Jaqui's Daily Blog

Nanni was in pretty good form yesterday, I thought.


This is Faris, by the way, in case you hadn’t guessed. It’s a few weeks since I last blogged and I have to keep my readers happy.  Nanni understands this, being as she blogs more or less every day. It’s  a wonder what she finds to write about.  You have to think about what will interest the people who are reading your blog – I understand that readers like my opinions. It’s a good thing that I have such a lot of them, that’s all I can say.


Mummy was not in nearly such good form as Nanni.  It’s all down to The Twins who, if you ask me, seem to be Double Trouble even before they are born. Goodness only knows what life will be like after they arrive. Anyway, poor Mummy is always being sick, even when she hasn’t eaten anything. Nanni says it is a case of Mummy Setting Her Eyes on the Main Prize. I haven’t the faintest idea what she is talking about, that’s the problem with Nanni sometimes.  I suppose the Twins might be the Main Prize but there are two of them, so it should be Prizes in the plural.  You can tell I am growing up, can’t you, with all the new things I have picked up. Like now when we sing “Row, row, row the boat” I know how to scream when we get to the bit about the crocodile. I can be very, very scary when I choose.


Yesterday was our Second Family Beach Day. We are greedy like that – why have only one Family Beach Day when you could have two? We picked Nanni and Grandad up on our way to Littlehampton – well, Mummy did, I was having a quick nap to build up my energy for the day ahead – then we met up with the Baldwin Family in the car park outside the East Beach Cafe.  Nanni told Grandma Baldwin that this was considered an iconic building.  Once again, I haven’t the faintest idea what she was talking about – as far as I am concerned the main thing anyone needs to know about the East Beach Cafe is that this is where the Boat Train turns round, ready to drive all its passengers back along the prom, prom, prom.


Nanni had done a bit of research in advance and was able to tell us that high tide would be at a quarter past  three in the afternoon so we felt pretty safe setting up camp on the sandy bit, at least for a few hours.  There were lifeguards patrolling the beach, which Nanni pointed was A Very Good Thing. It made me think that one day I might be able to be a Lifeguard and Save People’s Lives.  Just think about it, I am not eighteen months old till Saturday but I am already in Penguins Class at Aquatots. By the time I am older, say 21 months or so, I could be charging across the sand in the Beach Control Buggy or battling the waves in the yellow dinghy.  I will have to wear a yellow shirt and red shorts which aren’t exactly my best colours – Mummy calls me her Little Blue Boy – but that’s a small price to pay for being a Life Saver.


I will probably have to get more used to the waves.  They do tend to crash in a bit, especially when the tide is coming in. They don’t have waves at Aquatots, you see.  I was OK with Jack and Hazel keeping a check on me but obviously they won’t be able to be with me all the time. Not when I am rescuing people. The two grandmothers seemed to enjoy themselves just paddling along in the shallow water, nattering away.  You couldn’t see either of them being lifeguards but then that’s on account of their Great Age.


In the afternoon, when the tide had come in covering up all the sand, we went for a walk along the prom, prom, prom and I had my very first Mr Whippy ice-cream.  Mummy asked in the shop and they made me a special small ice-cream which was just as well because unfortunately I managed to flip the cone and the ice-cream kind of splodged out onto the floor. I had only had a couple of licks too. Everyone seemed to think that this was hilariously funny except me.


We found my name on the longest bench; Nanni says when the Twins arrive she will have to have to slat altered to include their names too.  My slat says: “Let the seaside adventures begin!”  I like that very much because there is nowhere quite like the seaside for adventures.  Like our ride on the Boat Train, waving like mad at all the passers-by. We didn’t get to take a ride on the Boat Train on our first Family Seaside Day so this was something which Nanni said Had To Be Done.  As was the photograph which my cousins, jack and Hazel, have to have taken every single year with the Boat Train to show how much they have grown.  Their Mum and Nanni (who is their Nan as well as mine, life is confusing sometimes, isn’t it?) insist upon it. Jack and Hazel didn’t mind too much as Grandad bribed them with hot doughnuts.  


Everyone said they were exhausted at the end of the day. Well, apart from Jack and Hazel who were off to a party, being Teenagers who are only ever tired in the mornings not in the evenings when apparently life gets interesting.


I wouldn't know. I was tucked up in my cot wearing my new, Grown Up Boy's Pyjamas and dreaming of being a lifeguard one day.


When I am, like, twenty-one months or so and therefore old enough to be Saving Lives...

Early this morning, a Special Delivery! How very exciting...

