Saturday, 7 April 2018

Home is Best amid Rain, Sleet and Snow

Life 26th March to 7th April 2018

Rain, rain, go away
Come again another Day! 

And that children's rhyme sums up our weather - snow, sleet, day-long heavy  rain temperatures as low as 3/36F  and,  very occasionally some  sunny periods.  I cannot remember such a bad  Easter week as we have had this year.
The scene outside on the afternoon of Easter Monday.

It  has been ideal for curling up with a good book!

The English Girl  by Margaret Leroy.
One of the best books I have read recently.  I loved the author's style in painting in words the sights, sounds and scents of Vienna in the changing seasons.    17 year old Stella sets out in 1937  from her sheltered family life in Britain to study music in the Austrian capital. She experiences her first love with a young Jewish doctor and a growing awareness that life is not always what it seems,  in a city facing the threat of Hitler's invasion.   Told in the first person, the writing is evocative and sensitive, with twists towards the end. I was totally engrossed in the characters and the poignant tale - it would make a wonderful, moving film! 

Miss Emily, by Nuala O’Connor
A slight 230 page book telling the story set in mid 19th century Amhurst, Mass.of the growing friendship between  American poet Emily Dickinson and the family's young Irish immigrant maid, Ada Concannon.

The short chapters give alternating viewpoints, and are beautifully written with an economy of style. I was captivated by it from the start - the elegiac descriptions of the garden, the smells of cooking, and the blossoming courtship of Ada and her suitor Dermot. The side characters are equally well depicted - Ada's kindly uncle, Emily's extended family. 

 I knew virtually nothing about the real Emily , and initially was impatient with her self-absorption, and preoccupation with her writing. But the gentle nature of the domestic scene changes for Ada in a brief two-page chapter, depicting powerfully (but not graphically), the brutal attack on her, and its dreadful aftermath. Emily overcomes her reluctance to meet the outside world by supporting Ada against the moral indignation of her family. Ada's feisty Irish spirit shines through. A page turner of a book.


At the Wednesday Club we had a lively talk from a local historian who has written books on the haunted Borders, murders in the Borders and.  in his latest work,  breaches of promise  of marriage. He regaled  the story of a murder that took place in 1877 in the Commercial Inn at Earlston, which many in the audience were unaware of.

Mountain Rescue was the theme of the Women’s Group meeting.  when we had speakers from the Tweed Valley Mountain Rescue and the Borders Search and Rescue Team, plus the star of the evening, one of their rescue dogs. We saw how she was trained and how she found a hidden "casuality.

The volunteers show a high degree of training and commitment and did a sterling job in the recent snows, deliverer prescriptions to vulnerable people n the countryside and helping to ferry care workers and staff to hospitals. etc.  Among their anecdotes, we heard about some fell runners in the Cheviot Hills, dressed in trainers and T-shirts who got caught in a snow storm and had to be rescued, some suffering from hypothermia. 

Got ahead with the "52 Ancestors" prompts - posted a profile of my Grandfather's House. a profile of my maiden aunt (Aunt Edith) and for the theme "Storms" turned to N. 19th century maritime ancestors  who sailed out of South Shields on Tyneside. Plus caught up with Journal Jottings and a article for the Auld Earlston blog.

Easter at Kings - An evening of Easter Music sung beautifully by the choir at Kings College, Cambridge =  one of the very few acknowledgements on TV that Easter is  a religious festival and not just for chicks, bunnies, lambs and Easter eggs.  

Mastermind Final - a worthy end to the  quiz competition  with the contestants neck and neck after the specialist round  and the winner striding ahead  with a brilliant general knowledge round.   

University Challenge  - some very close nail biting contests.  We were pleased to see both Edinburgh and Newcastle in the semi finals - helping to break the dominance of the Oxbridge colleges.  

Masterchef Amateurs - we have been keen followers of this series with such a talented  tentacled, likeable set of contestants. I cannot remember seeing such a high stand-rd of cooking before on the programme. Even when someone goes out, he/she is full of praise for  for the whole experience and how much they have learned.  I like the fact there is no cash prize but the prestige of winning. I cannot stand the comment you often get on reality shows where the loser say "I am gutted"!


By the end of this week, it has been getting warmer, thank goodness and even daffodils in the garden are coming into flower.  Just in time for us heading off with G and Nh to  Center Parcs in Whinfell Forest, Cumbria, where they will throw themselves into activities and N. and I will relax and have some gentle walks. 

Another photograph  of Melrose Abbey, this time bathed in sunshine  


Journal Jottings   
Recording my everyday life for future family historians  
Developed from the "Genea-Pourri" prompt  on Randy Seaver’s blog Genea-Musings
I decided to change his title for my own version of this weekly online diary


  1. What an intriguing idea! It's hard to imagine one of my descendents 200 years from now searching for my digital footprint. I wonder how long our digital footprints will survive us.

  2. This is a very interesting approach and I enjoyed reading it. I know your family will treasure your journal in the years to come.

  3. Thank you both for your comments which I very much appreciate. I have enjoyed the writing challenge of trying to make the posts interesting to an audience beyond family, and showcasing my photographs. But the emphasis is very much on my activities and it is limiting as a journal, as I do not reveal my feelings nor say much about my family. So I do question the validity of writing this as a blog. I do print off each post, to build up a hard copy. Thank you for
    your interest in the idea.

  4. Another thought that crossed my mind about the blogging medium for your journal was whether you might create an imagined descendent and direct your posts to him or her. Again, a very intriguing idea!

    1. Thank you for your imaginative idea - I must give it some thought! With apologies for the delay in picking up your comment as it had gone into my “awaiting moderation” folder.

  5. Thank you for the book recommendations and reviews, Sue. I'm always look for the next good read. The English Girl is not available at our local library the several other books by the author are.

    Snow at Easter! I don't know about you but I always want spring weather at Easter.

    1. thank you, Nancy, for your comment, which I have only just picked up, as it had gone into muppets “awaiting moderation”folder - I must check it more often. I will look out for Margaret Leroy’s book “Snow at Easter” - it sounds as if that could have a Russian background which appeals to me.