The diary of Isabella M Smugge – Ruth Leigh

Isabella is a modern social media type of Bridget Jones. Did you borrow the idea of your character from Helen Fielding? It honestly never occurred to me. The Diary of Bridget Jones is one of my favourite novels, so it may well be that my subconscious was shouting “Go on, Ruth, borrow a bit of Bridget for the Age of Influencers!”

Did this influence your choice in making it a diary? Very quickly, I decided that Isabella’s story was best told in diary form. I think this is probably because some of my all-time favourite novels are written in this style. The Sacred Diary (Adrian Plass), The Diary of a Nobody, Adrian Mole, The Diary of a Provincial Lady – there’s a certain informal way of writing and it gives you a natural story arc. It gives the author a chance to make subtle changes to the characters as they write.

Is Isabella modelled on anyone in particular, yourself, siblings, close friends etc? Or is she modelled on a type of upper middle class country dwelling woman? This is a question I asked myself mid-write. I couldn’t think of anyone remotely like her that I’d ever met. I was on the phone to a dear friend down in Cornwall, I mentioned Isabella to her, described her and said, “I just can’t think who she’s meant to be.” Kath said, “I’ll tell you who she is, Ruth. She’s all those mothers we used to see at toddler group who made us feel completely inadequate. The ones that breezed in, fully made up, smiling, having lost all the baby weight and not covered in weird stains. The woman who made me feel that I was failing at everything. She’s exactly the opposite of me, that’s for sure.

Isabella seems like the eternal optimist, at least until later on in the book. Would you say that this is you? Undoubtedly. I am ludicrously optimistic, to the point of complete denial. House on fire? Never mind, I don’t have to worry about the dusting. Cataclysmic floods? Oh well, I expect it’ll be better tomorrow.

Each section of the book is followed by a twitter handle. Real or imagined? Oh, completely imagined! The irony is that I am the opposite of social media savvy Isabella. I do Twitter and Instagram because I have to, but it doesn’t come naturally. I have a deep-seated loathing of hashtags, which makes it all the funnier that I ended up creating so many for the book.

What about Issy’s husband, Johnnie is he modelled on anyone in particular or the au-pair, Sofija? Johnnie is your classic City Bad Boy. I suppose bits of him come from my years working in London. Sofija, is completely made up. She’s Latvian because we’ve got some Latvian friends in the village and it gives Isabella the chance to show that she’s not that sensitive by mixing up Lithuania and Latvia, two completely different countries.

I liked the way in which you subtly weaved in Issy’s friendship with the vicar’s wife, Claire and her husband, Tom. Were you trying to tease your readers with a good image of Christians and the church, especially in the character of Claire and her background? Indeed, I was. I’ve spent years having chats in the playground, in clubs, bars, restaurants, at parties about my faith, but only when people bring it up. I specialise in being real about it all, not trying to present myself as holy and perfect (coz I ain’t!) and it was important to me that Claire and Tom were normal people, albeit from wildly differing backgrounds who were brought together and lived out their faith in a small rural village. For years, I’ve said that all churches should have a poster outside which reads, “May Contain Nuts.” Church is a cross-section of society with all kinds of backgrounds.

Were you aiming at a book that you could happily give to anyone regardless of their view of the church and Christians? I suppose I was. It’s classed as Christian fiction, but what I didn’t want to do was write a book where everyone miraculously becomes a Christian on the last page and they all live happily ever after. That’s not how life works. It’s messy and disappointing with lots of loose ends and unanswered questions.

Although there are similarities with the book and the Diary of Bridget Jones, there is very little bad language in your book, and a lot of depth of character and emotional content. Was this intentional? No. It wasn’t! When I sent over the original MS to Instant Apostle, the reader’s report came back saying it was full of bad language! I was a bit taken aback, but out came all the “crap” and “effing” and “badass”. Characters like Liane Bloomfield swore like troopers, because they would, but with IA’s policy on language, I had to be much more creative and I think the book is better for it. I hope so. I wanted to show who these people were, and it was easy to do that using Issy’s voice, especially as she gets so much wrong.

The backstory of Issy’s parents and her relationship with her sister, Suze, is an evidence of this depth. Was this your intention in weaving in these characters? Yes, it was. When I was writing chapter one, I kept asking myself, “How did she get this way?” I was going back in time to find little Bella Neville and her sister. They had to be extremely close, almost the two of them against the rest of the world, and why was that? Hence, I wrote their parents’ difficult marriage which affected them both so much. Isabella often gets through life by covering her pain.

