Friday, 23 January 2009

...And it's good night from her.....

......I've decided to take a blogging pause for a while....

I was very kindly awarded these awards by The Lehners in France (The gorgeous Brazilian/Portuguese one) and the Blog of Distinction from Ladybird World Mother.

It has made me reflect on why I write this blog in the first be honest...I still don't know.

I do get a buzz out of writing but that has not changed since I was seven or eight when I was in a solo singing competition in Ryton.

The school entered us all and I was the only one, mortifyingly, to get stage fright. As a result I was the only one to come in, on time, at the second verse and get through right to the end (there were only two verses). I did get a good result (compared to all the rest who had sung the whole thing without any drama) but I still felt red raw with shame for days afterwards. I remember the awful feeling in the pit of my stomach to this very day. I wrote about it at school and I can also remember all the Junior School teachers crowding around, in the corridor, to read it. Perhaps the misery was worth it...just for the tangible, glorious effect of my writing....Standing there...right there in front of me.

Why did I start the blog? Too many reasons. Largely too personal to go into here. Nevertheless writing the blog has helped me enormously. I have made lots of blogging friends and you have all increased my confidence no end. To go from being a City worker in my pinstripes (with my own business cards et al) to a wrecked, sleep deprived, bejeaned older mum did much to damage my tenuous self confidence. At least I have climbed the steep, slippery slope of self esteem with the help of you all, friends and supporters.

I have found blogging both hard and easy. Hard in the sense that I find it hard to open up. Easy in the sense that the words, when I start, just flow out of me.

In fact, perhaps, it is becoming too easy. I am spending too much time at the computer screen...and not enough time here working which is what I should be doing. Mr H. and I share the same computer so I also feel pretty guilty blogging when we both should be using it for working. And now that our finances are in so rubbish a state I feel that I should be using it for better gain. Better commercial gain I hasten to add.

I shall pop back from time to time. When things get better, the same or possibly worse I shall let you know.

Thank you, TLiF, for this marvellous award. Hope the move back to YUK is going smoothly. Thank you, Ladybird World Mother, for your prestigious award to me. They both mean a great deal. Thank you, Troy, for my special badge, which as you can see I am wearing with pride over on the sidebar.

I know I should select certain bloggers for the awards. But hey! I think you are all good writers...all in different ways. That is not a cop-out...but that it is so true. When I started blogging I had certain ideas of how things should be written and composed (and about which subjects should be tackled..). This attitude, thankfully, has been turned on its head. Rightly so because I can be an opinionated whatsit. I like to be proved wrong.

So I would like you, all of my regular readers, to check whether you have both, one or none of these awards and if you have claim them from here and to pass them on to other worthy bloggers if you so desire. Please award yourselves the special Hadriana cricket award in any event! (Created by own RSI'd fair hand.) Well done to you all!

I will be back to mess around with my blog from time to time so it will change. (Thank you too, Dumdad, for the design tips...I'll be back to redecorate in a while.)

I would like to put a special mention in for Grumpy Old Ken. If you look at his latest post...he has an excellent idea to put to all bloggers. Please give it your attention. I agree with him in that there is a lot of great writing out there that gets overlooked! Let's get it right back to the brilliant light of day!

Once I've helped Mr. H with the business(es) more and when my guilt subsides I will be back!

Saturday, 17 January 2009

The Reiver's Return

I often read the local newspaper, The Hexham Courant, to keep abreast of local news and stories. Quite often tales abound in and around Hadrian's Wall. The second section is where local history stories are reported.

I quite often have a pile which I haven't read. Sometimes it feels like having homework but when I do find the time to go through the past editions I find some wonderful jewels like this one:

Have you heard the one about the self-wiping dipstick? By BRIAN TILLEY

MENDACIOUS mixer of medicines, Martin Merriman, is Tynedale’s top twister of the truth.

The bearded blusterer from behind the counter at Boots at Haltwhistle out-yarned a very talented field of fibbers at the inaugural Tynedale Tall Tale Telling competition at Whitley Chapel on Friday night.

His tale of intrigue, murder and mayhem involving the invention of the self-wiping dipstick enthralled and hugely entertained a packed village hall on a wild and windy night.
The competition was staged by Hexham Rotary Club, on the lines of a long established lying contest in Cumbria.

Event organiser Collette Drifte was delighted with the turn-out, and with the quality of the whoppers spun by the eight-strong field of purveyors of porkies.

