Friday, August 31, 2012

When I'm 64

Woke to a sunny morning, three buzzards wheeling over, and a flock of swallows swooping overhead.  But by golly it was chilly!  The bathroom was exceptionally frigid, so I put the central heating on to warm it up a bit before showering - I like to be clean on my birthday! Breakfast was an omelette, prob should have had muesli, but thought I'd skip it as it was my birthday, why force something so loathsome down on a celebratory day!

First card opened was from John.  We both agree that the red sailed boat is surely Ruddy Duck!

Card from John

Yes, I still need you
Yes, I'll still feed you *
Now you're 64...

* subject to the usual negotiations

Sarah's card arrived yesterday with a large parcel, but I held off opening both till this morning.  Strong minded or what!  Sarah is well acquainted with my love of hats obviously.  The one I wore to her wedding to Mark is marginally smaller I think, but not much! My purple Chelsea/Port Eliot hat might be approaching this size though!

Card from Sarah and Mark


So then I was able to rip open my parcel, and delighted to find this book inside.

Just Vegetating

John then put up our shark windsock again.  The lashed up bamboos had broken in a gale last week, we were lucky to catch it before it disappeared into the next door field.  But he found some more bamboos and has lashed it up again...  Showed a lovely west wind, but since then the wind has backed (usually a bad sign!) to the South West.  And the hills began to disappear, and now it's completely closed in and has been drizzling.

Cloud closing in 001

After the windsock went back up I became a Boat Widow again...  Three hours later he came back, more boat problems (centreboard jammed half way down), so off into Abersoch to talk to some people.  Meanwhile Duck is on a borrowed deep mooring.

Now he's back again, and we are listening on BBC iPlayer to DoveGreyReader on Radio Devon's Interactive Lunch (begins about 2.08 in).  (Note: this will disappear in a week from today)  So lovely to hear dear DoveGreyReader on my birthday!

And then it was time to listen to Stealing Sheep on Woman's Hour (about 33.55 minutes in) from this morning. This is another one that will sadly only be available for a week. But a great live acoustic version of their new single 'Genevieve' on it, so do have a listen.  We went to their gig at Port Eliot, which I haven't managed to blog about yet, but here's the video I made then of 'Genevieve'.

Chicken in the oven, so think I will sign off for now.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Port Eliot Festival 2012, Friday 20 July, Part 2

Once the new tent was up and decorated and running we all scroogled in and waited for Tracy Chevalier to arrive. I was entertained to see a big bumble bee lazily floating around the flowers in the tent. Unfortunately I didn't manage to capture it on camera.

Flowers in the new tent

Dove Grey and Tracy Chevalier began the session with a "show and tell" about their quilts. Dove Grey's quilt was one she started for her firstborn, Tom.  Who co-incidentally was the dovegreyreader official photographer, as well as being about to reach his 30th birthday!  Still not finished, but she assures us that she will might in time for his 30th.

Quilt show and tell

Tracy's quilt is, I think - not enormously up on quilting - a traditional American quilt pattern.  Before reading us an extract from her new novel, Tracy told us a little about how she likes to work.  As part of the research she does for writing she tries out the things that she is writing about.  She also mentioned that research can go too far, citing a novelist who went several times some hundreds of miles to find out about making guns, that eventually resulted in about 3 lines in the final novel.  Her new novel is about a Quaker woman who after emigrating to America gets involved with the "underground railway" for escaping slaves.

Quilt show and tell

The extract Tracy read to us told how her main protagonist is trying to make sufficient quilts so she can get married.  Her future sister-in-laws are prepared to lend her quilts, but want to have them replaced as part of their own dowries. Our heroine makes quilts by piecing, in the English fashion, her new (about to be) family complain it takes too long, and suggest she should stop making quilts in that way, and make them using applique which is faster.

Tracy Chevalier

After questions about 'Girl with the Pearl Earring' amongst others, Tracy signed books...  She has recently edited a book, 'Why Willows Weep', sold in aid of the Woodland Trust.  She was kind enough to sign my copy to give to my dear Mum-in-Law who had broken her wrist and was in hospital at the time.

Once this session was over, I caught a photo of Dove Grey with Michelle Roberts, who was to speak on Saturday about Angela Carter.

DoveGrey with Michele Roberts


Tomorrow is my Birthday - I'll be 64.  I may well not manage to continue this saga tomorrow...  So I'll share a picture of the view from our caravan with you before closing this post.

Caravan pictures 059

Lots more to come, including Stealing Sheep!

And then the moon began to rise! So have to share this.  It's a Blue Moon on my birthday tomorrow!

