Posted in History, Holiday, Life, Travel

A hidden gem in South Wales

I’ve been coming here since I was a child.  I was brought here by aunts and childminders to walk the dog and play in the park and swim in the lake (when it was allowed…sadly not any more); we came here with Sunday School and Youth Club for group barbecues – there are built in barabecues that can be hired out. I was briefly a memeber of an archaeological group and we visited; and again, with Youth Club, we would come and hang around the medieval village; once I recall even being dressed up as a medieval peasant and manning one of the buildings.  I remember coming to fetes here and watching knights charging across the field in re-enactments.

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This place is Cosmeston Country Park & Medieval Village, in between Penarth and Sully in the Vale of Glamorgan.

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Here it is on #GoogleMaps

I still spend time here these days and it still amazes me that people come here and say they didn’t know it was here.  Understandable maybe from people from outside of the area; but I have close acquaintances who grew up in Cardiff, just down the road; and have never been here.

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Cosmeston Country Park is a large area set around a large lake; one end of which, separated by a bridge, is a dedicated nature reserve. Within the park there is a play area, boardwalks along the lake and across marshland and various paths for all levels of fitness.  There are orienteering trails and school-holiday activities; in addition to school trips being catered for – the park rangers can take children pond-dipping or den building; and there are various volunteering opportunites throughout the park and the medieval village.

Over the years there have been changes in the medieval village, but essentially it’s a reconstruction, built on the original foundations dated to the 14th Century, discovered during excavations in the 1970s, when the land, a former quarry, was handed over to the council for use of the community.  These days it’s furnished and decorated and managed, in keeping with the time period

Access to the museum adjacent to the village is free; and guided tours by costumed characters start from there into the village itself a set times during the day; or self guided tours using audio-wands at your own pace.

Tickets for the guided or self-guided tours can be purchased from the reception in the main car park of the park; which is also where bookings for water activities and use of the barbecues can be arranged; not only for Cosmeston but for their sister country park, Porthkerry, down the road in Barry.

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The park is managed by The Vale of Glamorgan council.  More information on the park & its facilities, such as updated times and prices for access and various activities, can be found on the Vale website Here and the Medieval Village Here

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Posted in Family, History, Home, Life

27 Addresses

I was in the supermarket the other night on my way home, picking up some last minute stuff.  It was quiet.  Almost closing time.  Two men behind me at the only open check-out knew each other, and began chatting as acquaintances do who haven’t seen each other for a little while. One told the other they’d just moved house and bemoaned some of the things that go along with it.  The other responded with “I moved house, once. Never again”

Once???? I’ve recently moved for the 27th time.

Just for clarity, I’m counting any address where I lived, made my own beds, bought my own food, (unless too young and my mum was doing said things for me) received mail – so that it doesn’t count as a ‘holiday’ (or vacation if you want to be mutli-national about it).

There’s no one set reason. I wasn’t an ‘army brat’ whose parent or parents were in the military and so we moved bases regularly.  I wasn’t born into a tribe of Romany travellers or some nomadic tribe in Timbuctu.  There were (are?) all sorts of reasons.

The first was that my mum & dad grew up in different parts of the country.  They bought their first married home in *his* region; but when his job took him away a lot and mum found herself alone for long periods with a baby, it made more sense for the family home to be near to *her* family; so when I was 2 we moved house back to her home town.

I count being at sea as being “somewhere I lived”, so that’s one of the 27 places.  Even though we went back and forth a LOT of times, and on different ships; I can’t really separate the memories of different voyages, but they all lasted for months.  Besides, any mail we received (and this is why I’ve counted it…I remember a helicopter landing on board out at sea once, near Christmas, and “Santa” getting off and handing a sack to the crew member who’d gone out to meet him) would have been addressed to the same shipping office address and then forwarded on.

We moved house again, after my little sister was born, so I would have been 7; and as a family of 5, with a nanny, we were outgrowing our 3-bed terrace; besides, Dad had ‘made Captain’ so I’m assuming the income was better.

After that…well, it’s difficult to track the amount of time spent in each place.  My parents divorced and we left the bigger house.  We moved in with mum’s boyfriend.  Then we moved in with her next boyfriend….and so it went for a while.  Rentals, with or without boyfriends. Then after a few years she remarried and I thought, finally…a bit of stability…

Alas, that was not to be. They decided to go into business as a pub-management couple and so we lived above various pubs, moving around a few as the tenancies ended or whatever other reasons we were moved. Then it was convenience stores…we lived above/behind two of those.

