Sunday, 4 April 2021

The Distancing Diaries - 3rd & 4th April, 2021

On Saturday morning Jon got up first, made tea and brought it back to bed where I continued reading The Cobra and he snoozed. When he got up I put the upstairs plants in the bath to soak, stripped and changed the bed, loaded the washing machine and joined Jon in the kitchen for sausage sandwiches and coffee.

After I'd misted the seedlings I continued researching my paternal family tree. I'm not a paid-up member of any genealogy websites but Jon treated me to a DNA ancestry kit a few years ago and I've discovered that I can access the basic information for free. I'd only started looking the previous day and after an hour I'd managed to trace Dad's side of the family back to Thomas Robert Ridgeway, my 9x great grandfather, who was born in Ibstock in Leicestershire in 1619. Not bad considering that when Dad died, and I was trying to sort out probate, I didn't even know his parents' names! 

Mum's family is well-documented. My Grandpa's aunt Phyllis spent a large part of her life researching the family tree and when she died in 1977 her work was passed on to me. We're descended from Thomas Guy, founder of the London hospital that still bears his name (blog post HERE).

Richard the postman arrived with the Lush body moisturiser I'd ordered a couple of days ago. It's not cheap but smells gorgeous, lasts ages and doesn't make your skin feel sticky and slimy like cheaper stuff does. 

I also received this incredible block printed kediya my lovely friend Betty had spotted on eBay and emailed me with the link. It's based on the traditional tie-fronted frock coat worn by the Rabari people of the Kutch region in Gujarat and still has the tags attached.


 By strange coincidence, we'd actually met Dr Ismail Mohammed Khatri when we'd visited Gujarat back in 2018 and he'd escorted us around his block printing workshop. Isn't it a small world? You can read more HERE.


As well as it being Liz's birthday on 29th March it was also Adrian's and he and his wife (also called Liz) had invited the four of us round to their garden to celebrate. The relaxation of the Covid rules couldn't have been more perfectly timed, we'd not been together as a group since 2019 what with us being away at the beginning of last year and then lockdown.


It was a gorgeous - but chilly - afternoon and we all clustered around the firepit, drank and tucked into the Indian feast Adrian had prepared for us. My coconut dhal was gorgeous. There was also chicken tikka for the others (I'm the only vegetarian).


Liz and Adrian's house backs on to Walsall Arboretum (the Arbo to us locals), an 80-acre Victorian park in the town centre. As it was still light when we left we took the scenic walk home. 


The Victorian boathouse is grade II listed.






Back at home we changed out of our smoky clothes, poured ourselves a large rum & cola and spent the evening watching more Waking the Dead (not to be confused with The Walking Dead, we don't do zombies!) 


There was a frost when I got up at 6.30am on Sunday although it was gloriously sunny. I took the plants out of the bath, threw a load of washing in the machine and brought mugs of tea back to bed where we lay and read until 8am. I pegged the washing on the line, we had toast for breakfast, left the lads basking and cracked on with the gardening.


After we'd weeded, Jon dug some soil conditioner into the empty bed and planted potatoes and some of the rhubarb we'd picked up on Friday.




On Gardener's World on Friday Monty planted out some sweet peas which reminded me of a clump that grows wild in the garden each year. Jon dug up what he could and transplanted them to the back of the bed with an old gazebo frame for them to (hopefully) grow up.


Meanwhile, I staked our purple sprouting broccoli and harvested some for our tea.




After a break for noodles, Jon had a change around in the greenhouse to accommodate the potting bench we'd bought from Spencer and I planted my Wilko hosta bulbs into pots positioning them by the pond.


Jon planted the rest of the rhubarb into the ex-bamboo patch whilst I dug out the bluebells that had started to engulf the patio bed. I sorted out my patio pots, transplanting some of the contents elsewhere and giving everything a good dousing with water. 







By 4pm we called it a day, packed everything away and adjourned to the shelter for a posh coffee.


Tea was another Higgety pie, courtesy of Tony. Jon got a bit carried away & cooked far too much and I ended up leaving one of the parsnips and nearly all the potatoes.


We're already excited about Line of Duty!

Stay safe & see you soon. 

