POST #188. REMEMBERING MY MOTHER

My lovely mum died 25 years ago today. 

Sadly she did not live to see our three children achieve academic success, gain work and start their careers.

She was not there when they found partners, married and had children of their own.

She died before I achieved my Master’s in Education and before I became a published author.

She never saw the home we are living in now. 

There’s hardly a day goes by when I don’t think of her.

Last weekend I visited Hoop Lane crematorium in North West London, where her ashes were scattered on the crocus bed.

OH (other half) and I explored the beautiful grounds with their stunning displays of Azaleas, Camelias and other flowering shrubs. 

I remembered this poem I wrote in memory of my mother:

When I see a flower

Or a bud upon a tree

I think about my mother

And the life she gave to me.

My mother loved gardening and liked nothing better than to spend time pottering in her garden.

I can think of no better place for her to be at rest than in the gardens of Hoop Lane.

                                                                                                                             Remembrance Haiku

                                                                                                                              Scattered crocuses

                                                                                                                                                                                     Ashes scattered on the grass

                                                                                                                              Scattered memories

 

                                               In memory of Freda Hetty Finn

                       1910-1996                                                                                                  

© Andrea Neidle. My Life in Poems

© Photos, Andrea Neidle

125 DAYS INTO LOCKDOWN – TIME FOR A CHANGE!

 

Four+ months, 125 days, 3000 hours – time for a change!

This has been a week of firsts for me.

Last weekend OH (other half) and I drove to the coast (Frinton since you ask), picnicked on the beach and I actually used a public loo for the first time since lockdown.  Public loos are not my favourite places at the best of times. Normally if we’re out I would try and use a restaurant or pub loo. Or, better still, nip into a hotel trying to look as if I’m staying there.

To use the public loo, I wore a mask.  Another first for me as there’s been no necessity to use one up till now as we’ve not gone anywhere!  The mask had the added bonus of covering up any unsavoury smells but this loo visit was a good experience. So much so that I visited it again later in the day!

Another Frinton first (well, Walton-on-Naze to be precise) was sitting outside a cafe and having a cream tea.  The scone was rubbish, the tea not much better but oh the luxury of sitting in the sunshine watching the world go by.  The woman serving our tea was even older than me. She reminded me of the character of Mrs Overall played by Julie Walters in Acorn Antiques! OH and I were nevertheless reassured by the 5 for hygiene score on the shop window.

Yesterday I drove my car for the first time in four months. I would like to be able to say that it started first time but I actually had to have a new battery fitted. I had diligently been starting my car on a regular basis but clearly not regularly enough. Readers take heed.

Another first this week was booking a holiday – for next February.  Flying (now that’s brave) business class (now that’s expensive) and travelling to Madeira where they have had no Covid deaths to date. Not so long ago I said I would never fly again, in the same way as said I would never vote Labour again.  I have changed my mind about one and am seriously considering changing my mind about the other.

Another first (how many firsts can one person experience in seven days?) is that I have bought a dress online.  I have never ever bought a dress online but thought I would give it a go. The dress arrived today. Amazingly, it fits and I am very pleased with my purchase.  White Stuff since you ask. Ethically sound, Fair Trade and all that.  My writer friends from Watford Writers (hello Brian, Mike, Helen, John, Ian and Jan) might get to see it at our next Zoom meeting.  The purchase was so successful I went right back to my PC and ordered another one.

It is over four months since I last had my hair cut and my grey roots tinted.  (Sorry to disappoint but I am not really a true blonde.)  Now my hair is long, straggly and grey with blonde streaks I have taken to wearing a pony tail again – for the first time in what must be forty years.  Grey hair might be ageing but a pony tail makes me feel like I am a teenager again!

Lockdown has been a great time for gardening even for those of us who are not great gardeners.  I think of myself as a haphazard gardener. I throw seeds into the earth without preparing the soil. I plant things willy nilly in the hope that they might flourish. And sometimes, I get surprisingly good results – and with minimum effort on my part.  Earlier in lockdown I thought I would plant some melon seeds. I scraped the seeds out from a melon, washed, dried and planted them in some compost. Left them on the window sill until green shoots became visible and then replanted them into a trough on our terrace.  I now have some small honeydew melon plants.  I can’t imagine that they will ever produce melons but it has been a fun experiment and another first for me.  I am also growing cauliflowers (another first) and you’ll be the first to hear if they’re successful.

The one first I am eagerly awaiting is the first chance we get to hug and kiss our daughter’s three children, aged eight, six and four.  Until lockdown we saw them all frequently as we often helped out with childcare. Now we see them from time to time at a distance. Other grandparents reading this I am sure will empathise when I say that not being able to hold, kiss, cuddle, tickle, touch and hug our grandchildren has been the biggest sacrifice of these past four months. A first that I could very happily have done without.

Have a good weekend everyone and I will see you again next week.

If this is the first time you have visited my blog, welcome!  

