Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Words on Wednesday

Alphabet Overlay 1


Some things have to be belived to be seen

Sunday, 28 December 2014

The Sunday Prayer

Dove of Peace by Pablo Picasso
Father, Mother, God,

Thank you for your presence during the hard and mean days.
For then we have you to lean upon.

Thank you for your presence during the bright and sunny days.
For then we can share that which we have with those who have less.

And thank you for your presence during the Holy Days.
For then we are able to celebrate you and our families and our friends

For those who have no voice, we ask you to speak.

For those who feel unworthy, we ask you to pour your love out in waterfalls of tenderness.

For those who live in pain, we ask you to bathe them in the river of your healing.

For those who are lonely, we ask you to keep them company.

For those who are depressed, we ask you to shower upon them the light of hope.

Dear Creator, You, the borderless sea of substance, we ask you to give to all the world that which we need most.....PEACE.

Maya Angelou

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Captain Jack's folly.....part two



The townsfolk had simply become used to the empty house by this time and no one even really noticed it anymore.  Then in 2008,  Christopher Long (who had, following his retirement, recently moved to Groatie Bay to live with his sister) decided to take up a new hobby ~ namely researching some of the more characterful residents in Groatie Bay's history.  He soon came across the story of Captain Smith and became fascinated by this rather mysterious man and his "Tudor house".  It is thanks to Christopher's research that what little is known about the Captain is now public knowledge once more.

Mr Christopher Long
 Christopher was given permission by the town council to thoroughly explore Angel House, and was even jokingly asked if he could come up with a good idea for putting the house to some use!  He took his sister, Lady Constance Buchanan, with him and they were both entranced by the story of Captain Smith's house, and the house itself.  Now, Lady Constance is very involved in life in Groatie Bay and it was she who had the thought that perhaps Angel House could be converted into a series of little shops.  She knew of a few folk who would love to be able to open up their own businesses, but didn't have the funds available to do so "on the high street" as it were.

Lady Constance Buchanan
Christopher and Lady Constance took this idea back to the town council, who were very taken with it.  The residents of Groatie Bay were asked for their opinion, and it was wonderful to see the enthusiasm and positive response the idea received.  So, to cut a long story short, it was agreed that Angel House would now be called "Angel House Galleria", the home of up to six new businesses.

As these things so often do, the redevelopment of Angel House has taken some little while to actually get started, what with funding for the project, all the architectural alterations which had to be drawn up, planning permission, etc, but work is now set to begin early in 2015.  I am pleased to be able to tell you that when the redevelopment is complete, there will be five new businesses opening in Groatie Bay!

I will of course keep you regularly updated with photos and progress reports of all the work taking place on the new Angel House Galleria.  In the meantime, I can already share with you what the five new businesses are to be.  On the ground floor will be: Delday's Delicatessen (James and Maretta Delday) and The Groatie Bay Arts & Crafts Guild.  The latter will be a central showcase for members of the Guild to sell their products, and will be run by Broden and Nessa Quinn.  The second floor will be Tabitha's Trinkets (Tabitha Tottley) and Blossom & Bloom (Effemy Lamb).  The whole of the top floor will be taken over by The China Cup Tea Room (Rhona Wilson and her daughter, Annys).  

I am sure that Captain Smith would be so very happy to know that his old home is, as he wished, finally being put to such good use for the benefit of the Groatie Bay townsfolk :-) 






Friday, 26 December 2014

Captain Jack's folly...part one

Captain Jack Smith, 1897
(image from the collection of Mr Christopher Long,
resident of Groatie Bay)



