A November Trip to Malta

Malta Holiday Diary

Sunday 20th November, 2022. Late.

Arrived in Malta. The Airbnb is a 20 minute drive from the airport. Staying in Valletta, which is pedestrianised, so parked in multistorey car park and wheeled our suitcases through the city. Rain was forecast but never appeared, so felt very thankful.

Dumped bags in the apartment and went to McDonald’s. Sometimes, when you’re very tired, you just want something very easy/familiar. It hit the spot. We were the only people, including the staff, who were over twenty!

The apartment is weird. It’s all on one level except for the bedroom, which is reached via a steep spiral staircase. The bedroom contains a bed—nothing else. We left our bags in the sitting room, changed in the kitchen. Very odd.

Monday 21st November.

We woke early and went for a run. (Well, ONE of us woke early, and then had a hard job waking the other—but we did both go for a run.) The apartment looks better in daylight. It’s right in the centre of Valletta, and has two balconies that overlook the city. The bedroom, whilst odd, is also wonderfully light and has a view of the sea. Husband carried up a small set of shelves, so I can put a few things up there.

We had breakfast in Eddie’s Café in Republic Square. They didn’t serve croissants, so I tried a Maltese pastry—which was flakey pastry (quite greasy) filled with cheese. I wasn’t a fan. Husband had Eggs Benedict, which was much nicer, so I ate some of that.

It then basically poured with rain all day. The bedroom has a tin roof, so I read an Ethics book while the rain rattled above me. The sea turned from blue to grey and then disappeared from view. We walked to a little Italian restaurant for dinner: Papannis. Great food and wine, with friendly service. Returned to the apartment feeling happy.

Tuesday 22nd November

Not raining. Brilliant! We ran through the Victoria Arch, along the coast, then up the hill to the apartment (one of us walked up the hill). Showered, then had coffee and croissant at Caffé Cordina in Republic Square. Perfect.

We can see a big dome from the apartment, so we walked there (it’s a big church, rebuilt after the war. A LOT of Malta needed to be rebuilt after the war.) We found our way down to Boat Street, and had a lovely walk next to the coast. As we passed the imposing city wall, we could see where the bricks had been cut from the rock. When the knights arrived in Malta, they must have cut the rocks into bricks (thus lowering the base) and built the wall right there (hence not needing to transport the bricks very far). Clever. The wall is now weathered, but I still wouldn’t fancy having to climb it to attack the fort.

The weather was windy (needed my woolly hat) but sunny. When we sheltered from the wind, it was very warm—tee-shirt weather—but mostly we needed a jumper and coat. This was unexpected, I had assumed Malta would be warmer in November.

Returned to apartment and I read more of my Ethics book (quite heavy-going). Fell asleep while reading, and woke up to feel the bed shaking—thought it was Husband trying to wake me—realised it was an earthquake! It didn’t last very long, but there was quite a lot of movement. I checked Twitter (which is always the fastest way to confirm an earthquake I have learned). The earthquake was measured at 4.4.

Dinner at Papannis again. Lovely.

Wednesday 23rd November

Lots of wind and rain (and church bells) during the night, so woke up tired. It was grey and windy, but not actually raining, so we went for a run. I love running next to the sea, there’s something that makes me feel like a child again.

Breakfast at Caffe Cordina again. Today the pigeons were annoying. They’re very aggressive, and as soon as they see food they try to fly onto the table. If people leave uneaten food when they leave, the table is instantly swarmed with pigeons. Not very hygienic. I don’t like city pigeons much (they’re like rats).

Went back to apartment and I tried to read more of the Ethics book. Managed to not fall asleep. Gave up, and we went for a walk along the south eastern coast. We could see warships and a cruise ship and more of Malta across the inlet. Malta is distinctive, with its cities of golden stone and steep walls rising up from the coast, and so many churches—domes and steeples in every direction. Which means lots of bells. The bells near the apartment were fairly random in when they rang, and some of them rang throughout the night.

Dinner at Papannis again—we will have to eat somewhere else tomorrow as they shut on Thursdays.

