Category Archives: letters

Dear Mary,

‘Write a letter to someone I admire’ was one of the aims on my ‘To Do’ list for 2013. It was only yesterday, when checking to see how many items I actually managed to complete, that I discovered this one almost slipped through the net. With a last flourish, I plan to right that situation now.

Dear Mary,

It was a privilege to have known you, even if it was just a few short years. Well into your 80s when our paths crossed for the first time. I well remember the day. A tiny effervescent bundle with snow white hair framing an open smiling face and eyes that sparkled like diamonds.

The stories of your young days and wartime working in the drawing office at Shorts Aircraft factory, in Belfast, were fascinating. Water Polo, your favourite sport is one I am only familiar with, from your tales. You made it sound like so much fun. The tricks you played on dancing partners, the guys you liked and those you did not.

You were always contented with your lot in life, yet never married, despite being so admired and had many suitors through the years. – Your sister Madge, confided that to me. You were so proud and generous with you time for your niece and nephew and later their children: your grandnieces and grandnephew. They all loved you dearly.

You loved to hear Jack sing, and on mornings that we were collecting you, he gave the front passenger seat an extra dusting for our treasured passenger.

Having stopped driving years earlier, you were never afraid to walk the busy road to the corner, no matter what the weather, on the off chance you might catch a bus to Belfast. If none materialised, you had no problem accepting lifts from total strangers, who often went out of their way to take you to the destination you were headed for. I have the feeling those sparkling eyes won them over! Following these adventures you always came back with amazing life stories that they shared with you along the journey.

The hours we spent together thinking, talking and working on craft ideas were so rewarding. You had so many items at hand to solve an intricate or difficult project problem, and always made it fun. I loved the set of tiny real glass buttons that you gave me. I used two of them on Elly’s wedding outfit to attach the tiny hand made bag, for her items ‘old, new, borrowed and blue’. I know you would smile at the idea of me sitting up in bed, in the hotel on the morning of the wedding, making the bag by hand – beading included! The buttons did their work well and brought you close to our hearts on the day.

Your house was a treasure trove of furniture and well loved items from your late mother and grandmother’s homes. With each visit I found a new treasure that I had not noticed before, each had a story and your eyes danced as you lovingly recalled the memories. Nowadays young people must have ‘new’ and all modern conveniences that ping, sing or are touch control. Nothing these days is made to last, no stories or history to pass on, yet on many occasions, such as in our recent power cuts, it is the old reliable items from a previous age that see us through.

I must tell you about a wonderful young girl, Catherine or Kate as we called her, that I had the great pleasure of working with, after I was widowed. Kate, met the man of her dreams and often shared her tales of her romance and the fun that she shared with Peter and his sister Lois. The names were familiar, but I did not think any more about them.

Eventually Kate & Peter became engaged and a wedding was organised. I was privileged with some fellow work mates to be invited to the evening do! Chatting over morning coffee break at work, we ‘girls’ decided we would like to go to the church and see our friend actually get married, then meet up again in the evening to join the fun.

I arrived at the church early and sat into the back row. I noticed a woman moving about in the chancel and realised, even at that distance, that I knew her. Mary, it was Mildred, your niece! It was only than that I put two and two together and realised that Peter the groom, was your grandnephew! What a small world. Lois too played her part, she was a bridesmaid.

Peter & Cate are well settled into married life and now have three young children. Mary, you would be so pleased with Peter’s choice, they are well matched, a steady couple with many shared interests.

While Elly was here a couple of weekends ago, she was driving past where you lived, The house has been totally rebuild, but as Elly said “I am glad Mary’s house was built in the style of the old one!” It looks well and you would not be displeased.

As this year draws to a close, I spent some time thinking about and reliving memories of friends, alas no longer with us, who made an impact on my life. Mary, you left a mark on my heart in the nicest possible way.

For that I thank you,

Your forever friend,


Tomorrow, I will run through the list to see where I fell down!

On the Doorstep

Earlier in the week I found a letter on Elly’s Doorstep… well I suppose it was half way through the letter box.

Junk Mail.

I am well used to it.  It comes in many guises…

You have won… open the envelope to discover it is a fib, and it is a request to spend money on some rubbish.

The Occupier… usually a note telling that the power or water will be off for a few hours on a certain day for what ever reason.

The Householder…. Real junk mail selling exactly what you don’t want.

Letter addressed to my late husband….. Usually a platinum or gold credit card offer from some bank or other.  I once returned one of these saying he would only accept if it was valid for the next world!

I stole the envelope from Elly’s junk mail since it was a new one on me:

Tonight I was in the hall and thought I saw something on the doorstep.  I opened the door to find this:

At first glance I thought someone had left me a present of a puppy or kitten.  Then I took a closer look.

