Archive for the ‘Thought of the day’ Category

This is a sad and poignant story of a little girl that I love beyond measure, and how Covid-19 and this pandemic affects her.

It’s been a rather challenging year for everyone, but sometimes we don’t realise just how much the little ones are affected. Today it was highlighted in the most heartbreaking way….I received a video call….it was MissM, our granddaughter, 7 years old.

MissM had huge sad, puffy eyes and was looking very timid – nothing like her true personality. I knew immediately something was not right. Her mommy whispered gently in her ear “Tell Ouma the truth, what’s the matter.”

Miss M glanced shyly at the camera with big, shiny wet eyes and whispered “Ouma, I miss you so much.” The heartache in that one little sentence clutched at my heart and squeezed tight until it felt like breaking and my lungs were gasping for air. I wanted her to understand that it was okay to feel sad sometimes so I told her that it was a horrid situation out of our control and her grief was loudly and clearly heard and understood.

I explained to her that we live under the same sky and the same sun and moon and if she simply looked up she would know I was there too and thinking and loving her. She was so subdued. She was still sad but seeing me had helped just a tiny bit. We promised to go round after school and see her from our car while she sat on the front doorstep – unable to hug or kiss – but still able to love one another from a distance.

I told her a little story to calm her and she smiled a tiny, timid smile and said goodbye….she needed to get dressed for school.

My daughter later recounted how she had found MissM curled up in a ball amongst all her toys – under the bed! I can only imagine how her heart had broken at the sight and sound of her daughters distress. This is not the best way to start the day, but as a parent we have a responsibility to ensure our children are sent off for the day in the best possible way to help them cope with the stresses of the current real-world situation.

All of this got me thinking about how I could help her when we couldn’t be together. Being of a crafty disposition, I decided on a bracelet. Two actually. One for her to wear when she was missing me and one for me to wear at the same time.

I made us matching crochet bracelets which I will wear all day so that it is 100% infused with my love and care for her. When we see her this afternoon, she can take one and I will keep the other. I really hope that in the smallest of ways, this little heart will bring her a bit of comfort in her moments of grief….and for me, it will remind me never to forget that a child feels just as deeply as we do; they may not always show it, but sometimes, just sometimes, it all comes tumbling out.

From Ouma to Mara

with all my love.

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Early morning family conversations. What a blessing to have a beautiful family that chat to each other every day on our WhatsApp group. Today our son started off a conversation about Welsh Eisteddfodd’s because he has just realised that they are Welsh in origin (he now lives in Wales) and we used to participate in them every year in South Africa….and so conversations go, that it meandered to ancestors who are Welsh.

Violet Beck

This beautiful picture is of my hubby’s great grandmother Violet who married his great grandfather Max Emanuel Stollreither, daughter of John and Emma Beck.

So we have a son who has moved back to a country where his great great grandmother is from.

How wonderful to have photos of the family from the 1800s to look back on and remember our past.

Who else has old photos they love to pull out every now and again?

#familyhistory #familyancestry #familyphotographs #1800sphotographs #welshfamilyancestry

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It is a relaxing Monday evening in Hesketh House and hubby and I are chatting over a lovely cup of tea after work.  As with so many of our chats they start with anything interesting we may have heard or seen recently and like a greyhound out of the starters gate, take off at high-speed all over the place….you never know where these conversations will find you and what they will pick up along the way.

Today we started out with the simple topic of the Persimmon, or Kaki, an apple size fruit with a lovely shiny yellow skin – we bought one at the store to give it a try.  Not simply being happy that we now knew its other names and varieties found all over the world e.g. Sharon fruit is a variety from Israel, we also learned of its many health benefits, drinks uses, timber used etc, etc.  However, like most things, the over consumption can have some negative effects as well.  In the case of the humble Persimmon, you can apparently, if rarely, get a Bezoar (sounds like bee-zore); a build up of various indigestible substances that create an almost stone-like ball in the stomach – yuck!

For anyone with long hair a few years ago, you may have been told by someone older and apparently wiser than you, that if you chew your hair it would create a hard ball in your stomach which could kill you.  Well my 10-year-old self may have occasionally played with my hair in such a manner (again – yuck), but thought ‘oh, how ridiculous, an adult trying to scare me – again’.  WELL, who knew that this supposed old wives tale has an edge of truth to it because Bezoars can be formed from hair too.


