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Hello.

I'm Jane McIntyre, a voiceover and writer, formerly an award-winning BBC radio newsreader and producer. My blog covers life, love and loss; travel, coffee and chocolate; with some heartfelt pieces in the mix about my late dad, who had dementia. Just a click away, I'm half of the team behind www.thetimeofourlives.net - two empty nesters who whizzed round the world in 57 days.

Monday, 8 December 2014

First Christmas without you...


Musical curve-ball on the South Bank
I knew I`d hear it sooner or later.

And there it was. Pumping out of a crackly speaker from one of the festive stalls on the South Bank in London. "Have yourself a merry little Christmas"--Dad`s favourite song. It`s seven months since he died; and so we`re heading fast towards the first Christmas without him. He used to shed a tear when he heard it. And even though Alzheimer`s caught him; changed him; challenged him to remember even his daughters` names, he`d still smile when he recognised that tune.

Still; hearing it was a bit of a punch in the heart, and so, at lunchtime, in the middle of the Millennium Bridge, I found myself in tears. Luckily, the keen winter wind was leaving everyone with smarting eyes and runny noses.... so I guess I got away with it.

But maybe you`ve felt it too? The first anniversary, birthday, New Year celebration without someone you`ve loved so much...someone who`s been such a central part of your life? I`ve found myself smiling at cards he might have liked; touching soft, warm jumpers that would have kept him cosy.


High in the Himalayas
I decided I could wallow in sadness, linger longer over my loss this Christmas, think about gifts unexchanged. Or focus on the gifts that will always be there. It`s easy here at home at the moment. We`ve just cleared his house, so there are plenty of reminders. Detailed travel itineraries for royal trips to Tonga, San Francisco,the Congo, Mustique,Tasmania, Nepal. Just the mention of those faraway places excited me as a small child; filled me with wonder about what he`d find. And so my hunger for travel was born. One our daughters have already inherited. A great gift.

Then there are books...everywhere. Boxes and boxes have gone to charities across Kent. Yet there are still piles of the ones I couldn`t part with on the stairs, under tables, on top of groaning bookshelves. The classics. More
travel. Grammar. Quotations. And poetry. Wordsworth, Masefield, a collection of Burns with a lock of blonde hair between two pages. The joy of reading, nurtured as soon as my sister and I could turn a page. Another gift forever. Letters talk of his kindness; his selflessness. Press cuttings report his bravery at 24. More valuable traits to treasure.
Harrow and Wealdstone hero


Oh.....and the hats. How we laughed as Dad--the `inconspicuous` royalty protection officer in a top hat-- made it to the middle of the shot on a Telegraph front page. And he laughed at himself too--always a good thing to be able to do. But was fiercely proud of his job, and its responsibilities. Check. And check.

Top hat and gun. *Blending in*

Anyway, just as I`d got over the London tears, the song came galloping back last night, at a Christmas concert. The fabulous Heather Game took to the stage to sing it, and thoughts of Dad filled my head. Heather insisted we all joined in. And so I sang along.....smiling, this time, at sweet memories of a big, strong, brave man, and the incredibly precious gifts he left us with. Including, as I fumbled for a `just in case` tissue..how being in touch with your `softie` side...is actually quite OK.

Happy Christmas xx
Travelling: the next generation. Avec hat...

Like this? Sort of? Try this : http://bit.ly/1yIF6HB

 retweeted you

  1. Nicely written blog young lady. In some traditions one is "allowed" to grieve for a year, so that all annual events 1/2
    are passed & reviewed for the future with the significance of the involvement of the deceased, holding onto the good!
A Very touching read.We have our first year Anniversary tomorrow. X

 retweeted you
favorited your Tweet# and 3 others retweeted you

aah that's lovely x Onwards with great memories

       
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<3 jane="" p="" said="" well="" xx="">

you have done him justice xx

Beautifully written. And will chime with so many.

For obvious reasons I have not read it...yet

It may be hormones or incipient cold but you’ve just made me cry. And I mean that in the nicest possible way! *hugs*


Wednesday, 19 November 2014

So you think you`re a safe driver..?


The car ground to a halt beside a temporary 50 mph sign. One of the kind that teases you. 50? Yeah, I wish. The queue was through roadworks--all the way to the next roundabout. It was just before 7.30 am and I reasoned it was probably better to be a few minutes late--than pick up another ticket on my way to--oh the irony-a speed awareness workshop.

