Thursday, 19 June 2014

Then or Now?

Playing with my nearly three year old granddaughter always takes me back to my own childhood and has me thinking how different things are now for children.
I was born and bred in the east end of Glasgow. We lived with my gran " up a close"  in a tenement flat on the ground floor. It wasn't the nice red sandstone tenement which you will see in photos of Glasgow. Ours was the council type, three stories high. The back gardens were communal and before the war they were separated from the next block with iron railings but they were taken away during the war along the railings on the front garden and never replaced. They were taken to be used for metal for guns, at least that's what I was told.

We played in the streets as a mob,so many children all playing hide and go seek, kick the can, chases and our favourite,chap door run fast. That needs no explanation.
During the summer we were out from morning and came home when the street lights came on, imagine children doing that today.
The highlight of our day was lunchtime and having pieces (sandwiches) thrown from the window down to us wrapped in bread paper. As I said I lived on the ground floor and that was no fun but friends from upstairs would ask their mother to make one for me and throw it out their window.
A song was written about this and how it was impossible to do it from the more modern multistory flats.
We filled milk bottles full of water and went for a picnic. No cans of pop then.
Television was something we watched for maybe fifteen minutes a day. Watch with Mother,Andy Pandy and The Wooden Tops. We preferred to be outside,exploring.

As I played with my granddaughter's small table top play kitchen, I thought of the large but child size Ikea kitchen she has at home and once again I envied her. I have little toy packets of shopping items and plastic food shapes for playing at shops and I remembered how we used to play shops.


In the back court we set up shop. We raided the bins for empty cans of peas or beans, we used stones for potatoes, weeds we found growing for vegetables and old newspaper to wrap things up. For money we used broken glass (now I sound like a street urchin) and no one was every cut. It was mainly glass from beer bottles I think as it was usually green or brown. We played for hours at shops and nothing came from our homes, we found it all outside.
Today Mumsnet would be screaming child abuse and I am laughing as I type this as I can't believe it was okay with all the adults around us.

I have large trees in my garden and my granddaughter loves me to place her on a branch so she can pretend she is climbing.




We had no trees in the back court but we did have three bin shelters. These were concrete structures to house the tin rubbish bins full of ash from the coal fires and other household rubbish. In my mind they were quite high but probably only about four of five feet. We would climb on top and jump from one to the other. We called them dykes. Jumping the dykes was about who was the bravest and it was never me.


My granddaughter has lots of dressing up clothes, little tutus, Cinderella dresses, tiaras and wands. I dressed up with curtains and any spare material lying around.

When I eventually was given a Sindy and Barbie doll by my favourite aunt all the clothes and furniture for the dolls were hand made. We made wardrobes from shoe boxes,dressing tables from matchboxes with tinfoil for the mirrors. I learnt to sew and knit clothes from my mum and aunt.

My  granddaughter and Thomas (toddler I look after) have a wealth of technology at their fingertips. They have cars that go by themselves at the touch of a button and even talk to you. They have every toy you could conjure up and will never have to pretend that glass is money (thank goodness) but they still like it when I make do and mend.
I make ramps for cars from anything I can find. I make doll's beds from shoe boxes. When we had no paddling pool and a hot day I fill a large plastic storage box with water and Thomas played in it for hours.


My childhood of climbing dykes and looking through bins for things to play with did me no harm except to blacken me from the ashes. I have never been to casualty or needed stitches for any incident in my childhood.
We didn't have much but we had a good community. I knew everyone from maybe three streets around me and knew help was there if I needed it. Today I don't know the person three doors away.
The young child I was would have loved all the toys on sale today, the tv programmes and the computers.  I wouldn't have enjoyed the restrictions put on our children, as I said we were out all day by ourselves. I wonder what is getting us more afraid as a society. Are there more people around  that are a threat to our children than in the fifties and sixties. Maybe the fact most of us have cars and drive to and from our houses means we don't get to know people around us and therefore don't trust them.
The roads are much busier now and more dangerous and yet back in the sixties my dad would never allow me to have a bike because we lived near a busy road, what would he say now?