I can't remember ever having Postman Pat (or even Patricia) arriving at our house with a Special Delivery. In fact this morning I have to admit that I was still in bed when the ring on the door bell pierced my consciousness. Fortunately Mr B was already up and about, so I turned over, ignored the door bell and enjoyed the Rewind at Nine on the radio. This is a half hour of tunes and news clips from a particular year which listeners are invited to guess. I used to listen to it a lot when I was a Working Gal, enjoying a Saturday morning lie-in but since I retired I have rather felt such a long lie-in was an Indulgence Too Far. This morning, having had a wakeful night, I decided to stay abed. I had no idea, of course, that I was missing out on the Special Delivery...

Once the Rewind at Nine was finished (the year in question was 1997, if you need to know. I was a year or two out) I persuaded myself out of bed and trotted downstairs to find Mr B in a highly excitable mood, brandishing the Special Delivery envelope and saying he had a surprise for me.

I love surprises. Especially surprises that involve special anniversaries, dear friends and food. Our Special Delivery contained an invite from some of our oldest friends to their Golden Wedding lunch next Saturday. It therefore ticked every box.

These particular friends lived next door but one to us when our children were growing up. Mr B calls them "Sex Pot" and "Old Git". You have to be really, really good friends with people to get away with that. I telephoned them to let them know that of course we would be there (all the time thanking our lucky stars that next Saturday was more or less the only clear day in the calendar for the entire month of September.)

Sex Pot explained that Old Git had already come up trumps with anniversary celebrations - it was a good story. He had told his Best Beloved that he had been able to book a cheap holiday somewhere Up North which he was sure she would enjoy. Sex Pot was not at all impressed and had given him considerable grief about his parsimonious approach to one of the most special events of their life. She was apparently still bending his ear as they drove to their destination - which turned out to be a beautiful converted barn where their whole family - son, daughter, grandchildren - were waiting for them, ready for the kind of Family Holiday she had always wanted. I was welling up as she told me all about it. Nobody deserved such a special Golden Wedding Celebration more than my dear friend.

Now she is looking forward to Part 2 of the celebrations and so are we. Apparently we will know all the other guests because they are former neighbours of ours. We just hope we will recognise them all. Or at least some of them. I hope Mr B and I will be sitting next to each other so that we can whisper in each other's ear if we are puzzling over somebody's identity. It is, after all, 29 years since we left the village and it is possible that we have all changed a bit over the years. 

Sex Pot tells me that most of the other guests still live in the village. In fact, nobody else was sent their invitation by Special Delivery.

It's such a good feeling don't you know?

Feeling special, that is.

Captain, Our Captain has decided to remove his hearing aid for the duration of his Finals Pairs Match.


This means that he will not be disturbed by the howling wind which is swirling around the bowling geen but also means, sadly, that he cannot hear our cries of encouragement, shouts of applause, occasional cat-calls and the odd vaguely ribald comment on his performance. On second thoughts, maybe that is why he has opted for a Life of Silence, at least for this afternoon.


Despite the chilly wind and a rain-drop or two, there are a fair number of us taking up our ring-side seats to watch three separate Finals. On Rink 2, the Ladies Pairs Finals – Mr B and I have a special interest in this match because the winners will receive the Frank Ball Memorial Trophy which we donated to the club a couple of years ago in memory of Mr B’s bowls-playing dad. On Rink 4, the Men’s Pairs Final on which Captain, Our Captain and his partner are fighting a rear-guard action to claw their way back into the game. On Rink 3 a strange match called something like Two Woods and a Yardstick in which the players only score of they get their woods within a yard of the jack. OK, I made up the name but I think it’s quite catchy myself.


Mr B and I have nabbed a place on a bench already occupied by another couple whose names I don’t know. We had to ask them to budge up a bit to make room for us and I am not sure they were too happy about it so I have been turning on the charm and trying to make them think that they would rather share this park bench with us than with anybody else.  I am not sure if my Charm Offensive is working; I probably need to work on it.


The gent on our bench keeps calling Mr B “Bob”. Mr B’s name is not, and never has been, Bob. I find myself taking crafty peeps at him, sitting by my side, to check that I haven’t acquired a different husband (as in, one called Bob) while I was otherwise occupied watching the bowls. But no, it’s the same old, same old. I’m very pleased to say. The Competition Secretary trots past us, carrying a tray of tea cups to sustain the scorers at the other end of the green. He tells us that tea for the rest of us will be served shortly. Mr B arises with alacrity and heads into the clubhouse. Either he doesn’t understand the meaning of the word “shortly” or he is determined to be at the front of the queue when the Serving Out Of Tea begins. He emerges (shortly) bearing two cups of coffee which warm the cockles of our cold hearts. I can always rely on Mr B to look after my creature comforts.


We watch the end of the Ladies Pairs by which time the effects of the coffee have worn off and Mr B suggests we head for home. I feel as if we should stay for the last few ends of the Men’s Pairs, just to see whether Captain, Our Captain emerges victorious – but I’m feeling chilly too. We say goodbye to our bench companions. “Cheers, Bob!” they say.