I will tell you more about our trip in my next blog. Thanks for reading.
Take care.
Love, Anne x

If you enjoy my travel blogs, you should read my book: The Sarcastic Mother’s Holiday Diary

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Remembrance Day Poem – As Life Goes On

Now, and Then

IKEA homeware packed in boxes,
Heaps of stuff littering the hall, then squashed into the back of the car.
Last hugs, cheery goodbyes, the drive to uni.
Snippets of home, spread around the strange smelling room,
The lanky excited-scared almost-man says goodbye,
And the mother remembers.
She remembers the feel of the bowling ball weight on her hip when she carried him,
The feel of his tiny hands on her cheeks when he offered snotty kisses,
The snuffle of breath as he slept against her shoulder,
She remembers the child as she looks at the man.
As she wishes him well, holds back tears until she has driven away.

Billycans and clothes stuffed in kit-bag,
A train to London packed up tight, then hurry to find the right squad.
Last hugs, tearful goodbyes, a band plays on.
Heaving the bag, look around for friends joining too,
The lanky excited-scared almost-man says goodbye,
And the mother remembers.
She remembers the feel of the bowling ball weight on her hip when she carried him,
The feel of his tiny hands on her cheeks when he offered snotty kisses,
The snuffle of breath as he slept against her shoulder,
She remembers the child as she looks at the man.
As she wishes him well, holds back tears until he has joined his unit.

The posts on Facebook show new friends and nightclubs,
Texts assure his food is fine, his studies easy.
He doesn’t discuss the drunken evenings, the sleepless nights, the fear of loneliness.
But his mother knows, she reads it in unsaid words and tired-eyed photos.
And she waits. As life goes on.

There are no letters and the News shows little,
Bold battles move to the Front, the headlines proclaim.
They do not discuss the fallen comrades, the sleepless nights, the fear of injury.
But his mother knows, she reads it in unsaid words and tired-eyed photos.
And she waits. As life goes on.

The war ends. The boy returns home.
Yet, not a boy, become a man.
A man who will not speak of horrors,
Will not discuss the stench of death,
The sight of his friends, falling.
The nights when he still hears the screams, still fears the dark.
But his mother knows, she reads it in sunken cheeks and, eyes so weary.
And she waits. As time goes on.

The term ends. The boy returns home.
Yes, still a boy, almost a man.
A boy who chats and loves to amuse,
Loves to debate the point of life,
Who meets all his friends, laughing.
The nights when they drink, talk at length, sort their beliefs.
And his mother knows, he is safe and content with life, has a future.
And she waits. As time goes on.

by Anne E. Thompson

Anne E. Thompson
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The Best of Days, the Worst of Days…

Today has been a mix of highs and lows. Mostly highs, so I will start there.

As you know (if you read my blog regularly) we had booked a house in Italy for the summer, but popped home after a couple of weeks to attend my niece’s wedding. After the wedding, we returned to La Thuile for the rest of August. It felt like coming home as we drove from the airport, past ‘our river’ that races through the valley, to the view of ‘our mountain’ with the glacier that reflects all the moods of the sun.

Anyway, today I suggested that we should go to a café for an espresso (which is one of my favourite things about Italy—sipping a coffee in the sunshine, somewhere beautiful). Husband suggested that rather than walk to the nearby café (‘our café’) we should try somewhere new, on the other side of town.

He directed me along lanes, through the park next to the river, up narrow streets. We arrived at a pretty building next to the river, with a family sitting in lounge-chairs in the garden. At our arrival, they all jumped up, assured us that they were open, and the man showed us to a table in the shade. He then disappeared.

I looked around. On one side was the river, on the other was mountains—all very pretty, perfect for a leisurely coffee. The man then reappeared, carrying cutlery and glassware, and a basket of fresh bread. He smiled welcoming as he set our table. Lots of eye-contact between Husband and I, neither of us spoke. The man hurried away.

