Friday, 17 October 2014

59 and counting....

I can't believe that I am going to celebrate a BIG birthday in just a few days time. 50 - ten! 

The celebrations have already begun with lunches and evenings out with old friends, real girly times with SO much laughter. How can I be so old? Inside really, I'm still in my 30s! It's funny how we're still discussing our babies after all these years - only the babies are now our grandchildren.

My gorgeous granddaughter was here on Monday, fabulous to see how quickly she's growing up, 6 months old already and almost sitting up and reaching out. 

Do you like her new aran jacket? I must remember to take off an inch from the sleeve pattern next time rather than add it as she's not the tallest little one! She's so lovely, laid back and chilled out just like her daddy was. Where have those years gone?

60? Never. 

In fact I am still about 9. 

Anyway - I'm certainly looking forward to my party! Planning it has kept me busy these last few weeks, it's so exciting... invitations, decorations, food, cake - Yes there will be cake!

Watch this space, because I am sure I'll have lots to tell you next week. 

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Counting blessings

Oh, just read back over my last post from May on this blog, and the optimism, the sheer bloody minded optimism...... well it's now September, and time has indeed flown. I have been so busy with 11 puppies, two dogs, huge family, friends and neighbours, hobbies and interests and...
I am LOVING having time to myself for probably, realistically, honestly.... the first time in my life. I was a mother at age 19, and have been "on the go" ever since. Until today!

Earlier this week I had a fall, nothing really serious, nothing broken, but it's knocked me for six, my fingers on the left hand took the brunt of my weight and are severely bruised and swollen (and grazed!) along with a very sore and bruised left shoulder. So, I have been given real insight into how my lovely husband feels every day, with severe arthritis in his fingers and joints. 

I keep reminding him to take painkillers, as he's in pain pretty much all the time. I've had trouble brushing my hair, stretching a hair band to put it up in a bun, pegging clothes on a line, all sorts of surprising little episodes where I realise "Oh, I can't do that - it HURTS!" Of course, that's put paid to knitting (Loopy jacket and hat for baby Nancy), crochet (Cushion covers), cutting fabric for patchwork quilting, embroidery, etc etc. I'm left handed of course but hey at least I have my right.

Well I did, until yesterday when I developed two blisters on my right hand through excessive gardening. I've been raking dried grass and leaves up, pushing a lawn mower, using hand tools and hoeing weeds. It's all too much.... and there's no point in moaning I only have to look at Alan's misshapen fingers to see that other people have problems far worse than me. Constant niggling pain leads to short tempers and poor concentration. Frustration that you can't do all the things you want to do. Like EVERYTHING I wanted to do today, so this has brought me up short..... we are SO dependent on our health for wellbeing.

Bless him, Alan does so well, and between us we achieve a great deal across all our interests, and generally count our blessings every morning. 

Our lovely dogs bring us so much joy and the perfect reason to get outside. We enjoy walking together and  explore different places to go, sometimes on foot, where we're blessed to live within miles of green belt in Outer London. We have woodland literally on our doorstep and open parkland for the inevitable ball games.   Often we drive for a few minutes and visit other parks just to ring the changes. The doods love going out in the car and bounce in, and we often see people in cars behind admiring our girls as they look out of the back window. We actually chose the car with the dogs in mind as we travel long distances with them. Unfortunately having them means the car is NOT up to the standard of cleanliness one might expect (nor is having allotments for that matter) I am often deeply embarrassed to offer people a lift as the state of it is so bad, but life is definitely too short to waste time cleaning a car more than once in a while. 

Anyhoo, enough of this blah.... I don't have any excuses now, so at least I can update this blog. And get out with the dogs! For now, my legs still work ok! I must appreciate getting out and about and at least I can still hear the birdsong, and taste the blackberries. Life can be sweet!

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Let's get busy busy! Because that's just what we are busy, busy!

