Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Winners and 5 True Things about Me.

This is a bit of a catch up post - a few things I've been meaning to do for a while.

First, Mrs Black, who has a lovely blog (check it out here) recently awarded me the Kreative Blogger Award. I was very honoured!

Recipients have to share 10 things which their readers may not have previously known about them. We also also have to recommend 10 blogs which are worthy of the Kreative Award.

I am going to pass on recommending blogs, because last time I won an award, I felt very bad about recommending a few blogs above others. After all, I only follow blogs I like, And so if you want to find my recommended blogs, look at my blog roll - I can recommend them all!.

But I can tell you ten things about me that you probably don't know. Not true ones admittedly. But well, if you insist on them being true, I can probably think of five things right this very minute. So here they are.

1. I want to go and see ex-PM John Major at a literary festival, but I may be out of town on that day. Bummer. I have always had a soft spot for Ol' Grey Man, the only human being alive who is known to have run away from the circus to become an accountant.

I might buy a ticket anyhow and try and get back in time.

2. I have been invited to Rotterdam, Holland, for the launch of the exhibition 'Louis Kahn - The Power of Architecture" Kahn is an interesting international architect . Not always comfortable, sometimes a little intimidating, he's probably best known for his fortress-like parliament building in Dacca, Bangladesh, but he has also done a lot of work for Yale. .

He was creative, original and noteworthy. But to my dismay, this invite also clashes with something else and I don't think I'll be able to reschedule, although I am going to try. Bummer No. 2 .

3. I went to 16 schools. My family moved around a lot .. Some schools I liked, some I didn't. One of the schools I liked the best was this one (link) , Kendrick School in Reading. Here's the school crest. It is the coat of arms of the 17th century founder, John Kendrick. Our school song was all about our Founders, (his wife was also keen on the idea of the school). I am sorry to say I made up a naughty version of the school song. This caught on among the other kids and I was both thrilled and horrified when so many people sang it in assembly one day, that you could clearly hear the words.

Arguably my first creative success, at the expense of poor John Kendrick, who was only trying to do the right thing by a load of ungrateful brats.

Another of my schools was Sullivan Upper School in Northern Ireland. The school crest had a motto in Irish, which I could neither read nor pronounce.
I am grateful that I had the chance to go to these and other good schools, even though they probably did more for me than I did for them. (By the way, I was NOT expelled from any of them - as a couple of commenters have assumed! On the whole they seemed quite pleased with me, although I think I must have been a handful).

4. I am feeling depressed at my lack of gardening skills. Two years ago I bought a "Harry Wheatcroft" rose and have nurtured it like a newborn lamb. But it doesn't seem happy, its leaves are going yellow, and it produces pale blooms, nothing like the beautiful stripes I was hoping for. This is what it should look like. But it doesn't.

5. Our first car was a Jowett Javelin,,known by everyone else as "a wonderful classic car."

Sure, they were wonderful in their day (1953) or so we were told, but by the time we got ours, it was very much past its prime. T quickly discovered that he DIDN'T want to spend all of his spare time maintaining a classic car, but by then it was too late. The Jowett had a genuinely malevolent personality. It wasn't stupid enough to crash itself, oh no. But it sat in the garage, and it waited, and it thought, and it planned ways to cause the most trouble in the most creative way, at EXACTLY the most inconvenient time for us.

Our hate-hate relationship with the Jowett ended when it needed an MOT test (for non-UK readers, this is a test that old cars have to take in Britain, to check they're roadworthy). . We had missed the correct date by one day, so the Jowett's papers were out of date. "We'll drive really carefully to the testing station. It's just a short trip, and nobody will have any reason to ask for our papers." we told each other.

But the Jowett was one step ahead. Halfway to the testing station, it blew a hole in its exhaust. And immediately it started to make an ear splitting noise, guaranteed to deafen anyone in the vicinity and certain to attract the attention of any passing policeman .

We abandoned it on the side of the road. Just couldn't risk driving a car making that amount of noise with out-of-date papers, even if they were just one day out and even though we were on the way to the testing station.

"I'll never drive you again!" T snarled to the Jowett, kicking it as hard as he could. The Jowett was built like a tank, so it showed no sign of having been kicked at all. I would say it just sat and smirked. But T damaged his foot and was limping for the next few weeks.