Safety first...
...and foremost

If you took a walk around the estate where I live you would see very few children. We have children here but they never seem to be outside playing.
In the eighties and early nineties when my children were young they played outside and we knew most of our neighbours, I always felt they were safe. I have since discovered that they wandered a bit further away than were allowed to presumably when I thought they were at a friends house. Kids !
Life is probably better now even with retrictions because no matter how many of them you place upon children, like mine they will always find a way around them to do what they want,and like me you won't find out until many years later,but they survived it and you will laugh.





This is the Jeely Piece Song and the man singing it was the son of a neighbour in the tenement I lived in.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Our Awfully Big Adventure.

Ten months ago I wrote about a country walk a few hundred yards from my house,we call it the dinosaur jungle I blogged about it here
It is a great place for an adventure with young children. On Friday I went with toddler boy who will now be known as Thomas because in his own words he is nearly number four and not a toddler.
 We didn't take a picnic as Thomas wanted pizza for lunch so we had lunch before our walk.
I decided to go further than we have before and as the dinosaurs who live their are Thomas's friends we had no fear in exploring.
The way we didn't go.

We don't usually see coloured butterflies here.


Our first mishap was when Thomas was being a little over adventurous and fell into stinging nettles. In my youth I was a Brownie and also a Tawny Owl so I knew we had to look for dock leaves to ease the itch of the sting. Dock leaves always grow beside nettles, a brownie knows this, except that  they do not.
 I hunted all around and couldn't find any dock leaves so being resourceful I used the diluted juice from the Spiderman flask Thomas had brought to pour over his arm and cool it down. I eventually found dock leaves and used them too. Thomas was a brave soldier and didn't cry. I think he was so amazed at me pouring his juice down his arm and rubbing the spots with leaves that there was no room for tears. Behind the nettles I did see what resembled a swamp and as we just read a story about a boy falling into one and being rescued by a pterodactyl Thomas was really interested  in seeing one for real.

Nasty spots appeared immediatly
Further on we came to two paths and I hadn't a clue which one to take so we chose the one that went along the riverbank. The enclosed trees opened out and there was the river down at the bottom of a small hill and a bench in a lovely position for admiring it. There were two swans swimming along a good bit away from us.
We sat quietly and I took some photos on my iphone. The swans swam  closer, and closer. They then left the water and started coming towards us. I told Thomas I thought it was time we were moving on. He wanted to stay and watch the swans. I think he may have noticed the difference in my voice when I said we had to move
now and we had to be fast. We walked away as fast as we could without running and then Thomas ran. The swans looked as if they were going to follow and did for a bit then one went back into the water while the other  one kept watch in case we returned.
I asked Thomas where all the friendly dinosaurs were when we needed them,he said they were sleeping. Typical, never a dinosaur around when you need one. We actually laughed and laughed about what had just happened once we knew we were safe.
Swans getting closer.
We next came across a family of ducks but they were friendly and quacked hello at us. Our next path brought us out at our favourite picnic table and although we hadn't brought anything with us Thomas ran to it to drink his juice. Too late, being only number three he couldn't read the sign that said WET PAINT. Luckily I managed to grab him and it was only his hands that were covered in black paint. We were saved again by the spiderman flask and the juice which I used to clean the paint off.
The rest of our walk was uneventful but I could still feel my heart beating a little bit faster as I thought of those swans.
Thomas enjoyed talking over and over about what had happened and loved telling his mum when she came home from work.
He earned his rest

We had a lovely afternoon and I think Thomas learnt lots, like never be without a flask of juice, you never know when you might need it. Oh and keep away from swans. I don't think he'll forget that in a hurry.

I have to finish with a photo of my granddaughter because she loves to see herself on my blog.
Her hair is so curly that even trampolining can be a hair raising experience.



Wednesday, 28 May 2014

I'm Emptying my Head.