Since medieval times, it was believed that Bezoars could cure you of almost any deadly poisons as it was meant to absorb the poison from your body and therefore cure you.  This was disproved by  a ‘scientist’ who fed one to a chef that was given poison as his sentence for theft.  Sadly he died a very long and painful death – I am sure that his original sentence of death by strangulation would have been preferable.

Bezoars are sometimes carved and buffed to a high shine for jewellery – yuck, yuck, yuck! Go online if you don’t believe me and see some images for yourself.

Naturally leading on from stones in the stomach hubby wondered if the nice smelly stuff in a whales stomach was also a form of Bezoar.  Alas no, this is ambergris or grey amber, a substance produced to protect the whales stomach from the hard and sharp beaks of squid.  Ambigris can be burned or used in perfume.  It is almost as valuable as gold.  Occasionally someone makes their fortune finding it in a whale carcass, but I presume much is found as part of the madness that is whale hunting.

If you’re expecting to find a dead whale on the beach with a few kilograms of ambergris, you may want to consider another pension option, as this happens very rarely and fights have broken out amongst Ambigris hunters for less.

By now, the time has been steadily ticking by and from starting our tea at 5.30pm, we realise that it is 7.30pm and the dinner is waiting downstairs.

I could tell you that chasing stories and information down a rabbit hole is a rare thing for our family, but that would be a vast exaggeration because we all spend many happy hours hunting, investigating and churning up weird and wonderful facts and information of no particular use other than to broaden our general knowledge.

Therefore, the question that I always posed to our children as they were growing up was “Do you want the long or the short answer?”  If they wanted a quick succinct answer they came to me; if they wanted the thesis and the rabbit hole, then they went to Daddy.

Nothing has changed to this day – and that is how you get from Persimmons to Ambergris.

Happy trails everyone!



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The Lake District in Cumbria is a special place, much of it a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and home of the remarkable herdwick sheep, Wordsworth, Fletcher Christian and many other famous and infamous characters. There are countless breathtaking drives, walking routes and properties, one of which is Hardknott Roman fort on the perilously steep and sinuous Roman road that traversed, more or less, what is now the Hardknott and Wrynose passes. My late friend and spiritual mentor, Dave, loved the Lake District and on one of our first trips to the area together in circa 2007, I recall traipsing up the hill to the fort trying unsuccessfully to shield myself from the driving, horizontal rain,our wives having decided that we were on our own, Dave looked as unfazed as if it were a a summers day (in Northern England it probably was): what wonderful memories.

Today the wife and I returned to Wrynose Pass and the Roman fort. Who would have guessed, it was raining, but with infinitely less ferocity though. The fort is still there, and will be in another two millennia but sadly my best friend is not; here’s to you Dave, I know you are at peace with our creator in a place so amazing, it eclipses even the staggeringly beautiful Lake District you loved so much. 

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Today we are stuck at home without a car,  so no regular Friday swimming for Ouma and Granddaughter. Instead we have to think of other ways to occupy a very active little lady!  She helped with this when she found a paintbrush in the sewing room. I added a cup with water and pointed her to a wall in the passage…..she needed no encouragement and happily painted the white wall. 

I realised that her art showed up much better on a piece of backing paper on a torn section of wallpaper (we are in the middle of a restoration so there’s plenty of torn wallpaper in the house). This gave me the idea of using brown paper; I stuck a sheet of brown paper to the wall and I can tell you it was a roaring success because an hour later she is still busy painting and as it dries she can repaint over the previous drawings.   

Another way to keep the kids occupied without having mess in the house – and anyway who cares if she spills a bit of water on that really old pub carpet! Win-win 😄

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This is our sons idea of a fun present –

the only sushi I can eat because I am deadly allergic to all seafood 😂😂
I rather fancy the urimaki with a bit of the wa-sabi 😜

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What do a beekeeper, a winemaker and a sewer have in common?  Me, of course!  🙂

Who would have thought that have such a diverse set of hobbies would come in so handy, but here is proof that being of the hyperactive mind persuasion does have its plus points.

