Saturday, 28 May 2011

The Chocy Frog Campaign

Mr Campbell ran the corner news agency when I was a child, he and his wife were a lovely couple who worked there together in the shop. They were an older couple, Mr Campbell was softly spoken, wore a tweed cardigan and grey trousers. Mrs Campbell was a stout woman with yellow waved hair and big framed glasses that had a silver chain hanging from each side. She wore floral patterned dresses that stretched over her ample cleavage...
I would be sent down the street to the shopping center  (Charlie Carters)when I was young each weekend to fetch the weekend newspaper. (This was before the paper started being delivered).
I remember skipping into the news agency, flicking through the magazines, inspecting the assorted novelties that adorned the walls and then single handily going through all the erasers and sniffing them to see which one had the strongest bubblegum scent.
I would eventually come to the counter, smile up at Mr Campbell and asked for the paper, hand over the coinage, and take the paper, folding  it neatly under my arm.
Mr Campbell would look down at me, peering over his horn rimmed glasses and smile, exposing coffee stained dentures.
“and how are we to day young lady?’ he would say,
“fine thanks” I’d respond with my biggest smile ever, for I knew what was coming fro my efforts.
He’d smile, reach down to the confectionery counter in front of him, pick up a chocy frog and pass it over to my eagerly waiting outstretched hand.
This became a weekend tradition that I followed through on for several years.
This weekend though was different,
This time, I wandered on down to the shops as always, but my sister J came too.
She came into the store with me, and followed me, a little apprehensively to the counter. But just as I went to speak at the counter, she held out her hand, sweetly and placed the coins on the glass top. Mrs Campbell this time smiled handed us the paper and then went about her business serving the next customer. I stood there for a second, a little perplexed. Wondering why this transaction had not gone to plan as it had every over Saturday morning.
Mr Campbell came out of the back room and smiled, but J was already moving away from the counter heading to the door. I quickly stopped her, and asked about the chocy frog, she just shrugged and said maybe they ran out.
Of course as I’m a lover of the chocy frog, (still true to this day) I could not accept that as a reasonable explanation as to why we did not receive what I deemed as our rightful chocy desert.
So after trying in vain to coerce my sis into returning to the counter, I eventually decided it took someone with a stronger determination to make this into a transaction I would be happy with. So I walked confidently back to the counter, put on my biggest smile ever and said. “Hello Mr Campbell, thanks for the paper”
(I could hear my sis sighing behind me)
“Oh yes, hello young lady, “Mr Campbell replied, and graced my outstretched palm with the chocy reward the whole trip had been set around.
“Oh I said,” turning back smiling again, “I brought my sister with me”
He smiled again, and handed me yet another frog,
I returned to my sister handed the loot to her and said.
“See now that’s how it’s done”

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

The Essence of Nan Part 2

The essence of Nan, Part 2.
I was reminded today by a friend that I had missed one of the traits that my Nan, in her later years was known by. So, to do that memory justice, I’m adding to the essence of Nan.
Nan was for want of a better word, a tad bit hard of hearing, as she got older, and the years rolled into the twilight's, her hearing did also fade. But this was something, although extremely frustrating, was also comical, now looking back on it.
I can recall many times trying to convince her over the phone of who I was and why I so desperately needed to talk to Mum.
Trying to introduce yourself was the first mistake, because, she would only catch the name, and then say “oh sorry dear, Sandz is out, you’ll have to call back”
If you then went with the “can I speak to Sandz mum” tack, she would ask “who, mum, she’s....who, I’m here talking to you dear,”
The final play was asking for Mum by name, that usually worked, but there was no guarantee you would get to that point.
She tried her hardest, and her frustration only was at herself most of the time, for I think deep down she knew she was deaf, and that age was catching her.
Since reminiscing about these things one of my favourite memories has came flooding back, and when I think about it, it always makes me smile.
Nan was in the kitchen making lunch, as she did most days, it was a weekend, I remember, and I must have been in my late teens. My brother and I were sitting in the kitchen talking about trivialities as siblings do. Watching Nan move around the kitchen preparing to make us something yummy as she always did.
I also had a friend over this day; she was a school mate, who spent a fair amount of time at number 13. I asked Nan, “What are you making,”
Nan talked to me as she buttered the bread, cut off the crusts as she knew I liked that. We talked about trivial things, nothing of importance. And I watched as she placed the sliced cheese upon the bread and subsequently under the grill. BUT that’s when it dawned on me that something was not quite right. I looked at my Bro, who had also begun to watch in disbelief, a smirk starting to play upon his lips. My friend was on the veranda, and I ushered my brother off to keep her entertained. Nan smiled at me, and said to get the plates, quickly I agreed, and gave her a hug, saying thank you for the snack, and if she wanted she could go sit down and id bring her a cuppa and a toastie, my way of thanking her for her efforts. She smiled again, touched my cheek and went inside to the lounge to fetch her glasses.
As soon as she was safely out of eyeshot, I ran to the grill and pulled it open.
The toasties were bubbling along, looking a tad strange, and my fear was then realized as the aroma reached my nostrils.
She hadn’t removed the plastic covering from the cheese slices. Now I’m not fond of cheese slices anyways, I’ve always referred to them as plastic, But my Nan, that darling woman with the heart of gold, re invented toasties are la plastique...