Then I went to university; and so I moved…this time into a house share with 3 other students.  And eventually my dog – but dog-tales is probably another post…

My next ‘move’ was Camp America.  My first time abroad on my own and first visit to the USA. OK so it wasn’t *technically* a move, since I was on a student/temp work visa to work in the USA for the summer; but I did receive mail there during the few months I spent in Iowa. (Mum, and a friend, both sent ‘care packages’ – a collection of sweets/foods from home!  remember, these were days before everything was global; there were far more brands that remained local and hadn’t yet breached human borders. Although one bag of jelly sweets mum sent had congealed – the package must have been left in a warm place, maybe out in the sun at the cargo depot in between flights, but they’d then gelled back together into one big lump of multicoloured jelly sweet.  it was quite amusing.  And difficult to eat!!).  and if it counts, I then traveled down to Brazil to stay with Dad for a few weeks, although I’ve included that in this whole summer experience as 1 move.

After that, mum left husband#2 and we moved to a small rented terrace; which was quite sweet, really.  And a nice location.  It was close to where I ended up working for the next 10+ years and I cycled to work regularly.  Also accessible to nightlife and shopping and public transport. And my grandparents – they were in walking/cycling distance so I could pop round when I felt like it.   Mum eventually moved back with husband#2 and I took over the rental of the little terrace.  And I was so happy to finally have a place of my own, I was there for a good few years.  I hadn’t learned to drive up until that point and didn’t see the need to living there either.  I was dispatching airplanes for a living, and completing loadsheets, and even had a couple of flying lessons but couldn’t drive a car!

Then I met my husband-to-be.  Once it seemed we were to ‘settle down’ together he brought up the idea of buying our own place.  We searched around and even though my preference was to stay in my home town, we found a new build (His preference…I’ve always prefered older houses), up in the valleys, that was still to be built but the plot looked amazing and the showhome was a similar style…we bought it off plan the same day and it transpired that I would need to drive in order to get to work, so the driving lessons began in earnest.

And I kept saying, over and over, I was only moving again because this would be the last time I moved.  We would put our stamp on this new home and stay there. It was sizeable, bigger than we would have been able to afford down in my home town (houses in the valleys invariably are at the lower end of the house-price range), and there was a playpark, and a school nearby…we figured, not that we had set plans, but if children of our own came along, we would grow into the house and the area.

And then…one strange evening, he got a phone call in the middle of the night from a company in New Zealand asking if he’d like to come and work for them…

It wasn’t a decision we took lightly.  I mean, who gets a call like that out of  the blue from a country you’ve never been let alone ever considered living in?  It took us a while, but we thought, hey why not?  And once again…I promised my self: last-time

Of course, then there were a few address changes when we first got there. He went out first as he had to start work; I followed after I had worked my notice and packed up the house to be shipped over (since the new company had given him a relocation allowance…otherwise it’s a very expensive undertaking!  Even then, it pretty much ate up anything we had – which wasn’t much.).  They had put him up in a city waterfront apartment to begin with for his first 4 weeks, to get a foothold while he started work and had a chance to look around.  Then he found a small bedsit in the city for when I arrived.  To be honest, it was a nice little place.  Very basic, and all our own stuff was in storage.  But it was nice, kind of freeing, to be living with very few belongings for a while. But we had a container of stuff arriving, so we needed to think about renting an actual house.  So we found one.  And moved in.  And the stuff arrived. And then he heard from someone in work about other ex-pats on the same visa as us (work-to-residency) who had managed to get mortgages.  So, we found a nice place and bought again.  So we moved.  Luckily before having unpacked the boxes of stuff!

And we got a dog.  And I found out I was pregnant. And I looked out at the view from our balcony regularly and told myself, again, that this was the last time, that I would stay here and settle down…

After I had the second child, Other half was getting itchy feet again and was browsing jobs…and was really taken by an ad he’d seen for his role…but in The Bahamas.  I rolled my eyes.  Thinking it was a long shot I just nodded and said ‘go for it’ when he asked if he should apply. Not such a long shot as it turned out; he was offered the job…and after that there was very little chance of him being persuaded to turn it down. It was a 2-year contract ‘with a view to extend’.

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There had been a suggestion discussed that I would stay in NZ with the children and he could send money back, at least to begin with.  But I didn’t really have that much fight left in me by this point, and couldn’t see myself being here alone with children. And I asked for reassurance that there was little chance of this actually only being a 2-year contract and a high possibility that it WOULD be extended? Yes, of course!  Why would they let him go after spending all that on relocation and so on and so forth…

So, just short of 5 years after arriving in New Zealand, we all went.  We packed up…again….with another relocation allowance.  We flew to LA.  Stayed there a couple of nights to wait for the dog (She wasn’t allowed to fly Air NZ so we had to collect her off a Qantas flight at LAX). Then we used a little of the relocation allowance to take a 2-week road trip across the States from LA to Huston, from where we could get a short hopper-flight to The Bahamas with the dog in the cabin.  I’d investigated different routes and options and this seemed the best option to lessen the stress of shipping and flight-changes and different cargo handlers the dog would have to endure in order to get straight to Nassau.  Plus it gave us a bit of a holiday. And it was pretty long and involved a lot of sleeping.  And we did normal regular life things like visiting vets (The dog had 2 separate import events – NZ to USA then exported US to Bahamas as there was no direct route; so we had to get vet checks and certificates from a US vet to OK her travel to the Bahamas for them to issue an import certificate and registration…)