42 comments:

  1. It’s so lovely that you could get together with everyone after all this time. What a beautiful place Liz lives near, such a nice walk home. We’ve been out in the garden today but had to come back in it was so cold. I’ve managed to emprty the old pond and have started rearranging things plant displays outside the front door. In the meantime Philip is putting up a new washing line as we’ve relocated it for easier access. Get your thermals back out Vix looks like snow is on it’s way xxx

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    1. It was a real treat after almost 16 months! Both the Lizes and Al have elderly parents so they've been super careful and it was lovely to let our hair down together. Shame Al's the baby of the bunch and being in his 40s isn't able to have the vaccine yet.
      It's been wonderful to potter around the garden and make a few changes. My compost bins are annoying me, I think relocating them could be our next task. xxx

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  2. The arboretum looks an amazing outdoor space, how lovely to walk home through it.
    Fingers crossed for your rhubarb - I inherited a really healthy plant when we moved here which is great as I love the stuff. Hoping to get back out in the garden tomorrow sorting out one last area so hope the sun will be shining.

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    1. It's a gorgeous park and I think it's been a bit of a life saver for the many Walsall families who aren't lucky enough to have gardens of their own.
      I love rhubarb, too - this variety is a winter one which means we'll be able to harvest it throughout the cold months next year. xxx

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  3. I'm so glad you were all able to gather together and especially in such a beautiful spot! Best of luck with all your garden endeavors, looks like it's all coming along well. Here's to a great week - cheers! xxx

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  4. tracing family is fun. I started doing it last summer. Locked up, hot and bored? Perfect. I've been using geni.com, it's free and goes way back. Found out The Doctor is related to Edward III.

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    1. Edward III, that's exciting! Thanks for that link, I shall investigate further. I'm very grateful for all the distant relatives who have taken the time to do all their research and share it! xxx

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  5. The area your friends live is already so lush and green. What a nice time to be with friends to celebrate birthdays. Your new garment is beautiful of course.

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    1. It is! Such a shame we've got snow and frost after those three days of heat last week. xxx

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  6. That top looks like it's going to be amazing on you! thanks for the mention :) what are the chances I wonder of visiting the root of its creation and then a few years later a piece of their work wings its way across the globe via good old EBay and falls into your hands! I have a family tree for my dad's side but nothing about my mother so started researching, like you. Your family connection with Guys is special. When the library opens up you should enquire as ours was doing a free weekly 1 hour on Ancestry if you booked and I intend to go back and finish my research when Lockdown ends. Theres a skeleton in the cupboard of every family and I'm determined to find mine!

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    1. Thanks for pointing it out! Funnily enough I managed to find a proper embroidered Rabari tribal kediya a few days later - listed as a "boho blouse" - I can't wait for that to arrive!
      I was surprised at how far I could go back through both Jon's & my trees for free. I've just taken out a month's membership (you can cancel at any time) so I can access the records in more detail. xxx

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  7. A get-together must feel so special now. I'm happy for you.

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  8. the garden party looks gorgeous - so wonderful to meet friends again!
    and you wore THE dress!
    lots of progress in your garden. perennial sweetpeas are such a joy - they will need a time after relocation, but then overgrow the wall and buzzing with butterflys.
    here is frost every night - but the garden has woken up already!
    xxxxx

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    1. The dress had to have an outing and our boots, of course!
      I hope those sweetpeas enjoy thir new location, they tnd to get hidden under the ivy where they grow now. They don't have much of a scent but last for months! xxx

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  9. The Arboretum looks interesting - any chance of a more detailed tour one day? I love visiting arboreta. I never knew Jerome K Jerome was associated with Walsall; I'm a Jerome too and growing up was always being asked 'Any relation?' when I introduced myself to people. Nowadays he must be much more obscure because it hasn't happened for about 20 years... sic transit gloria mundi etc. (No relation, by the way. I've never traced my family tree but I know that much!). Your research is very impressive. I always got the impression that the paid for genealogy sites simply gathered up information already available into one handy, easily searched place, rather than actually offering anything not in the public domain for anyone to find it they're willing to put in the time and effort. Also I know several people for whom travelling to obscure villages, searching for gravestones and consulting parish registers is most of the fun of tracing their ancestry. Do you think you'll be able to go any further back?
    If you're after some more TV options, did you ever watch Between The Lines back in the day? BBC4 are reshowing this on Sunday night and it's well worth a look. It's very late 80s and the language is often pure Sweeney but it's also darkly humorous and treads some fine moral lines when looking at the behaviour of the police. At the time it was made it was considered quite shocking. I loved it at the time and think it still stands up as well as its protagonists' shoulder pads.