This was the very sign I`d ignored a few weeks before, at the start of a trip from Shrewsbury to London. I was running late; distracted, and the road was clear. I hardly noticed my speed sliding up over 60.

The cameras did though, and so, here I was; £85 poorer but about to attend a half day session (slap bang in the middle of UK Road Safety Week) which would keep my licence free of points.

There were more than 20 at the TTC course in Hadley, Telford--a real mix of ages and backgrounds. One had been driving four months. Another; more than forty years. The earlybirds were already getting stuck in to the speed limit section in their quiz booklets --debating the limit on a dual-carriageway with streetlights; pondering over the top speed for a car with a trailer on different roads.

One thing was certain. I wasn`t the only one who hadn`t seen a Highway Code for decades. My recollection of road sign shapes; and of speed limits on different kinds of roads was, frankly, appalling.

Two TTC* trainers, Al and Paul talked about accidents; about the likelihood of death over injury depending on your speed, and about the places you`re least likely to have a crash, or be injured by one. They played videos so that we could spot hazards; and encouraged us to think hard about our driving, and the personal consequences and the risks to others, of going too fast. They were engaging, punchy, entertaining--and didn`t make us feel as if we were being punished or confined to the classroom. Their heady mix of humour, grim stats, and coffee hit home for me, and has already changed the way I drive.

Surprising facts I took home? Motorways are statistically among the safest places to be motoring. And...in built up areas, if you really find it tough keeping to 30 mph, you can drive along in third gear. Apparently, your car won`t mind at all.

Thanks, Al and Paul, for a thought provoking session. They`re great guys. But in the nicest possible way-- I really hope you never get to meet them.





The TTC Group`s Miguel Ramshill illustrates how many people--represented by the blacked out silhouettes--will die before the week is over as a result of a preventable road crash, half of them while at work.



TOP TIPS FROM TTC FOR ROAD SAFETY WEEK:

1) Use your gears to stay in control

Selecting a lower gear will help you manage your speed in built-up areas, because engine braking will help to hold the vehicle back and prevent it running away from you. Try 3rd gear for 30mph and, for those challenging 20mph limits, give 2nd a try. Modern engines use fuel-injection systems controlled by computer, meaning you won’t use more fuel.

2.     Look out for street lights

If you can see a system of street lights (that’s three or more), then the speed limit is 30mph. They can be lights on telegraph poles or strip lighting in tunnels, and they don’t have to be switched on. Don’t worry about the space between them, either – 3 or more and it’s a system. If there are no streetlights, then it’s national speed limit (remember, that will vary depending on the type of road and the vehicle you are driving). This rule applies to all road types, apart from motorways. If the speed limit is anything different, it must be signed – because signs overrule streetlights.

3.     A dual carriageway is nothing to do with the number of lanes

Yes, you did read that correctly. A dual carriageway is defined by the fact that it must have a physical separation between the two opposing carriageways. That can be grass, infill, concrete or metal barriers, or just a raised kerb down the middle. You can have one or more lanes in either direction, but the presence of two lanes alone does not constitute a dual carriageway. Our American cousins use the term ‘divided highway’, and that’s a pretty accurate description of a dual carriageway here in the UK.

4.     A dual carriageway with street lights is limited to 30mph

Again, not a typo! Unless there are signs telling you otherwise, the speed limit will be 30mph – remember the streetlight rule. If the limit was anything different, there would be signs to tell you this. Many drivers forget that the streetlight rule applies to dual carriageways too, and are caught out because the road ‘looks faster’.

5.     If you’re towing, you should be slowing!

If you are towing anything, whether it’s a small box trailer, a boat, or a caravan, you will be subject to lower speed limits on a national speed limit section of road. For a single carriageway road, that’s a maximum of 50mph, and for a dual carriageway, that’s 60mph. It’s worth remembering that these lower limits also apply to the majority of vans and to minibuses – important if you need to hire one. If you are towing on a motorway, your maximum speed is set at 60mph.

6.     Give yourself time

One of the biggest causes of speeding is time pressure, or running late. Allow yourself that ‘safety margin’ of extra time, so you don’t feel pressured into breaking the law and risking speeding fines, points, or worse. Remember that a smooth, progressive drive within the speed limit uses up to 25% less fuel. And speed limits are just that – limits, not targets. There will be many occasions when the limit just isn’t appropriate, and you’ll need to adjust your speed accordingly.