Now what? The man was so welcoming, the bread looked freshly baked, dare we say that we only wanted a coffee? Husband said we should just order something small (we already had dinner reservations for the evening at ‘our restaurant’). The man reappeared with the menu, and we chose a couple of dishes. Neither of us understand much Italian, so it was a bit random. What arrived were platters of cheese and meat, which went perfectly with the house wine. We finished, an hour later, with the espresso that we had come for. It was all very unexpected, and very lovely. A good time.

After our lunch, we discussed what to do, as I have hurt my leg and can’t walk far. Husband suggested we went ‘up the mountain on the cable car.’ I knew this was something he really wanted to do, and we had just enjoyed a lovely lunch in the sunshine, so I agreed. I hate heights. It was even worse than I imagined.

The ‘cable car’ is not a cable car, it is a chairlift—designed for skiers in the winter, and mountain bikers in the summer. I watched the chairs as they flew down the mountain, turning at the bottom, slowing for passengers, then continuing back up the mountain in a continuous loop, never actually stopping. I saw a few people nearly getting bonked when they stood up but didn’t move out of the way quickly enough, and I tried to learn from their mistake as we joined the line of young men with bikes. We fed our tickets into the machine, and stepped forward. A man appeared from his cubicle and hovered near the emergency-stop button. We stood in place, the chair arrived behind us, we sat back, a bar was lowered in front of us, and we rose towards the sky.

I decided it would be best to keep my eyes shut. This worked fine on the way up. It felt like flying, I could hear birds and smell the pine trees, and the temperature grew gradually cooler as we rose. We reached the top, Husband yelled at me to let go of the safety-bar, a man hovered near the emergency-stop button, I leaped off the chair, remembered to hurry to the side, the chair sailed past me and I was on solid ground. All great. I felt rather pleased with myself, and enjoyed looking at the views and watching the young men as they raced down the mountain on their bikes. Then we decided to go back down. Then it all went wrong.

As we fed our tickets into the machine, the man emerged again to hover near the stop-button. Obviously we looked incompetent. The chair swept behind us, I sat, the bar was lowered, I shut my eyes and pretended I was flying. Then Husband (who I have now forgiven) mentioned that the safety bar was raised and lowered by the passengers—in other words, him. That felt very unsafe. If you have a fear of heights, you will know that the fear is connected with falling, and the belief that somehow you might fling yourself over the precipice. I am not scared in airplanes, because I cannot fall out. I am terrified on cliff edges because I might fall over. Now I was being told that if I lifted the bar (yes, I know that this was entirely in my control and wouldn’t happen, but fear is not rational)—if I lifted the bar, I would plummet to my death. I took deep breaths. Then Husband mentioned something about the view below, and fool that I am, I opened my eyes. I was not flying. I was suspended on an insecure chair, miles above ground, with nothing but a moveable bar between me and certain death. My heart stopped, I thought I might vomit (pity the mountain bikers below!) and I started to shake all over. I think I whimpered.

For the next few terrifying moments we sailed through the air. I shut my eyes and prayed very hard and tried not to think about how it would feel to fall. Then we arrived. The same man hovered near the emergency button (they didn’t seem to do that for anyone else!) and I managed to stand, to move out of the way, to walk to the nearest bench. I didn’t speak. Somehow, I survived. But it was bad, very bad.

I hope your day is full of good things, and that you cope with the bad things calmly.
Take care.
Love, Anne x

Anne E. Thompson
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Before Italy…

We went to Italy for a couple of weeks. It was a variation of the trip we planned for 2020, when we rented a house in the Italian Alps for a few months, just to see how it would be to stay somewhere beautiful for a while. That trip was cancelled—another victim of the Covid lockdowns—so when the same house was free for the beginning of August, we booked it.

I arrived exhausted, mainly due to the last days of July. It had been busy—much too busy to call the wasp man, so I told Husband that we had a nest, and he said he hadn’t seen any wasps, so neither of us phoned the wasp man. Which was a mistake, but we’ll come to that later.