And then…Again, the company had secured us accommodation to begin with so we could settle in while we looked around.  Then Hubby got talking to a guy…who struck me as dodgy immediately, but he assured hubby all was above board, and we rented a rather stylish penthouse apartment from him.  At about 30% the price he’d originally been advertising it for…

…a few months later after we’d moved to an actual house in a gated community, hubby got talking to someone who had been a neighbour in the swish apartment block…turned out the building was stolen and the guy had no business renting out apartments to anyone!!

Taught me to trust my gut instincts again…

I became pregnant again.  Now, considering we’d gone 5-6 years of, well, not necessarily ‘trying’ but then, not really taking any preventative measures, before moving to NZ, and nothing happened, (well, there was that one miscarriage but let’s not get into that), before no1 came along we’d kind of resigned to the fact that they never were.  And now, here was the third… Maybe it was the environments we were living in? The local foods?  And so, no3 was born in The Bahamas.

And then…his contract wasn’t extended.  There had been a general election while we were there.  The opposition got in, and immediately started making changes, as new governments are wont to do.  One of their policies was to strengthen the ‘jobs for Bahamians’ policies.  So, although it was nigh-on impossible for a foreigner to get a work-permit for Bahamas (I was allowed to live there as a spouse of a worker but only on a non-working resident visa), in cases where technical specialists, or highly skilled workers were required, then exceptions were made.  Now, it was even harder for those exceptions to get passed.  The company CEO was a Canadian.  His 2-year visa was up 6 months before hubby’s.  The company were having so much trouble trying to get a visa for their C.E.O that they took one look at hubby and thought they couldn’t even be bothered trying to apply for his…and so, we were off again.  Except, not sure where to…

Hubby had been chatting to an engineer on the other end of his cable network…in Miami, Florida.  He was invited to interview, and was given reason to believe a job was being offered to him.  He was emailed advice on which US visa to apply for and so on and so forth (they were very careful about the wordings of their emails and contacts…) and we started looking for homes and schools and details on living in Florida… and two weeks before we were due to go over; the company in Miami turned around and said, in basic terms: ‘actually, we’re not offering you a job…’.

So, we ditched the US visa application.  (We were going to get it anyway having already paid the non-refundable application fee; y’know, just in case it came in handy coz one of us was going to need a job before long and it couldn’t hurt to have it; but when we went in for our appointment, the snooty, self-important embassy staff were so rude and condescending – our photos were the wrong colour or the wording of something was wrong – I just took one look at hubby, and having had far too much stress and experiences of international visa applications and jumping through other people’s hoops over the years, I said, “let’s go, I can’t be bothered with this, we don’t need it.” and walked out, leaving a stunned desk clerk.  As though she’d not witnessed anyone turning down a US visa before?! Come to think of it, she probably hadn’t…coz everyone’s desperate to be American, right?)

We couldn’t go back the NZ because we’d left just shy of being able to convert our ‘returning resident’ visas into ‘permanent resident’ visas.  (The children were born as UK citizens as we weren’t ‘returning or permanent residents’ when they were born so didn’t qualify to be Kiwi…more money we didn’t have being poured away trying to get NZ birth certificates to get UK passports to get NZ visas put in them…Oh, and they charge you more for a UK passport if you’re not in the UK applying for them.)

There was nothing for it than to return to the UK.  Although with nowhere to live (having sold up and emigrated…remember?!) we were at the mercy of family and friends.  Hubby cashed in some pension fund he had to see us through for the first few weeks.  We lived in his mum’s 1 bedroom flat with her for a short while. We moved in with my mum for a short while but needed to get out.  By this time no1 was nearing 5 years of age and I’d already searched info and found that legally in the UK children must be enrolled in full-time education at age 5 (even though they *can* start younger in a lot of areas, it’s not compulsory until age 5.  just thought I’d clarify because a friend was adamant that because her daughter had started school age 3 that it was compulsory.  It’s not.)

So, we rented a house from a friend of a friend, and I found the nearest Welsh-medium primary school and no1 & no2 started there.  Mainly because, despite moving school countless times myself, growing up, I went through school in Welsh and this is what I know.  So I was more comfortable with them having that education, knowing I could help as much as I could.  (Plus it’s giving me a LOT of practice speaking Welsh!).  In fact, had we stayed in NZ and they’re grown up there, that would have been my one regret, that they couldn’t have a Welsh educational background.