*The TTC Group is the largest provider of courses for the National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme (NDORS), an educational alternative to prosecution for some road traffic offences. They run courses on behalf of police and councils in 15 UK regions from Scotland in the north, Wales in the west, across north England and the Midlands to Avon and Somerset, Kent and Devon and Cornwall in the south. Nationally, 1,713 people died in road crashes in the UK in 2013 – the lowest death rate since records began, 21,657 were seriously injured, 160,300 slight injuries. Around 400 people a year are killed in crashes in which someone exceeds the speed limit or drives too fast for the conditions. (figures from the Department for Transport). Speed awareness courses were rolled out in England, Wales and Northern Ireland from 2006. Scotland introduced the National Driver Improvement Scheme in 2007. 0845 270 4363 www.tc-uk.com  ndors@ttc-uk.com





























Monday, 3 November 2014

Stuff I`d never have said last week...


1) I guess, finally, that Dad probably had a thing about hats (top hats, trilbys, Panamas, flat caps.... all now safely rehomed..)

2) Baklava at 12.15 am is quite delicious.

3) Rod Stewart tribute acts in village pubs can actually be hilarious.

4) Candelit All Souls` Day services in village churches are hugely comforting, even to rampant atheists....

5) The top notes in `For all the saints....` are bloody high and suggest I may no longer be a soprano.

6)  However....there`s nothing quite like singing `Somebody else`s guy` very loudly... with a pub full of people.

7) You can be rammed sideways on the M25 by a ten ton truck and live to tell the tale.

8) It`s also possible to do a passable tap dance to rapturous applause at 2 am (with no training whatsoever).

9) You can`t have too much coffee.

10) If you don`t have a number ten...just shut up.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

About a bench...

I was rushing through my favourite bit of London the other day--the stunning `square mile`. Here, magnificent historic, architectural gems like St Paul`s Cathedral rub broad, stone shoulders with gleaming new kids on the block--full of bankers, lawyers, movers, shakers. And at lunchtime, some escape their sparkling towers,time-travelling two blocks and a couple of centuries to squares like the little hideaway off St Dunstan`s Hill.

You can see them heading for the benches with their sandwiches, lingering over lattes...longing for a few moments` peace and respite from office pressures, for some thinking time alone. There are lunchtime lovers, too; touching, whispering; earnest and certain that their city bench, for just a few moments, makes them invisible. It`s their space; their little `table for two` in the cosiest spot any maitre d`could muster.

If it`s you on the bench, you can just watch the world go by. I still try and stop in Trafalgar Square en route to Charing Cross; watching tourists getting ticked off for trying to tame the lions, or leaning too close to the still-icy fountain water on scorching summer days. I remember standing, as a four year old, covered with pigeons; their tiny claws digging into my head; beaks pecking at the bought seed in my hand-- I didn`t really enjoy it, but mum had paid for the stuff from the bloke on the corner-- it`s what you did on a day out. In New York, we sat munching hot dogs on a bench in Central Park, feeling as much a part of the Big Apple as Carrie; then joined the throngs in Times Square, watching the snaking queues at the ticket booths; each tourist already part of their own Broadway show.


In most cities around the world, a bench can be the only place you have to sleep--one step up from the street; and every person rushing past with somewhere to go is a cruel reminder that you`ve hit rock bottom. In Shropshire, Jim Hawkins uses the simplest of devices...sitting on a bench in a different location each week..to collect and record stories from anyone who cares to stop and share theirs. It`s uncomplicated, brilliant radio.

So that`s it really. You can`t beat watching the world go by from a well placed bench and wondering about all the secrets it keeps. And it doesn`t cost a dime.


Tuesday, 14 October 2014

It`s chocolate week. Here are 3 big, fat chunks....




Chocolate. Want some? Call me.

Like it, as a business concept? I thought I`d throw it out there, you know, as it`s Chocolate Week. With a couple more hand made, glisteningly chocolatey creations that I made earlier. Here`s why:

Every time I mention my (incredible, patent pending) idea for a `Chocolate Van`; (*You dial; we deliver*....Lol...) I`m swamped with urgent appeals  to get the business on the road. Immediately, if the booty`s in the boot; so to speak. It`s usually fairly late in the evening when these Twitter conversations kick in, long after tea`s been scoffed, and always after any children in the house have been tucked up in bed.


