Category Archives: Memories

It’s My Birthday and…

Well, how did I get to be this old?  I think somebody has deleted several decades of my life.  However…

The first email I opened this morning was from LondonWlogger who took me back a lifetime, to a time growing up in London when this area was the playground of three young girls.

map1

Clapton Pond

We passed this on our way to and from school each day.  Did we really understand or appreciate how magical it was to have such a beauty in the middle of a built up, town area?  I think not.

Lea Valley

The Lea Valley, once a transport river busy with horse-drawn barges and later motorised barges.  It was an industrial area and supplied water for London, sand and gravel.  Now its a lazy, gentle river offering leisure boating.

 

Springfield

Springfield Park where three little girls were taken by their mother most afternoons after school.  We lived in an apartment building with no green space to play on.  Many happy memories here.  I wonder if my sisters remember the cave where we played for many hours in the sunshine.

Thank you, Stu, at Wlogger for this post.

So now moving on some 60 plus years, I am sitting in Wellington New Zealand in the sunshine and losing myself in so many happy memories of a childhood spent surrounded by love and these beautiful bits of nature in a busy, busy, noisy city.

Off now, to get ready.  My son and daughter-in-law are coming to take me to lunch and then later, I shall have dinner with my daughter, her eldest son and his girlfriend.  How lucky am I?

NOTE:   All photos taken by London Wlogger. © Copyright 2017.  

 

A New Day Dawns

Today I waved goodbye to my youngest grandson.  He’s on the way to University in Christchurch in the South Island and on the way to the next stage of his life.  I can hardly believe that little boy who wasn’t even born when his grandfather died, is old enough to strike out on his own.

His mother and I shall miss him and his older brother will be lost without him, although sometimes one could imagine that they don’t even like each other.

So good luck Darling No. 4.  He is the last one to leave school and start at University. What a great time he is going to have and as Dr Seuss says:

Congratulations!
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.
Out there things can happen and frequently do
to people as brainy and footsy as you.
And when things start to happen, don’t worry. Don’t stew.
Just go right along. You’ll start happening too.
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting
So..get on your way!

Two years ago the 13th February was a Friday and I wrote about superstition and then went on to write about my day; a beautiful sunny day in Ohope on the east  coast of the North Island of New Zealand.  On days like that, this certainly is Godzone.  And what was I doing?  I was Watching.  Here’s part of that blog post:

Today I am watching

Judith & Alice

  • The way a newly born baby attracts people and noticing the joy of being allowed to hold her
  • The huge waves rolling onto the beach; they are quite magnificent in their power
  • Surfers battling these waves and some succeeding in standing up
  • Children paddling in the surf
  • Two older couples just enjoying the sunshine, sand, and the water’s edge
  • Puffs of smoke emanating from White Island – New Zealand’s most active cone volcano.  It’s very close only 48kms/30 miles from shore.  It’s puffing away merrily today.
  • And strangers interacting as they meet on the beach
  • A couple walking their dogs
  • A small child clambering onto a tyre strung up to make a swing
  • My partner stretched out on a lounger contentedly reading
  • Teachers from the local school rounding up the pupils
  • A group of teenagers enjoying their lunch on the beach
  • The same group chasing each other and generally having fun
  • The brilliant sun shining down onto our part of the world that we call Paradise.”
So different from today  Again, it raining and windy – oh where has summer gone?
 But some summers are brilliant.  And as a reminder, here’s a photo of the beach in front of our house in Ohope.
Ohope beach
“Abundant sunshine, warm waters and safe swimming make Ōhope Beach the perfect summer holiday destination. Maybe that’s why it was voted NZ’s Most Loved Beach—with 11 km of easily walkable white sand beach from the Ōhiwa Harbour entrance all the way to West End.”  Whakatane.com  Information.
And have you had a chance to look at my new blog, Books&morebooks where I review the books I have read.?  Maybe there’s a book that appeals to you.
 

You are my sunshine

My sister in the US posted this to me today on Facebook with the question “Don’t you wish someone would make this for you?  My response “Yes please, if you have the time, I would really love one.”  

She reminded me that as very little girls we had visited the burns unit at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Aylesbury where RAF patients were being treated.  I don’t know what we were doing there and why two little girls would be taken there but I do remember sitting on some of the pilots’ laps singing “You are my sunshine” and most of them joining in.  Some in tears and so two little girls were also in tears but really not understanding why these men were crying.  The staff also joined in the singing and some of the crying.

As Christine commented, “We were so young, we didn’t know to be frightened/horrified by those poor young men”.

