The whole of July is National Bereaved Parents Awareness Month and today, July 3rd, is National Bereaved Parents Day. I am a bereaved parent and this epithet was given to me without my choosing. When I first lost Tosh I turned to the Compassionate Friends, a charity for bereaved parents and siblings. Through them I met other parents who had lost their children. This loss can happen at any age and for any reason.
I will be thinking of the parents and their lost children throughout the day today. I remember being surprised at how many there were and how those numbers increased every single day. As a bereaved parent, you are not alone and we will all be talking about our lost ones today. If you know anyone who has lost a child, take a moment out of your day to think of them.
Another charity is A Child of Mine They chose the theme this year #keepingtheirmemoryalive
Our family talk about Tosh all the time, keeping those memories alive and keeping him with us in our hearts. It is said that you die twice, once when you leave this world and the second when people stop talking about you. Let’s keep on talking…
Ollie S, Mark W and Matt W, Mark Wa, Fergal, Christopher and many more… Talking and thinking of you all today ❤️
Last weekend was the Gorf Jam. An annual event since we lost Tosh. Some of the graffiti artists from around the Westcountry, some friends and family gather together to paint a wonderful tribute, usually a variation of his tag, GORF which is FROG backwards. This year was the tenth anniversary of Tosh’s death and they painted on a legal site.
This year was the first time I had actually attended the event. There are a couple of reasons why: for many years we were still living in Italy and it wasn’t practical to get over to the UK, usually it’s in January, as close to the anniversary of his death as possible (bit cold for me) and lastly I wasn’t sure I could really handle meeting up with his friends and contemporaries, watching them do the very thing that Tosh loved — I thought I would find it all too emotional.
Well, this year, The Man and I made it! It was emotional there’s no doubt about that. It was a lovely sunny day last Saturday so I couldn’t make the cold weather an excuse. Finally, we now live in Dorset so not far to travel.
What surprised us both, The Man and me, was the incredible talent of all the painters. We arrived around 11.30am and they had been there since 10 and incidentally didn’t finish until after 4pm! Each piece of graffiti was still in its early stages of creation when we got there. We watched them work. They had some ideas written on small pieces of paper, or on their phones, which they carefully transposed onto the wall of the tunnel — We were at St Werburgh’s tunnel in Bristol. This year there were four main painters plus Tosh’s brothers, sister and nieces and a few friends too, who all enjoyed a little paint. I declined to have a go…not sure why and now, of course, I wish I had daubed something alongside the others.
The artists prepared the wall first by painting over anything already there with enormous amounts of emulsion paint, giving them a ‘blank canvas’ if you like, from which to start. Gradually the images built up with the most amazing skill. Each layer bringing more depth and more texture. I’m no expert at explaining art but the whole process was impressive.
The Man could not get over how one guy painted straight lines with a roller and not a plumb line or any other kind of guide for him to follow. Another artist could fashion a pretty perfect circle. I’m not going to write any more about it, but will post as many pictures as I can. With thanks to all the painters, Halo, Instaminto, Tomo and Ronny Oner — and I’m so in awe of your work. ❤️
An odd title for this post but apt. A new roof has replaced the broken leaky one on our cottage, and at last the builders have finished. The final job was for them to clean the attic. I was impressed because they brought their own vacuum. Over the years, many of mine have been ruined by builders – can you relate to that? After they left, I popped up to check out their work. I was pleasantly surprised to see that apart from a little dust, it was okay.
Looking around, my eyes strayed to a box of old photographs and some albums. It was probably a mistake to delve into them but I couldn’t resist. I found an album from 1985, our trip to Canada, which I write about in my memoir Dear Tosh. Such wonderful memories. If you’ve read the book you’ll like these photographs I think.
Two of my favourite photographs…(I do have many favourites though)
‘Ginger’ the pony and Jo (nanny) – we took the boys out for a picnic…happy days…
I’m going to have another root around in the attic for more photos now… Just the thing to do on a Sunday.
By the way…I’ve changed the name of the blog so that it just says Ninette90. I completed the ninety notes but I’m going to continue with the blog.
