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Macmillan Coffee Morning

So I did it. I hosted my first Macmillan coffee morning. It was Saturday morning and I had sent out invites, baked cake and scones and bought biscuits. The plan was to hold the event in the garden. We tidied the garden and arranged table and chairs under the Gala tent gazebo which we adorned with the Macmillan flags provided in their Coffee morning kit.  The forecast wasn’t too good, and it was a bit windy, but I had pretty stones and heavy butterflies holding the tablecloth down.

I was also using the event as an oportunity to “showcase” my new Signal Box Shed (see previous post) which had created a great deal of interest from neighbours who had seen it develop and friends who had seen photos on social media. So in the shed I put up the Macmillan quiz questions and the photocopied answer sheets. And the donation box.

The first guest arrived and we had a chat in the kitchen, and while the kettle boiled a few more people arrived and I arranged goodies on plates ready to take outside.

Then it rained. It poured. More people arrived, hurrying in and taking off drenched hooded coats, glad to be inside. I could no longer kid myself that everyone was going to enjoy sitting on damp patio chairs in the garden. I quickly brought in the Macmillan tablecloth, put it on our dining table and made a display of the nibbles. (At this point I feel a strong urge to put in a photo. But I didn’t take any, so imagination (for the reader) and memory (for me) will have to suffice.) It looked good. I was just amazed that almost everyone I had invited had turned up. Together. The “emergency chairs” were all occupied and my small “parlour” was abuzz with chatter.

With mention of a quiz, and a slight break in the weather, I was encouraged to fetch everything back from the shed, but took a few  brave / curious people with me. A few “oohs” and “aahs” later, with the rain pounding down more than ever, (and the donation box under a coat) we made it back to the house. We tried the quiz, which prompted a good discussion or two, and hubby made another round of coffee and tea.

It was all relaxed and enjoyable. Money clinked and rustled(!) into the collection box. Apart from the weather, it all went very well.

Of course, after everyone had left, the clouds passed and the sun came out!

My Signal Box

We had a garden tool shed. We built it “from scratch”. We bought the wood, made sides, cut a door, put a roof on etc. and it served us for many years. There were no windows, it got damp – we could not access the back and it started to rot, and the roof needed replacing. It was lovely for the spiders. The idea of mowing, weeding or growing things (always a job for procrastination ) was greatly marred by the challenge involved in reaching into this dark hole for the garden tools.

My dad was a railway signalman. I have spoken in this blog about my love of the signal box – the old ones with the levers in, and the newer, button press, ones. Well, my hubby thought it would be good to make me a signal box type shed in the garden where I can write poems, paint, or read and drink wine 🙂 (my idea)

So it began. The roof was replaced with a polycarbonate clear roof. Here it is with the first of its window frames in.

The back wall was so rotton, it had to be completely relined with new timber. The sides had new cladding, and a stronger floor was put down. The design was amended a few times. We settled on just three windows.

We got a bargain buy of a beige paint, to use as undercoat for the wood exterior. It made a tremendous difference and spurred us on to get more done.

Little things like fixing an electricity supply, lights and sockets, and a proper handle which it had never had, and getting the correct glass for the windows – all took time and resources. It was good to see the final colours go on.

I got a remnant of vinyl flooring from ebay, and laid it myself. Yay! The worktops were in, and I bought some vinyl tablecloth fabric to cover and protect them.

The finishing touches – not shown – are the green bases and the newly painted cockerel /weather vane which has now been attached.

Projects so far – I painted the cock, and I’ve painted one of my garden butterflies. I’ve bought a little easel and put up a rail for hanging wet paintings.

And framed a couple of photos of my dad’s last signal box. Voila!

Tram Train

This is about the weird and wonderful tram train. Weird because it runs partly on tram lines and partly on standard rail tracks. Wonderful because it opens up a new route into our city of Sheffield.

It runs from Parkgate Retail World to Cathedral in Sheffield CIty Centre

Here’s the info


Why is it featured in my blog?

Because, for me, this is a LIFE CHANGER. Travelling into Sheffield by car is a NIGHTMARE. There is too much traffic on too many – or too few – lanes. There are tram lines along the roads and there are confusing road signs.

Travelling by train is good but has limitations – and you have to get to a rail station first anyway. Which means finding somewhere to park, train tickets to pre-purchase and pre planning the return trip, negotiating a large main line station and hoping the train turns up.

The tram train is different. Park in Retail World, Parkgate – for free. Catch the tram – pay on board. Get off where you like. Rotherham, Meadowhall (shopping centre), Ikea(major homeware store), Centertainment (cinema, bowling, restaurants), Arena (major events), and all the way into Sheffield.

So now, if someone says – lets go bowling, or to the cinema, or meet up in Sheffield, I can say YES.

Thank you tram train.

Work In Progress

What should you do when you are so busy you haven’t had time to write? Well, write of course.

So much to record, if only for my own reference, but I do hope I can share  a few interesting ideas, opinions for discussion or maybe a laugh or two.

Things to include

  • Tram-Train, and how it has broadened my horizons
  • Fitbit and how I am monitoring my sleep and steps
  • My Signal box summer house/project shed
  • Yesterday – the film
  • All on the move – three of my Major close family are moving house – and i am very excited about it.

Unfortunately I can’t write any more tonight – Fitbit says it’s bedtime 😉


D – Day – a Snapshot of my family, 1944

June 6th 1944 was my mother’s 32nd birthday. She was 8 months pregnant with her fourth child.

Her other children were 9, 8 and 5 years old. My dad was not “in the war” due to his job on the railway. In those days men did not look after the children so when my mum became ill during her pregnancy, she took her children to her sister’s, while being cared for by her brother and his wife. My dad insisted on taking the children back home to Yorkshire (my mum’s relatives were in Essex) but then realised he could not care for them, and had them placed in local authority care. Each of the siblings was fostered out separately. The older two became frantically upset, and the experience had lifelong effects.

My father was instructed to take back the first born, my brother, as he was so distressed. He collected him, put him on a train to London St Pancras and arranged for the boy’s paternal grandmother to collect him. My brother  then had a different set of fears – he was in London during the final fierce battles of the war. He was sent to school there, and slept on the landing of the accommodation his grandparents shared with 5 other families. He witnessed at close site the bombing of the local station, and collected shrapnel with his peers after school.

These records are taken from my mother’s diaries and my brother’s autobiography. My brother recorded that he was told there was a new baby brother in the family and that he would soon be returnng home.

That was on July 4th 1944.

There is no record of what happened to  my sister and 5 year old brother during this time. Nor is there a timeline – was it weeks or months?

At the 75th anniversary of D-Day, I expected to find remenicenses of a family finding joy and relief. Instead I found a broken home. The brother born on 4/7/44 is approaching 75, and my only living relative, and he can’t tell me anything. It was only spoken about by my sister when we were much older. The  experience she described to me was utterly frantic. No-one ever mentioned D-Day, except to comment each year, that it was my mother’s birthday.