Ever after that song was known in our family as The Misery Song.

I do hope I'm not impinging on anyone's copyright.

I do hope I’m not impinging on anyone’s copyright.

Isn’t it amazing how we remember some things and others are just dropped from our memories until a song or somebody else brings them to mind?

How could I forget such a visceral meeting?  These brave young men who gave so much to so many of us.  We need to remember that these boys, for many of them were only boys, lived the rest of their lives with scars from the burns.  But Stoke Mandeville was actively treating the burns and developing the skills needed for reformative surgery so that these men could go on to live as normally as possible.

Another reason I’m sorry that I never asked why we were there when there was still somebody alive who could have answered the question.

“Memories warm you up from the inside.
But they also tear you apart.”

― Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

Walking, Wishing, Wondering on Wednesday

You can have the other words
chance, luck, coincidence, serendipity.
I’ll take grace.
I don’t know what it is exactly,

but I’ll take it. ”
― Mary Oliver

While walking through Ngaio today on a blustery Wellington Wednesday, I thought about Paris.

L1140374

It’s now more than 2 years since we were in Paris and promising that we would return and next time for at least three months.  Oh, the best-laid plans etc.

But notwithstanding all that has happened in the intervening 29 months, the memories are still live.  We had such a fantastic time; we did all the touristy things, Le Tour Eiffel, trips on the Seine, Place des Vosges and Victor Hugo’s house, the Pompidou Centre, La Defence, The Louvre, etc etc.

la-defence

I am sure that La Defense was the Architect’s favourite place to visit.  What a fantastic building The Grande Arche is.

We were told the Arche  is placed so that it forms a secondary axis with the two highest buildings in Paris, the Tour Eiffel and the Tour Montparnasse.

La Défense is Europe’s largest purpose-built business district with 560 hectares (1,400 acres) area, 72 glass and steel buildings of which 16 are completed skyscrapers . Another very wet day but an interesting area to visit.

 

pompidou-centre

 

Of course, he was totally impressed with the Pompidou Centre and the work of the British Architect Richard Rogers and the Italian Architect Renzo Piano.  We had dinner there and I had a hard time getting him out of the museum when it closed for the night.  “Next time” we promised “we’ll come earlier and stay all day”

It rained a lot while we were there, but we managed to see quite a lot of Paris in our 7 days.

 

L1140196

We became adept at travelling on the Metro.

L1140123

Because he was an Architect we spent time under the Tour D’Eiffel while he looked in total wonderment  at the complicated engineering arrangement that made this wonder.

And in case you’re wondering, no we didn’t go to either Galerie Lafayettes or Printemps.  We were there to enjoy Paris.  Shopping could wait until next time.

So now I have all these lovely memories, backed up by the thousands of photographs the Architect took during our 13  weeks in Europe, many of which are in Paris.

And as Humphrey Bogart said to Ingrid Bergman in the film Casablanca

“We’ll always have Paris”

And Walking, Wishing, and Wondering ?:-

  • Walking is self-evident
  • Wishing we were together again in Paris
  • Wondering if I shall ever go back.

 

 

The Pianist

 

That morning she had been to the library to pick up a book she really wanted to read, so now with the book in one hand and a glass of wine in the other, she opened the patio door intending to spend a quiet afternoon reading in the summer sun. As she opened the door she heard, through an open window on the other side of the courtyard, someone playing the piano and instantly she was transported back to that weekend.

The weekend when her love was home from the hospital.  During the time he was home he spoke hardly at all, mostly he was just sitting and savouring the peace and tranquillity after spending several weeks in a busy regional hospital.

He sat enjoying the beauty of the house he had created and outside the house, the wonder that nature had created.

On the Sunday the house had been filled with family members but during the time they were there he said nothing although from time to time he would smile and  if somebody spoke directly to him he would nod his head.  Later, when most of the guests had gone and they were left with just his son’s family, the son hugged his father and asked when he had last played the piano.

Saying nothing, he got up and went to his beloved piano where his fingers found the keys and with his special smile, he started to play.  It was music that neither she nor his son recognised, but it was music nevertheless. After a while, he stopped playing, closed the lid and returned to his seat and his contemplation of the beauty and wonder that surrounded him.

And that was the last time he played the piano as the next morning he went back to the hospital never to return home.

The memory of that afternoon, the piano and his playing it with the joy on his face and the look in his eyes wold remain with her forever.

