Strength — Ian Timothy’s Thoughts

The phone rings it about one thirty in the morning. I do not open my eyes; there is no need. The conversation is fairly short, Liz begins to cry. There is nothing I can do to help; this is the moment of ultimate truth; nothing is more certain. For a minute, we embrace, Liz gets […]

via Strength — Ian Timothy’s Thoughts

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Strange Encounter

The latest post from Mr Campbell Wallace – he’s an amazing human being, having battled serious illness and undergone transplant surgery he now lives his life – his ‘Second Chance’ – if the blog interests you I recommend obtains a copy of his book – aptly titled ‘Second Chance’ available in kindle version or paperback via the links on his WordPress site … Wise words for anyone facing transplant surgery / serious illness / treatments and their families & friends … Hop over to campbellwallace.org to read more about this incredible man … Lizzy Clark

Mr Campbell Wallace

Good Day My Friends Good Day My Friends

Three items on this post firstly the link to the interview I made at St Georges Hall Liverpool. I would appreciate you sharing the link with friends and enemies, either way; it should have a suitable effect! I would be interested in your opinions of the video; please let me know.

Incidentally during the week after Liverpool I was attending an event and became part of a strange conversation. A lady cheerfully informed me she would happily receive an organ donation, but no way would she put her name on the donor register. I have an open mind about people’s opinions, although this woman baffled me. She thought her opinion was some twisted joke. Believing, she was in some way ‘winding’ up my intolerance spring.

The donor/recipient relationship is holistic and delicate. We should be careful of opinion as sometimes there is a risk of damaging…

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Patience is rewarded

Patience … or, Some things are worth waiting for

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In August of this year we took a boat trip across Poole harbour to Brownsea Island.  We were on holiday in Dorset and thought it would make a nice day trip.  In addition, we were hoping to spot red squirrels which are native to the island.  It was definitely a ‘factor 50’ day, clear blue sky, sunshine and only the lightest breeze – perfect!

There was a tour guide in the church who was more than happy to explain all the features of interest as well as recount the history of the island and its former owners / inhabitants.  We were happy to linger in the church and enjoy the coolness of its interior – a very welcome respite from the heat of the day.

I asked the question, do you see many squirrels?

The answer ‘The last squirrel I saw was about two months ago, it came into the church and ran over my foot’.

‘So will we have a chance of spotting some today do you think?’

‘Today?  oh no, its far too hot and there are too many people about, you won’t see squirrels today’ came the reply from the knowledgeable guide.

We stepped outside, my granddaughter feeling a little disappointed as she, like us, had been looking forward to ‘squirrel hunting’.  A walk around the churchyard followed, a beautiful and peaceful area, perfect for a final resting place.  It was while we were exploring around the church that two photographers were spotted, in full camouflage gear, with huge telephoto lenses and tripods.  My curiosity got the better of me and we moved closer to the clearing where they had set up their gear.  All was quiet and still, a handful of people, like us, waited patiently.

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‘What are we waiting for?’whispered little Alice…  ‘I don’t know – but we’ll wait and see’

Sure enough, we were rewarded, a red squirrel came into the clearing and proceeded to scamper about, darting here and there, I struggled to keep up with it and couldn’t see how i’d be able to capture it on camera.  However, it then discovered a store of food and so the scampering stopped and the photos were taken.  What a wonderful 20 minutes, although it was  shaded area, the bright sunlight shone through the canopy of leaves and highlighted the little fellow’s red colouring.

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I managed to take several photos and when the little fellow was joined by another we were overjoyed.

After the ‘show’ was over, we walked away and continued with our exploring of the grounds.

Acres of woodland, grassed areas for picnics, Brownsea Island is truly an oasis situated in Poole Harbour, one of the largest natural harbours in the world.  Take advantage of the restaurant and tea room too.  There’s also an interesting exhibition centre which details the history of the island and its occupants as well as an activity table for the youngsters to draw and craft.

As we sat and waited for the boat to take us back to Poole, Alice turned to us and said ‘She was wrong wasn’t she? ‘The lady said we wouldn’t see any squirrels and we saw two, she was wrong wasn’t she Grandma’

Yes Alice, she was wrong.

Patience provided it’s rewards for us that day.  Happy Alice Squirrel Hunter!

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Words and pictures by Lizzy Clark

Memories

Memories – snapshots of moments stored in the deep recesses of our mind.  When we recall a memory we recapture the feeling / experience even just for an instance.

Having lived for over half a century already, my mind’s recesses are chock full of memories which can be triggered by many different things.  A song … a word, phrase or accent even … a smell … the title of a book … soundtrack to a film … So many triggers.