Sometimes the tweets are quite angry. Women (in the main....) tweeting IN CAPITAL LETTERS  that there`s NO CHOCOLATE in their house; often demanding to know why. (You`ve eaten it, love. )

I used to think it was just a girl thing. All down to those ...... hormonal cravings. But men respond to the choc-tweeting too .(OK...Richard, mainly, wanting sherbet lemons.) They clearly love chocolate too...but the longing is nowhere near as intense. On the other hand, it`s often the bloke (apparently)...who gets sent down to the petrol station when there`s a choccie craving in the house.

The need for chocolate can be desperate, and urgent. My friend Carol was driven to licking powder from a tin of hot chocolate mix. Sue ripped open a (wrapped) box of chocolates for her auntie which were under the Christmas tree. Then scoffed the top layer and half of the second before retiring to bed, nauseous. (Look ok, there`s no Sue. It was me.)

This is often because even the `secret` chocolate in their hideaway places* has been greedily consumed.Now there`s nothing. Don`t pretend you don`t know what I mean by this*, by the way. I`m not eating chocolate at the moment, (really) but, should there be an in-flight emergency at any time, I know, entre nous, where I can find some: *Adopts air stewardess mode with that arm thingie going on...*

Here: (my desk, my drawer, my chocolate)









Here, in a kitchen cupboard.....





And even here; in the feckin` freezer:













Here`s the plan, then. I go to the wholesalers and get a shedload of the the regular stuff. .Mars Bars, Twirls, Toffee Crisps, Dairy Milk. Big slabs of the stuff. Not `for sharing`. For `ourselves`. Then there`d be the `luxury` range. I`d have to do some deal with Julia Wenlock of Toot Sweets in Shrewsbury, so that any `A` list clientele could partake of her chocolate covered honeycomb bars. Her salted caramels. Her mixed selections. (This is driving me stark raving bonkers, writing this. Julia, come in, please...over....)

And cakes. Home (not mine, obviously...) baked chocolate brownies with white-choc-chips in them. Party celebration numbers with deep, sweet, lavish layers and toppings of chocolate buttercream. Cookies... chunky chocolate biscuity traybakes....you like?

I`m forgetting the key issues here, like formulating a business plan. Pah. Let`s talk van colours...chocolate and cream..or `you know whose` purple? Or should I travel incognito--so that you could just pop out in your onesie and slippers, have a quick browse and get back in the house to eat the stuff?

PS: If pushed, since you ask, I have also got access to these aswell--but obviously, as I bought them as a present for my daughter, I wouldn`t even touch the box. Or stroke it. Or look at it, longingly,even . Not at all.













Thanks for reading, by the way. Hurtling towards 36,000 pageviews on a blog that only gets mentioned on Twitter, so am very chuffed and grateful...and yes....if you`ve got this far, please retweet this for me! Thanks.

Fancy another slab? Go on. More chocolate for you right here. Calorie free. There`s this bit about men and chocolate when I lived in a Toblerone shaped flat:

http://lovemymondays.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/its-chocolate-weektry-another-chunk.html

Oh...this one, about retrieving chocolate, at 3 am wriggling on my tummy through the snow, commando style, in pencil skirt and heels. Read it. You know you want to:

http://lovemymondays.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/best-in-tent.html




Monday, 29 September 2014

Autumn changes...and packing up the past



It`s hard to enjoy your panini when an aggressive goose is jabbing you in the back. Funny too--just one of the things that made the three of us roar with laughter over lunch beside a Shropshire lake just now.

A couple of years ago we`d have been sitting together round a busy newsdesk-anxiously racing against the clock, planning and reading news bulletins or researching programme reports.Then a couple of us got the chance to take the money and run; jumped at it; and haven`t looked back. The third in today`s group works part time now--leaving her free to write, and do as she pleases.

We`re all lucky to have that kind of freedom now--the chance to meet a friend, do a day`s work at the other end of the country--or not--or jump on a train for a couple of days away. All three of us have faced some really tough challenges in our lives recently. And for all of us, autumn, as it always seems to do, is bringing yet more changes.

Friends are dropping their sons and daughters at University. I`ve just hugged and said goodbye to my youngest daughter for a few months. Her gap year has taken her to the French-Swiss border to work as an au pair. The house is so quiet. But we`re all incredibly proud of her.