I have been blogging for nearly three years. I sometimes have so much to say that I can write a few posts in one sitting. There are times I struggle with what to write but usually an idea comes quite easily. I have not blogged for two months now and as I sit down today I am trying to come up with witty or interesting subjects to write about but my brain won't let me.
My head is filled with one thing and until I empty it of this one thing I fear Iwill  never write anything you will want to read,so here goes.

On 6th May my younger brother passed away having being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer just a few weeks before. He was 53 yrs old, far too young to leave us.
He was just like you and me, he had plans. He had planned to take early retirement next October, have a holiday of a lifetime and then set up a small business working from home. He had a lovely girlfriend and seemed to at last find the happiness he craved, he had hoped to marry her.

I wasn't close to my brother although there were only two of us and this somehow makes it worse. There are so many regrets but we were like chalk and cheese. He said tomatoe I said tomata. We never agreed on much. He loved cats, I love dogs. He never had any children while my life revolves around mine. We were different but we were still family.
The only complaint I heard him make in hospital was when he said,"This is rubbish isn't it?" That will go down in history as the one thing we ever agreed on, this death sentence he was handed was certainly rubbish.
When we received a phone call to say he didn't have long, a phone call we didn't expect to receive for weeks or months we drove to the hospice but he had slipped away holding his girlfriend's hand minutes before we arrived.

A few days ago I read a newspaper article about life after death with lots of reports from people seeing loved ones shortly after they passed away. It said this usually came within 24 hrs of the person passing and in the form of a dream. My brother passed late at night and the following afternoon I lay down for a sleep. I had a dream which was much more vivid than a normal dream. My brother was sitting at the bottom of my bed looking well and much younger than he was. He was smartly dressed in a pink checked shirt and smart trousers. He spoke to me and said,"My only worry is that I'm leaving you with things to deal with" I shouted at him not to scare me, I could feel the bed moving as he disappeared. I woke up fighting for my breath and sobbing, the phone rang and it was his girlfriend.
All very strange. I so wish I hadn't told him to go away but I was scared. I should have remembered my mum telling me not to be afraid of the dead it's the living we should be afraid of.
It has been two weeks since the funeral and we said our goodbyes. A fellow blogger Amanda who recently lost her father and has written in her blog about her loss here Amanda asks the question,"Where has he gone" and finds herself looking at photos to remind herself what he looked like.
I always seem to be wondering if there's an afterlife and I've written about it here and part 2 here 
so I won't go into any more detail as to what I think.

I want to finish with a warning. If your GP has been treating you for constipation for months and nothing is improving, if your stomach pains are so bad you can't attend work, if you are a ghastly yellow colour (jaundice) and your GP says it's just your colouring, please please demand to be referred for further tests. Please do not think your GP knows everything because in my brother's case his miss diagnoses meant that it was too late for chemotherapy or radiotherapy, the only weapons we have against cancer. If just one person gets themselves checked out then I will be happy.

I know that time heals but at the moment, like Amanda my head is only filled with one thing, maybe now that I have emptied it I will start to heal. Thank you for listening.

A painting I now have. Painted by my brother


Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Things That Make Me Go ARRRHHH!!!!

After my blog about what makes my heart sing here is one about what drives me mad. I've discovered that this is my third moaning post about annoying things
Most of you agreed with my last ones so let's see who agrees this time.


Vax steam floor cleaner
Many of you will not need this appliance if you have the luxury of carpets in your home although it can be used to freshen up carpets, not clean them, only freshen them. We have a large hairy dog so to help alleviate the mess from muddy paws and hair we have wooden floors downstairs.
After years of using a mop we treated ourselves to a steam cleaner and the fact that it had a compartment for detergent made it ideal.
Yes it does the job, it cleans the floor, it's the before and after that drive me mad.
Sliding out the containers for water and detergent is just impossible. It has grips on each end but still will not move. I have seen complaints about this on websites from other people so it's not just me. When eventually it comes off so does the stopper so if you have any water left it's all over your clean floor.
Instructions say "Do not use any other detergent in this it has to be made by Vax" The Vax make is expensive so as one does I've tried the usual kinds in it. Something strange happened, normal pleasent smelling floor cleaning products all smelled horrible and stained the inside of the container. The makers have done something mysterious that makes any other dertergent than theirs smell. If I had to buy it all over again I would buy the cheaper version,without the detergent container.
Rant over.