In about 1900, Captain Jack Smith retired from a life at sea with the merchant navy and bought a small plot of land in Groatie Bay.  He was not a native of Groatie Bay, nor even from Scotland.  From his accent it was clear that he was from "down south", but neither his small circle of friends nor his neighbours could ever discover from whence he originally came.  He was extremely reluctant to discuss his past life beyond the fact that only a few months after he was married, he returned home from a long voyage to the terrible news that his pretty young wife had died unexpectedly on that very morning.  She had been pregnant and complications had set in, causing their child to be stillborn, and she passed away during the traumatic birth.  He did not elaborate further; it was plain that his grief had never left him and the subject was never raised again.  The folk that came to know him best surmised that the death of his wife was perhaps the reason why he had decided to move so far north upon his retirement.
photograph of Captain Smith's beloved wife, inscribed on the back
"Flora, my beautiful wife and beloved angel

 24th April 1885"
(image from the collection of Mr Christopher Long,
resident of Groatie Bay)
The photograph above was found tucked into Captain Smith's bible, on his bedside cabinet, following his death in 1912.  Flora was indeed a most beautiful young woman.

Bob
(image from the collection of Mr Christopher Long,
resident of Groatie Bay)
Jim and Dolly
(image from the collection of Mr Christopher Long,

resident of Groatie Bay)


The only other photographs found in Captain Smith's personal effects were of his three dogs: Bob, Jim and Dolly.  There were no other personal mementoes whatsoever, not even any letters other than business correspondence.  He had completely cut himself off from whatever family, friends or even work colleagues he may have had prior to settling in Groatie Bay.  He was a proverbial "man of mystery" to the townsfolk but they respected his wishes and never pressed him for his life story.

As already mentioned, the Captain had only a handful of what could loosely be termed close friends, and many folk were rather in awe of him.  However, beneath his stern countenance and gruff manner, he was extremely kind-hearted.  He helped many townsfolk who came upon hard times with little acts of kindness.  He was a lifelong benefactor of both the local school and the cottage hospital, and left generous bequests to both institutions in his will.

And now we come to the tale of what came to be known by the townsfolk as "Captain Jack's folly".  The Captain had a fascination with life during the Tudor era, and was especially keen on the architecture of that period.  Now, it has to be said that Groatie Bay does not boast any houses from that particular time.  Indeed the first known "house" (which was in actual fact an inn) wasn't built until very near the end of the Tudor period, in about 1590.  Nevertheless, Captain Smith was determined that he would live in a Tudor house ~ in style, at least!  There was also another tricky little issue that the Captain soon came up against ~ namely the distinct lack of trees on the island where Groatie Bay is situated.  This was quite a stumbling block since his passion was for the black and white style of Tudor architecture, which were mostly built with a timber framework.  He eventually decided that the best way to get around the problem was to have a stone house built, to which he could then add the familiar timber beams as a facade.  It could be said ~ and indeed was by many of the townsfolk ~ that Captain Smith was a tad on the eccentric side!

Over the course of the next ten years or so, Captain Smith built his house.  He worked on it mostly by himself, with only occasional help from local builders.  He worked in all kinds of weather, rain or shine, which perhaps wasn't really suitable for a man in his late 60s/early 70s.  He was very poorly two or three times during the building of his house but he struggled on.  He became obsessed with finishing it, referring to it as "Angel's House", Angel being the pet name he had called his beloved wife so many years before.  Finally it was completed and the Captain moved in, albeit only living in the two downstairs rooms; the remaining rooms were destined never to be finished.

Alas, fate decreed that he would not long enjoy the fruits of his labours and Captain Smith passed away on the 17th January 1912, only six months after moving into the house he had become so obsessed with.  He left instructions in his will that his body was to be sent to the mainland to be cremated, and his ashes were to be scattered in the grounds of Angel House.

The house was left in trust to Groatie Bay town council, with the proviso that it was to be held unoccupied for 50 years.  If none of the Captain's relatives came forward during that time, then the council was to use the house for the benefit of the people of the town.  It was stipulated in his will that the house and land it was standing on was never to be sold, demolished or drastically altered in any way.

