A new life at 67.Can a woman start all over again?

Archive for June, 2007

The Guards

They’re changing guards at Buckingham Palace,

Christopher Robin went down with Alice,

Alice is marrying one of the guards;

A soldier’s life is terribly hard”

Says Alice.


Since this was read to me as a child I was always in awe of the Guards.Foot Guards or Horse Guards they were all the same to me.

In their brass buttoned scarlet uniforms, tin soldiers come to life.

When I’m in London I always seem to catch the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace,and the words of A.A Milne’s Poem come to my mind,as does the music of “The British Grenadiers”

I haven’t seen many military parades in recent years,except what the news brings us of those in China or Russia,so it was a surprise when I saw a film of the official birthday celebrations for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth with the guards parade.

It was enough to make all those old drill Sergeants turn in their graves. What happened to the straight lines? Have I missed something,or aren’t they doing that any more on the barrack squares or is it just” Britannia rules the waves” again.

O.K I know there is more to soldiering than square bashing, and to all the members of the five guard regiments who are currently risking there lives unnecessarily in foreign fields,respect. But I remember hearing veterans of WWII saying “discipline saved lives”

Do we need it as little as we need the Guards these days?


Should boys be taught to fight?

Once a week I give English chatting lessons to two young boys aged nine and eleven.
They are most definitely boys and usually find it difficult to sit and make polite conversation when they would rather be out playing football.

I am of course profiting too.I now know all the books of Harry Potter plus the biographies of their characters,and I could take a Masters Degree in the Pirates of the Caribbean. I also bring a fair knowledge of football with me which does higher me in their esteem even though I don’t support the gold black and red.

Afterwards I usually stay a bit and talk to their mother about this and that. A couple of weeks ago she said she always told her sons if they got into a conflict with other boys,never to fight back. I found this rather surprising,but considering both her and her husband grew up in a communist country maybe understandable.

But it did make me think,especially as last week the older boy was beaten up on his way home by a boy two years than him.

Do other mothers think the same?

Having seen the film “An Officer and a Gentleman” at least five times, I personally would see that my sons learnt kick boxing,or should they be turning the other cheek too. Luckily I had daughters so the question didn’t really arise.

Painting outside

We painted outside again yesterday.No ants this time, no wind. Perfect conditions for painting,except that the sun kept hiding behind clouds which made it difficult for me as a beginner to decide what colours I wanted.

He had chosen an idyllic pond for us to paint. We could chose what view of it we wanted to capture-I of course took the view directly in front of the Nature Friends bench.(I was thinking of the ants last week)

Did I really want to paint that subject? Yes . My first priority not being the artistic value, it all looked quite nice to me. Of course that lovely silver birch tree would have to be forfeited, pity, I had had a little experience in painting them. Instead I took the weeping willows that were hanging into the murky water.

Of course I mucked it all up. Willow trees,-probably not the easiest.Murky water,-where’s the reflection when the sun goes in?

I was feeling rather despondent,but at least had pleasure in my onlookers this time.Two small children on their way home from school. They liked painting they said,and didn’t know you could do it outside. Oh what nice colours,what a pretty picture.
We chatted a bit,didn’t disturb me,the work wasn’t going to be a masterpiece anyway.Felt I had done something to encourage children’s art appreciation at least.

What did I do afterwards; went home and downloaded Monet’s” Pond at Montgeron.” – Pity I didn’t look at it before.

House to swap in Switzerland


Since my husband and I have retired we have more than enough time to travel. We would like to see more of the world and stay independent.

Maybe there are more of you out there in a similar situation.

Our idea would be to exchange our house and car for an arranged period of time with any other couple in the world who would like to exchange theirs. That way we could all save hotel costs and get to know people and country better.

We have a comfortable house and garden in a large village just outside of Zürich.The International Airport is a fifteen minute drive away.

High Alpine skiing areas are easily accessible, lower slopes and cross country close.

Whether you like hiking,swimming in nearby lakes or just sightseeing and shopping our part of Switzerland has lots to offer.

