Grandma’s house is very small
Just 2 bedrooms off the hall
A tiny kitchen, shiny-floored
A larder where my treats are stored
A shower with a seat inside
Wardrobes where doggy and I can hide
An archway leads into the lounge
Where furniture gets moved around
To make a station for my trains
Or an airport for ‘copters and planes
Sometimes it’s a racetrack for my cars
Or a farmyard with tractors, paddocks and barns
Grandma puts blankets over the table
To make a den, a forest or a stable
In the garden there’s gravel that scrunches when I walk
And a patio where I can draw pictures with chalk
In granddad’s shed there are drawers full of tools,
Boxes of nails, tubes of glue, jars of screws
A little mouse is nesting inside the wood store
While outside live birds, bees, hedgehogs and more
Grandma says her shed is a magical place
It’s furnished and carpeted and curtained with lace
Lavender hangs drying from the painted ceiling
While pine shelves are covered in things that have meaning
Like Icons from Finland, and medals from Lourdes
Calabash from Africa made out of gourds
Matrushkas from Moscow, maracas from Spain
I can’t wait for summer to play there again
Grandma loves it when I come to play
She makes indoor picnics we eat off a tray
She has lots of photos all over her wall
The best one is my mummy when she was small.
It was St David’s day on 1st March and my friends with Welsh roots were rightly proud. It got me thinking about the North of England, where I was born and jokingly I suggested that we Geordies should have a patron saint too! There can be few people prouder of their roots than Geordies!
The word Geordie is believed to be a corruption of the name George, which was the most common name for pitmen in the North. It is a slang word for anyone born and raised in the area of the River Tyne, just as Cockney is a slang word for someone born within the sound of Bow Bells.
I certainly qualify as Geordie because I was born in Gateshead, very close to the Tyne. Sadly no blue plaque for me as the house was demolished when the Felling Bypass was built near Gateshead International Stadium!
I was born in the scorching summer of 1947 which followed a record breaking winter. My mum recounted being trapped indoors for weeks by the snowdrifts which were piled up outside the house. The war had recently ended and times were hard for everyone. There was destruction all around from the bombs which had been aimed at the shipyards, coalmines and factories around Gateshead. Food and clothes were still rationed and jobs were in short supply and poorly paid. My father was in the navy during the war then went back to work in the shipyards as a welder. He had to cross the river and cycle many miles each day to get to work. Housing for the majority of working people was atrocious. With gas lighting, tiny kitchens which we called a scullery, and outside toilets, there were no mod cons. There was no central heating, just a gas or coal fire in the living room. Only the local doctor and policeman had a phone or a car as far as I knew. Entertainment was provided by the wireless or the newspaper which had cartoon strips in it. There was no TV for us, and computers hadn’t even been invented. On the rare occasions when we travelled to the seaside at Whitley bay or South Shields for the day, we went by train. To go to the city (of Newcastle), we went on a tram or trolley bus.
Life was tough in the late 40s and early 50s. But Geordies were tough too, reflecting their industrial surroundings ~ whatever their age.
I was certainly a determined child. One of my earliest memories is of telling my mum that I wanted to go and show my favourite aunty my new slippers. My mum must have been busy because I managed to dress, put on said slippers and get my doll and her pram down the 15 steps which led to our back yard. From there I walked the cobbled lanes pushing my little pram onward through Felling Park to Sunderland Road. Now Sunderland Road has always been busy so I sensibly waited at the crossing. In those days there were policemen directing traffic on main roads and this was my downfall. Naturally the policeman on duty was surprised to see such a young child crossing the road alone. And so my trip to show my aunty my new slippers came to a very sticky end. I was taken to the police station where I sat eating chocolate cake until they traced my distraught mother. I was just 2½ years old at the time!
I guess I was lucky to have been picked up by such a kind policeman. But I wasn’t the luckiest child ever rescued in the North. That award definitely goes to Mary Leighton.
Mary was born in 1771 in Wylam, a village on the banks of the River Tyne. She was christened in St Peter’s Church that April. According to newspaper reports, on the night of 16th November there was a dreadful flood which washed away bridges all along the Tyne. The village of Wylam was devastated and many houses were washed away. Baby Mary was asleep in her wooden cradle when the flood reached her home. Her cradle was carried away on the floodwaters with her inside it. Miraculously the cradle complete with baby Mary, alive and well, was picked up by a ship near the mouth of the Tyne.
There are many famous people who were Geordies. The Newcastle University website is a mine of information http://libguides.ncl.ac.uk/content.php?pid=462634&sid=3833544
And many talented people today are proud of their northern roots. Jimmy Nail who is a bit younger than me but his memories are closely aligned with mine. He expressed just what I feel in his song ~ Big River http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3_519h95XFs
Some of my other blogposts about the North are here:
I do agree with this very useful guidance on common courtesy on social networks. I don’t use twitter but I love Pinterest. I have found some rather strange boards but if you are selective it can be brilliant. I’ve been looking for home decorating tips and ideas for transforming my very sad garden! I also collect Zentangle patterns and photographs that remind me of places I’ve been. I think the photographers are wonderful to share their pictures-in all Pinterest, like blogging enriches my life. I do plug some of my blog posts too of course!
