Pistol packing Mama

After the last two sad posts I am going to try and lighten the mood now ;-)

As anyone who has dealt with the death of a close relative will know, there is an awful lot of private and personal things to sort out.

I knew my mum kept anything of importance in the desk in the back room. So bracing myself for what I expected to be quite a tearful time, I plonked myself on the floor in front of the desk.

The desk in question is a fairly modern teak one, she’d got rid of the solid oak one (and matching table) that we’d had in the family for as long as I can remember, not long after my dad had died, stating that oak was too dark and she preferred teak.

Anyway, what I am getting around to, is that everything in that desk had only been in there since 2000.

I turned the key and opened the drop down flap. It was full of stationery of one sort and another, paper clips, sellotape, pens, pencils, erasers, bluetac, envelopes………… and the list goes on. if I didn’t know better, I’d have sworn she was running a stationery shop from her back room.

I discarded what I didn’t need, closed the flap and moved onto the first of three drawers.

This drawer was easy, it was obviously the keeping in touch drawer, full of unused christmas wrapping and cards, christmas decorations  and birthday cards.

My mum bless her, was highly organised when sending birthday, anniversary and Christmas cards.

The second drawer was full of folders containing old utility bills, plus receipts and guarantees for items purchased.

The bottom drawer had instruction books for almost every item she’d ever bought. An old pipe of my dad’s, two silver cigarette cases and a rolled up plastic bag containing what looked like some silver, bone handled serving cutlery.

I unrolled the bag, reached inside and ……………

“F***ING HELL”…… I shouted out, which made T, who had been quietly reading the paper, jump out of his skin.

 “What ever’s the matter” he spluttered.

“I’ve just found a gun” I replied, as I pulled it out of the bag.

We both stared in disbelief at what I was holding in my hand……….What on earth was my eighty five year old mum doing with a gun rolled up in a plastic bag along with some cutlery.

For anyone who doesn’t know, the UK has one of the toughest firearm laws in the world. Here for anyone interested is the Home Office Guide on Firearms Licensing Law

I knew it had to be reported, but how?

Should I phone them up and risk having a cop car pull up outside my mums house the day after her funeral?

Should I just walk into the police station with a gun?

What if something happened to me on the way there and I was found with it in my possession?

After much deliberation, we decided it was probably best to go to the police station (without the gun), explain what I’d found, and ask them what I needed to do.

A very helpful woman officer put my mind at rest ” Don’t worry, we get all sorts from old folks houses, Lugers are the most popular.

“Just bring it in and I’ll get our firearms officer to take it off your hands”

Walking back into my mums house, T, full of concern  jokingly announced “Oh, they let you out then”

Later that afternoon, after T had offered to go with me for protection (so he said LOL) we returned to Knaresborough.  Sitting on a bus with a gun in my bag, I’ve never felt so conspicuous in my life.

Handing it over to the firearms officer, he took one look at it and said….

“It’s a six shot Belgian Pinfire pistol, dating from the mid to late 1800′s.  As it is an antique, and ammunition is rare or non existent, you are OK to keep it”.

We had a good chat about it, and he gave me his card, to carry with it, in case anything happened on our drive back to the midlands.

One thought did cross my mind, which I mentioned to the officer, Could it possibly have belonged to a woman in the French Resistance, who my nan had contact with during the war.

His reply, “it would be a typical type of pistol carried by a woman for protection”.

If only it could speak, I wonder what it could tell us.

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Marks on pistol

A good send off

Well if that is at all possible for a funeral, I have to say I think my mum had one.

T and I had travelled up to Yorkshire on Sunday 9th February ready for her funeral on Monday 10th.

Walking into my mums house, was to say the least, very emotional this time. All previous visits had been a total whirlwind of trips to the hospital, constant phone calls to various folk and visits from carers etc.
Looking around this time, I found myself fixating on her treasured collection of ornaments, paintings and photos, that were ‘my mum’ They’d always been part of her home, though I’d never really noticed them before. Now here they were, crying out for her to look at them and dust them. In an odd sort of way, they looked lost and alone.
Deb, our younger daughter arrived soon after, breaking my thoughts.

We’d booked the Travellers Rest for after the funeral service, so decided we’d pop there for something to eat, and to make sure everything was in hand.
I’d also done a montage of photos of mums life, and wanted to make sure they could display them somewhere.

Next day, we headed to Harrogate Crematorium for the 12.20pm service.
I had painful memories of my dad’s funeral cars doing the drive from house to crematorium fourteen years ago, so I’d chosen to meet the funeral car there. The journey still wasn’t pleasant, but I felt happier going at a more normal speed without the obvious stares that a funeral cortège attracts.

The crematorium was full, many faces I didn’t know, but all friends of mum who’s paths she had crossed during her lifetime.

The service was performed by Jim the hospital chaplain, a truly lovely person who I’d met for the first time at my mums bedside.
He’d asked me questions about mum a couple of days after she passed away, so he could get a feel for the type of person she was. The eulogy he spoke, in his gentle Geordie lilt was so beautiful and heartfelt.
I’d chosen a couple of songs from a Susan Boyle CD, who I knew my mum liked.
Wild Horses‘ (actually a Stones song) for the processional music and ‘How Great Thou Art‘ for the recessional music. With the firm favourite ‘Jerusalem’ sung by a choir mid service.

After the service we headed for the Travellers Rest for the wake.
The montages I’d made were displayed around the room and they’d put on a beautiful spread of food.
Everyone was mingling with each other and chatting with memories of my mum, even Jim the chaplain turned up. The atmosphere was lovely with a warmth of feeling everywhere.
Deb raised a glass in celebration of my mums life, and everyone reciprocated with a hearty and resounding ‘KATH’

Yes, if a funeral can be good, my mums definitely was.

Click on the four small images above to see the photo montages.

Mum&Dad 1Mum (1929-2014) & Dad (1920-2000) how I like to remember them

Cindy

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As a lot of you who read my blog regularly will know, Cindy my mum’s yorkie has been lodging with us for over a year, due to my mum’s deteriorating health.

Not too long ago (unknown to me), mum held T’s hand between both of hers and pleaded, that if anything should ever happen to her, would he promise her he’d look after Cindy.

On January 28th I got a phone call from Harrogate hospital, saying they thought I ought to be at the hospital.

We quickly packed the car, and set off in just over thirty minutes.

I stayed at my mums bedside until late Tuesday evening, and returned first thing Wednesday morning.

She looked very peaceful sleeping, occasionally appearing to be having a conversation with someone. She finally drifted away about 4.30pm Wednesday 29th January.

T only told me my mum’s wish on Sunday, so yesterday, I contacted the ID chip company and changed Cindy’s details from my mums to mine.

Cindy is now officially part of our pack.

R.I.P. Ella Kathlyn Teal……… mum………… I will keep T’s promise xx

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I have a lot of things to sort out, so there may be a lack of posts in the next few weeks - Vicky x

Dream on

With everything going on in my life recently I’m sure my subconscious must be taking a battering, which might explain some of the weird dreams I’ve been having recently.

I don’t seem able to remember most, except the fact that they have all been weird, but this latest one felt so real, I woke wondering if it had actually happened the previous day.

Any dream experts out there?

I’m a passenger in T’s car, we are in a queue waiting to exit an outdoor car park of a town near where we live in Worcestershire.

T suddenly says he wants a coffee, so he gets out of the driving seat and sets off on foot to see his friend who runs a cafe……… in Dorset (about 150 miles away), shouting back to me, if he’s not back before the queue moves, I’ll have to edge his car forward.

The queue starts to move, so I slide across the seat into the driving seat to keep with the flow of traffic, but I’m now sat in my Land Rover.

I suddenly realise I need a ticket for the exit, which I haven’t got, so I pull alongside pay machine, curbing my tyres in the process.

An old neighbour, who I haven’t seen for over twenty years is standing in the queue, we exchange pleasantries, as I lean out of the car window.

Although I am still sat in my motor, I note my position is between two women standing in the queue with dogs.

The queue is getting longer, so to save any arguments about me queue jumping, I get out of my car, and stand between the two women.

One woman has a big hairy dog and another a big smooth coated dog, I tickle hairy dog behind ears, stroke smooth dog.

The old neighbour morphs into my present neighbours who are there with their children, they’re waiting to get passport photos from the car park machine for their babies, I look at their babies and see they have big smiles with massive adult teeth.

The queue continues to get longer and longer because the machine is causing problems.

I eventually get my ticket, but machine gives me two.

An attendant suddenly appears, snatches both tickets off me, says there is a problem with them and I need to rejoin queue, which is now about 100 deep.

I have massive argument with him, demanding he gives me one of my tickets or my 50p (very cheap parking) back, he refuses, and points to back of queue.

The car park is now undercover and everyone is watching as our argument gets worse with pushing and shoving.

I then woke up, so no idea on the outcome.

Not quite what it appears

Following on from a recent Weekly Photo Challenge post on my other blog Pic a colour 4 me I set myself the challenge, that on my next trip to Knaresborough I would try to locate and photograph as many of the other trompe l’oeil ‘windows’ that I could find.

Leaving Harrogate hospital after visiting mum, we hopped onto the bus back to her house. We I decided instead of getting off at my mums stop, it would be a good idea to stay on the bus and pop into Knaresborough for my ‘challenge’

Dragging T- rather reluctantly with me – for moral support and a second pair of eyes, we jumped off the bus in the quaint Yorkshire market town.

I knew the location of a few of these amazing artworks, so not too hard a challenge, or so I though :???:

The first we found was easy, in the High Street and facing the bus station, I’d seen it many times.

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This ‘window’ represents the zoo that Knaresborough once had. Not a very pleasant place, I can remember my parents glee in telling me the zoo had finally closed.

Next we set off down High Street towards the River Nidd, as I knew I’d seen two just off this main street.

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This one is in the alleyway leading to the Frazer Theatre, which is just off the High Street next to Tesco. The figures are life size and rather spooky  when first seen.

I then dragged T down one side of the High Street and back up the other, looking for another similar painting of some people entering an open door, which I knew I’d seen somewhere.

