Monday 30 December 2013

..... and so 2013 comes to an end

As I arrive at the end of twenty thirteen
And review tasks done and places I’ve seen,
I count my blessings.

Parties to celebrate something or nothing
Birthdays, marriages and a baby naming,
As I count my blessings.

The loss of those close to us is hard to endure
But being part of my life was indeed an honour,
So, I count my blessings

May the year ahead bring good health and challenges new,
Have you decided on the things that you want to do?
While counting your blessings.

I feel fortunate to have celebrated many events and achieved many ‘firsts for me’ this year; baking bread, going live on local radio, completing the A-Z blogging challenge and the Write1Sub1 weekly challenge and working on an allotment to mention a few.
 I have a several projects in mind for the coming year; making ice cream, continuing the W1S1 weekly challenge and appearing at a literary festival being some of them. 
Fellow blogger Maria at First Draft Cafe gave me the idea of A Jar Full of Happiness where you put a note of all your achievements and red letter days in a jar throughout the year and open them on New Year’s Eve.  I use a virtual memory box at the moment but I’m considering a jar, or even a box to put invitations, photos and tickets to help me remember the good times.

Wishing you all good health and happiness for 2014



Saturday 30 November 2013

A Garden Post

I have duplicated some pieces of this post on two other gardening related blogs I maintain, so humour me and trust me when I say it’s not a senior moment!

We can’t really complain about November this year as the weather has been quite kind.

Thomas Hood’s poem comes to mind; here is the last verse ....
No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member--
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds,

I’ve tidied my garden in a wildlife friendly way and planted up a few more tulips.  Being able to see the bare bones of the plot gets me thinking creatively about my projects for next season.   I should carry a notebook and pencil in my pocket as these are usually forgotten by the time the session is finished!
The leaves seem to have remained until later in the month compared to last year and I enjoyed a visit RHS Harlow Carr.

The AGM of Yorkshire in Bloom was held in Temple Newsam, which gave me  the opportunity for a  stroll in the grounds.

 Temple Newsam House

On the way back, as the sun was still shining,  I couldn’t pass the Canal Gardens at Roundhay Park without a peak in.

The allotment where I am a volunteer has also slowed down, so I will be spending more time in the parks.  The afternoons are very short at the moment but we are only three weeks away from the shortest day.

Broad Beans Aquadulce Claudia  
The upside is that, theoretically, there should be more time for writing.


Saturday 16 November 2013

A Fortnight of Films

I rarely visit the cinema (or go to the pictures as I call it), but just recently I have seen a plethora of films, all of which I enjoyed, experienced in a different venue and had their own merits.

As part of the UK Jewish Film Festival I saw the droll Blumenthal:
Celebrated playwright, Harold Blumenthal, has passed away after succumbing to cardiac arrest while laughing at his own joke. Now, Harold’s estranged and jealous brother, Saul, must confront his personal hang-ups  to deliver himself from an epic bout of constipation. Meanwhile, Saul’s wife Cheryl and son Ethan must grapple with their own personal obstacles through a set of circumstances so improbably ironic they might as well have been lifted from one of Harold’s plays.

I have also booked for Hava Nagila this week which finishes the festival in true celebratory style with obligatory dancing.
Featuring interviews with Harry Belafonte, Connie Francis, Glen Campbell, Leonard Nimoy, Regina Spektor and more, Hava Nagila (The Movie) follows the song from the shtetls of Eastern Europe to the kibbutzim of Palestine to the cul-de-sacs of America. It excavates the layers of cultural complexity with humor, depth and heart – traveling the distance between the Holocaust to Dick Dale and his surf guitar, sometimes in the same sentence. It stops at key places – Ukraine, Israel, the Catskills and Greenwich Village, where Belafonte performed a hopeful version in the late 1950s, only to be countered by Bob Dylan, who butchers the song in his version Talkin’ Hava Negiliah Blues. The film covers Allan Sherman’s parody Harvey and Sheila, and Lena Horne’s civil rights anthem Now – both set to the tune of Hava Nagila. The film spotlights Italian-American crooner Connie Francis, who made the song the first track on her famous album of Jewish favorites; and Glen Campbell, who released an instrumental version of Hava on the B-side of his theme song from True Grit. It also dissects the proliferation of pop culture references to Hava Nagila in film and TV and brings the song up to the present, where it’s a rallying tune at sports games, a hot dance number in nightclubs and a global hit online.

