Family Friendly

What lovely responses to my last post. Thank-you to all who left comments and those who emailed me. I don’t want to give the impression I don’t get on with any of my family, that would be quite wrong. Early 2019 is pencilled in as Cousins Time; not my Irish cousins who get mentioned a fair bit as I usually stay with Cousin several times each year. This time it’s my English cousins. One is my cousin Russell who I’ve mentioned several times on this blog. He is the only first cousin younger than me on my father’s side of the family. Much to Mother’s annoyance, I used to spend my pocket money on Matchbox cars for him. His parents were much better off than mine, and I think it irritated Mother that her hard earned cash was being syphoned of to a family who had a much healthier bank account.
It didn’t stop me though.
When my cousin and Russell’s half-sister Jeannette died suddenly in 2017 we realised we couldn’t take our cousins for granted, so Russell and I, already regularly in touch, became closer. When he contacted me to say he is the current artist in residence at the Watts Gallery I nearly burst with cousinly pride and excitement.
Russell is my first cousin.
The other cousins I hope to be meeting up with are also first cousins, but one removed; ie they are my father’s cousins, younger than him by some years, now old in their own right. Jeannette (another Jeannette) lives not far away from me, but we seldom manage to coincide. Her parents, my Great Uncle Percy and Great Aunt Helen decamped to Wales and Jeannette has inherited their property which has become a favourite bolt hole. I’m not sure how much she goes there now, but if she’s anything like Percy, she’ll think nothing of the drive. He drove down to London for his 90th birthday party and stood chatting to everyone throughout. Helen, his wife, was Swiss. They were both musicians and Helen was not brought up with domestic skills. At that birthday party she told me how she had not known how to prepare a meal, but good smells issued from her neighbour’s house, so she went round and asked her to show her how to cook.
Jeannette and I had a chat a few weeks ago and we plan to meet to exchange family stories and look at photos next month. It’ll be great to see her. As both sides of my family tend to be talkative the conversation should be lively . Continue reading


Family Gathering

We went on an expedition to another cousin’s house last night. Maps were consulted. Traffic conditions considered. Cousin’s older sister agreed after a few ‘phone calls to come with us. Watches were synchronised. Cousin’s brother and his wife arranged to meet us at our destination.

I was the only one who had been there before, but I had no memory of how to get there. I just knew it was quite near Uncle Bill’s. The satnav was consulted.

We stopped en route so we could arrive bearing gifts.

We were greeted by a hen who followed us to the front door. I thought she was going to come into the house, and Cousin did too, but the cousin who opened the door refused her admission. Uncle Bill was already there. The house belongs to one of his sons. Continue reading

Talking ‘Bout a Resolution

A New Year. Time for resolutions. So. Number one was decided back in Melbourne, to explore some of the South London suburbs on my doorstep. One of these days I plan to move, and as my own neighbourhood is fast becoming too expensive for me, these explorations may well inform where I live out the rest of my life. Some people love moving house. I don’t. If possible my next move will be my last. And when you consider I have lived at my current address for thirty years, that doesn’t seem impossible.

Number two: to find out when is the best time to visit New Zealand and where to enjoy extensive but not too demanding walking. I have been thinking of 2018 as my date for New Zealand, and now it is 2017 I could be booking a flight quite soon. Very exciting. Unless of course I decide to move house sooner rather than later, in which case NZ will probably have to wait. Encouragingly and excitingly my two friends in NZ have responded positively to my proto plans to visit their country.

Number three: I used to be a slim person. My hip bones preceded me into rooms. Now my belly does. I avoid mirrors, but some recent photographs have shown me I am twice the woman I was not so very long ago. So, and I am still undecided about this, shall it be WeightWatchers, or something else? Jeannette Winterson wrote so persuasively about fasting I am tempted to shell out for a week of starvation in the hope that I shall see the light and find it is not the one that comes on when I open the fridge door. So number three is something to do with health, and hopefully rediscovering my hip bones. Continue reading

In the Bosom of My Family

More a comment than a post tonight, and no added pictures as it's late and I am likely to be woken earlier rather than later by some junior members of the family. My cousin, correctly first cousin once removed, collected me from the very lovely Alison and Bruce this morning. There was a certain amount of chat as both Victoria (my cousin) and Bruce are actuaries and realised very quickly they knew people in common. I love these connections, the invisible skeins that join us.

Victoria drove across Sydney to her home and we caught up on family stuff and news. None good about her cousin Tom who is still in a bad way. I last met her husband at their wedding, and although I have seen many pictures of her children, today was the first time we met. The older daughter reminds me of my cousin, her great aunt, Mary. The younger is like her father. Both girls were wet, having enjoyed the narrow swimming pool beside the house.

Remembering how I used to do the Sperrins Hill Walking Festival when I stayed with her parents, Victoria had a walk planned for us. I'd had a look at it and it seemed to involve a bit of up and down. Are there many steps, I asked. My knees get quite distressed by steps. She didn't think so. In the heat of the day we set off. There were steps quite near the beginning, then some more a short way in, and more a bit further along. It quickly became apparent that this is a Walk With Many Steps. My knees began to mutter, then to groan, then to mutiny. Fortunately we reached a stepless part before they gave up. I was expecting to feel pain by tonight, but am relieved to say I can still climb the stairs without wincing. Naturally I have done my stretches.

Continue reading

Returned from Northern Ireland

So much for the glamour of air travel. The wind whipped the rain cruelly across the backs of my calves as I walked the hundred or so yards across the tarmac.Yet this morning the sun shone and I sat in the garden grooming Westie Boy. Back at the airport, there was a queue on the steps to the plane. My hand on the rail longed to be inside a warm glove. The man in front of me swung his bag. If I hadn’t ducked I’d have been knocked out, maybe stretchered off to A&E at The Royal. Cousin unknowing, back in her house, imagining me safe in London.
Consolingly, once aboard I got my favourite seat at the front, by the window and escape hatch. The stewardess warned me I might get wet knees on take off when the water would run back into the plane. She was right. I forgave the toddler behind me for kicking my seat when I heard her excited voice as we rose over Belfast; “I can see the whole world!” Her accent was English. “Can you see Granny’s house?” asked her mother. They were an echo of how we must have been when we travelled to Ireland years ago; my mother’s country Derry accent contrasting with her two Home Counties bred children; how obvious we were visiting her family; how dépaysée she would have sounded In Surrey. Continue reading

Cats and dogs

Bear with me; it’s for a bit more techno practice…

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The dog is C, rescued by Cousin’s Son, but now living with Cousin. Toothless but with attitude. When you first meet him, he seems quite unattractive, but as you get to know him he becomes more and more endearing and you find yourself thinking he’s quite handsome!

The cat, P, is another of Cousin’s Son’s Rescues. She lives with Cousin’s Son, but commutes to the country for rest and relaxation and to intimidate Cousin’s Cat.

But Cousin’s Cat can have a post of her own because she is the sweetest purriest cat with a bent tail you will ever see.