Friday, August 26, 2022

Happy times

It's all Dave's fault.

Or maybe it's ALDI's fault.

Whatever, I went shopping at ALDI for fruit and veg this week and in one of the aisles they had a 'Special Purchase' offer - a huge stack of plastic storage boxes with lids, at a terrific price. 

Having just shoved under the bed an assortment of old cardboard boxes containing all the craft materials for Refugee Days, I though how nice it would be to have the stuff in transparent plastic boxes that clearly showed the contents, but were also airtight. So I bought five boxes, but when I got home Dave said "You should have got more! You know what ALDI are like, they have a great deal in and then when it's gone, it's gone."

I pondered. There was a lot of stuff in the attic in cardboard boxes that flies and wasps and sometimes even mice got into, but storage boxes with lids would be so much better. So I zipped down to the shop again and bought 5 more.

Yesterday I spent an hour sorting out junk in the attic. This was only a start, but it's a hideous job so I'm going to pace myself.

This is one of the boxes I found:

It was full of publicity material,

and congratulations cards, and newspaper cuttings of all the articles about Jane and me and PfB and later, other books, that I'd persuaded local newspapers to give space to.

And here was my typed copy of what appeared in the Times:

(I have not yet found the original.)

There was a friendly letter from Jilly Cooper, who I'd written to, asking for a puff* for the back of the book. No go.

*I had to check with Dave that 'puff' was the word I was looking's shocking how writing and publishing lingo has slipped from my mind.

I also found the quiz we had at the launch party, which I tried to complete  without looking at the book. 

Plotting for Beginners

 LAUNCH PARTY QUIZ with a tiny, but unique, prize

If you would like to join in, please complete the following quotations from the book. The ends of the quotations are printed on orange card and pinned up on shelves around the bookshop. We will decide the winner just before the reading, at around 7.15 p.m.

Spelling and punctuation matter – this is a classy launch, you know.

1/  Carol Vorderman had better watch her…

2/  You can have so much more fun with a multi-position ladder than you can with a…

3/  Not Bloody Blair - he’s not important. He’s a…

4/  What would you like to be in your next life, Mrs Howe?...

5/  Compromise just means at least one person is unhappy…

6/  Champman and Pesto just decided they want…

7/  am brain numb today as a pseudonym has been playing non-stop blondie cd – can only think in…           

 8/  This took the shimmer out of…

 9/  henceforth will personally accompany you as…

10/  Sangria Crew eventually departed at 5 p.m. the next day. Damage: …

I am sad to say I could only do number 1. It's time to read the book again, which is what I'll do in the dark winter months, to cheer myself up. I'm currently reading the Cazalet Chronicles.

The papers in the box brought back such lovely memories, and there were several surprises: newspaper features I'd forgotten all about. 2006 was a happy and exciting year. 

But now I'm embarked on a different course. I hope I keep on painting, and one day have an exhibition of my own.

Sunday, August 21, 2022


We have hosted three Refugee Hospitality Days this year in Bakewell after two Covid years without. 

There is a lot of organisation required in terms of food and volunteers and activities but what makes them nerve racking is the uncertainties.

First, we never know until the day itself exactly who is going to come. Will the minibus be full and worth the huge expense? Will our visitors be men, women or children? and what activities will appeal to them and therefore what equipment do we need to bring? Lastly, will it be fine or will it rain?

This latter is more important to some groups than others. We once held a day for women and small children when it rained all day, and they were all nevertheless very happy. The women enjoyed the crafts and the social side and the fact that the volunteers played with their toddlers. Some of them also slipped out to look at the charity shops while we occupied the children.

But as our best gift to our visitors apart from the warm welcome and the lovely lunch is Bakewell itself, you'll see that the weather really matters. A walk by the river and across the water meadows is not appealing in pouring rain. So it's been a blessing that this year that the three days were warm and dry when most of our visitors have been adults.

Yesterday one of the crafts was decorating fabric tote bags. Look at these stunners:

The key fobs turned out to be a dud, but two women painted lovely coasters, which I forgot to photograph. 😞

I'm feeling really blessed this morning. It's good to have three successful days under our belts when we'd had two years lying fallow, with the government getting more and more hostile to asylum seekers in the meantime. 