You will remember my sister was staying? Well, she returned to Canada on the 30th of July, so we all met the night before for a barbecue at my brother’s house. To say goodbye. I hate saying goodbye to my sister, she’s a part of me, there’s some strange physical bond, and Canada is much too far away. When we returned from our family trip to Cromer (see an earlier blog) I had to make lots of scones, because all the ones I had made previously were eaten by my sister, and me, and various relatives who came to see my sister.

The dog also had to go into kennels, and I hate that now she’s so old, just in case…

Anyway, I survived saying goodbye to both of them again, and there was no time to think because the 30th was a whirlwind of making beds, cleaning the house, preparing meals for stray children (who aren’t children any more, but you know what I mean) when they arrived. In between time, I flung items of clothing in the general direction of a suitcase.

At about 2pm, my eldest son arrived from Vietnam. He’d been working there, managed to dislocate his leg, and had to be collected by taxi from the airport (because no one else was free). He hobbled in on his crutches, looking all tired and relieved to be in England, and thin. I don’t think he’d eaten much and he’d done a lot of trekking through jungles. When confronted with a tired thin son, mothers like to cook. I was busy, so cooked a frozen pizza (but the thought was there). Younger son carried the suitcase upstairs, I put a load of Vietnam-dirty clothes in the washing machine, then smiled a welcoming smile as our first visitors arrived.

At about 2:30, all my in-laws arrived for a cream tea to celebrate my parents-in-law’s diamond wedding anniversary. We had put up bunting, and decorated tables, and it was sunny so we could sit outside (with the wasps—you remember them?) Everyone seemed contented though, and it was a happy celebration.

At 4pm, people left, and I had time to clean up (mostly) and then fold the clothes that I had thrown towards the suitcase, packing them properly. I cooked dinner for the family (they all came back for the wedding anniversary and to come on holiday). I was asleep within minutes of going to bed. But only managed a few hours because the taxi arrived at about 4 am. Then off to the chaos of Gatwick.

I will tell you about the joys of travelling with someone in a wheelchair in a later blog. Italy will have to wait too, otherwise this will be too long. We returned yesterday, ready to attend my niece’s wedding (another fun celebration I expect) and I will leave you with a few pictures of Italy, simply because it is beautiful.

Hope your week goes well. I will tell you about the very best place in Italy next week. Thanks for reading. Take care.
Love, Anne x

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Holiday with the Sibs.

Holiday With The Sibs

I went on holiday with my siblings. It’s the first time in decades that we have all been together, without our spouses, for a few days of reminiscing. If you follow my blog, you will know that Uncle Frank died a few weeks ago, and my cousin wrote to say that she was taking her mum to Cromer. My other cousins all agreed we would try to be there at about the same time, and on a hot July weekend we met in Cromer.

Cromer is where my family always went on holiday when I was growing up. Set on the North Norfolk coastline, I have many memories (not happy ones) of horizontal rain and wind that was always cold. Always. The sea was rough and grey, and I learnt to swim in it, gulping salty mouthfuls as the waves washed over me. It’s a wonder I didn’t die of typhoid. I believe it’s a lot cleaner now.

We used to camp, which is not my favourite thing. This time my siblings and I stayed in a hotel—The Cliftonville—with Mum and Aunty Margaret. What fun! The hotel looked on the website rather like an old people’s home, but it was cheap, so we booked it anyway. When we arrived it was under renovation by new owners, and it was all rather lovely. I thoroughly recommend it if you visit Cromer, very comfortable and the staff were amazingly helpful.

My relatives however, camped. Some were in caravans or motorhomes (the older generation) and some were in tents. We all met up each day on the beach in Runton, at the bottom of the ramp behind the big black rocks. The weather this July was hot—I don’t think I have ever been in Cromer when it is hot. The beach was full of families, and dogs, and old ladies in deckchairs. You could tell the regular visitors, because they sat behind windbreaks, a tradition borne from experience. But they didn’t need to, any breeze was a welcome break from the sun.