After about twenty minutes without any luck, I got the usual……… ‘Are you sure you haven’t dreamt it?’ ….. ‘Are you sure they weren’t real people going through a proper door?’ …. ‘Had I been to the pub first?’

‘Never mind’ I replied ‘perhaps it wasn’t in this street at all, let’s go to Blind Jacks, I know there’s one there’

T’s eyes lit up ‘Now you’re talking sense’ he replied………. Blind Jacks by the way, is T’s favourite pub in Knaresborough.

We headed off towards the pub in the Market Place. It was market day, and the centre of the town was alive with the hustle and bustle of all the stall holders.

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While I took a photo of the painting of Blind Jack entertaining the pub clientele, T walked towards the door of the pub hoping to join the real drinkers for a pint, only to find it was another three hours before it opened.

Oh dear, this certainly dampened what little bit of enthusiasm he had with my search.

After checking on the internet before leaving home, I knew others were to be found in the vicinity of the Market Place, and the small streets leading off.

We must have looked a very odd couple, not looking at the stalls, but carefully picking our way between them looking skyward at the surrounding buildings. The odd person we passed, did look at us and then up to see what we were looking at :-D

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This one of King John in Castlegate was the only other one we could find, it depicts the first Royal Maundy which apparently took place in Knaresborough 5th April 1210.

‘Aha!’ I suddenly had a brainwave, ‘let’s go and check with the tourist centre’ I said, as I dragged the now totally fed up T with me. Only to find it closed for lunch :-(

‘That’s it, I’ve had enough, I’m going back to your mums house’, he announced as he headed off towards the bus station.

I decided to wait until it opened up, so to kill a bit of time, I grabbed something from a local bakery and went to sit in the castle grounds, overlooking the river to eat it, by which time the tourist centre had re-opened.

The assistant in the tourist centre was extremely helpful, she gave me a leaflet with information about the windows and their whereabouts. She also confirmed there were several temporary trompe l’oeil painted for the annual Feva festival, which confirmed my memory of the ‘door and people’ painting I’d been searching for had not been a figment of my imagination.

Armed with my information and map, I set off in search again, but I only managed to find two more before the light started to fail.

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Local Hero, James”Ginger” Lacey, one of the best know fighter pilots of World War II.

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Plus a self portrait of Julie Cope,  the artist who painted the zoo and the Guy Fawkes themed one on my Pic a colour blog mentioned above.

Later that evening, when we returned to Knaresborough for something to eat (and a drink in Blind Jacks), I asked the location of ‘I can see the world’s end from here’ painting. No wonder I didn’t find it earlier, it was three storeys up.

The next trip to Yorkshire, I will get that photo and hopefully find the rest :-)

Below is the leaflet I have scanned (hopefully not illegally) with all the information. I haven’t reduced the images of it too much, so they info should be legible.

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Is Britain sinking?

The coasts are being battered by tidal surges, and with the continuous rain, the rivers are bursting their banks.

In the spring of 2012 many counties had already imposed a hosepipe ban on their residents, it was soon lifted when we had one of the wettest summers for 100 years.

Even after last summer (2013), which was the warmest since 2006, to my knowledge there weren’t any hosepipe bans anywhere.

Today we went to Worcester on the train, a journey of about fifteen miles. Looking out of the window across the quagmire of mud and water that was once fields, I started to wonder how much more water our country can take.

The River Severn – which flows through Worcester –  is the UK’s longest river. Starting in the hills of North Wales, it enters the Bristol channel 220 miles later, wreaking havoc in times of flood, with many towns and cities en route.

The scenes in this short video are becoming a far too common sight these days. Not the worst I’ve seen, but they do seem to be happening more frequently.

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The above photo of T (standing near Watergate) pointing to the highest recorded level that I’ve seen, was taken in August 2013.

Todays level, which can be seen on the Watergate clip in the video below, I’m guessing would probably be up to his waist.

 

Bah Humbug!

Seasonal Affective Disorder

I can’t say I’ve ever been fond of the winter, but SAD has really kicked in big time this year.

How on earth folk living in countries further north than the UK cope with the even longer nights, some without any daylight at all I just cannot comprehend.

I’m a summer person, I love the long daylight hours and the warmth it brings. Perhaps I need to hibernate till then ;-)

Or at least hibernate through the rest of December.

Yesterday 21st December was the shortest day, only three days now till the fat man dressed in red answers the demands of all the spoilt ‘I want, I want’ kids of the world.

Where has the fun of Christmas gone?

The season of goodwill? what a joke!

Nowadays it’s just parents going into debt trying to outdo each other for their little brats, and a mad panic of crowds grabbing enough food off the shelves that would last them for weeks (not just the one day the supermarket is closed).

My younger daughter popped down to the local supermarket today to get something for her dinner, she was refused admission well before the 4pm closing, because the shop was so full it would have been impossible to get everyone through the tills by 4pm…..WTF!

So here, for anyone else in Bah Humbug mode is a little bit of summer.

The accompanying song is Looking for the summer, by Chris Rea.