And tomorrow--preparation for yet more changes as I head to Kent to continue packing up my late dad`s belongings, ready for his home to be sold. The shredder`s nearly blown a fuse already; chewing its way through decades of correspondence, council minutes, and `phone bills going back as far as the early 1990s. No, I don`t know why he kept them, either. But the house has lost its beating heart now, and it`s time to let someone else breathe new life into it. Busy days lie ahead: sorting through everything; trying not to linger or shed too many tears over the endless photo albums; choosing a few of his huge, cosy winter jumpers to hug me in the chilly days ahead; and bagging up the remainder for his favourite local charities.

It`ll be tough heading out to his beloved garden, maybe taking cuttings from the plants he nurtured. If I can find the key, I`ll take a last look round his little shed and open one of the empty but still aromatic tins of Balkan Sobranie, that he kept for bits and bobs. I might bring one home. Then it`ll be time to rake up the leaves.

Autumn. Time for change. Kids to school. Students to Uni. Birds migrating to warmer climes, even. Probably why that bloody lunchtime goose was after my panini.










Monday, 8 September 2014

Technology: you big tease



I get excited by new technology. I like anything that lets you access information more quickly, contact people you need to talk to urgently, or perform chores more speedily. I adore Twitter--the pace; the people; the public rants and the virtual hugs. I love being able to book a room, a trip, a flight, in five minutes. And I don`t even mind the driver-less trains on the London DLR any more.

But sometimes, even when you think you`re up to speed, technology makes a bloody fool of you. It`s not just me--I checked with a scientific sample* of tech-savvy people. So here`s what`s making the blush list:


1) Waiting for a set of double doors to part automatically--in the two seconds it takes you to realise that they`re the kind you have to push open.

2) Starting to say a cheery: `Oh, hi....!`to a recorded message when the number connects.

3) Aiming your car key`s `unlock` button at the wrong vehicle and being sure you can hear your own motor mumble: `behind you, stupid...`

4) Holding your hands patiently under a `non` automatic tap in public loos.

5) In spite of your shame, going on to then hold your hands under the `drier`, before realising it`s a paper-towel dispenser.

6) Waiting so you don`t spoil the tourist`s shot of Nelson`s Column; then realise they`re taking a selfie.

7) Touching the *wrong* kind of screen with finger and thumb-tip to enlarge the picture.

8) Asking your daughters if they can think of any more examples, and getting `that` look.

*OK. There`s no sample . I did all these.

Tell me I`m not alone.

Or forever hold your Tweets.

Happy Monday :)




Friday, 5 September 2014

Trash in the attic? Worth HOW much??


Have you ever counted how many `flog-yer-gubbins-in-a-fleece-without-being- fleeced` and `antiques-owned-by-aristocracy-feigning-surprise` type shows there are on daytime TV now?

No--nor had I--but when I was housesitting recently, I found myself with time on my hands and a large mug of coffee, and so did some channel surfing.

Honestly, the TV listings are now packed tighter than a car-boot trestle table with shows like these. You know...people raising a bit of revenue from an ornament. People who `know about antiques`(they have monacles and things), battling to flog other people`s cast-offs for the biggest profit. Teams, even, trying to be first to spot a gem amongst the junk.

We lost Dad recently, and face a fair bit of sorting, ourselves. I always knew it would be a hard task--not just because he`d lived 85 years--but because he was loath to part with many of the items he`d accumulated over that time.We have box upon box; drawers and shelves, and oh yes. The files and folders.

That`s one reason why, as I recorded here, I try to cull my own clutter from time to time. You never know, I might find something useful, or valuable myself.

I mean--don`t you just love it on the Antiques Road Show... when they tell someone really nice that a painting is 'genuine...' or that the piece of pottery they dug up in the garden is 'Actually Very Important'.

Usually, I want to shake the well heeled, tweed jacketed brigade who don't miss a beat when informed that the mahoosive painting of a Man on a Horse is worth twenty grand. I mean... come on - they knew. 'Ooh, we'd never sell it,' they say. I would. Give me a painting worth twenty grand and I'd be off down the auctioneers. Then the travel agent's.Via the cake shop.

Still. A recent monsoon gave me the chance to sort through stuff in a big pine chest of drawers in the spare room. I needed it for clothes, not 'stuff ' , quite honestly, so I had a root through.

(If you're one of the Antiques Road Show team, and you fancy valuing any of this stuff, by the way, contact me via this blog. We can keep it discreet. Snigger.)

First off - the headline news: no diamonds. No works of art .No historical documents (apart from my O and A level certificates). Here's what... for some reason... I've chosen to save in a drawer, for decades.