Moonrise Bwlchtocyn and Snowdon 003

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Dr Dorothy Morris, Deemee to me, has died

This morning an email dropped into my Inbox from Tom Kindlon, from an email he had received:

I regret to advise that Dorothy passed away last week from a rare form of cancer. She battled hard for the past year and eventually to treatment and the drugs took their toll.

Her funeral will be held in Leongatha, Victoria, tomorrow.


I am not sure what age she was. My guess is 70-75.*

Dr. Morris, who had M.E., did her PhD on M.E.: "Double Disability:  Lived Experience of Australian Tertiary Students with ME/CFS." She was a former teacher.


*I like to give such information as I imagine many people, like I am, are interested in/concerned about risk of death.


I was fortunate enough to meet Deemee at the MERUK Conference in Cambridge back in 2008.  I was very saddened to hear that she has died.  We had quite a correspondence years ago when I was early on in my time as a Co-Cure Moderator.  I remember how much she loved roses, but had to lose them from her garden due to drought.  It was a real joy to meet Deemee at the Conference.

Have heard from another friend that when Deemee moved house she was able to plant roses in her new home. Which is some comfort in a way.


Thank you Deemee for your friendship, and for all you did to help ME Patients.


Monday, August 27, 2012

Port Eliot Festival 2012, Friday 20 July, Part 1

Friday morning we woke up pretty early to a lovely sunny morning, after mug of tea in bed I donned my wellies over my jim jams, plus my trusty jacket, and crutched the nine mile hike towards the dreaded toilets.  Was warned off before I made it all the way - two ladies told me that they were all full.  Thank you ladies, saved some of my precious energy!  So crutched back (good thing I wasn't desperate!) to the tent, and made use of the bucket we'd brought "just in case".  (NOT the flower bucket in case anyone - Fran? - is worried!)  Next time we'll take something like this with us. OK, TMI, but it had been something that worried me!  I guess it's all part of the rich festival experience!

John fired up the little gas stove again and we had more tea followed by a bacon, egg, tomato and fried bread fry up followed by another couple of mugs of tea. I had woken several times in the night to the thunka thunka of music, which went on till about 3am I think. But was cosy wrapped in my duvet cuddling my hot water bottle, so slept pretty well all things considered. Some of our neighbours had found the music more intrusive, and all who passed as John was cooking were almost visibly drooling!

After breakfast we set off towards DoveGreyReader's tent in the Walled Garden.  I had a bucket (not THAT bucket!) of flowers brought from our garden that I was clutching against my knees while also trying to hang on to a pair of crutches and a walking stick. We did stop off at the toilets en route, just to be on the safe side.

The dreaded toilets!

John had found a zig-zag course up the hill, past the Elephant Field, that did actually prove mostly possible for the wheelchair, though once or twice I got out and crutched it so he could get the chair over the roots growing across the path.  I was so glad that John had searched out this route, as it meant we didn't have to ask for more help from the friendly people in the site office who had said they could arrange a buggy ride. Much better to be independent if at all possible in my experience.

Port Eliot Elephant field

We finally found our way to DoveGreyReader's tent, through a lovely doorway that reminded me immediately of the entrance to "The Secret Garden".  I asked a bearded man (I had seen photos on DGR's blog before) if he might be Bookhound, and he acknowledged he was, made us feel really welcome.  Dear DoveGrey arrived soon after, and gave me a big hug.  It was a very emotional time for me, as have been following her blog for ages (6-7 years?) now, and she was so incredibly kind to me 5 years ago when my parents died.  Got ensconced comfortably in the entrance to the tent, and began to do some knitting.

Maggie knitting at dovegreyreader's tent

Oh, also managed to deliver the bucket of flowers to Fran (in charge of the entry to The Flower Show as well as floral decorations in DoveGrey's tent), who managed to make some nice arrangements combined with lots of other flowers that she had brought along too.  I apologised for the "fragrance" of the Elephant Garlic flowers (they were rather pungent!), but she pooh-poohed that, said that one of the flowers she'd brought (I sadly didn't catch the name - Hen something?) had rather stunk out her car on the way!

Flowers in DGR Tent

We did have a couple of heavy showers in the morning, I sheltered under DoveGrey's big garden umbrella, and at one point I was entertained to have the gazebo lifted up and over me and it!  I should have taken some photos.

Our first author in the DoveGrey Tent was Susie Parr, author of The Story of Swimming.  She spoke about loving to go into the sea to swim, take a look at what Dove Grey had to say about her talk.  The main thing that I took away from her talk was what she said about going to visit Byron's Pool.  She went there, it was horrible and polluted and full of litter, had council warnings about not swimming...  But she had travelled so far to visit that she decided to swim anyway, foul thought it was.  This is the pool that Virginia Woolf and Rupert Brooke are reputed to have swam in together naked.  Very sad that it isn't really available to swim in now.  But how many rivers are?

DoveGreyReader and Susie Parr

After Susie Parr had spoken we all had to leave the tent, so it could be struck and replaced with a bigger one.  John gave a hand taking stuff out, removing bunting, and so on.  While this was happening the rest of us sat outside and knitted!


It was amazing how fast the new tent went up.  Meanwhile Tracy Chevalier had arrived and met up with DoveGrey.  It's a shame this photo is focused on the wall behind, but I love the big smiles!

Tracy Chevalier and DoveGreyReader

More on Tracy Chevalier, and our Port Eliot adventures soon.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Port Eliot Festival 2012 -18-19 July Travel and Arrival

I'm very late posting about our wonderful time at the Port Eliot Festival, but want to keep a record of it so I can look back.

 I've been following DoveGreyReader's blog for well over 5 years now. The last few years I've been reading her descriptions of the Port Eliot Festival, and kind of wishing I could go, sit in her tent and listen and knit...

Earlier this year we decided to try doing some more exciting stuff following the house purchase and renovation, so we visited the Chelsea Flower Show, though I wasn't sure how well I'd manage in the wheelchair! And it worked OK once the heat of the very hot day had passed.

So when DoveGrey began talking about this year's Port Eliot Festival I suddenly thought 'Why don't we go?'! We looked at the Port Eliot website, and we looked at the camping, and before we knew it we'd got tickets and booked a Hotel Bell Tent to glamp in! First ever Festival for us, at age 63 and 66!

Wednesday morning at 11 am saw me limping round the garden collecting lavender, roses and thyme flowers to help decorate DoveGreyReader's tent, with a few purple dead nettles thrown in for good measure along with some Elephant Garlic flowers - very "fragrant" these!

 We left just before 4pm on Wednesday, travelled as far as Taunton and stayed overnight there as we were worried the journey was too long for me in one go. It clocked up as being 307.1 miles from outside our house to the Festival Car Park, so I think we made the right decision

Entrance to Festival

Arrived at the Festival site on Thursday at ten to 12, were fairly well up the queue to get in when the gates opened at midday. Managed to find the disabled parking, and as the stewards didn't know where the Hotel Bell Tent encampment was John phoned Roberta (Bobbie), who was disabled liaison as well as covering a number of other tasks. She was a bit busy at the time, but arrived sooner than expected and drove me and the heaviest of our gear (thank you Bobbie!) down to Hotel Bell Tent, where the crew carried it all to our pitch. I felt a bit like an explorer following a line of porters! 

Hotel Bell Tent encampment

This was Hotel Bell Tent's first time at Port Eliot, and the land they were allocated was right next to the swamp ("this area prone to flooding"), which John immediately named the Matmos. It took John a further 4 trips to get all the rest of our stuff (!), but in the meantime I began to sort out our luggage in the cavernous tent, and make up the beds. We had two queen size air beds (already blown up thank goodness!) but had decided to take our own bedding plus a hot water bottle for nesh me!

Glamping in a Bell Tent!

After something of an explore, we were warned we would never get the wheelchair up the hill to the Walled Garden, we returned to tent, sat outside and surveyed the view while John sampled some Symonds Scrumpy Jack and I had a G&T.

Sitting outside the tent on the first evening

Looking out of our tent we saw two rows of bell tents in front of us, then two huge oak trees, and an encampment of tipis beyond. To our left Port Eliot House, to our right more tents across an arm of The Matmos, behind us the main body of The Matmos, further still behind though out of our sight The River.

While I was sitting out in the wheelchair a family with two small boys came past our plot. One of the boys looked at me and kindly asked "Did you break your leg?" I replied "No, I didn't, I just ran out of energy." At which his Mum responded "So you have to eat up all your sausages and vegetables so you don't run out of energy."!

Our tent is just to the right of the bronze flag lit by the sun.

Our tent is just to the right of the bronze flag lit by the sun.

By this time I was pretty tired so got curled up in bed while John went off to find some food. He came back with a burger but I'd gone to sleep and he couldn't wake me - I was very tired after all the travelling. So he ate the burger himself, and told me the next day it was the best one he'd ever had in his life!

Then he went off to explore some more, found a possible way up to the Walled Garden that might be wheel chair possible ready for Friday, and managed to catch the Bayou Brothers in the Cabaret Tent. He even snagged a gold necklace from the beads they threw into the crowd.