Hello lovely bloggers,

Firstly an apology as such for my absence in recent weeks.... I have been unwell and it's knocked me for six, some days I couldn't do more than shower and crawl into my dressing gown. Not nice but I am slowly getting better. I have made two momentous decisions with the help and support of my amazing friends and family. 
1) to allow (read help) Bella to have a second litter! We expect puppies around the 16th June.
Read more about this on

Due to this happy event we will post over there for the next few months, probably best to contain my enthusiasm in one place. FYI I am not called Shirley, My family call me Mary (my mother calls me something else) so why shirley? I live there!

We drove past the Fairfield halls in Croydon yesterday (on the way back from Ikea) but that's another story! On the billboard in huge letters it said Under milk wood by Dylan Thomas 16th to 21st June I got so excited. When I met my lovely Alan, we shared our bookshelves and vinyl collections with each other (like you do when you are desperate to learn everything about this person!) He had Stevie Wonders Songs in the Key of Life and Under Milkwood by Dylan Thomas. So did I. We read passages to each other, I loved his welsh accent saying "Rosie Smalls" and "Organ Morgan." I sang Isn't She Lovely by Stevie to him! Anyway I jumped up and down with excitement (have I already said that?) Never Mind. I said "oh Alan would love that we must get tickets" then a little alarm buzzer went off in my brain and I said "We're doing something on the 16th June" but I could not think what...
Racked my brain, worked myself into a panic..... what were we committed to do on the 16th? I really want to go to see / hear it (It is a play for voices).... when we got home and I got the doodles ready for a walk I remembered.... the puppies. And yes I am committed on the 16th. Well and truly.

So what is keeping me so busy? Puppies not due for another 5 weeks or so... I'll tell you. 
It's the sweetest little bundle of joy. I am a Granny (I know I"ve told you that before and it is true (I have 5 gorgeous grandchildren up in Yorkshire with my second husband) but this new baby has been born to my own son. I have a precious Grandaughter called Charlotte (Lottie) born on 14th April. 

More than anything in this world I want to be in this little ones life, helping to raise her to be strong and independent, self assured and confident, competent and skilful, knowing that she is loved enough to reach for the stars.  Another little tease to invite you to look in on the shirleygolden doodles blog is that there are some lovely pictures of her over there (and lots of pictures of fluffy, friendly dogs and puppies. 

As that's where we'll be for the next month or three come and see.  

The other big decision? Quite a major one....
2) I have made the decision to retire from Teaching at the end of this term. I just can't cope with the stress. There is no time for creativity in the heavy academic curriculum and it's just too much. I don't want to supervise 6 year olds with phonic tests, handwriting and numeracy on a friday afternoon. I want to let them play (and learn) to follow their own interests. We've become an Academy in the last three years and now it's expanding to include more schools, more sites and more people. I originally worked in a small two form entry infant school and everyone knew everyone else. I had time to make partnerships with parents priding myself on learning and using parents names. Making it personal and friendly. Now we're at least 6 form entry(maybe 9) on 4 different sites.... it's difficult to be personal with the children let alone colleagues and parents. Waking up in the early hours having panic attacks and working far too many hours - the expectations have changed - Teachers are now EXPECTED to come in during weekends and holidays to set up their classroom each half term and start work at 7.30am through til at least 6.30, and then take work home to mark or displays to mount or levels to assess...... I could go on, but I won't. FOR MY MENTAL AND PHYSICAL HEALTH, I GIVE UP.

I shall be sad to give up after a rewarding career, but I will NEVER be bored. I have my gorgeous granddaughter and her brother here. Bliss! I dream of the time to follow my own interests, for crafting, embroidery, patchwork, knitting, crochet, loving my garden and our allotments, cooking and baking, travelling to Cornwall to visit my family, and up to West Yorkshire to visit Alan's daughters and those lovely boys and girls who call me Granny.  I am blessed.   
I will always find a quiet corner to share a book with a kiddie and my skill set will be valuable elsewhere. I am down but not out! so lovely people, please leave a comment either here or on the shirleygoldendoodle blog. 

I will be back.... watch this space


Wednesday, 26 March 2014

I don't KNOW what I'm doing with blogging - but I like it!

I admit I have been laid up with a rotten cold for the last day or two which has allowed me to snuggle up on the sofa and dip into blogs all around the world. What a crazy madly interesting world we share! People lead lives SO different from mine, and yet there are such coincidences in peoples experiences too! 