This year my children bought me a Liberty Advent Calendar for my birthday. It is absolutely fabulous. I love it. A big box full of 25 little boxes to open every day from the 1st Decemer until 25th. So far it has revealed: special bath oil, face cream, lipstick, body cream, and a whole load of other things. I’ve been posting over on Instagram each day. But, just to make the whole thing more fun for the family, The Man and I shot a video of me opening the box for the first couple of days. This quickly became boring, so we made a little bit more of it, creating a character or a storyline each day and made little movies. I struggled but mastered (to a basic degree) how to use IMovie adding titles, music, speeding up the film and all sorts. Thinking up ideas wasn’t a problem but it began to take up most of my day and I have other important things to do! Like finish writing my memoir and creating more poetry — which I’m very much into at the moment — so today I resolved to stop making the mini series of Opening the Liberty Advent Calendar 2020 (what will she do next?). We haven’t completely abandoned the project, but will film a few random days between now and Christmas Day. I cannot possibly divulge what themes they might be. In the meantime, I thought you might find it mildly amusing to watch a couple of the earlier box openings, so I’ve uploaded number 6 and number 8 here.
Both clips were filmed before we realised it was better to use landscape mode on the iphone.
This last week I have been frustrated by at least three companies/organisations when I needed to speak to customer services or even send a simple email to them.
We all know this feeling…
First Problem. I ordered a corkboard and pins, to be delivered from Leroy Merlin it looks like a reasonable shop, you can see for yourselves if you click on the link. Actually, I don’t think there’s too much wrong with them, it’s the delivery company GEODIS who are at fault. First the pins arrived, no problem there but look at the size of the box in which the 15 pins were packed!
The delivery company sent an email asking me to fix a time for delivery, which I did. I of course assumed that the corkboard would arrive at the same time but no sign of it. Oh, and they also sent a text message — it’s important to remember that.
I waited a WHOLE week before chasing the corkboard. Leroy Merlin were very nice and they said that the company had tried to deliver but there was a problem because they couldn’t accept my phone number. I politely told them that one parcel had already arrived and that the company had emailed and sent me a text on a number they were now saying they couldn’t use. Leroy gave me a phone number to call. Remember this is all in French. A little difficult to understand but the answerphone asked me to go via their website. Which I tried, but I had no tracking number — hopeless. I went back to Leroy who apologised and said they would contact the courier again. More useless emails backwards and forwards then one that said my parcel would be delivered on the 20th November between the hours of 8 and 18.00. Hoorah! We made sure that someone was here every single second of the day. But…nothing. Having emailed again, I am now waiting to see what Leroy Merlin come back with this time. The delivery company only send no-reply emails.
Next problem was I ordered a lead from Apple (France) for my computer. The picture on the front of the box did not match the lead which it contained, (same on the website) so I stupidly ordered the wrong one. I can’t fault apple for this, and the help/chat person gave me lots of information about the correct adapter needed. “Can I return the other lead?” I typed. No problem, call the number **** 046 or go to the website. Phonecalls are difficult in French so I opted for the website which guided me through many pages and eventually confirmed the purchase, and “click here” if you want to return the item. I did that very thing, was guided through pages again, only to end up back at the confirmation page. You are supposed to be able to download a returns label, but no…nothing! Then I saw, if you want to return it call this number ****046. I tried, honestly I did, many times and combinations of prefix, but all I received were three pips, meaning the number was unobtainable. I’m still struggling with what to do with the unwanted lead, although it does say I have until January 2021 to return any item.