1) My dad's old  brown leather Boys' Brigade belt. Must be from the 30s. Brass clasp.

2) Mum's autograph book from the 1940s. Someone called Irene Soar signed it. And she added a little ditty. As you did in those days. Clearly, she thought mum would find it useful. It reads: "She who sitteth on a tintack, shall surely rise". Really? Is that some kind of wartime code? Or maybe mum's elocution exercise that day. She spoke proper, see?

3) A Geliot Whitman sub's Depth Scale. Sounds dodgy,but is ok really. Ask a sub-editor.

4) My first ever journalist's contacts book. (Who even HAS them these days?) featuring the telephone numbers of several royal palaces; some radical health campaigners, and quite a few MPs and ministers of state (many now deceased.) We didn't have the internet then.

5) A signed photograph 'to Jane, from Elton John'. It's genuine. I had platform shoes. It has 'provenance'. It also has the Sellotape marks on the corners where I stuck it to my wall.

6) The last ever edition of the London Evening News. (Do I still need this?) Lead story: that it was the last ever edition.

7) A batch of love letters from boys in several European countries. And a few here in England. (I could find you, but I promise not to...) Ahh. The things you realise, looking back. What a load of old baloney.


8) A boxed edition of Saturday Night Fever. Fabulous.

9)The diary of Jane McIntyre, aged 15: "All morning revising French. But I can't stop thinking about Paul T. He's so gorgeous. I'm definitely going to talk to him at youth club on Friday. I've got to"...!

10) And the most precious of all: A sealed, crumpled letter from our youngest daughter to Santa Claus. I must have *stashed it away*. I don't know if I dare open it. I might later.

So there. Several drawers of gubbins. And some golden memories. You can bid if you like. But I won't sell.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Tears, teas and family trees



It started in Montana. The parents: a young British couple, making the endless trek way back in the late 1800s to midwest America, in search of prosperity from the mines.

One of the children born there, in 1892 was our grandma, Carrie. But her mum Annie and her siblings returned to the UK some time later, alone.

Fast forward to wartime London. Air raid sirens. Hiding in the shelter. The Blitz. Some of Carrie`s nine children being packed off to the country as evacuees, with their gas masks and ration books.

And to now. Just two of the nine remain. And at each funeral, like the special woodland burial for Joan yesterday, we gather and regroup, to say goodbye and to celebrate a life, taking comfort from each other. A ready made crowd: spouses and partners of those we`ve lost, and my generation, the cousins: more than twenty of us, some greying now; some resolutely not ; several reaching for reading glasses when it`s time for the next hymn; others singing from memory; defiantly spec-free. We`re there with our own children now; some, parents themselves: a new layer learning about the importance of family; keeping in touch, and being there for each other.

So,we hug, and weep a bit, and remember the family times we had together at Grandma`s house in Willesden Green; the practical jokes we played on each other; our fascination at being allowed to peep inside the mahogany, paper lined glove drawers at `Mildred Trimms`, the haberdashery shop Grandma used to work at, round the corner.

We`re scattered across three continents now. But the bond between us is strong. As we strolled back from the burial for tea yesterday, we mused glumly, for a moment, about what a sad year it had been for funerals--how hard it was to even try to recover from one, before we were back in black again.

Inevitably, we reasoned, the bigger the family, the more frequent the farewells will be. That`s the price you pay. But the bigger the family,the more plentiful the hugs will be too; and the stronger the support when it`s needed. There`s a ready made network of people you know you can, in a heartbeat, call on. Way more precious than anything you could mine in mid-west Montana, way back when. And much, much closer to home.



PS: When you lose someone, it`s not only sad, it`s a lost link to the past. And you realise that if you`re tracing your family history, the clock`s ticking a little faster.     Our family FB group`s been
buzzing since yesterday,many of us determined to find out more about our Montana connections before it`s too late.Who do we think we are? Not sure but tales are emerging of a Sheriff`s badge somewhere and the odd bar room brawl! Ever traced your family history? How did you get on? And is it time for `Who Do You Think You Are` to focus more on the `ordinary people`? Let me know what you think! 

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Shrewsbury: wandering, and wondering. Can you help?




Spotted these sights during a wonderful five mile stroll from Frankwell, through the Shrewsbury Quarry Park and along the riverside walk towards Underdale yesterday. They say every picture tells a story. I wonder if you can shed any light on some of the questions I had in my mind as I took these photographs? (see below!). Thanks for stopping by!