I don't know how to add links to anything and I must say sometimes I read one person's blog post.... and then read posts from all the blogs on their sidebar! So an eclectic mix.... and that way leads to similar bloggers, with one thing or another in common.

For me, I am drawn to creative blogs like Lucy at Attic24, or Penny at Planet Penny and their "favourite blogs" have led me to many others like Little Woolie or Rett at a shoebox of photographs. I LOVE the colour, but then find what keeps me going back is the glimpses of real family life.

I just add to my reading list and waste spend hours working my way through to see who has posted recently. There are just too many on that list now to make any sense. I am drawn to people with dogs, with grandchildren, who knit, sew, crochet, quilt. Many of the bloggers have been teachers like I suppose there are similarities in personality.

Then there is the serendipity approach...when I first wrote my blog (ShirleyGoldenDoodles) about the puppies, just about a year ago now...I accidentally clicked on the button that said "NEXT BLOG" and believe me that took me to places I never imagined! I discovered the weird and wonderful, and found an international world of people living lives like mine in Australia, USA, Romania, Russia, Holland, Brazil, Singapore etc. 

Then there are the blogs with the most beautiful photography which draw you in, people like Debbie at Serendipity Patch, and Chronicles of a Country Girl, and I have to mention Documenting Delight...I have fallen in love with a baby called Florin!

Photographs really draw you in, they do tell a thousand stories.... and I feel I can't join in as I've ruined not one but three cameras in the last couple of years and am having to make do with a very basic camera on my phone. I have a tendency to drop things or leave them in bags with milk or ratatouille (don't ask!) I really do find it hard to put photos up on blogger, spend way TOO MUCH time trying to get the pictures WHERE I want them!

So, peeps, please accept my humble offerings in the manner that they appear.
Spring has finally sprung, new life thank goodness.

Frogs! Yay! Noisy, happy, busy frogs..... no more slug pellets! 

My gorgeous son is about to make me a Granny again! We have about 4 weeks before he becomes a daddy! To a girl, or boy, we don't know yet! I'm knitting every colour under the rainbow!

There WILL be plums! Golden juicy plums.

It took me four days wrapped up against all the thorns to get 30 feet of brambles under control.... but the jam will be worth it, and a great excuse for a bonfire! 

If you are wondering where the Art comes in? Well, in my last post I think I mentioned my lovely husband had a birthday. I managed to buy him a fabulous card with one of our favourite places in the world on it. Do you like it? The National Gallery in Trafalgar Square is just 30 minutes away from where we live on the train - and he gets there for free! I just need to drag him away from the allotment. Or Pinterest! But that's another story.....

So peeps, what makes you visit a blog? Let me know.... how can I make this better?  Mary Xxx

Saturday, 15 March 2014

A granny? Me?

Hello Peeps, have been very, very busy this week.....

We have driven over 500 miles to welcome a beautiful baby into our family, a girl after two gorgeous boys so all the more exciting. Nancy is over 9lb in weight and 54.5cm long so a BIG baby! 

Here I am sharing the joy with one of Nancy's other grandparents, and the joy really is how we all feel.... I never imagined that marrying a second time would bring me a wider family, and the fact that M is my husband's ex is irrelevant, we all get on so well. I share 5 grandchildren with my husband, though sadly they all live in Halifax, West Yorkshire. We have to travel up every few weeks in order to see them - but it's always worth it.....if exhausting!

Both brothers are already besotted with their little sister, and here they are showing us her "soft skin like butterfly silk" to quote Sonny aged 5. 

Isn't she just adorable? 

So, how can I follow that? Well, more excitement that's how... I have been inspired to learn to crochet in the last few months by discovering blogs like Attic24 and Planet Penny. I came across a post by Oran on Misty Mountain and was HOOKED! So here is my second Tadah Moment......

