Advice to the Free Spirit

 

Advice to the Free Spirit.

While you are being a free spirit,

Take a moment to think of the ones that are left behind.

The ones who will take care of things in an emergency,

The ones who will bring you home if it ends suddenly.

Make some arrangements so that they know

What you would have wanted,

If they are doing the right thing,

Or where to find the important things.

Save a little to provide some security,

To cover the cost of a bad decision, or an accident.

Share with them more than just your fun,

Let them know when you are fulfilling your dreams,

Or chasing new ones.

For it will help them in their grief

To know that you were happy,

Loved and cared for,

Had friends in your heart and at your side,

Who will share your last moments.

That you did not die sad or lonely.

Whilst you are being a free spirit,

Remember them and tell them they are loved too.

That you aren’t running away,

But that you are just chasing your dreams,

Living the best life that you can.

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 Sisters

I am not talking about the ones you cannot choose the ones you are bonded to by birth and blood. Although I love her dearly, I am also lucky enough to have other sisters of my choosing. They are treasure to the soul and I am totally blessed to have known them and loved them.

For instance there is the girl who I have known since I was 18 months old and saw her moving in up the road, she has been a sister of mine ever since.  Sure over the years we have fought, when we were on our way to school with each other as small children, we regularly argued.  When I see or speak with her, time stands still, we are six again, chattering and laughing and always pleased to be around each other. When she went away to college and I moved away in our teenage years, I missed her so much. I am glad that I am able to see her and her family more often nowadays.

Then there is another lovely lady, with whom I have been through so much over the years. When we were 13 or 14 years old, we became blood sisters, you know where you are so close that a part of you wants to never lose that. You ceremoniously cut yourselves and say something like “your blood, my blood, our blood” and swear that you will be sisters forever.

We shared our first boyfriend, but that was not intentional, he was just a rat! We moved on from that and remained very close. Then a while later we lost touch for several years. During that time I honestly felt that a part of me was missing and I often thought about her, but did not know where to find her, or even if I should. I did not know if she would be the same girl underneath or even if she should be, but when we met up again and I met her wonderful family for the first time. It was as though no time had passed and they all were part of my family too. I am writing this as I think about the years since then and the fact that I am about to be parted from this family again as they emigrate to Australia on Christmas Day. Yes the other side of the world and wonder when I will see her again. Notice I say when, not if. You see I have a wonderful man who knows and loves me and makes things happen for me. He has driven across the countryside just to make sure that I see my friend whenever we are en route back to the South from Scotland. He knows that I will feel such loss when she is gone again, as I did before. So he has given me yet another wonderful gift. His Christmas gift to me is that yesterday told me to call her and tell her I was going to visit her and her family before she leaves next week and I am heading off on the train to see them all for a couple of days. I am so thrilled to be able to do this. We are looking forward to walking those hills together and her showing off the sights in her pretty part of Yorkshire. 

Her children when we last visited said that they would like to see me for Christmas so I have sworn her to secrecy and will just turn up at their house to surprise them. We are all excited about this unplanned visit as it was beyond my wildest dreams to see them all again since they weren’t able to visit us.

I have a treasure that is priceless. It is the people who surround me with Love and I am truly blessed and grateful.  

The Daily Post – Treasure

How Beautiful Do You Feel? What is Your Perception of Beauty


Inspiration for this comes from a clip I recently saw again from earlier this year. It is where a photographer films the response on people’s faces when they are told they are beautiful. Asking you to watch what happens…

I have never considered myself to be beautiful. Thankfully otherpeople from  time to time have in my life.

I was not one of the “Beautiful People” as I grew up. You know the ones who seemed to have it all. Lots of friends, a good job, nice material things and a good life. But quite often life is not all as it seems for those people anyway.

Then the line of a song popped into my head as a reminder while I write this it is also something you hear so often. “Beauty’s only skin deep”

I beg to differ! 

Occasionally when dressed up in my finery for a night out or special occasion I have sometimes felt a little bit beautiful, but more “well presented” and usually a little uncomfortable but having been injured during the past two years, never more so than now and I have not been feeling beautiful for some time. Along with the small amount of self-confidence that I had having taken flight I now also have facial scars.