My Dad, a car nut, took pity on us. He organised a pickup for the Jowett and brought it to his house. He organised the MOT and then sold it for a good price to someone who liked classic cars.

"And then" said my Dad, "I made the sign of the cross, barred our front door, and didn't answer the phone for a week - just in case he returned for his money back!"

I still remember the Jowett's registration number. It was FHH 438. If you have it, beware - it really is alive.

The other bit of catching up is to announce the winners of the giveaway for the super book Inter-Rail. The winners are two good writers, Jo Carroll and Teresa Ashby. Check out and enjoy their brilliant blogs, and I hope they enjoy their books!


  1. I was surprised to see that horseshoes in France pointed down for luck.....or was that just my area...?

    Thank you for tips to more good blogs too!

  2. What a huge shoe!

    Congratulations on the award :-) I loved your five things. The rose - I would be cross too not to have those lovely stripes. And all those schools! And oh the car - spooky :-)

    I'm so excited to have won InterRail! I am looking forward very much to reading it, thank you x

  3. Since I am a Sullivan, I will hazard a guess at what the school motto would be when rendered in English...

    "Never walk when you can ride, never stand when you can sit, and if someone else is pulling your wagon it makes little sense for you to get out and push it, too."

    Well, that's my family's motto, anyway, although the one on the coat of arms doesn't seem to contain quite enough words for it to match. Oh, well.

  4. Congratulations on your well deserved award! It was so much fun to learn more about you and I couldn't help chuckle over the car story.

    I LOVE your horseshoe. What a wonderful find!

  5. A meaty post for sure. That's a lot of schools to attend, and I'm sorry about your rose. And your Jowett, which looks like a great car in the photograph.

  6. LOVE that old horseshoe. And really, sooooo big. My daughter had one hanging over her door for a long time but not nearly so big and well, cleaned up. LOL

    Your story of the old car was wonderful and made me think of my first car - a 1955 T-Bird that I bought in 1969 for a song. The sell for THOUSANDS now. How I miss that car and not because of the value. They were just really cool cars.

  7. A delightful post!
    I loved the ca.....er horseshoe. It could have been there since before the war when the shows, that is fair was held up there. Possibly it was left after the war. It did look a good age mind.
    Really enjoyable post, although I do wonder about the John Major fixation. Women eh?

  8. Morning Jenny, what a delightful post to read over my morning cuppa.
    Poor Rose ..... perhaps you should frighten it and prune it severely (so says my elderly neighbour, when all else fails with a Rose bush)

  9. Hm, does that car have any relatives? Because i'm thinking of two very vindictive Volvos from my past...

    Love the story about the school song.

  10. LOL at your classic car. They seem to have personalities, unfortuntately not the pleasant kind.

  11. I struggle to keep plants alive, too. They may flourish for a while, but always seem to eventually end up with second thoughts about living with me. I got a miniature rose plant for Mother's Day that has threatened to die twice already.

    Loved learning more about you and seeing the giant horseshoe, too. :):)

  12. I have to agree with others above, such a delightful read, thank you! That horseshoe is amazing - what a wonder to stumble upon it on Hampstead Heath. (And the Jowett Javelin may be "malevolent," but what a beauty :)

  13. Love the story about the Jowett:) It's been my life's ambition to own a 1930s Lagonda though I'm well aware that this is never going to happen as I couldn't afford either the purchase price or the maintenance. It's nice to dream though.

  14. Congratulations on the blog award...well deserved. Also the honor to go to The Netherlands..that architecture is wonderful. As for roses...I love them and especially the aromatic, which I thought all roses would be...but not. We have had some old car stories...similar in hope that they would realize they paid for exactly what they received. Hahahahaaha.

  15. Hi Yenny! did not know about the shoes, here also say they bring good luck and hang everywhere. A big salute and fast time passes, the Olympida already gone by the way, I loved the close ..... great music. A big hug.

  16. OOH - a prize! Aren't I lucky! *sits by door waiting for postman ..*

    I found a fossilised shark's tooth in my garden. It had been there for over 5,000,000 years! How wonderful is that? I wrote it a poem - it seemed the least I could do, since this shark has reminded me just how small I am in the global scheme of things.

  17. Interesting comment, Adullamite, because the shoe was near an area of the heath where they do have the funfair. Although it was by a muddy track and not that near the main road, can't really see the horses pulling the ghost house down that track but who knows. Seems likely anyway. I don't have experience of judging how old something is by the amount it has rusted so perhaps 80 years seems more likely than 200.

