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A Grand Day Out

6 Oct
Everything you need for village living

Everything you need for village living

The conversation went like this:

Friend Pam: Look at these fabulous desserts at the restaurant where we took Mum and Dad for their anniversary.

Tilly Bud: Drool…

Friend Pam: I’ll take you there one day; you have to eat these puddings; they’re fabulous.

Will she, bud?: Droo…l

Friend Pam: Hang on a minute…your birthday’s coming up…I’ll take you for a meal on your birthday!

There is a God: Thank yo…r….oo…l…

And so it came to pass last Wednesday that I found myself heading out of Manchester and into Burnley.  To misquote Field of Dreams (and, in fact, tell an outright lie for comic effect), the only thing we have in common is that Pam came from Burnley; and I had once heard of it.

Pam suffers from a chronic condition: she cannot plan an event without it being a huge success and, as we were heading in that direction, she reasoned, why not go up the famous Pendle Hill (never heard of it) and be tourists in the famous Witch Trial/Trail area (never heard of it).  We could see the famous Eye of God (never heard of it) in the famous centuries-old church (never heard of it) where her husband had proposed to her (I’ve heard of him); call in at the Elizabethan Towneley Hall (never heard of it); eat lunch there (definitely heard of that!); call in to see her parents for some northern hospitality (we’re all famous for that up here); and finish off at the famous pudding restaurant (which sells other food but, seriously, who cares?).

The woman is a genius.

DSCF3292We had a fabulous day.  Pendle Hill was gorgeous; the witch business was fascinating and a little sad (hanging innocent women gets me like that; I dunno why).  The church was…open.  It was hard to believe we were in 21st Century Britain when we could walk into an open, unmanned church and be trusted not to damage/steal anything.  Amazing.  Of course, it probably helped that it was situated halfway up a mountain in the middle of witch country.

DSCF3264I forgot to take my camera but Pam obliged by taking photos with hers, including my request for a pic of the inside of the public toilet – it had a high cistern with a chain!  I was back in my childhood (complete with cold seat) particularly as, technically, it was an outside loo.  Pam and I have a friendly rivalry going to see which of us is most common and I think I win because I was born in a Liverpool slum and come from Irish peasant stock (hence the Liverpool slum): an outside toilet with a lock was a step up for me.

My favourite spot: The Long Gallery. Can you see me way back there?

My favourite spot: The Long Gallery. Can you see me way back there?

Towneley Hall was wonderful.  Walking through rooms which have been inhabited by who knows how many people over the past 500 years is one of my favourite things to do and I’m afraid my mouth got stuck in the Wow! position until it hurt Pam’s ears.  But that’s to be expected of a slumdog, of course.  I was, like, well impressed.

DSCF3297There was a slight change of plan when we saw the queue outside the restaurant door and, as we’d only had huge slices of cake for elevenses we decided – which is to say, Pam decided and I went happily along with any plan intended to feed me – to head straight for pudding paradise and eat there, calling in for a brew at Pam’s folks’ afterwards.  Which is just as well as Pam’s Mum was having her feet done and didn’t really want her guest to see that.  I don’t know why; I’ve got feet; I know how the whole thing works.

I am praying for the strength to dig in and climb out the other side

I am praying for the strength to dig in and climb out the other side

I forget the name of the place where we ate because I was too busy stuffing my gullet with a delicious carvery (which could have been called a spoonery because the meat just fell off the bone and the chef told me that sometimes he has to use a spoon to serve it) to write it down.  Pam tells me it’s called Sycamore Farm.  Check the desserts:


Now tell me it wasn’t worth turning 52 just for that.

We rolled out of there for the short journey to Pam’s parents’ house and I’m not sure that it wasn’t the best part of my day.  Her parents are lovely and her mother is adorable.  She hugged me despite never having met me before and then gave me an entertaining rundown of some of her neighbours, past and present.  They included friendly drug addicts who ran in to help during a crisis to the creepy bloke who introduced himself with the words, I’m not a paedophile and I’ve got a letter to prove it.  Pam’s Mum – or I should say, Pamela’s Mum, because that’s what she called her the whole time; no one ever calls Pam Pamela, she’s too friendly to be full-named;  but you know what mothers are like.  As I was saying, Pamela’s Mum wasn’t convinced by the not-a-molester, though she was glad to see him go when he was arrested for his cannabis farm and stealing his neighbour’s electricity to supply it.  I can’t decide which of her neighbours was my absolute favourite, but it’s a toss-up between the biker who stripped and rebuilt his motorbike many times over fifteen years, in the middle of his living room and partner and children; or the dominatrix who kept a dungeon in the basement but lived elsewhere.

DSCF3278Don’t think that any of this is my usual hyperbole; I swear I had it straight from the horse’s mouth – which was wearing its false teeth at the time, as she happily informed me.  Only the best for Pam’s friends.

I think I love her.

Thank you, Pam, for giving me a brilliant day, showing me a fantastic time, and for having a wonderful mother.

All photographs courtesy of Pam Robinson.

Look What I Did!

18 Apr


Somebody went to hospital twenty-five years ago and all they brought back was this lousy mountain man.


Happy birthday, Hairy Boy.

Love you xx

Happy Birthday, Spud

15 Jan

Spud is nineteen today.  Happy birthday, my little potato cake.

He got there despite all the roasting I’ve given him, half-baked parent that I am. To be fair, though, I never beet him; and I yam a loving mother to my sweet potato.

