Friday, March 30, 2012

Babyboomers Lament!

I 'snook' away to movies on Monday when I finished training earlier than expected - I like to think of that as a 'time gift'.The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel was on a Walmer Park and I wanted to see it in case it gets whipped off after a week. The movie follows a group of British retirees who decide to "outsource" their retirement to less expensive and seemingly exotic India. Enticed by advertisements for the newly restored Marigold Hotel and bolstered with visions of a life of leisure, they arrive to find the palace a shell of its former self. Though the new environment is less luxurious than imagined, they are forever transformed by their shared experiences, discovering that life and love can begin again at any age when you reconcile and let go of expectations. It stars some of Britain's great actors including Maggie Smith, Judy Dench, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson and more. Its really funny with one liners including "When I want you to offer your opinion, I will give it to you." (from domineering wife to henpecked husband) and has had mixed reviews from the more serious critics - but really we don't always want a cinema masterpiece, sometimes we just want to laugh! I can assure you that you will laugh out loud but I found it sad too. Sad because it really speaks about growing old in this century where nothing is assured, nothing can be planned and circumstances change by the day!
It made me think that none of us who were born in the fifties are actually living the future that we envisaged and it would have been impossible to prepare for our increasing life expectancy, cope with a recession that is beyond our control and manage our finances so that we can actually maintain the standard of living that the Baby boomers have raised the bar to!
"Babyboomers" is the term people born into the late forties and fifties are labelled with because we were born into a world full of optimism (after the wars) and opportunity. Women gained equality and the term DINKY was coined - Double Income No Kids Yet! Babyboomers have contributed much to the world of consumerism and in their prime and actively bought cars, homes, holidays and luxury goods injecting much wealth into industry. Now they are reaching pension age, they are now considered a problem and a burden to society! One medical aid company described them at a presentation I attended as a huge brick travelling through the body of a snake. So once we were an asset to society - we are now being blamed for putting a strain on pension and insurance schemes. Sadly its our children who are paying the cost by having to subsidise income and medical costs when governments fail to.

So I will leave you with this thought - Are these not the people who made Britain (and other countries) great? Are these not the people who fed the same pension and insurance companies with regular contributions (obviously to buy bricks for all those huge offices blocks they are fond of building)? Is this the generation that made car makers and banks prosper by their hard work and ambition to drive their own vehicles and own their own homes? Food for thought and if anyone has a solution out there - Please make a movie about it!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Mid Week Make!

I have finished my cushion! I know its a year after the event but at least I finished it. I bought this fabric when in the UK last year. It was especially made for the Royal wedding and my niece and I spotted it in a little craft shop in Chippenham, Wiltshire. We both bought a piece with no idea what we were going to use it for. Janice went home and within a week had sewn her piece into a long sausage to make a draught excluder. I couldn't bear to see mine on the floor so I decided on a cushion. It was only when I was looking for a cross stitch kit to celebrate the Queens Diamond Jubilee that I came across this pattern. I had the fabric and threads and it was pretty easy to do so "Hey Presto". Ha Ha - I just know my family will be fighting over this heirloom when I am on that big throne in the sky!!!
I am unashamedly a Royalist - I stitched a sampler for the Queens Golden Jubilee and I shall enjoy stitching the one I ordered to honour her Diamond Jubilee from here. After all,  Queen Elizabeth and I go a long way back -Perhaps its because I was born the year of her coronation, maybe it was the solemn promise I took as an 8 year old Brownie to "Promise to do my best to serve God and the Queen!"
Anyway Happy anniversary Kate and William - I shall enjoy a glass of bubbly and my cushion!

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Secrets of a Good Night's Szzzleep!

I love to read The International Express. By the time it comes out the news is old but the quality of writing about it is excellent as are the articles! I love one by a 95year old journalist, writing under the name of Beachcomber, who seems to have an eccentric obsession with surveys and stats. His, or it could be, Her articles make me laugh out loud!

This week they had a lovely little snippet on sleep. I quote, "the key to a perfect nights sleep is going to bed before 10pm, wearing pyjamas and enjoying a cup of tea before hand." That's a triple failure for me!
"A survey of 2000 adults who are enjoying undisturbed sleep every night of the week revealed that we should have 2 hours and 7 minutes rest in the afternoon after cooking, washing up and doing the chores!" Are these 2000 people surveyed, men I wonder? "The last food of the day should be eaten before 8.29pm and the last drink preferable a cup of the at 9.10pm." No chocolate in bed and no tot of whisky to send you on your way?
"After going to bed at 10pm in your pyjamas you should spend 20 minutes reading before settling down, says the survey!" The book thing I do already - but how to limit it to 20 minutes?And what about the crossword - when will I find time to do that? Apparently these are all unmarried men too! Would they drink tea before bed, read and then go to sleep? Pensioner perhaps?