    Carlos, it is so strange the way that some customs are popular in many different countries. I wonder what it is about horse shoes that makes them so lucky.

    Messymimi, the car looks very similar to Volvos of the same period, so my guess is they are related. There's probably a whole community of them living on an island somewhere, scheming to bring down the human race.

    Suldog, with the Irish language anything is possible. Or so I am told.

    Rita, you and I are twin souls when it comes to gardening obviously :)
    Rose, with your name being what it is, I will take your advice and prune it hard next March. I will put even more fertiliser on next year, just don't understand why they're going so yellow. Bah, they don't know when they are on a good thing, these roses, with me running around trying to please them.

    It is funny, Annie, some things we do indeed love for themselves not for their value. But it is also not surprising that they rise in value because they are so nice....

    Thank you to everyone, as always, for the nice amd interesting comments. I read every one even if I do not comment individually every time.

  18. You are sooo funny. My Uncle had a JJ but I don't think he ever kicked it. It was long before MoT's were even a wee idea in anyone's mind. I, too, have a soft spot for JM. My brother-in-law was a senior civil servant who had worked with him and said he was far too nice to be a successful politician.

  19. Would you believe that I nearly had a malicious Jowett Javelin for a week (a LONG time ago)? Not the same registration plate as yours, but I was thinking about buying it, had left a (refundable) deposit on it and went off to find a professional advisor to check it over for me. When I returned the Javelin, its seller and my deposit had all vanished without a trace. There's something special about these cars.....!

  20. That is a really lucky find Jenny, hope you plan to keep it hanging up somewhere.

  21. Good grief, 16 schools! Did you find that constant chopping and changing disorientating or stimulating? I think I would have been found it quite hard to adjust to.

  22. A great chat, love the horseshoe find.

  23. Congrats to you for the blog award, and your winners who like your blog. They are well deserve!

  24. 16 schools...oh my....how cool to go see the architecture as well...would def be taking up that invitation.....congrats on the award and nice find on the horse shoe...

  25. I love that kind of exciting life. You are to be admired.

  26. I love all the little tidbits about you! My first car was a 1976 VW beetle. I still miss it!

  27. This was a fun post! Congrats on the award.

    I used to live in Holland and have been to Rotterdam. I'm a bit envious you get to travel there.

    That rose is beautiful! I have some rosebushes. I hardly ever water them and am amazed they continue to grow year after year.

    I went to a bunch of different school growing up too.

  28. I didn't know that about John Major... I learn something every time I visit your blog. Hope you don't have any more bummers for a while.

  29. You certainly were expelled from a lot of schools - what on earth did you keep doing! We share a love for Jowett Javelins which were made just a few miles down the road from where I live.

  30. When I was headteacher I would have loved to have used that phrase, but the infants wouldn't have understood :)

    Harry Wheatacroft had his nursery near where I lived in Nottingham. I saw him a few times, quite an eccentric character with a huge handlebar moustache. He knew a thing or two about roses though.

  31. Excellent and interesting post Jenny and congrats on the award and the lucky horseshoe and the invite to Holland!

    I had a rather fragmented school life too...

    Anna :o]

  32. .... they threw you out of so many schools....:D

  33. Congratulations on your Blogger Award (very well deserved, yours is one of my favorite blogs!). And I had no idea John Major left the circus to become an accountant. I rather liked him while he was PM, very quiet avuncular type, whom now that you mention it, looked very much like an accountant. I am still trying to fathom what he did at the circus though! And I thoroughly relished your experiences in school (particularly DETENTION, though what you might have done to deserve that, I don't know. Had you made a ditty making fun of the headmaster? My friends and I did naughty things like that ;D ).

    By the way, I quite connect with your moving around. I think living all over is a wonderful way to experience life. My husband and I often think we should just become gypsies. I guess your job as a travel writer lets you do that!

  34. We have something in common. I have always liked John Major and felt that he was a thoroughly decent man, irrespective of his politics.

  35. Congratulations on your award.

    Loved the bit about your old car. It made me smile.

  36. Congratulations !

    Nice horse shoe, by the way : I hope it will bring luck to everyone coming on your nice blog...

  37. What a lovely post. I would however be cautious about the horseshoe. Traditionally nailed to the doorframe, it can fall on unsuspecting heads.