Models 
My  daughter is being married this year and I have been looking at websites of those shops who specialise in mother of the bride outfits before.
 Every outfit is modelled by a girl under the age of thirty five. They are all a size ten or less and they are all tall. I see a few I like but they are never going to look the same as me as they do on a six foot tall size ten thirty odd year old.
It really puts me off going into those shops and looking in the mirror dressed in satin or lace and not resembling the photo on their website. I wish they would use older women as that is the age they are aiming at. The shops do say that the photos come from the people who make the outfits and not from them but it's their website surely they could take some photos themselves, is that not common sense?
After I loose a few pounds  stones I will venture into to those shops with my heavily corseted undergarments and a pair of high heels that I'll only ever be able to pose in and try on some outfits hoping I will find "the one"

Rant over.












People who ask and answer their own questions.

I want to know if this annoys anyone else. In  TV interviews with celebrities it has become common for them to more or less interview themselves. I'll give you an example.
Celeb to interviewer, " If you ask me if I'm happy, I would say yes at the moment I am happy. If you had asked me if I was happy five years ago I would have said no, at that time in my life I wasn't happy.
She didn't ask you, you didn't give her a chance.  Interviewers will have to be careful as they will soon be no need for them.
I have also came across this in many magazine columns the writer asking herself questions and providing the answers. Politicians are great for doing it as it gives them the opportunity to be asked the right questions and avoid the ones they don't know the answers to.
I don't think it has happened with any of my friends or family, I would have remembered falling on the floor laughing at the ridiculousness of it.

Rant over. 


Computers

 I like to browse the Internet. I visit online shops and fill my basket with things I love and then visit another shop. I very rarely buy anything but it satisfies my shopping gene. The next time I use the computer lots of adverts will show exactly what I've been looking at and I find this so annoying. It's like being stalked by the shopping police shouting,"We know what you've been looking at" I can tell what my husband has been looking at too,usually boring stuff like tools or cars.

Yesterday I had to made a banner for my book review blog. I googled how to do it and lots of people said to download a programme called Gimp. I downloaded it but it wasn't much good so I uninstalled it from my computer. What I didn't know was that it had also downloaded two toolbars and another three sliding window things advertising all sorts of nonsense. It took me ages to uninstall them as I first had to find out the strange names the had been called. The moral of this story is, free downloads on your computer are never really free, beware all the added but unasked for extras.

Rant over.

On a slightly happier note.....
My dad always said that I had to have the last word in an argument. I found this while browsing and I thought it funny.

  

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Goodbye to Another Dear Green Place.

This part has no fencing yet and the daffs are just blooming


Last week as I left our estate I looked to the other side of the road and saw a man putting metal fencing around the perimeter of the only green place I see before I come to the ugly warehouse buildings that hold,B&M Stores, Matalan, Lidl  and Carpetwise. Although these large shops are sometimes handy I enjoy green spaces too.


Just across the road from entrance to our estate

The dark  patch is daffodils that will never bloom


In a few weeks this space would have been awash with daffodils and green leafy trees. This green hilly space has always been here. The council houses which were behind it were demolished and private housing built in their place. Not that I'm complaining about that, it was a very run down council estate and the whole area has been much quieter since it has been changed.
Even although I saw the advertising board going up for new homes I still couldn't believe they would build there,as well as it being on a hill the new apartments overlooking it will have their view spoiled.


From opposite direction. Fencing in distance




A few days later and my worst fears were confirmed. Diggers were out working the land and I was surprised how quickly they had flattened it.

This green space was not abused by people. No children played football on it, no dogs were seen to foul it. It was not trampled by people taking a short cut as steps ran through the middle of it. Is this the reason it was chosen? Surely we can have green spaces to enhance an area that don't have to be functional?
 I can just imagine the goings on at the planning department.

