Wednesday 17 April 2024

I didn't want to like this book but.....

                                                          


This was our book group read
 for April. When I read the blurb that it was about the aftermath of the 'A' bomb on Nagasaki I did not want to read it.. I was convinced I wouldn't like it. How wrong I was, I loved it!
Each chapter is introduced with an explanation of a Japanese culture and history and is worth reading to get the 'flavour' of the story.

The story revolves around the life of Amaterasu, a mother and grandmother affected by the dreadful atom bombing of Nagasaki. She spends her life grieving the death of her daughter Yuko and grandson Hideo. 
One of the best books I've read. An engaging story,  exquisite writing, and characters whose emotions you could actually feel. The author has a poetic quality of writing and really makes you feel about the choices of love and trust.
Years after the bomb Amaterasu, now a widow and living in America, opens her door one day to see a disfigured man there, claiming to be her lost grandson, Hideo.
He has with him a parcel of letters from Sato, a Dr who had loved her daughter. Sato had never sent them, but declares his love for Yoko in the letters and with Yoko's diary, Amaterasu relives her own past. 
The story  tells of her own love, and her daughter's love. It weaves back and forth across generations and changing cultural attitudes. It is a challenging read in some instances but ultimately rewarding and I found it difficult to put down, wanting to know what happens next.
It is a very emotional book with a deep romantic story at its core. The author actually lived and worked in Nagasaki and Sapporo for three years and researched the cultural references, so the explanations and terms of Japanese history at the beginning of each chapter are correct They were an education to me who knew little or nothing about Japanese culture and history, and as an introduction to each chapter, they were a nice touch too. 
This is  a thought provoking, beautifully written book that I highly recommend. 

Chrisxx

Tuesday 16 April 2024

Grrrrrrr, some days I hate myself!

That  troublesome word has cropped up again ....weight.. mainly my being very over weight. How did I get here I ask myself?? The bulk of this extra weight arrived in lock down. Why?? We did things in the garden, to keep active, when we had planned not to when we moved to Suffolk, so we'd be free to take holidays any time of the year. But it didn't work out that way. Once the rules in the second lock down, was that we weren't to travel, our movements were restricted, we didn't drive to walk somewhere, but did walk around our road. and locally. I bought my 'wheels' to help me, so we did get out walking.  We didn't go shopping, but had everything delivered, so no tempting shelves of sweets and chocs to see.. sounds  feasible doesn't it? 

But....

We ordered the tempting things instead, crisps, chocs, cake, we even found Orange Flavoured cake mixture and different fruit bread mixes and we did what a lot of Britain did, we baked cakes and made bread! When it was the winter months, we did not walk as much and my weight piled on. I felt very anxious the whole time and hardly ever slept through the night,  so we had tea and toast most nights! Then I compounded the stress by saying I wanted to move back here to Wales in the middle of lock down!

We had buyers right away, but they were slow getting a mortgage and the sales dragged on for 4 months. Each time we saw a bungalow here, because our sale hadn't gone through, we lost what we wanted to buy. This bungalow was the only one left for us to buy. Too big really, although we've filled it with our own furniture even though we gave a lot away before we came here. The garden is a lot bigger than we wanted, fortunately we have a big power lawn mower so it makes short work of the grass. And we have settled in and do get out quite a bit. But exercise doesn't lose weight, eating less does! Hence Slimming World and I am losing weight, but so slowly and I'm very easily tempted, so this SW cake helps.. But Sunday I ate more than one piece and some ice cream and as we had beef for our Sunday dinner, we had home made Yorkshire puddings, so doubt I'll lose another 2 lbs this week! Grrrrrrr

Here is the SW Weetabix cake,  it does hit the spot.

SW Weetabix cake

2 weetabix crumbled

200ml skimmed milk

100g sultanas

100g Self-Raising flour 

1 Tsp Mixed spice

2 Tbl Sweetner

2 large eggs

Method.

Preheat oven 180C fan/160C/Gas 4

Line a pound tin

Pour milk over Weetabix and mash, leave for a few minutes till thoroughly soaked.

Beat in all remaining ingredients

Spoon into tin and cook for 1 hour.

Turn out and leave to cool.

Slice into 12 pieces (3 1/2 syns per slice)

Chrisxx

Monday 15 April 2024

A WALK?