Top row, left: I`d heard about these beautiful mosaics by pupils at the now closed Wakeman School. They`re now part of the Wakeman Trail. Made me wonder what the young artists who produced these are doing now. Let me know if you`re one of them!

Top row: I was nearly back at my car in Frankwell when I spotted a marrow and a painting on the pavement, as you do, outside the eclectic shop window of  Shrewsbury Words. I didn`t buy it as I still had a half mile or so to notch up. But, Sir...had you parted with your marrow by the morrow?

Top row: terraced houses by the Severn in the Quarry. What an enviable view you have. Do you get a free mooring when you move in here? Fabulous spot.

Top row, far right: a lovely plaque on a bench in the Dingle. It says: `The Dingle was her heaven`. I love that. There are many more plaques and plants of remembrance in and around the Quarry. One to PC Richard Gray, shot on duty in Shrewsbury in 2007. It stopped me in my tracks, recalling the horror of that day, and what a major story it was in our newsroom.

Third row: Shoemakers`Arbour plaque in the Dingle. So who knows about Shrewsbury`s connections with the Shoemakers` Guild? Please tell me more!

Also, that bench on the bottom row, along the riverside walk. Who was Ian? What a lovely gesture to remember him this way. Also on the bottom row--the graffiti `Don`t Give Up` along the same riverside path. Who wrote this--and what provoked it? I`m not a fan of graffiti, but this was a great message to choose!

Know anything? Like the pics? Drop me a quick email? I`d love to hear from you !: janemcintyre1@btinternet.com
Or Tweet me a message, or RT the link, on Twitter-- I`m  @janemcintyre12

Hope you like the other pics, too. The jogger was way ahead of me under the bridge with all the scaffolding under it; and she was going well. And the girl with the megaphone was belting out instructions to rowers alongside. Thanks to the two police officers who let me take their picture on the path too (That`s one great beat you have there, officers. How many miles do you reckon you clock up each day, by the way?) And thanks to Stop Coffee Shop for the lovely cappuccino I had before I headed home.





Sunday, 10 August 2014

Turkey, Colombia, Italy, Ukraine....

....come IN please!

If the stats you`re given on your blog are to be believed, people have dropped by from these countries, and many more.

Were you one of them?  Are you in Poland, Taiwan, the USA or Germany? If so, thanks for calling and I hope you enjoyed whatever you read. But could you do me a quick favour? Wherever you are in the world, just to check that my stats research is working, could you say hello, and tell me a bit about yourself? Maybe if you have a blog, or you`re on Twitter, I could look at that, too?

You can leave a comment directly on the blog, or drop me an email: writerjane17@hotmail.com

Anyway. Hope your day is great, and thanks for visiting www.lovemymondays.blogspot.co.uk




Friday, 8 August 2014

Postcard to the seaside


Dear Aberdovey,

I`m sending you this from Shrewsbury.

Much as I love you, I did, during my drizzly drive to see you yesterday, consider turning back. Or hopping out at the market in Machynlleth and not bothering with the beach.

But I persevered, knowing that I had waterproofs, walking boots and wellies in the car. Braced for `bracing`; I`d take you as I found you.

Just a few minutes and one meander more, I got that first, breathtaking glimpse of the estuary....and the sun was glinting on the water. A few more miles and I was driving slowly through your main street; crowds to the left of me; ice creams to the right. I was late on parade.

As someone used to enjoying your empty expanse of sand in icy midwinter; in gales, and best of all, in term time, I wondered whether I`d be walking, or weaving through windbreaks. The first stretch was filling up with families setting up base camp, clambering out of clothes, grabbing sneaky sausage rolls meant `for later`.

I kicked off my shoes and headed towards the water, gazing out at distant dinghies with Dairylea sails and cocktail stick masts. Past `Oi! Emma!`, and `Come on, Caspaahh!` and `Awww CHLO-WEeeeee....!` screaming at the sea as it touched their toes. On and on, to where the sand was smooth--just little sticky gulls`marks , a few tiny toddler prints, and deep, paw-shaped dents; dogs desperate to dash after sticks in the water ; shaking salty droplets over owners on the shore.