For me I think smell and music are the main keys to unlocking memories.  For instance, there is a certain chain of hardware / homeware stores which, as soon as I walk in remind me of my Grandparents shop and warehouse.  Its not a single scent, more a mix of bars of soap, firelighters, turps, polish, wooden brooms, and general household stuff… One whiff and I am whisked back in time to the age of about 7-9 years old, walking through the passage which joined the house to the warehouse and shop.  The warehouse had all manner of items stacked on shelves, hanging on hooks – galvanised buckets, mops, watering cans, as well as tinned food stuffs, bags of tea, sugar and flour and the jars of sweets.  The shop itself was a village general store – very reminiscent of the one which features in the TV sitcom “Open All Hours” – same counter, shelves around the shop stocked with groceries of all description, a cold counter with bacon, cooked meats, butter, cheese and milk, and my favourite, the sweet counter – liquorice pipes, strawberry laces, sherbet flying saucers, bonbons and chews.

Memories have lain dormant within my mind for many years – without a thought, until they are triggered into life.  Perhaps its age which triggers memories?

We talk to elderly parents, relatives and realise their time on earth is drawing to a close.  Perhaps its a way of preparing for the bereavement that we reminisce – remember good times, extract the memories and replay them to recapture the moments.  Perhaps its our increasing years.  We reach a stage in life where the days ahead will be fewer than those past, we think back and remember…

The arrival of children, grandchildren, new generations brings with it more than a hint of nostalgia and revives memories of our own childhood and those of our children.

 

Enjoy your memories, treasure the moments, remember the good times by all means – but don’t forget to live in the present, the here and now.  Live – and by doing so create more memories for yourself and those around you.

The memories we leave with others are our legacy – their inheritance, some would argue that treasured memories are possibly more valuable than monetary riches?

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words and pictures by Lizzy Clark

 

How does your garden grow?

 

How does your garden grow?

What do you picture in your mind when you think of the word ‘garden’ ?

The typical suburban cultivated plot with a lawn in the centre of flower borders, shrubs and trees, perhaps surrounded by a neatly shaped hedge?

Large expanses of green such as one finds in our National Trust owned Stately homes of England – sweeping drives, tree lined avenues, the majesty of established mature oaks, sycamore, rowen, beech trees, manicured lawns, landscaped acres designed perhaps by Capability Brown with rose arbours, herb gardens, orangery?

Perhaps a cottage garden, roses around the door and flower beds full of colour from hollyhocks, delphiniums, cornflowers, snapdragons, red hot pokers, honeysuckle climbing up trelliswork, a brick path leading you from the gate through this sea of colour to the neat front door?

We all have different ideas of gardens, often shaped by memories of childhood.  Our gardens take on different characters throughout the changing seasons.  In the UK we see distinct seasonal changes – in the winter many plants lie dormant, no growth, as they reserve their energy, rest and await the warmth of the sun once more.  Dark days, many trees and shrubs mere skeletons having shed their leaves, the earth hard and cold from  frost and often snow.  Springtime and the sun rises higher in the sky and stays for longer each day, warming the earth and triggering growth, we see young green leaves, blossoms on trees, hedges fill out, new shoots push through to soil to reach the light.  Summertime and many gardens are alive with colour, long days, plenty of sunshine and a few showers produce the best blooms, bees are frequent visitors as are the butterflies and many other species of insects – the garden is literally bursting with life.  And the days become shorter, the temperatures drop, as do leaves, growth slows down as autumn leads us once again into winter.

So how does your garden grow?  do you feed your garden with fertiliser and nutrients?  Tend it well, nurture shoots and young plants, provide support in the form of canes and trellis, water and feed regularly?  If you do all of this you will have a garden to enjoy, flowers will attract bees, vegetables and fruits can be harvested for your nourishment, you will have created a pleasant environment enjoy, play and relax.

Neglect your garden and the rampant weeds spread and choke the plants, taking over and turning your garden into an unruly wilderness.  But what is a weed?  Simply a non native species – usually introduced by man.  Take for example the Rhododendron – introduced into this country as its flowers and blooms were admired and it was thought to be ideal for large estates – it is however considered a weed, a pest, its rampant growth chokes trees and prevents the growth of native plants in the same environment.

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What of the common Dandelion?  how many kill these and remove from their gardens?  Yet the dandelion roots make an efficacious tea which can be used as a diuretic, the young leaves are edible and tasty as a salad leaf providing valuable iron, and the yellow blooms are a source of nectar for bees, of vital importance as they are one of the early flowering plants.  So is the Dandelion truly a weed?