On a more cultural note, I saw the superb Encore Screening of the National Theatre Live production of Habit of Art with the late Richard Griffiths, Alex Jennings and Frances De La Tour   
Benjamin Britten seeks advice from his former collaborator and friend, W H Auden. During this imagined meeting, their first for twenty-five years, they are observed and interrupted by, amongst others, their future biographer.  Alan Bennett’s play looks at the unsettling desires of two difficult men, and at the ethics of biography.  It reflects on growing old, on creativity and inspiration, and on persisting when all passion’s spent: ultimately, on the habit of art.

If you have not yet sampled these NT screenings, I would recommend them highly at a lot less cost than a theatre ticket.  Go on their website for details.  There is an intermission just as in the theatre, when we eat our sandwiches and cake with our drinks, and an interview with the director or producer.

Last but not least, we saw the wonderful Philomena with marvelous actors Judi Dench and Steve Cougan.  I didn’t know the story beforehand, so I won’t tell it here, unlike some reviews which have revealed all.

Next on my list is not a film but a dramatic production which is being performed in railway stations all over UK.  It’s called Suitcase and commemorates the 75th anniversary of the arrival of the Kindertransport from Nazi Germany, which is how my aunt arrived aged 11 (see my post for her story).  We also attended the local 75th Kristallnacht Commemoration where her granddaughter lit a candle and we heard the personal experiences from others who came over in the Kindertransport.

Tuesday 29 October 2013

End of season at the East Yorkshire Coast

After a late start which turned into a wonderfully warm summer, the season has come to end.

We always seem to finish on a lovely day and this year was no exception .  As ever, it coincides with half term.

 Happy Days at Happy Daze

Looking forward to and already dreaming of next season!

Sunday 13 October 2013

Annual Autumn Trip to Northumberland

 Sunrise over Seahouses Harbour from our window

Instead of the wet and windy weather we frequently encounter on our visits, it was very mild and the sea was calm.

As well as stopping off at our usual haunts along the coastal route, we revisited areas we haven’t seen for a while.


 Low Newton with Dunstanburgh Castle in  the background

We stayed at the Gun Rock B&B at Seahouses which was a good, central base and offered quality accommodation with a good view of the harbour.

We enjoyed eating at the Elan Pizzeria, which has a variety of Italian dishes on its menu.   The staff was helpful in adapting the ingredients to suit our needs and the venue is a good place for a coffee and cake or glass of wine, rather than a noisy pub.  I can’t believe I just made that last remark which really shows my age!  

I can see for miles and miles.  Sea for miles and miles
Walking round Holy Island (Lindisfarne), we found that an observatory had been built which gave us an amazing 360 degree view of Bamburgh, the Farne Islands and the Scottish border.  A bagpiper busking at the entrance to the castle added to the ambience.  We were conscious of the time as we completed our walk as the tide would prevent us from leaving after 2.40 pm, when the causeway would be submerged until 9 pm.  We returned to the car park with time to spare for a cup of tea but on switching on the engine, the dashboard displayed a message that the car was overheating.  We tentatively drove to the mainland and managed to reach a garage on the A1 where a bottle of coolant solved the problem.

 Lindisfarne Castle, where there is a Gertrude Jekyll garden
 Navigation aid; the pyramid, not me!

Bamburgh to Budle

A favourite route of ours is to walk along the shore from Bamburgh castle and over the golf course to Budle Point.  The landscape is stunning.  At one spot on a fern lined, downward, twisting path, you come across a wooden bench.  Apart from it offering a welcome rest, there is a great view.  The bench is dedicated to the memory of Audrey, who loved to visit the area.  Last time we were there, we met Audrey’s husband, who also told us about Budle pier from where regular shipments of stone were delivered to Kings Lynn, Boston and Whitstable in 1913. Loading was carried out by a steam crane on the pier.  There used to be a railway line down to the pier from the quarry, so they could transport stone onto trade ships.

 Rock pools left when the tide goes out

Harkess Rocks also known locally as Stag Rocks because of the mysterious stag painted on them

Has anyone a theory of the origin of the stag?   I have heard that it was painted by an artist c1914, or it was painted in memory of a stag which drowned in the sea trying to escape its hunter or that it was painted by the Argyll and Southern Highlanders who were stationed on the golf course in WW1 who had a stag as part of their insignia.  

Bamburgh Castle


Thursday 10 October 2013

Goodbye to a very special lady.

My auntie Edith passed away last week.  She was a very special lady for all sorts of reasons but I would like to share with you a story about her early years.  I wrote the story from the facts I gleaned from her over the years.

Flight from Nazi Germany

At the time I felt forsaken by my parents, yet excited at the prospect of seeing the sea and travelling by boat for the first time at 11 years old.  How could I have known what would come to pass although, with hindsight, all the clues were there?

Life as we knew it changed from the time my uncle from Frankfurt came to live with us after losing his job for being Jewish.  Home was a farm in a small village where we ran a little shop selling sugar, flour and suchlike, which supported my extended family.  From the radio we learnt what was happening further afield and so did the other villagers, who no longer frequented our shop.  The harvest workers, who had previously enjoyed hearty meals in our kitchen, failed to turn up that year.  The other handful of Jewish families moved away from the village after Kristallnacht when the contents of our synagogue were brought out and set on fire.  My younger sister and I were no longer allowed to attend the local school, so we would amuse ourselves on the farm or playing hide and seek among the gravestones in the Jewish and Christian cemeteries which are side by side.

After my father and uncle were taken in for questioning by the Gestapo, the future looked bleak.  The elderly relatives who lived with us could not be moved so my mother contacted the Jewish refugee association to find a family in England to take in my sister and me. 

Two families who lived next door to each other in Leeds agreed to takes us.  Arrangements were made; we were allowed to take a small suitcase between us.  Our mother told us to hide our rings and necklaces from view during the journey and that we should behave ourselves and be helpful to our host families.  We promised her faithfully that we would be good.

At the railway station, we were put in the charge of a couple of older girls.  Our anxiety increased when the relatives on the platform began to wail and sob.  We were too small to look out of the crowded window to wave goodbye, but we never thought it would be forever.  Just as the train started to move, a lady opened the door of the compartment and pushed in a carrycot which contained a baby girl.     

The journey began.  The Gestapo entered the train before it crossed the border but, apart from confiscating a few bracelets and rings from the older girls, left us alone.  At a station in Holland, some women gave us food and drink and then we crossed by boat to England.  It was cold and dark and my first experience of the sea wasn’t a good one.

It has been 74 years since the Kindertransport brought me to England.  My parents were transported to the Camp de Gurs in 1940 and then to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where according to the carefully kept records, they were exterminated in 1942.   I have been fortunate; a wonderful foster family, a long marriage, children and grandchildren.  I felt it was my duty to embrace life and I am sure it was what my parents would have wanted for me.

Very rarely do I fall asleep without thinking about playing with my sister among the gravestones in my village of Teschenmoschel then being welcomed home with open arms by my parents.  I also wonder about the fate of that baby girl whose mother gave her the gift of life.  

Jewish Burial Ground at Teschenmoschel

 Auntie Edith and Uncle Jack




Wednesday 2 October 2013

Baby naming, beetroot fritters and breakers

Spent a lovely weekend in London where we attended the baby naming of my latest great niece.  We were treated to Salmon Coulibiac with fennel for Friday night dinner, tasty salads on Saturday and for brunch. 
 Esther Bracha with Great Auntie Linda

 Some family members putting the world to rights
On Sunday I had beetroot fritters at the Belsize Kitchen 68 Belsize Lane London NW3


On the way we passed this statue.

Talking of food, here is another recipe from Patsy Collins, writer and blogger, to use up those apples.   She says: Whisky apple cake is good. Put sliced apples sprinkled with whisky and brown sugar in the bottom of a dish, then cover with sponge mix and bake. Serve with cream or custard. Ginger cordial works well as an alternative to the whisky if you prefer. 
Sounds yummy.

The beginning of the week saw high seas at the East Yorkshire coast.

 ....but the weather was fine, although windy, and we managed to do a bit of walking.
The rough tides throw up all manner of things and I found some additions for my collection.


Shells, stones, wood and bone

“The sea is their grave but this Memorial sculpture is, in many ways, a headstone for the lost trawlermen”

I have always been impressed by the architecture in the centre of the maritime city of Hull, especially the old buildings with their carving...