And as she settled down with her book and her wine, she contemplated how a small thing like the sound of a piano being played could evoke such a memory

“To live in lives we leave behind is not to die”
Judith Baxter, blogger, friend, mother, grandmother and sister

Creative writing kit

 

Note – this was prompted by Judy Reeves in her “A Creative Writer’s Kit”.
Her prompt was “Someone’s playing the piano”

Some fact, some fiction – isn’t that what all good stories are made of?

I Went For a Walk

I went for a walk today – doesn’t that sound so very basic and normal.  But for me it isn’t normal yet.

I’ve been getting around, being taken places by family friends and a great organisation here called Driving Miss Daisy.  This organisation is quite different to cabs – they come to the house, walk with me to the car, take me wherever I want to go for coffee, lunch,to visit friends or to attend appointments.

But having said how great all these people are there’s nothing quite like being out on your own two legs, walking outside after so long being confined to walking only around the garden.  Yesterday my youngest grandson walked with me to the end of the drive.  It’s uphill and so a bit of a challenge.

Then today, my lovely Physiotherapist took me for a short drive to the next suburb. We parked the car and then walked a short distance to a cafe for coffee.  Suddenly, I felt as if I had some control.  It’s amazing what a difference something as small as a walk away from the house can make.

And looking back a year.  I was totally involved in being with and supporting The Architect as he fought and lost his battle against the imposing tumour.  How different life was then and how it brought home to me once again, that life is short and can be taken in the blink of an eye.

Then I looked further back and remembered this day five years ago –With a Little Help From My Friends.  What a lovely day that was and that is the grandson who walked with me yesterday.  How he has grown in five short years.

And on this day four years ago I was thinking about the names we give our children, and the effects they can have on them  in later life. – Samarra.

This time three years ago I was getting excited about the next stage in my long and lovely life. 

On July 13 2014 the Architect and I were in Edinburgh.  We wet to a restaurant for brunch and I ordered a Bloody Mary but as it was 11.15 am we had to wait until 11.30 am for the bar to be opened.  Strange Scottish alcohol laws. But we spent much of the rest of the day in and around the castle.  Of course, I had lived in Scotland for 8 years at one time but my partner had never been there, and of course as an architect he was fascinated with the old and new buildings.

L1150130

High Street, Edinburgh

Scottish parliament building in Holyrood Edinburgh

Scottish Parliament Building

So lots of happy memories on this day interspersed with a few not so happy.

But I say I choose how I’ll spend the rest of my life and I choose to look forward.–

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You’re How Old?

Sixty years.  Can it really be that long ago?

sixty

March 9 1956 – I know that many of you weren’t even born then, but think back to when you were about to turn 18.  It was the norm then for girls to marry before they were 20.  I hear the gasps and know you are all wondering at the craziness of that.  I had met and gone out with Mr S for about a year, yes even when I was in school  He proposed, we bought a beautiful ring and on March 9 we celebrated our engagement with friends and family.

His family owned a factory that made dresses for various designers and so of course, I had the pick of the season’s dresses.  I thought I looked beautiful.  Unfortunately, no photographs of this event have survived. Well of course we were both only 17 and far too young to know our own minds.  The song that played during the celebration was Nat King Cole singing Too Young.  I’m sure you know that one.

Well we were sure that “this love will last though years may go” but of course, it didn’t.  We continued to see each other, talked about waiting several years before we married, where we would live etc, etc.  It was all very exciting for a young woman/girl.

But then …about a year after this event, I met my DYS (Dashing Young Scotsman) and family lore has it that I went home and announced to the family that I had met the man I was going to marry.  I broke off the engagement to Mr S.  We agreed that  our engagement was a mistake.  Well at the time I thought we agreed.  Bu that’s another story for another day…..

So that young love was really a case of Puppy Love.

As I have always loved dramatics, I gave him back his ring with the words “can we still be friends?” and strangely enough while we weren’t particularly close after that, he and my DYS became firm friends.  Mr S came to the wedding and I have a photo of the day standing between he and my new husband.

So today I’m asking myself “And was I ever that sweet, innocent  17 going on 18 year old who thought the world was made of all things good, just for her?”  And wasn’t I lucky to meet my DYS and not go through with the marriage which no doubt would have been a catastrophe ending in divorce as so many of my friends’ early marriages did.

I have written at length about the marriage I had with my DYS, for the most part good but with the ups and downs that all relationships experience.

At the beginning of my blogging journey, way back in March 2011 I wrote Yesterday When I Was Young.  Perhaps you might like to read it.

 

 

Melancholy

And I realize how useless wails are and
how gratuitous melancholy is.”