I invite you to think about your life as a garden.  Do you have some in your life who are like weeds – enter your life uninvited and outstay their welcome, imposing their way and stifling you, restricting your growth?  Have you thought to cultivate your life garden to grow the right crop, keeping those within your garden that are beneficial, enjoyable, bear fruit and weeding out those that are no longer needed?

Something to think about while you’re mowing your lawn, watering the flowers, picking fruit, weeding under hedges, enjoy the result of your labours

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and perhaps contemplate what work, if any, is needed for the cultivation of your life garden…

Lizzy Clark

Lincolnshire Life – the early years

“Lincolnshire Life – the early years”

memories of a Lincolnshire lad

by

John Bartram Clark – retold by Lizzy Clark

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I was born at ‘The Bungalow’, Mill Lane, Donington, Near Spalding in South Lincolnshire on 17 September 1933, the first child of James Bartram Clark and Gwendoline Martha Clark (nee Sandy).  I had a younger sister and two brothers, all were born at the same bungalow, home births being the norm in those days.  In attendance was the local district nurse/midwife and in all of our cases my maternal Grandmother, Grandma Sandy was also in attendance.

My father was a grocer, working in my Grandfather’s shop ‘Ince Clark’ at the Market Place. The Bungalow was the last on the left hand side going down the lane from the direction of the main road through the village.  It was here that I spent the first seven years of my life.  A spacious home with front, side and back gardens – a haven for a small boy.  At the bottom of the back garden was the chicken hut and pen, and the vegetable patch, then came the trellis fence to separate the rear lawn and flower garden.

To the side of the garden was the detached garage which my father kept the shop’s Morris Van.  It was in this vehicle we would travel to the coast at Chapel St Leonards and holidays in Skegness where we stayed in a boarding house on the Wainfleet Road run by a Mr and Mrs Speakman.  Unfortunately the van trips came to an abrupt end when my grandfather (Ince Clark) crashed the van on a trip to visit his sister at Swayfield.  Had had an accident at Swayfield crossroads and the van was a write off – the actual details of the accident were never made clear!  Following this incident I recall that Grandfather Clark was confined to a bed in the front room of the house in Market Place, I remember visiting on my way home from Sunday School.  It was no chore to visit my Grandparents, as my Grandmother used to make ice cream!  Home made ice cream, from milk supplied daily by Mr Hall, the village milk man, fresh from the farm, and my Grandmother would churn away in the back yard to ensure the shop always had a supply of fresh ice cream.  ‘Clarks’ Fresh Dairy Ice Cream was a speciality of the shop.  Like the holidays in the van, this treat too came to an end – the outbreak of the Second World War and rationing put a stop to my ice cream treats.

The Bungalow was new when my parents took up residence after their marriage.  Although considered ‘modern’ at the time, there was no electricity and no direct mains water supply to the house.  Fresh water had to be pumped  from a well reservoir into a roof space storage tank.  From here it fed the hot water system and the cold water tapes in the kitchen and bathroom.  There was a water closet (WC) which was something of a luxury in the early 1930’s village life.

I enjoyed by early years here as I had plenty of garden space in which to play.  Friends would come to play and I would go to other houses on the lane to join in games.  There were a few village boys of my age and so we were never without playmates.  In the holidays my cousin Doreen would come to stay from Lincoln.  Doreen was much older than I and it was she who taught me to ride my small ‘Hopper’ school bicycle.  After many hours practice, she was eventually able to leave go of the seat and I was away on my own.  It was an idyllic way of life down the lane pre war.

We had some harsh winters in the thirties, and on one occasion the Brick Pits were frozen over.  The ice was so thick that people came from all around to skate on the ice.  It was only a short distance from the bungalow and myself and my friends would go to play on the ice too.  The area was lit with braziers from the local farm.  Even my father came along, he had a pair of ancient skates and joined us on the ice.  PC Thomas and his wife occupied the Police House on Mill Lane, Mrs Thomas was a skater of high standard and showed off her racing skills on the pits.  In the summer the Brick Pits were the a popular haunt for boys and boats.  Henry Shaw, a neighbours son made model boats as a hobby and I watched him sail his large model yacht.  Being much older than me, Henry was conscripted into the Royal Air Force following the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 – he wore his full uniform with pride on his first home leave, little did I know that would be the last time we saw him as he was killed in action soon after at the age of 18.

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The war changed our way of life.  Food rationing was introduced and was to last until after the duration of the war.  My father went to Grantham for his military medical but was given the lowest grade due to the fact that he had had a big toe amputated when he was a schoolboy.  His failure of the medical meant my father stayed at home in the village and worked in the family shop.  My friends and I started to play ‘war games’ and we formed our own ‘Dads Army’ with our motley collection of bits of uniform and armaments.  My Hitler would have run for his life if he had seen this band of ‘brigands’!

Some school holidays I would go and stay with my maternal Grandparents.  They lived in a very isolated cottage in the middle of a field at West Rasen, North Lincolnshire.  The cottage was about a mile down a green lane off the main Market Rasen/Gainsborough Road.  There were no public utilities to the cottage.  Oil lamps suspended from the ceiling provided the only lighting, heating was by a coal fire and the only toilet was at the bottom of the garden of the ‘long drop’ variety.  Fresh water was obtained from a pump outside the cottage door.  However, despite these deprivations I spent many a happy holiday there.  Granda Sandy was a tailor and I would sit and watch him at his work.  It was fascinating to see a suit evolve from a roll of material.  His customers were mainly farmers from nearby villages and would make the journey over the fields to the cottage for fittings.  The coal man would deliver the coal in sacks in bulk, all other provisions had to be fetched from Market Rasen which was the nearest market town.  Market days were Tuesdays and Saturdays so it was a regular outing on the weekly market ‘bus on both of these days to shop for milk and groceries.  As I grew older I would take my cycle and ride around the area, I found the countryside much more interesting than the flat landscapes of the fens of south Lincolnshire.IMG_2929

Aside from the war, another big change affected my family.  My Grandmother Clark became ill and died on 13 November 1940.  This meant my Grandfather would be alone in the big house that joined on to the shop.  As a family we moved out of the Bungalow at the beginning of 1941 and moved in with him at the Market Place.  This would be my home until I left the village in 1957.  A new chapter in my life began.

John B Clark

retold by Lizzy Clark

 

Bridge the Gap

Bridging the Gap

Bridges – oh how we need them.  Their purpose?  to connect – to ‘bridge the gap’.  Bridges enable us to do the impossible – cross over water, traverse ravines, travel shorter distances.

Without bridges many would remain isolated – or face a long circuitous route to their destination.  Bridges connect two halves of a city for example.  Many towns and cities have close relationships with bridges: Nottingham – River Trent; London River Thames; York – The Great Ouse; Cambridge – The Cam – and the list could go on.  We have road bridges, rail bridges and foot bridges enabling us to cross to the other side – and yes, there are also ferries but these are slower, and can’t serve so many people at a time.  Ferries or River boats are rooted in our history – take the Thames, many were the boatmen who ferried passengers up and down as well as across the river in Tudor times probably for centuries prior to this time and to this day you can take pleasure cruises along the river or cross on the Woolwich Ferry.

Some bridges are sturdy and functional, some more decorative – most owe their construction to the brilliance of victorian and edwardian engineers – Tower Bridge, Forth Rail Bridge.  More modern constructions are themselves works of art, take the Queen Elizabeth road bridge over the Dartford Crossing – it sweeps across the river and roads below in a wide, elegant arch – a wonder to perceive.  The Humber Bridge, constructed in the 1970s across the Humber Estuary, at the time of its conception it was the longest single span suspension bridge in the world!  I lived in Lincolnshire as a child and I remember vividly seeing the progress of the building of the bridge on regular Sunday afternoon drives.

I can’t write about bridges without mentioning the fabulous iconic Golden Gate bridge over San Francisco harbour, and the ‘double decker’ bridge by which you approach the city of San Fransisco from Oakland – what a spectacle that is, as one crosses the bridge by car or coach, the sight of the sky scrapers of the financial district and the lights of the piers along Fisherman’s Wharf is itself a wonder to behold.

As I write of some of my favourite bridges, lets not forget those of the city of Nottingham, my current home – Trent Bridge – a simple road bridge made famous by the Cricket Ground in its vicinity and the two football stadiums whose floodlights are also visible from the Bridge – Notts County’s ground and the home of Nottingham Forest – all within close proximity to Trent Bridge.  County Hall, the civic centre for Nottinghamshire County Council stands along one bank, an impressive site when viewed from the river – which flows under the heavy iron works of the Lady Bay Bridge, and passes along the Embankment, with a footbridge connecting Wilford Village to the City.

London has a plethora of bridges, Tower Bridge, although now dwarfed by modern office buildings is still an iconic site across the river and the Millenium footbridge which although dogged by design faults in its early days, now provides a stable passage across the river from St Pauls to the site of the Tate Modern Gallery.

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Have a look around your city or town – what do the bridges tell of its history?

Safe crossing!