 

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

 

47TH DAY IN LOCKDOWN – SEEDS OF DISCONTENT

 

 

 

 

 

Forget toilet rolls and hand sanitiser. I can’t find bread flour anywhere. And as for gardening seeds – they are like gold dust.

Everyone now seems to be baking bread, experimenting with arts and crafts, painting and gardening. I’ve visited a number of online nurseries and even the B&Q website. All my favourite plants have sold out. And it’s only May 1st!  I wasn’t even able to buy seeds in the early days of lockdown.

I had a rummage in the garage and found a few old seed packets. Best planted by 2014.  I doubt if they will work but I’m going to give them a go and will let you know if I have any luck.

If you’re having the same experience, I can recommend seed sharing – something keen amateur gardeners have been doing for years.

A couple of years ago I shared seeds with a friend and I was so delighted with the outcome that I wrote this poem about it.

I’m sure you must know the poem by William Wordsworth which begins – “I wandered lonely as a cloud … ”

Here is my version – a lighthearted take on the original.

 

To Hollyhocks

I wandered barefoot in the sun

Having taken off my socks

And all at once I came upon

A clump of golden Hollyhocks

 

I pocketed some tiny seeds

They flew with me on EasyJet

I scattered them among my weeds

And with myself I had a bet

 

Could I get these seeds to grow

Among my dandelion clocks

And if they did how would I know

That these were truly Hollyhocks

 

A few months on a fabulous sight

Hollyhocks of every hue

It looks like I did something right

And then I gave some seeds to you

 

And then as quickly as they came

My flowers disappeared from sight

I looked for them but all in vain

They had just vanished overnight

 

I think my gardener was to blame

Mistook them for some flowering weeds

My garden didn’t look the same

And I hadn’t even kept the seeds

 

Then you and I met up for lunch

And I told you this tale of woe

Ah you said I have a hunch

That I still have some seeds you know

 

You kindly posted seeds to me

Just like the ones I once gave you

When you were here with friends for tea

Such a thoughtful thing to do

 

What goes around comes around they say

It looks like we will prove this true

And who knows maybe come next May

I’ll have more seeds to give to you

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve been blogging every day for the past week and am going to take a break this weekend. Am not going anywhere special – just thought I would visit the sofa in my living room.

See you Monday. Have a good weekend. Stay safe and keep well.  Happy gardening!

 

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

 

 

COVID-19 -30 MARCH 2020

30 MARCH 2020 AC (AFTER COVID-19)

What are you going to be doing today?

I’m a late riser, late showerer, late dresser, late sitter at the computer so you may already have had your daily exercise, walked the dogs, done 50 sit-ups, knitted a scarf, climbed a mountain and baked a cake by the time you read this. But I’m also a late to-bedder. When you’re curling up to sleep, I am working on my novel, writing poetry, emailing and blogging. I might even be using the time to do some housework!

I was so proud of myself yesterday. I got up really early (for me) at 8 am – only to find that the clocks had gone forward and that it was actually 9 am!

People are turning to all manner of things to fill their time.  Take baking.  Many of the supermarkets have run out of flour as self-isolation brings out the need for some bread making. There is hardly anything in the world more satisfying than bashing away at the yeasty dough while you knead and pummel it into oblivion.  I am now the proud owner of a bread machine (recommended!) but when our kids were young I often baked a loaf just for the pure satisfaction of doing it – not to mention how yummy and delicious a newly baked loaf of bread is.  I would bash away vigorously at the dough imagining it was Margaret Thatcher or maybe – if it had been a bad day – even my other half.  Today my choice would be Trump or Corbyn.  My PC is underlining Corbyn as if it is a spelling mistake.  Corbyn is just a mistake. And soon to be erased, thank goodness. Oops – my political allegiances are showing. Best not to talk about religion, sex or politics on a blog.

Yesterday I mentioned that the sales of table tennis tables have gone through the roof. And last night I read an article which said that there has – not surprisingly – been a huge surge in the sales of fitness equipment such as exercise bikes, rowing machines and treadmills.

A surprising big seller has been flower seeds.  Many of the well known stockists have completely sold out of seed packets. So, if you were thinking of emulating the Good Life (an entertaining TV sit-com from the 70s) and starting your own veggie patch – you are too late. “Coronavirus lockdown: Seed companies struggle to cope as people turn to gardening” was the headline. “Online seed retailers are reporting demand for seeds this week spiking up to ten times normal levels for the time of year.” Some firms have been completely unable to cope and are turning away new orders!

One of the good things that’s hopefully going to come out of all this is more creativity worldwide. In the next six months (or is it going to be a year?) we are likely to see more books written, more pictures painted, more songs written, more plays scripted, more blogs started and so on. And more children born – but that’s a blog for another day.

Although it might be driving parents up the wall, I also think that many children are going to benefit from all the extra attention they are getting – from people who BC (Before Corona) often didn’t see their kids until bedtime.  Of course it’s a huge adjustment for parents having to teach their kids at home but I don’t believe these kids are going to be missing out on schooling. Whatever the capabilities of their parents, I think the majority of children will return to school brighter and better equipped to face the world – and with luck – they will be more eager to learn.

