Saturday, 30 March 2019

Time passes, remembering all the Mothers ....

Time passes, sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly, sometimes in slow motion ...

It has now been 7 years since my Mother lost her cancer battle, I have shared her story before, & I will continue to speak her name till my last breath.

This past year, I travelled to South Africa twice to visit my Dad & family - with both daughters accompanying us on the second visit, the youngest on both visits. It was a very special time to be together again as adults, the enjoy their company & feel proud of the wonderful adults they have become.

My Aunt gave me a large collection of photos & documents from my late Grandmother - such a special gift because it contained things I had never seen before & glimpses of their lives that I was not privileged to.

A photo of my Mother her younger brother & much younger sister with my maternal grandfather, a photo I had never seen.

This was my Mother in her early 20’s.

 The earliest photo I have of my Mother & I in Rhodesia, she was so elegant ...

My Mother’s life was inextricably intertwined with that of my Fathers - they spent their lifetime together, married for almost 57 years, devoted to the end ...

This year, we stopped at the sea in South Africa, before heading 1000km north to Johannesburg. My Mother loved the seaside, something Dad & I did not share, & while there, I collected special stones  that I loved because I do not get to the family graves in South Africa often enough & the Jewish tradition of ’stones last longer than flowers’ seemed appropriate. 

My Parents visited Israel several times & my sister lived there for several years so it was the right way to leave a reminder that we had visited their final resting place. 

Stones & shells I choose on a beautiful beach to take 1000 km to the family graves.

My Dad with us at the seaside this past year, Dad & I choose a small selection of stones that I have in my safekeeping for a future time.

My Mother would have been right in there swimming because she was a very competent swimmer.

We travelled the 1000 km to Johannesburg & visited the family graves, leaving our stones & shells as a sign we had been, along with some proteas which last long & were firm favourites of all. The dryness of the Transvaal winter echoed my sadness that I do not get there as often as I would like...

My Mom & my forever young brother ...

My grandparents & uncle share a space ...

My grandfathers sister that we loved dearly for her eclectic ways ...

I had visited this market In Kwa Zulu Natal with my Mother & so it was appropriate that I would buy some hand beaded proteas from there, a reminder in my home on the other side of the world of flowers they all loved, so it is a reminder that I am part of their history  ... 

As the person who is passionate about recording our family history & the stories of my ancestors, this is perhaps why I do it - to give them a permanent history 

Indeed, if we tell the stories of our past, the departed will never be forgotton. While their name is spoken with great fondness, they will live on, their lives will not be in vain.

A journal Mum, tell me, a give & get back book by Elma van Vliet is a journal with spaces to record wishes, dreams & memories in. 

I wish I had asked the questions of my Mother & Grandmother that I really want to know about. I wonder who influenced them the most? What were the hardest things they faced? What were their fears & dreams? What were their proudest moments? What were their biggest regrets or sadnesses? How did they cope with WW11 when both my grandparents served & my Mother & her brother were left to the care of her maternal grandmother & Aunt? I wonder about the sister whose name I know but I never got to meet but they did as they named her ... 

Do we really know someone well enough to answer these questions? Do we ask the questions that will lead us to understand a life lived with different choices? Will someone care enough to tell my story when I am no longer here? Will there be a story with my name in it? 

This weekend is Mother’s Day / Mothering Sunday here in the UK. It is also the anniversary of my Mothers internment, my birthday & soon the birth & death of a sister I did not know as she lived only briefly - a whole lot of history colliding with bittersweet memories.  

To all the other Motherless daughters, we are part of a group that we never wanted to be in so spend time in reflection & give thanks ...

Thank you for your company, stop by again soon,
Dee ~💕~

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Shropshire’s religious past ...

Our landlocked county of Shropshire prides itself on being semi rural with interesting open spaces. 

I love visiting our interesting spaces & am fortunate that we live close to several old Abbeys. What I particularly like about them is the atmosphere they exude & the feeling of the layers of history that the spaces have. 

To understand why we have so many Religious ruins,  it helps to know about the Reformation in England & how King Henry V111 played a pivotal role in their destruction. 

Dissolution of the Monasteries

The Reformation in Tudor England was a time of unprecedented change. One of the major outcomes of the Reformation was the destruction of the monasteries which began in 1536.
The Reformation came about when Henry VIII wished to divorce his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, who had failed to give him a male heir. When the Pope refused to grant the divorce, Henry set up the Church of England. The Act of Supremacy in 1534 confirmed the break from Rome, declaring Henry to be the Supreme Head of the Church of England.
The monasteries were a reminder of the power of the Catholic Church. It was also true that the monasteries were the wealthiest institutions in the country, and Henry’s lifestyle, along with his wars, had led to a lack of money. Monasteries owned over a quarter of all the cultivated land in England. By destroying the monastic system Henry could acquire all its wealth and property whilst removing its Papist influence.
This led to the Act of Suppression in 1536 whereby small monasteries with an income of less than £200 a year were closed and their buildings, land and money taken by the Crown. The Second Suppression Act of 1539 allowed the dissolution of the larger monasteries and religious houses.
Monastic land and buildings were confiscated and sold off to families who sympathised with Henry’s break from Rome. By 1540 monasteries were being dismantled at a rate of fifty a month.
After the disposal of their monastic lands and buildings, the majority of monks, friars and nuns were given money or pensions. However, there were some abbots and religious house leaders who refused to comply. They were executed and their monasteries destroyed. Thousands of monastic servants suddenly found themselves without employment.
So what were the immediate effects of the Dissolution of the Monasteries? Firstly, vast amounts of monastic land, gold and silver plate were transferred to the Crown. It is said that the King’s own treasury profited by about one and a half million pounds. However a great deal of the wealth Henry acquired through the Dissolution was spent on his wars with France and Scotland. The gentry and rich merchants who bought the land also prospered.
One of the saddest legacies of the Dissolution was the loss and destruction of monastic libraries and their precious illuminated manuscripts. Read more about this period of history here ... 
Shropshire did not escape this period of history  & several are favourites that I love to visit & I love to share them with visitors to our county. 
I recently took visitors to explore the White Ladies Priory; I have visited it several times & it is an interesting building set down a long tree lined path & quite remote. 

The buildings have what can best be described as ‘layers of history’ 

Another favourite that I visit often is the Abbey at Lilleshall - it has a lovely setting which I really love. There are parts of it that I find eerie as they are dark areas with ornate details on the roof. I love standing at the bottom of the old Abbey entrance & looking all the way down the vast space. I am always in awe of the craftsmanship of those who built these so long ago. 

One I had not visited was this local one, near our county town of Shrewsbury.  I was so pleased that we were the only visitors to Haughmond Abbey which means that you can really absorb the atmosphere & get a feeling for the space. 
 Just look at the two towers on the sides of the window - one square, one round. They just look like the shape one might find in fairy tales, so lovely.

The Abbey faces the Shropshire hills in the distance, the impressive line of hills that we love so much & which are impressive & steeped in geological history.

This is the map of our monastic houses in Shropshire 

I have visited about half of them & will be making an effort to try to find the others. I consider myself to be ‘spiritual’ & find that these spaces are very calming, peaceful & they feed the soul & the past draws you in because I can feel the layers & weight of history.

This is a recent visit to Buildwas Abbey, another on that list and a previous visit to Wenlock Priory  in the pretty town of Much Wenlock. This Abbey is quite stunning with gorgeous topiary hedges & shapes & beautifully tended gardens ... 

I hope you have enjoyed this little visit to some of my favourite places with me. 

Thank you for your company, stop by again soon,
Dee ~💕~

Sunday, 3 March 2019

Beautiful , tender rhubarb ...

Hi everyone,

We are so used to having a steady supply of whatever fruits we want all year round that we forget the joy of seasonal food.

I have always been a huge rhubarb fan; my grandparents always grew it & I think that is where that comforting familiarity comes from. I have not grown it at home because of having had house rabbits for so long - the leaves are poisonous. However, I might now grow some in a pot.

While out in our county town of Shrewsbury, I spied some early pink rhubarb & I was so pleased. My late father in law used to ‘force’ some early rhubarb for us because he knew how much I enjoyed it.

Is this pink colour not the best? The pink with the early green tops is just so vibrant & inviting. Hubby loves crumbles so this was going to be just that.

Washed, trimmed & cut in to thumb sized lengths ready for the pot.

I had bought a selection of mixed apples at our local farm shop & they would be just right too ..

I kept the apple bits quite large so that they wouldn’t collapse too much; a generous bit of golden caster sugar as the rhubarb is quite tart ...

I love this Rigar Black Balsam liquour that I bought in Riga - a bit of that provides a richness ...

The fruits are just softened on the hob while I rustled up a crumble mix.

This is my healthy crumble mixture when I measure everything.

However, today I just winged it & used about 150g self raising flour, some shredded coconut, a bit of sugar, some mixed spice & rubbed in about 70g of butter (nothing was measured, I just estimated as crumble mixtures are really how you like it.)

This mixture was crumbled over the fruit then backed till golden brown at about 200C

Perfect - lovely, luscious early rhubarb & apple crumble - heaven on a plate.

Do you have a favourite seasonal fruit that your cannot wait to eat? Thank you for stopping by & taking time to read & comment, each visit is much appreciated.
Dee ~💕~