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Take a walk in Blue Bell Woods listen to the sounds around you, of bird song and bees. Smell the flowers and the scent of Spring in the air. Every year is a new beginning and every day a blessing

"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts." (Colossians 3:15a NIV)I would love to hear from you, if you don't have a blog you can still comment, join google it's free. I appreciate hearing from you.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

childhood tales..............

One day my friend Sylvia, who was supposed to be home from school sick.......accompanied me down the Little Lane on my way to school. We were jumping rope. I may have told this tale before but anyway

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........as we skipped along the lane we noticed that one of the cows (A bull) was running around the field like crazy. We stopped and watched it because it was strange. I was skipping the rope and Sylvie was following behind. It would soon be time for her to turn back as we were almost to the High Street. Suddenly the bull jumped the gate. I turned and Sylvie was gone. I dropped the rope and ran...........home. At the top of the lane I saw a man heading down to the bus stop and I grabbed his hand, I told him about the bull and that I would be late for school, could he take me. So he accompanied me back down the lane. When we reached the High street there was nothing in sight. I continued alone to school. I heard after that the bull was shot by the local butcher and was in the street. I didn't see it. I will never know if the man believed me but I can thank my guardian angels that it ran the other way and didn't see me. It was indeed mad...........so they say.
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I have never been afraid of cows. There were cows in fields either side of the Little Lane and if they were near a fence I would pet them. Mum walked into the side of a cows head one night coming home from work in the dark hehe.....and dad fell over one walking through a foggy field where the cows were laying down. One of his fishing expeditions. They had some tales to tell as well about adventures with bulls and the like.
I was thinking this morning that my parents really were not "hands on". I was left to my own devices quite early on. When small I was left with the next door neighbour until they moved and then pretty much on my own from then on. They never knew half of what I did. I spent a good deal of time over the fields and on my friends farm. I had several adventures with cows but I think I have told those stories before.
My best friend was Mick for a few years and we went everywhere together. He was older than me and we would go down the chalk pits looking for rabbits. We would climb the sheer face of the chalk pits and get up to all sorts. Dangerous I know now but no one knew but us. I was gone from dawn to dusk and no one would ever have known where I was. (Chalk pit cliffs)
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I do remember once, with Sylvie again, we had been out looking for Violets or something like that. In this one field there was a big tree. We climbed it to the top. Getting up is always easy. Coming down not so much. I do not like heights. Well I was wearing a dress. We all did back then. I got almost to the bottom and then I jumped. Well a branch caught my dress and ripped it open from hem to neck. I can not remember explaining it to mum but do know I was in a lot of trouble. If the branch had caught me, I am not sure what would have happened but again my guardian angel was there for me.
I have always loved animals and never been afraid of them. I often wonder what my parents were thinking because twice that I know of when I was small, maybe 2 or 3 I ran away. I told about the steam train, well the other time they found me on the village green sitting among Colonel Parts hunting hounds.

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They had their kennels near the Green and Houghton Hall was there at the back of the Green. Colonel Part used to ride out with his horses and hounds to the hunt. Well apparently this day I had heard the call and joined the hounds.
Another time my Dad was working in the garden and heard a horrible screaming noise. He found a dog caught on his back fence. He went inside to get his big leather motorbike gloves on. Told me to stay away. I could not stand it, the dog was choking and gnawing at the fence post. When Dad got back outside he bout had a fit. I was holding the dog up to relieve its neck before it either broke it or choked. I got a lecture. Sometimes you just have to do the right thing no matter the pain that it may cause. I still do silly things. Like when Laura and I found an owl by the side of the road. Prepared to pick it up, knowing we would get shredded by talons and beak but we could not leave it to die.............lucky for us it was just cooling off on a hot day and flew off into a tree. Got some lovely pictures first though.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Is it summer yet?......