It’s all very confusing
Number 3. I have changed a subscription to The Week so that we only recieve a digital one. But we couldn’t access the digital version because I could find no way of logging on or even getting a login code. I emailed but they were tardy in their response so I phoned. Here’s where the “for digital, press 1, for subscriptions press 2 for renewels press 3, to speak to customer services please press 4,” and so it went on. I waited while the music played and then re-dialed. This time I pressed 5 for, “if you are thinking of leaving us” guess what? Yep, straight through to a person. Problem sorted in just a few moments. Incidentally when I did receive a reply to my email, it just told me to login with subscriber number…right. The problem was we didn’t have a number, at least all the numbers/codes we did have were not the correct ones,which was why I emailed in the first place…grrr…
Last Contact problem was the bank…oh my, oh my the bank. First of all the, “We are receiving…bla bla bla” . There is constant music streaming into your ear, which is appalling, and there are constant adverts for this that and the other facility, that you can sign up for at the bank. Then the usual press key number whatever, then when you DO get through, they want you to answer a million security questions. I must remember next time I have to call the bank (which I hope won’t be for a very long time) to have all the numbers, passwords etc., quickly to hand. You have to key them in, and I don’t know about you, but I panic when I have to do that, and my fingers become like over ripe bananas.
On the good side this week is that the weather is amazing, the correct lead from apple did arrive (even though I still have the old one) and on the whole I am a very lucky woman to be spending lockdown in the South of France.
Waiting for my takeaway…Facecover – not allowed in France
We are now entering our third week of lockdown in the Languedoc region of France. The weather has been pretty good up to now, and things aren’t too bad. There’s been a plethora of Zoom events to attend and this week I have managed, two poetry sessions and a Royal Ballet live streaming. We are not allowed to walk more than a kilometre from the house but we can go 5km to the supermarket. I prefer to walk or bike it to the local shops whenever possible.
On Friday, I walked into the village to collect a takeaway, Pot au feu au 3 viandes, basically a French stew.
It was delicious, I forgot to take a photo but here’s one courtesey of The Hungary Bluebird. (I’ve never been here so can’t recommend it). Anyway, on the way there I met the village policwoman who informed me that my “facecovering” was not allowed and that I had to sport a proper mask. She didn’t arrest me or anything, in fact, when I said I was on my way to The Rex to collect lunch she raised her eyebrows and let me carry on (there might have been a smile under her mask). I wanted to point out that the two workman she was speaking to wore no masks at all, but didn’t chance my luck. My French isn’t good enough and it spoils the flow when you have to keep looking on your phone for the translation.
I’d arranged via FaceBook messenger, to collect the food at 14.00 – I could not have been more exact, but of course when I got there the whole place was shuttered up. I managed to contact them again by messenger, and he happily replied, “J’arrive dans 15 minutes” I’m guessing he thought I wouldn’t turn up. I sat outside the closed café, pushing myself as far back to the wall as possible, now aware of my illegal face covering, I hoped nobody would spot it.
The stew was delicious, lasted us two meals and cost us 20€ which was a bargin as far as I was concerned. No cooking for me. It was worth all the aggro to be honest.
Next day, I went on my bike into the village to do a spot of “essential” shopping. I put on my “proper mask” which actually was a lot more comfortable to breathe in than my face covering so I’ll be happy to wear it in future. I bought some batteries, which I now know are called les piles in French. I thought it was just batterie, but the very lovely man in the tabac didn’t know the word. Must be a dialect thing, or my pronounciation more likely.
I love the butcher…probably not a politically correct to say that, and what I really mean is, I love the butcher’s shop. It reminds me of when I was a young girl. Nothing is prepacked and they freshly mince the beef while you wait. I bought a chicken, and the butcher kindly chopped off it’s head and feet and removed the innards, hmm. The point I’m making is that it’s all a lot more organic here.
Check out that sausage!
I’m sure many of you will tell me that there are plenty of butchers in the UK like this, and I know there are at least two in Bridport, it’s just a different experience here. I’ll get over it I’m sure. By the way, even in the supermarkets there is not a single “out of season” piece of fruit or veg. No strawberries, peaches, or soft fruit. There are apples, pears and oranges. There are bags of mixed salad so I suppose it won’t be long before there are boxes of raspberries and nectarines available in the winter. Talking of supermarkets, I went to do our big shop during the week and I needed to buy a cake tin and a mixing bowl. Cake tin no problem, the isle was open but the mixing bowl arround the corner with the plastics was cordoned off with the red and white tape. I just didn’t get it, but, I asked at the help desk and all I had to do was fill in my name, phone number and email address on a form (they love forms here). I was then allowed to buy the bowl after I had finished and paid for the rest of my shopping. They converted the purchase into a click and collect transaction which made it legal. Needless to say, I still got in a muddle and had to re-enter the shop via a different route. I swear the security guard said, ‘Les anglais sont fous ils ne savent rien”. You can get the gist.
