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Monday, 2 March 2015


Mary - R.I.P.


Born 21.12.22 - Died 26.01.15

Mom, serving at the Co-Op during the 1940's

Mom sadly passed peacefully away just over a month ago after a short illness.  Despite suffering for the last 4 years with dementia she had a very full and interesting 92 years of life.  
Following words will just skim the surface of it.

Mom was born the eldest of identical twins to Clara and Jack Dunn on the 21st December 1922, younger sisters to John.  The twins were inseparable throughout their lives, though had totally different personalities - Mom the extrovert, and Auntie Doris the home-maker.  Nan and Grandad weren't by any means wealthy, but were very hard working and the children were always surrounded by love, and brought up to believe that they were very special people.  She was also brought up with pets - cats, dogs and chickens which instilled in her a life-long love of animals.  (To her last days she vividly remembered carrying soft, warm, Peggy the hen to their new home when she was four years old - Auntie Doris carried Tiger the cat with the white tipped tail!)
Despite having such different personalities it was uncanny how they would end up doing and wearing similar things.  For example they both arrived on the same day and time to tell their parents the happy news that they were expecting their first child.  (My lovely cousin was born only 10 days after my brother, he is known to me as CuzBro as we share some of the same DNA.) They would often attend family gatherings dressed in a similar manner - for example Mom wearing a red top and navy slacks, Doris wearing navy top and red slacks!)  They spoke and or saw each other every single day of their lives until my Aunt died in 2006, as you can imagine Mom was devastated when she lost her sister.

Mom was always very active, taking part in sport during her younger days.

Mom 2nd from left front row.  St. Saviours School netball team 1936.

When she left school she went straight into 'service' working for a local well to do family.  She would be up at 5am to light the fires in the house, and many other duties.  She worked there until war broke out in 1939, when she left to do work for the war effort.  She worked in a factory that made springs and other components, Mom made springs for children's Mickey Mouse Gas Masks.

On VE day 08th May 1945, during the celebrations with family, friends and neighbours Mom met my Dad, Ron - it was love at first sight for them both.  They married on the 16th May 1946, my brother Ron(ald) came along in 1949 and I followed in 1956.  We were brought up strictly to respect others and to 'mind our manners', and although both Ron(ald) and I had a somewhat difficult relationship with our Mother we ALWAYS knew that we were loved by our parents.

Mom throughout her life worked hard and at times had more than one job to help make ends meet.  In 1953 she joined Staffordshire Police in Bilston where we lived, as the first woman special constable in Staffordshire, and continued to 'do her duty' for the next 27 years.

Mom in 1953, (and below) photos taken by the local newspaper 'Express & Star' for the article about her joining the police force.

Bath time for my brother in 1953.

Though women constables were never issued with a truncheon (unlike today's police force - woman constables are issued with night sticks.) when Mom retired from the force in 1991 she was presented with a special truncheon, a great honour as very few women constables in the UK have been awarded one.

Laid upon Moms police uniform skirt her much treasured presentation truncheon, long service medal and bar, police whistle and key (which would have been for opening the Dr Who style blue police boxes) and her powder compact. I used scrabble letters as a tribute, Mom loved crossword puzzles and avidly played scrabble for many years.

Bilston changed it's county borders during her years in the force and became under West Midlands, hence the West Midlands police badge on her powder compact.
Mom sang every single day, up to and including her last day on earth.  She knew a song on any subject you cared to mention!  She was one of the founding members of the West Midlands Police Choir and sang with them from the 70's until she retired.  She took part with the choir in the National Eisteddfod at Llangollen North Wales on no less than three occasions.  (She was also an active member of local choirs up to 18 months before her death.) 

In 2002, Mom was about to celebrate her 80th Birthday - we were at a loss as to know how to help her celebrate it.  I asked her what she would like to do?  Her reply amazed me...
"I'd like to go a ride in the police helicopter!"
What could I do but approach Staffordshire Police force and pass on my mothers request.  When they realised that she had been the first woman Special Constable in the county, they helped us push the boat out for the celebrations.  Although the insurance wouldn't allow Mom to actually have a flight in the helicopter arrangements were made for Mom and us (the family) to have a day visit to the aerodrome at Halfpenny Green Airport, Bobbington to meet the crew and were treated like royalty.  

Here I am pictured with Mom just before her special day.  You can see by the huge smile on her face what a brilliant surprise she had.  We were all amazed by the equipment that the helicopter crews have at their disposal in the fight against crime.

After Dad died in 1995, Mom was determined not to allow depression to win.  Throughout her life, as well as singing she had always had an interest in amateur dramatics and had appeared in many local shows and plays.  She joined an 'extras' agency, and was soon offered a part as one of the witches in Roald Dahl's 'The Witches' at the Grand Theatre in Wolverhampton.  The family joked with her that she was typecast ;o)  She appeared in each performance for the two weeks the show was on. 

Mom chose to move here, into sheltered housing in our village in 2003 as she realised that in the not too distant future she would probably need more help from me.  She arranged to have me added as a joint bank account holder, made an Enduring Power of Attorney and also made and paid for all her funeral arrangements within the first two months of living here.  This shows how she was quite an organised person throughout her life.

Sadly, dementia changed Mom's personality a lot until a few weeks before the end when she became very loving again.  We knew that the end was very near and I had made my peace with her. She died surrounded by love, care and a very close family member was with her.  Mom had been admitted to The Beeches care home at Standon Hall on the 23rd December for her own safety (a traumatic time for both Mom and I), and after settling in very well she became ill.  We, the family have the highest regard for the loving care that she had during her stay there.  Despite some of the awful things that we read about that happen in care homes there ARE good ones, and we believe that Mom was in one of the best.  We, the family cannot praise the staff highly enough.

Mom's funeral was a celebration of her life.  She chose to have a humanitarian graveside service, even though she'd had a deep religious up-bringing and belief throughout her life.  When I went to see the undertaker about the arrangements they remembered Mom very well and told me that they'd had a long an interesting conversation about the service.  Mom had told her that even though she was deeply religious we, her children weren't and she didn't think it was fair to make us attend a church service.  We were deeply moved by this. She had asked for no flowers, but would like donations in her memory to be given to animal charities in her memory.  The donations were an incredible £220, which we divided equally between Many Tears Animal Rescue and West Midlands Hedgehog Rescue.  We know that Mom would have been delighted with our decision to award these two self funded charities which are close to our hearts.  In turn the charities have been overwhelmed with the donations made in memory of Mom.

Mom, enjoying a visit to Nicky's (a family members farm) at lambing time in 2012

Rest in peace Mom, you are now reunited with your beloved Ron, our Dad - and you are very probably singing with the largest choir.

xx xx xx xx xx xx

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Just popping in quickly to say...

Hoping that all my lovely blogging friends enjoy peace, good health and happiness throughout 2015.
Sending my very best wishes to you all :o)


Wednesday, 24 December 2014

To wish you all...

A very happy Christmas!  Hoping that you and yours are all well.
Very best wishes to all.

X X X 

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Love Spoons

Hello folks!

I realise that you still expect posts from me about my collections and new items that I've found, and though I'm not buying many items these days -  after 'finding' something very recently I realised the other day that I have another collection that you will not know about - yet!

Welsh Love Spoons.

The carving of love spoons probably dates back to the 17th century, when young men would carve from a single piece of wood simple utilitarian spoons for their loved one - probably with just their initials and a simple hole to hang up the spoon likely using only a penknife and a saw.
Traditionally they would have used sycamore, as this is the type of wood which is well suited to use as a cooking utensil, though they could also have used oak, box, and fruit woods such as apple, wild cherry and pear.  Close grained woods would have to be harvested and dried so that the wood didn't split as they were carving the spoon.  Over the years they became more intricate so that they would be used as decoration instead.  These young men would spend hours carving the spoon to give as a token of their love, in the hope that if it was accepted their loving relationship would begin.  This is where the origin of the word 'spooning' comes from.  (There is also a belief that the carvers expertise would show the girls family that he would be able to provide for the girl with his carpentry skills.)
The handle of the spoon then expanded to more of a paddle shape so that more and more intricate designs could be added.  
This form of love token was also used in other European Celtic countries too.
Today, the carving continues and though I imagine rarely carved by the suitor there are many Welsh carvers that make and sell them, prices start in the tens of UK pounds to the hundreds depending upon the detail.

The symbols used in the carvings are generally accepted to mean the following:

Hearts = Love
Dragons (the symbol of Wales) = Protection
Locks/keys = Home and security
Knots = Everlasting love
Ship = Smooth passage through life
Bell = Weddings and anniversaries
Vine = Love grows
Comma shapes = Soul signs for deep affection
Ball = Love held safely
Cross = Faith
Flowers  = Affection
Horse shoe = Good luck
Diamond = Wealth/good fortune
Double spoon bowl = Togetherness
Heart shaped bowl = Togetherness
Wheel = Work
Shield = Safekeeping & Protection
Twist = Binding and growing together

I have found my small, motley 'collection' from charity shops over a number of years, and I display them on the wall between the kitchen and dining room.  Of course, as you can imagine I certainly haven't paid anything like the tens of pounds that they would have originally cost ;o)

and in close-up:

The bell for marriage/anniversary, and the heart for love.

The cross is for faith, the shield for safekeeping and protection.
(And a chipped spoon bowl because I'm clumsy and dropped it!)

Probably my favourite one, the Prince of Wales feathers to give good service, heart for love, and the lovely twist which means binding and growing together.

The horseshoe for good luck, and a heart for love.

And finally

A heart for love, the commas are soul signs for deep affection
and a double spoon for togetherness.

(Incidentally, after further tracing of my family tree I have found that there is Welsh blood running through my veins on both maternal and paternal sides of my family, so it looks like (finally) I have an apt collection!)

Hope all is well, and you have had an enjoyable weekend.

Best wishes to all!

x x x

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

A bit late posting this, but PLEASE check.

Will post again soon, hope you AND the HEDGEHOGS have a safe bonfire night.

Best wishes

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Sunday morning on Cannock Chase.

Hi Folks!

First and foremost, I MUST thank you for your lovely comments on my last post - I'm sorry that I didn't reply to you all, (hangs head in shame).

This morning I had to take hubs to Stafford Showground as he has a bike in the Classic Motorcycle show there.  I decided to come back home through the 'Chase' and see what I could find to photograph.  (Click on any photo to enlarge.)

I found this little chaffinch hunkering down out of the wind.

Another one with a beak-full!

A male great tit and another chaffinch.

Then there was the magpie, female pheasant and the male great tit. 

Magpies feeding their face ;o)
(I LOVE magpies)

Sadly, there were far too many folk out and about to see any deer, but I caught these images the other afternoon (17th October) when I escaped for a few hours.

Melanistic fallow doe

Melanistic 'pricket' fallow buck
(first antlers)

* * *

I've started to capture and weigh my little spiky garden visitors to make sure they have enough fat reserves to last the Winter hibernation (at this time of year minimum of 700g.  So far the three I've weighed were - 1.2kg! 900g and the first juvenile I've seen this year that was only 400g.  She has been taken to West Midlands Hedgehog Rescue so that my dear friend Joan can 'fatten her up to a safe weight and then she'll be released back into my garden at an appropriate time,'  :o)
Keep an eye out for hogs and weigh them too.  If you see one out in the daylight there IS a problem.  (See my hedgehog info page for details)

I leave you one happy lady!

Best wishes to all.


Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Seasons are a changing too.

Hi Folks

Yup, it's really me.  Sorry that I've been missing for (quite) a while again.

We've certainly had some wonderful weather this Summer and it looks like Autumn is continuing to be good.

Earlier this month, I finally had a break  - four years on!  It was only a Monday - Friday one, but oh my I NEEDED it!
We went to New Romney in Kent.  The weather was absolutely fabulous.  Our dear daughter and her partner came along too.  A wonderful time was had by all :o)

New Romney is only a mile or so away from Dungeness (England's only desert) the most atmospheric place I have visited in the UK.  It's a favourite area, and it's been some years since we were there last.  I'm delighted to say that the place had hardly changed at all.
I celebrated (another) birthday while we were there.

Derek Jarmans Garden - Prospect Cottage.

When we went to Hythe - another of my favourite places. A place we've been to many times before however, I'd never noticed this ancient plaque set into a wall leading to a church before.

We also visited Winchelsea - a lovely village.  We visited Spike Milligans grave in the beautiful, ancient churchyard.

There was quite a few folk paying respects to Spike, a man that has given laughter to millions.

* * *

I realise that I'm changing as I grow older - in mind as well as body!  I hardly buy any 'bargains' these days, and I'm far happier taking things TO the charity shop.  Quite a change eh?
I'm still very involved with the delightful little prickly creatures that visit our garden each night, and of course the rescue centre, who are invaluable.  My interest in wildlife photography is deepening, and if I get the chance I escape for a few hours with my camera for a little 'me' time.
I've just upgraded my camera, from a Panasonic Lumix FZ38 to a Panasonic Lumix FZ72, which I took out yesterday afternoon for it's first memorable outing to the nearby outstanding beauty of Cannock Chase.  I was very happy trying to get to know the camera settings and taking various shots.

Male Pheasant
Male Chaffinch
Fallow deer (mother and child) crossing the road
Then, a truly magical thing happened.  I had been taking images of some birds from the car when looked up, and there, right in front of the car was a fox.  He walked around, and came to the water dishes (that someone leaves out) for a long, long drink. 

I was smiling for hours afterwards :o)
(Made me think of the lovely Snowbird with her rescue foxes.)

I'd taken some other photos over the last few weeks, here's a few.

Juvenile green woodpecker with a crow looking on.


Sadly, I also missed some good shots of a rare Summer visitor to this area, 
the red backed shrike.  I kept seeing the little blighter but it was always just out of a clear shot, except the only time I hadn't got the camera ready!

* * *
So it looks like when I do get around to making a post it stands a very good chance it's going to involve wildlife!

* * *
On other matters....
I'm still my Mothers only carer as she will not budge and allow me to get help, though I have recently joined the local carers association.  I attended my first meeting this week - they seem a lovely bunch, and I'm certain they will be a great support network for me.

Hope to be back soon as time allows.  I do still pop in and out to visit you - thought I admit to rarely leaving comments, shame on me :o(

Best wishes to all you lovely folk out there.

x x x

Oh! just thought of a quick P.S.
(Than will probably make you smile)

I love runner beans and I always manage to get some in the garden. This year I've been overrun with the dreaded slugs, and as you know I would NEVER use slug pellets, and the little buggers had a go at my beans.  I had read that coffee grounds are a good deterrent, so when I saw some on offer at McDonalds for a £2 charity donation I snapped them up.  However, when I saw that the bag of grounds was HUGE (around 20 pounds in weight!) I wondered if I'd done the right thing.  
As soon as I unloaded them from the car I put a good, thick layer around the beans thinking that'd sort 'em out.  Little did I know that the caffeine woke the little buggers up and instead of just having a quick munch during the hours of darkness they were at it all day.  By the next morning all I had left was one solitary flower! :o(  It's the first year I haven't had the delights of home grown beans as I pit the remaining stems and roots into the compost heap.  Take that as a lesson folks!
Anyone out there know of a good use for coffee grounds?**

**Thanks to Vintage Jane here's a good link - just don't believe the bit about slugs ;)