It was a somewhat strange bequest but the town council accepted it with due solemnity, and Angel House stood empty until 1962.  After that time, the house was periodically put to an assortment of uses including emergency accommodation for folk who suddenly found themselves homeless and temporary council offices when the building the offices were in was damaged by serious flooding.  However, after the late 1970s, it was used simply for storage until finally it stood empty once again.


to be continued...


Feel-good Friday


Thursday, 25 December 2014

Merry Christmas!

image from The Graphics Fairy

The Thursday Poem

Potted Flowers with Books IV
Eric Barjot

Good King Wenceslas

Good King Wenceslas looked out
On the feast of Stephen
When the snow lay round about
Deep and crisp and even
Brightly shone the moon that night
Though the frost was cruel
When a poor man came in sight
Gath'ring winter fuel

'Hither, page, and stand by me
If thou know'st it, telling
Yonder peasant, who is he?
Where and what his dwelling?'
'Sire, he lives a good league hence
Underneath the mountain
Right against the forest fence
By Saint Agnes' fountain.'

'Bring me flesh and bring me wine
Bring me pine logs hither
Thou and I will see him dine
When we bear him thither.'
Page and monarch forth they went
Forth they went together
Through the rude wind's wild lament
And the bitter weather

'Sire, the night is darker now
And the wind blows stronger
Fails my heart, I know not how,
I can go no longer.'
'Mark my footsteps, my good page
Tread thou in them boldly
Thou shalt find the winter's rage
Freeze thy blood less coldly.'

In his master's steps he trod
Where the snow lay dinted
Heat was in the very sod
Which the Saint had printed
Therefore, Christian men, be sure
Wealth or rank possessing
Ye who now will bless the poor
Shall yourselves find blessing 

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Words on Wednesday

Alphabet Overlay 1


If you did not look after today's business,
then you might as well forget about tomorrow

Sunday, 21 December 2014

The Sunday Prayer

Dove of Peace by Pablo Picasso
Father, Mother, God,

Thank you for your presence during the hard and mean days.
For then we have you to lean upon.

Thank you for your presence during the bright and sunny days.
For then we can share that which we have with those who have less.

And thank you for your presence during the Holy Days.
For then we are able to celebrate you and our families and our friends

For those who have no voice, we ask you to speak.

For those who feel unworthy, we ask you to pour your love out in waterfalls of tenderness.

For those who live in pain, we ask you to bathe them in the river of your healing.

For those who are lonely, we ask you to keep them company.

For those who are depressed, we ask you to shower upon them the light of hope.

Dear Creator, You, the borderless sea of substance, we ask you to give to all the world that which we need most.....PEACE.

Maya Angelou

Friday, 19 December 2014

Thursday, 18 December 2014

The Thursday Poem

Potted Flowers with Books IV
Eric Barjot
Valentine

Not a red rose or a satin heart.

I give you an onion.
It is a moon wrapped in brown paper.
It promises light
like the careful undressing of love.

Here.
It will blind you with tears
like a lover.
It will make your reflection
a wobbling photo of grief.

I am trying to be truthful.

Not a cute card or a kissogram.

I give you an onion.
Its fierce kiss will stay on your lips,
possessive and faithful
as we are,
for as long as we are.

Take it.
Its platinum loops shrink to a wedding-ring,
if you like.
Lethal.
Its scent will cling to your fingers,
cling to your knife.

Carol Ann Duffy
(23rd December 1955 - )

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Words on Wednesday

Alphabet Overlay 1


A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds

Sunday, 14 December 2014

The Sunday Prayer

Dove of Peace by Pablo Picasso
Father, Mother, God,

Thank you for your presence during the hard and mean days.
For then we have you to lean upon.

Thank you for your presence during the bright and sunny days.
For then we can share that which we have with those who have less.

And thank you for your presence during the Holy Days.
For then we are able to celebrate you and our families and our friends

For those who have no voice, we ask you to speak.

For those who feel unworthy, we ask you to pour your love out in waterfalls of tenderness.

For those who live in pain, we ask you to bathe them in the river of your healing.

For those who are lonely, we ask you to keep them company.