Its been chilly. Unusually chilly for May. We only just got plants for the garden and have had to worry about frost. I suppose I can't complain because on the East coast they have had snow. Other places have floods, then tornadoes............so how can I complain that it's a bit chilly here in Northern Michigan.
Tristen is with his auntie Laura for the weekend. He should have had a good time. They took their boat and went to a campground where family were camping. He has a great social life. I stayed at home and worked in the garden. They post pictures so I know what he is up to for the most part. Here he is being um spoken to.....wonder if its a repremand?
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He went with his Auntie Laura and his grandma Laura to the NMC BBQ. They had all kinds of good things to do. Here they are in the bouncy house and climbing the wall. Looks like a lot of fun.
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He seems to have a great time when he is away, we miss him though and he is always glad to be home. I was baby sitting for my granddaughter Gabrielle the other day. Her little boy Cooper is such a lovely baby. He is quiet and so undemanding. He sleeps and eats and gurgles and smiles. I took a picture of the boys together. Cooper and Tristen...........I can see they will be a pair as they get older.
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Cooper is not sure he wants that much attention from Tristen but well.....Tristen cant wait for him to get bigger. Here he is trying to get him to look at him.
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So they are my two great grandsons. I feel very fortunate to have lived long enough to know them both and if I am very lucky I may even see them grow up.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Laundry Day......

The smell of linen dried on the line, outside in the sunshine. Mmmmmmm so nice, so fresh. I can not do it anymore. We don't have clothes lines in town. Besides that we have way too much laundry. When I think back, everything was washed by hand and hung out to dry. Or it was dried in front of the fire. Clothes were not washed as often though. So even though it seemed to take all day, there really could not have been that much actual washing. Not like now. People wore aprons ovover their good clothes to protect them. They maybe changed twice a week


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Mum never had a washing machine, even when they became reasonable to buy one. She did get a spin dryer though. That took out most of the moisture before hanging outside. My grandmother had a huge table in her conservatory with a mangle on one end. Everything went through the mangle and came out semi dry so that they too could hang outside on the line. Her conservatory was glass, so in winter or wet days the clothes hung in there......unlike my house where mum had to put them on the clothes horse in front of the fire.

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The only trouble with mum hanging out the clothes on the line, was when the cement works chimney smoke blew our way. The clothes would get cement dust on them.

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Well then when the birds sat on the line and pooped on the clothes, then they had to be redone. Often in the Fall it would freeze. Getting the stuff off the line, stiff as a board and hung in front of the fire to thaw......then dry. That was fun.
Monday was laundry day. At least for the stay at home ladies. Then Tuesday was the ironing. My grandmother used a flat iron that was heated on the stove. Later on we were lucky to get an electric iron. We would use a tea towel (linen) and a bottle of water with a hole in the cap to sprinkle on the clothes.

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When I think of it, my childhood coincided with the end of the Victorian way of life and the beginning of the newer things, the conveniences that have come to us over the years. What a difference it all is now.I dont know about you but we have stacks upon stacks of washing each week. I hardly iron much at all anymore. I only just gave up ironing sheets as a matter of routine. I like to startch and iron them. However, no one really notices and so why bother. Most clothes do not need to be ironed. When I was working I ironed everything because I wore dresses and skirts ETC. At one time I even ironed undies. Now I prefer to spend my time doing other things.
Linking up with Rose Chintz cottage
Also linking with Brambleberry Cottage

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Dambusters anniversary part 2......

My cousin Mark climbed above the dam to take these pictures. He got some great shots I thought. His father, my uncle Ray loved planes and went all over to watch them and photograph them. He took me and he took Mark as a baby. I guess its in the blood. Mark still loves planes. These old ones are magnificent.
This is Mark, watching his daughter and wife playing with horses.
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The following pictures were taken by Mark..............first above the dam. This one in the early morning mist

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Then a wide screen shot before other people arrived to sit in front of them (smile)