He’s a chip off the old block because he’s a Golden Wonder to me, and never grates my nerves, fries my beans or sets me boiling.  I’ve done my best to raise a good crop and he hasn’t given me any hasselback, despite the many downright hash browns I’ve made.  We’ve had a lot of fun and latke, that’s for sure; though I sometimes leave him steaming, but that’s no skin off my nose.  Still, I don’t want to be peeling him off the walls.  He is my King Edward, after all; and he who pays the Maris Piper calls the tune.

Well, I’d better go – I hear him gnocching but he can’t come in because I’m typing this.  I don’t want him stewing; that will leave me having to sauté him out and it is his birthday.

Happy birthday, my darling little tater tot.  Here’s a birthday mashup for you:


I Do Love You, Spud, Honest

11 Feb

Wednesday 15 January, 2014

Where’s my birthday post?

I’m not blogging at the moment!

You don’t love me.

Spud turned eighteen while I was on a break.  I didn’t write a happy birthday post – because I was on a break.  I did take him tea in an eighteenth birthday mug, buy him banners and balloons and not say a word about the girl in his bed on a school day; but, no, all he can see is no birthday post.

Apparently, I didn’t write him a birthday post last year when he turned seventeen.  I wrote one for his brother and his father, a hundred readers and even myself – but not one for him.  My argument, ‘But you don’t read my blog!’ didn’t cut it, because, apparently, he does.

I have been ordered to write a make-up post and not to make this make-up post all about his brother, which is what I appeared to have done in last year’s make-up post, saying how great his brother was and how he spoiled Spud on his birthday blah blah blah.

I’m a terrible mother.

But I can’t say that, because this post is all about Spud.

Spud was the biggest baby in the hospital, the week he was born – about ten pounds.  I have mentioned before that he looked like the V alien baby when he came out all blue and crinkly.  And absolutely gorgeous – which is how he’s stayed:


Spud is now a man, and he has a learner’s driving licence to prove it.  He has done a lot of thinking this past year about what he wants to do with his life; but the decision was really made in the summer, the moment a sweaty Macbeth spat on him during the performance at the Globe: Spud wants to act.

This past year he has played Greek tragedy, Shakespeare and farce.  At the moment he’s rehearsing Judas in Godspell.  He doesn’t want to be rich and famous; he wants to work in theatre.  He is deadly serious: he wants to pretend to be other people for the rest of his life.  I couldn’t be prouder; or more scared.

Happy birthday, my darling boy.  Whatever you do in life, I know you’ll obsess about it until it’s right.

I love you.

Happy Birthday, Hub!

10 Oct

The Hub is 49 today.  As he is no longer two years younger than me (which he is for ten days every year, and you can bet he makes the most of it…), he is no longer my Toy Boy (you can’t have it both ways, Hub).

As it’s his birthday, I intend to spoil him: I will refrain from snarky comments; and give him the biggest portion of dinner.  

Happy birthday, my darling.

Here’s what you have to look forward to:

Don't be afraid, my dear...

Don’t be afraid, my dear…


Happy Birthday, Tory Boy!

18 Apr

My beloved eldest child is 23 today.  From 12:41 p.m., Wednesday 18th April 1990, Tory Boy was my ylem.  The moment I saw him, I loved.

I might even have cried a little (probably thinking about the pregnancy fat I was never going to shake off).

‘Bonding’ had come into fashion when I was carrying TB; I asked my gynea if I would be able to hold the baby as soon as it was born.  He told me that bonding takes a life time, not a moment.  He was right.

What he failed to mention, however, is that as soon as you’ve bonded, you have to start preparing yourself to let go of them.  Tory Boy works; he has a lovely girlfriend; he lives away from home; he calls and visits (occasionally; usually when he needs something); he sends me poems that make me laugh and weep.  I did my job.  His father helped, when I let him.

But how I miss those moments, early in the morning, when it was just him and me.  When I would soothe and feed him and he would fall asleep in my arms.

Our bonding began on the Saturday after he was born, when the Hub was given permission not to visit until the evening (after the match).  I fed Tory Boy; he fell asleep; and I simply could not bear to let go of him.  I sat in a chair with my beautiful baby in my arms and we stayed there for many hours.  My demanding body, which needs a toilet break every hour and a food break every half hour, knew not to mess with me that day.

I looked at my baby and I loved him; and that has never changed.


Happy Birthday, Aquatom

13 Mar

The Laughing Housewife Goes To Tellyland is taking a short season break and will be back tomorrow.

In the meantime, it’s somebody’s birthday…you may remember this banner:


Aquatom created it for me; now it’s my turn to create something for him.

His birthday poem has chops and changes in the rhythm: that’s my homage to his ever-changing blog look and not an indication that I might have struggled writing this one.  

  • Read it out loud to a rapping rhythm
  • Take a breath after the first stanza, to allow for the change in rhythm
  • Rush through ‘dotwordpress’ on the last line, or it won’t sound right.

Well, here goes:

For You!You!You! youyou!

His name is Tom with the prefix ‘Aqua’
Read his blog; you’ll enjoy some laughter
You won’t need gin or wine or vodka

He’s a really nice bloke
And he likes to make a joke
But he also does bespoke

Christmas headers for this Tilly
In return I give this silly
Rhyme from a grateful filly

His name is Aqua with the suffix ‘Tom’
If you’d like to give him a birthday balm
See wellheregoesdotwordpressdotcom

Happy Birthday, Tom!


If you would like a nonsense birthday poem, leave your details in the comments section or email me at

Vivinfrance's Blog

mainly poetry, also quilts, pictures, life-writing and the occasional short story.


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notices and reflections in ministry

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