Tuesday, 24 May 2011


The essence of Nan
I always thought my family was typical, and how we lived was normal. But now I’m all grown up, I look back and realize that life at number 13 was far from average. Not that I’m complaining, for I had a great childhood. I was loved, protected, fed clothed and educated. I had two loving parents, siblings and a family home that was always filled with love, even if it was a times a tad quirky.
My Nan, (my dad’s mother) was of Scottish decent, she was the matriarch of our family unit.
We lived modestly. In a smallish home made by the hands of our ancestors. Each brick created by the hands of our grandfather, and lovingly placed in place with my dads, then teenage assistance.
Nan ruled our home, this being something I took as average, but later found out to be not the norm.
My mum, a quiet , small statute woman moved in with her mother in-law and her new husband upon her wedding day, and started our  little family, first with my sister, 4 years later with me and then ten years on with my brother.
From the moment J was born she belonged to my Nan, it was a family story around the table in later years, that when mum returned from the hospital, J was placed into Nan’s awaiting open arms and  the bond was done. That was the strength of my Nan, that she could claim her grandchild as her own to raise in every way but title name. Mum was still mum, but as a young bride and mother, she didn’t possess the self confidence or inner strength to change the way of the family, not that she would have wanted to, Nan was her guidance, her mentor, she was open and willing t learn from such a master survivor.
When I came along, mum was stronger, more experienced, and her bond with Nan had grown, as had Nan’s trust in Mum, so I was more hers to rise, although that strong Scottish hierarchy still reigned strong. We thought it was normal, it was just the way things were with us, Nan had final say over most things, from food, to clothes to lunch money to whether or not you could stay home from school,
It wasn’t all bad, for we were dearly loved and always given all we needed, unfortunately, as with most children that didn’t always match with all we wanted.
My mum and I have always been close, I actually can’t not remember the last time we fought, I’m sure we have, but I can’t recall ever getting into a yelling match with her.  My dad, a strong proud man, who devoted his life to his family and providing for it, was a rock to us. He worked hard, loved us all dearly and although sometimes distant to me, I never doubted he cared.
He and I were not what you would call close, he had a tighter bond with J, but I loved him as I know he loved me.
For now though I’m going to focus on Nan, the tough Scottish lady who ruled with strength and kindness. Those pale blue eyes had seen a lot in their time, from wars, to hardships, to celebrations. She lived a life that most of us today would never survive. She lost her life time soul mate early in her married life and was left to raise a young teen alone, and unlike so many women from that time, she did not re marry as most encouraged her to do, she battled on alone, and made her way through to stand proud next to her grown son, his wife and his three children, her grandchildren. Who she adored and loved so fully sometimes it was suffocating.
Nan was an awesome cook, her strong tradition recipes and tried and tested family secrets kept us well fed and happy. My fondest memories are of those wafting smells that emitted from the kitchen. And Nan in her knitted cardigan, rolled up sleeves and apron, wiping flour from her hands, waiting for a hug from you upon returning from school.
Mealtimes were, shall we say interesting at times, although Nan was a brilliant cook, she was Scottish, and she believed nothing should be wasted. This meant we were treated to culinary delights such as tripe in white sauce and parsley, egg dipped and crumbed lambs brains and fresh pressed brawn. Also the odd haggis, forfa Bridie, girdle scone and black pudding adorned our table.
She was a shrewd cook too, many a time she would try and convince me that all that I would get was the egg, and she would leave the brains out. (just for me, as I disliked the so) But somehow that fried egg seemed to still be a tad to lumpy for my tastes.
Her girdle scones and potato scones were her trade mark, and too this day I still have not been able to replicate them. Unfortunately I fear this recipe, and the love it took to make them went to the grave with her when she left us.
Nan’s clutie dumpling s were her signature, she would make one in advance before we would go our many holiday adventures. We always knew an adventure was due when the big silver mixing pan came out with the larger than life wooden spoon,
This dumpling would be mixed and churned and cured and hung, they always came out perfectly, I  never remember a failure, and I will always remember the taste.
She would slice through the rind and cut big wedges, it was like a dark rich fruitcake, packed full of raisins, currants, sultanas. Then drizzle them with honey before fryng   (I know in today’s standards that's probably not all that healthy, and fitness freaks will cringe, but you have to remember that this was from a time when dripping on toast was considered a decent breakfast dish)
The spices and fruit would sizzle leaving a sweet smell wafting though the room. My mouth waters now just thinking about that soft warm dumpling melting into your mouth. And the thing that makes this memory even more special to me is the memory of her smile while she watched us eat, her soft blue eyes , slightly teary and the love she showed. For she was a tough lady, who was strong, hard and determined, set in her ways, and very old fashioned. But she was also warm, lovable, generous, kind and most of all the best Nan any child could ever ask for.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Paper cuts