For those who are depressed, we ask you to shower upon them the light of hope.

Dear Creator, You, the borderless sea of substance, we ask you to give to all the world that which we need most.....PEACE.

Maya Angelou

Friday, 12 December 2014

Thursday, 11 December 2014

The Thursday Poem

Potted Flowers with Books IV
Eric Barjot
Rain - Birdoswald

I stand under a leafless tree
more still, in this mouse-pattering
thrum of rain,
than cattle shifting in the field.
It is more dark than light.
A Chinese painter's brush of deepening grey
moves in a subtle tide.

The beasts are darker islands now.
Wet-stained and silvered by the rain
they suffer night,
marooned as still as stone or tree.
We sense each other's quiet.

Almost, death could come
inevitable, unstrange
as is this dusk and rain,
and I should be no more
myself, than raindrops
glimmering in last light
on black ash buds

or night beasts in a winter field.

Frances Horovitz
(13th February 1938 - 2nd October 1983)

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

GRAPHIC SCENES....


...but this is the reality of drinking and driving.

Please, my loves, just don't even think of doing it...

Words on Wednesday

Alphabet Overlay 1


The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to
cheer up somebody else

Sunday, 7 December 2014

The Sunday Prayer

Dove of Peace by Pablo Picasso

Father, Mother, God,

Thank you for your presence during the hard and mean days.
For then we have you to lean upon.

Thank you for your presence during the bright and sunny days.
For then we can share that which we have with those who have less.

And thank you for your presence during the Holy Days.
For then we are able to celebrate you and our families and our friends

For those who have no voice, we ask you to speak.

For those who feel unworthy, we ask you to pour your love out in waterfalls of tenderness.

For those who live in pain, we ask you to bathe them in the river of your healing.

For those who are lonely, we ask you to keep them company.

For those who are depressed, we ask you to shower upon them the light of hope.

Dear Creator, You, the borderless sea of substance, we ask you to give to all the world that which we need most.....PEACE.

Maya Angelou

Friday, 5 December 2014

Thursday, 4 December 2014

The Thursday Poem

Potted Flowers with Books IV
Eric Barjot


Warning

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick the flowers in other people's gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

Jenny Joseph
(7th May 1932 - )

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Words on Wednesday

Alphabet Overlay 1


Put your future in good hands ~ your own.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

A quick update....

Medical Illustration Showing Inflammation
in Human Back Area


I had to go back to the doctor's last Friday *sigh*  I was in so much pain, especially around my ankle, and had not had anywhere near a decent night's sleep since before the previous weekend.  Frankly, I was a wreck ~ and blubbed down the phone to the doctor's receptionist (who was very nice about it!) and to my friend, Olive (who was also really lovely!), asking if she could possibly give me a lift to the surgery.

I saw another GP (it appears that my regular doctor has been on longterm sickness, with some kind of back injury I think, and is only working a couple of days a week at the moment) who promptly told me that the co-codamol was "quite frankly, useless".  She said that the amount of codeine in the tablets just wasn't enough to help the pain so she has prescribed "straight" codeine, which I am to take four times a day along with over-the-counter paracetamols.  I have to say that this has hit the pain wonderfully and I've been able to get some much better night's sleep too.  The only downside is how sleepy the codeine makes me ~ I'm having to take a nap every day because I can barely keep my eyes open!

I'm really hoping that the codeine will help to keep on top of the pain and the sciatica will gradually get better.  The next medication step after codeine is what the GP described as "dirty drugs", i.e. they are addictive and much harder to come off of.  I know this is the case as when I had the prolapsed disc I was on a high dose of Tramadol and it took a very long time to gradually reduce the amount I was taking ~ and I still had some withdrawal symptoms when I finally stopped altogether.

So wish me luck with the codeine, my loves ~ I really don't want to be back on the likes of Tramadol!  

