Friday, 30 October 2015

A True Celebration!

I feel I need to record here what an amazing day we had yesterday with our family and Mum's friends down in Essex.  If you'd rather not read all about our celebration of Mum's life then please do skip past and I'll be back to tales of travels and creativity soon.  I just need to record it here as part of my blog before I forget the details.  I don't mean to be maudlin just recording a special day.  Please do pass by if you want to.

My DH and I went down to Mum's hometown of Canvey Island this week so that her many friends could say their goodbyes.  We always knew that mum had lots of friends but we were taken aback by the number of people who were able to come to her church yesterday. There must have been near on 100 people, family, neighbours, church members, and friends from her innumerable clubs.  The vicar, Reverend David Tudor, led the most uplifting and joyous service, most of which had been devised by Mum in preparation for when such time came.  David made great play of how pleased he was to finally be able to relieve himself of the papers and photographs that Mum had left with him 9 years ago in readiness for the occasion. (All spoken in jest).  He had carefully stored even a photograph of herself that she had left with him in readiness!  What could have been such a sad event became a truly smileworthy and funny recollection of what made Jessie the person we all knew and love.  Her passion for looking beautiful for every occasion, everything matching, little hat on her head, matching jewellery, matching shoes.

The love of dressing up running over into fun nights with her ladies' club raising money for charity.

I didn't like to tell her that the 'wedding cake' dress pictured has been reincarnated into some stitchy projects by me when she asked about it recently ;-)  I know the witch is her becaue I recognise her hands and feet :-)

More glamorous dressing up for cruising with wonderful friends like the ZigZag Dance Factory who welcomed her with open arms and gave her such wonderful dancing holidays so late in her life.

 David talked about her love for gardening, including 'acquiring' cuttings and seeds from gardens she visited, no stately home garden was safe if she saw a seed she could rehome!  She had been a stalwart of church fundraising, baking cakes whenever required and I have fond memories of frenetic kitchen activity when friends were coming for Sunday tea, baking scones and cream horns and preparing trifle.  You may remember I made a quilt with her aprons which still bear the scars of Sunday morning baking before the days when Mum joined her Church community.

I have to admit I had not been looking forward to the memorial service but the whole church and David Tudor made it a wonderful family affair with great warmth and vitality and even messages from Mum to look forward and be strong.  I have to admit I am no longer a church-goer but St Nicholas Church and its family churches are very lucky to have David and his team to forge such a strong sense of love and community that can lift you up and wrap you in such comfort.  There were tears aplenty but lots of laughs and smiles too, testament to a very strong lady who I and my brother and our DH and DW are very proud to call Mum.  Even her flower club friends had gone to the effort of making two lovely floral displays to flank the altar.

I read on Facebook yesterday a quote that said that however much you think you have prepared yourself you are never ready to lose someone you love and this is so true.  We have all lost
very dear people, family and friends and it never gets any easier.  None of them are paragons of virtue, we are all flawed but we do our best and we all saw the best of Mum yesterday, the great joy and happiness that others brought to her and that she gave to others just by being Jessie.

She only got on this camel for the photo shot, she couldn't quite cope with the thought of riding it lol

Rest in Peace Mum and always in our hearts ♥ ♥ ♥

PS  I've been talking to my friend about yesterday and just wanted to add here that at the end of proceedings they played the Radetsky March by Strauss which Mum had requested.  Quite spontaneously the congregation started to clap in time to the music.  A perfect end to it all.

When you watch the video you will need to wait about a minute while Daniel Barenboim shakes hands with the individual members of the orchestra.  It's worth the wait!  I remember watching this concert with Mum last year.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

"Lovely sunshine!"

There's been a bit of a lull here as we've been coping with some sad times and I havn't felt able to share them here, although I did talk about it on Facebook.  On 21 September our beautiful Mum, who you've met here from time to time, passed away after a serious stroke.  We were in Cornwall when the stroke happened and got back as quickly as we could and were able to see Mum before she passed.   I believe she knew we were with her before she went.