Originally posted on Live to Write - Write to Live:
This is my first Haiku for HaikuSpielen.This week’s theme is Winter. here in Gloucestershire the overwhelming thing about this winter, as in Somerset, is the never ending rain. Combined with high Spring Tides on the River Severn this has led to major flooding in some areas.
Farms and fields submerged
River Severn breaks its banks
Washes the landscape
photos from BBC Gloucestershire or Gloucestershire Echo our local newspaper
This post is inspired by the February theme of ‘Pilgrimage’ on Carpe Diem
I journey into my soul
A Prayerful Pilgrim
I have written about my idea of pilgrimage before and have posted links to these posts so you can read them again if you wish. I am aware that a number of my readers have no faith or a different faith from myself. I respect that and hope you will read with an open heart and mind, and enjoy the photographs
What an amazing blog I discovered this morning. The post is so beautiful that I just had to pass it on to you x Enjoy~
“And so our mothers and grandmothers have, more often than not anonymously, handed on the creative spark, the seed of the flower they themselves never hoped to see – or like a sealed letter they could not plainly read.”
Many years ago, it seems like another lifetime, I was a busy single mum to 4 wonderful children. I had a full time job that I loved, a nice home that was all my own work, an adorable miniature wire haired dachshund and a stray cat who turned up one day and stayed for 17 years. Over the years I progressed from teacher to deputy head and then Headteacher of a great primary school at the heart of an estate in my adopted home town. Luckily my profession fitted in perfectly with being a single parent as I was usually around in school holidays and always at weekends. But if ever there was a crisis due to illness or something I had the backup of my mum who lived nearby and was always delighted to look after the children or pets!
My school and parish was my community and together with my family, was the source of all the joy, friendship and social life I needed. Although I knew my immediate neighbours, my life was much too busy to get involved in the local community or the people in the wider neighbourhood.
And so life went on and my children became adults and gradually left home. I had always encouraged them to follow their dreams and take any opportunity they could to travel and sample other ways of life and other cultures. I was lucky enough to travel extensively through my job, working with schools in Russia and Africa. I also took great holidays in America, Canada and many parts of Europe. So I think I probably went a bit too far with this advice as now 3 of my children live and work abroad!
As my children grew more independent I filled my spare time travelling to Lourdes at every available opportunity as a volunteer/helper with the sick or disabled whom we called VIPs. This was one of the most rewarding 10 years of my life. It also indirectly brought me my wonderful second husband who was also a volunteer.
I knew that I was very lucky in every way and I worked very hard to try and improve the life chances of the children in my school. But of course life has a way of turning your world upside down sometimes. For me several events occurred to produce the perfect storm that would shatter my well ordered life. I buried my feelings and worked harder and harder until my body refused to do any more and I had to retire.
There then followed 5 very gruelling years which felt like 50 years. I was caring for my mum who was disabled after a heart attack. I only ever went out of the house to shop or for their hospital appointments. I became reclusive, antisocial and anxious. By 2009 my life and social circle was as limited as it could possibly be.
Then in that Autumn my youngest daughter said some women wanted to start a WI in our area. She said she thought it would be good for me so she would go with me to the inaugural meeting. It took all my courage to turn up that night and fortunately there were only a handful of women there. In fact there were so few that almost everyone there ended up on the committee by default! My daughter said I was good on computers so could be the secretary.
Now, almost 4 years on, I know that joining the WI was the best thing I could have done. At first I forced myself to go to all the meetings as I had to take notes. Gradually it became a pleasure to attend the meetings and I looked forward to them. I joined the Book Club and started reading again. I started putting my name down for trips and events. To give me the courage to turn up for them I took my camera to hide behind and became our unofficial photographer. I ventured out to concerts and big events like the AGM in Cardiff. It still takes quite a lot of courage for me to attend these things but I know that if I am struggling I will not be alone. The friendship and support WI members offer each other is very special. I even joined the Public Affairs Committee at our Federation.
Usually I find that the speakers at meetings are so interesting that I completely forget to worry or panic and just enjoy myself!
Now the WI is my community and my family. Through joining, I have rediscovered my creative side, writing a blog at http://www.heavenhappens.wordpress.com I have become outgoing and physically active again and renewed my interest in campaigning.
Best of all, when I walk anywhere in my local area now I seem to know everyone and they all stop for a chat. I feel that I am part of a vibrant and supportive community.
The WI offers all kinds of opportunities to all kinds of women. I would advise any woman of any age to join and get involved to whatever extent you feel able.
The WI is all about inspiring women. It is a rich source of experiences, knowledge and skills passed down through generation ~ and updated every day!
WI even enriches my now rare holidays, as I try to pop in to a local meeting while I am away. It is fascinating to see how different WIs conduct their meetings. But I can honestly say that whichever WI I go to, I know a warm welcome is guaranteed.
I am so happy with my life now and I thank God every day for my wonderful family.