Thursday, 28 August 2008

Marian Alder 1918 - 2008

My Grandma was a gold medal-winning gymnast - not an Olympian, but nevertheless a champion of Marsh Gym in Leigh, Lancashire, and holder of the George Holden Cup. She worked in the cotton mills of the 1930s, and was whisked off her feet at the top of Blackpool Tower by Cyril Alder, my Grandad, who promised her the moon.

Marian was beautiful. She was an actress and a dancer in Leigh Amateur Dramatics. She married Cyril in 1941 and spent the next 40 years sharing his early mornings opening up the family bakery, delivering pies, pasties and barm cakes, as well as keeping house, making clothes, doing embroidery, and crocheting.

Her daughter Christine was born in October 1943, while Cyril was serving in Africa during the war. Grandad wrote home about the delicious fruit they were getting to eat, whilst worrying about what kind of rationing his wife and daughter were having to endure.

Cyril died in 1985 at the age of 65. Marian never fully recovered from her own grief, and continued to help friends and relatives of her husband as long as she could.

Marian gradually lost her own health and mobility through a series of aneurisms. Christine looked after her mother full time until 2002, when Marian became a resident of High Peak Nursing Home in Leigh.

Marian was buried on Thursday 28th August alongside her husband in Leigh Cemetery. Reunited at last, Cyril will finally be able to give her the moon.

"God Bless"

Monday, 25 August 2008


Never has a summer holiday gone by so quickly as this one. Somehow we have managed to cram in such a lot of stuff that we haven't noticed the time whizz by - and though I should be looking forwards to the kids' return to school next week, I'm not sure I'm quite ready for them to go. Have they had a good enough break? Have they enjoyed themselves? Have they spent enough time with their friends playing out and chilling - or have we forced them into too much of an adult itinerary, packed with things we think our kids will enjoy, rather than allowing them to make their own arrangements, and even be bored for five mintues?

The first week was spent on the golf course at our club's Junior Week event, which hubby helps to organise. It was a fantastic week, with over 60 kids between the ages of 4 and 18 in attendance, and there were daily competitions and skills challenges to keep everyone involved and entertained. Both our children took part this year, so I went along to assist. My hubby had even managed to recruit his Mum to help as well - so we both had a fantastic week walking around with the youngsters and, literally, marking their cards.

During the second week I decided to take off with the kids for a couple of days camping while hubby stayed at home and got on with some work. It was the first time I'd ever put a tent up on my own - and much to my surprise it neither let in water nor blew away, despite the less than clement August weather conditions.

After that we have made our annual trips north to stay with parents and parents-in-law in Lancashire and Cumbria, and fitted in rounds of golf and trips out to Blue Planet Aquarium near Chester, Blackpool Pleasure Beach, Longleat Safari Park and a performance of High School Musical at Oxford New Theatre.

Hubby and I also managed to grab a night away in Rydal in the Lake District, to celebrate our wedding anniversary. We climbed Great Rigg from Grasmere, walked along the ridge to Heron Pike and descended steeply back into Rydal over Nab Scar. We covered no more than 5 or 6 miles, but ascended 2500 feet, which explains why the back of my calves have been agony for a few days.

Sadly on the same day as our climb my Mum gave me the news that my Grandma passed away that morning. I felt extremely torn about whether to go ahead with our anniversary trip or not in the circumstances. In the end however I was glad I went, and I felt a real sense of purpose in getting to the top of Great Rigg fell, to place a stone on the cairn in memory of my Grandma, and shed a few tears.

We have got precisely seven days of the summer holiday remaining, into which we will cram a further wedding and a funeral. All life has happened during this short month of August. I'm not sure we're going to emerge from the end of it with quite as much renewal and feeling of being refreshed as we hoped. This summer has left me feeling more groggy wasp than beautiful butterfly.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Left-handers' Day

The note in my diary reminds me that today, 13th August 2008 is, for some reason, Left Handers' Day. This is significant for me personally as I am left-handed, and I wondered what could be special about this day. Maybe a day when all right-handers should be made to live left-handed? Or a day when left-handers can wear a badge so they can easily recognise each other and say Hi?

As it turns out today is also the 13th of the month. Unlucky for some, or so the saying goes. For me I've never been particularly bothered by the number 13. It's our address, and I never cringe from Fridays which carry this date.

However, today has been a real stinker for me. Firstly I played the worst round of golf in about 5 years, lost a grand total of 5 balls, and scored an appalling 15 stableford points over 18 holes. Maybe, ironically for today, I would have done much better if I'd played right-handed.

Secondly, while hubby was looking after the kids earlier, our daughter pushed our son over and he cut his head open on the corner of the radiator in the hall-way. (This is a five year old girl we're talking about, and her brother is 10.) I came home to find bloody tissues littering the kitchen and our son sitting in front of his computer with a very blood-drenched plaster over his right eye-brow. (At least it wasn't the left one - that would've been spooky.)

Also on my return from the golf course my hubby told me there was a letter for me. As soon as I saw it I knew it wouldn't be good news. It was very thin, with only one sparsely written side of A4 folded efficiently and properly, informing me that I haven't been successful with my recent job application. I am gutted, to say the least. Back to the drawing board on this one.

I'm not used to having bad days. I'm usually quite a cheerful and optimistic soul. But today has been tough. I haven't had a day when I've felt the need to retreat for a long hot soak in the bath in the middle of the afternoon for a long while. But today has been one of those days.

I can't help wondering if the unpropitious nature of 13 is compounded by the sinister influence of left-handedness? I know that being left-handed has long been considered "undesirable". So why mark the occasion on the 13th of the month?