Like Bridget Jones diary, there are so many ‘laugh out loud’ moments in the book. Does humorous writing come naturally to you? It does seem to! I’ve spent the last twelve and a half years writing fairly serious freelance articles, sometimes Christian-based, sometimes not, and it’s virtually impossible to get jokes in there. I was amazed by how easy it was to “write funny” with the novel and how many half-remembered stories and funny incidents were floating around at the back of my brain, just waiting for their place in the sun. I love it and I want to do lots more of it.

Anything else you’d like to add? I’d like to encourage other writers. A year ago, if you’d told me I would be the author of a novel, I’d have laughed in your face. I was a freelancer, all my time taken up with work and family. Suddenly, lock down happened, I lost three quarters of my work (bad) but had loads of time to write (good). Through writing a funny blog by chance for ACW which caught a few people’s imagination, Isabella was born. If it’s the right time (and lock down doesn’t seem that it should be), you can seize opportunities. I did, and I benefited hugely from the support and experience of a supportive community of other writers. Keep at it! You never know what’s going to happen next.

You left the story on a cliff hanger. Was that intentional to get your readers desperate for the next book to find out what happens? Completely intentional. I wanted people to really care about the characters and I wanted to end on Isabella considering what she really thinks about faith. She still isn’t sure, but I needed her to be in a crisis situation, hence the book ending that way.

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A Remarkable Woman

This pandemic has robbed many people of family members and friends. It has robbed not only my friends and family but the world of a most remarkable woman, Dr Jember Teferra, Ethiopia’s champion of the poor.

Although from a privileged background herself as the niece of Emperor Haile Selassie, Ethiopian lady, Jember and her husband, Hailegorgios, suffered imprisonment during the communist revolution of her country in 1974. There, instead of complaining of her lot, Jember set about encouraging and teaching her fellow prisoners. Sharing a mattress in a rat-infested prison, Jember came to identify with the poor in her nation’s capital and on her release, set about doing something to improve their lives. Her approach took the initiative of asking people what their needs were and working from that information. She wanted to care for the whole needs of the poor, from health and housing to education and employment. She began a work in one part of the city, and when those needs began to be met, then moved on to other parts, helping to fund education for the children, support for the elderly and infirm and providing all with proper housing and sanitation. I was privileged in 2008 to visit the projects, staying for a week in one of Jember’s houses.

Throughout her life, Jember kept a strong faith in God despite terrible suffering and multiple bereavements including her husband and one of her sons. The other son, Workneh suffered a stroke and heart attack several years ago, which left him incapacitated and in a home. Jember had to stop her work in Ethiopia, travelling across the world to fund raise for the poor when her own son’s needs took precedence. She has cared for him relentlessly ever since, staying near him in the UK. Sadly, this dedication has now cost her own life.

Following my visit to Addis Ababa, Jember recently gave me the great privilege of writing up her thoughts and devotions. She hoped to see all them, previously published in various pamphlets, now collated into one book. Sadly, she never lived to see this happen, however, I hope that I may continue, with the family’s blessing, to finish this work as a legacy to a truly great lady, once called ‘Ethiopia’s Mother Teresa’.

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Happy New year

Or is it? We’re still fighting the pandemic, in fact, a new more virulent strain than ever. For most of us the world begins with a certain sadness and a longing to connect with others in a real rather than a virtual context.

But what about our writing this year? Have you become discouraged or downhearted? I listened to a talk about our writing as worship over the weekend. Whether or not you have a belief in God, I found the talk freeing as it suggested that we don’t have to write for publication, we can just write for ourselves, journal. In fact, sometimes when we are in a bad or a difficult situation, our words maybe difficult to share with others but may well be cathartic for us.

I am currently studying an MA in Creative and Critical writing, as many of my followers know. In beginning to write a piece of memoir about my life, I have seen the value of the exercise of writing our memoirs for our children or antecedents, particularly as I get older. I knew so little about my father’s life as he died when I was just a teenager. How lovely it would have been to have an account of it to read. I was even more excited when I learnt of a local company who will hand bind your memoirs for a reasonable cost. They can be found at https://www.crumpsbarnstudio.co.uk

Whatever form your writing may take this year, assignments, a novel, an article, a memoir or just journaling, do make time to do it, even just for a few minutes a day. It may just help you to get through this difficult time.