In part 1 we examine the link between beekeeping and sewing……

I made my son a bee suit last year and this year I made hubby a new bee suit as well.  Different styles but equally loved by the recipients.



The bee suits are made from old work shirts that hubby no longer needed.  I sewed two together inside each other and added zips or velcro fronts and added elastic around the hems and cuffs to keep any curios bees out.  I also made the bee veils for them.  The one on the left for my son is a very different style to the hat I made for hubby with a veil attached around the perimeter.  Everything I used for these projects was repurposed or already in my sewing room – what a result!



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Two very happy beeks doing a hive inspection in their one-of-a-kind bee suits.

I am so happy that I have the skill to be able to make things, and it is even more special that they are made from items that would mostly find their way to landfill.

In part 2 I will look at how beekeeping is linked to winemaking in our house…..


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Last week I started a few new batches of wine. The current winemaking was brought about as a result of a rather large batch of freeze-dried apples a friend dropped off for me, and 20 bags of dried cherries we picked up really cheaply from Costco because they were about to reach the use-by date!

I am now planning the following….

Cherry jam, cherry cider, cherry pie filling, cherry liqueur and of course cherry wine – a few different types.

On Saturday I started with the wines – Apple and cherry, Liebfraumilch and cherry, red grape and cherry, and white grape and cherry. We also used some to make a cherry cider – so far, so good.


This is where the dilemma comes in…..I have rather a lot of wine from last year bulk ageing in the cellar in carboys (large 25 litre bottles), and also a lot of other smaller batches of wine bulk ageing in demijohns (5 litre glass bottles). I don’t think I realised how much was ageing in the cellar until tonight….when I needed to rack my latest batches from the fermentation buckets to the glass bottles….and we only had 1 carboy and 3 demijohns to use – a mini disaster in winemaking terms because now I will have to bottle all the other aged wines before I can carry on with this years batches!

Now do you see my dilemma?

Do I make less wine, or buy more carboys and demijohns?

…..and to add insult to injury – I have at least 200 bottles to fill and have only de-labelled, cleaned and sanitised about 50 so far – aaarrrgggg!   This is when my inability to waste, and insist on only using up cycled bottles becomes a bit of stumbling block in the winery production line.

Any volunteers who offer their bottle cleaning services will be compensated – with a filled bottle of course! 😃

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Today our eldest gave our bees the ultimate compliment.  She made an amazing sourdough bread and posted the results on Instagram; her response to my compliment was “Thanks Mom, it’s divine with your honey.  I don’t know what your bees eat but it tastes like lavender and citrus and angels’ kisses!”  Isn’t that wonderful 🙂

Our bees are so precious and we don’t take much honey from them, but when we did get a small bottle a few weeks ago, I sent a tiny jam bottle of honey to London for them to taste the difference between natural and unprocessed honey and shop bought honey.  It is INCREDIBLE, and you only know how incredible when you take the real thing.

IMG_3567   IMG_0854

Once again….Thank you bees!

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I cannot believe that it has been a year since we received our first bees and I wanted to remind people that bees are SUPER important to humans and we should be protecting and not destroying them.  A lack of knowledge of these little creatures sometimes makes people fearful, but please protect our bees or we may all die of starvation!

If you see a swarm please contact your local beekeepers association or someone who keeps bees and they will take the swarm away.  DO NOT call an exterminator as they will simply spray and destroy the swarm.  This site will also help you to identify whether they are bees, wasps or bumble bees who have moved into your bird box or under your eaves.

Here is how the swarm may look……

bee-swarm trisha-marlow-swarm

…and you can read up about them in a previous post of mine here.

Here is a beautiful photo our son took of one of our girls….


…and here we are about to enjoy the fruits of all their labour…..

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…and this is what the boys are most excited about….

IMG_0001…two demijohns (about 12 bottles) of mead that I made from the first batch of honey we harvested in August last year!  It is now crystal clear and ageing in the cellar until the end of this year when they get to test it (patience please boys!).

And to think, without these beautiful little creatures we would have no honey and therefore no sweet treats or honey wine….that alone makes them worth saving! 🙂

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