks in the uk, long distance walking

….one foot in front of the other…

Join us along with Country Walking for 2018 and walk 1,000 miles or maybe even 5,000 – yes, some people have walked in excess of 5,000 miles this year. Awesome 🙂

Walk 1000 miles in 2018 from Country Walking on Vimeo.

https://vimeo.com/245014566

 

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