Sure, they are healing up and could have been much worse but they are there nevertheless and people do tend to look at you differently. As I show people who know me, I point  out that they are healing well, as though to reassure them that I will look and feel like me again sometime soon. I now understand why so many people hide under their daily face. The make up is not only there to enhance but to cover. I have never really worn a lot of make up and while the skin heals, since I have been able to recuperate at home I have stuck with little or no make up to help it. But plenty of Bio oil and Aloe Vera to renew the skin and help the scars.

I always thought that my eyes were my best attribute, but they really are the window to my soul and can be read so easily. Sometimes that worries me as I don’t want to always be an open book for all to read. But I digress slightly.

Over the years some of the people in my life have arrived and felt that I am beautiful. Some have been there fleetingly, others have stayed realising that beauty takes so many forms.

My beauty lies within me! 

It is not only skin deep. I am a nice person. I try to do my best for those around me in my life and others I have yet to meet. For a world that is so much bigger than mine. I cherish what nature gives us and encourage growth wherever possible.

So, you may ask Do I feel Beautiful? And as I stand shy of the mirror and think past looks alone I will answer yes. Grateful for having been shown that it does lie within us. So if you do not feel it, search within and when other’s shine a light upon your beauty and tell you you are beautiful embrace them and it and let your spirits rise.

Image: FB  Positive Outlooks 

The Wedding Speech, that hasn’t quite happened.

I was watching the tail end of a film last night. It got me thinking and also a bit tearful. There was a wedding scene. I know it’s OK to cry at a wedding, if you are happy for people. I wouldn’t want to be crying out of sadness after all.

In the last few days I have been thinking about the wedding dress and bridesmaid’s dresses safely stored up in the loft. I have often thought of getting it out and looking at it, my own dress. I think about the fact that we came so close to it, becoming husband and wife before my partner became ill and we chose to postpone it. We haven’t rebooked the date. There have been several opinions as to how we should have our wedding. Having booked the church years ago we planned it around places which held some sentimental attachment to me and it all having gone rather wrong we thought about having an extreme opposite to the Church Wedding and thought about a Beach wedding somewhere hot. A friend of ours recently suggested that she and her husband could meet us a Gretna Green on the way up to our house and they could be our witnesses, then we could have a party. I also favour a wild Scottish beach, with our wonderful dog as ring bearer and our friend the laird to take the ceremony with a small celebration in a country house afterwards. But my partner is not so keen.

But, it got me thinking watching that wedding scene, of a chap who had been rather out of the picture in his daughter’s life, her parents were divorced and the Mother had remarried. It would have been rather nice to see the whole film, but we had been watching Saturday Night Dross instead and didn’t know it was on, however since it was TV, it is bound to be on next week or again soon.

It was time for the speeches at the reception and the groom handed over to her step-father as her father to speak. Suddenly, her birth father stood up and asked that since he was her Father, he might speak. He said some beautiful things, like how proud of his daughter he was how beautiful she looked there in front of her family and friends and then handed over to her step father to also speak, it was very civilised. It was lovely to hear and I started to bawl. Somehow it was like flicking a switch to me.

The last wedding that I attended, the bride’s father’s speech had me weeping like a child, it was many years ago and before we got engaged. I had no idea that my own love would ever ask me at the time. Her father took us on a real journey through her growing up and what a wonderful person he thought that she had turned into. Unfortunately we saw a very different side of her later that evening when she wasn’t getting her own way and was screeching at him, but he could see no wrong, totally blindsided. The poor man, but it must be nice to have someone that can see no wrong and I hoped for him that it was just the emotions of the day which had her overwrought.

What got me thinking last night though as I wondered if we ever get married, was whether my own father would be there, what he would say about me if he got up to speak. If we had the beach wedding somewhere, then he might not even attend. But I genuinely do not know whether he has any wish to make a speech, or even be there if or when it finally happens. I would not want him to be there out of duty alone, I only want the people who are happy for us and want to be there, at our wedding.  I am reminded, by my conscience that I promised my partner’s Mother when we got engaged that she would see us married, she wanted to speak, she was very pleased for us and knew that we loved each other so much. It pains me that she didn’t get her wish, she loved a party and was looking forward to it, before Alzheimers’ took her from us. She will be there though, in spirit at least when it happens and we will drink a toast to her. Unfortunately, I will not get to wear her beautiful necklace that she wanted me to on the day, she had wanted to me to wear it and intended to bequest it to me when she had gone. Alas someone else got there first and it disappeared.