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Then the wonderful Lancaster........several great shots. Probably wont be seeing this again for a long time.
Mark said " it was certainly a site to behold and may be the last one we see as I doubt there will be any veterans around for the 75th or 80th, unless 617 continue as a squadron tradition. Would love to see the freedom flight but definitely can't beat the sound of four merlin engines echoing down the hillsides"
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The Avro Lancaster is a British four-engined Second World War heavy bomber designed and built by Avro for the Royal Air Force (RAF). It first saw active service with RAF Bomber Command in 1942

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Lancasters took part in the devastating round-the-clock raids on Hamburg during Air Chief Marshal Harris's "Operation Gomorrah" in July 1943. A famous Lancaster bombing raid was the 1943 mission, codenamed Operation Chastise, to destroy the dams of the Ruhr Valley. The operation was carried out by 617 Squadron in modified Mk IIIs carrying special drum-shaped bouncing bombs designed by Barnes Wallis. The story of the operation was later made into a film, The Dam Busters.


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Enjoy a couple more of Marks pictures.
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Mark says " Avro Lancaster - similar to the ones which made the raids on the Rhur Dams. It's one of only two flying examples left, the other being in Canada I believe but hopefully to be joined by a second flight approved one in the UK before too long. This particular one is part of the Battle of Britain Memorial flight (BBMF) operated by the Royal Air Force"
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It gives me goosebumps just thinking about this. It must have been well worth the climb to see this fly past. The end of my fathers generation and of this type of plane drifts off into history.
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The Tornado fly by with special tails......very impressive picture Mark

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Dam Busters...............

In the early years of the Second World War, aeronautical engineer Barnes Wallis is struggling to develop a means of attacking Germany's dams in the hope of crippling German heavy industry. Working for the Ministry of Aircraft Production, as well as doing his own job at Vickers, he works feverishly to make practical his theory of a bouncing bomb which would skip over the water to avoid protective torpedo nets. When it came into contact with the dam, it would sink before exploding, making it much more destructive. Wallis calculates that the aircraft will have to fly extremely low (150 feet (46 m)) to enable the bombs to skip over the water correctly, but when he takes his conclusions to the Ministry, he is told that lack of production capacity means they cannot go ahead with his proposals.
Angry and frustrated, Wallis secures an interview with Sir Arthur "Bomber" Harris, the head of RAF Bomber Command, who at first is reluctant to take the idea seriously. Eventually, however, he is convinced and takes the idea to the Prime Minister, who authorises the project.
Bomber Command forms a special squadron of Lancaster bombers, 617 Squadron, to be commanded by Wing Commander Guy Gibson, and tasked to fly the mission. He recruits experienced crews, especially those with low-altitude flight experience. While they train for the mission, Wallis continues his development of the bomb but has problems, such as the bomb breaking apart upon hitting the water. This requires the drop altitude to be reduced to 60 feet (18 m). With only a few weeks to go, he succeeds in fixing the problems and the mission can go ahead.
The bombers attack the dams. Several Lancasters and their crews are lost, but the overall mission succeeds and two dams are breached.(Wikipedia) This is a brief explanation of the film "The Dam Busters".............it is a true story. I would love to see it remade. Actually a lot of WW2 movies should be remade. To many now its ancient history but to some its their own story. To people like me, they are stories we grew up on told by those who were there.





Today my cousin Mark went to Derwent Water to watch the historic fly over by the only "Lancaster" still able to fly.........to celebrate 70 year anniversary of the raid by the Dam Busters. One man still lives at the age of 90. God Bless him.
Pictures from the Daily Mail
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I can only imagine how moving an experience that was, brings chills and tears for me to even think of it.

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How very young they all were. Todays generations can hardly imagine that this was all so new, this act of flying. No jet engines yet and certainly no technology as we know it. These men flew by sheer guts and skill. They were innovative and brave and knew what they were fighting for, unlike many modern conflicts.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Lets go for a walk............

