Long Forgotten Songs and VE Celebrations

VE Day Celebrations 

With today’s problems, people are celebrating in a quiet way.  How about playing some wartime songs to get you in the mood for celebrating this momentous event.

Do you know what your parents’ favourite wartime song was? If you do, why not add the title in a comment and maybe the link to a recording on You Tube.

My mum and dad loved the song ‘Yours’ by Vera Lynn.

They also loved an earlier song called ‘A street in Old Seville’.

You can read about my mum’s experiences from 1918 to 2002 in her autobiography ‘The Road from Wigan Pier’. Her experiences were sometimes heart-rending but sometimes hilarious.

Get it here: Autobiography

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A Rewrite of the Lyrics ‘From a Distance’


Self-isolating, I was moved to rewrite the words to the song ‘From a Distance’.

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Beat Isolation Boredom With the Wildlife Trust’s Live Cams

Although I’m self isolating and have been since 10th March, I’m lucky enough to have both a front and a back garden. They are only small, but they give my husband and I the opportunity to take in some fresh air.

Others self isolating, maybe living in flats or apartments, don’t have gardens to sit in. I’ve just discovered that The Wildlife Trust has gone some way to bring nature into the home of those who cannot get out in the country. They’ve got some great web cameras situated around the country so you can see wildlife. Here’s one showing nesting ospreys. Enjoy!

#NestingOspreys #WildlifeTrust #WatchNestingBirds #BeatTheBoredom


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Thrifty Tips Go Viral

In these troubled times where incomes are not guaranteed, most of us need to start considering how we’re going to eke out what we already have. It’s certainly a time to start thinking how we can cut back, especially if you’ve never had to before.

I’m no authority on this subject, but I do have many years of personal experience.  Over thirty years ago, when my sons were teenagers and still at home, my husband, aged forty-three had a severe heart attack. At the time, I was studying for a degree as I was hoping to establish a career for myself after many years of child raising. The consultant told my husband he should not work again, and as he couldn’t walk more than a few steps without pain, I willingly gave up college to assist him.

Six whole weeks went by before we received any state benefits. That was a difficult time as you can imagine. I sincerely hope those dependent on the state due to this self isolation won’t have to wait so long.

That first week, I cancelled every home service I was allowed to. In those days we had our milk and newspapers delivered, so they were the first to go. Next I had to tell the window cleaner his services were no longer required. Then I examined my endowment insurance policy and saw I could cancel that. It paid us a small amount of cash back, but there would have been a much better pay out if we could have left it until it matured.

Everything we could let go of, we cancelled. Luckily, the car we had on monthly payments was covered by insurance, so we no longer had to find the money for that. Our mortgage was our biggest worry, so I wrote to our lender asking if something could be done. We were paying 14% interest on the mortgage at that time. Unfortunately, they weren’t very helpful and we were still liable for the full payment. To cut a long story short, we found ways of cutting back and managed to still pay everything we were required to.

This was more than thirty years ago and since I’ve been the primary carer for our children, my husband, and both sets of our parents, I don’t even have my own pension. Instead, the state take £77 from my husbands state pension and pay it in my name. So you see, I’ve always had to stick to a tight budget. Now, I feel the lessons I’ve learned and the tips others may give, may help others at this critical time.

I intend this blog to have a go-to list of helpful hints and suggestions to help the reader better manage the resources they have. If you have any posts about money saving tips, recipes, make do and mend ideas, or anything else which could be useful to those struggling, please drop the link in a comment and I’ll add it here. Every little bit helps when you’re on a tight budget. Thank you!

Tip 1

This isn’t the time to bury your head in the sand and pretend it isn’t happening. Aim to limit the financial damage straight away. Start by examining all your entertainment, contracts and see if it’s worth cancelling them. Obviously, don’t cancel if the cancellation fee is more than you’ll save by not paying the remaining installments.