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    1. Ho Fifitr! How interesting that you're a Jerome. I was amazed by how far back I could go on Ancestry for free although I've just taken out a month's membership as I was keen to discover more about WWI records and uploaded photos, family crests and shared snippets of information.Now we've discovered that a branch of Jon's family hail from The Cotswolds it's the perfect excuse to have a drive about and look at old cemetaries.Every time I check the site it sems that someone else has added more information. It's quite addictive. I was just happy to finally learn the names of my grandparents, my Dad never knew!
      I haven't watched Between The Lines. Thanks do much for that, it sounds right up my street. xxx

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  10. Hello Vix, your friend's shelter looks amazing with that twisty climbing plant (do you know what it is?). The curry looks pretty good too! How lovely to be sat out in the garden with friends and a bevvy. I found researching the family tree to be hugely addictive and paid for a short 3 month detailed access. Annoyingly it ran out just as I found out something really interesting and my research took me overseas... to be continued at some point. So nice of Betty to think of you when she spotted the Kutch top. Enjoy your broccoli, looks yummy. Lulu xXx

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    1. Isn't the shelter wonderful? It used to house an enormous Koi tank which they inherited from the previous owners, the remaining fish have been moved into a smaller tank and Adrian's used to the wood to make an enclosed sit-out space. I think the plant is ivy but they weren't sure. I suggested introducing a grapevine, they're really cheap in Wilko!
      xxx

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  11. I love the kediya - fabulous.
    Thanks for keeping on posting, you're a real comfort in lockdown. Norma x

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    1. Thanks, Norma! lovely to hear from you! x

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  12. My Dad did our family tree a few years before he died and managed to get back quite a few generations and unearth some old family secrets, but I haven't any great claim to fame like you being descended from Mr Guy. It was interesting though.

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    1. Even the most mundane of lives are interesting, aren't they? My Dad's side of the family are coal miners, I've found the colliery report of an accident my great grandfather was involved with that led to his death from blood poisoning in his 40s. Very grim! xxx

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  14. A thousand thanks for providing the link to your 2018 expedition to Gujarat! That exquisite Kutch jacket is good karma coming to your wardrobe. * So, too, the serendipity of two friends' birthdays coinciding with the relaxation of Covid rules. What a splendid setting for your celebratory feast! (And on the subject of friends and food -- what is a Higgety pie?)

    Your family tree is as impressive as your garden projects, Vix. I've just encountered my great-great-grandmother while researching an article for our local museum. An odd name popped up, two more links were tapped, and lo! there she was: her surname was the given name of her grandson/my great-uncle (famous in family lore as the WWI vet who transferred his skills as a machine-gunner to the bow of a rum-runner during Prohibition). One does find rare specimens of wildlife perched in family trees...

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    1. I've been seeking solace in my travel posts recently as it looks like international travel will remain a distanct dream for a while yet!
      We'ren't LIZ & Adrian lucky to have birthdays on the same day that BoJo relaxed the rules and allowed up to six people to meet outside? The best present ever!
      I've no idea what Higgety might mean but it's an indie brand of homecrafted pies available in a couple of UK supermarkets. I had the coconut and chickpea curry one on Sunday and it was delicious.
      How exciting to find a great-grandmother and the original owner of your great-uncle's name. He sounds like quite the adventurer! xxx

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  15. How wonderful you can trace your ancestry back so far! I believe Ancestry UK opened up their resources for the Easter weekend for free; I'll be checking it out later although I do have a monthly basic subscription.

    The kediyah is beautiful and I am amazed at you meeting the owner of the block printing business. The kediyah was clearly meant for you.

    You have been busy in your garden but hasn't the weather been strange? We had snow this morning! It must have been lovely to meet up with your friends again and you all look very pleased.

    We didn't care for 'Thou Shalt Not Kill' either and only watched one episode. We tried 'Dead Beautiful' featuring Thierry Godard of Spiral fame but only watched two episodes. No 'Unforgotten' tonight but I did read online they are making a new series with a new partner for Sunny.
    xxx



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    1. It's so exciting! I was amazed at how far I could get back but decided to take out a month's subscription so I could look at other records in a little more detail.
      I was thrilled with that kediya - I could only afford a scarf when we visited the workshop and Jon lost his at Mumbai airport last year!
      It's been so cold here over the last few days, it looks like sheepskins and mittens might be the order of the day when we go out later!
      We endured Dead Beautiful a couple of years ago, it wasn't great! xxx

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  16. How fascinating that you're investigating your paternal family tree, and have already traced the family back to 1619. I know next to nothing about my Mum's family, but someone in my paternal grandfather's extensive family has done their side. I have a copy somewhere, and must track it down to see how far back they got.
    The block printed kediya looks amazing, and what a small world it is that you met Dr Ismail Mohammed Khatri.
    Your get-together with your friends must have been wonderful, and I love the "Arbo" Liz and Adrian's house backs on to.
    Hasn't the weather been perfect for gardening? We have now been plunged back in Winter unfortunately, it has been snowing on and off all day! xxx P.S. Jos finally got news about his vaccine and will get his first jab on the 17th. Hallelujah!