    John Major has a fantastic ability ot project the persona of a "nice bloke" even when he's shagging everything in sight.

    Try adding Magnesioum Sulphate (Epsom Salts) when you next water your rose. Mg++ deficiency is a routine problem with many plants.

  38. I enjoyed reading your last several posts about the Olympics. I can’t believe you went to 16 schools! You must have made so many friends. I like the look of your Javelin car but I know how hard it is to maintain an old car. My husband had an MGTF 1500 from 1958 I think – the night we needed to drive fast to the hospital in San Francisco as I was having a baby – the car would not start…. It had to be pushed!

  39. 16 schools! That's a lot.

    I only managed to be sent to three different boarding schools, all in different states in 5 years. ^^

    I was guffawing at the car story. I guess the cross your dad put up worked and the car never did come back to haunt you. ;p

  40. I guess the Jowett had its revenge. Consider going to 16 schools as a tour of each of the educational facilities. Doesn't horseshoes bring good luck? Perhaps you can catch Mr. Major's at the festival.

  41. Oh, Alan and WW, I was not expelled - I've changed the post to make that clear. I'm not saying they didn't threaten mind you, but they never actually did it. I think your remark is a very good and appropriate one, AVCr8teur!

    Vagabonde, your husband's car sounds like a cousin of the Jowett. It would have LOVED me to be having a baby so it could break down on the way to the hospital! :)

    Twisted Scottish Bastard, that is a good idea, I will ask at the chemist for Epsom Salts and give it a go with a weak solution of it.

    Nice to meet you Tsuko, I have joined your amazing photo blog.

    As for horse shoes ... I don't have anywhere to nail up the shoe I found on the heath so I left it there propped up against a tree for someone else to find and be lucky, I hope. I always thought if you hang it up with the ends downward, all the luck is supposed to drain out.

    Jenny, actually his dad was a music hall performer or so it says on the leaflet. And he was 64 years old when John was born, and went into making garden gnomes, but that business didn't do very well. I always think it is truly amazing how someone of Major's incredibly humble not to say deprived background made it to PM, and I've never seen any real analysis of how. I am sure there's a story there waiting to be told. Just because Major followed Thatcher he was jeered and sneered at - still is really. Like you, Cheshire Wife, I think he is a decent guy, despite Edwina Curry. Well we can't all have good taste in partners!

    I'm sounding like a John Major groupie here... I'm not, but I am really interested in how he came to be who he is If I was still doing the kind of work I used to do, I would try to arrange to meet and interview him. I don't have my contacts for that kind of work any more but .......hm.......rather like the idea.

    Wow, Nell, I would have liked to meet Harry Wheatcroft. I could have asked him why I was making such a mess of his rose, come to think of it ! :D

  42. Loved reading you and the story about that car!
    Thanks for sharing.

    Happy week****

  43. What a great horseshoe you found.

    Classic cars seem to spend more time in repair shops than on the road in my experience (once the owner of an MG).


  44. Fascinating! To bad about the rose bush though. I've a black thumb when it comes to roses, too.

  45. Just saying: just like you, I have absolutely no gardening skills. I think that I was born that way!

  46. Two things Jenny: don't all cars have to pass the MOT? I've never had a new one, so wouldn't know about them.

    The other things is: you are really mean to have omitted the home made version of the Kendrick school song.

    1. That thought occurred to me too Friko

  47. that car looks almost like a car my husband drove when i first met him--we loved it--and were sorry to lose it in an accident----loved your blog today :)

  48. This is a post full of treasures. How luck to be a winner. We get to learn some fun new things about you. Those school crests are a treasure.

  49. Very entertaining reading. The only trouble with posts like these (with five or more topics) is that before I get down to the comment box I've forgotten half of the comments that floated through my mind while reading. One thing sticks though. Your school memories... I don't think I ever knew that schools songs about the founders of the school, or actual school crests like that, actually exist outside of Hogwarts...!

  50. I keep getting invited to things I can't make due to other commitments (or being on the wrong continent),there just aren't enough days in the year! :-)

  51. Oh, I enjoyed your five things. It's interesting how much they reveal.

  52. Wow, youo moved around even more than me. And I moved a lot. I hated it at the time but now think it does make us who we are. I love that car! Enjoyed your 5 things very much. Minerva x


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