" Oh no one uses it so no one will miss it."

" No they can't complain about losing it or their children losing a play area,it's on a hill for god's sake!"


"Hill? No problem,we'll soon flatten that"

"Who's going to care about trees and daffodils?"
 
This area is named by the council as, " The Corridor of Opportunity" they even have road signs telling you this. Opportunity for the big fat cats to build and make money,never mind thinking of informing the community first.
Within a mile radius over the years they have taken away, all local shops from two communities, a library, a school, a nursery, post office and a community centre and replaced them with more private housing at prices only a few can afford. It disgusts me.
At the moment only part of the green space has people working on it and I can't see on the builder's website if they intend to use it all,I hope not.

One of my blogger friends Carol Hedges  has been fighting the local planners and council for some time now and discovered that it's not easy to change things when big business is involved. She has been heroic in her efforts even speaking up in court to stop them using her green dear space.


Sometime soon our doors will be knocked and we will be asked if we are voting Yes or No for Scottish Independence. I'm so annoyed at this green place being built on that I'm reminded of something we used to say years ago, " Divorce the devil and then marry his brother" Why would you?
I have no idea which way to vote but I'm so glad I got that off my chest today.



Thursday, 6 March 2014

Is Your Heart Singing?


A few years ago I read  in a magazine that everyone should make sure they do something once in a while to make their heart sing. It has always stuck in my mind, but what makes my heart sing?
There's the things you would expect, like being told for the first time that you're going to be a grandparent, holding your grandchild in your arms, they all go without saying.
The birth of my own children; the euphoria of giving birth to a baby cannot be matched. That moment when all pain has gone and you have a new life in your arms,nothing can match it.
My son would say parachuting off the top of mountains makes his heart sing, how I wish it didn't.We each have different things that make our hearts sing, my "thing" may make you want to run and hide.

I love the theatre, musicals especially and when I'm there I get this feeling inside of me that makes me think my heart must be singing. It doesn't happen very often because it's so expensive to have a trip to the theatre these days.
Feeling low from a nasty virus I needed cheering up so on went my new Cliff Richard  DVD of his latest concert (I can see you running to hide)  All the old songs brought back so many memories of so many concert trips and singing along at the top of my voice made me feel good.
 I read in the newspaper that singing with a group of people in a choir can do wonders for your health and well being, more so than singing by yourself. I did sing in a choir when I was a child but my voice is so bad now I'd be kicked out but I do understand how great the feeling must be.




 Very often while on holiday, usually in Turkey there are some moments, special moments, I may be looking at beautiful scenery, or people watching from an outside bar and I get that same feeling, my heart sings.

There are times when I feel surprised at what makes my heart sing.
I believe that your heart singing is a feeling of contentment, that all is right in your little corner of the universe.






Today I opened the back door to let the dog into the garden. I left it opened and washed some dishes, as I turned there was my little robin sitting on my kitchen floor (I wrote about him in my last post) I spoke to him and put some food under the garden table hoping the pigeons wouldn't see it. He followed me around the garden again really listening to what I said to him, and I had that feeling, my heart was singing that something so wild would want to spend time with me, he actually left his food to follow me around. I felt like Snow White, now if I could only train him to help with the housework.




Maybe scientists would say that your heart singing releases feel good endorphins that swim around your body awakening your senses and giving you the feeling of elation. I'm no scientist but that's what it feels like.
 As I get older I'm far more easily pleased and my heart far more eager to sing.
 Little things my granddaughter says can keep me elated for hours. A smile from her baby sister lightens my heart. Toddler boy's  little face showing his happiness at spending time with me brightens my day.
  Kind deeds,whether given or received, one of my special songs suddenly playing on the radio as if just for me all make me happy.
Sometimes we may have to go out and make the happy things happen, they don't always come to us gift wrapped. A walk in the country looking at the colours of the trees and sky. An outing by the sea,watching the waves crash against the shore, reading a good book.