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Birthdays

December is a month of birthdays for many of us but me in particular.

On 6 December it is the birthday of St Nicholas, the patron saint of children and giving. A kind man born in Myra, Greece born around the third century. It is a day when some people in Europe exchange presents. The Dutch name for St Nicholas is Sinterklaas, which is how we get the name, Santa Claus.

It is also my niece’s birthday, another occasion for giving.

16 December is Jane Austen’s birthday and also mine.

I think the one on the left has the looks! I also won’t say how old I am, suffice it to say that I have sons of 29 and 31 – I’ll leave you to do the maths!

25 December is the most special of all the birthdays. It is the birthday of Jesus Christ (well probably not the real one, birthday that is, but that’s another story), otherwise known as Christmas Day. A time to celebrate even in these strange times, God coming into the world as a human being. A figure in history, like St Nicholas/Santa Claus, Jane Austen and me.

Wishing all of my followers and their families a very Happy Christmas and a better 2021.

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Liz Carter

My blog today showcasing my friend and amazing writer, Liz Carter, whose recently published collection of stories and poems, Treasures in Dark Places, has already become a great success.

1.   You were born with a serious lung disease weren’t you, Liz. How do you think that has impacted your life?

It’s not known whether I was born with it or developed it as a baby when I caught severe pneumonia. It’s made a huge impact — as a child I was sickly, often off school for prolonged periods, struggling to get the grades I was predicted. I saw myself as weak and useless, perpetuated by the words of peers and teachers as the years went on. As it’s a degenerative disease it has progressed over the years, narrowing my life more and more, so that nowadays I’m often housebound with acute infections and in hospital fairly regularly.

2.   How has it helped you in your writing?

I’ve learned that writing is incredibly cathartic and helps me to work through some of the emotional stuff that’s attached to living with long term chronic illness. One of the things I find so helpful about Scripture is the fact that so much of it is written with stark honesty — many of the Psalms, for example, are written out of a place of great need and sadness, yet somehow in the writing of them it’s obvious that God turns the writers’ eyes to himself and his great love.

3.   ‘Treasure in the Dark Places’ was written during the first big lockdown following the pandemic in March. Where did the idea come from?

I’d actually planned to work on another book I’d been writing before lockdown. When I received the letter advising me to shield, I’d thought it would give me a chance to get stuck into this book. But somehow the words were not flowing and my mental health was taking more of a kicking than I’d thought it would. A friend suggested I simply write for joy and see what happened, and another couple of friends suggested I compile some of the stories and poems I’d shared on my blog into a book. As I started to get these together I found fresh material birthing and taking shape, writing for joy but also writing out of the raw pain I was struggling with and wanting to help others going through similar kinds of struggles.

4.   Where did the idea for the title come from?

I’ve always loved Isaiah 45:3:

I will give you the treasures of darkness

so that you may know that it is I, the Lord,

and riches hidden in secret places,

the God of Israel, who call you by your name.

(NRSV)

These words speak deeply to me of a God who is with us in our own darkness. Not only is he beside us, but he also gives us untold riches within the struggle and the pain. It’s my experience that in some of the worst of times, physically and emotionally, I’ve found that God draws me closer to his heart and lays open this profound treasure. I wanted the contents of this book to reflect something of this treasure we find in the darkest corners, and inspire readers towards hope but also towards a sense of great anticipation as we dig for this treasure together.

5. It’s a collection of stories and poems and your last book was based more on your own personal experiences of life. How do you think the books both differ and yet complement each other?

My first book, Catching Contentment: How to be Holy Satisfied (IVP, 2018) was an exploration of Paul’s assertion in Philippians 4 that he had found the secret of contentment in all circumstances. I drew in some of my own life experience and that of others. It’s a book of teaching but also a book of deep sharing and reflection.

Treasure in Dark Places is an anthology of poems and stories, a book to be dipped into and used in private and public devotions and liturgy. It’s a book to lead to hope and spark joy in its raw emotion and re-imaginings of encounters with Jesus. While the two are very different in style, they both lead us to turn towards God for hope and peace we cannot comprehend.