Left: shelf open for shopping. Right: shelf closed, non-essential ???
Dog walking is done every morning before breakfast with The Man, and it’s been great so far. This morning, Sunday, was a bit of a miserable one so we didn’t go far. The Man managed to find some useless pieces of stuff in the fields and on the footpaths. Honestly, it’s like walking with a child. Everything he finds is a treasure in his eyes. He’ll never change, he always thinks that a stone might come in handy; a piece of metal could fix that door. A wooden stick as big as a shepherd’s crook was brought home last week. He’ll never use it though, it will just sit outside the front door waiting for that golden opportunity when he’ll use it and say, “I told you…”
Left: Reflector light from a tractor, I admit he did leave this on a fence post for the farmer, but it was a hard decision, he so wanted to bring it home along with a big stone. Right: Our two sticks. Mine is used everyday…the shepherd’s stick well…
Miserable Day Today
Off to enjoy roast chicken now before a catch up Zoom with a few friends later this evening. I’m trying to only drink on a Saturday and Sunday which has been fine (only done it for one week!
My university campus has all but closed down, and from next Monday all lectures and seminars will be online. I’ve been coughing since Friday and have self-isolated. Although, as there is no automatic testing in the UK I could just have a ‘seasonal cough’. .Thank goodness we live in the countryside and only The Man might be within a metre of me. . .
At the moment I can still walk the dog. It’s easy not to meet anyone. But, she has been a bit poorly. The vet kindly carried out a telephone consultation, (with me, not the dog) to diagnose the problem. . . she needed a special diet to sort out her ‘tummy troubles’. After couple of doses of paste from a tube, four ‘special’ (exceedingly expensive) meals. She is — as of this morning — right as rain. Is rain correct word? I think we’ve had a little too much of that lately. (I wonder how long we’ll have to keep on with the exceedingly expensive food?
Jpeg in happier sunny tummy days ….
Could have done with one of these…
I am disappointed that my uni days are all but over. Now, everything is Skype, WhatsApp, and sharing work via email. I had so enjoyed going to the campus, meeting other students and attending lectures and seminars but. . .
I think, the thing to do in these situations is to turn them to your advantage. I’m not using the car now. So travelling time to Exeter and back can now be recycled into writing time. It’s also making me a much greener person on the planet. Have you read how much difference the ‘lock downs’ are making to the environment already? China has much cleaner air and the canals in Venice are clearer and some dolphins have returned. Is this going to be a massive turning point for the world? I do hope so.
Back to my univeristy work. I have two deadlines, 27th April and 28th April, by which time I need to write two pieces of creative writing of 5000 words each plus one supporting essay and on annotated bibliography.
For the Prose Writing Workshop, I’m dabbling in memoir. For this submission, I also have to write an annotated bibliography using at least five books that I have read. I must give a short descrition of each book and explaination of how the book informed my writing.
My other module is Realism writing. Alongside my creative story, I must submit a 1,500 critial essay. . . I’m not so good at those. I cannot quite get that academic voice going but I’ve been practicing. The best way to learn about writing is by reading. I am at present drowning in novels, short stories, essays, academic how to books and online masterclasses. Phew!
Some of the books I’m currently reading
As well as flights and holidays, so many things are being cancelled. Today I received notification that an event scheduled for this July has been postoned until July 2021. The seriousness of the situation hit home. It’s a strange time to be living through, and it could be a long haul. Keep in touch with family and friends by whichever ways and means you can without putting yourself or others in jeopardy. We have a new grandchild. . . a little boy, but it seems it could be some while before we can give him anything but a virtual cuddle.
Spring is around the corner. . .