We sent the days simply talking; remembering past events and people, reliving happy moments. Cromer hasn’t changed much, but there were a few new things—like goats (bagots) which now live on the cliff edge, and the steps to Granny’s caravan have now washed away, and so have the steps to the picnic field, so the routes down to the beach are fewer, and people willing to walk can have a private pitch between Cromer and Runton. The military pillbox on the beach has sunk, we used to be able to go in there when we were young (it always stank though). The boating lake has gone, and most of the shops have changed owner, and Banksy has painted a picture on the concrete wall.
But our own graffiti was still there—we carved our names in wet concrete 40 years ago, and you can still see the shape of the letters, though Bessie’s[1] footprints have worn away over time. The slot machines were still there, and many ice cream shops, and the painted beach huts, and the fishing boats, and the pier.

A Banksy picture, a bit washed away but still pretty cool!

We popped in to one of the many antique shops, and found shelves of old books and stacks of papers from before we were born. I bought some from 1936, but my brother did better because he found some from the war which describe the liberation of the camps. They were only £2 each, and I wished I’d bought more. There were commemorative mugs, and medals which were shockingly cheap—only a few pounds for a medal marking 15 years in the red cross during the war.

We ate fish and chips, and ice creams, and walked along the pier—because you have to do those things in Cromer whether it’s sunny or raining. It’s nicer when it’s sunny. Actually, everything was fun, especially the talking. There we were, three pretty-old-now siblings, reliving our past. Not something that happens very often, but definitely worth making time for.

Then I returned home, to find out how Husband had coped with the chickens and ducks and cats and dog. All was well, and I tried to thank him, and to explain what we had done for the weekend, but I couldn’t really, there wasn’t much to tell. We had just talked.

Thanks for reading. Hope you find something nice to talk about today.
Take care.
Love, Anne x


[1] Bessie was the family collie dog, and she ran all over the wet cement when we wrote our names. She died in 1985.

Anne E. Thompson
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Lavender Fields

We went to the lavender fields. It was a sunny morning, every year I mean to go and forget until it’s too late, so I phoned my mother, and off we set. Google maps promised it would be a quick 28 minute journey, and the roads looked okay, so what could go wrong?

A closed road threw us off route briefly, but Google maps seemed to cope, didn’t swear (like some people do when you ignore their directions) and the new route seemed fine. Except we came to a very narrow lane, and a lorry unloading, and two school mini buses that couldn’t squeeze past… I was also worried because I knew that one route went via the motorway, and I need to psyche myself up before driving on a motorway, I cannot just casually roll onto one and zoom along a couple of junctions before diving off again, like most people seem to do. There is wailing involved when I drive on the motorway. And often swearing. (And my mother was in the car, so neither of those would be appreciated.)

Eventually we found the farm. The small yellow car that had been glued to my bumper in the narrow lane also turned off, so I let her pass first, then parked in a different place. I felt she may have wanted to make comments about my driving. (To be fair, I had several comments about her driving, but I couldn’t see anyone would benefit from the exchange.) Mum was still chatting cheerily, oblivious to the stress/near-death experiences we had recently shared. She headed off for the washroom, and I noticed she had dressed to match the lavender. I hoped I wouldn’t lose her.

The farm is pretty. It’s set in the hills, and there were cows, and fields of purple lavender stretching to the horizon. Some people had booked a tour, and were trailing behind a 12-year-old in wellies (everyone tends to look like a 12-year-old these days). We took some photos, and Mum said we must bring my sister here (probably because she takes better photos than me—she uses a camera rather than a phone for a start). I agreed. Mum asked what kind of cows they were, but I didn’t know. Brown ones? We looked for a tea room, but there wasn’t one, only a van selling drinks in paper cups, and there was nowhere comfortable to sit, so we didn’t bother.

I bought some pots of lavender—three different types according to the labels, though I wonder if that was accurate as two looked identical. One was called ‘fathead’ which made me chuckle. The perfect gift for someone who I don’t like much. It has chubby flowers. I like lavender, mainly because neither slugs nor chickens like eating it (most of my plants get eaten).