We would be pleased to hear from you.


Age discrimination in the Art world?

Now that I have time for myself I have started to paint again after many years.Not that I ever learnt much besides how to paint a flower in a vase during my school Art Classes, but it did get me a scholarship once to an almost unknown Art School which because of circumstances I couldn’t accept. Now I have to start at the very beginning.

Like in all things one should have aims,and set goals if you want achievement.My problem is I set my goals to high.

Last week I jokingly asked a British Artist who’s work had been turned down this year at the almost “Holy” Royal College of Art in London whether he thought I could apply next year!!! He told me in other words,that they would consider me to old. Not pliable enough.
Reach for the stars?

The Swiss Art Awards is a competition which takes place parallel to the “Art” exhibition in Basel. Experts this year judged 604 works of budding Artists. The age limit here is 40 years. After this age talent obviously isn’t possible. Even though one hears it is never to late to learn where is the helping hand that give oldies,wrinklies,groofties or whatever after the age of 50 a chance. Are we not worthy of any sort of encouragement. Are our eyes so bad that we can’t see, and our hands so shakey we can’t hold a brush.

Is it not discrimination,and when are we going to protest.?

Art for the masses


 (above picture painted by Ione Citrin, please visit her website at http://www.artbyione.com/figures.html)

I wouldn’t aspire to call myself an Artist,but could I suppose call myself a Painter, or did at least feel a bit like one this week as I painted outside (That is to say under the eye of the general public,-Joggers,Hikers,Dog and Baby Walkers) for the first time . My art teacher thought that the Lake of Pfäffikon, in the Zürich Oberland would surely inspire us. Technique i.e drawing’ know how’ according to him wasn’t essential, at least in my case as I had brought along a certain amount of knowledge in my rucksack.

So perched on my newly acquired stool I braved the elements , the public view,and not to speak of the ants that quickly found my bag which I had stupidly left lying on the ground and started sketching, only to find that because I had started in the left upper corner my focal point on the right didn’t fit on the paper any more! Who needs technique.

Eventually I did have watercolour paint on my paper and soon found out that although the hills in the background were sap green to my eyes using it on paper gave them the first row in the stalls.

At this point I became of interest to people walking by–would I mind them peeking over my shoulder?.Yes I definately would. I’m just a beginner.Come back next year it should be better by then .No I couldn’t give you art lessons.

Afterwards I realised my reaction had been completely wrong, I should have been full of praise for the mess I was making.Maybe that is the difference between a succesfull – meaning rich Artist, with a wall to himself in the Tate Modern and the others,a load of self confidence and more than a touch of the Blarney.

I’ll keep you informed of my progress and I’d be more than pleased with any coaching.

Tea money for the London Cafe


My generation weren’t as perfect as we would like the young people of today to think.

A comment on a post that I have written jogged my memory and I feel I should shake off the dust and with any luck my Mum might be able to read my Blog from where she is and I will have a clearer conscience.

Money was very short when I was a kid.For a few years I went to school in Chertsey in Surrey,UK. It must have been when I was at an age between eight and eleven. There were no school buses and we had to pay for public transport.

It was a ten minute ride between Chertsey and Ottershaw where we lived.The bus service wasn’t too freqent and I had a wait of forty five minutes after school until the next bus came.(no pickups by parents in cars in those days)

I was a rather sickly, pampered only child and the thought of me waiting at the bus stop in knee socks and gaberdeen raincoat in winter horrified my Mother.

It so happened that right next to the bustop was The London Cafe, (Iwonder if it’s still there? ) and my Mother gave me a threepenny bit each day, which she definately couldn’t afford I realise now,and told me to go in and have a cup of tea until the bus came. Three pence of old money.

I don’t think I ever bought a cup of tea for right next door was a sweet shop with all it’s sublimely sickly persuasions.
Whether she ever suspected I will never know,if she did she didn’t let on and I wasn’t going to be fool enough to tell her.

Sorry Mum

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