When I was young and growing up in England, we spent most days outside. As soon as we got up we were out the door and off over the fields. Farmers did not mind people on their property and there were so many footpaths. Walking was a way of life. We would rather walk than catch the bus unless we had a place we needed to be. I was an only child and my parents used to take me on walks on weekends when possible. Most of the time I went on my own or with a friend. It was a time to explore, to learn, to appreciate nature.
I think that even now, "Rambling" is a national pastime. The UK is made for it...........with its ancient laws of freedom to roam it makes it easy. People and their dogs a healthy lifestyle.
Dunstable Downs and Whipsnade Downs from Ivinghoe Beacon - the White Lion carved on the hillside marks the location of Whipsnade Zoo.
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This is my territory, I know this land I have walked a lot of it. Back when we were children our parents seldom knew where we were or what we were doing. There was no worry. Footpaths even through open fields are easy to see, and usually clearly designated.

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One thing I love is that when one walks on these paths they are not new, these are paths that have seen the Romans and the Saxons before them travel through here. Grimm's Ditch follows some of these walks. Grimm's Ditch is a series of linear earthwork in the Chilterns the purpose is lost in time. There is one part that is obvious and deep and I knew it as Devil's Dike. The Chiltern Way is a footpath through the Chiltern Hills running through 4 counties.
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Another thing about the English, the weather does not stop them. Thats why we have umbrella's and rain wear tucked away in our gear. You can't let a silly thing like rain stop the fun. Maybe those days can be used to walk in the woods.

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There are many conveniences in place to help in your rambles, stiles or kissing gates to allow access to fields without letting out the cows or sheep.

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When I was going out with American guys from a nearby base, I was sometimes asked "what shall we do?" I might say "Lets go for a walk".........that would be greeted with raised eyebrows and a "Why would we do that?" response. Apparently the people I dated back then did not see walking anywhere as a pleasure.
For me, it has always been a pleasure at least when it involves fields and woodlands or beaches.

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Sharing with Our World Tuesday

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Childhood................

As I have frequently mentioned (no eye rolls please) I was brought up in the same village my Dad was born in and all his fore fathers. His childhood activities were very similar to mine with a few minor details. For example, we both collected birds eggs. I think most little boys did. I was a Tom boy, I suppose in as much as I loved the outdoors, being involved in farm life and so on. One notable exception between us, I was "timid and retiring" so my teacher said, and he was a loud obnoxious terror. He came from a large family and I was an only child. If I had a brother like him my life would have been hell I have no doubt. He was though a very gentle and caring father. I think he was amazed at what he created in little me.
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When I was probably 8 or 10, somewhere in there I was best friends with the boy down the road, he was older by a couple of years. My Dad had befriended him when his parents split up. ( I now realize) and we became fast friends. Well we would collect birds eggs and compare our collections, just as my Dad had all those years before. We haunted the same places..........with one exception. The local sewage plant. Apparently it was a great place to find nests, and me and Mick did go there once and found it most unappealing.
My Dad's best friend was his older brother Cecil, apparently two of a kind and quite often they got stuck babysitting their young brother Alan. So one Sunday, right out of Sunday school, wearing their best clothes.......Somewhat like this below