The shop also sold lavender stuff (obviously). Bags of lavender, glass bottles of lavender perfume, purple soaps, crockery with lavender flowers painted across the surface. They also, bizarrely, sold frozen food from the COOK chain. Not sure why. Perhaps after trailing behind the 12-year-old in wellies, people are too tired to cook dinner, so they do a roaring trade in beef casseroles and lasagne. I wasn’t tempted though.

We shoved my plants in the boot, and drove home by a new route. It was just as bad as the first one, and I know there is an easy way, past the Sainsbury’s where I shopped when the family were small. Never mind, we made it back okay, and Mum didn’t stop chatting, which is a good sign (she goes silent when she’s noticed my driving…I think she’s praying). I’m going to plant my new lavender now.

Thanks for reading. I hope you find some good routes this week.
Take care.
Love, Anne x

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Trip to London

I met a friend for brunch in London, which felt very grown-up. It was raining, so I took my umbrella. As I walked along Victoria Street, there was a woman hurrying in the rain, dressed for an occasion, gradually getting soggy. I caught her up, and suggested she shared my umbrella. I spotted other people, some with umbrellas, some getting wet, but no one else was sharing. I mentioned this later to my daughter. Apparently sharing your umbrella is not a thing, especially in London. This seems wrong, I shall start a campaign.

I was slightly late for brunch due to barricades outside Buckingham Palace ready for the Jubilee celebrations. I hadn’t allowed time for detours. When I arrived, my friend messaged to say she too was delayed. This proved a problem for the staff, who came to the table several times to tell me the kitchen would soon be shut (which was a lie, because they serve lunch there). Felt generally uncomfortable. Then I ordered the wrong food—egg florentine—because I thought it was egg benedict but with salmon. It isn’t, it’s with spinach, which is not at all the same. Such a shame.

I hope you had a fun time celebrating the Jubilee. We had the extended family round, for a walk to the pigs and then tea and cake. I invited everyone, envisioning a cosy chat afterwards in the kitchen. Husband saw the sunshine, and set up chairs outside and organised a croquet competition. Son muttered about it being typical that his parents were planning opposing events. I don’t think anyone else noticed.

Large ducklings and their fed-up-with-childcare mother. You can just about spot the new chick.

We had bit of a disaster in the garden this week, as Husband spotted two moorhen chicks wandering across the lawn. Every year the moorhen hatches eggs on the island, and none ever survive. I don’t like interfering with wild animals (it rarely turns out well) but these were cute black balls of fluff, tottering away from the pond in search of their mother, oblivious to the cats and crows. We decided I would pick them up and put them in with the ducklings. As I walked towards them, Husband was shouting: ‘Be careful of your bad back,’ which changed to ‘Quick! There’s a crow! Run faster!’ I caught them (and hurt my back) and put them in with the ducks. Mother Duck gave me a look as if to say, ‘These are tiny babies, I have finished that phase and am looking after big ducklings now.’ The ducklings all ran away scared, despite being twice the size.

A tiny ball of black fluff stumbling across the lawn.

As predicted, it didn’t turn out well. I found one the following morning, it had died. I suspect it got cold because it didn’t stay in the huddle of ducklings. At least its final moments weren’t being eaten though. The other two managed to reunite with the mother, and we catch sight of them near the pond, though thankfully they seem to have learnt not to venture across the garden.

Anyway, thanks for reading. Hope you have a lovely week.
Take care.
Love, Anne x

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“It’s better to go to a funeral than a feast…”

I write this the day after Uncle Frank’s funeral. Funerals in my family tend to be long, emotional, and loving. Uncle Frank’s funeral was longer, and more loving, than most because there was a lot to say about my Uncle Frank. He was a one-off. I cannot possibly describe for you the magic of his stories, the exaggerated tales of his past, the way his face creased into smiles when he saw you, his mischievous giggle when something tickled him. My earliest memories are of him on the beach, digging a massive hole and turning it into a car, so I could sit and ‘drive’ sheltered from the cold Norfolk wind. I have later memories of him with my own children, letting them camp at the end of his garden and slipping them shiny coins when he thought I wasn’t looking.

