Monday 9 January 2023

Glimpses of 8760 Hours

Happy New Year! I hope you have a good one, and that your festive season was wonderful.   Ours wasn't such a great success in that there was a lot of illness, with one person after another getting sick. In fact,  we never managed to get everyone together to exchange presents at all!  And 2022 had more than its share of political nonsenses, but apart from that it was quite a nice year for us.   

So I was sitting here looking through photos and thought I'd pick out a shot from each of the twelve past months with a glimpse of a few of the 8760 hours of my 2022 life.  First, a general shot of something that can be done at any time of year, which is to stroll along the canal towpath and look at all the boats, so many of them colourful and creative in different ways..  


And my first monthly photo is from JANUARY 2022.  We went to a show of 1960s fashion at the London Fashion and Textile Museum with young S,  who was home on his holidays from university in Scotland.  He has adopted a style of dress from a slightly earlier era than the sixties, but we all enjoyed this brightly coloured show on a dark January afternoon.     London didn't feel fully out of lockdown, and after the show we walked from the museum in Bermondsey all the way to a nearly deserted City, in an atmosphere of rather cosy wintry gloom. We were delighted to find an excellent cake shop near St. Pauls, where we had tea.  A nice memory for the month. 

In FEBRUARY we attended one of V's storytellings in the half ruined chapel of the Asylum Chapel, off the Old Kent Road.   The Asylum, built in the early 19th century, was not designed for lunatics,  but as an almshouses for the Licensed Victuallers Association - that is, people who work in the pub trade.  (You can read more about the Asylum here)  It is still run as social housing, although the aged publicans were moved away to the countryside long ago.     The handsome colonnaded chapel, the centrepiece of the almshouse, was badly bombed in the war and never fully restored. Now, fully watertight with its beautiful stained glass windows repaired, it is used as a quirky events venue, even though it has no heating and minimal electric lighting.   

The event was candle lit, and we had to dress up very warmly, but it was atmospheric as the shadows drew in and the candles flickered.  K was singing with the band, so it was quite a family affair.   I took this picture while everyone was lining up for free hot chocolate, and I hope my photo shows a little bit of the unique atmosphere. 


  St. Patrick's Day is on the 17th of MARCH.   I got Irish citizenship just before Covid, and I am very pleased to have it.   I tried throughout 2022 to get to Ireland, but was foiled each time for various reasons. But at least I baked a Paddy's cake in orange, white and green!  The orange parts were ginger and orange-zest, the green parts were pistachio nuts and tiny green boiled sweets, and the white is whipped cream.   I took it over to share with the Irish contingent and we all liked it very much, I am glad to say.  


I always like APRIL for its flowers, all in bright, simple colours, yellow, white and green mostly. These are photographed against a large cherry tree in full bloom, which I am proud to say I grew from a pip.  The cherries are pretty good,  and in July we usually have a grandstand view of the pigeons walking along the branches and hoovering the ripe cherries up in their beaks.  It's a startling sight and I always wonder why the greedy things don't choke or burst.   Ah well, nature knows best.  The tree is also popular with kids who climb up to collect cherries, and the upshot is that you have to be quick if you want to get any cherries yourself even though the tree produces thousands.  


MAY is my favourite month to spend in the countryside.   Everything is out in full bloom. We spent a week in Herefordshire, which has a smiling, gentle landscape, fairly hilly for cycling but not impossible if you chose the route carefully.  In the steeper areas, we walked along public footpaths.   The grass was full of flowers, the weather was mild and soft.   So peaceful.  


At the end of May we, our daughter K and her family all went to Spain to attend a big party, and spent about a week, returning in early JUNE.  We flew via Wizz Air, a budget airline.  At this time there was a great deal of disruption at airports, with lots of airlines cancelling flights.

Wizz Air wasn't named as the worst for cancellations but has apparently had far more unresolved complaints than any other airline in Britain, and our experience definitely agrees with that.  4 hours before our flight left, at 6 AM, Wizz Air sent a text saying the plane was cancelled, and that was the last we heard from them. All six of us were left to find our own way back to the UK, and there were no flights to be had. 

After a great deal of hassle we found six flights back to the UK the next day, at sky high prices. Between us it cost about £2400  and an extra night in Spain, but at least we all got home. Back in England, we and K each claimed for the statutory compensation for a missed flight. To cut a long story short, Wizz Air gave K and family the statutory 1600 euros compensation (400 euros per person), but told T and me we weren't entitled to any compensation at all even though we had had exactly the same experience as them in every detail!   Over six months Wizz Air evaded the question of WHY.  I thought it was very dodgy, and have applied for dispute resolution.  It will take months, but  I suspect there is more information to come, and if there is, I will let you know. Meanwhile I can truly say that if Wizz Air was the only airline flying to a destination, I'd change the destination rather than use them again! 