6.   Have you written poetry before and published it?

I’ve been writing poetry for years now. I’ve shared a few on my blog and social media, and there were one or two introductory poems in my first book, but this is my first foray into properly publishing poetry. It’s a little scary as poetry comes from such an intensely personal place, but the response has been overwhelmingly positive and so I’m grateful that God is using it to touch the lives of others.

7.   Have you a favourite poem in the collection?

That’s a very difficult question because all of them come from a place of encounter with God in different forms. I think my favourite might be ‘Lost and Found’ in the Summer section, a poem built around the experience of online church during the pandemic. It focuses not so much on what was lost but on what we discovered, the excitement of radical inclusion for those on the margins who were never included in church before, the relief of being able to join with my church family even when housebound.

8.  The stories are a retelling of Bible stories, and in the case of ‘Bread of Life’, placed in modern times. Have the retelling of them helped you to appreciate the stories in the Bible better?

I loved writing the stories and found that they led me into a new place of encounter with Jesus. When I was writing ‘Untouchable,’ the story about the woman with the long-term bleeding, I found myself almost in tears as I imagined the power of Jesus touching this woman with a chronic illness, and her response to him. I actually want to write a load more of these kinds of stories, so watch this space!

9.   Do you think they will help others to understand them better and relate to them better?

I hope so — people have already said that the stories have drawn them in to the biblical accounts in a new and vivid way, and that’s my hope for them — that readers will encounter Jesus in a fresh way.

10. Have you a favourite story in the collection?

I very much enjoyed writing ‘The Wise One’, in the Winter section, a slightly surreal story about a modern-day disabled woman journeying with the wise ones in the Bible to see the infant Jesus. I found myself reflecting on Jesus’ humility, creativity, presence and beauty as I wrote.

11. Your friend, Caroline was your illustrator with her beautiful pen and ink sketches. Why did you decide to illustrate the book with these?

Caroline is such an amazing artist. I really wanted to include images right from the start to bring some of the words to life – I love how God gives talents in such different ways and how the bringing together of different forms of creativity can create something even more beautiful.

12. The book has been an almost instant success even in these difficult times, what do you put this down to?

I think that people need words that are honest in these difficult and painful times. I think that we all need to lament, to remember that we are allowed to weep when times get tough. I was shielding over almost five months earlier this year, living in my room, unable to even touch or hug my family, and in this time lament became even more important for me as I poured out my sadness and frailty before a God who understands. My prayer is this book will draw you closer to God even when you are hurting, and resonate with you in your struggles.

13. Anything else you’d like to add?

I’ve also just brought out an advent devotional, with short, bite-sized reflections for those who are struggling this year and need some glimpses of hope over advent. Advent Treasure offers bible readings, reflections and prayers for each day of December as you wait for the joy of Christmas to break through.

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Memoirs: Fran Hill’s ‘Miss, What Does Incomprehensible Mean?

I have recently been looking at memoir. There are many types of memoir books that have been written. Diary memoir is one of them. My friend and fellow writer, Fran Hill has written her latest book, Miss, What Does Incomprehensible mean in this format, following the life of an English teacher in a secondary school.

Why did you decide to write your latest book, ‘Miss what does incomprehensible mean’ as a Diary Memoir?

Ah, a question I ask myself whenever sales figures dip, but that’s merely paranoia. In summary, the memoir was suggested by Tony Collins, a commissioning editor. He’d read my first book ‘Being Miss’ which charts one fictional day in a teacher’s life. He suggested a book in the style of ‘All Creatures Great and Small’ by James Herriot, but set in school. I thought the diary form would be fun, a la Adrian Mole and Bridget Jones. It’s a tricky format – Tony sent back first drafts with instructions to make my sentences grammatically incomplete. As an English teacher, I had to breathe deeply, but it began to feel natural.  

I loved some of the characters in the book, especially Camilla and Bahlul, are they based on real people, and if so, have you changed their names?

My daughter’s favourite character was also Camilla, she said. (I thought this harsh as the main character is her own mother.) But it’s best to see the teachers – and the pupils – as composite characters: mixtures of all those I have known and worked with. Camilla’s personal problems (I won’t specify …) and Bahlul’s aversion to marking – these are characteristics from people’s real lives that I have integrated into the narrative of the memoir.

I felt desperately sorry for you and your very long work hours, is that really the case?

