Tag Archives: Loss

In a Vase on Monday – three flowers, birthdays (some third), Hope and Kindness

‘Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. and the third is to be kind’ Henry James (1843-1916) American Author

It’s been difficult times here recently; A few weeks ago, it would have been my wonderful brother’s 50th birthday, and the following day marked 18 years since my awesome Dad passed from cancer. Everyone who ever met either my brother or our Dad, would remember them, especially if they’d cooked for them. They touched people all around the world and are forever in my heart. My awesome sister in law and nieces, and his many friends, had a lovely celebration to remember my Brother in Australia. I can’t express how proud I am of them all, and how much love I have for them all – strong women. My Chap and I have been down to see My Mum too, and helped her buy more pots for her garden, and plant new birthday roses and fuchsias, for remembrance. It’s been SO tough for her too. It’s been SO tough for all of us.

There’s been some positives though, had some interesting news at work. I’m well into the swing of daily walks #onehouroutside, mindfulness and, at least, weekly yoga. We’ve been making plans too. I’ve been walking around Monton and Worsley with My Chap – it’s always lovely to watch the plants springing into action. I wrote about one of my favourite circular walks a couple of months ago:

Spring is coming 🙂 I was excited to see my first snowdrops, a dwarf Iris and crocus buds too. This was despite having two snow showers last Tuesday, it was minus 5 on Wed and more snow overnight on Sunday here in Manchester. The violas are still flowering from my last vase, and a few dwarf purple and yellow ones have appeared too, as well as crocus buds and daffodil spikes coming up. I wrote about violas, self care and there’s no such thing as Blue Monday in my last vase.

This week, I picked a snowdrop, a dwarf Iris and added them to some red Cotoneaster berries and leaves (possibly amoenus?) and put it in a small earthenware vase about 4 inches high, that I bought about 30 years ago in Scotland while at University. It has no label and I don’t remember where exactly I bought it. I am sure this was my first vase purchase – though I’ve only rarely put flowers in it over the years. It has never appeared on in In a Vase on Monday before, but I’m sure you’ll see it again 🙂

Snowdrops represent Hope – this seems appropriate this week – Hope for the future

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12 February 2018 – Iris, Snowdrop and Cotoneaster

I picked the cook books to represent where we live (Manchester), where my Brother lived (Melbourne), and a Rick Stein book (one of my Dad’s favourite chefs). All of us love fish, and time spent by the sea. The Mrs Beaton book was my gran’s (Dad’s mum – who was an excellent cook) but I think she must have had more than one copy as there are no notes or recipes scribbled in it. The red and white striped notebook my Dad gave to me, when I went to university in the mid 1980’s, with some useful recipes like boulognese, how to boil rice, and baking cakes. It’s very precious to me. My Brother Matt gave us the Melbourne cookbook and we’d given him, and his family in Australia, The Manchester Cookbook.

Cooking food represents our love for our family and friends.

All of us love fish and time spent by the sea.

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12 February 2018 – dwarf Iris, Snowdrop and Cotoneaster in a blue and green earthen wear vase. With some of our favourite cookbooks

Do have a look at Rambling in the Garden where Cathy hosts In A Vase on a Monday – where gardening bloggers from around the world add links to their vases. Always beautiful, interesting or unusual – including plenty of southern hemisphere bloggers who brighten my days in the depths of Winter. This week Cathy has a Japanese Ikibana style black vase with a white Hyacinth.

Be Kind – #savouringJanuary2018
I’ve been reminded again this week of the need to #bekind to myself and do my favourite selfcare activities for me. The cold weather has been tough on my arthritic joints – painful and I’ve been wrapped up with thermal socks on and lots of layers – but moving helps especially something like sewing, crochet or knitting.

I’ve made a green heart for the Women’s Institute #showthelove campaign to raise awareness of impact of climate change – show the love make a heart to wear and share-on-valentines-day. I made a small lavender filled house too 🙂

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12 February 2018 – house filled with lavender, green heart for #showthelove and a candle because I love the scents.