The sun was shining and Dh said 'come on lets go for a walk'.. I hmmm and haaa-d a bit but got my shoes. We intended to walk along the Eastern Prom, as it has been all revamped and the path ways are smooth and no loose pavers. It goes all the way up to the harbour, filled these days with top class yachts, unlike when I was little when there were just  a few old wooden fishing boats, keeled over on their sides. Sunny Sundays here are always packed, but altho the roadsides are full with parked cars, there is always spaces in the car park. 


This coffee kiosk by the harbour has lovely coffee and they have these too. It was somewhere we always went with Nell but we haven't been there since she went over Rainbow Ridge.   

 A couple of years ago while we were sitting there enjoying a coffee, Dh thought there was a seal swimming near the entrance of the harbour, we both watched for quite a while and it did look like a seal. So we walked all the way round to get a closer look. And was it a seal? No, a rock,  but I did agree (?) it could have been one. Since then I have teased him saying .... shall we go on a seal hunt??
... but it is a lovely place to sit and watch the world go by. So I said, yes lets go... but as we opened our front door, the heavens opened and the rain came down like 'stair rods' We waited a while but it didn't look as though it was stopping, so coats off and Dh made a cup of tea, which we had with  a piece of Weetabix cake.

Then as we sat down in the lounge and looked out of the window, the sun was shining again!!!!! 
Chrisxx

Sunday 14 April 2024

Insomia and a Saturday.

 This is pickled cucumber made by Dh, the one I made was eaten,; we really like it! The recipe is here....  https://alwayssmiling24.blogspot.com/2024/02/a-fancy.html

I had a funny old Saturday, started off tired as I was awake for 2 hours in the night. Some nights I sleep with the loo visits and some nights I wake for the loo and then can't get back to sleep. Friday night I tried hugging my pillow for an hour, with the mantra, 'I'm warm, I'm comfortable and I'm going to sleep,' with the picture in my mind of the sea gently lapping the shore. Then after an hour I get up, as that's what all the experts say.. I sometimes read my kindle, as its back lit so don't need a light, but at the moment I'm reading the book group book, 'A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding,' About a mother grieving for her daughter and Grandson, who were victims of the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki in 1945. The font is faint and where its in italics, I need a bright light to see it.  An easy  read, but not a book I'd go to bed early to read! So I sat in the lounge with my spot light to read it. Climbed back into bed at 4 and was asleep in minutes. 

We usually visit the library on Saturdays, but no books to collect so we'll take ones we've read back on Wednesday, the book group afternoon.

Then gardening in the afternoon, Dh mowed the front grass, then he pruned a rose I'd missed, when I did the others a few weeks ago. It was a cutting that Dh took of a rose, that my daughter gave me several years ago and flourished in my Billericay garden. He took 4 cuttings and all 'took' We left one in the Suffolk garden and gave 2 away, so this is the last one. It's very precious, pink with a heavenly Turkish delight scent.. And while we were looking in that flower bed, I found a little penstemon, called Sour Grapes, I thought I'd lost. I took cuttings before we left Billericay and have had 1 or 2 in my garden where ever I've lived. This one I brought with me from Suffolk. Some of my plants have lived in several gardens!

(pic from a catalogue)

I can't kneel to garden any more so Dh did and cleared away the Forget me Nots and dandelions around it, to give it breathing room! Its still very tiny but I'll give it lots of  TLC to bring it on.

So our pickled cucumber went with our green salad and a very tasty steak and baked potato, for our evening meal. Another Saturday gone, with a drizzly end, I call it air rain, the sort that wets you!

How was your Saturday?

Chrisxx

Saturday 13 April 2024

Make your own pot noodle

Ingredients

50G dried noodles broken up.
1/2 veg stock cube crumbled.
Juice of 1/2 a lime
Tbl sp soya sauce
Carrot, grated
Small red pepper, deseeded and thinly sliced
Spring onion, chopped.
Fresh coriander, chopped
Tsp garlic granules.

Method

In a heat proof jar, layer the ingredients with the noodles at the bottom.
When you're ready pour in boiling water till noodles are covered.
Put on lid and leave for 8 mins
Stir and add a tsp of sweet chili sauce if you want it, enhances the taste.
(That would be synned for SW)

EAT AND ENJOY!
Chrisxx
(pic from a member in my SW group)

Friday 12 April 2024

A Sea Monster?