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they decided on "birds nesting" as we called it. It was a dry year and the sewage treatment place looked inviting. The brick walls formed walkways between the beds of sewage that had dried out in the heat of the sun. All they had to do was watch out for the caretaker. They had Alan in tow not being able to avoid it and all was going well, until they were spotted......um I will let my Dads words speak for him here. (from his journal)
"The sewage had dried from the top down and had the appearance of firm ground, as the caretaker was gaining ground, and Alan was getting left behind Alan decided to take a more direct route across the lagoons. He no sooner stepped on the sewage when it gave way and he went in up to his chin and was almost submerged in raw sewage. Cecil and I heard him cry out and went to his assistance. We dragged him out and with one of his hands in each of ours we fled across the ploughed fields at the back of the sewage works. About half a mile away was the Wash Brook which flowed under a brick archway that formed a bridge to allow farm vehicles to cross. With Alans feet hardly touching the ground and I guess his fat little legs had never before been made to move so quickly....he was of course bawling his eyes out all the way. That was the least of our worries. The caretaker had by then given up the chase and we were able to consider our predicament. Alan was covered top to toe in sewage and smelt like a skunk. We dare not take him home in that condition as he had his Sunday suit on. We decided that being Sunday we could probably wash his things and get them dry and no one would be any the wiser. So we sat Alan on the bank with our jackets around him and we washed his clothing in the brook. Then hung them on the bushes to dry. Then it was Alans turn, we sat him in the brook and with hands full of moss we scrubbed him thoroughly to try to get rid of the smell. You may imagine what wool clothing looked like after being wrung out and dried in the air but we thought he looked pretty good.We set off home and Alan had been briefed not to tell tales to our Mother. She however did not share our views on the condition of his clothes when she saw her disheveled small son and reported the affair to our father. I heard him calling "come here Cecil" and followed by the sound of a cuff around the ear, that was enough for me and I bolted back outdoors and stayed out till my Father had gone to the pub. I was in bed by the time he came home and I stayed out of his way for several days........"
That was one of many adventures, and some day I may write about village life for him back in the 1920s............This is the Village Pond back then and also when I was a child.......all gone now.

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Sharing with Lavender Cottage


Monday, May 6, 2013

Spring Cleaning.............

I have done this before but have a few more followers now, I will try to make it a bit different. Those of us of a certain age (you know who you are) will remember some of the things I am going to talk about. The rest of you, be very happy you didn't have to do this. Having said that even though work was hard for women, for men too for that matter, it was a more peaceful time. After the war...............ah I got so sick of that phrase "Before the war" "after the war" and in my naive selfishness of a child I didn't realize just how much of a chunk of their lives was taken in that war. More than years. My Dad was a POW in Japan. My mum didn't know for a couple of years if he was alive or dead, and he was "not the same man who came back" ..........how could he be? Well......they settled into a council house in what was then a small village. Mum worked and I stayed with neighbours before and after school until she returned. All the ladies on Bidwell Hill (where we lived) had much the same way of life. None of us knew we were poor. We originated the Shabby in Chic. People cared and looked out for each other.
The rites of Spring.........open the windows, wash the curtains, wash the windows.

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Washing windows consisted of wiping on some pink windolene paste and waiting for it to dry. Usually done when the curtains were taken down and removed when ready to go back up. We are talking of the white lace curtains everyone had back then. Drive up any road ( if you could, no one had cars back then) and you would see them in almost every window.

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I suppose before they did any of this it would be best to get the chimney swept.
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most fires were coal fires until coak came about, that burned longer apparently. The coal man would deliver to the house.
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The combination of coal dust and cigarette smoke, everyone smoked back then it seemed. Very few people did not. It made for an unhealthy living condition for most people, combine that with the dampness. If you took the pictures off the wall you would see the new looking paper under it. Yes, everyone seemed to wallpaper, simply because it added insulation maybe. Who knows, but the combination of patterns left a lot to be desired if you ask me. Patterned carpet, patterned curtains, patterned wallpaper and then patterned furniture with patterned cushions. OMG.
Laundry done by hand in water boiled on the stove was a once a week chore, but there would be more when doing the Spring cleaning. Bedding, you know, blankets and so on had to be done. No dry cleaning back then. If you could afford it that stuff could go to the laundry. Mum worked in a laundry for awhile. I know what they mean by sweat shops. Baby nappies (diapers) were cloth and boiled up on the stove in a large pan. I was still doing that in 1971 when we came here to the states.
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All of those were daily chores and to wash in the morning we would boil the water in the pan on the stove. Dad did that because he got up first. I can remember my grandmothers life and suspect it was harder than mums, but not a lot changed until the 1960s. As I said, I was still doing things in the 1970s just as my mother did. Spring cleaning is still something I like to get done, but as I get older its harder to make the effort. Rather than wash walls, I would rather paint them.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Do you remember.................