On Sunday I went out with my daughter. She had found the perfect wedding dress for her wedding in November and wanted me to see it. Every mother knows that her daughter is beautiful and I feel the same about mine but when she opened the curtains of the dressing room and walked out in the most beautiful dress and veil I have ever seen....my heart sang.

What makes your heart sing?


Friday, 7 February 2014

My New Visitor.


 Last year around this time I was writing about a grey squirrel who was frequenting my back garden. I was so excited as this was the first time this had happened. I haven't been able to put out food for it this year as a neighbour about five gardens away is keeping pigeons and when I put food out it's like a scene from the Hitchcock movie The Birds. I do however have those little fat balls and seed in a hanger for the smaller birds. So no squirrel this year, I see it as it runs along the garden fences until it reaches the one that houses the horrible pigeons and better food.


A few weeks ago I was putting something in the garage from the door in the garden as I went to leave I noticed sitting on a shelf near the door was a little Robin Redbreast, so of course I spoke to him asking what he was doing in my garage and expecting him to fly away.  He didn't fly away but just chirped at me.
I looked at the shelf he was sitting on and right beside him was a bag of bird food. As I went towards it he flew outside and sat on the table which I have moved up against the wall outside the back door because of the high winds. He waited until I put out some food on the table and started to eat it. 
Since that day every time I go into the garden he flies down beside me. When I throw a ball for the dog the robin sits a foot away from me. When I do the dog pooh patrol around the garden he is there watching me when I look up. I always feel I have to speak to him which is unusual for me as I 'm not a bird person.



Yesterday my hubby said,"Your Robin has come for a visit" and there on my kitchen floor and looking very cheeky was the Robin. I couldn't believe my eyes, as I walked towards him in case he flew any further into the house he hopped outside and onto the table. I put out the seed and he feasted. 
Unfortunately the big horrible bullies from five gardens away saw the goodies and swooped down en mass.
I banged my kitchen door to scare them away but the spell was broken and Robin had flown away,oh how I hate those bloody pigeons.
Last night just after 5pm I was playing ball with the dog again. I could see the birds all flying back to their nests for the evening when I heard a little chirp,and there on a branch of a tree was my Robin. I put some food out for him and he hopped onto the table and was joined by another Robin and side by side they had their supper.
On telling my daughter about the Robin she said that Robins are said to be a departed loved one with a message for you. I'm always looking for signs (remember the rose ) so I decided to ask Google and this is what I found.


"The robin redbreast is a bird of Spring, a time of new growth and new beginnings. It flies into our lives on the winds of change asking us to weed our personal gardens and plant new seeds for our future. Rebirth and renewal require changes in all areas of life that have become stagnant and outdated. The robin redbreast teaches us to how to make these changes with joy in our hearts. Its song is a happy one reminding us to let go of our personal drama and learn to laugh with life. If this medicine is underdeveloped those with this totem are continually challenged by the prospects of change. Difficulties arise and emotional discord can surface. Learning how to release our attachments to the old is one of the life lessons the redbreast helps us master."


  According to Ted Andrews in the book Animal Speak, a Robin being around signifies growth in all areas of your life. So it is a positive sign. He says the Robin's trill is," a pleasant song as he sings to protect his territory, it suggests a need to "sing your own song forth" if you wish new growth.
 As a meaningful symbol for you, the robin is like an embodiment of the kind of energy you need to create and receive the new changes in your life."

I found it all quite interesting as at the moment we are preparing to sell our house and move to another area. As much as I want to move I am wrestling with letting things go,with starting afresh,with having to integrate into a new community. Like everyone else I have doubts, I doubt myself, I doubt the decisions I make. I want our lives to be better and I think this move will make it so,but there are still the creeping doubts.
If what I read about the Robin is true,and being the sentimental soul I am I believe this Robin was sent to me for the very reasons I have written about.
I have to clear out all the clutter in my life and look forward to sowing new seeds in a new place where my hubby and I will grow much much older together and where life will be just great.
Watch this space........