Over the past few months I watched friends of mine start up blogs, and write down their thoughts and feelings.

I read them, and I have seen another side of  their world,  I've had my eyes opened, seen their laughter, shared their pain and admired their strengths, So after much encouragement from my family and Friends I'm going to embark on one of my own,.(wish me luck,. lol)

Ive always loved writing, and Ive made it through to a place in my life where i can honestly say I'm happy with me and being me so maybe now its time to write down the highlights and downfalls of my journey to this point, the good and the bad,  and share what i have experienced , seen and ultimately learned.

These , shall we say, "snapshots " in to my world are what have made me,  they have been the cement and foundations of who I now call Sandz, . It hasn’t always been a happy ride, and I've had my fare share of drama, pain and anger. I cried, Ive watched my world collapse around me and had my heart and soul ripped from my chest. But Ive also had happiness, experienced pure bliss and felt the warmth of the strongest  love immaginable

So in doing this, these entries  are for me, (and my followers if I end up having any)to see where I came from, where Ive been and where I'm going. I hope you enjoy the ride as much as I did living it and subsequently writing it.

 So here goes, 

Isn't it weird how  it s the littlest cuts that hurt the most?

The ones that we remember and impact on our lives the most usually come from the smallest little moments, or comments, .Then in comparison, there's the big events that rock our world and stop us in our tracks. But some how , after the calamity and shock pass by, and time does its magic we look back and see that we have survived, by some miraculous account, we have made it through.

But then as we move along with our lives, something connects us back to that initial little wound, a simple statement, that second in time,a smell, or a colour or a look. And the sting , although faint, is felt once again. Those little cuts never seem to heal, they stay with us long after the day they were received. Its us as humans, who get just get better at hiding them.

When I was a child, we used to attend church every sunday morning. We, being my older sister and myself, and later my younger brother, but for many years it was just the two of us. 
I didnt quite get the whole, "get ready for church" routine, as a young girl I could think of 101 better things to do with my Sunday mornings. But My mum used to get us all done up in our cute little flower dresses, hair in ribbons and patent black shoes . Dad would drop us at the church doors and smile, saying Ill see you in a hour. I'd watch in longing as he would drive away in the kingswood. Wishing I could dump the pretty dress and adorn my shorts and tshirt and go with him.
My sister, who I loved (and still do) was more into this whole "church" thing. I used to look at her , with her beautiful long blonde hair, those big blue eyes, and a smile to die for, and wish i was her. I was me, bark brown hair, in long braides, dark eyes and a sulky look. I was labled "the dark one" from a young age,. I was not meant nastily, I knew I was loved. But J was the one who shone, it was hard sometimes to stand in her Shadow.
I always remember cringing as the church ladies would lay eyes on us and approach. They all smelled like cotton wool and camphor balls. They would smile and touch our hair saying comments on our lovely locks and our lovely clothes. J would smile, and be polite, she was always better at that than me. I would stand slightly behind her and hope no question was directed towards me. We would walk in to the chappel with them, and sit beside them. 
I remember one occasion in particular, J was asked to walk the wine down for holy communion. ( something I might add I had always wanted to do) I was given the silver box containing the communion bread. and was to follow J down the isle .
As the organ started to play, and J started her slow even walk down to the minister at the alter with red wine flask in hand. she turned , winked and smiled at me, her way of encouraging me to do my best. But as I was about to take that first step, to walk in her footsteps,and do her proud, the frail hand on my shoulder who was waiting to usher me on said quietly in my ear. "look at your sister. isn't she beautiful, if you turn out half as perfect as her you'll be a lucky girl".......PAPER CUT.

That comment was the pretence for the rest of my childhood, That statement put into motion an envy and a feeling of unworthiness that I carried throughout my childhood years.. Dont get me wrong, my sister was my rock, she was my guide, my mentor, and yes we fought, and probably drove each other mad, as most siblings do. But those words, from an old lady who opinion shouldn't have really mattered are to this day etched in my memory. Only now though, I choose to ignore them.