Speaking of moving schools; now that they’re there (no3 started there in January too) I am ADAMANT that they will not change schools.  Of all the memories of my childhood, good and bad, one of the experiences I hate the most is being made to change schools. Multiple times.  I refuse to subject my own children to that.  So for now, at least, while they’re in school, we will stay in the same area. Having said that….we’re now on our 3rd rented property in the same area since we were moved on from mum’s.

Although we’d eventually like to buy this one, and stay for ever (so much so that I’ve started tending the garden with a vigour for gardening I’ve not had since that first new-build we bought over in the other valley…purely because I haven’t felt like investing the time and hard work in the other places thinking I wouldn’t be around long enough to reap the benefits) … we (as in hubby & I) have said that before…and for various reasons we’ve had to move on.  And I’m losing more of my resolve to put up a fight each and every time.

What would be REALLY nice, though, is if the universe & its powers-that-be, can agree with me, and realise that 27 really is a good number to finish on.  So, Stop now.  Let me be settled.

x

Posted in Family, History, Life, Social Media

Understanding

I’ve been averse to posting anything remotely political for a while.  Who wouldn’t? Unless they want an e-argument.  Which is invariably what they get.

On both sides of the Atlantic, landmark, unprecendented decisions have been made by the voting public (and in all cases one ponders on how much of a difference the non-voting public might have made to the very close outcomes…).

I’m pretty sure of my choice in both votes – one I could vote in and one I couldn’t.  My stance has never waivered, and even when trying to educate myself more to try and understand, what I’ve seen, learned, read, understood, has only strengthened my original instinct.

However, to even think of bringing up the subject, to give my opinion or to ask for others, is an idea that borders on insanity…I face getting derided, called names (many of which I had to look up the meaning of and I’d definitely disagree with their application to me) or have ‘facts’ and ‘links’ thrown in my face and when the same is used to respond they are ignored.

What never seems to happen is a conversation where someone on, say, Side ‘Apple’, asks simple questions in an effort to understand, and someone on Side ‘Orange’ responds, politely, clearly, consisely, and explains in simple terms *their* understanding of their side and their beliefs and why they voted for Oranges; followed by a simple question as to why the other person voted for Apples, before being given the same response.

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What invariably happens, is BIG numbers and BIG claims are practically thrown in the faces of the oponents; along with derisive comments and petty, childish name-calling.  Links to websites supporting their view (because, of course, it’s written by someone who holds the same view, and pretty much anyone can write anything they want on a website that they can make look as official as they like these days…) .

Invariably (I know, because I do this too…), people of opposing views automatically raise their defenses when a post/comment is clear to be a political statement supporting ‘the other side’ and so people attack. What I’m trying to learn to do is a) ignore, walk away completely. Sometimes I fail at that and what I’m doing more often, instead of diving in straight away with a rude, obnoxious, defensive response, is b)not responding straight away, but rereading the ‘offending’ post in an effort to understand before politely formulating a reasoned reply.  Although, it rarely, if ever, has the effect I hope it will. But then, the original post I’m responding to was posted probably in the hope of persuading the opposition, but doesn’t end up having that effect either.

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So it’s almost impossible to ask simple question like “Please help me understand” and get straight, kind, helpful answers. Even when you do indicate some article or site or research to support your view, there is an argument ‘they’ can thrown back at you.

And so…here is where I jump from the neutral fence above…

Case in point… I’ve lived all over the world.  Going into a general store or supermarket is a very different experience in different countries. It’s very very obvious, to anyone, even if you’ve only ever been abroad to go on holiday to the Med and tried to buy a bag of crisps and a drink in Spain, that different brands take pride of place on shelves, different emphasis is put on the freshness of fruit, veg, bread (equally, how much ‘fresh’ produce is available compared to packaged, processed stuff on shelves; differs globally).