Sunday, 30 November 2014

The Sunday Prayer

Dove of Peace by Pablo Picasso


Father, Mother, God,

Thank you for your presence during the hard and mean days.
For then we have you to lean upon.

Thank you for your presence during the bright and sunny days.
For then we can share that which we have with those who have less.

And thank you for your presence during the Holy Days.
For then we are able to celebrate you and our families and our friends

For those who have no voice, we ask you to speak.

For those who feel unworthy, we ask you to pour your love out in waterfalls of tenderness.

For those who live in pain, we ask you to bathe them in the river of your healing.

For those who are lonely, we ask you to keep them company.

For those who are depressed, we ask you to shower upon them the light of hope.

Dear Creator, You, the borderless sea of substance, we ask you to give to all the world that which we need most.....PEACE.

Maya Angelou

Friday, 28 November 2014

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Here I am again.....

Medical Illustration Showing Inflammation
in Human Back Area


...back on co-codamol "sigh"

I have been having pain in my left leg for a few weeks now and when I saw my GP, she confirmed that it was sciatica as I had suspected.  She prescribed naproxen, an anti-inflammatory, and said to come back if it wasn't helping.  I thought things were starting to ease but decided to book a telephone appointment to ask for a further prescription as my leg was still pretty painful, even though the back pain wasn't so bad.

By the end of last week, though, the pain in my back had returned and the pain in my leg (like the most excruciating pins and needles you can imagine) was as bad as ever.  So, I went to back to my GP surgery and saw another doctor ~ who only looked about 18!  I guess I must be getting old LOL  Anyhoo, she was very good and examined my back/leg and confirmed, once again, that it was still sciatica.  Because of the pain she decided to try me on a low dose of co-codamol since the paracetamols I've been taking haven't really helped.  She is also writing to the hospital to request a new MRI scan.  I had one when I was hospitalised with a prolapsed disc five or six years ago, but the pain was all down the right-hand side then.

I've only been taking the co-codamol since Tuesday evening and so far the pain is still just as bad.  I'm hoping that things will improve soon as I don't really want to have to start taking higher doses of medication.  The worst of it, in some ways, is the lack of sleep.  I'm in pain and just can't seem to find a comfortable position to sleep in.  This morning I got up at 3.30am and went downstairs to sit with the dogs for a while!  I have managed to have a nap this afternoon, thank goodness; I guess I'll just have to grit my teeth and rearrange my sleeping habits for a while!


The Thursday Poem

Potted Flowers with Books IV
Eric Barjot


Words

Axes
After whose stroke the wood rings,
And the echoes!
Echoes traveling
Off from the centre like horses.

The sap
Wells like tears, like the
Water striving
To re-establish its mirror
Over the rock

That drops and turns,
A white skull,
Eaten by weedy greens.
Years later I
Encounter them on the road -

Words dry and riderless,
The indefatigable hoof-taps.
While
From the bottom of the pool, fixed stars
Govern a life.

Sylvia Plath
(27th October 1932 - 11th February 1963)

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Words on Wednesday

Alphabet Overlay 1


Any man can stand adversity; if you want to test a man's character, give him power.

Monday, 24 November 2014

A cautionary tale...

image from clker.com


In a nutshell, my husband and I have been gullible and naive ~ me more than him since I actually dealt with the guy concerned and should have known better.

Last week, a guy rang on our doorbell and said to me that his company did the work on our neighbour's drive and they were now canvassing for new jobs.  He asked if we would like our block-paved drive cleaned, sealed and re-sanded, and they would also lift the blocks that had dipped, and quoted a price.  He assured me that we would get everything in black and white, and we could pay by cheque, credit card or cash.  I said that I would speak to my husband and get back to him if we were interested.  He left me his mobile phone number, saying that it was better to contact him on that number as it wasn't always very easy to get through to the office.  There and then I should have been alerted.....but I wasn't.