The Home Office is so slow in processing claims that people who have fled their home countries because of war or persecution can be waiting years to be able to settle properly. In the meantime they are not allowed to work and although they are given some kind of accommodation - grotty flat, hotel or hostel - they have to live on £40.85 a week which has to pay for food, clothing and toiletries.

This morning it feels gently autumnal in the garden, but not so autumnal as to make me feel the year outside is over. So I was out in my pyjamas picking flowers - amongst them just 6 sweet peas. I told you they were disappointing this year.

The biggest blessing in the garden in this hot hot summer has been the wild flowers Dave sowed. 

We always have posies on the lunch tables on Hospitality Days and without the wild flowers, it would have been a poor showing this August:

Next week I'm going to paint.

Thursday, August 18, 2022

My week

It's not been an easy week since I got home, even though home is a blessed place to be.

On Sunday morning, my first day back, I learned that a good friend was in the local hospice and not expected to live more than a week. It was a horrible shock. She'd been in hospital under investigation when I went away and I wrote to her and said I'd visit as soon as I got back. This was not possible given the situation: understandably, only family were at her bedside. She died that evening. It's a huge loss.

And another friend had died while I was away. She was in her late 90s and it was not a shock, but it was sad.

On Tuesday I had to renew my passport, and taking the required photograph was not pleasant. I look terrible when I'm not smiling. My mouth turns down at the corners and I look mean. So I tried to turn them up without actually smiling.

Not a win.

The online government passport portal gave it a 'Good' rating but I'd rather have submitted this one which Isaac took in Buxton when we went to visit my painting.

photo by Isaac

Now I'm preparing for the next Refugee Hospitality Day on Saturday. My friend who died was instrumental with me and a couple of others in setting up our Refugee Days in 2016, and as a trained masseuse offered hand massages to our visitors - so welcome.

We have a new 'craft' to add to the others on Saturday - decorating coasters and key fobs. So far I have varnished 50 coaster discs so they will take paint or felt tip without smudges:

And painted two examples:

Dave and I have been trying to think of a way to varnish 80 key fobs on both sides - en masse - but so far have drawn a blank. 


The elder fabulous grandson got the A level results he needed for his top choice of Uni. Oh blessed day.

Now back to the key fobs. 

Monday, August 15, 2022

Home again

I'm happy to say that the Colorado family arrived safely, and so did their luggage and it was wonderful to have them here for a week.

photo by Isaac of four of the Hepworth women - Wendy, me, Cece and Lux

photo by Wendy of me and Lux on the Trail 

After a week we flew to Spain with the elder fabulous grandson to meet the family-member-who-declines-to-be-named and the lovely Jaine, who were holidaying there; and we all stayed together in a a villa for a week on the Costa Brava. 

Isaac and Cece

I was in Spain for the first time and swam in the Mediterranean sea for the first time (fabulous!) and there were various other first times as well.

The first time I tasted (and liked btw):

Spanish Tortilla 

Patatas brava



A Catalonian rice dish 


Shrimp in its shell

Sangria de Cava

The first time I:

Flew from East Midlands Airport (recommended)

Went on holiday and did not pack a coat 


Stayed up and photographed a Supermoon

Played Go Fish

Played Liar (an American version of Cheat that my two sons think is superior to Cheat, though I am not convinced)

Saw works by Dali for real (interesting and puzzling)

The Dali museum

My Dali-esque selfie I took in the museum

You have probably gathered from all of the above that I have led a sheltered life.

It was hot. It was very hot. It was too hot for a Sue. 

I would go on holiday with the extended family again but not to somewhere hot. I went this time because the family-member-who-declines-to-be-named wanted me to so much, even though I had found the climate in Croatia (for his wedding) so punishing. I think he is now convinced that I just can't hack heat. They are dreaming of future hols in Greece but they're going to have to do it without me.

                    photo by fabulous grandson taken to show Julie in Bamburgh that her
 hand made bag is still going strong

In matter how much I have loved cavorting in the pool and playing riotous games with my children and grandchildren, I am pleased to be home. I went out on my bike and paid homage to the Trail this morning and I've been tidying up the garden. It's a sensible temperature here in Derbyshire.

I never want to move from Hepworth Towers.