PS. If you notice that this is note number 77 and you thought the last note was 77, you are correct. I had to delete a post from a couple of months ago. I couldn’t stand the numbers being out of sync so had to edit accordingly. Happy Days. x
Not a fan of pantomime? Neither am I, so it was a rather reluctant grandmother (or Nonna as they call me) who took her two granddaughters to see Cinderella at the Pavillion Theatre in Weymouth. I managed to obtain three tickets in the front row of the balcony but the view was a little restricted because the balustrade was covered in thick velvet so unless you had a very long body you couldn’t quite see the front of the stage. Even with the booster seats the grandchilren could not see over. Anyway, minor problem as they stood on my lap or just stood up.
It turned out to be a very good show. Fast moving, lots of good quality dancing and singing from cast and chorus, bright and stylish costumes — including about 20 changes for the ugly sisters. At the very beginning of the show, the Fairy Godmother came on singing and half way through the song, she rose up into the air. My granddaughters’ faces showed total amazement. She then floated up and out over the stalls all the kids were completed stunned and I was certainly impressed…I have no idea how they did it. I couldn’t see any wires. If you know how they achieved the illusion I’d love to know.
By elbowing my way through the crowds during the interval, I managed to get a ‘golden ticket’ for the eldest granddaughter, Evie, and she had a wonderful time dancing onstage with about twenty other star-struck kids. Highlight of the show for sure.
The Golden Ticket!
Mini Saga Comp
For the second year I entered the Yeovil Community Arts Association Mini Saga competition run in the Western Gazette and once again I was lucky enough to be one of the winners. *blushes for round of applause* The theme this year was TOAST and I’ve included my little story here for you to read – especially for those who can’t rush out and buy a Western Gazette today as you live in another area of the county, country, continent or whatever. Just to make it clear, it’s a 50 word story and you are allowed up to 17 words in your title. So basically 67 words altogether. Somebody suggested this little story might make a good short film. I think it might make a feature film! Remember you read it here first!
T.O.A.S.T – Telling Our Adventure Stories Together. The Evacuees Children’s Club. Five members. 1940 – 1946.
At the farm where we’d been placed. We told each other stories and ate toast. Scary Gothic tales; wild imaginings; exaggerated memories of our families and homes in London. After the war we continued meeting annually. Now, there’s only me left; telling stories to the wind, but still eating toast.
I know, I know, third blog post in just over a week, I told you last time, it’s like the buses. But, I have to post about my brother’s (Tony Hatch) fabulous 80th birthday party, before it’s old news. We had a ball on the Erasmus, a river boat on the Thames. It was amazing!
Erasmus Coming to Collect us
Even though I was born in Ruislip, lived there for over sixteen years and went to London frequently, I have NEVER taken a cruise up the river. It was fantastic. We left St Katherine’s Pier at 7pm and went first up river towards Chiswick. What a great view of the Tower of London, Houses of Parliament and MI5 (my sister assured me it was, because it was green, but what do I know?). We turned somewhere, not sure where but it was beyond Battersea and then proceeded down river. Past the London Eye, the 02, Docklands, and out through The Thames Barrier. I was mightily impressed with the whole trip and would do it again next weekend if I could. Only minor problem was that they dropped us back at a different pier…had to find our way back to Tower Bridge and the car. It was okay, except for a load of drunk people from another boat…or were they from ours? Only joking!
We were treated to a three course dinner; prawn, smoked salmon and a fish mousse starter; tender lamb cutlets, spinach and some delicious potato concotion; summer pudding and cream. All served with lashings of red or white wine. I stuck to water, which was just as well because at the end of the evening, after my brother had negleted to blow out the candles quickly enough, and virtually set fire to the cake, he asked me to get up and sing that old song, Push A Little Button recorded in 1966 (a flop) and then a minor hit in 2010 when the BBC used it for their TV Licencing advert. Yes folks that was me!
Among the other artists who performed were Claire Sweeny, Cassidy Jenson, Richard Kerr (he sang the wonderful song Mandy which he wrote), Jae Alexander, Michael Dore, Roger Greenaway. Hope I haven’t missed anyone. I did see Tony Blackburn and Des O’Connor on board too.