Mircea Eliade, Romanian born historian of religion, fiction writer,
and philosopher.  
1907-1986

Melancholy is how I’m feeling today.  I looked back on this post written almost a year ago and notice how my life has changed once again and in such a short space of time.

This time last year we were at our beach house with friends for the holiday weekend – Waitangi Day.  The holiday is to commemorate a significant day in the history of New Zealand. “The Treaty of Waitangi was signed on 6 February 1840, in a marquee in the grounds of James Busby’s house (now known as the Treaty house) at Waitangi in the Bay of Islands. The Treaty made New Zealand a part of the British Empire, guaranteed Māori rights to their land and gave Māori the rights of British subjects.”  So this is a very important document to those of us who choose to live or were born in New Zealand.

Happy

 

IMG_0147

Back to last year at Ohope.  The weather was beautiful.  We had been there for a couple of weeks when our friends came to join us.  How we both loved the beach house and how we both loved entertaining friends.

On the morning that I wrote that post, I was the first one up.  Nobody else was stirring so I took myself off to get the Sunday papers.  Walking along an almost deserted beach, I realised once again, just how lucky I was.  I lived in this beautiful part of the world, I had my friends and family and as the icing on the cake, I had my new love The Architect. And that morning it was perfect.

I believe in counting my blessings every day.  An attitude of gratitude.  And even if things are different one year on I still count my blessings,  I have my health, family and friends these great memories to console me when I am feeling melancholy.

When I used to run my Memories course I had a saying I used as part of the course.  If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you will have seen it used before –

“Circumstances or people can take away your material possessions,
they can take away your money, and they can take away your health.
But no one can ever take away your precious memories.”
Judith Baxter, blogger, mother, sister and friend.

And after this, tomorrow we will find out what happens next in the Sandy saga.

 

Five Day Challenge – Day Five

The Five Day Challenge is
Post a photo each day for five consecutive days and attach a story to the photo. It can be fiction or non-fiction, a poem or a short paragraph and each day nominate another blogger for the challenge.

ONE YEAR AGO

L1090850

 One year ago we were in San Gimignano in Tuscany in north-central Italy.  This is a small walled medieval hill town known at the Town of Fine Towers it is famous for its medieval architecture and for the preservation of about a dozen of its tower houses.

L1090884-1

The town is immediately recognisable  as it sits on a hilltop and the towers on the skyline make it visible for miles around

We spent several happy days wandering around this lovely town and admiring the architecture much to the delight of the Architect.

And once again special thanks to Cat at Catterel for nominating me.  Now I nominate Granny at Granny1947.  Granny lives in South Africa, a place I have never visited, but I love to read Granny’s posts to learn a little about the country.

A New Day Dawns

Ohope beach 9 2 15

Ohope Beach

Our peace and quiet in the bay was disturbed early this morning by a cyclone of helicopters swooping low over the beach, landing and scooping up sand.  We have no answer to question of why they were taking sand nor where.  Perhaps the local paper will enlighten us later in the week.  By the way does one describe a group of helicopters as a cyclone?  That is certainly what it sounded like; but it is probably something humdrum like a flight.  Anyway I’m sticking with cyclone.

The weather has changed somewhat and the temperature has dropped to 25 degrees; this in contrast to parts of the South Island where the temperature plummeted and they had snow at 600 metres.  Summer in New Zealand!

As I have said often before as you travel the length of this country you can go from cold, cold weather to subtropical in the upper north.  Makes for interesting viewing on the nightly weather reports.

The beach is practically deserted now that all schools have gone back to start the new school year.  But today, the local intermediate school has brought two mini buses filled with children to learn to surf.  The shrieks of delight (?) and laughter could be heard by those of us sitting and reading.

Breakfast this morning was at our favourite restaurant in WhakataneL’Epicerie.  It’s owned by our French friends and today we both had French toast (yes this is how it was written on the blackboard) which consisted of two slices of sourdough bread, streaky bacon, maple syrup, bananas, whipped cream and raspberry coulis.  Needless to say, I couldn’t finish mine but my favourite man ate all on the plate.  Again, needless to say, there will be no more food consumed here until dinner this evening.

At the weekend I purchased a new Apple iPad Air 2.  Having been given a new 27-inch iMac with “Retina 5K display” for Christmas, I decided to leave my trustee Samsung tablet and purchase an iPad.  We are now having great fun setting it up and finding our way around it,  Watch this space.

And for no good reason, here is one of my favourite quotes.  I love Piglet…

“Piglet noticed that even though he had a very small heart, it could hold a rather large amount of gratitude.”
A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh