Friday, 17 March 2023

Easter Offering

 Easter Offering

This is the most recent pillar box offering to bring a smile to passers-by, particularly those heading to the Oaklands Schools.

It is amazing that people should create these crocheted delights anonymously. The work that goes into them is incredible.

Thursday, 16 March 2023

Incidental Education


Incidental Education

It is always good for the ageing brain to have something new to ponder. My geriatric grey matter usually wanders all over the place, mostly thinking about nothing in particular and everything in general. That is why I welcome books that inform me and focus my attention. Obviously, reference books, which I have in abundance, are inestimable and well-thumbed, but it is incidental information, that arrives by way of fiction, that I embrace.

For example, the Bryant and May series, written by Christopher Fowler, is crime fiction, but hidden within is an intricate tapestry of historical London. Alongside classical and occult references, the books are stimulating and satisfying.

Similarly, the Marcus Didius Falco series, by Lindsey Davis, has broadened my knowledge and understanding of ancient Rome and its Empire. It is ancient history brought to fresh life and it encourages a desire to learn more.

A recent discovery for me has been Joy Ellis’s Jackman and Evans detective series.  The last one I read, ‘They disappeared’, introduced me to Urban Exploration, a fascinating pastime and one I would rather read about than undertake.

Personally, the finest authors are those who are able to entertain and inform and excite further research. I have spoken of fiction writers in this post, but that last statement holds true for non-fiction writers, too, people like Max Hastings and James Holland and Joe Simpson.

Education is a life-long enjoyable process. When curiosity no longer holds sway the spirit begins to decline and turn in on itself. Self-absorption is interesting only to the self.

Wednesday, 15 March 2023

The Ides of March


The Ides of March

Today, 15th March, is the Ides of March, the 74th day in the Roman calendar. In Rome it was the deadline for the settlement of debts. It was sacred to Jupiter and there were many associated religious practices and festivals on and around this day.

Gaius Julius Caesar

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

In 44 BC Julius Caesar was assassinated on the Ides of March, ultimately precipitating the decline and fall of the Roman Empire.

Saturday, 11 March 2023

Chewing in tandem

 Chewing in tandem

In another example of what Barry refers to as my 'shoot, aim, observe' attitude, in a hurry, as usual, I wrote before I thought carefully enough. Of course, Gilbert and Roxy are not 'in tandem' but side by side. I still think 'in tandem' sounds nice even if it isn't strictly accurate!

Chewing in slo-mo is so much tastier
We always give Roxy a large chew and Gilbert a smaller one, but they often swap over

Arthur is here for the day, to Roxy and Gilbert's delight. 

A working Cocker spaniel is very different to a working Labrador. Arthur is much busier and always has to have something in his mouth, usually two or three somethings. Labradors are more relaxed. Even Gilbert at 18 weeks, is ready to flop down and sleep. We are told that Arthur sleeps all day at home, but when he's with us he doesn't stop until we put him in Gilbert's crate., obviously not with Gilbert!  When he's with his working Cocker friend, they play themselves to exhaustion.

After a riotous and extremely noisy play session, with Roxy watching the two youngsters and grumbling at them to be quiet, they settled down with chews. We gave them Himalayan Yak milk chews, which kept them busy for a while, until they started trying to pinch each other's chew, at which point we separated them. 

Wednesday, 8 March 2023

Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody (Official Video Remastered)

Turn the music down!
When we had teenagers the house would reverberate to the sound of music of many different styles, often all at the same time. ‘Turn it down’ was the oft-heard cry from adults with pounding heads. The volume would be lowered for a while but gradually the decibels would increase, each teen intent on drowning their siblings’ favoured music, convinced their chosen group/band/ensemble would gain the ascendant. How they are not all now deaf from the resulting cacophony is a mystery.

Susannah works from home and often has work calls at the time that Frankie arrives home from school, so he comes to our house and she collects him when she’s free. On Wednesday, Frankie has a maths tuition Skype call, which he always complains about but thoroughly enjoys, acknowledging that his tutor is really helping him to understand concepts that have been covered, sometimes sketchily, at school.

It’s reasonably quiet in our house. Occasionally, the cats yowl or the dogs bark or a door bangs. Today, Frankie was partway through his lesson while we were in the sitting room listening to Queen. There came a knock at the door and Frankie appeared.

‘Please could you turn the music down?’ he asked politely.

We felt suitably chastened by our ten-year-old grandson. Perhaps we’re the ones who are deaf!

Tuesday, 7 March 2023

For all the dogs of our lives


For all the dogs of our lives

Frodo the Faller

When the American playwright, Eugene O’Neill, and his third wife lived in Paris in the 1930s, they had a Dalmatian called Blemie (Silverdene Emblem) He travelled to the USA with them, eventually dying on 17th December, 1940. His headstone reads, ‘Sleep in peace, faithful friend.’ 

O’Neill wrote ‘The Last Will and Testament of an Extremely Distinguished Dog’ a few days later and his words will resonate with anyone who has ever loved and lost a dog. The following extracts contain the essence of the whole document.

‘There is nothing of value I have to bequeath except my love and my faith. These I leave to all those who have loved me. I ask my Master and Mistress to remember me always, but not to grieve for me too long. 

One last request I earnestly make. Now I ask, for love of me, to have another. It would be a poor tribute to my memory never to have a dog again.’

The will in its entirety can be found here.

Gus, Bertie and Jenna

Frodo the Faller
Fetch! (and try not to fall over)

Sunday, 5 March 2023



I hesitated to post this before the parents had taken to social media, but now that they have I can introduce my youngest great-granddaughter, Melia (pronounce Meh-lee-ah) Shay. She was born on Saturday 25th February, three weeks early, thus catching out her usually super-organised parents. 

 In Hawaiian culture Melia means plumeria or frangipani. 

All images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

In Greek mythology the Meliae are ash tree nymphs. 

For now, Melia, just one week old, is keeping her besotted, exhausted parents busy.

Saturday, 4 March 2023




Pansy Blue

Reading ‘My neighbour’s cats’ on ‘Deb’s Despatches’ reminded me of our Burmese cats.

We decided to add a cat to our menagerie of dogs, gerbils and guinea pigs because our then youngest child wanted a rabbit. Gillian, her elder sister, had had a couple of pet rabbits which had come to a sad end, courtesy of Brer Fox, and we didn’t feel inclined to repeat the whole sorry exercise. We persuaded Susannah that a cat would be a lovely alternative and duly went to see a breeder of Burmese cats not far from us.

Lilac Angus, my velcro cat

Why did we choose Burmese? My sister and brother-in-law had a gorgeous, very friendly brown Burmese (called Tip, because he had a white tip to his tail) and they had also given my parents a tortie queen who had been used in a breeding programme to produce a blue Burmese.

The breeders didn’t have any kittens but did offer a petite brown Burmese of about five months old. She was called Coriander Autumn Lady and we never actually decided on a name for her, so she ended up being called Alicat, except for our vet who called her Corrie.

We were entranced by her and brought her home on a Saturday to the bemusement of our Jack Russell terriers. Daisy, the youngest, leapt onto my lap, and Ali never had a problem with the dogs.

We were encouraged to breed from her and being enthusiastic and not very knowledgeable, thought it would be fun and educational for the children. The night she had her first litter she came and gently patted my face with her paw to wake me so that I could be with her while she gave birth to five kittens. We kept two, a chocolate queen we called Sweet Pea, and a brown tom, Herbert.

A basketful of kittens, one blue, one chocolate and two brown

Sweet Pea had an overwhelming maternal urge and allowed Ali’s kittens from her second litter to suckle her, actually removing one teat. When she had her own kittens she was fiercely protective. Biddy was wandering past her one day, minding her own business, when Sweet Pea lashed out at her. Wisely, Biddy beat a hasty retreat.

At the time, we kept the cats indoors with an outside run accessible from the house. We made it clear to the children that they MUST NOT let Alicat out when she was calling. Inevitably, Ali wished to make her own arrangements, slipped out and danced across the lawn with a very fetching tom cat. The resulting kittens were beautiful and we kept one, a lovely black girl with golden eyes. We called her Boadicea and every time we saw the vet we had a discussion about the correct name, which, of course, is Boudicca.

Like Siamese cats, Burmese are very vocal and have piercing, quite melodious voices. Many times, callers on the ‘phone would enquire if we had a baby in the house. They are also very gregarious, requiring and appreciating human company. 

Herbert with Bethan

If humans were in short supply, any dog would do.

Cariadd hosts a collection of cats

Frodo with Pansy, top, and Singleton

Cariadd with Pansy

They enjoyed riding on our shoulders and assumed that any shoulders would suffice, so that anyone visiting us and standing still for a moment was liable to find themselves hosting a furry adornment. That was quite startling for unsuspecting visitors and the solution was to find a seat immediately, as the cats realised they were not going to gain height from a lap.

Running up a human’s back was another source of entertainment, both for the cats and for observers, though not so much for the living, breathing, now screaming climbing frame.

The cats worked in tandem with the dogs to break into the fridge and sample the tasty treats within. Fridge locks were not so readily available so we had to devise a means of barring access. I believe we used gaffer tape. We had already tightened the ball catches on our doors to stop the cats opening the doors to join us upstairs and have midnight playtime across our faces. A further exercise in imagination was to find a way of keeping the tropical fish safe from the marauding paws of inquisitive felines. These days it is possible to buy aquaria with lids, but they weren’t available then, so Barry had to practise his joinery skills to make a lid.  

It was always warm on the aquarium lid and there was always a slight chance of nabbing a fish when the lid was lifted to feed them

Meanwhile, dreams would have to do

Explaining to prospective new owners of our lively kittens just what they might be taking on was interesting. The kittens explored everything and could disappear into the smallest crevices, and apart from the usual climbing wall provided by curtains, they also liked the texture of wallpaper and could clamber from floor to ceiling in remarkably quick time. Summarising what I had said on the ‘phone, one man said, ‘So, we look for a house with the wallpaper hanging off the walls?’ I agreed, and it didn’t put him off.  

Our children’s friends all had their favourites among the cats, but one that was popular with everyone was Singleton. She was a blue Burmese and the only kitten in Sweet Pea’s second litter. In common with many oriental breeds, she was cross-eyed, which added to her appeal.

We didn’t breed many litters but our vets would always recommend us to anyone looking for beautiful, bomb-proof kittens. I don’t regret those days but I have not been tempted to repeat them – well, not often.

Why did we have house cats and not allow them to roam freely? When I was a little girl I had a very pretty tabby and white kitten called Judy (to live alongside our Springer spaniel, Punch.) She was knocked down and killed and it broke my heart and I suppose I’ve never wanted to risk that again.

The second question is, why have pedigree cats when there are so many moggies looking for homes? Moggies are born free spirits and might find it difficult to live as house cats, though undoubtedly some adapt. My children and I agree to disagree on this. Like toddlers and dogs, I like to know where my cats are at all times – when they’re not hiding under a bush or secreted in a cupboard!

Angus chatting

Friday, 3 March 2023

Very odd

 Very odd

Recently, I have received notice of comments in my email but on opening my blog to respond I find the comments have not appeared. It seems to be an Antipodean quirk, with comments from River and Andrew being the victims. 

It's also inconsistent. Sometimes their comments appear, other times they don't.

Has anyone else experienced this?

Thursday, 2 March 2023




We live in Crowthorne, in Berkshire, UK. It is home to two well-known institutions, Wellington College and Broadmoor Hospital. The former is a fee-paying co-educational school for pupils from 13 to 18, which opened in 1859 as a national monument to honour the Duke of Wellington. The latter is a maximum-security psychiatric hospital, one of three in England, and has housed some of the most dangerous criminals in England. It opened in 1863. Is there a sinister link between the two? (insert wink emoji)

The Crowthorne badge, top left of the sign, shows a crow on a branch or thorn. The village is named after a local landmark, the Crow Thorn
There are many crows in the area, as might be deduced from the name. These clever birds are noisy, bold and entertaining. They quickly recognise food sources and follow dog walkers who carry treats.

Several years ago, we used to feed two crows we called Bill and Beatrice, and subsequently their two offspring. They were opportunistic feeders and would switch their allegiance readily from us to others. The ground where we walked in Crowthorne Forest, more properly Swinley Forest, was open and the family could easily see the biscuits.

There are many small ponds in the woods, very attractive to dogs and ducks, and we used to throw biscuits in for the crows. It was amazing to watch them dive down, almost submerge and then flap up and away with the prize in their bill.

Simon’s Wood, where we walk at present, has thick layers of leaves, rotting beautifully into a rich, aromatic mulch. 
There is a fairly large pool which hosts a variety of water birds – Canada geese, little grebes, coot and mallard among others. The crows do not dive for biscuits here.

It is apparent that the crows have territories in which they are comfortable, for when we reach the boundaries, invisible to us, they no longer follow us. At present, we have another family of four to feed. They seem to recognise us, or perhaps it’s the dogs, or the treat bags we carry. Maybe they just watch to find out if they’re going to be lucky.

Crow 1:‘Oh, there’s a human. Let’s follow him for a while and see if he’ll feed us.’

Crow 2: ‘Watch out for the dogs. They’ll steal our grub.’

Crow 1: ‘Children alert. They often drop food.’

Crow 2: ‘Look, more dogs. I wonder if they’ll have treats?’

One of the current family has a degree of leucism, only clearly visible when she flies. Unoriginally, we call her White Wings. She can easily be mistaken for a magpie from a distance.

We also have crows in the garden. A few years ago, when Jenna, our little black Labrador, was very young, one of the crows used to sit atop one of the arches and bow to her. I think he must have been an immature male to have mistaken a four-legged dog for a two-legged crow and start courting her. At least, I think that was what he was doing. I’m not an expert and am willing to be corrected.

Crows can be extremely vocal, particularly if they feel threatened. A crow will chase away a red kite, even though a kite is substantially larger than a crow.

Aesop was a Greek slave and story-teller who lived around 620 BCE. He recognised the intelligence of the crow and illustrated it in his fable of the Crow and the Pitcher.

Is this crow engaged in trickery or is he about to burst into song?
'Me and my shadow . . . ' 

Wednesday, 1 March 2023



Insecure Writers’ Support Group

Over the course of several years, I have visited IWSG, marvelled at the expertise and confidence displayed there, considered joining in and shied away. I’ve read others’ contributions and decided I can’t compete.

I know, it’s not a competition, but there’s something daunting about exposing one’s thoughts, maybe, on occasions, one’s innermost self, to strangers. I do that, though, through my blog, and everyone I’ve ‘met’ there were strangers to begin with and have been unfailingly kind and courteous.

However, I’m not a writer, not really. Well, I have a few ‘stories’ on the go, though not so much on the go now as resting in mothballs. When I have admitted to trying to write, some people have asked, ‘What genre?’ and that really makes me stop and think. Is there a genre called ‘drivel’?

So now I’ve dipped my toe in the water (sometimes I enjoy indulging my inner cliché-writer) If you’ve read this far, thank you. If not, tant pis.

Tuesday, 28 February 2023



As part of his pilot training, Gilbert has to practise getting out of a tailspin.

Meanwhile, Roxy, his instructor, watches from the comfort of HMC (Her Master's Chair) Note that she has rearranged the coverings to her liking. She and Gilbert do this several times a day. 

Roxy is squinting to get a really objective view of this most critical part of Gilbert's training. She vehemently denies any notion that she is thoroughly bored with the process and falling asleep.

After a strenuous training session, Gilbert retires to the sofa to practise covert, undercover tennis ball operations.


 Jellicoe's really putting his back into it this morning!

Monday, 27 February 2023




Roxy splooting 
Most of our dogs have adopted the hearth rug position, limbs stretched out fore and aft, from little Jack Russell, Busy Biddy to big Dalmatian, Frodo the Faller. Watching Roxy relaxing today and demonstrating her hearth rug technique, I dimly recalled hearing or reading something to the effect that this pose was not good for dogs, could damage their hips, or some such thinking. I felt this could not be right, as so many of our dogs have done it with no lasting damage, or, indeed, any damage at all.
Puppy Bertie splooting 
There is potential for damage, if passing humans are not looking where they’re going. A dog is a trip hazard at the best of times. For the dog, being mistaken for an actual hearth rug could be perilous!

I looked it up and discovered there is a name for ‘hearth rug dog’. Apparently, ‘splooting’ has long been associated with Welsh Corgis, but many other breeds also do it, as do cats, rabbits and other four-legged animals, like squirrels and lizards.

One explanation suggests that animals sploot to stretch their joints. Another thought is that they do it to cool down when the weather is very hot. Dogs can only sweat through their pads and so stretch out to expose as much as possible of their skin to cool surfaces.

Anyway, splooting is my new word of the day, but there will be limited opportunities to use it.

Saturday, 25 February 2023

Sous Vide


Sous Vide

My son is an accomplished and inventive cook. I attribute this, modestly, to my influence in his young life, and, incidentally, that of his siblings.

Allow me to explain. I am the World’s Worst Cook. My mother did not enjoy cooking, although her mother was a professional cook. Her meals were appetising and varied and she did her best to teach me the rudiments of cooking and baking. The love of cooking was not there, however, and it did not find fulfilment in me. Like her, I did it because I had to, though not as well, and my children would have suffered had it not been for their father, who enjoys the chemistry of cooking, managing to introduce original dishes to their experience. (You know, he even tastes as he goes along!)

So, my children followed my husband’s path and each in turn became ‘good cooks’, but Gareth is taking it to greater heights. Nina, his wife, is also a good cook, but she is happy to let Gareth take the lead and continue to produce outstanding meals.

We have enjoyed many repasts, often produced on his barbeque. He barbecues the Christmas turkey every year regardless of the weather, and we have appreciated his wonderful home-smoked salmon.

He has been using the Sous Vide method for some time now and recently introduced Barry to it, with a gift of Sous Vide equipment. Sous Vide has been around in one form or another since 1799. Simply, it is low-temperature, long-time cooking (LTLT) and has been used in some restaurants for more than twenty years. Now, very few professional chefs do not use Sous Vide, though many prefer not to admit to its use. Jamie Oliver is an exception.

Sous Vide is not for the last-minute ‘What shall we have for supper?’ cook (me!) It requires thought and timing but the results, I must say, are amazing, succulent and flavourful. Barry is enjoying the challenge of a new way of cooking but he hasn’t yet tried anything that takes 72 hours! 

Thursday, 23 February 2023

My first blog post


My first blog post

I started blogging in February fourteen years ago, when Gordon Brown was Prime Minister. Reproduced below is my first blog.

There has been barely any mention in the news of the terrible life-changing injuries sustained by British Armed Forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. It is very difficult to obtain accurate figures which suggests a degree of duplicity; additionally the figures that are available are incomplete and do not tell the whole tragic story. Last year alone 4200 very seriously wounded personnel were ‘casualty evacuated’ out of theatre to receive outstanding dedicated medical attention at Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham. This figure does not include fatalities or indeed other less seriously injured people who were treated in situ initially before being returned to home shores. Neither are the figures for those who die during treatment after repatriation readily available. Many of the homeless people existing on our streets are there because their lives have been irrevocably altered during active service. No longer able to cope with ‘normal’ life they have been abandoned by the state and reduced to begging. It is understood that General Sir Richard Dannatt, Chief of the General Staff, bringing to the attention of Gordon Brown the plight of returning injured and damaged men and women, was told that any monetary help would not be provided by him. This smacks of a washing of hands by the Government. There is little or no Government support for the victims and their families who must rely on charities for assistance. Help for Heroes, SSAFA, The Royal British Legion, BLESMA are just a few of the many organisations delivering advice and support. Communities throughout the United Kingdom are forming local charities to help alleviate the suffering of their disabled citizens’ blighted lives. It is time for the Government to cease its reliance on charities and take responsibility for the ongoing care of the young men and women whose minds and bodies have been shattered in the service of their country.

Little has changed in the ensuing fourteen years. Veterans still rely on charity. There was enthusiastic talk about providing ex-military personnel with identity cards that would allow them swifter access to services.

Taken from

“In 2019, ministers pledged to give every veteran an ID card to enable them quicker access to health, housing, and charity services.

As of November 2022, data from the Office for National Statistics reveals that only 56,000 ID cards have been handed out since 2018, despite there being more than 1.8 million veterans in England and Wales.

That could mean all those entitled to a card would, in theory, be waiting 125 years to receive it.”

The will to help is there – somewhere.

Meanwhile, the military charities compete with every other charity for donations to help those living in straitened circumstances.



Brer Fox


Brer Fox

Tigger in his blog (Tigger’s Wee-blog) the other day mentioned ‘his’ fox burying a bone. What clever animals they are.

My heart misses a beat when I see one trotting purposefully across my garden and my blood chills when I hear them screaming in the small of the night. The sobbing cry of the vixen as she calls for a mate or while mating is other-worldly.

I know they are loathed by farmers and can understand their vexation at the damage they cause, but still I admire their cunning, their style, their elegance.

As a child I liked all the Uncle Remus tales, but one of my favourites was Brer Fox and the Tar Baby. Later, I enjoyed Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox, which lauds the wit of the fox. (I wonder if that story has fallen prey to the prissy rewriters of much-loved tales?)

Foxes feature in much children’s literature, frequently in Aesop’s Fables, those pithy moral tales. The gingerbread man (Run, run, as fast as you can, you can’t catch me , I’m the gingerbread man) meets his end on the fox’s nose, and Chicken Licken and his friends are fooled into entering Foxy Loxy’s den, never to be seen again. The fox in Beatrix Potter’s book, The Tale of Mr Tod, does battle with Tommy Brock the badger, using ‘dreadful bad language’. ‘Fox in Sox’ by Dr Seuss is another favourite with small children.

In song, there is  'The Fox Went Out on a Chilly Night' sung by Bob Shane., and found on YouTube.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Basil Brush was a fox glove puppet and the star of a television programme for children. He spoke rather in the perceived manner of ‘a fox-hunting man’ and was given to atrocious jokes, always followed by his catch
phrase, ‘Ha, ha, ha. Boom! Boom!’

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Leicester City Football Club adopted Filbert Fox as their mascot in 1992. Filbert is always to be seen on match days, dressed in blue, entertaining the crowds and cheering on his team from the sidelines.

Reynard was the country nickname for a fox, deriving from mediaeval English by way of the French ‘Renart’ and the Old German name ‘Reginhart’. ‘Tod’ is also from Middle English and is still used in Northern England and Scotland as a name for the fox.

Foxes are believed to be largely nocturnal and yet there are many well-documented stories of foxes sunning themselves on roofs or leaping over walls and fences from one garden to another during daylight hours. My next-door neighbour has a visiting fox that spends much of its time resting on her lawn. We have nocturnal foxes and cubs regularly crossing our front garden. They have well-defined paths and never seem to stay long, so I don’t know what they’re looking for. Snails, maybe? They don’t come into the back garden since we installed our cat enclosing fencing. One night, before the installation, we watched a vixen teaching her cub to catch rats, but we have not, to date, managed to photograph a fox. Must try harder!


Tuesday, 21 February 2023

Cause for celebration


Cause for celebration

Following his recent significant birthday Barry was informed by the Pension Service, part of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) that he was entitled to a rise in his state pension. The rise is 3.5 pence per day.

3.5 pence per day will not even buy an onion or a potato or an egg.

Sunday, 19 February 2023




Do you have a nickname? Do you love it or hate it?

For the humans, Gillian was Gillyillyillian and Gareth was Gareth-oh, or, from his siblings, Gaz.  Susannah was Sooozzz, or Cookes or SueSue, or her judo coach’s favourite, Susie. Bethan was always Bethan and cast a stern look if called Beth. To family she is known as The Bethelator, though Gillian calls her B.

My late sister’s name was Beryl, but my late brother-in-law called her Bee and it suited her so well because she was a very busy person.

Barry’s names were Cookie, (also used for Susannah) Baz and Punchy, because he was a boxer. We also call him ‘Sir’. I call him Cooke!

My name is Janice and I loathe it being shortened to Jan. People only ever try that once. My very best teenage friend, through whom I met Barry, used to call me Janissimo, which I rather liked.