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    1. Yay! I'm so happy to hear that Jos has his jab booked, I bet you both are as well!
      I'm amazed at how straightforward it's been to get so far back with the family tree on both Jon & I's sides especially as both our paternal grandparents were Victorians and their children weren't expected to know thie Christian names or dates of birth.
      It's been a wonderful week of glorious weather and meeting up with friends and, the icing on the cake, that kediya that reminds me of a fabulous holiday (i wonder if we'll get one this year?)
      I'm so keen to get out in the garden but the intermittent snow isn't condusive to being outside. xxx

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  17. It is a small world, isn't it? That block print kediya (jacket) looks amazing. The photos of you gardening are fab. It's great that the weather permits us to do more these days. So great you were able to get together with your friends. I bet it feels nice after all this time. Aren't your cats adorable soaking in the sun? They know what is good for them, don't they?

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    1. It really is! Hardly any tourists visit the Kutch region so the chances of anything turning up on UK eBay are pretty remote.
      Our cats love the sun, just like me! xxx

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  18. OMG, isn't it good to see our friends?? As you know, we also had a small gathering this past weekend (we were raising a glass of cheer to all our friends, and I include you!). It hasn't been as long since we've seen our friends, but we are grateful nonetheless.

    That is a gorgeous lake(?) and boathouse. I love seeing the lads in the sun - Vizzini has turned into Liquid Cat and has been sleeping on "his" chair on the deck non-stop. He's gotten very spoiled by having the deck door open a crack and gave me a few stern words this morning for closing it overnight. Oh, excuse me!

    Your new top is amazing! How will you wear it? I can't wait to see!

    Lovely work on the garden, it is just amazing the transformation you've done!

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    1. It's been wonderful to see our friends and funnily enough we raised a glass to friends far and wide, too!
      I love how liquid-like and slothful cats are in the heat, squeezing into the tiniest sunspots and purring like mad. The cold makes ours mad, they've been spitting, slapping and chasing each other & Kitty since 6am this morning! xxx

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  19. So interesting that you could investigate and find most of your ancestors until such a distant date. Nowadays, the internet is making this information more accessible, so you can avoid the tedious task of asking for it to Registry office and stuff. Really interesting!
    I'm happy to know about this body moisturizer by Lush, they make really great products that last for ages!. Thanks for this!
    Lovely that you got this amazing piece and even more amazing that you even met the maker, this makes a difference!
    Also lovely to see you meeting with friends and having a lot of fun. This is something all we have been missing!.
    And I'm admiring all the hard work you're doing in your garden, love that some vegetables are already being consumed!. Wish you a great harvest and lots of delightful flowers to enjoy too!
    besos

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    1. I can't believe how easy it was to find so much information about our families in such a short space of time. It's really exciting to see all the different places our ancestors hailed from, too although I'd love somewhere more exotic.
      That moisturiser is so good, highly recommended! xxx

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  20. LOOK AT THOSE YORKSHIRE PUDDINGS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I haven't eaten those in such an age!!!
    What a nice treat to be able to eat curry with your friends! I'd choose the Dhal over the chicken dish- yum!
    You are doing wonders to your garden! I can't wait to see it grow and well done on the Broccoli!
    The Kediya is pretty cool! x

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    1. Morrisons can take all the credit for those Yorkshires and they're lovely! xxx

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  21. And just what is a "higgety pie"? Inquiring minds want to know! I've been very interested in your ancestry searching experience. It is inspiring me to want to do some research into my own. Unfortunately, all my grandparents died many years ago, and the one great uncle of mine who made himself responsible for maintaining a family tree of my Mother's side of the family didn't pass on any of his information to my mother. I would have to join an ancestry search website.

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    1. I didn't even know the names of my dad's parents yet managed to get back to the 1500s just using the free resources on Ancestry.Com. I've now taken out a month's membership so I can view more records. It's utterly fascinating! x

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  22. Aaaah it must be so nice to see friends! And that gazebo is really lovely.

    We've got ridiculously far back on some parts of our family tree but can't get far at all with the McDonalds - Irish genealogy can be sticky, and the Burmese angle's absolutely impossible. Sounds like you're doing really well with both sides of yours.

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Thank you for leaving a comment. If you have a blog I'll pop over and return the favour.

Lots of love, Vix