There’s something incredibly relaxing about sewing, handling the soft material – creating something – this is a lavender filled ‘house’ I made. I need small, achievable projects like this and hearts. Sewing helps my #wellbeing and concentrating on the stitching ’empties’ your head so to speak. Yoga does this too.

I finished my instagram challenge – #savouringJanuary2018 – You can follow me on Instagram – @becinmonton

I lit many candles too – Hygge in our House 🙂

Happy 3rd Birthday to Cottonopolis WI – www.cottonopoliswi.com/
We dressed up in 1920s gear, learnt the Charleston, ate cake, picked our bursary winners and had alot of fun as usual.

  • Have a look at our facebook page for the photos of our third birthday party 🙂
  • Join us if you’re local – 1st Tuesday of the month, 730pm, George Leigh Street, Ancoats, Manchester

Adventures around Manchester in the last month – Good food and good memories 🙂

My Chap and I decided to go for a meal at one of the place’s we’d taken my brother when he’d visited -Mr Thomas’s Chop House in Manchester. This venerable tiled green and white Mancunian institution was opened in 1870, serves classic British food, has an excellent selection of Lancashire real ales and an extensive wine list.

For starter, I had Tom’s cornbeef hash, with pickled red cabbage and poached egg. There is nothing in the world quite like this hash – it is awesome and so good I forgot to take any photos – oops 😉 Followed by steak and kidney pudding. My Chap had scallops and the hash for main course – we had no room for pudding.

We had a wonderful lunch, drank a glass of a very good red and then headed off to Manchester Art Gallery, another place we’d taken my Brother. Always great art to see, including Valette’s impressionist paintings of Manchester (he was Lowry’s tutor) as well as many Pre-raphaelite paintings, Victorian high art and regularly changing exhibitions.

The next day, Sunday (my Dad’s ‘anniversary’), My Chap cooked a 10/10 Sunday roast in commemoration of Jay. My Dad was famous for his roast dinners and mine and my brother’s pals would scrap over who could get an invite.

I’ve written a few times about the men in my life and how much they loved cooking including:

Happy memories

I know for certain that we never lose the people we love, even to death.They continue to participate in every act, thought and decision we make.Their love leaves an indelible imprint in our memories. We find comfort in knowing that our lives have been enriched by having shared their love. Leo Buscaglia (1924-1998) Professor University of Southern California and motivational speaker

I’ll be remembering darling My Dad, Uncle Fred, Steve and most of all my wonderful Brother Matt and I’ll continue to raise a glass of quality red, especially if My Chap and I are by the sea.

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12 February 2018 – wedding gift wine glasses and Châteauneuf-du-Pape – lovely

It’s the third birthday of my blog today – Much has stayed the same and much has changed in that time… a bit like me….

Here’s my first few blog posts and the first appearance of ‘In A vase on Monday’ 🙂

plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

I’m reminding myself to #bekind (to myself as well).

And on that note, I’m off to blow out some candles and head to bed 🙂

Carpe Diem,

love

Bec xxx xxx

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In a Vase in Monday – winter childhood memories (and fuchsia too)

“Hope”  Leia Organa in Rouge One (2016)

I’ve been thinking about Winter alot this week, it was the metrological start of Winter on last Friday, 1st December.   It’s been cold, but sunny in Manchester, we’ve had a couple of nights of frost so that’s finished off the final flowers – apart from the perennial wallflowers and some violas. Christmas is on everyone’s mind – trees and decorations going up, toy adverts everywhere.   I’m feeling fairly ambivalent about Christmas this year – despite looking forward to spending time with My Chap.  We had a wonderful wedding day, and we’re incredibly happy together. But this has been a truly dreadful year – we each lost a brother this year. Both incredibly loved and missed – I can’t express in words how devastated I am about my wonderful brother Matt – I think about him every day and I always will.