When we arrive home, I realise that Kent is playing Gloucestershire on TV which has probably had even more bearing on Mr B’s decision to leave the bowls at such a critical point than the weather. I ask him who the couple sharing our bench were, but he has no more idea than I do. Did he hear that the chap kept calling him Bob? Yes, said Mr B, but it didn’t seem worth the bother of explaining. As my dear Mum would have said: “You can call me anything you like, so long as it’s not too late for dinner.” Like me, she was Always Thinking of her Stomach. 


Later: Mr B was in such a good mood when we arrived home. He was obviously pleased to have me home again, after my short (but thoroughly delightful) visit to the Youngest of the Darling Daughters’ home. Unfortunately the good mood lasted only as long as it took to try to book train tickets for our forthcoming trip to Cardiff via Great First Western. At one point he was threatening to hurl a boot through the computer screen and also confessed that he had been "a bit rude" to the on-line help.


I decided to resort to the telephone, which is what I did last time we found ourselves in a similar pickle. I kept my fingers crossed that I would not find myself talking to the same person who had been at the other end of Mr B's sharp tongue.  


"Oh no," I would say, "That wouldn't have been my husband..."


It must have been Bob.



Yesterday we wandered around the pretty village of Overton. Our friend, Stephanie, who lives there, would doubtless have been able to introduce us to some of its best kept secrets but she was away so we muddled through somehow. We are experts, the Youngest of the Darling Daughters and I, at "muddling through."

Mr B finds "muddling through" extremely stressful. He would far, far rather have a plan, including where we would eat, when we would eat and (possibly even) what we would eat. He certainly would not have embraced our trip into the Overton Gallery which turned into our lunch venue. "This is a Gallery," he would have pointed out, "It says so over the door. It has paintings and prints on the walls. It is not a place for lunch."

However that is exactly what it was - as we discovered when we wandered through to the back of the shop. To be fair, the Y of the DDs had been there before, with Stephanie, so she did kind of know whither we were wandering. It was a bit too chilly to eat out in the beautiful courtyard but we sat at a table made out of a large decorated box, on stools which were smaller boxes, and admired the view from the window.

There was plenty to see and admire in the Gallery. As regular readers will know (having joined in the celebrations, albeit virtually, which accompanied the announcement) the Middle of the Darling Daughters is expecting twins in December. Grand-daughter Hazel can't wait and wanders around gift shops like The Gallery, pouncing on appropriately sweet gifts and announcing: "The Twins! The Twins!" Her mother and I could hear her from the other end of the store: "The Twins! The Twins!" We felt we ought to explain all to the gallery owner, who was as delighted for us as might be expected from someone who didn't know us from Adam but might be hoping for a sale. Or, presumably, two sales - one for each twin.


Lunch over, we decided to wander off the beaten track in search of the little bridge over the river where we could play that favourite childhood game of Pooh Sticks. I am sure you must have played it at least once in your life, childhood not being childhood without a Bit of Pooh. The Youngest of the Darling Daughters led us a bit of a merry dance and had to pretend that she had always intended to take the long way round, so that I could see the church and read the names on the War Memorial - but, thanks to Hazel's sense of direction, we finally emerged on the bridge, selected our Weapons of Choice, and entrusted them to the watery depths of the river, watched suspiciously by dozens of assorted ducks. Have you ever seen a suspicious duck? No, me neither, I think I am being fanciful again. I rather think I need to rein in this unfortunate trait, lest the Daily Blog starts to suffer from Flights of Fancy. Hazel was convinced that she was the winner but it was a close run contest. My twig was a bit of dead rose bush, all prickly and fierce looking. As Pooh Sticks go, it was a Force to Reckon With.

We delivered Hazel to the house where she was to enjoy a sleepover with friends then picked Jack up from his work and eventually found ourselves, with friend Zoe, in a cinema in Basingstoke watching a film in which Harry Potter pretended to be someone called Wallace, who was in love with a girl called Chantry but was pretending he only wanted to be best friends. Jack and I agreed, as we were cleaning our teeth in the bathroom later that night (there is nothing quite like a companionable chat over the toothpaste, even if you do have to say "Pardon!" quite a lot on account of having mouths full of toothbrush) that it was wizard, albeit without a single owl in sight.

Now I am on my way home to Worthing where Mr B will hopefully be waiting at the station for me. As Young Faris would say, I am "in training." My last lovely day was spent wandering around Eastrop Park, enjoying yet another lunch and visiting the Sixth Form College which Jack will be attending from September. While he and his mum were engaged in subject interviews, tours of the campus and the buying of train tickets, Hazel and I took a little tour of our own, ending up in the college restaurant where free drinks were being served. As my daughter said when she finally tracked us down, I can smell coffee from any distance. Especially when it's free.