What did I do today?  I baked a delicious granary loaf. As you can see half of it has already been demolished!  And as for my French knitting, it is now higher than my head!

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day four and my French knitting is now taller than me!

 

COVID-19 – 28 MARCH 2020

Saturday 27 March AC (After Covid)

Thoughts from a baby boomer

I admit it. I know we are among the lucky ones.  Most of our generation of boomers – as we are called – those of us born immediately after the war (I imagine there will be corona boomers born one day too – what else is there to do when one is locked in and self isolating?) own our homes or have almost paid off our mortgages and many of us have savings to fall back on.  Until Covid-19 hit us we all had holidays and theatre trips planned. Many households own more than one car.  And, until now, we had experienced some resentment from the young, particularly those who thought that everyone over 60 had voted for Brexit.  We didn’t by the way but that’s all academic now as catastrophic world events have made everything else insignificant.

The younger generation forget that when we were their age we had to put up with extraordinarily high interest rates.  When OH (other half) and I bought our first home (a two bedroom flat in South Woodford, East London, since you ask) my job counted for nothing as far as a mortgage was concerned. Women’s salaries were not take into account at all – even though, at that time, as an advertising copywriter, I was earning far more than my husband.  As a result couples could only spend what they could afford on one person’s salary.  At the time that seemed ridiculous (not to mention sexist – though that word wasn’t in use then) but it did mean that one was forced to live within one’s means.  It also meant that when I became pregnant with our first child, we did not miss my salary – because it had never been taken into account!

Sexism was rampant then. I was accepted for a copy writing job at the Reader’s Digest only to be told that I had to sign to agree that I would not get pregnant (I assume they meant by OH) for two years.  Being a woman of principle I didn’t sign.  Afterwards I realised I could have signed and then got pregnant anyway. What could they have done – sued me?  Today, of course, we have Twitter and I would immediately have shopped them to the world.

I digress.  I wanted to talk about us comfortable middle classes who in this turmoil of lock-downs and self-isolation are able to relax in our gardens.  In normal times (and these are definitely not normal times) people like us would have had a cohort of people to do our “work” for us –  house cleaners (tick), window cleaners (tick) and gardeners (tick). OH and I gave away our lawnmower some time ago after it had spent many years languishing in our garage as we had a gardener to do all the work for us.  Now, of course, we need to cut the grass ourselves.  OH ordered a lawnmower from Amazon and it was delivered a few days later.  Almost as exciting as when our online groceries arrived (see yesterday’s blog).  OH had great fun assembling it and then immediately setting out to mow our lawn. At an angle – because that’s how he normally parks the car! Covid-19 is teaching us all new skills which hopefully we will retain when life gets back to “normal” – whenever that is and whatever that will be.

I hope I am not coming across to you as a smug and self-satisfied boomer. I am more than well aware how appalling things are now (our daughter only recently having recovered from the virus) and how difficult (if not impossible) they are for most people.  We are also finding it hard but not in the same way as many families are. We have the aforesaid garden, our writing, our families (thank goodness for WhatsApp), our friends on the phone (thank you BT), our TV (finally signed up for Netflix) BUT we are missing (as all of you reading this no doubt are) seeing our loved ones face to face (other than on Face Time, Skype etc)  and being able to hug our beautiful grandchildren. For me, that is the hardest thing of all. I find the idea that I may not see our fabulous five grand-kids for many months far too unbearable to contemplate.

Happily, after nearly 50 (!) years of marriage, OH and I still find plenty to say to one another and we still enjoy our time together.  Sadly, I wouldn’t be surprised if AC (after Covid) there will be many more marital and cohabiting break-ups. An increase in divorce, suicide, mental health issues and undiscovered deaths. However, I also think and hope that something positive has to come out of all this if humanity is to survive.  We’ve already seen how so many people from all walks of life are coming together to support one another – friends, neighbours and strangers.  I am hoping that AC  we will all appreciate, love and care for one another more than we did before and – boomers or not – never take our lives for granted again.

 

 

 

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

Simple pleasures

Two years ago today I lost a very dear friend.  Whenever I think of her – which is often – I think of her in her garden. She got the greatest pleasure from the simplest things.  A flower growing between the cracks on her terrace. A patch of earth where she could plant something new. She loved nothing more than pottering in her garden, getting things to grow.

I wrote this poem for her.

 

Frankie’s garden

As I walk round her garden

Frankie is with me

She is there in the whispering grass

And the poppies growing so free

Last year, I said, the earth was bare

And now the flowers have grown

Last year, she said, I was still here

But now you are alone

A robin came to say hello

We wanted him to stay

He sang a song and then was gone

Like me he’s flown away, she said

Like me he’s flown away.

grass pic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In memory of FH who passed away on 5th April, 2016.

May her memory be a blessing.

 

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems