Saturday, 19 November 2011

For Molly

Victoria over at The Pink Bicycle recently posted a blog about my namesake 'Molly' and I said that we had a sweetshop in Welshpool named in her honour and that I would post a picture - so sweet Molly - here it is - especially for you.

It's not that often that you see the old fashioned sweet shops now - the ones with the rows and rows of those oblong screw top jars of sweets. You pick which ones you want and they get weighed out on a mini scales and then scooped into little white paper bags. You could say - almost pre Woollie's Pick and Mix. Do you remember them?  Childhood memories of the  fifities, sweets were still rationed and there used to be this little shop on the corner. You had to take your coupons in to exchange with your pennies. What a thrill and a treat just to go in. There were all these jars of toffees and liquorice, humbugs and boiled fruit sweets, sherbet in bags which you slurped  through a liquorice pipe and gob stoppers which made your cheek bulge. They changed colour as they gradually disappeared. And Love Hearts - little pepperminty things with all those corny little messages on them. You could spend forever choosing what you'd like.

Perhaps things are going full circle.

We went to 'Coed y' today as well. It's a sell everything store just on the outskirts of the town. To get to the bottom half of the store and the garden centre you have to take the road  over  the little bridge with black metal railings. I stopped for a while and leaned my elbows over on the top rail to just look at the stream beneath.

I thought it was just the copper of the beech leaves floating on down, but then as I looked closer - people had been throwing coins - lots and lots of them. Make a wish - we don't change much do we!

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Broken Wings

It seems we weren't the only ones down at the Doc's this morning. The car park was pretty near full and the surgery likewise. When we came out we noticed him hobbling a bit painfully between the cars. He certainly didn't look under fed. The pheasant shooting season is practically here. Don't get me wrong I'm not vegetarian and like eating roast pheasant as much as anybody. It's just that I hate them being maimed to die a slow agonising death.

'Ow ....ouch...'
I don't know how his wing got broken - perhaps he was hit by a vehicle - perhaps a stray bullet ricocheted and caught his wing? At least you could say he was in the right place. He looked tame and folks coming and going didn't seem to bother him too much. Not many of us could eat our pet so hopefully he'll be able to live the rest of his life in relative safety. He was beautiful and I sort of hoped he didn't end up on someone's dinner table. I'm willing him to survive. I looked up and the nurse and receptionist were watching me watching him through the window. Perhaps they were thinking the same thing that I was.

Friday, 11 November 2011

The Eleventh Hour of the Eleventh Day

Today I stood silently. I wore my poppy in the rain. I remembered all that you gave.

You gave your all. And I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Fairy Rings

Cro over at  recently posted a brilliant post on Autumn's Bounty. It poured down during the night here too. The sun was out in force again this morning. Doesn't everything look fresh and clean after the rain and a warmth even in November that  makes you feel good just to be here. Part of our land consists of an old mill pool, quite near to the house. It's only a small area and at one time fed the larger (now been filled in) pool further down which at one time ran the old corn mill. It's not actually a pool any longer and has also been filled in long since.

These suddenly appeared under the willow tree over night in an almost perfect fairy ring.

I know practically nothing about wild mushrooms and had a look on Google to try to identify them.
As far as I can see they're Ink Caps - pretty to look at but definitely NOT for eating.

Can anybody out there tell me what they are and am I right?

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

The War Years

A chance meeting on a mundane trip  into Welshpool a couple of weeks ago and I met  93 year old Ethel. Through their teens and during the war years she was my late mother's best friend.  She said that she had some photos and would I like them. Would I?  You bet I would. A few days later I phoned her and she invited me round to her little bungalow.  What an amazing beautiful lady, I could have spent hours talking to her.  While my mother married and stayed at home looking after me and my sister,  Ethel joined the ATS  Auxiliary Territorial Services - a country girl, who'd never ventured further than the nearest town in her life she suddenly found herself being transported all over the world and doing all kinds of work,  more than she could ever dream of.  She told me about a poignant  moment of how she was working in a canteen in Belgium when her brother who'd also signed up, unexpectedly turned up in the same canteen. You can imagine what that brief reunion in those times must have been like for them.  Ethel showed me her little box of photos and I asked if I could take a digital snap of one of her in her ATS uniform.

'Course you can, but you don't want a photo of me.' 

She chuckled at the thought

She was like that.

On the other side of the family - Curley was my hubs uncle. Until the last couple of years of his life, he lived and worked on the family farm he was born on and only ever moved out of the village on the rare day trip. The farthest he ever travelled was to the Motor Show in London but that's a story for another day. The outset of World War II must have radically changed so many people's lives and yet the farming community in a way lived life in almost oblivion - no television, no mobile phones - no phones even. News came by British Pathe screened at the cinema, radio bulletins or word of mouth. Just an ordinary day in Curley's life .......

Curley driving his Fordson Major EN27
It could be an absolute pig to start on a cold morning especially if you hadn't remembered to turn the central tap over to TVO, (Tractor Vaporising Oil) something Curley forgot to do with alarming regularity.  If you look on the photo above you might notice two fuel caps side by side on the tractor bonnet. In the pic Curley is driving a Fordson Major EN27, though the story unfolding is about an earlier model  he owned in 1944. Tractors were a much prized commodity during the war years. He lease-loaned a green Standard Fordson. Part of the engine contained two fuel tanks - a smaller petrol tank and a somewhat larger TVO tank. A  dual fuel manifold intake pipe sat between the two. The tap being strategically placed at the end of the fuel pipe. You had to begin by turning the tap one way to access the petrol in the smaller tank. Petrol has a higher octane and is more explosive than TVO thus quickly warming the engine. After a few minutes once the tractor engine had warmed up,  the tap had to be turned the other way to switch to the lower octane much cheaper TVO. What a palarver!  Curley, as I previously mentioned often forgot to turn the tap over to TVO or sometimes didn't turn it far enough and the pint or so of petrol in the small tank would soon all be used up. As soon as this happened the TVO would back feed into the petrol tank. This  worked fine while the engine was still warm. Unfortunately  the next time he came to use his tractor, especially on a cold morning - not a cat's chance in Hell! Another endearing feature of the Standard Fordson was the amount of play in the steering wheel. At 6 or 7 mph you had to anticipate a left hand or right hand manoeuvre some 4 or 5 minutes before it actually took place, winding the steering wheel  around at great speed in the desired direction. I suppose you could compare it to driving a steam engine. Same sort of thing.
On this particular cold joyless morning Curley's SF would not even grunt. An American lorry pulled up by the roadside gate. As it happened,  the GI's were passing through towards Welshpool from their base camp at Queenshead, West Felton - a small village just outside Oswestry some 10 or so miles north of the farm. They'd called in for a few barn eggs and a cut or two from the side of bacon on the metal hook in the scullery. This being a popular custom of the time. Seeing Curley's predicament, they immediately offered to tow his tractor behind their vehicle to Reginald Tildsley's Garage six miles down the road on the outskirts of Welshpool. All roped up and away, the American Servicemen were not renowned for hanging about. Batting along, oblivious of  the tractor in tow and several bendy stretches in the road  - Curley had no way of attracting their attention  and had to hang on for grim death. He reached Reginald Tildsley's ashen and in dire need of a clean pair of corduroys.