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Friday, 20 February 2015

Fairy Tales

When my daughter and I go for a walk we always have to stop after a few yards while she gets a stone out of her boot. Then, often, we stop a few yards later as she can still feel something else digging into her sole.

"You're like the princess and the pea," I said to her on Tuesday when we had stopped three times within sight of our front gate!

Actually this fairy tale was one of my favourites when I was small. I still have the original, rather dog eared but much loved copy of the book it came from complete with wonderful Edmund Dulac illustrations.

The Princess and the Pea was first published in 1835 alongside two other stories. And although Andersen was Danish it is believed this particular story had its origins in Swedish folklore. Apparently it was unpopular with the critics when first published as they disliked Andersen's casual, chatty style and the story's apparent lack of morals. It just goes to show - what do critics know!

Of course I love The Little Mermaid, The Ugly Duckling, The Emperor's New Clothes, (I think every child loves that one!) and The Snow Queen too.

Andersen was an only child. His mother was a washerwoman and it was his father who introduced him to literature, (although there are theories that Andersen may actually have been an illegitimate son of King Christian VIII). He received a basic education and said that his school years were the unhappiest of his life. While there he was actually discouraged from writing and became depressed.

On February 26th it's Tell A Fairy Tale Day. Storytellers will be going into schools and children will be dressing up. But you're never too old for a fairy tale so this week I'm going to re-read The Princess and The Pea as well as a few other favourites.

On Thursday we had a new grand-daughter, a beautiful little redhead. One day I hope to be reading fairy tales to her as well. Here she is at one day old.

Thank-you for reading. Have a lovely week.

Friday, 13 February 2015

All Change Again!

We have an exciting week ahead. By the time I write my next post we will have a new addition to our family. My son and his wife are having their second child next week. Unbelievably my grand-daughter is two years old and about to have a brother or sister. As an only child how I envy her.

We do not know whether this baby will be a boy or girl. I wonder whether he/she will have soft auburn curls like my granddaughter. Will this new arrival be like her? Will he or she possess her energy, her attention to detail. Will our new grandchild also grow to adore strawberries, Peppa Pig and a fascination for the moon? Will the two of them get on? I know of siblings who adore each other but also those who become estranged. I do realise that having a brother or sister is no guarantee of companionship but I hope that my grandchildren become firm friends, ones who will not let life come  between them.

We are lucky that my son and daughter-in-law live nearby. We get to see them nearly every week. I never take this for granted and I know that in a way these early years are the easy bit. It can be when children grow up that it is harder to keep in touch, to keep that grandparent/grandchild relationship going. A few years ago my husband and I were visiting some gardens and we sat at a courtyard table for coffee. Nearby were another couple and we got talking. The gentleman was texting on his phone. He was contacting his grandson who was at university, telling him what they were doing, sending pictures of the garden. I knew there and then that was the sort of grandparent I wanted to be.

So, little person, about to enter the big wide world with a mountain of opportunities and experiences ahead of you, we can't wait to meet you, to find out what you are like in looks and character. We can't wait to hold you and to show you how much we love you.

Thank-you for dropping by and have a good week whatever you are doing.

Friday, 6 February 2015

All Saints, Stamford

'Lincolnshire churches cannot be bettered...above all they are a pleasure to visit'
Simon Jenkins

In the centre of Stamford, overlooking  Red Lion Square, rises the parish church of All Saints. It's an imposing sight.

Again I had spent the morning writing in the library and set off, in a chill wind, to stretch my legs. I've always loved churches and churchyards. In the U.K. these days churches are often not open during the week, but All Saints was. I stepped away from the traffic, through the doors and inside into a space brimming with Faith.

This church was recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 and is one of Stamford's oldest. By the thirteenth century Stamford was one of the ten largest towns in England, having prospered under the Normans with a trade mainly based on wool. The town was particularly known for its woven cloth called haberget. The main wool trade relocated to East Anglia in the fifteenth century, the remaining trade being with a few merchants such as William and John Browne who were responsible for the re-building of the crocketed spire and the windows. Between 1730 and 1747 the antiquarian William Stukeley was the vicar of this church. It was during his time in Stamford that he published some of his most famous work including his book on the origins of Stonehenge.

The atmosphere inside All Saints is beautiful, so peaceful. The pews possess little doors so you are cocooned in your own private space. For a brief time I was all alone, a whole church to myself, sun shining through the stained glass...

...gentle music floating in the air and a sense of timelessness. Bliss. I could have stayed there for ages but I had to be content with a few minutes.

It was as I was leaving that I spotted this lovely message, just inside the doors;-

If you are curious and have come to see,
If you are weary and have come to rest,
If you are grateful and have come to share,
If you are hurt and have come for solace,
If you are listening and have come to pray,
If you are seeking and have come for answers,


If you get the chance to visit Stamford and this beautiful church, please do. You will not be disappointed.

Thank-you so much for joining me this week and take care.