I shall challenge myself to follow this regime and report back because I am missing my long nights of uninterrupted slumber. There was a time when my family used to say that I didn't go to sleep at night - I die.  I used to sleep like a log! I once went through to the kitchen to find a strange guy asleep on our couch in the lounge. After hurrying back for my dressing gown - I was told by my son that it was an acquaintance of his whose transport had broken down, and he offered him a bed for the night. He had phoned his parents from the phone next to my bed! I was oblivious - fast asleep - in dreamland. These were the days when I fell asleep on my hot water bottle and woke up with a blister on my wrist - a really bad burn - I felt nothing!
Dreamland seems to be an exclusive and expensive vacation these days so perhaps the price of new pyjamas, a cup of tea and a book is worth it. I will let you know. Perhaps sugar in my tea will produce "Sweet Dreams"!
Do you have any remedies to share with me?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

In Praise of Pie!

I bet you didn't know that this is National Pie Week in The UK - if you don't believe that pies are a national treasure, then read about it here. They even have a 2012 Pub Pie Champion – Fancy putting that on your CV! there is even a FB page dedicated to pie love!
I like pie! My family love pie and when my kids know that I am making a steak and kidney pie they are prone to drop in an scoff the lot! It is the most delicious pie in the world - no humble pie in this house!
I grew up in St Helens and Pimblets' Meat and Potato pie was a lunch time staple, and there were occasions when they employed a man to control the crowd queueing outside. Mr Pimblet must have put something addictive in that pie because when they were baking and the aroma wafted over the town, your feet (and taste buds), were drawn towards the bakery and before you knew it you had eaten two!
My Nan Westwell bought Pimblet's pies for all the family the day she died and delivered them courtesy of her bus pass - she then died on the bus with her two nestled safely in her shopping bag together with a custard slice. At 79 years of age, one of my regrets at losing her was that she died before eating her meat and 'tator!
She was a pie baker of note, her pastry melted in the mouth and her apple pie is still spoken about in reverent terms at family gatherings.
I lived in Wigan for two years where the population are known as pie eaters.
There are, of course, lots of pie jokes. Like what do you call three pies on a stick? Answer, a Wigan kebab. "What time is it when there's a meat pie on Wigan town hall clock? Answer: "Something to eet?" - of course to get that one you would have to know the Wigan accent eight being pronounced as "eet." (Sadly I am laughing as I type this). They love their pies there so much that people travel form all over the world to enter the World Pie Eating Contest here .
Here in the Eastern Cape, I reckon there are a few pie eaters too - judging by the ever full car park at Nanaga Farm Stall. We all love thier lamb and mint pies and they have a frozen range so you can take them home. I have travelled many times to the Grahamston Festival with a bag of pies bought on the way, kept warm with my beannie over them as a 'pie cosy'. Hmm - Do you think I may have stumbled across a best selling idea for Wigan-ers???
So yes - I will be baking a pie this week - old habits die hard. In honour of the humble pie - I do think we should make an effort - enjoy yours!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Horse Memorial

I will be making a special visit tomorrow but I am not sure what to take with me to show my gratitude  -  a big bunch of flowers or a bale of hay. I am going to the horse memorial and my trip is prompted by the film 'War Horse' that I watched on Friday evening. The film itself is a syrupy tale of the relationship between a young Devon lad and his horse - think Lassie but with horses. Steven Spielberg's sentimentality is perhaps a product of aging, but the film for me had a deeper message, it shows the horror of war and the sacrifice that a country made in order to fight for freedom - my freedom - and yours and defenceless horses were part of that fight!
Several years ago I visited Edinburgh Castle and was astonished to see a photograph of our PE Horse Memorial in one of the rooms. I didn't realise that it is one of the very few memorials to horses that have fallen in battle and so I had been driving along Cape Road for years, without an ounce of interest, or knowing that this monument was in fact very special. I think that shows that the reputation of being 'the friendly city'  has its foundations in people like Mrs Harriet Meyer, who was responsible for lobbying to get it erected.  I should imagine in 1901 the powers that be took little notice in woman and that Harriet must have campaigned passionately for its erection. You can read more about the memorial here. The film is well worth seeing and shows the conditions that horses served under - take your tissues!
The film also made me think of my own grandfather Thomas Westwell, a dashing soldier who was in the Cavalry, and died of his injuries at the young age of 29 after being wounded in the First World War. How brave he must have been and how much we take for granted in our modern day life.
As the mother of sons, I am so relieved that I have not had to see mine go away to fight with the possibility of them never returning (the average age of those who fought in the First World War was 24 - it was the deadliest of conflicts with 15 million deaths and 20 million wounded)
We may moan about our 'battle' with inflation and our 'struggles' in life  but surely our sacrifice is nothing compared with what generations have had to contend with.
So tomorrow I will leave my tribute at the Horse Memorial....lest we forget.
I will also remember to be grateful for my peaceful life!

THE GREATNESS OF A NATION CONSISTS NOT SO MUCH UPON THE NUMBER OF ITS PEOPLE
OR THE EXTENT OF ITS TERRITORY
AS IN THE EXTENT AND JUSTICE OF ITS COMPASSION

ERECTED BY PUBLIC SUBSCRIPTION
IN RECOGNITION OF THE SERVICES OF THE GALLANT ANIMALS
WHICH PERISHED IN THE ANGLO BOER WAR 1899-1902