Tony sang Downtown, Messing About on the River and several more of his wonderful hit songs. I am always amazed at how many he’s written. Of course the best thing was seeing my nieces, nephews and their siblings and other members of the extended family. Some from New Zealand. It was great to mix with the celebs for an evening but I don’t think I could keep up with the lifestyle for too long. Nice to dip my toe in though.
Me and my Bro
Me Houses of Parl
Me in front of London Eye
Me, Tony, Jean
Some of the family …My apoligies to all those members of the family whose photograph I didn’t get…there are so many of us! Isn’t it always the way, you get home and think, ‘how come I didn’t take more photos?’
Thank you Tony and Maggie, for organising such a tremendous event. I for one, really appreciated your generosity. You are great party hosts.
A long time since I wrote any blog but I haven’t been idle. Apart from a holiday between Christmas and New Year in Cornwall at St Michael’s Hotel Falmouth where the food and facilities were great but the staff and running of the place left a little bit to be desired. Wouldn’t put me off going again though, but, I just don’t like being called ‘dear’ by the hotel reception staff. We did a quick trip to Gran Canaria in February to stay at the Lopesan Villa Del Conde. Both places were memorable in their own way, but the sun in Meloneras has to be the winner.
Walking the Coastal Path and Cream Tea at St Michael’s Resort
The Man did plenty of cycling while we were in Gran Canaria and I did plenty of lazing about and sunning myself – I did do some writing, which leads me on to the next bit of news.
I have finished the first draft of my novel! *drum roll* It’s only taken about four years! I am aware, that now the hard work really starts with editing., I do feel a great sense of achievement having been able to write the word, THE END. I’m going to a novel-writing retreat from 9-12 March, a bit late you might think but no, there are people on there who have already written and published one or more books and I think the weekend will help me to move quickly onto the next phase.
Other news is Brexit? No, I’m not going to talk about that except to say that I’m waiting until after the 29th March before I begin to put the dog through any unnecessary blood tests for a planned holiday in France in September.
Not Sure Jpeg wants to travel in the car to France…she’s ten years old now
I’ve been to London to visit the Discover – Children’s Story Centre and can recommend it to all you people out there with children or grandchildren who have a love of books or even if you’re not book obsessed it’s a wonderful day out with imaginative play areas inside and out. The day we were there featured a story-time of The Tiger Who Came to Tea, by Judith Kerr. A lovely story (even if a little dated). We went with a child of two and a half and a five-year old and both were entertained admirably. There was a fabulous area containing several child size ‘sets’ of stories about Mog the Forgetful Cat, also by Judith Carr. We had trouble dragging the children away from there, so many little rooms to play in and props to play with. The centre also has a cafe and a book/toy shop and plenty of toilets placed on every floor!
Bridport has not let us down this winter with so many films, plays, comedy nights etc., it’s impossible to keep up. This week the Electric Palace has hosted a Mike Leigh Film Festival and The Man and I went to see Secrets and Lies. Brilliant film with some superb acting from Brenda Blethyn and Timothy Spall. Afterwards there was a Q&A session with Mike Leigh and Andrew Dickson (the musical composer). It was wonderful to hear them speak about film making and collaboration between composer and director. The music for Secrets and Lies is so good that you hardly notice it – which is how it should be. A member of the audience asked Mike Leigh how he chose his actors and he said that first and foremost they had to be character actors and intelligent. He didn’t want anybody with a big ego. I loved watching the film but it made me feel a tad regretful. If I had my time again I would definitely have worked harder at my acting career. Maybe go to drama school, RADA if they’d have me. Oh, how I would absolutely love to be in a Mike Leigh film. *sigh*
Secrets and Lies…try and find it online or on a DVD such a brilliant film.
Can’t believe it’s nearly the end of February and March is looking very busy already. Must fit in more time to write my blog – I’m sure I have tons more to tell you but hey, the sun is shining and it’s time for a cuppa!