While the profits are still being finalised, the Smile Train charity, which provides a mobile surgery to correct incidences of cleft lips and cleft palates in the Third World will have benefited to the tune of several hundred pounds.

The quality of the entrants posed a stiff task for the three-strong panel of judges – BBC Look North newsreader Colin Briggs, Scots Gap based raconteur and Northumbrian humorist Ernie Coe, and Hexham Courant deputy editor and Hextol columnist Brian Tilley.

However, they were unanimous that Martin’s Ananias impression was the cream of the crop.

His was a tale of a farmer, Geordie Reed, and his wife, Maisie, who ran a farm in the West Allen Valley “way up in the hills above Mohope, just below the snout of the Carrshield Glacier, at round 13,000 feet.”

This was a place where sheep give birth to lambs with their front legs shorter than the back ones, to help them up the slopes to the high pastures where they wander around wondering how they are going to get back down again.

You can also spot that rare breed of cattle, the Sparty Lea Longhorn, which in turn have their two left legs shorter than those on the right, to help them lean against the wind.

Martin revealed that Geordie was a stotty farmer, with a lucrative contract supplying Gregg’s in Hexham with particularly small but perfectly formed stotties, spending many hours laying traps for them at their regular watering holes near the Gin Gang Hush.

He also used to scour mud from the dyke backs, mixing it with water from the Winney Syke to form a slurry, before exporting it down the valley to a well-known mud wrestling club in Priestpopple, Hexham.

His invention came about because wife Maisie became fed up of his habit of wiping the dipstick on the sleeve of his overalls after checking out his grey Fergie before setting out for TVO and oil.

Marital harmony was only restored when he invented the self-wiping dipstick.
Foolishly, Geordie shared his blueprint with Martin over a pint in the Carts Bog Inn.
Martin revealed: “He’d heard that I’d got a degree in slurry maintenance from the University of Nenthead and he thought I’d be the ideal man to help him develop the invention.”
The upshot was that Martin sabotaged the brakes of Geordie’s car, so that he came to a sticky end on Staward Bends, and people from as far away as Catton and Ninebanks came to pay their respects at his funeral.

Martin registered the invention as his own at Acomb Patents’ Office, and after having saturated the market in Tynedale with dipsticks, he expanded into the Nissan plant at Washington.

He claimed: “Within a week, a helicopter landed in the stackyard and a couple of Oriental fellas got out and offered to buy me out, there and then.”
Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone was soon involved, he collected £100,000 from Dragon’s Den and received a hero’s welcome every time he touched down on the fifth runway at Slaley International Airport.

Eventually though, the widowed Maisie twigged George’s demise on the Cupola Bridge was no accident – so Martin was obliged to run her through with one of his dipsticks, after lulling her into a false sense of security with a couple of bottles of Chateau Slaley Hall, and then sliding her body beneath the dark waters of Langley Dam.

Of course, cheats never prosper, Martin was found out, and lost everything.

And he reported from his prison cell: “I had had it all – success, fame, riches, fortune, (I even had Maisie) but instead, through my own devilish greed, lust and covetousness I had lost everything.
“What a dipstick!”

.....It is hoped that the competition will now become an annual one – and that’s no lie!

Martin is our local pharmacist. That's no lie either! He's a lovely man. Unassuming, cheerful and very helpful. Somehow he embodies the spirit of what is like to live up here. Everyone and everything has a tale to tell....

There are a lot of local references. The tale is very amusing in that way. Are there any local traditions dying or reviving where you are? Any local and/or colourful characters? Any interesting surnames? "Merriman" seems a fantastic name for a spinner of yarns. He's also chosen "Reed" which is an old Reiver surname....or does Merriman become the "Reiver"? Very clever indeed.

N.B.: Reivers were the cowboys/bad guys of the Border is from where we get "bereaved" and "blackmail" for starters. I'll post more on this another time!

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Yorkshire Airlines - A dedication

This is a dedication to a very good friend of mine...a friend from my banking days...who is actually a Lancashire lass. We both lived in Richmond, Surrey, (not Yorkshire) separate dwellings but we often used to meet up in chichi cafes and restaurants to reminisce about how things were far better "Oop North" over a very strong cuppa or dare I say "Latte". And aaah! we used to laugh, giggle, chuckle and chortle over many things...not least of them "Life" with a Capital "L". (There is a reference in this clip which she will particularly enjoy. I can't say which one or I'll spoil it. And no...we're not laughing at the Yorkshire bunch we're laughing with them!!!)