However, I know that we have to carry on with life. Christmas coming has got me thinking of childhood memories too. I did something I haven’t done for decades and bought an Advent Calendar.

4 December 2017 – climbing fuchsia ‘lady in black’ and Winter moons illustration with

But first, in this week’s In A Vase on Monday, I’ve picked Lady in Black which is a bit of an unusual fuchsia – it’s a hardy, climbing fuchsia. My mum, who loves fuchsias, bought it for me a couple of years ago.  it’s still getting established and is only about two foot high and not really filled out yet. It lives at the end of our garden on our decking, so it’s the very last fuchsia still flowering.  There were more flowers when I picked them but they fell off as I walked up the garden – typical.  I’m only a day late for this link up which makes a change 🙂

The fuchsia is displayed in a bud vase which has appeared in IAVOM regularly, as have fuchsias – including for the last two weeks

The print came from a magazine – it’s a picture of a Wolf along with the three moons associated with winter – Cold moon (December), Wolf moon (January) and Snow Moon (February). Most of these names originate from Native American or Celtic descriptions. There are three other prints, so I’m sure they’ll be appearing on the blog another time too.
The Spring Print has now appeared with a beautiful drawing of a butterfly, with (Worm Moon, Pink Moon and Flower Moon.  It had snowed here!

4 December 2017 – Our bistro table on the decking Summer 2015 (with yoda too)

I’ve not got a picture of the decking in winter, but here’s a photo from a few years ago – it’s my sanctuary.  We spend alot of time, relaxing and thinking especially as it gets the last of the evening sun.  #dreamingofsummer.   You’ll also notice yoda peeking out from the fuchsias. He makes me smile every time I see him. He’s appeared on the blog many times too. check out #yoda

Advent Calendar 

It’s no ordinary Advent calendar it’s a Lego Star Wars one. I’ve thought about buying one for a couple of years but this year thought I’d buy it and think of all the happy times with Matt. We had a very large lego collection and spent hours playing with it.

Star Wars came out when I was 11 and my brother a year younger. We went to see it with our amazing Uncle Fred, who loved the theatre and films. We saw it in Leicester Square in the West End of London and I remember the crawler opening very clearly

‘A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…’ Star Wars – A New Hope (1976)

and ducking as the Imperial battle cruise passed over. We loved it, and watched the film three or four times that summer. And countless times since then.  We had lightsabers toys at Christmas – wish we’d kept them but I think they were in a right state. We were hooked on Star Wars and watched the subsequent films many, many times. I’ve written about Star Wars on the  blog too – it’s definitely a shared experience for people my age watching all three films at the cinema, waiting for the next instalment, and like many I wasn’t particularly impressed with all aspects of the prequals.

4 December 2017 – The Ghost, The Phantom and Sabine Lego Advent Calendar 2017

My Chap wasn’t much of a fan, as he’d only seen Phantom Menace (1999) and all he could remember was the jar jar binks character (not impressed). But he’s taken me to see Force Awakens (2015) and Rouge One (2016) and enjoyed them very much, so I think he’s slowly getting hooked. Only a minor eye roll when I bought home the calendar.  But, I’m looking forward to opening the doors, building the toys and thinking of my brother.  My favourite characters are Leia and yoda – there’s a lot of wise thinking in Star Wars including advice for managers 😉.

I really must read The Princess Diaries by Carrie Fisher 🙂 although I’m so nackered I think I might need to get an audio book instead.  I read Postcards from the Edge many years ago and loved it. She’s a great loss to the world  and also taken far too young.

I’m so excited about The Last Jedi – fortunately I know quite a few geeky Star Wars fans so will have people to talk to about it with, but it won’t be the same not taking to my brother about it.

My Chap and I are both hoping that things will improve in 2018 – I’m doing my best with exercise, eating well, mindfulness, yoga but most of all being kind to myself and self-care too.  But time heals and helps – and hope helps too.

