Monday, 27 April 2015

Happier Monday

Well, that's better. After a fairly unpleasant week, the weekend was a vast improvement.
 
By Friday, I had met all my work deadlines and then in the evening had an unexpected trip to the pub where son Joe was playing drums with Ivory Yardsale. Splendid stuff.
Saturday saw me being a domestic goddess and head gardener. While I was turning over the earth, I had the company of a little robin who was looking for tasty morsels (see pic). In the evening, I headed off to the arts centre to see comedian Jo Caulfield, who was hilarious.

Sunday was filled with a mixture of gentle pottering/potting while the sun was out and crosswords and sitting about when the sun was in. Brenda Blethyn in Vera was my evening's entertainment. It's a bit 'Look-out-here-comes-a-clue', but it's comfy stuff and I love the Northumbria scenery.

Now that the mood has lifted, I have great hopes for the week ahead. (Cue Fate rubbing her hands together...)

Friday, 24 April 2015

Celebrate the small things

This has been a nose-to-the-grindstone shoulder-to-the-wheel kind of week that has worn me out. I woke up extremely grumpy this morning, so I'm celebrating a chance meeting with a friend who made me laugh and sent me on my way with a much lighter heart.
To be part of the Celebrate the Small Things blog hop, all you have to do is put your name on the linky list on Lexa's Blog, and then post every Friday about something you're grateful for that week.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Local view on global history

Some of my writerly friends might have seen the post by Lynne Hackles on the Creative Frontiers blog 'Give local interest books a whirl'. Worth a look, if you haven't already seen it. Generally, we don't have to dig too deeply to find a local connection with something of global significance - and sometimes these connections come from unexpected places.

At the singing workshop I went to last Saturday, one of the songs we worked on was 'The Abolition of Slavery' with music by Bob Chilcott and words by Charles Bennett, who leads the BA in Creative Writing at the University of Northampton. Charles was there to hear the setting of his words. It was very emotional to sing; I can only imagine how it must have felt for him. The song is from his libretto, Five Days That Changed The World.

Actually, I've met Charles Bennett before (though I didn't go over and tell him this, because I'm sure he won't remember). He did a poetry reading at the Althorp Literary Festival from his book Evenlode, supporting and supported by some examples from John Clare (with whom there are also local connections); I bought a copy of the book and he kindly signed it for me.

Back to the song. Kettering man William Knibb was instrumental in the abolition of slavery in Jamaica, where was a preacher in the 1800s. According to the website of the BMS, on whose behalf he was in Jamaica, his weekly congregation was regularly packed with slaves and he was shocked by  their plight. In 1831, he wrote: 'I have beheld them when suffering under the murderous cart whip; I have seen them when their backs have been a mass of blood; I have beheld them loaded with a chain in the streets…; and never have I heard one murmur – one reproach – against their guilty persecutors.'

Seven years later, as the last remnants of slavery were being abolished in the British Empire, he wrote: 'The hour is at hand; the monster is dying,' and then as midnight struck: 'The monster is dead; the negro [sic] is free.' The following day, a symbolic coffin was buried containing a slave collar, chain and whip.

There is a timeline in the paving stones around the edge of Kettering Market Place, and William Knibb's place in history is commemorated there, and in the town's centre for young adults that bears his name.
William Knibb Source: www.bmsworldmission.org

Monday, 20 April 2015

Downs and ups

The weekend didn't start well. I burnt the dinner and had to bring out the emergency Cornish pasties. My family know me well enough to stand back until my prickles are lying flat again, and in due course the rest of the evening was spent in convivial conversation.

At last! A leek seedling appears
Saturday was much better. I spent the whole day with my choir buddies at a workshop led by Bob Chilcott. If you know who he is, I hope you are suitably envious. (He is a composer and conductor, currently working on an album with Katie Melua, and knows anyone who is anyone in the music business.) It was a wonderful day: one of those you know you are enjoying at the time. Then to round things off, in the evening I went to the Potbelly Folk Festival at the Arts Centre. More music, more friends.

Sunday start promisingly enough. The weather was bright and breezy, and I was still smiling from Saturday. I had a plan to spend the whole day in the garden, potting on, sowing more seeds, shifting a few things around, etc, etc. I'll spare you the details; suffice to say my plans were thwarted. I retired for a sulk. The day was salvaged (just) by reruns of The Big Bang Theory and a packet of shortbread. 

Friday, 10 April 2015

Celebrate the small things

It's been a very uneventful week, so I'm celebrating the lack of drama.

Looking ahead, it is our wedding anniversary on Sunday, so there will be a celebratory gathering of the clan in North Staffordshire. We are going ten-pin bowling: 10 of us, ranging in age from 85 to 6. What could possibly go wrong!

Have a good weekend, folks. 

To be part of the Celebrate the Small Things blog hop, all you have to do is put your name on the linky list on Lexa's Blog, and then post every Friday about something you're grateful  for that week. 

Sunday, 5 April 2015

A tale of honesty

Our friend had told me that she was sending Clive a gift voucher inside his birthday card. Unfortunately, when I picked it up off the doormat, the envelope was open and there was no sign of the voucher.
I rang my friend to tell her so that she could go back to WHSmith where she'd bought it and cancel the card and possibly get her money back. In the meantime, I went to my local sorting office to investigate. I was quite prepared to give Royal Mail the benefit of the doubt - perhaps the voucher had fallen into the postie's bag - but must admit confidence wasn't high. Sure enough, there was no sign of it. I intercepted the next day's delivery and asked the postman himself; he confirmed that he hadn't seen it but that he'd have another look in his bag.

I was astonished to receive a text yesterday from my friend to say that she'd been to Smiths and been told that not only had a postman found the voucher, but also he had taken the trouble to return it, unused, to the shop where it had been bought. How amazing is that?

Friday, 3 April 2015

Plenty to celebrate today

We are celebrating a 'special' birthday today, as my husband Clive moves into a new decade. There will cake and fine dining.

We had a pre-birthday trip out on Wednesday to Bletchley Park. Have you been? It's fascinating. I thought I knew the story, but there is so much more to it than I'd realised. I didn't know, for instance, that Enigma machines were widely available for commercial use before the war. We were lucky enough to be at Bletchley when they were demonstrating the enormous Bombe machine that clicked and whirred to check the decoders' theories. When we got home we watched The Imitation Game.

Three things struck me: the sheer genius of everyone who worked on this project; how boring it must have been; but mostly what a sad story it is. Poor Alan Turing doing his best for king and country, saving millions of lives and taking years off the war, but charged with indecency and driven to suicide just because he was gay. He was only 41; what a waste.

Sorry - went all gloomy. Back to the celebrating.
Clive: what a cherub.
Yesterday's pre-birthday outing took us to Melton Mowbray to pick up a ridiculous quantity of home brewing kit purchased via eBay. (Purchased, note, not won. It annoys me that you 'win' an auction when actually you could say that because you are the highest bidder you have technically lost, because you are paying more than anyone else thinks the lot is worth.) Naturally, on the way home we had to stop at Ye Olde Pork Pie Shoppe to pick up one of Dickinson & Morris's finest.

It's my baby brother's birthday on Easter Sunday, too, so there's plenty to feel pleased about this weekend, despite the weather. Sorry, nearly went gloomy again!

Have a good weekend, folks. 

To be part of the Celebrate the Small Things blog hop, all you have to do is put your name on the linky list on Lexa's Blog, and then post every Friday about something you're grateful  for that week.