I emigrated from the UK to New Zealand – plentiful fresh produce, fruit, veg, seafood, outdoorsy life, abounded. After a few years, regretably, we moved from there to The Bahamas (via an extended USA roadtrip).  The Bahamas main source of income is offshore financial services (ironically, dealing with banks there as a regular customer who’s not investing billions in them is a nightmare…but that’s another post), and Tourism.  They don’t produce much.  Not like the old days of cotton and sugar plantations. There’s fresh seafood, available from the quayside daily if you know where to go. Apart from that, everything’s imported from the USA. Very little is fresh; and what is fresh, seems too large and shiny and unblemished to be ‘real’ (i.e. grown using every genetic modification and chemical pesticide and ‘plant food’ available, in order to make them bigger, more attractive, last longer?).  We almost moved to the USA after the Bahamas.  My main worry was, being a parent by this time, to children born in New Zealand and therefore began with clean, helthy lifestyle and organic, natural diets; what choices would I have, if buying from regular USA outlets…conglomorate supermarkets force-feeding all that pre-packaged marketing to the children?  They’d be starting school…they’d be fed goodness-knows what ingredients in school lunches or be asking for peer-pressure frankenfoods in bright, character-endorsed individual wrappers for their lunchboxes? I began to research organic farmers markets available in the region we could possibly live in; and mass-produced “foods” in general consumed in the USA.  I came across research regarding ‘foods’ that were approved by the FDA but that were banned elsewhere.  (FDA, Food & Drug Administration, is US equivalent to Food Standards Agency) I was suddenly scared of the US food chain and feared that no matter what I did to avoid introducing certin things to our family diet, we’d end up being exposed to it anyway. (I say ‘suddenly’, although I’d already suspected from years and years of watching America and having traveled there and elsewhere extensively, that their idea of ‘food’ was a little less stringent than the rest of us.  In 1999 I was a Summer Camp Counselor and discovered…squirty cheese in can!!!!).  If it was just me, I would be more adventurous, but since having my own children, I worry more.  I worry on all sides. I worry I am inadvertantly causing them harm, risking losing them to some form of cancer from carcinogens; or in and even longer term, risking causing infertility, low sperm counts, killing off my family line in generations to come from tiny, undetecable changes we have inadvertantly ingested generations before. I could go on but then we’d be delving into the realm of crazy conspiracy-theorists predicting population control by genetics…but such is the crazy and worrysome nature of a caring parent…

OK so we already risked that given that most of what we were eating in the Bahamas was brought in from the USA anyway, but it certainly made moving to the USA the least enticing option – quite scary in fact.  I was very glad to end up coming back to the UK, given that all I’d read against the FDA’s choices had shown me that EU regulators and scientists seemed to be on the right track.  However, to put that link to articles about the FDA approved banned foods into an argument with anyone about how I wouldn’t really want to be trading foodstuffs with the USA because I wouldn’t want anything they’re selling; the opposing side could now argue that one of the most recognisable articles on that list is from ABC news … now deemed by the US President to be a pruveyor of Fake News‘.

And now look where we are…There’s still things I don’t understand, but to bring them up with someone who voted opposite me simply results in derision and dissmissiveness.

I still don’t understand how trade deals with ‘other countries’ outside the EU are any better than trading in the EU…the USA, for example – there’s nothing they could sell us that I can see myself wanting to buy/be available over here…lower food-standards in food production so less desirable, less healthy produce?  More McDonalds & Starbucks?  More branding and marketing?  (I already know people who aren’t aware that many many fairytales and myths and ledgends were actually written centuries ago and existed in a far purer form before Disney got his hands on them…); I don’t understand how a trade-deal with the US can be anything like as beneficial for us as it would be for them.

I don’t understand how trading with countries further away than the European nations right next to us can be beneficial, if we want to purchase foods & goods that can’t be produced here (and lets face it, most of what we actally need, can be…otherwise how did we survive before imports?), why would we choose ones with a higher carbon footprint…import them from further away and increase the need for shipping, cargo flights.  But, in answering my own question, that argument can’t be used in a trade-deal with Trump, right?  Because a carbon-footprint would be a non-entity in that particular deal

I don’t understand how ‘sovereignty’ is an argument – The British Empire wasn’t built by the Britain we are now, in the world in which we now live in.  The British Empire, like Empires before it thoughout history, was built by being a stronger nation with a bigger army and more money and resources and being better educated, taking over by persuasion or else by force, empty lands or smaller, less advanced nations who put up little fight. As soon as those nations (now known as the Commonwealth) could fend for themselves and stand on their own feet, they more often than not chose self-rule and/or fought back against being ruled by Britain.

And I don’t understand the arguments I’ve heard about immigrants – not being part of the EU won’t stop Illegal Immigrants…they are, by their definitiaion, ILLEGAL.  Most of the arguments I’ve heard against immigrants come from regions where the only immigrants encountered are running the corner shop, or the takeaway, or the cleaning company (running useful services that are kept in business by a greatful community?)   I briefly compared a map of diversity in the UK and a map of how areas voted in the EU referendum and it seemed to me to indicate that regions who *don’t* feel threatened by immigrants are the most multi-cultural (case in point…London with all her diversity, supports immigration…countrified regions where there is little diversity in ethnicity, would prefer more restrictions on immigration?).