 On Thursday afternoons I have my hair done, since moving here I've found a hair dresser who does it just right. We don't usually go round town after it, but today we did, as it wasn't raining. Once I've had my hair done, I won't get it wet; we wandered through the town to get some cards, but suddenly there were some spicks of rain so we rushed back to the car.

We thought we'd have a drive to the sea front to see this huge piece of drift wood. Its been photographed by loads of people and is on all the FB pages. But we couldn't get a parking space near to it and I didn't want to get wet. Its like a huge monster from the sea!

It looks bleak doesn't it? We drove further along the front and got a parking space further along the prom, just by our favourite kiosk and got a lovely decaff coffee... 


... and one of these..

...A shortbread biscuit from Popty Bakery, they are delish.
And we sat and watched the sea breaking over the rocks and it rained and rained and rained!
So glad this isn't me!

Hurry up summer, we're fed up of the rain
Chrisxx

Thursday 11 April 2024

How life changes.


Yesterday was a day of rain and wind, but we still managed a blow by the sea. Some days I need to blow the cobwebs away out of my mind and yesterday was one of those days.
I had been brooding about those people, who always seem to take advantage of situations and I feel down trodden. Well one in particular.
In fact all my life I've felt second best. My childhood was carefree, but living without a mother I always felt I was missing something.
For the first 9 years of my life my cousin and her parents lived with us. There was only 6 weeks in age between us but, she was always just that little bit bigger than me, she developed breasts' when I still had 'fried eggs!'  I loved her mum and I did spend a lot of time with them. When we did go to the beach with an adult it was with her mum, because she didn't work. So I have lovely memories of those afternoons, but she wasn't my mum.
Then they moved to Wolverhampton, because her father got a job there. So I had summer holidays there. I was put on a train in care of the guard and travelled by myself, met the other end by my aunt. Can you imagine that happening today? I spent many happy summers there with them. 
I didn't know the background of our living arrangements back then. I mean I didn't know who owned the house in Porthcawl. So it came as an enormous surprise to learn that the Aunt who actually looked after me, who paid for me to go to that private school was the owner. It was she who encouraged me to work hard at school and get my qualifications. And one thing I had more than my cousin was, I got my school cert in 10 subjects, including my Aunt used to say very proudly French with Oral. My cousin got one subject and that was needlework! 
But didn't I feel I had something more than her, not really she had a mother and I didn't. When my Aunt who brought me up died, the house became mine, it was a shock, she had never told me.  And it caused a huge rift and the Wolverhampton crowd, as they had become to be known, decided not to speak to me. That was 1990.. but a few years ago my cousin got in touch with me and we exchanged cards etc. She came and stayed with us in my little house in Billericay and the Suffolk house. We were invited to stay with her in her 'barn conversion' rather posh, but out in the wilds. She has posh friends who all live in very big houses and own horses; my cousin had one too, for years. But now it seems I have more than she can ever have. Very sadly, her youngest daughter died age 30 with meningitis, she and her husband split after that and although she 'appears' to have money, her life is very changed. I still don't like her, something I realised a few years ago. She thinks my husband is very down trodden by me as he cooks when she has visited us and I appear to do nothing. I don't care I don't feel I need to explain things to her. 
Why am I brooding about all this now? She wants to come and visit and each time she has asked I've said no, with the reason we had builders here or something going on. Now she has asked again, and I've said no, why does she want to play happy families now when she didn't speak to me for over 20 years? Dh says we should, she's lonely and we have each other and it would be the Christian thing to do.
I'm thinking about it, but really I want to say no. Dh says it will only be for a few days but I know it will be like an open door.. 
I'll think some more!
What do you think?
Chrisxx

Wednesday 10 April 2024

Once Upon a Time!

 Ice on the inside of the bedroom window, toes on a hot water bottle.

 Spiders in the outside lav, with paper on a meat hook on the back of the door.  I never closed the door at night, but sat there swinging my legs, looking at the stars.

Sunny all day, playing out in the back lane.  Pushing my dolls in my pram with Kay and Margaret, wonder where they are today?