It was a food caddy from our Local Council so that we can recycle food waste.  The leaflet informs me that I may put any raw or cooked food in the caddy.

  • Meat & fish – raw or cooked including bones.
  • All dairy products – such as eggs and cheese.
  • Raw & cooked vegetables and fruit.
  • Bread cakes and pastries.
  • Rice, pasta and beans.
  • Uneaten food from your plates and dishes.
  • Tea and coffee grounds

Included are two rolls of corn starch bags and a number to order more!

Do people not eat any more?


The day was turning to monochrome as I helped remove the anorak on an early November evening. You could feel the frost on the grey green fabric. I tugged on the elasticised cuffs as the arms were pulled away from me. All the while the chatter continued and you had to listen carefully, because she would say things only once! Soon I had the coat in my hands and despite the outer fabric of the garment feeling like ice, the inside was as warm as a furnace. I held it close to me as I looked into the glowing face standing before me. Automatically I reached out to touch the rosy cheeks and almost squealed at how cold they felt.

Taking the coat from me she headed off to hang it up and find her slippers. I went back to the task in hand. The door burst open and she was back in the centre of the floor with hands on hips, and a very determined look in her eyes.

“Its Ok, I know!” she blurted.

“What do you know?” I asked as I continued to peel potatoes.

“There is no Santa Clause!”

“Who told you that?” I asked as I removed an eye from a potato.

“Lucy! She knows.”

“Well if Lucy says so, then it must be right” I say as I put the potatoes on to boil.

“There is no Santa!” she repeated raising her voice, a little surprised at my lack of interest.

“That’s fine, if you say there is no Santa, then there is no Santa! I believe there is a Santa and your dad believes there is a Santa. Wouldn’t it be terrible if Santa filled your dad’s stocking and my stocking, but left your stocking empty because you don’t believe in him? Now would you ever gather up your Library books they need to be returned tomorrow” I added quickly.

With the mention of books she was away as fast as she had appeared. Books were her world and her room was full of them. No doubt with the first book to catch her eye, the topic of Santa was forgotten. It was never mentioned again.

The weeks passed. The tree was decorated, presents bought, menus decided and the shopping done. All too soon it was Christmas Eve. Little Miss said her goodnights with the usual hugs and kisses and we trundled down to her bedroom for the bedtime story. About 20 minutes later I snuggled her down, switched off the light and came away.

Once she was asleep Jack and I set about leaving out the stockings and presents around the tree.

Before going to bed ourselves we always checked on her.

That was when I found this little beauty:

To the Legal Occupier

An envelope addressed like this was stuck in my letterbox yesterday.

I only found it when a young man called to tell me he could save me money. You know the type… a cold caller selling something or other and if you even cough they have forgotten the half learned speech that was supposed to make them a millionaire never mind save me a shilling! I usually give them their five minutes, well in other circumstances he/she might be my child desperate to get a foot on the working ladder. I never purchase items or make major changes, on the word of door to door sales people. I prefer to think things through and do some research.

Now back to the letter.

To the Legal Occupier,

Some time ago, we were advised that no TV receiving equipment was being used to receive TV programmes at this address, and therefore no TV Licence was required.

That is very true; I have had several letters and visits over the last ten years since I disposed of my telly. It is the next little bit that has me worried….

Our standard practice is to now visit your address to confirm that no type of television receiver is being used there to watch or record TV programmes as they’re being shown on TV. This includes the use of a TV set, digital box, DVD or video recorder, computer or mobile phone. Our visit should take no longer than a few minutes.

I have no TV set or digital box. I do have a computer with a DVD player in it and a mobile phone does that make me a criminal?

And bless me father, I once made a mini video (approx 1 min long) on my FinePix A330 that I uploaded to my blog!

Now if I disappear in the near future worry not, I will be staying at Her Majesty’s pleasure, three meals a day, but not at Buck House!


The post yesterday brought my annual rates bill.

In Northern Ireland money for public services comes from a) our share of the UK’s central tax revenue and b) the contributions we make through the rates. The latter is again split into two parts, the reigonal rate and the district rate. In the year 2008/09, as in previous years the reigonal rate helps pay for services such as the health service, education and water (including sewerage). The proposed changes and addition of seperate Water rates take effect in April 2009. The District rates pay for services provided by the local councils such as leisure services, refuse collections, building control and environmental health.

With the bill were three items:

1) a booklet with information about the rate bill

2) a leaflet on how to get help for those on very low income

3) and this:-

The crest on the right is for PSNI (Police Service for Northern Ireland).

The idea is good to inform people on ways to protect their home and belongings, but I wonder how many little old ladies were unable to sleep last night?