 I think I am in a bit of denial although I do know she's gone.  We've had the necessary offices and next week her friends in Essex will be able to say their goodbyes too at a service in mum's church.

Our service here was, as much as we could make it, a celebration of mum's long life and I am so grateful for my beautiful mum who always gave my brother and I her best.  She had the most beautiful smile despite her difficulties and was a brave and courageous lady.  She was kind, warm, generous, thoughtful, adventurous, sometimes very frustrating, loving, creative, an elegant ballroom dancer and I am so proud that she was my mum.  I have lots of lovely memories to take along with me and when I guffaw outloud I can hear her.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Holiday Time Again!

Warning!!  Picture and rock-heavy post. Leave now if it's not your thing :-)

I know, it's dreadful!  You would think we would have better things to do than go on a trip, wouldn't you?  Well, when the chance comes along to go to a special place that you've wanted to see since you were a child it would be rude not to go, wouldn't it?  Where is this special place?  It looks across to Scotland from the top of Ireland and is a place of mystery, turmoil, and legend otherwise known as The Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland.

We went across with our friends as A & P Travel with the luxury of someone else doing the driving.  After an early start we crossed the Irish Sea by the Cairnryan to Larne crossing, one I've not been on before. Our first night was spent in a lovely but haunted hotel close to the ferry and the Giant's Causeway was our first stop next day.

We chose to walk down to the causeway and enjoy the views but there is a shuttle bus for those who need it.

If you look at the image above you should be able to spot a lumpy rock formation near the foot of the cliff that looks a bit like a one humped camel, there are various names for the many rock formations here.

As you appoach the eponymous causeway you are struck by the number of people walking or clambering all over it.

 The guys in red fleeces are National Trust guides who try to keep people safe and offer advice as to the best route up and down.

On our walk down we took our time and explored the lower areas of the rocks and the amazing smaller columns of basalt that varied in colour from very pale to black.

 These people above give you a sense of scale and the actual Causeway stretches out to sea behind them.

I thought this smooth stone was the Giant's armchair but found out later it was further on.  I would have loved to have sat in it but I didn't trust myself to fling myself into it as it was a bit awkward. 

When we reached the Causeway I didn't fancy the look of the climb where everyone else was going up and thought I wasn't going to be able to go onto it so we wandered around to the east side and were amazed by the huge columns of basalt.

 The turquoise coat is me, off to see if I can find an easier way up, albeit without the benefit of NT guys.
 Some of these columns have coins pushed into the cracks, some of which had gone rusty.  Very tempting!
 I really couldn't go all that way and not walk on the Causeway itself so I left DH taking photos and discovered a gentle climb up.  I told DH I was only going as far as a couple of people I could see ahead but, well, once I was up there what could I do?  It was actually reasonable walking on top and I had a walking pole with me so I felt confident to wander.

The surface is fairly flat on top, just have to watch where you are walking.  I was surprised to see how light the rocks were.

 Above, looking back towards the 'camel',

 As you get further along the rocks do change colour. 

This looking back the way I had come. 

Had to take a few texture photos ;-)

I could have stayed up there all day but thought I'd better get back.  Sudden panic! The easy climb up looked treacherous going down so I went across to where the guides were.  It was easier to pick a route but the stines were shiny with so many feet crossing them so I didn't feel all that safe.  

We had arrived at the Causeway early and as we walked back to the visitor centre the crowds going down were getting heavier.

It felt like a pilgrimage!  I did wonder about whether people should be allowed to roam freely over such a special place but I suppose the rocks must be tough enough to take it.  For my part I am pleased that you could roam at will.  It felt a very special place and I was elated to be standing there looking down on such a colossal, mind blowing force of nature.  Do click on the photos to see the detail.  Hopefully if you've got this far you'll be as awed as I was.