While waiting for daughter and grandson to join us, my Hazel and I had the best of conversations about anything and everything. How I love these grown-up grandchildren of mine! My relationship with them is entering a whole new phase (even if we haven't completely foregone the pleasures of Pooh sticks...)

" I love our family," my golden girl of a grand-daughter tells me, confidingly, adding: "I love the way we all really, really LIKE each other...."

I know what she means and I just hope that, somewhere along the way, I had at least something to do with it.

Even when I know that, for the most part, I was just muddling through.



I woke up in the middle of the night seriously worrying about Lon.


Please don’t concern yourself over much; Lon is not a family member, a pet or even a close friend. He is a character in the film we were watching last night – the Youngest of the Darling Daughters, her Darling Daughter and I – and we couldn’t help thinking that he got a raw deal.


It wasn’t as if he was a total eejit, or a creep or a loser. He was a perfectly lovely guy, despite being seriously rich (well, what’s not to like?) who would have made ideal husband material had the female lead not decided that she preferred her First Love whose one redeeming feature was an ability to quote Walt Whitman at strategic points in the film. Clearly, as Mr B would be sure to point out, I know all there is to know about choosing an Ideal Husband, though the only poem my fella ever quotes is one about a little birdie flying high and dropping his luggage as he goes by.  “Farmer wipes it from his eye / Damn good job that cows can’t fly!” Walt Whitman, it is not.


Before leaving Mr B “Home Alone” and setting off for a couple of days with the Y of the DDs, I did my best to leave everything “just so”.  This included leaving the birds plenty of food and strict instructions to top up the feeder when the little perishers had scoffed the lot. If I popped my clogs before he did, I asked Mr B somewhat wistfully, would he still feed the birds in my memory?  Honestly, I sounded like something from Mary Poppins, any minute and you might have expected me to burst out singing “Feed the birds, tuppence a bag”, while pulling a crocheted rug around my shivering shoulders. Mr B said of course he would, then rather spoilt the effect of this statement of undying love by adding that he might even chop me up into little pieces and feed me to them. When I said “Feed the Birds”, that wasn’t exactly what I had in mind.


Anyway, here I am in the village of Hook, enjoying the company of daughter and grandchildren.  We have completed two Ice Bucket Challenges, one this morning (Hazel’s) and one this afternoon when Jack returned from work.  I wasn’t trusted to throw the water over either of my grand-children’s heads, presumably because everyone knows I have no sense of direction, so it was my job to film the events which means that the resulting footage is, shall we say, a trifle wobbly.  Plus each priceless moment is accompanied by my cackling like an evil old witch in the background. I am touched when Hazel mentions, to camera, that she is doing this challenge in memory of Jacky Foskett, my lovely Canadian cousin who died of ALS.  Sometimes, in all the excitement of the ice bucket, the screams of chilly horror and the fun of nominating people who will be shaking in their shoes at the thought of it (and that’s before they get anywhere near an ice cube) it’s easy to forget what a horrible, horrible disease ALS is and how important to fund research to find a cure.


Hazel sits in a garden chair in her gym kit and bewails the fact that “everyone will see all my rolls.” We look at her beautiful flat stomach and wish we were her.  There’s absolutely no way my rolls of flesh are fit for human consumption. Maybe that’s why Mr B thinks I would make good bird food?  Having said that, a tiny bit of me would quite like to do the challenge just to show solidarity.  It must be my show-off side.  


Oh, yes, Lon. I’d forgotten about him.  So, apparently, had the writers, producers and directors of the film we watched, because after a moving scene when Allie told him she would love him forever, there she was turning up at her First Love’s house (the Walt Whitman guy – keep up, won’t you?) clutching the letters he had written her every day for a year and swearing everlasting love for him, too. Poor Lon was simply painted out of the picture. Not a word about his fate. Did he find another girl to love? Or did he spend the rest of his life in mourning for the Girl Who Got Away? No wonder I couldn’t sleep for worrying.


I feel for him, I really do. He must wish he’d never fallen for Allie’s undoubted charms.


Perhaps he’d have been better off taking up the Ice Bucket challenge?

Latest comments

09.07 | 16:37

Jaqui, You have every reason to be proud. Our family were deeply touched and impressed by your portrayal of our relation - 'Arthur the Artist'.

07.07 | 01:35

I would be interested in the book by your mother about WWII. :)

04.07 | 11:52

I am not in a dog campaign - my ambivalence is being sorely misused by my daughter in her ongoing 'Dogfermee' marketing. I prefer my dogs hot and in a bun

22.06 | 20:03

What fantastic news!! Please pass on my congratulations and best wishes to mum and dad to be xxx love Val xxxx

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