I don’t understand how EVERYONE who disagrees with either Brexit or Trump are ‘Left’ ‘Liberal’ ‘Snowflakes’ … I can’t see how I’d be ‘on the left’ of anything, when I’ve always been quite open-minded and not really political anyway, but might be branded as such for voting leave or disliking Trump. However, as a ‘lefty’, would I not be then opposed to all things monarchy?  Including however many k per day they cost or how much ‘we’ are giving them to fix ‘their house’… it seems fairly obvious to me that yes, they bring in a lot of tourism and are a unique symbol of Britishness; and while on the subject of the monarchy…and I’d much prefer to people-watch the members of the Royal family who actually have some claim to it, than the likes of the Kardashians and others…

I don’t understand how people moan about how much money is ‘given’ to the monarchy for maintenance of Buckingham Palace, for example…that money doesn’t suddenly ‘disappear’…  It will be PAID to workers and tradesmen and suppliers, who will then in turn go home and use it to feed and clothe and house and maybe even treat their families and therefore pump the wages they’ve earned back in to the same economy, paying the wages of Supermarket checkout people, farmers, clothing suppliers, house builders, paying their council taxes and for trips to seaside resorts like Margate and Blackpool, or to holiday firms paying pilots and cabin crew and airport workers to take them to a holiday destination.

There are quite a few other things I don’t understand, even after experiencing so much of life and traveling so far; but I think I’ve gone on long enough!

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I didn’t write this to get responses.  I didn’t write this to get into arguments over points.  The votes have been cast and acted upon so there’s little point really; I just don’t understand why Discussion doesn’t exist anymore, nor does helping someone to understand, and that everything has to end up in forceful debate and downright arguments, and rude name calling.

Now, it’s pouring with rain today.  I love the rain. I can hear a bird singing in the garden. I might just end up outside raking my garden ready for my new veggie patch…

Enjoy the world, everyone; and be kind to each other xxx

kind2

 

Posted in Family, History, Home, Life

Growing up…

I just put a poster up on the wall.  The Cylch Meithrin  handed it to O/H the other day when he picked #3 up.

#3 will be 3 in a couple of months.

He can start school in January.

#1 moves to Juniors in September.

When did this happen?

The poster is a bunch of milestones/stages/abilities a schoolstarter should have reached or accomplished to show s/he is ready to start school; with some stickers to mark them off. I’m torn between feeling proud at how much he already can do; and feeling sad that he’s growing up so fast, without me even realising it.

Posted in Acting, Creative, Family, History, Life

Careers I could have had…

The book I’m reading on my Kindle at the moment (and have been for a long while…I’ve not had much time to sit down and read since having children!) is called “One more year on Facebook” by Naomi Rettig, and it’s more-ish.  I was sat here on my laptop twittering and being far too disctracted by Facebook and remembered the book; and that I’d been meaning to look up the source – someone in the Extras Facebook group had mentioned she’d written a book and had linked to it so I’d downloaded it; and all the while I’ve been sneaking in five minutes here and there I’ve meant to look her up again and tell her how much I’m enjoying it.

Anyway, now I have (looked her up, not told her yet!), and discovered her blog.  And the most recent blog post was this one entitled “Careers I could have had (if it wasn’t for a few things)”; and even before reading the rest of the post, I thought it was a fab title, and subject.

So, here’s mine…

Actor – Because…  The funnest part of childhood was play-acting.  Make-believe games.  Be other people in other places. Hey, I grew up alone on a cargo ship with no one but a younger brother (and everyone knows how anoying they can be!) for company.  Pretending to be someone else comes naturally to me now.  I went to Youth Theatre (as long as I could get there under my own steam…walk, bus etc).  I wanted to take Drama GCSE.  I was steered away – the old story of “get useful qualifications”; that’s not a ‘real’ subject’; there’s hardly ANY future in that. The only other subject I wanted to do was English, which was compulsory anyway.  So I chose subjects just for the sake of choosing them.  And naturally, didn’t do that well. (OK, well, I got an A in French without trying, but I had travelled a lot, I think that was mainly for my grasp of the acccent!)  By the time I got to A level subject choices, I put my foot down.  The only one I really wanted to do was Theatre Media & Drama.  And they let me.  I suspect it was only because there were only three others wanting to do it and they were trying to make up the numbers.

Sailor – No, really.  even 20 something years ago I didn’t think there was anything wrong with being a female at sea.  Obviously these days more and more stories like this one are cropping up.  But when I was doing my GCSE’s there was a poster up on one of the noticeboard in school about P&O (I think) cargo apprentice crew scheme, or something of the kind; and for a while there, I actually entertained, for more than a fleeting second, the idea of actually going to sea like my father.  I can’t remember what put me off, whether it was the thought of having to do A Level maths, or the fact that it really would put pay to my acting/writing/directing dreams once and for all…

Marine Biologist/Oceanographer – Yeh…fleetingly, this one.  Mainly because I was fascinated at the time by SeaQuest DSV (for that, read, I had a crush on Jonathan Brandis since Neverending Story 2).

Film Director – I wanted to Act. Until I realised that the person in charge of the actors was pretty much the director.  I wanted to be Stephen Spielberg for most of my teens.

