0 – 13 in Four Minutes

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Well I am now officially old. My Grand Daughter Saskia had her thirteenth birthday last week which means I am the grandparent of a teenager, nothing prepares you for that, overnight I feel older but no wiser.

Now like all grandparents I believe we are put on this planet to embarrass our kids at every opportunity and with this thought in mind Ann and myself have been trawling through the photographs of Saskia. We decided to make a video of some of the highlights of the last thirteen years of living with Saskia.

So here it is, can I just say she is very embarrassed by it which makes it even more enjoyable for us.

It is matriarchy that makes most villages thrive

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I love living in a small village and living here does have its benefits,  I also know how lucky I am to be able to live here. According to my brother in law he thinks I am lucky as well, but as I reminded him a few months ago of the famous Thomas Jefferson Quote “the harder I work , the luckier I get’. He looked a little bemused but it does take a lot of effort and expense to live in rural England.

Now I know it lifts the soul to wake up every morning and look out over rolling hills punctuated with stone buildings and trees but it is more than that. It’s mainly because of the people who live here.

We moved into Diggle 32 years ago when our kids were at the local school, when summers seemed full of sunshine and endless trips to the pub to meet friends and their families.

If you have kids you become the taxi of mum and dad and in-between stable and band practice and your kids social lives its easy to rack up 20,000 miles a year just shipping them around.

Now I know some people reading this think that village pubs are no longer the hub of village life but to a certain extent it is still the case. It’s the bump space for the village, a space were all generations get to enjoy each others company and get to know whats happening in our small community.

Friday nights in particular are great fun, we have a local Brass Band Club which holds the B band practices on a Friday night which ensures that from about seven thirty it is full of parents patiently waiting for their kids to finish practice so they can start the weekend. It is true that most of the waiting throng take advantage of the fact that the bar is open and it is now the place to meet on a Friday night.

What makes it special is the various generations that meet up, we have the early doors crew who wait for the kids and are great fun to be around, we have the golfers who spend the evening discussing what golf course they are playing the day after and we have the Band members who meet up and do what bands do, which seems to consist of drinking copious amounts of beer, (it must be very thirsty work).

But it’s the older generation that never ceases to amaze me. I know to some I am that generation and I know I am no spring chicken but the grandparents who come to listen to the youngsters play are amazing.

Now I know in the sixties and seventies the likes of Germaine Greer who wrote The Female Eunuch and the women’s liberation movement were railing against the role of women in society and making a stand for women rights, its obvious she never bumped into any of the women in our village when she did her research.

Now I don’t have an issue with women, in fact I quite like them, I will rephrase that I like them a lot.

I know what you are thinking but you are wrong, I like a certain type of woman and our village has more than our fair share of them. I think most men will agree with me when I say that I like women who have a sense of humour, who are strong, who don’t take crap from anyone and can hold their own in an argument.

I fortunately I married one of these women and guess what my daughter and grand daughter are just the same. So god help anyone who crosses them.

This Friday whilst I was stood at the bar waiting to be served I overheard a comment from a lady who was in her late sixties taking to her daughter, and this is not paraphrased this is what she actually said.

“So when I took the freezer door apart I found the small spring that holds it shut was broke”. I was so surprised to hear her say that, I interrupted the conversation to check if I had heard it correctly. This led to a conversation about Facebook, laptops, tablets and passwords. It was like talking to a twenty year old.

It fantastic to think these people who are now way into retirement have more life in them that a lot of people half there age. They walk half way around the planet, they drive cars tractors and even wagons should the need arise and are always on call to stand in transporting grandkids to any fixed point on the globe. All this whilst posting on Facebook and sending emails to the council about some cause or another. These women are the backbone of the community and are first in line should anyone need help.

I think that it is this matriarchy that makes most villages thrive and it will be a very foolish politician who ignores these people in the next election or even worse tries to underestimate them as a driving force in the community.

So I will continue to meet up and talk to as many people as I can over a pint or two because thats what makes this world an interesting place to be a part of. I suppose I have just outlined the problem with social media, It doesn’t get a round in at the bar.

Cupcakes and Reminders of the Past

ultimate-chocolate-cupcakes-1-600Its Sunday night at Eccles Towers and its ten o clock and for the first time this week I have the lounge to myself.

Its a rare occurrence these days for me to sit quiet with a brew and the TV remote in my favorite chair I can tell you. Saskia has been with us now for two weeks and last night was joined by her younger brother James who has been lucky enough to have been born with a cheeky smile and fantastic red hair.

The only issue with the kids staying is that they expect to be entertained and kept busy every waking minute. Now Ann was up early with them which gave me a little time to gather my thoughts before I had to give offspring number one a lift to work because of his continuing car troubles and living in the hills buses are a rare on Sundays.

So a couple of hours later I walk in the house to find that Ann, Saskia and James had been baking. It was as though I had been transported back to my childhood with the smell of fresh baking wafting through the house.

I hung my coat up by the door and immediately the pair of them came running through very excited and dragging me through to the kitchen. Now Saskia apart from a little bit of flour on her cheek looked like she had been sat reading a book rather than baking but James was a whole other proposition.

He had chocolate all around his mouth and flour in his hair and on everything he was wearing. That should have been a clue to what I was to encounter in the kitchen. I think it would be best described as looking like a grenade going off in a flour factory.

I was dragged to look at the cupcakes that these to mini bakers had made and they presented me with my very own cupcake and they stood whilst I ate it, waiting patiently for me to tell them how good it was. It tasted even better than it looked.

So whilst they jumped up and down they got one each and made all sorts of sounds that one makes when eating something delicious, Ann was busy trying to sort out the kitchen, (somehow they had managed to use every bowl and utensil in the place).

“We are going to make biscuits next time granddad and we will save you one”. James said with a bowl and spoon in his hand busy scraping the remains of the mixture they had used.

By two o clock when we took them down home we had almost managed to clear up and put a cupcake in a bag for mum and get them in the car for the journey.

So spin the clock forward Six hours and Saskia is back with us because we have the school run in the morning. She is sat on the settee in her pajamas and dressing gown watching XFactor and smelling of bath time and looking like she has been scrubbed until she shines.

Again for some reason it took me back again to my childhood, its strange but it was the smell that instantly transported me back fifty years to Sunday Nights at my parents house, watching Sunday Night at the London Palladium after having a bath and everyone sat around having a brew and a piece of Victoria Sponge.

Its strange but now I am getting older I have started to remember things I had long forgotten and the strangest things make you think of the people who you loved and who are no longer with us and when you think of them you miss them instantly.

I suppose we are fortunate enough to be in a position that enables us to let the grand kids enjoy the simple pleasures that we remember from our childhood. I hope they remember days like today and do them with their children. I suppose that this has been going on for centuries but we never have time to sit and think about it.

So that’s this weeks ramble out of the way. Just enough time to try another cupcake with my brew, my excuse is that I am saving Ann from herself, she has weight watchers on Tuesday and if she hasn’t lost weight I am in for a very hungry week.

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