Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Our house

Our house:

Last Friday Mini ‘S,’ Twilight Kitty and myself celebrated the first anniversary of moving to Medway and into our lovely little house. Luckily I had found two £10 notes blowing around outside my front door the previous day, so I decided to redistribute my new found wealth by buying the ingredients for a large pot of ratatouille.
There were ten of us for dinner (including Twilight), attending were all of the friends who had helped us when we moved in.

It was funny reminiscing about all the things that had happened around that time...
Like camping out at the hotel beside the Medway campus; hiding two car loads of our possessions in a cupboard at the School of Science; sleeping on inflatables (followed by a quick trip to Ikea to buy beds); scrubbing and cleaning away all the dust and cobwebs on the morning we moved in and last but by no means least... Twilight kitty sliding down the banister with her claws!

Westgate Bay:

Last Sunday myself and Mini ‘S’ decided to have a day out at the Kentish seaside ‘Isn’t it the wrong time of year I hear you say?’ to which I would reply ‘May be!’
There is a lot to be said for going to the seaside at the ‘off peak’ time of year: plenty of parking spaces; lots of room to build sandcastles and no queue at the cafe. Actually, the cafe was lovely (just out of view to the right of the beach huts in the picture), serving giant mugs of hot chocolate and gorgeous cake in a ‘no frills’ sort of way. Personally, I’d rather have an enormous slab of cake and some heavenly (reasonably priced) hot chocolate sitting on a plastic chair at a rickety table than in Starbucks or Costa Coffee!
We took a drive through Margate on the way back, as Mini ‘S’ wanted to play on the pirate ship adventure playground on the seafront. I hadn’t been there in about 15 years, and it was lovely to see how the town is starting to come alive again after being neglected in the 1980’s and 90’s. We made a mental note to come back in the summer, perhaps for a Jerushah birthday outing – I’ve heard from a friend who lives in Broadstairs that the shell grotto is worth a look...

J’s record of the week:

Apologies in advance everyone, we have not just one record of the week this week, but three ! The reason for this being firstly a bet with a friend, that I wouldn’t include a Tom Lehrer song on my blog – let’s call her ‘K.’ Secondly we downloaded the entire ‘Shine’ album by Estelle on the weekend, and Mini ‘S’ took a shine (no pun intended) to the song ‘Wait a minute (just a touch).’On listening to said song, I realised that it heavily samples the 1979 track ‘Just a touch of love’ by Slave. So hopefully, by choosing three songs this week, I can keep everyone happy – including myself!

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Goodbye Uncle P

 I have had some compassionate leave from work at the enquiry unit and my course, so that I could spend the precious last days with my ‘Uncle P.’ You will probably remember him as the often muddy, soul music loving, junk shop rummaging, Cornish farmer and treasured uncle of mine who would pop up quite frequently in my blogs. We were together last Sunday as he quietly slipped away in his sleep, he was so serene and brave... 

I stayed on in Cornwall to help my mum with all the arrangements for his memorial service at the beginning of this week. As I delivered his eulogy, it was so heartening to look out at the packed congregation in the chapel and realise that so many people loved and appreciated him just like I did.

Uncle P’s Eulogy
Paul was born just after his father returned from military service the Second World War. In his childhood, he loved animals. Paul and his sister had pet chickens Chuck-Chuck 1 and Chuck-Chuck 2, named because they both liked the name ‘Chuck-Chuck.’ He would tell everyone that he wanted to be a farmer when he grew up.  Paul rode and cared for his horse Tommy every day after school, but probably the most memorable occasion was when Paul (aged 4), decided to round up all the neighbourhood cats and lock them in his mother’s kitchen. She came in to find the door locked and several protesting pussycats within. When asked why he had locked the door, he replied ‘I was worried that they would reach up with their paws and turn the handle!’
As Paul’s father Geoff worked in the motor trade, Paul had lots of opportunities to become interested in Engineering. His youngest sister remembers that aged around 11; Paul constructed an electric powered go-cart using an old starter motor and a recycled car battery, which he used to drive him and his older sister to Sunday School.

It was no surprise that Paul decided to study for a diploma in Engineering after school. Paul was very successful academically.  In his early 20’s, Paul initially had happy times working as a research assistant for STL, but when the organisation began to work on nuclear weapons development, he felt as a pacifist and committed Christian he could no longer work there.

In 1977 Paul decided to take a big step to fulfil his lifelong dream of working on a farm, he moved to Cornwall to join his sister and her family who already lived in there. Paul began work at a farm near Mullion, where he was to live and work for the next 35 years.
Paul’s home on the farm was ‘Daisy Bank,’ down a little grassy lane lined with willow trees. Paul enjoyed the tranquillity of this lovely spot, which allowed him the peace to contemplate the spiritual side of his life.

Paul worked both on the farm with the animals, and in the caravan park. He made a great deal of friends who would return for holidays each year, many of whom have come along to pay their respects today. This week we have been reminiscing and his friends from the camp tell me that he would always be  a popular figure at the summer barbecues, bringing along stacks of records to provide the soundtrack to the evening with anything from the ‘Beatles’ and the ‘Supremes’ to 90’s rave music. Paul was always ready to help if anyone was in trouble, and is remembered for his exceptional combination of kindness, compassion and practical help.
As we already know, Paul had a wonderful way with animals, he shared his home with ‘Precious’ the cat. I’ll never forget seeing his face on the day his first ever incubated chick hatched. As the two of us watched the tiny beak break through the shell, he was as delighted as an expectant father! Happy memories in recent times include taking his great-niece around the farm to feed the chickens and visit the cows. Paul loved to regale everyone with stories about life on the farm and two of the funniest included Paul, Bruce and the long suffering vet being chased around the pen by a bullock who had a gate stuck to his horns, and how he had managed to ride a horse home, bareback, from the livestock market, even though he hadn’t ridden in about 40 years. 
In recent times, Paul gained much comfort from his strong Christian faith and attended Chapel each week. He also devoted time to looking after the gardens of Mullion Chapel, and it is lovely to see all the spring flowers that he planted blooming outside today.

He will be remembered as the most wonderful, kind, strong yet unassuming, compassionate and spiritual man.

After a beautiful memorial service, we took Uncle P to his resting place in the church yard nearby and an amazing thing happened... As my cousin ‘M,’ Uncle P’s two best friends and I carried him through the churchyard, there were suddenly a flock of chickens on the path in front of us. It brought a smile to all of our faces, and we could imagine Uncle P smiling from somewhere too.

J’s record of the week:  
‘Stop in the name
of love!’
The Supremes

The Supremes were undoubtedly Uncle P’s favourite band. It was very hard to choose a track, but as he was rather a traditionalist... It was always best not to mention the later prominence of Diana Ross, as it was (one of the very few) incendiary topics for Uncle P. Consequently, I have opted for something from the earlier days of The Supremes, 1965 to be exact. Also I have great memories of us listening to this song on a fabulous day out to Tintagel in my grandmother’s (sneakily borrowed) car. Jerushah X