I have spared you the photo of us all sitting glumly at the airport for hours and hours. So, for this month's photo, what about this male flamenco dancer? We quite enjoyed our enforced extra night in Spain. Went into town and saw him performing in the town square. I wasn't bowled over by him, to be honest but you couldn't help but see he was  going down a storm with the audience. And the nice thing is that in the surrounding streets, and in the streets, women with buggies and male passers by were singing and dancing along as well.


In JULY we loved going to the village fete at Rendham, Suffolk.  I've missed country fetes so much during lockdown.  I love everything about them, the old-fashioned games like Whack-a-Mole, the teas with fantastic home made cakes, the stalls selling all kinds of bric a brac and books, plants, home made jams, the beer tents, charity stalls, the local brass band, dog obedience contests,  Punch and Judy.... if you've ever been to one, you'll know what I mean. 

Rendham is always a good fete and this year it had a classic car show and entertainments that included the "Red Barrows"  crack local team of formation wheelbarrow pushers. You can see some of them here (in red with white caps)  lined up ready to leap into action & astound everyone with their skills. In the background, a couple of the Saxmundham Bellydancers in their turquoise outfits. And can you spot the celebrity attendee?   You will notice that it's not all 100 percent serious, and all of it is to raise money for Rendham parish church, Rendham Village Hall and the local charity, the Rendham Amenity Fund.  


In AUGUST we went to Shropshire, staying near Shrewsbury. On the way we stopped at Bridgnorth, a pleasant town on a hill whose main park has marvellous views over surrounding countryside and a large ruined castle. It's very well maintained and a really delightful spot to laze around on a sunny afternoon. Even better was this lovely shiny red ice cream van where we had some top class snacks and some of the best home made icecream I have ever tasted.  In fact, I'd say it was almost worth making a detour to Bridgnorth just for that.  I was amused by the blackboard which points out that the cows on the wind powered farm could choose their own milking times.  Is this really possible? 


 In SEPTEMBER I was horrified to find that a lime tree in the garden was covered in one huge web. If you look very closely you can see thousands, probably millions of tiny red insects. We think they're spider-mites, but haven't a clue how to treat them.  I know that greenhouse plants sometimes get them but this tree is enormous and I can find no information at all. (If you have any, please let me know. We have to do something about it and I don't know where to start.) 


In OCTOBER there were huge winds, and one night they were particularly bad, quite alarming in fact as they howled round our poor rickety old house. They brought down many branches from the trees and when I opened the door the following morning, there was this beautiful spray of flowers blown neatly on the top of the front step. The flowers were totally fresh and the colours were really beautiful so I put them in a vase and we enjoyed our  "present from the wind" for about a week!  


Every NOVEMBER we try to attend the annual Koestler Arts exhibition at the South Bank Centre.  This is art produced by people at secure institutions of various types ranging from juvenile offenders to secure mental hospitals and facilities for asylum seekers.  Some of the rehabilitation work and support work carried out in these places unlocks a wealth of creativity, skill and ideas hiding inside some of the people are confined there.  It's impossible to convey the variety of the work. Some is beautiful and nostalgic, some is incredibly skilled, some deals with stress and sadness.   There is no self pity in the scene portrayed below, but it has a kind of horror for me.  I wonder how it must feel to be him.
  

 
None of the prisoners are ever identified, but you can leave comments which are apparently eagerly read by the artists. Much of the work is for sale and we bought a fantastic picture from the last show. You can read more about the Koestler Foundation here (and check out the artworks on the site) if you wish. 

Actually I have to put a second picture in, just by contrast. This is a beautiful group embroidery project showing life Under the Sea.  It's a small part of a huge panel but I hope you can see that it is full of colour, well-observed detail and grace.


In DECEMBER we had a snowfall which lasted a few days, very unusual for the time of year.  More often than not, if we have snow it is in January or February. I watched, amused, as 3 young people created a huge snowball from the freshly fallen snow at about 11 PM and rolled it up the road.  They ended up taking selfies of themselves and the snowman.  I thought how nice to be young and carefree enough to just go out and make a huge snowball just because you can.  Just down the road, an eight foot snowman appeared in a garden overnight.  
 

And so, that's it.    I could have posted a completely different selection and indeed my rather infrequent posts during the year tell the stories of other things I've done.   But I hope you've enjoyed this high speed trip through flashes of my 2022, and I hope that there will be many happy moments in your life too in 2023! 