I looked back at the now tiny terrace of houses along the sea front; a higgledy cake-stand of sweet, fondant fancies,vying for selection. Way behind them, over the hills, huge, still uncertain clouds in Mr Whippy shaped swirls kept watch. I turned my back on them and walked towards the blue, the August sun hot and steady now, but cooled by a breeze brisk enough to keep kites aloft and the tiny sails proudly puffed.

Wiggling myself into a soft, sandy dip by the dunes I could watch families from a distance; playing, squabbling; screams and laughter muted by the whooshing whitenoise of sea and wind; each family a neat frame of film through my shades, all stars in a state of the art silent movie. I lay back; drifting, dozing.........until the rumble, then roar of a fighter jet pierced through my slumber and forced me to open my sun-blind eyes...metal scything through the blue-silk sky like a haberdasher`s blade.....its deafening dominance tempered by its tilt--incongruously coy.

It vanished; replaced by the soft whoosh of waves and wind again,willing me to be lulled back into my seaside snooze.

But that was my 4.30 alarm call. I`m wide awake enough to know that my ticket`s expired. I scramble to my feet and stumble back up the beach, fumbling in my pockets for what I wish were the keys to a seafront home of my own, not a baking hot car. Driving, I muse over how much fun it must be for locals to reclaim their sand, their sea and their silence .....once Caspahhh and Chlo-WEEee have headed home for their tea.

So that`s it. The end of my postcard from landlocked Shrewsbury to Aberdovey. Just to say thanks for a great day out. Loads of love; wish I was there, etc. And if it`s ok with you, I probably will be again, quite soon. Save me a fondant fancy, eh?


Saturday, 19 July 2014

Fast Fiat,high heels; big bangs....



You can pay good money for a whistlestop tour of Rome in a Fiat 500, you know.

But here I was, travelling buckshee beside the petite Italian driver of this little white chariot; its horsepower whipped to the max on a hilly hairpin .

An hour before, I`d laughed at the plump Bellini elephant statue chosen for the start of our foodie themed walking tour, quickly rescheduled as other group members were delayed. That left guide Daniela and me--a Rome alone newbie. A walk together? Yes please.

The pace was brisk, with Daniela serving up stories on every square, street and statue; with a side order of good girlie gossip. Crazy cabbies? Reader, she married one. Zebra crossings where traffic never stops? The lines were more a `suggestion`. Those girls in heels on scooters?  So much easier than heels on cobbles.

We pause at the world`s most improbable place for a cat sanctuary-- the temple ruins at Largo Argentina where, some say, Caesar was murdered. Scores of the city`s feral felines are cared for and fed here. Our turn next : at the city`s oldest produce market, Campo di Fiori --fresh fruit salads and sticky handshakes with Emanuale, fifty years a stallholder. We pose for pictures and a Japanese couple want shots with him too. Bewildered, he smiles again, and we leave him to box up his beans.


Next stop: the Tiber, for tales of torrential downpours and burst banks, then we`re piling into her car, opening windows for a breath of breeze in this searing city heat. `We should make it,` she says softly, before snapping, fortissimo, at the scooter rider on her blindside.

The road`s steeper now; twisting. Summit reached; Daniela brakes sharply; ramming the car into reverse, one palm flat on the wheel, winding it this way and that: a snug Fiat fit.

`We`re in time`, she beams, ushering me across the road to a low wall, watching with pride as I gasp, drinking in the most stunning panorama; the city`s riches laid out like an emperor`s banquet.


Pantheon, piazzas, monuments; churches ; only my guide knowing that in tre, due, uno, I`d be gasping again at the reason for her haste throughout my bespoke buzz around Rome--my big surprise: the deafening `BOOM` of cannon fire just metres below; a daily, high noon nudge to the battle here in 1849, when Garibaldi defeated the French.

The smoke fades; the show`s over; mine too. Daniela has a date.

Fiat fired up, we speed back down to the city centre; now an angry bee swarm of blaring horns and buzzing scooters. Rome`s getting tetchy; needs feeding.

`It`s like lasagne, this city`, she says, dark eyes darting about for one of the relatively few Metro stations in this ancient place. `You know, in layers. You can`t just dig more stations. You could damage something precious.`

But a red `M` is in sight, so I scramble out into three angry lanes of snarling traffic; shouting a drowned out `thankyou` to my new Italian friend.

I dive down the Metro steps, way below b├ęchamel sauce level. And I`m sure, even with a Colosseum trip to come, that this tailor made morning that started alone, and ended up in a tiny Fiat with a real Roman…..is going to be hard to beat..