Yesterday was a day of laughter and tears. Lots of tears. I am a cry-er, always have been, though it’s worse since surgery when controlling any emotion is difficult. As we waited outside the crematorium, I tried to decide how to behave—should I ‘live inside my head’ and not properly listen to what was being said, force myself to notice the sounds and smells and sights around me, ‘tell myself a story’ as events unfolded and thus remove my emotions. If I didn’t ‘think,’ I wouldn’t cry. But then, what was the point of being there? Surely the point of a funeral is to cry, to let the emotion, the pain of loss, come to the surface. To share the hurt and love with other people who are hurt and loving.

But, could I keep it in check? Would my not-easy-to-control emotions spiral out of control, embarrassing me and being no use to anyone else? I decided that I would allow myself to cry at the thanksgiving service in the church after the crematorium, but at the crematorium I would remove my thoughts and control my emotions and not cry.

My resolve lasted about one minute, as when the coffin arrived it was carried in by my cousins, and I wasn’t expecting that. The sight of the ‘boys’ (they will always be ‘the boys’ to me) and their sons, carrying the coffin was too beautiful, too poignant. How lovely, to be carried for the last time by people who love you.

So that was it. I spent the entire day with a swollen red nose and puffy eyes and damp cheeks. I am not one of those women who look beautiful when they cry, I resemble a sunburnt frog. But it didn’t matter. By the time the thanksgiving service was finished, I think everyone else had cried too. Unlike some funerals, when you sit there not recognising the saintly person described and you wonder if everyone else knew a different person to you, Uncle Frank’s funeral was about the Uncle Frank who I love. A real, not-perfect, easy to love person who enjoyed giving to others. So many stories, so many memories; laughter and tears chasing each other round the church. It was a special day.

The thing is, like the quote above, I think it really is better to go to a funeral than a feast. A funeral is real. You see a person’s life spread out before you, and it reminds you that life is short. We only get one life. It’s up to us how we spend it. Do I want to spend it ‘scoring points’ when someone messes up? Do I want to spend it indignant because other people make mistakes or behave badly? Do I want to shelter from all possible hurt and embarrassment and in consequence never join anything, never initiate a conversation, never take a risk? Am I forever delaying the things I want to do, waiting for that perfect time that might never come?

We only get one life. Life is short. Live it well.

Thanks for reading.
Take care.
Love, Anne x

“It is better to go to the house of mourning
than to go to the house of feasting,
for this is the end of all mankind,
and the living will lay it to heart.”

טוֹב לָלֶכֶת אֶל־בֵּֽית־אֵבֶל מִלֶּכֶת אֶל־בֵּית מִשְׁתֶּה בַּאֲשֶׁר הוּא סוֹף כָּל־הָאָדָם וְהַחַי יִתֵּן אֶל־לִבּֽוֹ

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Losing and Winning

Hello and how was your weekend? Mine was very mixed, with some truly lovely parts clouded by a loss.

Bluebells still beautiful, sheep looking fed-up.

Saturday started with a run down the lane, the bluebells are still holding on and the field was full of some grumpy-looking sheep. Am assuming they’re pregnant and fed-up (I remember that feeling).

The afternoon was spent at Lingfield Races. We were invited to a summer party, and we donned our smart clothes—so hard to walk in heels when you haven’t worn them for a while—and joined some friends at the racecourse. They had booked a private suite, which was rather lovely, with a buffet lunch and a balcony overlooking the course. I scoured the race details, trying to pick the winner for each race, and failing completely.

Enjoying the races. My horse was last.

It’s very hard to predict which horse will win (which I guess is why there are so many bookies). After each race, I compared the age, weight of jockey, distance they had travelled, last time they had run, trying to transpose the information to the next race. It didn’t work, I lost. After a few races I switched strategies, and backed the favourite. That didn’t work either. Nor did choosing the prettiest jockey colours, nor the best named horse. We walked down to the training ring to see if we could spot the winner there, but it was empty except for a man in dirty jeans—and I didn’t think he was likely to be winning any races! In the end I backed whichever horse was grey, which I believe was my grandad’s strategy many years ago. He never won anything either.

Trying to ignore the uncomfortable heels. (If my mother had been there, my hair would look less scruffy.)

Sunday we went to church. We have joined Holy Trinity, the little anglican church in the village, and I love it. It is full of friendly faces, and I find the words of the liturgy to be beautiful, the building inspiring, and taking the sacrament is being part of something holy. Having been raised a staunch baptist, I am noticing the differences, and revelling in approaching God from a different angle. Perhaps everyone should change denomination mid-life, so they can understand the good parts of both.

After church we always have brunch, which is another new tradition (since Covid) that makes me look forward to Sundays. (I used to dread them—they were all about being uncomfortable and doing my duty and working hard). We had banana and walnut and cinnamon pancakes with orange juice and coffee. Doesn’t that sound good?

Then we did some gardening, with my old dog beside me and the cats pouncing on the weeds I dug up, and the sunshine smiling on us. A peaceful day.

I needed a peaceful day, because a much-loved uncle died recently. He was the sort of uncle who you knew would smile if you turned up unannounced at the door, an uncle who told amazing stories (which you were never entirely sure whether they were true), the sort of uncle who wanted to be part of my life. When my children came along, he wanted to know them too. He was part of the stability of my life. I have been very lucky, my childhood was built on love and family. I will leave you with the wedding photo of my grandparents, which is where that stability and love started. Losing an uncle is sad, but mostly I feel grateful that he was my uncle, because family is precious.

My Granny and Grampy on their wedding day. Those heels look uncomfortable too!

Hold on to what is precious this week, and let things that don’t matter evaporate. Life is too short for anything else.
Thanks for reading. Take care.
Love, Anne x

Thanks for reading



Anne E. Thompson

After Christmas

Hello, Happy Monday! How was your Christmas? Mine was wonderful, though with a few mishaps (there often are in my house).

Our first less-than-professional action was when we had friends for curry one evening before Christmas. They come most weeks, and Husband (bless him) decided it was time to use those left-over crackers that everyone has lurking in the Christmas decorations box from a bygone year. He didn’t mention his good idea to me, otherwise I would have warned him.

Friends arrived, smiled when they saw there were crackers, decided who would pull one with who, all very excited. I arrived too late to say anything, and sat there wondering if Husband understood about the crackers and had planned accordingly. He didn’t, and he hadn’t. The crackers were those ‘fill-your-own’ ones that I had bought (and filled) a few years ago, stuffing them with paper hats and packets of seeds and miniature whiskeys. Husband had not stuffed them with anything, so everyone pulled a completely empty cracker! We searched through the recycling bin and found the hats and jokes in the bottom of the box, but to be honest, they weren’t a great success.

The next major mishap was Christmas dinner, because I forgot to get the turkey out of the fridge and bring it to room temperature before I put it in the oven. Which meant that everything was ready to eat, except the turkey. The vegetarians didn’t care (I don’t like to think they were gleeful and suggested that none of us should have been eating meat) but I felt very annoyed with myself. I ended up slicing it (it was a turkey breast, not even a whole bird, so really I have no excuse). I then fried it, and people ate it after they had started eating everything else. At least I realised in time and didn’t give everyone food poison, but it was a rooky mistake and I should have known better.

The rest of Christmas was great. People were very generous, and we had some lovely moments with the family, just relaxing together, playing games and chatting. The house is now a mess, and my jeans have shrunk (happens every year at this time) and I’m tired. But it has been good.

My boys (who aren’t really boys any more because they grew into men while I wasn’t noticing) are currently downstairs cooking dinner. They are making a dish that involves a whole packet of blue cheese. I don’t like blue cheese, but they tell me that I will like it in the dish they are preparing, as it will taste completely different. This is the sort of thing I used to tell them when they were little, so I don’t like to argue (plus I am very grateful that I don’t have too cook). I’m sure it will be delicious.

Hope you had a nice Christmas, and are looking forward to the new year. Hoping for a healthy one.
Thanks for reading. Take care.
Love, Anne x

Anne E. Thompson
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