It is absolutely the case, particularly for a full-time English teacher. The reading, planning and marking burden is Sisyphean and, now, working from home, I look back and wonder how I coped. The book bears witness to the fact that I barely did. My husband calculated my hours and told me I was really earning £8 an hour. That was a fun conversation. It’s the reason I switched to part-time but found that ‘part’ was a term used loosely.

I also felt very sorry for your terrible sleep patterns, is that also true?

For me, teaching equalled restless nights, and that didn’t change until I left the traditional classroom and became self-employed. I’d lie, staring at the ceiling, worrying about seating plans, pastoral issues, coping with misbehaviour, lesson observations, whether I knew enough about Shakespeare, how to fit in my marking …. How long do you have? Using evenings to mark and plan lessons rather than watch Coronation Street or have bubble baths didn’t help and Mrs Menopause compounded the issue.

Are you still working at the school and if so, is the school real or imaginary?

I’m now self-employed, tutoring English and creative writing from home – currently via Zoom. In between, I procrastinate and sometimes write. The school itself is, again, a composite of all the schools in which I’ve worked. Teachers who’ve read the book say it’s instantly recognisable as typical of school life. I dubbed it Beauchamp School because the book is based in Warwick and Richard Beauchamp was the 13th Earl of Warwick. I’m sure, from the grave, he is delighted with his mention.  

The school magazine was a great idea. I see by the write up in the back of the book that it was imaginary. Is that due to the fact that with your very busy schedule it would be one thing too many?

No, I really did produce some school magazines, so those experiences were typical. I think you’re referring to the mention of Warwick Printing in the acknowledgements. I consulted them as research for the ‘imaginary’ magazine I included in the memoir. And, yes, it was definitely one thing too many, cue more sleepless nights.  

Is your spouse really that into exercise?

Spouse is Outdoors Man and has always loved walking in the countryside. Worried about being 60 plus, he bought some sports shorts more appropriate for men in their 20s, and off he went, striding through our local fields like Wordsworth only without the poems. He’ll go out in rain, wind, and possibly tornadoes, while I stay at home and eat a Curly-Wurly, like sensible people do.

I loved the humour in your book and much admire anyone who can write funny. How did you develop this or did the gift come naturally?

That’s really kind of you, Sheila. Is it a gift? It’s the way I naturally look at life and anything I write reflects that. I’m unreasonably aware, it seems, of ironies and mismatches and the funny side of things. It gets me into bother. Not everyone sees the world that way and I should keep some of my opinions to myself in serious situations. I have also tried to hone the skills by studying how comedians construct jokes or how funny writers such as Wodehouse or Dorothy Parker achieve their laughs.

What is the next thing you are working on? Will it also be school related? And funny?

My next major project is a novel. Yes, there will be a school, and, yes, I hope to make it funny. Time – and the sales figures – will tell.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I’ll add my thanks to you for reading and appreciating the book, Sheila, and for featuring me on your blog. Can I also add that my website can be found at franhill.co.uk and, if people would like to know more about my writing, I would love them to visit. There are a few laughs there, too, on my biography page.  

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Reunions in Literature

My sons, Adam and Luke and myself at Greenwich Docks

Family reunions are very important. They always have been. Yet in these times of the Pandemic, they have become more important than ever. It was great for my husband and myself to travel to London at the end of October and to see my sons, Adam and Luke and their partners, Kelsey and Mafalda (my husband, Angus is the one taking the photograph). It was only for a day but so worthwhile.

Reunions are also a great theme in literature. There is the reunion of the girls in ‘Little Women’ by Louisa M Alcott, when their father returns from the American civil war. Or there is the reunion of Jane with a blind Mr Rochester, after the fire which nearly kills him, in ‘Jane Eyre’ by Charlotte Bronte. Or even the final reunion of Juliet with farmer, Dawsey Adams in the book, ‘The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society’ by Mary Ann Schaffer and Annie Barrows, when Juliet returns to the island realising it is Dawsey she loves and not her elegant, rich American fiancé.

In my book, Waireka, I have written about a reunion that doesn’t take place. Eliza is desperate to be reunited with her beloved sister, Kitty, who she has corresponded with over the past fifteen years since she left Scotland. However, her joy turns to despair as Eliza learns from a fellow passenger of their fate.

Aurora, aye, that was the name of our boat. And now you mention it, I do recall a couple with two very young children and an older girl. The Scottish lady was fair, much like yourself and her husband had brown wavy hair….