#365daysofselfcare this week involved:

  • Managing #anhouroutside everyday – I went for walks around the neighbourhood and at work, and gardening. One day it rained so persistently I was potting up in the porch.
  • Finding some new mindfulness articles and guided meditations about managing pain 🙂
  • Ordering the Christmas food so I don’t need to stress, running round to get it at the last minute. My Chap works ridiculously long hours in the run up to Christmas so can’t do much to help.
  • Getting out the Star Wars dvds 🙂
  • Booking a Christmas wreath making course. Cathy who hosts in a Vase on Monday over at Rambling in the Garden has her door wreath as her ‘Vase’. Do have a look 🙂

Are you a star wars fan or are you looking forward to another film over the Christmas Holidays? 

There’s a fuchsia called star wars but it’s stopped flowering in my garden now… But it will be back – it’s always here like The Force

Carpe Diem

Love Bec xx xx xx

P.S. I bought My Chap a Thornton’s chocolate Advent Calendar so he wasn’t left out 😉 I bought both items full price and wasn’t asked to write about them.

In a Vase on Monday – sweetpeas (late but not forgotten) 

I’ve not been in the garden as much as I’d like this year, mainly lack of time, far too much going on.  Another devastating bereavement, my wonderful brother, I can’t express in words how much I miss him.   His death in March, led to major health relapse, my osteoarthritis went into meltdown. I’m much better now than I was, back at yoga, walking and feeling much more myself.  One of the reasons, I was so busy, was very good though – My Chap and I got married in September 🙂  more about that in other posts 🙂

It’s never too late to spend time in the garden though, so I’ve been out tidying up, and pruning.  I was at the bottom of the garden, and hidden behind a huge bush of purple perennial wallflower, I found some Spencer sweetpeas still flowering. I was gobsmacked,  as the sweetpeas at the back door, and front door, were over about a month ago.

Pink and purple sweetpeas in tall round glass vase

9 November 2017 – In a Vase on Monday – Spencer sweetpeas with lavender

Finding the sweetpeas reminded me that I’d not joined in with Cathy and her ‘In a Vase on Monday’ over on Rambling in the Garden for over six months.  I need to rectify that!  She’s got a Vase representing fireworks this week – it looks awesome.

So here’s more about the vase and the flowers:

  • these are Spencer sweetpeas,  they grow to over 6 foot, and I love the colour combinations, and of course, the smell. I buy them as small seedlings even though they’d be easy to grow from seed. We’ve only got small window sills and no room for a greenhouse – so needs must.
  • I’ve tried dwarf sweetpeas but the Spencer ones are definitely the most reliable in soggy Salford – if they avoid the slugs 😉
  • Sweet peas have appeared many times In a Vase on Monday over a couple of years – have a look on the #sweetpea hashtag
  • I love their scent – it still manages to waft around our tiny house days after they’ve been picked.
  • The lavender come from the newer plants we bought for our wedding, joining about 7 bushes dotted around our front garden. We’d planned to use them as centre pieces at our wedding but, due to a soggy September, most had gone over by our wedding day.  All wasn’t lost though – lots of lavender confetti.
  • The vase came from a local charity shop – a pound!

Near the wallflower is an offshoot of the honeysuckle, it’s rather taken advantage of one of our garden ‘sculptures’. It had the very last of the flowers. It’s made me smile watching it overtake the poll. And much like the sweetpeas, it’s found a way forward. Not the path it was expecting, but reaching for the light and flowering, despite obstacles – a bit like me.  It’s ‘supposed’ to be growing up the fence about four foot away.  I took a photo in May for #wordlesswednesday which shows how much it’s grown

9 November 2017 – errant honeysuckle and a watering can sculpture (and yoda too)

It’s been a very difficult few years but I am so fortunate to have my Chap holding my hand (sometimes metaphorically), my family and friends all around the world, by my side.  I know I need to take care of myself too.

