Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Step away from the computer!

I am sitting at the computer trying very hard to ensure my posture is correct. For the last few weeks I have been suffering from a trapped/pinched/displaced/blummin' painful nerve in my spine which has caused pain in my left shoulder and arm. For a while I just took painkillers and used a hot water bottle but it began to get worse. Sitting in a normal chair was the killer - shooting pains down my shoulder blade and arm. Sleeping wasn't fun either as I could only lie on my back.

Last week I visited Dougie's partner at the surgery for him to agree with Dougie's diagnosis and, although it was likely to get better with time and some anti-inflammatories, I booked myself some physiotherapy. Had a great session with a fabulous Irish girl, Sinéad, who agreed with everyone else and got to work on my neck and arm. Returning home with some exercises and tips on how to sit properly at my desk, I am gradually improving.

The computer is the main culprit, I think. I have a habit of slouching while I'm thinking of what to write. It doesn't help we have an extra keyboard placed in front of the laptop as I spilled orange juice all over the original one. I tend to push my neck forward to read the type as the screen is that bit further away. We keep promising ourselves a new laptop - this has forced us to get a move on and purchase one.

The iPad isn't much better as I hold it in my left hand when browsing on the sofa, with my head flopped forward. Dougie tells me I am on the iPad far too much anyway - grazing usually - so am now trying to ration both computer and tablet time..it's tough.

This post is now going on too long as my arm is sore again (cue the violins) so I will finish here and just point you towards the last three columns I've written for the paper - and that was a struggle. I ended up dictating the last one to a very patient husband.

The ten tell-tale signs that you have an empty nest - six months in, how I'm coping with Rory being at university. Do you have any more to add?

A parent's view of World Book Day - like it or loathe it, World Book Day costumes can prove to be a headache. But isn't Rory sweet?

The name's Burgess...Trish Burgess - my take on the news that MI5 are recruiting spies via Mumsnet as middle-aged mothers apparently have the aptitude for the job (one of my favourite column pieces, if I do say so myself!)


Sunday, 15 March 2015

When Jimi Hendrix came to Spalding

On 29 May 1967 our little sleepy town of Spalding became host to one of the first ever rock festivals. Held in a tulip bulb auction shed, Barbecue '67, for an admission price of £1, provided 'non-stop dancing' from 4pm to midnight, hot dogs and a licensed bar.

When the promoter originally booked some of the acts they were still relatively unknown but within months they had hit the big time and, honouring the booking, turned up to play. On the bill were Geno Washington and The Ram Jam Band, Zoot Money, Move, Cream, Pink Floyd and The Jimi Hendrix Experience.

The bulb shed held 4000 people but thousands more turned up on this hot, sticky Bank Holiday to see some of the biggest names in rock.

Over the last few years the Spalding & District Civic Society have been looking to highlight places in the town which have had interesting residents and guests. Many people suggested The Red Lion Hotel in the town should have a Blue Plaque to commemorate the gig and the fact that Jimi Hendrix stayed there overnight. The current owner of the hotel, proud of this former guest, has also stated that girls were flocking outside Jimi's window and he apparently knotted his bed sheets together so they could climb up. Whether any of them took him up on his offer is unknown!

Earlier this month, the plaque was unveiled by the original members of local group Sounds Force Five, who also played at Barbecue '67 and have the most amazing memories of a truly historic night.

You can imagine my surprise, having only just seen this shiny new plaque in our town square, to find another blue plaque to Jimi Hendrix this weekend. Not the official English Heritage one in Mayfair, London, showing where he lived from 1968-69, but a slightly less official one in the window of Marshall's Fish and Chip shop in Tynemouth, near Newcastle. It would seem that just a couple of months before staying overnight at the Red Lion in Spalding, Jimi Hendrix was having his dinner at the seaside...


Monday, 2 March 2015

Has it really been a year?

At the beginning of February it dawned on me that I had been writing my column in the Lincolnshire Free Press for a whole year. It hardly seems possible that I have managed to find something to write about each week. It's been a great thing for me to do, forcing me to be disciplined in my writing whereas the blog is more forgiving if I lapse. In both places I am free to write about any topic I like - and that brings me an enormous amount of satisfaction.
Here's my Happy Birthday message to myself in one of last month's columns.
Happy Birthday Trish Takes Five

Despite me telling you that our next SADOS production was going to be Half a Sixpence, there has been a change afoot. We didn't have the right amount of people and particularly not enough chaps, so instead we are performing a selection of musical theatre numbers and pop songs. Guess who will be returning to the stage?
Mrs Overall comes back into spotlight

Children's birthday parties have been in the news lately - parents charging for no-shows, arguments about whether you can ask for money instead of gifts - so here are some memories of my own and Rory's birthday parties to compare. The photo opposite is, I think, my sixth birthday, and there's me in the top right hand corner, in the white dress.

The changing face of children's birthday parties over the years

I didn't take a photo of Brown Hart Gardens when Dougie and I first found them in London last September. But on a second visit I did and am sharing this little oasis with you, along with my other favourite unusual places in the capital.

Seeking out the unusual in London


Thursday, 26 February 2015

In search of Lindisfarne Mead

Known as the 'nectar of the gods' Lindisfarne Mead is a rather delicious fortified wine produced on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne off the Northumberland coast. Made with honey, fermented grape juice and fortified with spirits, this mead is made exclusively at St Aidan's Winery on the island. It is one of the many reasons people cross the causeway from the mainland each day, ensuring they return before the tide comes in.

The word 'honeymoon' is derived from an old Norse custom where newly-weds drank mead for a whole 'moon' to increase fertility and the chance of a happy and fulfilled marriage. I wasn't intending to drink it for a month, but a bottle or two to take home would hopefully put a smile on my face and wouldn't be enough to have any impact on my fecundity, with a bit of luck.

With this in mind, we set off from our holiday home in Seahouses last August and drove up the coast a short distance. The tide was out so we crossed with care and joined the other visitors, walking from the main car park into the centre of the village, not quite in the same manner as St Aidan would have made the journey in 635AD from Iona to found his monastery.

It was a beautiful day, perfect for seeing the castle and the priory at their very best.

Lindisfarne Castle

Lindisfarne Priory

View across to the village on Holy Island

I even managed what I felt was quite an 'arty' photograph (see below)

Upturned herring boats used as storage sheds on Holy Island

We walked, we sat, we stopped for an ice-cream, we looked in some of the little shops for souvenirs. All the while I kept saying to the family that I knew the winery was somewhere close. I had been to the island before, many years ago, on a school trip, when I and a bunch of daft teenage girls thought we would be completely inebriated just by having a sniff of the mead, never mind a small taster.

It's not a large island by any stretch of the imagination and I don't quite know why I didn't ask directions. I thought maybe it had closed down and that the mead was sold in one of the souvenir shops. The family were getting rather annoyed at my quest for this magical elixir and suggested if we wandered back to the car park, we might see it on the way. We didn't. We did see some people ahead of us with a cream-coloured plastic carrier bag which looked suspiciously like it was holding glass bottles - but they were too far ahead of us and it was too hot to run.

I continued wittering about this until we returned to Seahouses. Later that day, in the shop round the corner from our accommodation, I found a whole shelf full of Lindisfarne Mead. In fact, every shop in the town was selling the stuff. Of course we bought it in the first shop we entered, then kept seeing it cheaper everywhere else.

We sat on the balcony that evening and poured the gloopy, golden liquid into two small wine glasses. It was heavenly.

"So..." asked Dougie, with an optimistic grin and a twinkle in his eye. "Has it got you going yet?"