So, this, and Oceanographer, were the two things I went with when it came my turn to see the Careers Advisor during GCSE decision time at school.  I think I stumped him.  Now, if he’d said something creative like, “OK, well how about you go into camera work, learn about underwater filming, and become an authority on marine underwater filming for movies and documentaries…and here’s some ideas on how you could start out in being a camera…person …”, well, then, I’d be doing that today.  As it was, he shrugged, and said, “Well, they’re both so different.  Do all sciences for Oceanography.  And there’s not really any university course you can do to be a film director.”.  And that was that.  Most unhelpful ‘advice’ session I’ve ever encountered.  In fact, has put me off asking for advice in general for anything!

Writer – Because I just managed to do that all the time with pretty much no help and got some pretty good responses to stuff I wrote for English assignments (like incredulous looks from my English teacher on occasion as she appeared to be trying to figure out if I really wrote that…); And I realised, that Acting required auditions.  The thought of which terrified me; and so, the Director being in charge of the actors (and not having to audition!) seemed inviting; but that required a set and crew and budget and producers; none of which I had a clue how to get; but writing ….ah…well…..paper, pencil…and you’re away!  Into your own world … write…write….write… and …rely on the same crippling fear of auditions to creep in to take effect in the event of anyone getting close to reading anything I wrote.  Drat.

Midwife – New country, new normal, new career?  I dunno, I toyed with the idea for a bit when we moved back to the UK.  I love babies and the whole pregnancy and birth process fascinates me; but it’s impractical to keep having them yourself.  I love nurses and the angels who do that; but the thought of doing a job where the majority of people you see might be at the end of their life….well; midwifery at least erring on the side that the majority of your patients were at the beginning … not the end…

Air Hostess – It seemed to be everyone else’s goal, dream, when I was working as ground staff, to move ‘up’ to cabin crew.  At that point it never appealed to me.  Later, it occured to me that a job which was a perfect combination of Passenger services AND Cabin crew, you know, like a whole-journey thing, not just cabin service and safety, would be a perfect role.  And just like that, as though someone pulled it out of my head, Air NZ introduced them!  In-Flight Concierges.  On board purely as Passenger services, info point, Liaise between reservations and check-in and cabin crew and passengers, travel with them, be an expert on the destination.  I applied.  Heart set.  Failed . Still wonder what might have been. But the time has passed.

Pilot – Another whim.  While I was working at the airport.  When I was single and carefree.  I did actually start having flying lessons.  Then… rent needed paying, and bills.  And I got distracted.  I’d still love to learn to fly and get my PPL.  That’ll be a ‘if I win the lottery’ thing.  I think I’m way past being paid to do it for a living.

So, what do I do?  What am I?  For all the umm-ing and Ah-ing; and the ‘get a real job instead of pursuing Drahmah …

I’ve drifted.  I’ve fallen into line and had ‘real’ dead-end jobs.  I’ve given up my own aspirations and followed someone else’s around the world.  It’s been fun, but I’ve felt like I was waiting for something the whole time….waiting for the ‘one day’ from ‘one day, I will write and act’ to come around.  Of all the things above I fondly remember that I once wanted to do (and probably could have done any of if I’d set my mind to); the two I want to do and be known for, are writing and acting.  I have the ability to do both. I just need the confidence and the shove in the right direction …

X

Posted in Art, Creative, Filmmaking, History, TV, writing

Happy due South Day

Just because…

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This is what happens when you combine the fantabulous Paul Haggis, the Amazing Leslie Nielsen and the breathtaking Canada, mix in a little Shakespeare, in one little TV show …

A few months ago I wrote this post about online fandom.  Even without online fandom that there was at the time, I would have fond memories of this TV show.  Anyway, since the episode containing this speech (Swansong ep “Call of the Wild”, in case you’re wondering and want to go back and find it) aired, the random date chosen to feature in this speech has had a place in many DS fans’ hearts as ‘Due South Day’.  So, here it is.

Click here for Buck Frobisher’s 11th March Speech

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Happy March 11th.

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Posted in History, Home, Life

Happy St Piran’s Day

I just found out, by way of a trending #ashtag on twitter, that today, 5th March, is St Piran’s Day.  I’m chiding myself for not remembering this earlier.

For if I didn’t identify as Welsh, the very next choice would be Cornish.  OK, so apart from  my cousin, born and bred there with a Cornish father; none of my family can actually claim Cornish heritage.  My dad moved there from Scotland as a small boy and pretty much grew up on Land’s End.  His little sister was a baby, also born in Scotland,  Their youngest brother came a few years later and was born just over the border in Plymouth I believe.  Dad was a lifeguard at Sennen Cove and frequented the infamous sufing village, Skewjack. He and my mum met when she was down there on holiday with her family from Barry. When they married, they settled in Cornwall, where I was then born.  When I was 2 (ish, I think), with Dad being away at sea a lot, we moved back to Barry, so mum wasn’t so alone when he was away and had my grandparents and aunts and uncles nearby.  And so my siblings were subsequently born in South Wales.