40 comments:

  1. An interesting year !
    By the way, those cows can choose their milking times...it is automatic, and their electronic collar tells the dairy how much milk they gave and how much food they will get. We have seen a programme about one like that..and they have an automatic back scratcher too...which they use with a blissful expression on their faces!!

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    1. Ah! That makes sense. It all sounded a bit too complicated for cows :)

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    2. I have seen such devices exhibited at the Great Yorkshire Show in Harrogate a few years back - amazing, and the cows learn fast!

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    3. No, they choose to go in to be milked.

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  2. All the pictures are first rate, but the best is last. "... how nice to be young and carefree enough to just go out and make a huge snowball just because you can."

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  3. I must say, you do get around! I loved every month of your year so much. The fashion museum is something i would be most interested in. Happy new year, and congratulations on your Irish-ness! Hoorah!

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    1. It's a good place - just a little bit off the beaten track but in an area that is interesting in its own right. We're hoping to go and see the current show which is Kaffe Fassett.

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  4. I enjoyed every month and each picture...although your flight sounds dreadful and the webby-bugs are distressing...all the rest was wonderful.

    I actually have heard of farms now over here where the cows can come in to be milked whenever they want. It's done somehow with automatic milking machines but I forget exactly how. I'm sure there's probably a video somewhere on youtube--LOL!

    Nice of the wind to bring you such a present. ;) Have a marvelous week!!

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    1. Yes, it's the first time I have had a gift from the wind - or, at least, one that I like! (Had a few sticks hurled at me by the wind in my time, LOL). Thanks for your comment.

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  5. You had many wonderful moments in 2022, i'm so glad you shared a few of them.

    May you have a blessed and beautiful 2023!

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  6. I am so sorry about the disruptions and chaos with your plane bookings. And the lack of support provided to you and the other travellers.

    At least you got to see the male flamenco dancer, performing in the open town square. Clearly from your photo the audience loved the colour, music and sexiness - I would have too :)

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    1. Thanks - I'm following up, and doing a bit of research of my own, because there has to be some sense in how they are behaving. They're ignoring British court orders to pay this statutory compensation too apparently. The dancer was a lot of fun, although personally he wasn't my type, but it was well worth being there for the happy atmosphere he was creating

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  7. Thank you Jenny for an enjoyable trip back through 2022. You sure had some variety over the months. Love the Irish cake, and congrats for your Irish citizenship. I always dream of going to Spain one day, alas less likely since the pandemic, but have made a note to avoid Wizz Air if ever it is offered to us! The wildflower meadow in May looks so beautiful. We are off to Canada this coming May, and I hope to see similar sights of Spring flowers in Ontario. And you had snow at Christmas time - Perfect! Happy New Year Jenny.

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    1. I was in the Rockies in July once and have never seen such an amazing sight as all the wild flowers. And being Canada there will be miles and miles of them I expect. Have fun on your trip!

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    2. Happy New Year
      Thank you for the blog look back

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  8. Nice to be able to comment again and thank you for such a positive look back at the year - apart from Wizzair, of course!

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    1. Actually I guess I'm glad that Wizzair was the most annoying personal event (apart from my John Lewis credit card of course, which has just been transferred to a new and terrible provider.) Not quite in the league of Kamikwaze and Truss who dominated our political scene and really DID give us something to cry about!.

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  9. A very interesting summary of your monthly activities. I've never seen anything like that mysterious web-covered lime tree so I have no idea what to do about it. We have a cherry blossom rather than a cherry tree so luckily the local kids aren't climbing all over it! A good job the wheelbarrows are empty and not full, or that would be a lot more taxing! I've made a mental note not to use Wizz Air, as I've heard a lot of complaints about them.

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    1. Yes, I had heard complaints too and wish I hadn't had to find out the hard way! I kind of like the cherries, even though we have a job getting our hands on them

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  10. There is so much to love about this post, Jenny!
    I think the storytelling in the half ruined chapel and the gift by the wind are my favourites here.
    Your picture of the flowery meadow in May made me long for that time of year - it is so, so very beautiful in O.K.'s part of the world, and I am hoping for many good walks then.

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    1. I always look forward to May. Here, it can be rainy but the landscape is lovely no matter what the weather at that time.

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  11. I enjoyed looking back at your year, there certainly was good variety in it.
    Your photographs were all lovely to see.

    Wishing you a happy and healthy 2023.