The bridesmaid dresses in the loft may have become outdated, they would suit the beach wedding idea perfectly though, with the backdrop of a bright blue sea behind them. But despite me buying an extra one in case they outgrew them, ten years have gone by since and I think the ladies for whom they are intended may want to choose something a bit different now. Like mine their figures have changed in that time. Hmm, maybe I should try on the dress again too, but since there is no date planned at the moment there’s no rush.

As for my own Dad, well I guess that only time will tell and I hope that when we finally get married, if he wants to be there, he will find something nice to say.

A Racing Certainty

IMG_1140As she chased her dreams of doing something with her life, she would enter a National competition with the chance to become a racing driver. The Exchange and Mart Drivers Challenge and it was run by Tim Matthews who was an experienced racing driver. Never thinking for a moment that she had much more than a slim chance, but seizing the opportunity anyway after all what did she have to lose?

She loved Cars and driving and if she could combine the two in a future career, then that would be fantastic.
More wonderful than that, she had a man who believed in her. It was the most exhilarating feeling to have someone in her life who did, who encouraged her to try something new and was behind her all the way.

She sent off the forms and began work to increase her fitness and stamina. Her strength was there, it just needed some fine tuning and whilst she did this she did not think about the application, she was just concentrating on getting fitter and stronger. So imagine her surprise when some short time later, she received a letter. She was invited to Worcester Rugby Club to take part in the first selection of the competition. She spoke to her boss about it, booking a couple of days leave so that she could prepare and he couldn’t quite believe that she had any aspirations. This was someone he had underestimated greatly and assumed that her position as she had risen through the company was as far as she was going to get.   He was flabbergasted, since his privileged son, who had an amateur career in Go-Karting had only dreamed of such an opportunity, despite his entering it had not been selected for the competition. There was this girl, with no prior experience of racing, who had been selected. She surely wouldn’t get through the first round and it would be all over in a flash, then he could take delight in reminding her that she had failed every day and that she was not good enough. It would soon be over and he would control the situation once again.

They travelled to the location and booked into a hotel the day before, it was a beautiful place with rolling scenery. The morning arrived and they set off to the venue. The place was jammed to the rafters, 1000 people had been chosen to be put through their paces. They were informed that 10,000 people had entered the competition and they were the lucky ones, as the competition progressed the heats would be recorded for a TV programme, if we were going to become racing drivers, then we would have to get used to the limelight. As a shy person, she wasn’t sure how to deal with this, but would do so if the time came.
Meanwhile, as the day progressed, when she was called for each task, she ran, listened, showed her strengths and jumped through proverbial hoops and impressed the judges enough for the selection with her man cheering her on, overjoyed in her achievement she was one of 100 people selected for the next round. As the event finished, she walked past someone who she recognised who had contracted work with her company. He stopped in amazement asking her what she was doing there miles from home. I got through, she said. She mistook his surprise for a new found respect, she had been placed in the second round, but he had not.

The next round, was scheduled, she booked another day off work to enable her to go, and at the weekend they headed off up to Birmingham, The next round of the competition was interviews and Go Karting, it was a competition track. She was excited, but the only time she had been go-karting was down along the pier in the amusement arcades, but she loved it and was hopeful that this experience would teach her. The weather was awful, he drove them through the worst storms and snow she had seen. It was cold wintry and people were standing around for hours awaiting their turn, she had dressed for warmth wearing ski jackets, layers and snow boots, in this freezing climate. It was mostly boys and men there, in a racing environment it was to be expected, but this did not phase her. She was going to give it her all.

They went through the track layout and how you should plan for the twists and turns, around the chicane and towards the finish. She watched intently as some of the other drivers took to the wet track, she noted their mistakes and hoped that when her turn came, she would do better. She listened to the instructions given by the racing driver, Tiff Needell who had become a celebrity as he extolled the virtues of learning the basics. It might be nice to meet him in person and shake him by the hand, she had admired his skill on the tracks over the years.
There was a race simulator set up alongside the track, the queues to have a go were lengthy and she did not want to miss her name being called, it would be there later, should she wish to try it.  Her time came, as she dressed in the race suit for the very first time, she was thrilled and excited to be a part of something big, this could turn into something much bigger if she handled it right.