Years later, my Dad’s sister, still in Cornwall, and married a Cornishman, had their son; and, despite the family having lived and loved in West Cornwall for many years; decades even; I was no longer the only one who had been born there.

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However, although I only briefly lived there on a permanent basis as an infant; over the years I’ve spent many a summer with relatives down there, and even more holidays and trips.  Even my chameleonic toungue kicks in and after a few days of wandering ’round Penzance shops and hanging out in Sennen, I start to fall into a slight Cornish twang.  I’ve even given time to studying the not-so-widespread Cornish language and love making connections with Welsh.

And my husband still maintains I only married him for his surname … being proud of being born in Cardiff, it would appear that a family of 7 brothers in generations gone by, left the farmlands of St Just to find work in Cardiff Docks, and hence littered South Wales with countless distantly related Cornish-sounding names…

Posted in Family, History, Life, writing

Document your life.

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A couple of years ago, I don’t remember how I heard about it, but my grandfather published a book, about his life.  Now I’m plugging it, but not as a great literary masterpiece. Indeed, I don’t believe it was intended as such.  I mean, even I, poring over it and rushing through to discover what gems of memories the next page held, with rose-tinted glasses, spotted a few typos and spelling mistakes; and worried overtly about the over-use of exclamation marks.  (Although granted, when subject matters such as being held captive at the spear-ends of a thousand tribal warriors are being discussed, there may not be enough exclamation marks one can insert to illustrate the mood of the situation).

No. What really struck me, even before half-way through, was that you can know someone your whole life – a parent, grandparent, even a close friend who mimics any of these relationships, and you still won’t know everything about them.  If they’re older, they had years and years of a whole other life even before you were born, let alone since you were old enough to remember.  Even tidbits of memories and information and the odd photograph that another mutual relative or friend may share with you about the person in question, can’t quite make up for the said relative recounting their own whole life in memories and photographs, and setting it out in a format that will be around long after they’ve gone.

To put a bit more gravitas on this, the subject in question is my paternal grandfather (adopted, also great-uncle by marriage but the vast complications of my weird and wonderful living-memory level heritage can be dealt with at a later date. Although, incidentally it’s pretty much explained in the book!).

At almost the very same point in time as he was putting this memoir together, the corresponding memories my maternal grandparents may have had, were slowly becoming lost to us.

Little did we know at the time, but by now, the two wonderful people who featured so heavily in my life, and those of my siblings and cousins and aunts and uncles, are both, happily living in oblivion, physically quite good specimens for their ages but mentally, all but totally unaware of who their own children and grandchildren are when any of us visit them.  My maternal grandfather can wake up from a nap, speaking to whosoever is nearest in perfect Italian, believing he is back there in the height of World War Two, or visiting with his wife years and years later, ordering a bottle of a restaurant’s finest wine in native tongue and being mistaken, with his jet black hair even late into life, for a local.

My grandmother can be sat watching the tennis in the TV room, and tell my aunt (whom she does not recognise, and believes to be the latest care-worker) in all seriousness how she was there just yesterday, sat next to Val Doonican near the Royal Box.  Blissfully unaware is she that this memory is from the safety of her own little dreamworld.

The fact that this book by one grandparent, and the deterioration in the mental states of others, all seemed to happen around the same time, really brought home to me one thing – we should all take the time to document our lives.  I still have countless relatives who can recount tales, memories, share photographs, of my maternal grandparents, but there are things about their lives that only they would have been able to tell me.  The fact that I can still go and sit next to them, and offer them a cup of tea, and chat about how nice the sun is, sitting in the conservatory, only serves as a poignant reminder that the stranger sat next to me was so much more, at least to me, just a few very short years ago.

We can’t all say that we were bomb disposal experts during the blitz, or best mates with the earliest TV pioneers.  We can’t all claim to have traveled the world extensively, we’re not all novelists or artists; we won’t all be remembered for our amazing cooking or leave behind wonderfully hand crafted wooden love-spoons. And no, not everyone who writes a book will become a New York Times Best Seller.  But, the odd little world of vanity publishing is becoming not so little any more. It may well result in a load of self-gratification drivel flooding the bookshelves of Hay-On-Wye in the future; but on the other hand, in years to come, a tangible, touchable copy of the inside of your mind may well be the most precious thing you could leave for your children, grandchildren, and all those who come after.

Peter Watson-Wood’s memoir “Serendipity … a Life” can be found on Amazon and on his website.