I have turned learning a new skill into a practical and beautiful bag for my laptop. I practiced new stitches, scouring the internet, even russian sites, reading old crochet books. It still needs lining and the ends stitched in, and a button or flower fastening - I can't decide which. There are loads of mistakes, at one time I found I was about 10 stitches short, because different patterns need more or less stitches but hey, who cares? Not me. I sort of added more or less in as I went along. I even found a use for granny clusters, to join it together at the sides and the final border. I never thought I would use granny stitch... too old fashioned for me. Ha! Ha!
One day soon, I hope to find time to make a note of what stitches I used for which rows but hey I was too excited to do it at the time. I used Planet Penny Rainbow Cotton and a size 4m hook. I know there are ripples, bobbles, stars, shells, 'V' stitches, blackberry and that difficult interlocking chain stitch. Probably others too. I have discovered that I love the mathematical side of crochet (and quilting) but that's another story. 

So could there possibly be any more excitement in one week? World book day at school where a young colleague thrilled me with her approach to the topic...

We spent the afternoon singing along to songs from Mary Poppins, so that took me back to my childhood, going to the cinema with my own Grandma to see the film at the "pictures."

There you have it, a week in the life of.... oh, but I didn't tell you about my husbands birthday, or going to the allotment, or my doodles, or my online felting and embroidery course. Maybe I'll leave something for next time.  Come back soon, and please leave me a comment. I'd love to know if anyone is out there.

Love Mary 

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Well hello peeps,

What a week, what a day today has been. Warm sunshine 20 degrees F - from 8.20am this morning to 5.40pm when I finally packed up at the allotment and came home. Had to put a sweater on IN the house! I've worn a loose sleeveless blouse all day and my skin has that lovely tight glowing feeling..... thank you Mother Nature for such a gorgeous, gorgeous day. Spring has sprung at last. Only 3 or 4 weeks ago I was dressed up against the bitter wind like this...
looking for any sign of green life


and today pure heaven and warm warm sunshine all day long and look!


Monday, 3 March 2014

Good morning! The sun is shining and it's a Monday but I'm still thrilled by the fact that I don't have to get up and go to work! I haven't retired but have cut down to just two days. I am loving it! The days ahead stretch out with possibilities, shall we go to our allotment, or into London to see an exhibition? Shall I pull out a book to read from overflowing shelves, or shall I do something creative with knitting or crochet? The choice, absolutely, for the very first time in my life is all mine.
I LOVED being a stay at home mum with four little ones of my own, and on the whole I have loved Teaching too, but now, now the time is all mine. 


So, looking out at the sunshine, and the blossom 
I am off to the allotment after the first pleasurable duty of my day..... can you tell what that is?

Yes it's those gorgeous doodles..... walk in the woods time, looking out for the bluebell shoots and those early celandines and maybe even woodland anenomes - one thing guaranteed.... there will be mud, glorious mud.

See you later peeps, I will be back!

Sunday, 2 March 2014

I'm still here

I look at this face, this young wife looking out of the photo and wonder where have the years gone? I don't look like this anymore, but inside I am still very much the hopeful, happy woman. The years aren't always kind, but the essence of me is still here and for that I am grateful. My life is rich, full, overflowing with interest and joy. I like where I am now, just beginning to take time for myself, for my creativity - always encouraged by my lovely Alan. At last those four fabulous young people have grown up and away, and yet I am so looking forward to being a Grandma. I am so proud of our achievements so far, the tough times that got us here have made us (me) the people we are. The best is yet to come to quote Van Morrison - and as Alan would say, together we are - Forever Young!

Should I? Is anyone out there?

 I constantly think I should restart my own blog, but I just lack the courage. It was one thing having the puppies as a focus, but who would want to read my journal? Are my life and opinions worthy of publishing? Who on earth would find anything worth reading?
A virtual friend on Planet Penny, has posted 500 posts and it really got me thinking. If no-one else reads it does it matter? I don't even have a camera, apart from my phone. But I'm not a photographer, I'm just me. I matter. If I asked maybe your answer would be to just go for it, give it a try. I do feel you would encourage me - and that's because I DO feel you are a friend. Nuts or what? I could stand beside you in a supermarket and not know who you are, but that just gives me a thrill really, to think about the people I do encounter. I suppose everyone of us has a story to share. This is mine.