“Was?” said Eliza, swallowing hard.

“Aye, I last saw them before the ship went down.”

(Waireka, pg 180)

How important it is to value those family relationships while we still have them. In these fragile days especially.

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Student again!

Yes, I’ve gone back to university this time to do a short course – part of an MA – in Creative and Critical Writing. The idea being to be a better writer but let’s wait on that one! Although not so much in the library as the image suggests but sometimes online, sometimes on campus in the evenings.

It’s about twenty years since I took the last go at being a student when I did a short course in London, two days a week, to obtain a Postgraduate qualification in journalism. That time it did me very well. On completing the course I became a freelance journalist for a couple of years for our local media company, Gloucestershire Media. Then when that ended, I took up writing for the Christian Herald newspaper (now sadly deceased) and then with the same editor, Russ Bravo, I went on to write regularly for Inspire magazine, alongside many other publications both local and national. I still write regularly for the online magazine, the Writers and Readers magazine and have just had an article in the Good News newspaper.

So what about this course. Having learnt to write plainly and concisely as a journalist, I can tell you that this course frightens me. I’m not that great at descriptive, flowery language and just three weeks into the course, the IT has almost floored me, never mind the course information. Perhaps it’s my age!

But it’s one step at a time. I’m only doing a short course and most of my modules are completed by mid January, then I just have one course which I take on until May. So you should see me emerge out of hibernation sometime in early February. Until then I’m not ignoring you, I’m just busy.

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The North Devon Writers

A recent week in North Devon introduced me to a few local writers I didn’t know had an association with the area.

Firstly there is the writer, Charles Kingsley born in Holne in Devon whose family later moved to the very popular town of Clovelly with its steep cobbled streets leading down to a sheltered harbour. His Father was the Rector of the town. Charles was later to enter the ministry himself.

You can view the small cottage where the family lived on your way down to the harbour. The place obviously held happy memories for the writer as there is a quote from him displayed on a plaque in the cottage, which demonstrates that Charles returned here time and time again as an adult to relive those happy memories.

“We got here all safe…I cannot believe my eyes: the same dear old smells, the dear old handsome loving faces again. It is as if I was a little boy again, or the place had stood still while all the world had been rushing and rumbling on past it…”

Kingsley even gave the name of one of his books, Westward Ho! to the name of a local town, including the exclamation mark! His other novels include, Hereward the Wake and his children’s book, the Water Babies.

Henry Williamson, although born in London, settled in Georgeham, Devon in 1921 just after the first world war. The cottage he lived in was called ‘Skirr Cottage’ and it was here that Williamson wrote his most acclaimed novel, Tarka the Otter.

The cottage acquired historical status as an English Heritage Grade II listed building in 2014 and a tarmacked track in the area built over a disused railway has been named the ‘Tarka Trail’ after the book as many of the locations on the track are mentioned in the story. The 21 mile track is a great traffic-free space for walkers or cyclists alike.

All this leads me to conclude that North Devon with its steep, stunning coastlines and wide sandy beaches, attracted and inspired many different kinds of writers.

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Celebrations

Granny’s 90th Birthday Celebrations

We have just celebrated my mother-in-law’s 90th birthday with a big party, balloons and a cake

Well, she deserves it. Although her actual birthday isn’t until next month, the Bank Holiday weekend was the only time we could all come together with balloons, buntings and a special cake. It’s great celebrating these family occasions which, even with social distancing we were able to do in our garden with a gazebo and good spacing. The weather was kind to us all day too.

In my book, Waireka, one of the biggest celebrations, apart from the family weddings, is the official opening of the dairy farm and two-storey farm house. They also have good weather for the occasion.

“The day marked for the official opening of the dairy in May 1873 dawned fair, and a large crowd gathered. Alister had asked all the chief representatives of Frampton to the opening….Robert, as the minister of St Andrews, was to proclaim the place open for business at last. It looked splendid decked out with the bunting saved from Charlotte’s wedding a couple of years previously.

‘I declare the Waireka Butter Factory open’, announced Robert with a quick glance at Eliza as if to win her approval. He did. She returned his smile, her heart full of joy for the future that lay ahead for their family. She was proud of Alister’s hard work in building the factory and establishing the business.” (Waireka, Chapter 12, page 192)

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