I’m back in my usual seat in the corner of the kitchen. It’s a pew we bought from Anne’s church, St Peter in Eastgate, for £130. I’m told that the going rate at auction is £30 but what the heck. It’s charidee. £130 is what the new flexible seating costs per seat.
The church’s loss is my gain. As seats go it is absolutely rock solid. Bedded in by thousands of bottoms, mostly now dead and buried. There is something poetic about having it in the kitchen with me, a confirmed atheist, sat on it writing. I also eat on it of course. The kids fight to sit on it when we are eating.
During its life as a repository for worshippers I estimate it could have sustained 6 large adults, at a push, sat or kneeling. Perhaps one more for a wedding or funeral. Now occupants have to be able to reach the kitchen table which realistically can only sit 4 on a side, and then not exactly in huge comfort. So it is funny when we sit down and they all try and sit on the pew, leaving a huge part of the table circumference free for me and mum. I’d prefer to sit on the pew meself but in the competitive life of the family you have to be quick on the draw and the teenagers often beat me to it.
We have an enjoyably large kitchen with two kitchen tables. A luxury I know but I work hard for it. We play snooker in the kitchen although the snooker table, brought from home and one I had as a boy in the Isle of Man, has seen better days. The cushions are pretty dead. Also we can never get it level but it doesn’t really matter. It’s more about the playing of the game than the finer points nature of the sport.
I remember going to see the semi finals of the world snooker championships many years ago. Probably twenty five years! Aargh. I went with Dave Hopkins who had secured the tickets. We both had serious hangovers the day we went and I just about made it out to his place in time for the lift.
The championships were in Sheffield and we got there in time to creep in at the back for our right at the back seats during the morning session. I think we were watching Cliff Thorburn or some such star. At the end of the morning session, which is all we had tickets for, we went along to the box office on the off chance that there were some spaces available for the next session. We hit the jackpot. We ended up sat on the front row right next door to Steve “interesting” Davis.
Steve was at the height of his powers and these were seriously good seats. We would have been on the TV for much of the time. I should see if there are recordings of that match. 1984 or 1985. I can only assume that someone had bought tickets for the whole tournament and decided to sit out the semifinals otherwise I have no explanation as to why those tickets were available.
Can’t remember who won. Probably Steve interesting Davis. These days I play with my youngest son John who has a great eye for the ball and slots in some amazing pots, and his youth has not been misspent, yet!
Fast forward a night and dawn is a coming. When I sat down on the pew this morning there was blackness outside. Despite the darkness the birds were in full voice. Twenty minutes later there is enough light in the garden to be able to see the silhouette of the trees, and the birds have gone quiet. Probably getting busy digging up worms, now that they can see what they are doing. I expect the worms think, uhoh, dawn!
It’s a tough life being a worm. Wriggling about in the dirt with, as far as I know, no chance of betterment. I guess if they were Buddhist worms they might be ok, as long as they had lead a good worm life, though gawd knows how you do that. Just making sure the soil is well aerated I suppose and then finally offering yourself up as a meal to a blackbird with a hungry family to feed. The ultimate sacrifice though one with an ulterior motive.
The drain in front of our garage door fills up with leaves every year and every year when I clear it out it is filled with worms who have turned the leaves into the most wonderful compost. I should have though of that a couple of days ago when I sowed some chilli plant seeds. It would have been a good base for them. There is already one green shoot showing though I can’t imagine it is a chilli plant. It must be a weed. I got the compost from the bottom of the garden.
Still I’m looking forward to a successful first chilli plant season. As time goes by my requirements in terms of chilli heat have gone up. When we are out for a pizza with the kids I usually go for the hottest available and it is often disappointing. This summer I will be able to take my own chillies. I’ll have a “diavolo” please. Oh and slap these extra chillies on would you? The kids are constantly amazed.
I thought I was on safe ground last weekend when we got a delivey from Dominos. I had my usual extra chillies and had half a large pizza left uneaten at the end of the meal. Unusual! Anyway the next day I went on a Morning Star pub day out to Bletchley Park. In my mind the remainder of the pizza was supper when I got home. Of course when I did eventually get home, quite late as we had stopped at several pubs on the way, I discovered that Tom had scoffed the pizza. Although I was mildly miffed I was also quietly proud that he was developing what is a manly taste for heat. Good job we had eaten on the way.