She put on the helmet and found the smallest pair of gloves she could find, since this was usually a male environment they had not anticipated girls with small hands, they were enormous, she put them over ski gloves for grip and so that they would grip the steering wheel. She made a mental note that if she was going to go anywhere with this route, she would buy herself some gloves which fitted.

She walked out into the paddock with the other drivers, they ridiculed her for her snow boots whilst stamping their feet to keep warm, she didn’t care she had winning on her mind and selected her machine with care. Setting herself up for the ride of her life and drove out hell for leather on that track. She lapped several of the hopefuls and made a good track time and came back in, her Man was there with the camera, to record it for posterity. The helmet off, he could see an ear to ear smile on her face. As the other hopefuls took their turn, she was called off to one side. Mike, A man who was part of the team, had spotted her talents and wanted to talk. They sat in the meeting room with a coffee, even if you do not get through this competition, he said, there are other ways to get into racing, you seem to have a gift out there on that track. Are you competing at the moment? She tried to keep her cool, admitting to him that it was the second occasion she had ever been in a go-kart. He found that hard to believe and spoke about the projects he was involved with and that he could get young people into racing and get help with sponsorship etc, he was animated and gave her some literature to read, he advised her to continue with Karting if at all possible. He introduced her personally to the organiser and they talked about the competition and how it would progress, several rounds through to the final, where someone would be selected for the team, to join the professionals. It really was the chance of a lifetime.

After some time and more standing around they were called in to a room, to face the adjudicators. As names were called, disappointment was in the eyes of the people around her as they were whittled out. They would halve the people who attended the second round, suddenly she heard her name being called, they were pleased to tell her that she had been selected for the third round. The excitement was immense. She looked for her man, to share in the news, he stood beaming he told her she was so proud.

At the end of the day, they travelled back accidents all around them up and down the motorway, breakdowns and the snow piled high, visibility was non-existent. But they were happy and reached home safely. They discussed the next step, this is looking serious, she would have to book more time off work, she wondered how her boss would take that. The next day she called a meeting with him. He was not pleased, he told her that it was time she had to make her choice. If she really wanted to be a racing driver, then good luck to her! The raised voice made it clear he didn’t mean it, as he spat out the words. He would give her no more time off to pursue this fanciful dream, it wasn’t going to go anywhere, she should just concentrate on the work she was being paid to do, get back to doing the proper job she had working for him. All leave was cancelled, they had a business to run.

She went home, more than slightly disillusioned with her work. She wanted to leave there and then, but common sense overtook her desire to run. She spoke with her partner, there were tears of frustration and upset that she would have to put her dreams away. It was her responsibility to make ends meet, she felt that she could not pile extra pressure upon him financially, it wouldn‘t be fair. Times were different then, she hadn’t the first clue about self-promotion and is was long before social media would make it accessible for all.

It was no contest, If she had the finances, she would pursue her dream, with her man at her side, encouraging and supportive. They would have done it, she had made him proud and would do so again. He believed in her. Oh how she wished for a lottery win, or a benefactor at that time. If she could have had the chance to pay the bills, whilst forging ahead, what a career change that would be, he talent had been spotted and she might go far.

It was with great sadness that she contacted the organisers to let them know that due to work commitments, she would be unable to continue with the competition. They were disappointed, she had shown promise, chances like this just do not come along every day and the decision should not be taken lightly. She explained that without a job, she would not be able to finance the rounds and her taking part, they told her that they understood but that she should not give up, she had a talent and she should nurture it. They wished her luck with her future. She watched the TV programme later that year, they selected a man, who had a career ahead of him. Women in Motorsport, was it ever going to happen was it? There was hope.

My Grandmother

“Let’s go and sit on the Haystack, and whose got the lipstick?” I never knew the exact circumstances or what would follow, but somehow it symbolised Jessie, to my mother, the person whom she would know as a friend as well as family. The person I knew who was so different, a Stoic, Matriarch and Christian lady of the church and would not want to be recognised as the flirty young girl who once was, who gained three proposals before settling upon my Grandfather. I remember my mother telling me that it was something my Grandmother had shared with her once.

I am sure that there were still signs of the girl she once was to her friends from younger years and also to my Grandad and I for one would have loved to have known her better then, but by the time I came along, she was already Nanny, to look at her, you might think Grandma, but no she was always called Nanny. I knew very little about her younger years, just that she was a very attractive young lady who bore a striking resemblance to a young Princess Elizabeth, who would later become Queen. I was ten years old when I lost her, but for a moment would like to share in some of the memories I do have of this wonderful woman, whom I was proud to call family.