We decided that since our drive was looking pretty weedy/mossy/grubby, it would be a good idea to have the work done, especially since the company had made a good job of our neighbour's paving.  I telephoned the guy and he told me that he would come out the following day to do the power-washing and would be back to do the sanding and sealing when it was all dry.  I should have checked it all out with the office of the company concerned but I didn't.....I naively took the guy at his word.

He came out with a younger guy and they did the power-washing.  The original guy certainly had the gift-of-the-gab and told me that some of the edging blocks needed to be re-set and more blocks needed to be lifted as there were even more dips visible than it had at first appeared.  I could indeed see the dips he was telling me about and I phoned hubby at work to ask if we should have the additional work done ~ naturally for an additional price.  He said to go ahead and get it all straightened out.

The upshot of all this was that although the guy told me that they had rectified the dips it has become obvious since all the rain we had over the weekend that they did no such thing.  He also changed his story about the sealing, telling me that the sealer was applied after the power-washing; they also brushed sand over the blocks on that same day.  He had asked me for "some cash" to go and get the sand as it was apparently dry enough for them to complete the job but I told him that I didn't have any.  He accepted this without making a fuss and got the sand.

He also wanted me to let him clean the pvc siding on the side of our house and paint our guttering but I said no.  I was suspicious by now but didn't really know what to do to be honest, especially as I was home alone.  

When the work was supposedly finished, he again asked me for cash.  I told once more him that I didn't have the cash and didn't have that amount of money in my bank account.  He agreed to come back on Saturday morning to collect the money after hubby had been to the bank ~ he wanted cash, naturally, despite what he had originally said.

By this time we were sure he was a conman and managed to get hold of the company he purported to work for.  The chap there said that he didn't know the guy and asked for his mobile number to talk to him.  He phoned back to say that he couldn't get hold of him but agreed to come over in the morning when the guy was coming to collect his money.

As you have probably guessed by now, things turned rather nasty the next morning.  The guy phoned to check that we had got his cash and when hubby said that he wasn't going to pay the whole amount as he hadn't done the job properly, he became very angry and threatening.  He said that if he came over he would end up hitting my husband and if we didn't pay, then he would get his workmen ~ who he told us were from one of the gypsy sites ~ to come over during the night and throw black paint over the drive.  He eventually agreed to take less money than he had originally quoted and said that he would send one of his men over to collect it.

We phoned the police because of the threats but were told that they couldn't do anything unless the guy became violent or any damage was caused.  The policewoman also said to my husband "don't you watch Crimewatch?" which in the circumstances wasn't particularly helpful!  The chap from the company we spoke to didn't show up and didn't return our phone call; we suspect that perhaps he did know this guy and didn't want to get involved.  When hubby had confronted the guy about not working for this company at all, he said that he was a sub-contractor for them.  The young man who collected the money (who had done the power-washing, etc) also said that they sub-contracted for this particular company.

I guess there are some of you who feel that we shouldn't have paid up but we felt extremely intimidated.  My husband is not a big chap and is almost 56 years old ~ I certainly didn't want him getting hit and I didn't want our son to get involved in anything violent, either.

We both feel very foolish and can't believe how gullible we were ~ and yes, we have read many stories in the press about such things happening.

Neither of us will ever take anyone at face value again... 

Sunday, 23 November 2014

The Sunday Prayer

Dove of Peace by Pablo Picasso


Father, Mother, God,

Thank you for your presence during the hard and mean days.
For then we have you to lean upon.

Thank you for your presence during the bright and sunny days.
For then we can share that which we have with those who have less.

And thank you for your presence during the Holy Days.
For then we are able to celebrate you and our families and our friends

For those who have no voice, we ask you to speak.

For those who feel unworthy, we ask you to pour your love out in waterfalls of tenderness.

For those who live in pain, we ask you to bathe them in the river of your healing.

For those who are lonely, we ask you to keep them company.

For those who are depressed, we ask you to shower upon them the light of hope.

Dear Creator, You, the borderless sea of substance, we ask you to give to all the world that which we need most.....PEACE.

Maya Angelou