This one is for you, Holmes, and all you Yorkshire bloggers out there...who seem to be multiplying by the second.....hope you enjoy it and not take'all meant in the best possible taste....

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Proud to be a Sand Dancer!

Expatmum and PottyMummy have had a few goes at doing Geordie accents lately and expatmum's recent post made me laugh (which I sorely needed). It got me thinking as to what it is to be a Geordie (or a "Sand Dancer"* for that matter) and I came up with this description from this website:

Who Are Geordies?
The Geordie nickname originates from and is used to describe people from the north east of England, specifically people from the areas of North And South Tyneside, Northumberland (which includes Tynedale and Hexham) and the mainly western areas of County Durham.
The terms Geordie or Geordies probably originated from the fact that the miners in the north east coalfields used George Stephenson's safety lamps to prevent underground explosions, rather than the Davy lamp which was more commonplace. If that's true then maybe Geordies have George Stephenson to thank for not having the nickname "Davies" instead.
The term also used to encompass the people living in the north east areas of Sunderland and Middlesbrough but this has been dropped by a large proportion of the people in these areas, who now prefer to be recognised as Mackems or Smoggies respectively.

These short video clips perfectly capture the essence of the Geordie accent compared to so called "Proper English". It must be pointed out however that like any other people who talk with an accent, Geordies are very capable at speaking the "Queens" English should the occasion arise.
(That last bit, which I italicised, made me it's the sound of a Geordie getting on his/her high horse!!! )

* A person from South Shields is a Geordie or more affectionately known as a Sand Dancer. Not sure that the Wikipedia version of the meaning is correct. From what I've always understood there were a lot of Arabs** (and still are) living in South Shields. That fact combined with the location of South Shields, right on the North Eastern coast, is why we are called "Sand Dancers".

** Roman Arab reference: Arbeia (name of Roman Fort) in South Shields...Arbeia is thought to be a Latinised form of a name originally from Aramaic - the native language of the last attested unit stationed at the fort - meaning 'the Place of the Arabs'.

Sunday, 4 January 2009

A Brand New Bright Tomorrow?

Sometimes words fail me. I dry up. Sentences wither in my head.

The lead up to Christmas was second to none. This is the first Christmas we have spent at this house in this village in Hadrian's Wall Country.

We put up our Christmas tree taken in from the garden and the children helped to decorate it. Tinsel was draped on nearly every picture frame. Christmas cards galore festooned the sitting room and the multi-coloured lights twinkled merrily on our two trees and around our street facing windows.

Our daughter was one of the angels in the school nativity play. We attended Christingle at the local Church where the school children sang very sweetly.

Christmas parties. Many.

Christmas lights. Multitudinous.

Christmas carols. Plentiful.

Christmas sweets and presents. In abundance.

December 22nd. A telephone call from Surrey. Husband's father was in hospital in a diabetes-induced coma.

December 25th. Out of the blue. After Christmas lunch. Another telephone call. Husband's mother had been rushed to hospital. She died later that day.

I had been wondering, these last ten days, whether to blog about all of this or not. Nevertheless here I am.

The shock of it all is beginning to recede a little. She had not been well for some time now. She would have preferred to have gone in this way. Suddenly. No dragged out death.

I was going to honour her memory with a moving Catullus poem but, on reflection, it would have meant nothing to her.

She loved her animals...especially her dogs (all retrievers), her garden, her house and antiques. She was also a good cook. She loved it when her children invited their friends and their friends back to her home. She cooked for all and sundry. She adored that. She has given these gifts and much more to my husband. (Although he steadfastly disagrees that he has green fingers.)

Sometimes, especially towards the end, she was not an easy person. Her heart was definitely in the right place though. She was a very loving, giving and emotional person.

She brought two very special people into the world (my husband and his sister). Her husband thinks the world of her. And still does. Fingers crossed that he pulls through all of this.

So I have posted some photos of flowers here for her. (The above photo is of her cooking some mince pies in December 2005.)

She was a home maker par excellence. She never fully appreciated her talents and she definitely had these. For they were many, multitudinous, plentiful and in abundance.

She will be much missed.
May she rest in peace.