I recall how she was heavily involved with the church, a local Baptist church and organised the Christian Aid jumble sales to raise funds abroad. We always knew when Christian Aid week was or when Christ had Risen, since there was a poster proudly displayed in the front window for all to see. I passed a home the other day, with the same familiar purple and white Christ is Risen! text with a cross, which suddenly got me thinking about her.

She was a creative woman, I knew this since she taught me how to bake cakes, knit and read music when I was learning to play the recorder at school amongst many other things. She also taught me how to build an open fire and clean it out after it had burned away and toast bread on a toasting fork. She had a sweet tooth and a liking for “Lift” Lemon Tea, which she used to make in a tea glass with a plastic holder and a long spoon for stirring the sugar in. I have the two of those glasses still to this day the ones we used to share on cold winter evenings amongst many other sentimental treasures. She had three black cats all at once, which was unusual at the time for someone to have quite so many, they were named Buster, Timmy and Sooty and I thought they were great. Buster used to let himself in and out of the back door by standing on his back legs and pushing the handle down with his paw and Sooty was the last remaining one who lived to be 23 years old and outlived her. My Nanny could put on a fantastic spread for the whole family and cook a mean roast dinner with all the trimmings, but always overcooked the vegetables, we found out later it was due to her having trouble with the false teeth, but at the time we had no clue. I guess we were just too young to understand.

I remember that in the summer months, we would congregate at Nanny and Grandads’ house for Sunday Lunch and family gatherings under the huge weeping willow tree which stood in their garden, I was devastated when years later, my Grandad cut it down, it held so many memories. Nanny attempted to teach me to crochet, but for some reason, I could not do it, preferring to knit. Years before I came along, she had once ran a haberdashery store from the front of the house, which by the time we came along had been turned into her bedroom, but the wooden shop style fitted cupboards remained and held a plethora of the stock she had kept when she closed it down. There were bolts of fabric in there and packets of best knitting wool, which I craved to be able to knit something wonderful with since there was so much of it. Instead at the time I hadn’t the skill so ended up knitting small dresses and outfits and blankets for my Sindy dolls and Teddies.

Nanny would not have approved! She always kept things for best, there were cupboards full of things she was keeping for best when she died. But whilst she was alive and well, there were recycled buttons and unravelled wool for making things like that but I was just a child. She and Grandad were both really good at recycling things, I think my own quest for recycling came from there frugality.

If Dad had got his way, I would have borne her middle name Florence as my own. As a child of the 70’s I am grateful that Mum won that debate since the ridicule once I arrived at School would have been unbearable. The Magic Roundabout was a great program for kids, we used to watch and enjoy it but I didn’t want a living hellish part of it as I was growing up. For a sensitive child having a strange name was already difficult enough in a world full of Emma’s. In my infants school alone, there were as many as three Emma’s in every class I had. I craved for a more common name like Emma so that I might just fit in.

But back to Jessie. We had fun, we used to go to their house at weekends. Saturday night into Sunday, with my cousins and my brother, we would stay over and all head off to church together the next day. It was walking distance from Nanny and Grandads’ and because he couldn’t fit four children and two adults into his car, Grandad would drive down and bring Nanny back in the car afterwards. This served two purposes, we would walk there and back, which involved playing on the way home and so would be sufficiently tired by the time we reached Nanny’s and Lunch would be almost ready by the time we all arrived there. Since my Brother was four years older than me and the eldest, and my cousins were only a year or two around me in age, there were safety in numbers and our grandparents only lived four roads from the church, it was deemed safe for us to walk home without getting into too much trouble. Nanny would be putting the finishing touches to the Sunday Lunch that our parents would join us to enjoy when we arrived back. Sometimes, I would be able to help with the cooking.