    All the best Jan

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  12. Over here we get what are called tent caterpillars sometimes that make giant webs that the eggs hatch in. I guess. They are not harmful to the tree but look like they might be. Could this be something like what you have going on?
    What lovely pictures! And now I want to see the Red Barrows in action, have a piece of that cake, see that gorgeous embroidery piece, go to Herefordshire in May, and have the wind leave me a gift!

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    1. I'm glad I took photos of those things, it's so easy to forget the small things but they all matter. Haven't heard of tent caterpillars. I'll look them up but I suspect these were mites, as they were very tiny and not caterpillar shaped.

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  13. Happy New Year Jenny! What a fabulous roundup (your airline horror story aside and very good luck to you to get a decent resolution) and I particularly love your April photograph. Your Koestler Arts exhibition is so interesting, and I'm very impressed with the embroidery you show. Several years back I went to a Cornelia Parker exhibition here in Sydney and there were many embroidery pieces done by prisoners but they were stitching mainly words to fill her brief, as it were, and by contrast this Under the Sea piece shows much more exuberance and expression by its imaginary nature. Beauty can be found anywhere, even if it means making it yourself in a prison I suppose.

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    1. Yes indeed. It is remarkable how much talent hidden away in these locked-up people. This year the show was curated by Ai Wei Wei and I actually believe he included everything that was submitted, possibly on the principle that everyone had something to say. Not sure I totally agreed but the show is always worth a visit.

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  14. Thank you, Jenny, for a thoroughly enjoyable glimpse of your year. That Miss Haversham-type cobweb on your tree is alarming. I have seen similar effects on top of the hills here, when the rocky summits have been blanketed with thick webs. As the wind blows masses of tiny spiders are carried away, high into the air. A sort of living seed dispersal?
    I get constant gifts on my doorstep from the wind - chip-papers, leaves, plastic and polystyrene containers of all shapes and sizes and just once a large paddling pool. The trampoline which probably left home with it bowled on down the hill. But never a pretty bunch of flowers!

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    1. I hope you were able to put the paddling pool to good use! I had been walking past that huge cobweb for months, I think, if not years from the size of it.... and it was only when one of my daughters pointed it out that I became aware of its existence. I wish I knew what to do about it, because the tree is not a bit happy but it is "protected" and very little can be done in terms even of cutting back.

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  15. Thanks for coming over to the blog, you are welcome anytime!!! 2022, as well as 2021 and 2020 has just been different. I had not traveled until this past July. I flew to Calif to visit my son. Still, Calif, always hits the charts on everything so I was nervous, but I had not spent anytime with my son since Jan 2019 and I needed that trip. All was well.

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    1. I am glad that everything went well in California. I have heard from friends there that they are having torrential rain every day so it's just as well you didn't choose to go now!

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  16. Happy New Year to you, Jenny, and thanks for this interesting look back at your 2022 adventures, all good with the exception of the airline fiasco. I do hope you will be able to get reimbursed as we finally did with our Canadian train trip, and it took appealing to the credit card company, but it worked. The bombed out chapel venue would have been one I would have liked to attend. Hope that someone is able to identify what is infesting that tree before it possibly succumbs. Wishing you more good adventures in 2023.

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    1. I only wrote a tiny fraction of the complexities around that trip, but the credit card company couldn't help unfortunately. Thanks for the reminder, though, it's easy to forget that this option exists, and it's a wonderful one. Happy new year to you!

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  17. As always some excellent photos Jenny. The one of the cafe with St P in the background, the Asylum Chapel is filled with images, and the fish on the embroidery, all good. The wheelbarrow team is so frightfully English! Great fun, taken seriously, and amid much laughter. I wonder also if cows do decide when to get milked, they must have an idea when they are ready for it? 'Wizz Air' have not had a good time. Did they not dump a plane in Aberdeen that ought to have landed at Gatwick? So glad you got an Irish Passport, though this means you may be mistaken for a member of the cabinet, they all have one. A good post as always, but ypu failed to include a photo of the PM, or was that PMs...?

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    1. If by the PM you mean the PM, then I would not dream of having his photo on my blog! I am not sure which PM you mean, come to that, there seem to have been so many lately.... I am sure Wizz Air have dumped planes all over the place. The one that was supposed to pick us up from Spain was in Athens at the time, I checked it up!!!!!!

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  18. Thanks for the photo of the smiling landscape. I feel peace. Though everything there is in calmness, each of little lives are activating seamlessly in harmony.

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    1. That was exactly my feeling, thank you for expressing it so well.

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  19. I’ve just returned to the blogging world after several years. Enjoyed your post.

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    1. Thank you Patricia! Glad to hear from you again!

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