An empty jug (or watering can) can’t pour – Anonymous

I’ll be paying attention to self-care – mindfulness, yoga, walks, fun, rest, Earl Grey tea – the smell of lavender. #365daysofselfcare

What I do know is Life isn’t a dress rehearsal. So on that note I plan more adventures in the across the North, the world, up a hill or two, buy the sea, drinking a Pimms,  eating a cake or just chilling in the garden.  I hope you’ll join us.

And as Yoda says,

“Do or do not. There is no try.”

Carpe Diem

Love Bec xx xx xx

Wordless Wednesday – Rest and Reflection 

Two aqua wingback chairs  'life is beautiful' and 'do everything with love' cushion - survivor mosaic sign

5 April 2017 – Reflecting on life (and loss) at Manchester Museum

“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars” – Kahlil Gibran 

Wordless Wednesday (not) – glorious birthday memories

Today would have been Steve’s 48th birthday, who died so suddenly in April this year. He was a kind, funny, smart man with many interests including hill walking, United, cooking, science, travel, music, tennis, cryptic puzzles, real ale and darts.  A proud Lancastrian too.

I did what we’d have done on such a glorious day and went for a walk in the hills.  I went on one of our favourite walks which brought back so many happy memories.

White Coppice Cricket Ground - 15 August 2015

White Coppice Cricket Ground – 12 August 2015

He loved cricket too – and we’ve watched alot of cricket at Lancashire cricket ground. Today, I went to one of his favourite cricket grounds  – it combines his love of cricket and hill walking.

White Coppice Cricket Pavilion and the west pennine moors - 12 August 2015

White Coppice Cricket Pavilion and the west pennine moors – 12 August 2015

I went to White Coppice Cricket Ground (which is near Chorley in Lancashire) and went for a walk up Great Hill which is part of the West Pennine Moor – it’s beautiful especially on a sunny, summer day – glorious 12th indeed – not that Steve thought grouse shooting was a good thing to do.

White Coppice Cricket Pavilion in the trees

White Coppice Cricket Pavilion in the trees – 12 August 2015

A favourite walk of ours which brought back so many happy memories – we’ve watched plenty of cricket at White Coppice and it has a fine tea shop (open at the weekend) if you’re in the area.

roller out at White Coppice Cricket ground

roller out at White Coppice Cricket ground – 12 August 2015

Steve is so missed by so many people, but especially me – we were together for 20 years, ever  since we met at University in Stirling, and although we split up amicably 7 years ago – we remained good friends.  He and my Chap we’re good pals too – and had much in common like cooking, hill walking, gardening, travel, history and very similar values in life.  My chap thinks cricket is the world’s dullest sport though!

White Coppice Cricket Pavilion - 15 August 2015

White Coppice Cricket Pavilion – 15 August 2015

The White Coppice Cricket Ground is mentioned in the 100 most picturesque cricket club’s in Wisden; it was founded in the 1870s.  I really love this place and it is just so quitessentially English.   The groundsman told me that White Coppice is where Sir Henry Tate was born, as in the Gallery. It’s a tiny place now but back in the 19th century there were tin mines and mills.

cottages at White Coppice Cricket Ground - copyright R Jones 12 August 2015

cottages at White Coppice Cricket Ground – 12 August 2015

I cannot express in words how much I miss Steve – but his wit, kindness and ‘joie de vivre’ is always with me. He is missed by so many people as he touched people’s lives and made a difference to everyone he met.  I am so fortunate that all our many friends, his work pals and old friends from University but especially my wonderful Chap are helping me with all the practical things as well as all the grief too – that and my garden, flowers and the beauty of Nature.

Public Footpath to Belmont and Brinscall - 12 August 2015

Public Footpath to Belmont and Brinscall – 12 August 2015

I had a lovely day on the hills and it lifted my soul… and the sheep didn’t eat my sandwishes – they nicked Steve’s ham butty once…didn’t do it again…

Rest in Peace – Gentle Giant

Carpe Diem

love

Bec xxx