On other occasions she would bake and I loved baking with her.
I remember being invited to Nanny’s one day to help her bake some cakes. She had one of those 1950’s kitchen store cupboards in her house, with numerous doors and drawers, which served as an extra work surface when needed and small children were assisting in the kitchen. There was also a blue Formica covered kitchen table, which was her work surface for rolling out pastry etc. and after my grandparents passed away, I inherited the table for a while, for sentimental reasons. I had to get out the kitchen steps to be able to reach the top shelf of the cupboards which contained a large selection of Homepride Bakers with Bowler hats, who held all the wonderful ingredients we needed for baking. Along with a selection of Cornish pottery with the blue and white stripes. I loved being in her kitchen. It looked out from a huge double sink over the garden. My Grandad had built the kitchen as an extension years earlier for her and it was just the right size and had become the hub of the house. On this particular occasion though, I’d been invited to bake with her and she had let me have free reign. Nanny loved to make scones which were would be later drenched in butter and jam whilst still warm from the oven. It was our treat for making them she said. Margaret, was our Minister’s daughter from the church and had been invited to join us on this occasion.
We assembled the ingredients to make the pastry and Nanny asked what we were going to make. She had hoped for some jam tarts for a cake stall maybe, or just for tea, but creativity kicked in and we made furniture.

Yes, Pastry furniture. On a baking tray, we rolled, moulded to create a three piece suite each, sofa and two chairs, with pastry arms and cushions made from Jam. They were kind of like tarts, weren’t they, but much more inspired! Margaret and I had such a wonderful time and since there was still a little of the pastry left over for a more traditional jam tart, Nanny also got her wish. But the sofas were out piece de resistance, and I can remember her mother’s surprise when we answered her question, “So, what did you make today?” when she collected Margaret later that day and we chorused “Jam Sofas and Chairs” “I’ve had such fun, when can I come again?” she said. Her mother’s eyebrows went up and she took her away, I don’t think she was allowed to come and play again.

Christian Aid week was always hard work for Nanny, she would spend the weeks leading up to it, collecting and sorting through donations from people. They would be dropping off sacks of jumble for the sale, and Grandad would be getting cross that she had taken over his garage again and he had to park on the driveway instead. Since we lived in the next road, Mum and I would be called upon to help and sort things through before they were sold. We were not well off, so if there was something that we needed in the clothing department, then Nan would let us have it just for helping, since the items were donated for people in need. If there was a toy there, we had to make a donation from our pocket money for it. I am sure that it encouraged our love of bargain hunting in later years. Nan’s philosophy was that these were donated goods for children and families in need and if we were in need, we should also do what we could to help.

There was always heaps of clothing, toys and bric-a- brac and it all had to be sorted out. Nan’s kindness was a double edged sword though, since I often received clothing which had been donated by families locally, I would then turn up wearing things at school, since we did not have a uniform at our school, only to be bullied for being poor, and wearing someone‘s old clothes, or wearing something that Mum had made or altered to fit me, amongst other things.

Nanny must have been great at selling though, she was always busy at the jumble sales, there were regulars who would queue up to come and buy from her stall no matter what and we would be roped in to help. My brother and I once had our photograph taken for the local newspaper chattering away on some toy telephones we had picked out from the jumble sale. There are just not enough of them around now, Jumble Sales. Time has moved on with the arrival of boot and table sales, have we lost the community spirit which used to surround these events and the joy to rummage. My curiosity never wanes but rummaging is now met with displeasure for messing up someone’s display. I miss the jumble sale.

I remember fondly those Saturday nights spent at Nanny and Grandads’ house, the boys used to sleep in the back bedroom, whilst the girls used to share the big room at the front with Nanny. We were always getting told off for talking late into the night and giggling. It always backfired though, when we would be awake several hours later when Nanny came to bed, then she would keep us awake with her snoring. One Sunday morning we were discussing that Nanny snored, much to her horror when we demonstrated just how loud it was, to the boys amazement, she retorted with “Well you all talk in your sleep” We sat there in disbelief. Grandad corroborated her story, yes they said, you don’t stop talking even in your sleep. We were amazed and immediately asked what we had been saying. It wasn’t as interesting as we thought it would be, but nevertheless it must have hatched a plan in her head. The very next weekend, they decided to prove it to us.

We all stayed over as usual and had forgotten the conversation during the week which had followed. Some time after we had all gone too bed, Nanny opened the bedroom doors to our room and the boys. There she sat in the hallway, poised with tape recorder and microphone and recorded my cousins and I having a conversation, from two rooms away. So there were four children across a hallway conversing in their sleep. At the breakfast table the next morning, she played us the tape to our absolute amazement.