There’s a funny story there because at the second pub we visited four of us thought we were eating and so had ordered meals. Turns out that nobody else was eating. They were all saving themselves for the ”Tally Ho”, a renowned pub with food just south of Sleaford. No problem. We ate our meal in a timely manner and got back on the minibus. On our way we joked that the Tally Ho had probably had a kitchen fire and couldn’t serve food that night, or was shut. When we got there we found that in fact the Tally Ho was completely full and was not serving bar meals unless you had a reservation!! 🙂
The beer was good though but that didn’t help those who had not yet eaten and were now getting quite hungry. We ended up making a diversion to the chippy at Waddington which was taken by surprise and didn’t have enough chips cooked for everyone. Half the contingent had to wait. Life’s rich tapestry.
It was a good day out, although somewhat of an indulgence as I am very busy with work during the week and expected to do something with the kids at the weekend. Bletchley Park was great. We had the added bonus of having Dennis the Spy with us. Dennis’ first job had been working at Bletchley Park, more years ago than he would care to admit to. He regaled us with stories of the time.
For the uninitiated Bletchley was the top secret place where they cracked the German Enigma codes during the Second World War. It was still working as a listening post when Dennis was there and he showed us the basic radio sets that they used to use. He would spend hours twiddling the dial until he found a frequency with something being transmitted. His job was just to record what was transmitted. He wouldn’t get to do the decoding. A bit boring really.
The best bit was his story about swimming the lake in front of the mansion. In those days the pub used to be open for only two hours on a Sunday lunchtime. Dennis had a bet that he could consume eight pints of Guinness in these two hours. That’s one pint every fifteen minutes, for the mathematically challenged. Ever the trooper Dennis met the challenge and won the bet. Having been kicked out after the legally allowed drinking up time he then considered it a good idea to take a shortcut home across the lake so he stripped off and dived in. Good lad. I have a photo of the lake if anyone is interested.
It’s completely light out now and I note that the blackbirds are indeed out in force looking for worms in the garden. I wonder what they do when they have had enough nosh. Move over dear, there’s room for another small one on the nest. Isn’t it time we were thinking of eggs?!
Talking of which it is Easter as I write. As the kids get bigger the pile of eggs they have to consume has diminished. Not a bad thing really I suppose. Teeth and all that. I can’t remember how many Easter eggs we used to get when we were small. I’m sure it is nothing compared to the number they get these days. Last year there was a glut. Tesco seemed to have got it wrong and had too many left at the end so they were selling them off dirt cheap. This year I’m told there are none left. Probably learnt their lesson after last year or the fact that there is no longer a Woolworths around to compete with them. Perhaps a combination of the two.
I only used to go to Woolworths about once a year anyway, when trying to come up with ideas for Christmas presents. I’m sure that’s the case for many others and likely a part of the reason why they went bust. I’m sorry but I wasn’t going to go more often just to keep a national institution going. I used to go when I was a kid to buy LPs and singles. Also pick and mix sweets and fishing tackle. I would buy these garish spinners that never caught a single fish. The trout would take on look at them and snub their noses. “Huh i’f I’m going to be caught he will have to do better than that”. I never did catch one. I didn’t even like fish in those days though I’m sure that mam and dad would have helped me out.
We used to go fishing in Injebreck reservoir. It was about seven miles away from the house, a lot of it uphill. It was a really tough slog getting there. Getting back was fine of course. Downhill! They were the classic long hot summer holidays where I would disappear for the day on the bike. Only half the time was spent fishing. It isn’t particularly interesting if you don’t catch anything. The rest of the time we just lounged around at the water;s edge or went for a walk around the lake.
It reminded me a bit of Arthur Ransom’s Swallows and Amazons books. In my imagination the end of the lake could be a place of mystery and excitement. We used to buy an ice cream from the warden’s house. Manx Ices. They only sold wafers I seem to recall but that did the job nicely. The best ice cream that was ever made, Manx Ices. The firm unfortunately doesn’t exist now though Davisons is nearly as good. Not sure they make wafers any more though. Some health and safety rule somewhere no doubt, or maybe weights and measures. I don’t know.