Our animals have various names to which they respond. Gus was Gustopher, Bertie was Berts or Bertyberts, Roxy is Roxyloxy or Roxalls and Gilbert is Gillygillygilbert or Giblet. Jellicoe accepts Jelly and Jellicose, and Herschel is Hershey, Herschels or Herschy-baby. Bethan’s dog, Lolly, who often spends her holidays with us, is known by us as Lollipop, while Arthur, Susannah’s dog, is Art or Artie or Artiloid.

Why do we indulge in nicknames? Sometimes they arise naturally from a child’s attempt to pronounce a name. Callum, for example, used to call Susannah Sue-Anna, and Frankie called Barry ByeBye. To many small children I was known as Daniss.

I think they are often an expression of affection, of closeness, of belonging to a tribe, a group, a family. They are special names to be used only by those ‘in the know’.


Saturday, 18 February 2023

A Life full of Animals - the final part


A Life full of Animals – the final part

I cannot leave this theme without paying tribute to the other animals in my life, the two-legged variety. I have chosen to use photographs of them as little beings, when they begin to resemble human beings, not the very smallest, newborn ones, when only the most besotted and closely-related  can truly say, 'Oh, how beautiful' and sound as though they mean it!

Naturally, my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren were stunning from the moment they were born, but they were the exception.

First. always and forever, is my husband. Here he is, at three years old, in India, where he lived for three years, He came back to the UK on a troop ship when he was six, better able to converse in Urdu than English. 

I debated whether I should include a photograph of myself, but I am another animal in my life. As the youngest of three, the novelty had rather worn off for my parents, so there aren't many snaps of me. However, here I am at the Festival of Britain in 1951, aged seven. I'm the one sitting on the well-fed pony.

Gillian appears next. A blue-eyed, corn-gold blonde, after the Cooke fashion, she looked nothing like me, a hazel-brown-eyed brunette, and for a while I wondered if I had actually had anything to do with her as everybody remarked on how much she looked like Barry. She grew up to be a very pretty girl, but not particularly tall (the Cooke influence) and is now a loving mother to two blonde blue-eyed daughters and a brown-haired blue-eyed son, and a grandmother to 4, soon to be 5, all with blue eyes and blonde hair.



So delighted were we with Gillian that we embarked on a second child and Gareth was born twenty months later. Some people marvelled that a brown-eyed boy should be born to a blue-eyed father. Once again, where was I in the equation? Gareth grew into a handsome strong young man of 6’3” (the Mayne genes asserting themselves here) and is now a devoted father to three, two sons taller than him and a beautiful daughter, taller than her mother. All of them have wonderful deep brown eyes, and very dark brown hair.



Third in line came Susannah, a striking green-eyed ash blonde. Like her brother, she grew tall and is a loving mother to a blue-eyed dark blond boy.


After a nine-year delay, when we had forgotten what caused it, Bethan was born, a quietly beautiful brown-eyed blonde. She has two dark-eyed brown-haired sons.

                                                           Hobby horse
Then we move onto the second generation. 

Marnie, Gillian’s eldest

                                                          Birthday cake  

Her sister, Shakira (Kiri)

                                                        In the garden
Their brother, Callum

On holiday

Elliot, Gareth’s eldest child

Full of mischief

His sister, Eve


Their brother, Louis

                                                            At the helm

Susannah’s son, Frankie


Bethan’s elder son, Charlie

On the'phone

His younger brother, Jack 

A life on the ocean wave

Then comes the beginning of the third generation.

 Isla, Marnie’s elder child

                                                          Aye,aye, Cap'n

Fergus, her younger brother

                                                        Steering a course

Then there are  Shakira’s daughter and son, Ariella and Luca, but we have no individual photographs of them.

Finally, for the moment, there is Callum's daughter, Melia, still incubating and due to join the world in March . . .  and there will be others in the future, no doubt

What sort of world will these little people grow up into? Each generation faces problems which seem insurmountable but thus far, we have overcome them or adapted to them. Perhaps there is a kernel of truth in the saw, 'Where there's life there's hope.'

I see the formatting has gone awry in parts. It's a good thing I'm not possessed of the demons that demand perfection.