As an adult, I have a picture in my head of my dear Grandmother, sitting in her hallway on a Saturday night tape recorder in hand, just to prove her point and realise that I am so much like her in so many ways. If I have a point to prove, I will go to any lengths to do so. I am also stubborn, just as she was. It’s been over thirty years since I have seen her, but I am so pleased to be able to tell you these small stories about her.

Learning to Fly

It was a time, when Nectar points meant fun! Nectar points for the uninitiated, are store card points as a Thank you for shopping, whilst your spending habits are dissected. But at the time the possibilities were endless. You could save them up indefinitely and use them for experiences, instead of falling back on them to cover the emergency shop when you are broke, or being sent vouchers with an expiry date, which you would find weeks after they had run out and your rewards would be useless.

We had been saving them for a couple of years, to do something fun together and not knowing at that point that my partner had a fear of flying, I had booked the surprise for both of us to have a flying lesson as an anniversary present.

The day came and we checked the weather report, jumped in my car, a Saab convertible put the roof down and headed to the countryside I had selected a different airfield to our local one, so that we could see different scenery and explore it. It turned out that my partner had other plans, he would collar the instructor and see if time would allow and they would swap his part of the deal so that I could extend the experience. He would have his feet planted firmly upon the floor watching from the club house whilst I took off and he would enjoy a pint or two of Guinness and a cigar, it was a beautiful sunny day in the countryside and a pleasant place to pass the time. He succeeded in his plan, and since I had only ever travelled by air once for a holiday, I was excited, I knew that this was going to be different and I was looking forward to it, but slightly disappointed that he would not get to enjoy it with me. However I was going to get a long lesson, which was great.

I was introduced to the Pilot, a man who shared the same name as my father, but thankfully had a much more relaxed manner about him. He was friendly and informative and showed me all of the controls in the Piper 125 which we were going to take out. I clambered in, full of excitement and hoping that I would remember it all. I asked what happened if the engine failed. He told me not to worry since this type of plane could still be landed safely if the engine cut out, it basically glides. As we took off, he took us up over the countryside, I was in awe, I knew it would be beautiful. But it was so calm up there, I took a couple of photos in the cockpit. I seem to recall that we travelled at around 2700 feet, but may have that wrong.

As we climbed everything grew smaller, people disappeared into dots, cars and lorries, into matchbox figures disappearing completely and trees and green spaces turned into a blanket of fields as we floated through the bumpy clouds. Colin allowed me to take the controls and told me how to move the rudder to change direction and the pedals to keep it steady. He could see my interest and excitement in the process and when I asked him to show me how to loop the loop, he obliged. We travelled quite some distance and talked along the way, I was able to see my home town, fly over my parents and our house. Along the Estuary past the pier and up to the docks, where I could see small cranes and brightly coloured containers being unloaded from the ships, It looked so much better there from that height. I was on top of the world. I loved every minute of that flight and decided that I would love to do that again as soon as possible. As someone who was claustrophobic in certain environments, I was not sure how I would feel up there, but to my relief it was wonderful. We had the small window open in that plane and the thermal breeze floated through.

I remember saying to him that I had to resist the urge to put my foot on the accelerator like in a car, since it would upset the balance of the plane and there seemed to be no sense of speed up there, but you were still travelling, it took some getting used to, but I think I mastered it.

As we headed back, Colin explained that it was a wonderful job, that he could fly over to France in less than an hour, have a nice lunch and a bit of sightseeing and be back in time for tea. I was hooked on the idea, that one day I would learn to fly and when I got that lottery win, there would be a small plane in there somewhere to do just that.

He asked me if I was sure that I hadn’t flown before as I seemed to be so at ease up there, I must admit that I felt no tension, it had all just floated away whilst I was up there. Flying back, Colin told me I was going to land the plane. I asked if he was sure, he told me that he was confident in my ability, we came in to a lovely smooth landing and I couldn’t help but be pleased. As I taxied the plane back to it’s parking spot, past the bar, my beloved was standing there, waving and with an ear to ear smile.
I jumped out and he ran over to me, he’d been worried since we were only supposed to be an hour, an hour and a half had passed and we hoped that I had not got him into trouble. He asked Colin “how did she do?” “An absolute Natural she should learn to fly”…. he replied.

I had to tell him all about it as we drove home around Sunset, he decided that if we ever could afford it, then we should make it happen. Six months later we returned for another lesson.