Days on the allotment with my grandfather, eating too many gooseberries and then tummy ache! Bless him, to keep me clean, off came my dress and on with a wheat sack, so I went home with a clean dress and filthy knicks where I'd sat playing in the mud!

Sweet shop round the corner and 5 for a penny.                             Dandelion and Burdock pop.                                                            Tinned peaches and Evaporated milk for Sunday tea and bread and butter!                                                                                                     Play clothes and a set of Sunday best clothes and school uniform. 

Toes cut out of last years sandals to allow for growing feet! There wasn't a lot of spare money.

Knitted pixie hat and matching gloves, probably would be highly valued now, but then every scrap of wool was used for something.


My aunty did knit one of these for me out of odd bits of wool.
Sitting in front of the coal fire in winter, toasting bread on the fire, listening to the radio, children's hour at 5 o'clock.
Playing Hide and Seek  in the dark, in the street, the lamp post was 'home.'
Paddling in the sea and getting my frock and knickers wet.. who cared?
Running down the hilly sandhills, screaming arms outstretched.
Days gone bye, but happy memories, and it never rained!
What was your childhood like?
Chrisxx



Tuesday 9 April 2024

Ta da!!

Although it wasn't obvious, there was a big dip in the lawn here. We wondered if at some point in time there'd been a shrub planted there and then dug up and the area roughly filled and grass allowed to grow over the spot and it had sunk.
There were quite a few times when I didn't allow for the dip and I nearly fell over. This last time my whaooo loud shout frightened me and Dh, as I forgot the difference in level and nearly went over!
It took 12 or more bags of top soil to fill the dip. We did this a couple of months ago and did the foot shuffle as shown by Alan Titmarsh to get it flat. Heavy rain since helped, so it was ready for turf.
Then there was the  search for turf. We saw some at Homebase the weekend before Easter, but as we were trying to get organized for our Easter visitors thought best leave it till after.. ha ha of course it was all gone.


I asked on our local FB page and was given the name of a firm that supplied all sorts of stuff for gardens, about 4 miles from us. I phoned them Friday and ordered the turf and we went along yesterday and picked it up.. and ta da.....
 

Not bad for a couple who had never done this before, with just big boots jumping to make it flat and a kitchen knife to cut it!
Of course Dh did the work I just supervised. He was very muddy and wet and had to go straight into the shower. And we'll have to soak his old jeans!
We're really pleased with our efforts, now we have the patio to clean, as the top soil is very black. The woman in the office, where we got the turf, advised us to put down some fertilizer first which we did.
Looks ok doesn't it?
Chrisxx

Monday 8 April 2024

Blossom

 These are my flowering trees bought last year and kept alive by Dh watering the pots twice a day in that searing heat, for 3 weeks, while we were having the patio layed.  A crab apple, and a flowering up right cherry. 



This is our chocolate vine, which we brought with us as a tiny 'shoot' from our garden in Suffolk. It has produced all this growth since we moved here.

The lovely blossom does produce a fruit, but I don't know if this one will, it needs to be well established.
I don't know why its called a chocolate vine because it doesn't smell like chocolate, more like vanilla. Proper name, Akebia Quinata.


And this is a lovely clematis that I've managed to grow up a little tree. Its called Pixie; not my photograph but how it looked when I bought it.

The tree was a small root brought with is from our other gardens; this is its 4th garden. A small tree, given to Dh many years ago. Name?? But it has a small Silver narrow leaf, produces a small yellow flower mid summer and the scent is heavenly.


My little flowering trees making my day a very happy one; my tulips survived the ferocious winds and slashing rain in the night.


Close up of the crab apple blossom.. so pretty!


I'm a happy bunny!
The Alanchier is still to flower and in pots we have a twisted stem flowering cherry, and Acer and Olive.
We have as well, a Bramley Apple, Victoria Plum, Damson, Russet Eating Apple, Peach, Fig tree and 2 Gooseberries. Even if they don't produce a lot of fruit, they look good!
Such a lot has been added to this garden which was only weedy grass when we moved here.
And I have flowers to come.. the little veg patch has garlic and shallots, carrots, sprouting broccoli and there will be runner beans in the summer. I grow my tomatoes in pots and potatoes in bags; we are keen gardeners.
Do you love your garden?

Chrisxx