We learn wisdom from failure much more than success, or so I like to believe but starting a large project when living alone is mighty daunting never-the-less. For sure I have always been a brave woman if that’s really the right word, one can become complacent when getting older and for me approaching my seventh decade I have recently thrown caution to the wind!
The past couple of months have been exciting for me in many ways, pulling and shaking me from my gentle quiet life here in the country. Not that I might add I am ever bored or feel there is not enough to do, often not having enough hours in the day for all the things I desire to achieve. I have a lunch date or two most weeks and often go out to dinner. I spend time writing of course, walk with the “Wold Walkers for Health” and join-in many social occasions in the Village. Having marvellous holidays too and I go visiting south, now and then and even manage the odd day in London, recently spending another day at “Westfield Shopping Mall” a great fun day out. I am content and happy with my so called ‘quiet life’, living alone has many compensations. Pleasing yourself with what you choose to do with your precious time is one of them and something I luxuriate in these days.
I have now been without my beloved for four years, adjusting well to this terrible loss or so I believe but now a time of reassessment has arrived. I live in a most modest bungalow quite perfect for retirement, the garden is probably a bit too big for me to cope with alone and that’s costly to keep under control but I would hate to part with it. I have just had all the trees pruned and some removed as the garden was becoming untidy and growing inwards, hopefully that will last for a good few years before needing attention again. I love so much the quietness and tranquillity of this village , we have fun here but its still perfect to retreat to your own little space and that’s something I love.
Still reassessment of one’s life is a good thing to do from time to time and at any age, bringing many different thoughts together and perhaps as folk might think, should I move to a smaller place? A flat/apartment perhaps because I am getting older? Should I return to the county I came from, nearer my sons and their familes? I of course love them muchly but do not wish to be the Mother that is just around the corner or a worry to them. As long as my independence lasts and I keep well and active then here I shall stay. I have been pondering for some time but have never wavered from my love of this quiet village of kind, good people, a village with no lights, starlit skies, one pub and the little church of St Margaret’s and in the ten years I have lived here the many memories that have been made and of course in the churchyard lies a special spot near to the church door… Could I leave that? And rings the answer loud and clear – No!
I have learnt well that possessions do not last, it is remembered joys that make the heart strong and content. I am happy here although living alone, so feel I must make my home as comfortable as I can for me and for the guests that perhaps will brave the ‘A’ roads to visit me occasionally. And so to that end and because it is an exciting thing to do at any time of life and especially now in mine, I have decided to extended my home and make it the best I can for the years that remain. Since moving here over a decade ago, and downsizing greatly, I really missed not having a dining room, yes I could have taken one of the bedrooms but so often when family comes all the rooms are taken. I love to entertain and yes we have managed – when not many folk are here - we have eaten in the kitchen, quite big enough really, but when needing more room we have had to put a long table in the sitting room not a problem in the past but now I need to make things easier for me and a little less hard work.
So with that in mind I have decided to have a large Orangery built to the rear of the bungalow and as I sit here writing this, the garden and driveway to my home are covered in cement mixers, diggers and all manner of building equipment. How strange when the planning takes months and all of a sudden there you go, an invasion of the nicest kind. I am of course keeping a record of the build, always fun to look back on in years to come and I am glad to learn the manner and order of these types of modern day builds, not that I will ever attempt one I’m sure! But knowledge is knowledge and all is good to retain. I have longed to have a light airy room and to be able to glean as much of our English sunlight that I can. I have spent much time looking at designs, chatting to architects, walking showrooms with a dear friend, debating and discussing, mulling over the few complications of drains and interior heating cupboards, radiators and fires, light fittings etc etc. Doing things by yourself is more of a challenge of course. I have to keep within a budget and my always champagne taste with beer money comes sharply to mind. I have discussed things with a good friend who reminds me often that however my vision, it must be tailored to my own needs and taste and I should have just what I what, well thats ok to a degree but I must stay within my budget and could without doubt like all of us, get carried away! Still It’s fun and enjoyable searching out ideas for the interior, which I would like more modern than the rest of the house. Have manage to find a contemporary mounted wall fire that I like and that I hope will work well with the radiators, selected lights too, not wanting the normal ceiling fan which I dislike because of the whirring noise and have certainly overdone the budget on a huge ceiling and two wall lights, oh well, we all need a bit of glamour in our life. I shall update as things continue but they are racing away and progressing so quickly after only a week of work. Watch this space friends this will be fun and fingers crossed…
December 12, 2014 2 Comments
as if the heavens were angry
perhaps they are?
It brought the coloured leaves of autumn
blowing in a scurrying way,
like the small hands of lost waving children,
scudding like thousands of tiny moths,
ginger, red and gold’s mixed in the storm
sodden and sad… Are these the tears of heaven dismayed
at the recent atrocities of the ISIL Man? The leaden sky poured forth its sadness,
angry rain continued to lash the souls of those
whose evilness betrays the common man.
Black thunderclouds hung distraught and wailing overhead,
my heart felt heavy as far away barbaric wretched deeds
Are these the tears of Heaven… Tell me, are these the tears of Heaven?
October 14, 2014 3 Comments
September 29, 2014 2 Comments
It was thrilling to be a small part of this newly published book by Michael Vocino (former Dean of Libraries at the University of Rhode Island) and Alfred G. Killilea (Teacher of Political Theory at The University of Rhode Island) Shown here is an extract from my article “The Way To Affirmation” I recommend this nicely put together book “Befriending Death”, for further understanding of human mortality: Now available from Amazon.
“The Way To Affirmation”
Married to my only love for almost thirty years and after a bravely fought battle to survive, Hamada lost his fight for life in November 2010. After a few months of grieving and resting my body and mind, for caregivers are exhausted after much time and many years in some cases, spent caring and nursing. We do for others what we might never dream of doing for ourselves and the struggle was hard, as this good man had the strongest will to live! We bravely go beyond barriers unknown to us. We fight battles, challenge medical authorities to negotiate the best care possible. Hamada fought every step of the way to continue to stay with us, accepting every treatment available, as many do. After his death I recalled the wise words of this clever man, these words spoken during his illness and a lot towards the end, requesting that I continue to live my life well and with joy. Difficult yes! But affirming life in the face of death is just that, the most difficult and painful road in the highway of life. How easy it would be to succumb and hide away with my grief as I know many choose to do. I so wanted that at times, feeling that I had nothing more to live for, but the dawn rises every day when all else is lost and for me it would have been a dishonour to this amazing man who fought through every treatment to survive. Affirmation! Yes a serious and solemn declaration of affection for the essence of this good man.
I decided as my body returned to life once more, that I would honour my husband’s memory and go forth with joy and a smile on my face and live the life he so wanted to do.
Embracing the years I have left in the best way I can, will be my affirmation. Watching and absorbing all that he can no longer see or do. Knowing and learning more about this world we live in and accepting my life now with the joy he taught me when we were together. No it will never be the same, but it will be the best I can do without him. It will be mastered in his honour.
First before affirmation, comes the shock, the numbness, denial, depression, fear and then acceptance. Only when you accept and only then, can you affirm life in the aftermath of death. Hamada loved to have fun and so shall I. The smile on my face will be the affirmation of my life lived with him; all we achieved together, all he taught me about living and what a waste if I do not make the most of these remaining years in the best way I can. Affirmation of a life lived well in his loving memory.
September 8, 2014 2 Comments
August 28, 2014 4 Comments
“No spring or winter has such grace as I have seen in one little face…“ This little verse is dedicated to the memory of Maeve Craven, much loved Mother of Karen who died in June 2014.
June 30, 2014 3 Comments
We awoke to a grey rainy morning the skies the colour of old gun metal. My heart felt heavy although I knew nothing of course would spoil this special day but how lovely would it be if the sun shone down on this little village of ours, warming the colours of the pasture land and sending the dapple rays we know so well across the lanes and up to the path of our little church.
Much preparation had been done in the days and weeks before when the weather had been unusually warm for May and in all our minds the sun just had to be shining at least for the most important time of our beautiful bride arriving and the departure from the church to the perfect green carpet walkway winding its way through the grounds of this beautiful garden to the Marquee…
I had fed my house-guests well – a large breakfast to set them-up for the day and after clearing away the dishes I took myself off to my room to prepare for the wedding of dear Ellie and Stuart. The rain continued to pour, running off the gutters and down the drive so forcibly that even Noah would have been proud. Perhaps a prayer might help an imploring to the heavens, maybe if I begged earnestly the almighty would listen? So placing a disc of favourite music and something appropriate for the occasion I selected Al Giochi - Romeo & Juliet sung by the powerful Luciano Pavarotti, this strong robust tenor at a suitably high volume would certainly do the trick and a quiet prayer to my Hamada-who loved this song -to have a word with the Almighty to change his designs on the weather for today, just this once please but the rain continued to pour…
At about mid-day I thought a nice Bucks-Fizz would go down well. I prepared these and then continued with my intonations when a lovely voice came from the front of the house “I can see a small patch of blue over towards the west!” We dared not to hope but slowly the rain eased and the watery sun appeared. And so this perfect day unfolded like a beautiful wished for flower forming from a bud into perfection.
I have a job not to cry at weddings being the eternal optimist in all things romantic and this wedding was no exception. Ellie my much loved niece, had found her perfect man in Stuart. Tall and handsome, kind and compassionate they were entirely perfect for each other in every way. Her natural beauty and the gasps of admiration for this stunning bride in her exquisite lace wedding gown could be heard in the intake of breath from all assembled. The service was quite perfect the Rev Avril in her amazingly charming and confident manner guiding the way. More tears from me when I saw my fourteen year old Grandson Manu resplendent in tuxedo, looking so mature and handsome bearing the rings. How very smart and stylish the best men, the brides father/bridegroom’s father looked in their tux. How very beautiful the Matrons of Honour in their delicate pale green dresses, serenely matching the foliage in their bouquets of cream roses and blending with the sweet smelling newly mown, rain fresh grass and the beautiful trees surrounding this now sunlit churchyard. We sang with gusto, we sang with praise and thanked the lord for giving us the sunlit rays now coming through the old mauve leaded lights of the arched windows that were filled with wide masses of cream roses We sang to bless this beautiful couple. We sang in praise of how lucky we are to be together to rejoice in their love and joy.
I had tears in my eyes as I watch my dear sister lift back Ellie’s veil and then again when her father Ian laid his hands gently over the hands of this lovely couple as prayers were said. And lastly the beautiful singing and guitar playing of my youngest son Jo, his voice lifted and soared to new heights echoing his rich tones over our heads so even the Almighty could hear the praising of the day and the love that filled this church of ours. Thank goodness for the white linen handkerchief my dear friend passed to me, which was damp with joyous emotion.
The assembled guests, family and many friends stopped for photographs outside the little church and in the courtyard of the nearby country house, as the sun came out to greet us, delicious perfectly chilled champagne and canapés were served by the many waiters and waitress’s weaving cleverly and skilfully amongst the guests.. Ellie and Stuart left for a quiet moment together and for private special photos and arrived to joined us all in the garden in a fabulous 30′s Beauford Bentley-Styled beauty of a car, entering slowly through the main gates of this stunning house and gardens.
The trees hung with white wicker hearts and the rails of the churchyard were festooned with handmade celebration flag bunting, perfectly made by Ellies mum Jenny and lining the length of the gardens. Beautiful young woman in an array of pretty summery frocks walked arm in arm with their handsome partners along the pale green carpet that laid across the grass. Close family all dressed in their finest attire with loving smiles on their faces so happy to greet relatives not seen for a while. Jenny and Ian, Ellie parents, looking resplendent in their superb wedding clothes beaming with pride at their gorgeous Ellie and her charming Prince. A storybook affair of magical visionary arrangements and just as a country wedding should be and something conjured-up only in the dreams of young girls.
The large Marquee continued the pale green theme, sharp white tablecloths with pale green fine linen napkins, silver cutlery, sparkling silver candelabras on each of the five long tables, holding long white candles, the crystal chandeliers shone enchantingly. The whole marquee twinkling in its simplicity and design. The long tables reaching from end to end of the Marquee given the names of chateaus in honour of Ellie and Stuarts engagement in France. Perfectly written name places and a menu better than the finest restaurant. Superb French wines and champagne continued this theme. There was a cocktail bar to one-side and a chill-out area comprising of curved backed wicker sofas and again the matching colour of the pale green cushions set the scene. A wooden dance floor with a DJ ready for action. A pianist greeted us as he played gentle music while we took our seats for a very special ‘wedding breakfast’ How difficult to describe how enchanting it all was, perhaps my photos may help in some way.