It was a great place to be a teenager the Isle of Man. Plenty of action in the summer. In those days there were loads of summer jobs. One year, the year I left school, I was a conductor on the Isle of Man Electric Railway. The best summer job you could ever hope to have. The pay was good and I spent each day trundling up and down the track to Laxey and back. A conductor’s main job was to check the tickets and keep an eye on the “trolley” that hooked the tram up to the electric cable. If it came off, as it sometimes did, you had to swiftly get it back on again.
The Electric Railway was a superior job to the horse trams. They worked you hard on the horse trams. Long hours too. Still they were both good jobs and I guess the point is that there were the jobs around and plenty of tourists to go with it. They were heady days. We still ride on the trams every year when we go back on holiday, for old times sake. We have the same group photo, taken year after year, of all of us huddled in front a of a wet Laxey Station. The kids just look a little bigger in each one.
Laxey is a cracking place to visit. It used to have a working mine, tin or lead, I can’t quite remember though I could no doubt look it up on tinternet. It still has the big wheel, the Lady Isabella. Worth a visit, once. Also a few caffs and lovely pebble beach and small harbour. Good place to go fishing as it doesn’t suffer from seals in the same way as you do in Peel.
Changing the subject completely everyone else is out at Church at the moment. Well not everyone. Hannah and Tom are upstairs but the house is very quiet. I can also see a sparrow in the back garden. Actually I have no idea whether it is a sparrow or not, which is a bit of an admission. I do have a couple of bird watching books, specifically for the purpose of whipping out quickly to do a bit of species recognition. However they are always kept tidied up in the utility room or somewhere and by the time I get them out the bird has gone.
Blackbirds, robins, blue tits, woodpidgeons I can do. Red kites too. I actually saw about 6 red kites in a day once when doing some family tree research in West Wales. I come from a very rual area, going back a bit, and red kits like rural areas, so it would seem. It was sufficiently In the middle of nowhere for me to be without telephone reception for 30 minutes at one point, driving on my way to the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth. It’s always a lot farther than it seems on the map.
The NLW yielded a very productive afternoon for me the first time I went there. Because it was further than it looked I was a bit late getting there and the librarian’s first response was to tell me that he didn’t think there would be enough time to retrieve from archive the long list of Welsh Baptist tomes I wanted to read. After the intial disappointment another librarian came up and said that he had the exact pile I was looking for kept ready in the back room. I had fortuitously ordered them all in advance on line. Good ole tinternet.
That year I uncovered some amazing facts about my family history. I come from a long line of Baptist ministers! What’s more my Great Great Great Great Grandfather’s nephew (my cousin umpteen times removed – no idea how many but no doubt Google would tell me) was the first Welsh Baptist missionary to die in Africa. The Reverend William Davies.
His story was amazing. He, his pregnant wife Charlotte, and two year old son ,also William, set off from London in January 1832 to go to Grahamstown in South Africa. It took a month to make it as far as Plymouth. They were then shipwrecked in the Cap Verde Islands. I found an actual account of the shipwreck on tinternet. The son was unfortunately drowned and his wife gave birth to twins on the beach, one of who died.
It too two months for them to be rescued and taken back to the UK whereupon they started again! They finally made it out to Grahamstown in November 1832. That’s some dedication. Unfortunately conditions weren’t great out there and the wife died in 1836 of what sounds like Tuberculosis later followed by the Rev Davies a couple of years later in 1838. His reports back to the Baptist Missionary Society are all available on line. They were printed in the Baptist Magazine, available online in Google books!
Doing your family tree online is a classic exposition of the THIRD LAW. It takes long hours of painstaking research, all of which races by. I have hit the point of diminishing returns as far as family trees go. To get much more info is going to take a lot longer. I’m as far back as 1766 ish and need to be on the ground in West Wales to get further. Hopefully tinternet will catch up and more records will go online soon. I know the Mormons are at it and the last time I was in Carmarthen registry office they said that the parish registers would all soon be online. That’ll save some diesel.