Tip 2

Look at your phone contracts. During this pandemic while you’re stuck at home, do your family members all need their individual mobile phones to keep in contact with each other? If you have a landline, that may suffice for keeping in touch with others. However, If your mobile phone is your ONLY link to the internet, then keep one contract, otherwise, opt for a pay-as-you-go voucher instead of contract if you can. Again, ensure the cancellation fee is not more than the remaining contract payments. If it’s still necessary for other family members to keep their own phones and you can afford it, get a minimum pay-as-you-go voucher for them and persuade them to limit their calls to make it last.

Tip 3

Check with your power supply providers that you’re on the lowest tariff for gas and electricity. Often, if you have separate power providers for gas and electric, you can get a better deal by having one supplier provide both gas and electric.

Tip 4

Hopefully, you will have enough food already in to keep you going for a short while but, if not, seek out any Food Banks or Community Food Initiatives in your area. Don’t be too proud to do this. They have been set up to help people in unforeseen situations like this. You won’t be the only one in your area looking for outside help. Continuing to get nourishment  can help you remain healthy.

Tip 5

If you smoke, now is the perfect time to give it up. What would be the point of foregoing food on the table or missing important payments for a few packets of cigarettes? yes, it will be hard, but think how much better off you’ll be when things get back to normal.

Tip 5

The occasional drink is alright, but consider how much you usually drink. Are you usually a pub drinker? How much would you usually spend a week on drinking? Now is the perfect time to consider your spending habits. Resolve to not buy any more alcohol, at least, until your income improves.

Tip 6

Those trips to the hairdresser and beauty salon will have to be curtailed if you are going to survive living on state benefits for a time. Don’t worry, they can be resumed once your income is back to normal again. The treatments would be wasted anyway if no-one can see you while you’re stuck at home.

Tip 7

Put a temporary hold on newspaper deliveries, window cleaners, laundry, and gardening services. You have the time to do most jobs yourself now so why pay others money you can’t really spare to do it for you.

Tip 8

Don’t waste any food. If you’re used to having a fully stocked fridge and larder, you may think you have nothing in to make a meal, but we can all make our food go further. For example, most people cut off the thick broccoli stalk and throw it away, serving only the little broccoli florets. Don’t throw the stalk away; chop it up and freeze it for later. You can add it to stews and soups or even serve the chopped pieces with the florets to make it go further. If you think your veg isn’t going to get used before it goes off, chop it up and freeze it. Carrots, parsnips, swede, cauliflower, broccoli, onions, and peppers can all be rescued.

Here’s one end-of-the-week recipe I used to do when my 3 sons were at home and the cupboard was almost bare. It can be eaten hot or cold, and can be frozen.

Cheese and Onion Quiche

8 oz Flour

4 oz Margerine

2 eggs

1 Large onion

half a pint of milk

3  to  4 oz cheddar cheese


  1. Using the fingertip method, rub the margarine into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Slowly add a few drops of water to the mixture while stirring, keep adding a few drops until it all holds together in one mass. Roll it out on a floured board.
  2. Switch oven on at 170 degrees Centigrade (adjust for fan oven). Grease a 9 to 10 inch flan dish (23cm to 25.5cm) and line the flan dish with the pastry.
  3. Dice the onion and fry gently in a knob of butter on a low heat until the onion is soft but NOT browned. Put the softened onions on top of the pastry in a level layer.
  4. Grate the cheese. Heat the milk, but don’t let it reach boiling point.  Whisk the eggs a little and add to the hot milk. Add most of the cheese to the milk mixture leaving about a quarter of the cheese for scattering on the top of the dish. Season the mix with salt, pepper, and paprika (or cayenne pepper) if you have it. (Alternatively use Season All which is paprika, salt and pepper already mixed.) Pour the milk mixture on top of the onions in the flan.
  5. Scatter the remaining cheese on top of the quiche and sprinkle a little more paprika (or Season All) on top. Bake in the oven for 40 – 45 minutes. Enjoy!


If you prefer, for a firmer pasty base, bake the pastry in the flan blind for 5 – 10 minutes. That means weigh the pastry down with a smaller flan dish of something similar while baking for a few minutes before adding the milk mixture.

If you have cooked ham or bacon pieces you can also add this to the milk mix for an extra tasty dish. Alternatively, choose your own fillings.


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A Valentine’s Day Poem

Today is Valentine’s Day so here’s a little poem to celebrate it.

Not everybody is naturally romantic. Yet, relationships can be loving and fulfilling regardless of that fact. Don’t confuse romance with real love.

Despite not being particularly romantic in the way of bringing flowers etc,. my husband of 54 years shows his love in a million other ways. He’s always here, calls me his best friend, keeps me supplied with coffee, tea, breakfast, and lunch, looks after the garden, and considers me in everything he does. In return, I keep the house and all the gadgets in it clean, wash and iron our clothes, make our evening meal, and also help out in the garden. That’s the type of love I wouldn’t swap for anything.

What is your ideal type of love? Describe it in a comment below.


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See what youngsters in my local community get up to. I’m proud of you!


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A Rare Discount On My Books

The Kindle Countdown Deal begins 15th November.

Grab your copy at a substantial knock-down price.

Although I won’t offer my books free, my books will be discounted for a few days on a Kindle Countdown Deal. It is two years since these books were offered at a discount price, so a deal on them is quite rare. If you want to read them, I would advise you take advantage of this rare bargain price.
If you’re waiting for them to be offered free, you’ll probably wait forever. The reasons I won’t give away my books are mainly listed in the image below, but, added to those is the fact that free books devalue the time and effort writers put into their work. For more on this subject see my previous post ‘Why My Books Are Never Free. 
So what are you waiting for? The reduced price only last a few days. Grab one, or even both of them, right now!
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Why My Books are Never Free!

Recently, I received a message on social media from a cheeky individual asking me how much I’d pay her to read one of my books. Really? Would this same person approach a shopkeeper and ask him how much he’d pay her to take away his goods? Sounds ridiculous when put like that, doesn’t it?

Needless to say, I was shocked by this particular message. Has the writing game become so cut-throat now that some authors are actually paying people to read their books and bookworms are expecting payment for reading them? Oh wait! Yes, it has!

There are some authors out there who will pay for reviews. So, it looks like this particular opportunist was just taking advantage of that fact. I, for one, would never pay for reviews, and this little episode has just convinced me of the full consequences of their actions.  Writing has become devalued, I think.

Genuine readers can no longer trust the reviews attached to books and authors, like me, who have spent about 2,000 hours writing, editing, and publishing a single book, get comments like the above.

It’s enough to make one give up. Instead, I’m having a Kindle Countdown Deal on my books, starting 15th November. I do hope some of you will support my book adverts if you see them. Thank you!

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The Mystery of Missing People

Karen J Mossman writes an interesting article about missing people and how their stories have inspired her to write fiction based on the same theme.

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Who Would Want to Teach a Child This Nursery Rhyme?

When my youngest son was two, he could recite every nursery rhyme I knew. So, I visited my local library to find some new ones I could teach him. Although I did find a few more that were suitable, my hubby and I couldn’t stop laughing when we read the one below.

I put my finger in the woodpecker’s hole,

And the woodpecker said, “God, bless my soul.

Take it out, TAKE IT OUT!”

Well, do you think it’s suitable for a child, or is it just a reflection of how our minds work? Since it’s been turned into different versions of songs which can be found on Google, I don’t think it’s just us.

Funnily enough, by the time my son was 12 , he could hardly remember any of the nursery rhymes I taught him. Maybe he was too young.



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How Observant Are You?

I’m not very observant! How do I know this? It was brought home to me one day, many moons ago, while out shopping on my own.

Minding my own business walking to the next shop I wanted to visit in the high street of a busy town, a lady with a clip-board and pen blocked my progress and spoke to me.

“Tell me everything you’ve just seen and what you think just happened,” she said, her pen poised ready to record my answers.

“Pardon?” I was stopped in my tracks and taken aback by this interruption out of the blue. “What do you mean?” I was now on my guard as I didn’t know what was happening and why this strange woman was asking me these odd questions. My mind was occupied by the items I’d just seen and the possibility I might find a better match to my requirements in the next store.

Raising a well-defined arched eyebrow, she continued, “You must have seen the man in a mask running out of that shop and heading off down the street.” She gave me a quizzical, unbelieving look as she pointed in the direction the man had taken.

I didn’t have a clue what she was going on about, but she went on to explain they were staging a robbery to test how observant passers-by were. I’m afraid I failed miserably. I never even saw the man, nor heard the shocked gasps of other shoppers who had seen him. I just stood there feeling such a fool.

It did teach me a lesson though and I’m much more aware of my surroundings nowadays when I’m out and about. This was in the days before mobile phones. Now people are texting while out and about, I wonder how  many of them would actually see an incident happening around them.

Have you ever missed something you should have seen? Tell me about it.



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Finding the Holy Grail of writing

Yes, we all have the same problem. In my case, hubby is home 24/7 with me and wants my company. he really doesn’t like me going into a different room with the laptop, but being in the same room, the lounge, means the TV is usually on. I have trouble now getting in the writing zone.

Ramblings from a Writer's Mind

41530671_446651229159319_7854224569849085952_n - CopyMany, if not all authors know writing is never straight forward; I am not talking about the technical aspects or grammar, but about finding the time to write when your mind is focused, when it is in the ‘zone’ for ‘that part’ of your story.

The Holy Grail of writing is when your thought processes are at a peak and you have the time, the undisturbed, uninterrupted time, to transcribe your contemplations cohesively into your manuscript.

Finding this Holy Grail has been an elusive search for me over the last year or so, regarding the novel I am currently working on.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not speaking of writer’s block, that is something I do not suffer. It is also nothing to do with finding the time; I have written and published three books in the past year and I am working on three more as I write…

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Will My Determination Pay Off?

As an author, the million dollar question is how do you get more people to read your books without giving them away free.

I’ve read about some authors who spend tens of thousands of pounds promoting their book, and I’m pretty sure it must glean some sales for them. For me, however, that’s an impossible dream. I don’t have the means for paid promotions and here’s why.

I was a full-time, stay-at-home mum until my children were in their teens. My parents and my parental-in-laws worked, so if I wanted a job there was no alternative, I had to pay for childcare. I did try going out to work a couple of times to supplement what my husband brought home, but childcare expenses took three quarters of my take-home pay. Yes, that’s correct. I was left with less than a quarter of my net pay by the time I’d paid my travel expenses.

When my youngest was thirteen and I was forty, I thought it was the ideal opportunity to increase our financial stability. I decided to attend college and aim for the qualifications I should have acquired at school. Although I’d won a scholarship at the age of thirteen and attended a grammar school, I’d hated it and left before taking the final exams.

So, there I was in my forties, having passed the qualifications I needed for the social studies university degree I was just starting. Life never turns out as you expect, though, and just as I was embarking on this heady ambition, the health of both my parents was deteriorating.

At first, whilst studying, I began caring for them on a small scale, like doing their shopping and cleaning their home once a week. I had almost completed the first year of my degree and was loving it when I accidentally left all my notes in the library. When I went back for them, they’d gone and nobody had seen them. This left me devastated as I’d put in a lot of work over that year. I was wondering how I’d revise for my end of year exams without them. That’s when life dealt an even bigger, life-changing blow. A couple of days later, my husband suffered a serious heart attack which left him unable to walk even a few steps, he couldn’t even make it to the front gate.

Now we were in financial trouble! Unwilling to leave my husband unattended for fear of another heart attack, I gave up my studies to care for him. That was a frightening time. On top of worrying about his health, we were also concerned we had no income coming in. It was six long weeks before my husband received his first sickness benefit payment. He’d been a self-employed taxi driver so couldn’t claim anything from an employer. We did get some back pay too but, as they pay in arrears, we were still missing a couple of weeks payment. Re-assessing the necessities of life meant we were just about able to manage on this reduced income. Luckily, we had no debts apart from the mortgage and car, and the car was covered by insurance so that was a blessing.

The consultant told my husband to do nothing, just sit in his chair. He said if he gave up smoking he may live up to another ten years. As he was only forty-three at the time, this was shocking news for us. He threw away his cigarettes that day and never smoked again. He was determined to prove them wrong so he started to walk a few steps. Little by little, he increased the distance he walked, trying a few yards further each day. Soon he was going outside with the dog, and each day he’d aim for another lamp post, a bit further on. He still got angina, but would stop, wait until it subsided, then start walking again.

Just as he was managing to cope with his illness, we had some bad news. My husband’s mother, confined to a wheelchair because she suffered with rheumatoid arthritis, rang us. Her partner had gone to hospital with a severe nose-bleed and they’d kept him in. She was alone in her bungalow with no-one to care for her. My husband was her only child so we began caring for her. Sadly, within a few weeks, we had to give her the news her partner had died in hospital. He’d developed cancer and had ignored the symptoms. Within six weeks she too had died. She’d had an appointment to see about a blood clot in her thigh, but the hospital had re-scheduled the appointment for a later date. It was too late.

In time, my parents needed more care, so we began giving them more attention in their own home. After we’d been caring for them over twenty years and they were in their middle nineties, it became too difficult for us to carry on looking after them like that. They both went together into a nursing home where they eventually died within a few months of each other in 2012.

By this time, I was aged sixty-six, too old to re-plan the career I’d set my heart on. I did have another dream though. I resumed writing stories, something I’d done in my twenties when our boys were small. So far, I’ve written and published two thrillers and helped my mum with her autobiography. I’d encouraged her to write it while looking after her, then put her notes together into book form and edited it. I also added lots of referenced family history end-notes in the back pages before publishing it. Now, my one regret is that I don’t have the income to promote the books like some other authors do.

So what can I do to help sell more of my books?

I already spend several hours each day on social media co-promoting with other authors and building a fan base as I have with my website, but sales are slow. I guess I’ll just have to lower my expectations unless you can suggest other free ways of getting my books out there without giving them away free. After spending my life doing unpaid ‘work’, it’s about time I was paid for my work, don’t you think?

By the way, hubby’s determination paid off. It’s over 30 years since his heart attack. He still needs a four-way bypass,  but surgeons won’t do it as he has a completely blocked carotid artery making surgery too risky. Looking at him, you’d think he was fine. He copes really well and is enjoying life to the full. It just shows what determination can do. Now, if I can just apply that determination to my book sale efforts, maybe things will work out.

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Guest Post; Grant Leishman

Here is a fellow author’s thoughts on what he misses most about New Zealand now he’s an ex-pat.

So where's the snow?


Grant  (here with his wife, Thess)  As an fellow ex-pat, I was interested to hear about his new life. The booky links are at the bottom for his work!

Do you miss New Zealand? If so what in particular?

Perhaps I should feel guilty, but the truth is I don’t miss a lot about New Zealand at all, except for people, especially my son, who I haven’t seen now for over eight years. Excitingly, though, he is scheduled to come here next February, so we’re all hyped up about that. I remember before I came here, sitting in my lounge in Gore, in a freezing, winter southerly and saying to my son; “what person in their right mind would choose to live in a freezing, god-forsaken, hell-hole of a place, like this?” From time to time, when the temperature becomes too hot for me here, I wistfully long for one…

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An actual account of life in Wigan at the time of George Orwell’s study!




During the Great Depression, in the same 1936 year George Orwell was conducting his social study in Wigan, Lancashire,  Elizabeth, just 18, discovered she was pregnant. She was an unmarried, only child, and this unfortunate news came after a traumatic few years when she’d lost all her close family members apart from her mum. Elizabeth’s situation was exacerbated by the fact her mum, Ellen, had also been ill for several years. Ellen was suffering severe breathing problems due to inhaling in the fibres prevalent in the Lancashire cotton mill where she worked.


Knowing she would die prematurely due to her poor health, Elizabeth’s mum dearly hoped her daughter would marry the young man from Liverpool she’d been courting, especially now she was with child.  Fulfilling her request, Elizabeth and her young man, George Smith, from Liverpool, married right away. After their marriage, Elizabeth moved to Liverpool where her husband had found them lodgings. At last, she felt protected, less vulnerable should the worst happen to her mum.

She didn’t feel bad about leaving her mum in Wigan because she was not on her own. Her mum had taken in George’s family as lodgers a few years earlier when, due to the economic depression, George’s father had found difficulty obtaining work in Liverpool. He soon found a job in Wigan, and his wife and three other teenagers got on so well with Elizabeth’s mum, they all became really good friends.

Life seemed settled for both Elizabeth and her mum until just two short years later, a few weeks after Elizabeth’s twentieth birthday, her mum finally lost her battle for life. As if that tragedy wasn’t enough, eighteen months later, Elizabeth’s young husband, George, had to leave her when WW2 was declared. Now, she was totally alone except for her young child, in a strange, war-threatened city . She’d never felt so utterly bereft.

From her own autobiography, see how she fares in the war torn city of Liverpool on her own. Rooted in tragic events, her story also has lots of humour. Told in her own words, you’ll marvel at how her soldier husband got lodgings for her as he was stationed in various places around the country. Her experiences with the various landladies wasn’t always pleasant, but a wonderful family in Cambridgeshire became her surrogate family for a while. So much so, she stayed on with them while her husband moved elsewhere. She even put her young son in school there and found a job for herself. Those were brilliant times and you’ll laugh at her exploits in the jam factory where she had some memorable moments.

She was just an ordinary woman living in extra-ordinary times. A true-life story with a tragic start, yet it becomes rib-tickling funny in places. Why not give this autobiography a try?

For family historians with Lancashire ancestors, why not delve into this today? There are several back pages of referenced end-notes with linked family trees and many Lancashire surnames. GET YOUR COPY NOW!


#Lancashire #FamilyHistory #autobiography

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Books I’ve Reviewed

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Those Dreaded Words – “You Need to Diet!”

“I’m on a diet”.  How often we hear these words spoken nowadays, yet as a nation we’re all becoming increasingly heavier.

Could we be the victims of faulty reasoning? When we hear the word “diet” we automatically think of all the things we can’t eat; cakes, biscuits, crisps, chocolate, ice cream, puddings, pastries and sauces, and our hearts sink.  Automatically, we are doomed to failure since it’s impossible to keep depriving ourselves forever from the things we love to eat.

Most of us have been on a diet more than once.  We start our new regime enthusiastically enough; proudly refusing to eat all of the above during the first couple of weeks when our weight loss is at its highest peak.  Just a few short weeks or months down the line, however, when the rate we lose weight seems to slow right down or even stop, we’re ready to give in when tempted by the foods we love but know we shouldn’t eat.

No wonder we fail! Gradually we slip back into eating these foods from “Just one won’t hurt me” to eating them on a daily basis. Yet, maybe it’s our perception of “diet” that’s causing our failure to lose weight. “Diet” used to generally mean the sum total of what an individual generally ate.  It did not relate to foods an individual was banned from eating, only to those foods available to an individual owing to geographical and social constraints.  Everybody has a diet, not only those who wish to lose weight.


If we were to abandon this negativity and spend our time more positively; striving to eat more of the healthier foods, we would probably find ourselves gradually losing weight anyway. Packing in the recommended daily minimum of five portions of fruit and vegetables can be quite filling, even more so now it’s been upped to seven portions. Add to this eating more nuts, seeds, whole grains and pulses and we’d soon find our appetites fully satisfied, especially when we realize there’s no maximum recommendation. We can eat as much as we want of these types of food and it’s good for us.  Stop buying specially prepared diet meals and seek out the huge variety of exotic fruits and vegetables displayed in supermarkets nowadays. Prepare more of your own meals and be inventive when cooking. Try alternative methods of cooking that use less fat, or fruit instead of sugar. Bake with whole wheat flour and sugar substitutes incorporating lots of fruit.

Once our mentality changes from “can’t have” to “must eat more of ….” The urges will lessen, especially once we’ve told ourselves no foods are forbidden.  Yes, we can have the odd piece of chocolate or whatever we fancy, just make it a small portion only once in a while of foods high in calories.  When we know we can have it whenever we want it, we stop needing it so urgently.  We may even find with our new healthier eating habits, the urges for unhealthy stuff diminishes. Wouldn’t that be great!

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A Cautionary Tale – Should Children have more Freedom?

Looking through my family photographs set me thinking about the differences between my childhood, many years ago, and the play experiences of children today.


When I was young, in the 1950s, there was far more freedom for children. Many women still had the jobs they’d taken on during the second world war when there was a shortage of men, so they were not stay-at-home mums. The term latchkey children was in common use then, and I was one of those children.

At the age of five when I first started school, I wore our front door key around my neck, so I could let myself in the house when school finished.  My brother, older by two years, was supposed to watch out for me, but often got distracted by his friends wanting to play with marbles. At that young age, I often made my own way home, including crossing a busy road which was one of the main arteries from the city centre to the outskirts. Apart from dodging the traffic, you also had to be careful you didn’t trip on the tram lines. For trams were the mode of public transport in those days.

Some schools provided after school clubs and my brother and I enrolled in one that wasn’t too far away. Usually, quite a few activities were held at the same time and you could just join in a game or leave at any time. One day, I made a ‘plaster plaque of a country cottage and painted it with the paints provided.  At other times I played draughts, chess, or hoopla. Then there were the team games held in the large assembly hall. You know the type of game I mean, the one where everyone stands in a line and passes a large ball between their legs. When it reaches the last child, they run to the front of the line. The first team to finish is the winner.

They even held a film show on Fridays. You had to sit on the floor as no chairs were provided, but we didn’t mind. I experienced my first kiss from a boy at the film show. We were only about six and, after he’d kissed me, I wiped my lips with the back of my hand. I’m not sure I liked it then.

During school holidays, we were left to our own devices for most of the day as both my mum and dad worked full-time. The days were long but, somehow, we managed to occupy ourselves.

Often we took a bottle of water to the park with some jam sandwiches. We called them ‘corporation pop’ and ‘jam butties’. We made them ourselves as we were quite independent. We’d spend all day there, playing games. Sometimes we’d watch people rowing the boats they hired, or stare in amazement at the fish some men managed to catch in the lake. After that we’d head to the smaller lake and watch the men controlling perfect model boats by remote controls. Our public parks in Liverpool were really fantastic then.

Street games were hugely popular in those days. Girls often played alone with two balls against a wall, or in a group using a skipping rope, chanting as they skipped.

Another street game was a type of hide and seek but, Instead of finding a place to hide, the person hiding could move about evading the seeker. You weren’t confined to one street, either, but could use several streets. This game did last for hours sometimes. We called it Alalleyo, but other areas had  different names for it and often had slightly different variations on the rules.

One advantage of the freedom was that we learned early on to share, to fit in, and to respect others. Children who spend a great deal of their time indoors on computer games are often late in learning these social skills. However, we also faced danger.

On more than one occasion I found myself in risky situations. Sometimes they were my own doing, but at other times It was someone else who posed the threat.

One time I was walking on top of a high circular wall surrounding a monument. There was a circular bench around most of the inner curve and we could stand on that and climb onto the top of the wall. As I walked around the top I noticed half of the curve overhung the River Mersey, but I fearlessly carried on my balancing act all the way around it. When I think of it now and how I could have easily toppled into the water, I feel quite sick.

On a couple of occasions when I was still quite young, I stumbled into the vicinity of unsavoury men. One ran a printing shop and some children dared me to ask if he had any paper off-cuts for drawing on. I had no idea he had a reputation with children. When I entered the shop, I did notice a poster with the letters of the alphabet all formed with nude figures. As soon as I saw it, I legged it out of the shop without asking for the paper.

Another time, I was in the park with my friend. It wasn’t a park for swings and slides, but rather a horticultural park, with a boating lake and a fishing lake. A huge drive ran all around it. We were near the drive on our way home when a car stopped near us. Winding down his window, the driver called us over. Hesitantly,  we went a few steps closer but, as we neared, he opened an x-rated magazine, pointed to an indecent, nude picture of a woman and told us he was looking for her. Of course we turned and ran away as fast as could. Thankfully, he didn’t follow.

The third incident I encountered was far more dangerous. When I was aged nine, I was walking home from the swimming baths with a friend. It was winter and the daylight had faded in the late afternoon when we left the baths. A shortcut, through a small parcel of wasteland always shortened our journey. Houses had formerly stood on that plot, but they’d been bombed down a few years earlier. The explosions had reduced the ground to rubble, broken glass, and bits of roof slate, but over time, grass had struggled to intermingle with the wreckage. Suddenly, we were thrown to the ground by two young men aged about eighteen or nineteen. The one sitting on me and pinning me down, held a knife to my throat. I had no idea what he intended, but I had a strong feeling it was wrong. He was demanding I remove my knickers. Although I couldn’t see because of the dim light and the position I was in, I knew the same thing was happening to my friend as I could hear her pleading with the other man to get off her.

Out of the gloom, not too far away, I could see another figure approaching us. Although I didn’t believe it and was just playing for time, I told our attackers it was my dad who had come looking for us. Miraculously, as the figure drew closer, I saw it was my dad. I could hardly believe it. He did manage to grab one of our assailants and drag him to the park watchman’s hut, where he was held until the police came. My dad was advised to take me to our doctor’s surgery and I do remember going there. Amazingly, the doctor told my dad I hadn’t been touched. He advised him to take me home and tell me about the fact of life.

I have no idea what happened to the man who my dad caught, and as the incident was many years ago, I began to wonder if I’d remembered it accurately. More than fifty years after the event, I mentioned it to my dad, asking him if that really happened and he agreed it had.

So you see, I’m all for children being protected more nowadays. We do need to keep them safe. However, we need to find more creative ways to teach them the social skills needed for later life. Don’t you agree?



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A Great Compliment? No, it’s a Put-down


We always had great fun with our oldest granddaughter when she was little. Her mum went back to work when she was six months old and we looked after her two days a week from 7.30am until 5.30pm. We left our household chores on those days to spend the time playing with her and taking her out.

We thoroughly enjoyed our time spent with her and often played games such as ‘The farmer’s in his den’, using her doll, rabbit and teddy for the wife, child, and dog characters in the game. Sometimes, we’d dance around the dining table to the song ‘Hey, Mickey’.

As we were then in our sixties, she exhausted us, but it created some wonderful memories. I wouldn’t have wanted to miss those times for anything even though we were also caring for my elderly parents at the same time.

When she was 10-year-old, our granddaughter told her granddad he was ‘COOL’. As his chest was swelling with pride she qualified her statement by saying, “yes cool, Constipated – Overweight – Overrated – Loser”. It was instant deflation on his part. Good job it was only a joke! She has a great sense of humour.

We’re so pleased we spent time with her when she was so young. Sadly, our other grandchildren live too far away for us to have day to day contact with them.



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An Unusual Holiday Souvenir



Many years ago, when my children were small, I bought a chunk of land. It is land of great historical importance as it’s the land where William the Conqueror’s army first set foot on English soil. I say a chunk of land, when in fact I mean 100 square centimetres. No, don’t laugh! I own a plot of land 4″ x 4″ square and I have an overwhelming urge to put a plaque or flag on it.

It all began in 1981 when I was on a caravan holiday at Burnham-On-Sea, Somerset, with my husband and three sons. I was looking through a souvenir shop for something to take home as a reminder of the time we spent there, when I spotted it. They were selling a plot of land for only £1.00. Yes, One British pound!

At first, I didn’t know how big, or should I say tiny, the plot of land was but nevertheless, I was interested anyway.

This land was part of Anderita Park, very close to Pevensey Castle, in Sussex. The shopkeeper told me that the land had been split into tiny parcels and sold up and down the country, so no-one would know who owned the land. This meant it could never be built upon.

Well, I thought, so what if it’s not genuine? The paperwork was worth that amount of money and it was something different to show everyone at home. The documents are quite impressive. Despite the colourful official deeds, everyone laughs when I show them my souvenir. I’m thinking of getting it framed purely as a talking point.

What unusual things have you brought home from holiday? I’d love to know.


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