The speeches were wonderful!! Totally entertaining and amusing too. Stuart recalling how they met and fell in love, with some amusing tales of the early days of their romance, spoken clearly and with great confidence and such a pleasing way he played with his words of love! The father of the bride making us laugh with tales of Ellie’s younger years – especially her girlfriends who’s chuckles could be heard around the marquee as they listen to the recalling of fun girly days of the past and remembered their teenage years, all friends growing-up together. Then my eldest son Matt stood, an important role as Ellie’s Godfather, consummate in delivery of an amusing and in places poignant gathering of clever phrases and words that made us smile as he recalled many special family moments. But the speech that stole the show entirely was from my Grandson Manu who spoke of his love for Ellie and Stuart and for the fun they enjoy together and a perfectly funny tale about Stuart, when he was staying over at their home – we laugh and laughed at the funny antics of this time, delivered so confidently and with such great aplomb and even ad-libbing that brought much laughter and the ‘house down’ with clapping and cheering at the end. Manu is just fourteen years of age!
We ate wonderful culinary delights, we dance with gay abandon well into the early hours. We drank cocktails, raspberry mojitos! We chatted with family and friends enjoying every single moment. I looked and listened and drank-in the atmosphere of this perfect day – for this was my beloved family who had planned and worked hard to achieve perfection and if only I could convey to you my readers, just how very special it all was.
The love of this gorgeous couple will last the test of time of that I’m sure. For when love is found it is seen in the depths of the eyes and faces of those that truly love. The effort of romance starts with small seeds of devotion to each other that grow and cultivate into the years of all our tomorrows.
Celebrate your loved one in creating memories of kindness and of respect. In nurture of each other, praise and thank them daily for the joy they bring to you, for this will create a life of harmony and a love that will grow into longevity. Life brings ups and downs to us all but bonds made strong in the early days and in the new flush of romance build the strength to carry you through the tough times. Be kind to each other daily, taking time to listen to each others needs and most of all rejoice in your love.
Dreams are made of perfect days like this, love brings so much, for it is the greatest of all life’s gifts…
Specially Remembered Things: Bowls of Love-Heart Sweets- Soft Pashmina’s for the ladies just in case they needed to get cosy. REAL bathrooms in a Marquee!- with every imaginable cosmetic you just might need. A long Mirror, Special hangers for your precious hats. Oh and so much more…
More Photos of this lovely day can be found at https://www.flickr.com/photos/susiehemingway/
June 1, 2014 21 Comments
It has been a glorious week. A week of sunny balmy days with little puffs of gentle breeze, a cloudless blue sky which cast a Midas touch across this pasture land. How good this has been for us as we start to count down the days to the wedding of my dear niece Ellie and her beloved Stuart here in the village next Saturday.
Much must be done and the excitement is mounting as my dear Sister Jenny and Brother-in-Law Ian and others too, go about the many preparations to make this a most memorable day. Our village church will have an extra special clean, windows will shine, pews will be polished with vigour, brasses will be cleaned, and flowers skilfully made into bouquets and beautiful displays to decorate this tiny church. The churchyard will be mown, borders and edges trimmed, telephone and post boxes in the village will be given a good wipe clean and a ‘once-over’ and slowly during the coming week folk will travel from all corners of this treasured land and some even further to celebrate the marriage of this lovely couple who have chosen to have their wedding here in this pretty Lincolnshire village
Of course not everyone can be here, some who loved her dearly are no longer with us. I think now of my Hamada whose love for Ellie was continuous throughout his life. As a little tot he would always take time to gently chatter with her, her sweetness and eager need for knowledge always brought a huge smile to his lovely face, he always had time for this little beauty. How very proud he was when she graduated from Reading University.
Still he will be close-by in his resting place here in the churchyard, just a step away from the old church door and the footsteps of this beautiful bride and her handsome groom will be but a pace away. I wish he could see this scene, I wish he could see her now but I’m sure he will know we are all here. His memorial stone will be bedecked in the flowers of the wedding decorations in honour of a good and much loved Uncle who would be so proud of the woman his niece has become today. I will drink-in every single moment of this glorious day, I will whisper all the details into the breeze for him to know all, perhaps if I try hard enough…he will hear?
I will feel his absence greatly, his quiet manner and his lovely smile and the love he had for his family and I know at some time during this fabulous celebration,that Ellie and Stuart will think of him too.
I wonder also of Ellie’s Grandparents and the perfect love they all had for her. How thrilled they would be about this union and the love this unique couple so obviously have for each other. How proud they would be for the woman Ellie has become today, for her choices and for this family celebration that continues to keep together this close family for which they created.
The circle of life continues to turn, a life of love and change and of courage too. How lucky I am to be here with them and my two sons, their families and partners to enjoy this marvellous day to the full. I am sure I will shed a tear or two of joy for I am truly blessed indeed.
May 19, 2014 8 Comments
The Wedding of Miriam and Hubert – Reposted with love for Ellie and Stuart who are to be married in May.
All rights reserved with no reproduction of Photo.
Copyright @ August 2009.
With special thanks to Ged Tucker for the 1911 Family Photo
and also to Janey Johnson for the restoration of this wonderful Photo
April 11, 2014 6 Comments
March 31, 2014 6 Comments
January 26, 2014 6 Comments
“Poetry is the opening and closing of a door, leaving those who look through, to guess about what is seen during a moment” Carl Sandburg
I Missed You.I missed you, when the heated rhythm of Salsa that feels so like chillies when they touch your tongue drifted across the dance floor. I missed you as this enticing music reached my jewelled pinned ears. Where were you? when the luscious sounds of Sax blues caught my needy toes so carefully encased in high dancing shoes. Where were those slim ‘sun touched’ hands that would reach to twirl me to the dance floor. Where was the graceful dancer whose gentle persuasion could spin me like a whirlpool, making me turn and sway to the sounds of Latin beats and bluesy tones. Tell me, where were those magical eyes those sparkling rays of light, that always laughed with me. Where was that smile, those breathy movements on the dance floor, those feet that could glide and coax the dancer from my soul. How my heart wants to dance with you once more, instead of standing alone when the music calls to me. I watched the others spin and whirl but my arms were empty, sadness for your charms that made me feel like sixteen again. I was never a wallflower but she has found me now. Where were you… when the deliciously heated sound of Salsa reached my ears… where were you?
@ Copyright 2009 Susie Hemingway.
January 19, 2014 2 Comments
Happy New Year All – Seems I’ve been away from the computer far too long. A lovely festive holiday break in Buckinghamshire starting with an excellent meal with my eldest Son Matt, his beautiful Wife Sandrine and of course my dear Grandson Manu. A superb evening with a wonderfully delicious meal starting with Goat’s cheese tartlets and then a marvellous almost peasant dish of braised chicken with spicy chorizo sausage and then a super chocolate pudding followed, also some very good cheese! All this set in beautiful twinkling Christmas surroundings. They were then leaving for France the following day. A gorgeous meal with them and a perfect start to the holidays.
I then spent the rest of Christmas with my youngest son Jo at his house in the Chilterns. There was a crowd of us, fifteen in all, so much preparation took place in the lead-up to this special day.
Lots of food shopping and preparing and decorating of the Xmas table – a lovely jolly atmosphere prevailed the whole time and we settled to a warm cosy Christmas Eve around a lovely open fire in this beautiful old farmhouse high-up in the Chiltern Hills.
A simply super special celebration meal followed on Christmas Day with fun , many smiles and much laughter, the children enjoying their new gifts and delighting in each other and the games played.
So special for me amongst our Christmas party was the arrival and sharing of Christmas day with a very dear Niece and her two beautiful children all the way from Cairo. We spent so much time catching up and chatting and recalling old times together, it made this Christmas very special to me as we talked about her dear Uncle Hamada bringing back lovely memories for me of times past spent in Egypt at Christmas time, time spent out in the desert under the stars. It was truly wonderful to spend time with such a delightful group of people. I arrived back to the Lincolnshire Wolds a week later with lovely memories to recall and mull over. The perfect ending to a good year.
And now we are well into 2014 I wonder what it will bring? What it will bring for all of us? The weather has been playing such a big part right from the start with the UK in the grip of many storms and bringing with it floods to many areas. Daily storm warnings of quite frightening proportions and then sadness seeing the loss and damage to so many properties. And further afield across the ’big pond’ three quarters of America is engulfed in the coldest weather for more than twenty years with unbelievably low temperatures causing such problems and a danger to lives.
Wherever you are whatever you are doing or however you are feeling – I wish you a joyous, healthy, safe and happy 2014 – with much love and heaps of fun too. Sx
January 7, 2014 4 Comments
December 18, 2013 2 Comments
December 8, 2013 3 Comments