When we first moved into the house on Bidwell Hill we had an outside toilet. At least it was a flush one, not like my friend Margaret who lived on a farm. They had a hole in the ground, well it did have a wooden seat and was in an outhouse but still.......no chemicals back then either. Was a rather creepy experience. Although I must say ours was not much better in that respect. It did have a small window, unlike this one. It also had a lot of cobwebs and spiders.
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We used newspaper out there too, it was awhile before the nice toilet rolls came into existence and newspaper was preferable to Izol.
We played simple games, always outside. We made our own fun. No TV, no Ipad or smart phones, in fact no phone at all. We played with each other.
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We built "forts" from things we found. My friend Mick and I dug out an underground one and had corrugated iron on its roof. The building of it was the fun. Sometimes we built them in the bushes like this one.
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All the kids did that. We also built our own transportation (smile) from odds and ends we found. The gypsies were a great source of supplies. When they left we could go to their camps and often found old pram wheels, ideal for making our chassis.
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Being a girl I only got to help build them, I didn't get to race them down Bidwell Hill like the boys did.
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We practically lived outside. Went out first thing in the morning and came home when the street lights went on. No one knew where we were at any given time during the day. Neighbours watched everyone's kids, kept tabs on them. The village police man would tell our dads if any trouble and we would get in trouble at home as well as receiving a clip on the ear from the copper. My Dad said in his day the village copper wore a cape, he said he was very proficient at whipping that around to smack their legs real good. I must get out my Dad's journal and tell some of his stories here. Today kids would be locked up for some of the things kids did back then. However none were dangerous or malicious just naughty. In those days, letting the farmers cows out would not cause accidents as it would today.
If we had a penny we could go into the local sweet shop, Miss Dickens and she would tell us what a penny would buy us. Quite a lot we thought. She had tiny paper bags that would hold the sweets that she had weighted out precisely and sometimes there might only be 2 in the bag, but we got what we wanted.
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Later on when we were older we could also buy a cigarette one at a time. That was probably not a good thing but at the time we thought it was.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

May Day.................

May the first, May Day. The beginning of summer, or at least the beginning of the season. Going back to when I was in school beginning around age five I suppose I have memories of May Day. I remember my Dad working diligently on a costume for me to wear in the parade. I was a ladybug. We would parade through the village to the Village Green. There we would have a fete and there would be a maypole. Kids would dance around the Maypole and they would choose and crown a May Queen. A long and timeless tradition.
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The Maypole.....the Ribbon dance

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Dancers gather in a circle, each holding a coloured ribbon attached to a much smaller pole. As the dance commences the ribbons are intertwined and plaited either on to the pole itself or into a web around the pole. The dancers may then retrace their steps exactly in order to unravel the ribbons.

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Queen Guinevere being Queen of the May
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The traditional folk dancers, the Morris men. They are witty, funny and very clever. English records date back to 1448 for the payment of Morris dancers. Traditionally they were also mumming plays especially at court.

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May Blossoms, the whole country is full of blossoms when the May is out.
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Bringing in the May and crowning the May Queen.
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The traditions are of course Pagan. They go back to before Christianity and although Pagan, are not Satanic. They stem from the desire for all things new. For fertility and on May Day anything goes. The maidens could mate with whom ever they chose on that day. They could go to the woods and have anyone they desired. The whole idea being that procreation was the thing. For birds, beasts and people alike. They did so for the crops to thrive. Now we as Christians do not believe in such things, but we can remember. We can look back on those days with maybe a little melancholy.
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These people worshiped nature, they saw spirits in all things. They believed the trees, the plants all living things had spirits. I believe so as well. They deserve our respect. These people needed to respect nature it was what kept them alive. God created all things and Pagans saw God in all things.
They believed on May 1st Beltane that the veil between the worlds was thinner. That we could see the Fae, the Fairy folks. Who is to say?

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Happy May Day.