Personal blogging

Writing a blog can be cathartic

Today, Tuesday 21st August, my darling dad, known to the family as Pa, was cremated and we were not there to see him off.

Pa (94) had advanced Alzheimer’s, died peacefully in his sleep on Sunday 12th in Guernsey. I really lost him over a year ago when he didn’t know who I was anymore.

He was not religious and didn’t believe in an after life “When you are dead, you are dead, you can put my body in the dustbin”. For me I always found that concept difficult but had to accept and respect we have different ways of looking at death. Before horrible Alzheimer’s claimed him, he said when he died he wanted a memorial service only.

Why were we not at his cremation?

No family or friends live in Guernsey and we all agreed rather than fly to Guernsey for a cremation service only to bring his ashes back to the UK, it would be more sensible to have a Direct Cremation and then repatriate his ashes for a Memorial service. Anyway my eldest daughter is on crutches with her leg in a boot from knee to ankle and my brother has broken his wrist and is in plaster which would have made it all the more difficult!

A Direct cremation

“A direct cremation, is for those who would prefer a simpler choice for their funeral. It’s different to a traditional funeral as there is no funeral service and no one present at the cremation. It’s for those, who for lots of reasons, prefer not to have a funeral service. This option of a simple, straightforward cremation is now being chosen by a growing number of people”.

I don’t regret that decision but this morning I sat and cried because my lovely Pa was going into a large incinerator without any family goodbyes. My Mum died last year and before her death I could never come to terms with burial versus cremation. Mum was adamant to be buried and surprisingly I found the idea of being buried easier to cope with. She now has a headstone and plants on her grave. Although her spirit left her body, I have somewhere to go to talk to her.

Getting the ashes back to England is not easy. The undertakers in Guernsey had originally said they would post them to a local funeral director. Although it would have been in a sealed container, we laughed at the vision of him arriving in a Jiffy bag. However Royal Mail, for insurance reasons, no longer accept human remains, so we have to arrange for a courier.

In his Will Pa requested, much to our surprise, that his ashes be scattered at sea. This is an interesting event to arrange. Whilst not exactly a scattering, there are water urns.

Water urns

Biodegradable urns when placed in water will float briefly and then gracefully sink to the bottom, where they break down naturally over time. This prevents blow back.

A work colleague of mine scattered a relatives ashes on a lake and everything blew back in their faces, they couldn’t decide whether to laugh or cry.

Did you know there are companies that hire out boats for the purpose of scattering ashes at sea? They will take a small party out, in our case this would be in The Solent (Pa grew up in Southampton, so that seems appropriate), it will moor so we can say our goodbyes with promise messages.

Promise messages

The notepaper which will completely dissolve in water, you write your wish, thoughts, or promises and then cast it into the water with the ashes.

Pa was always a ‘party man’ and lived the good life to the full, so he would totally endorse us hiring a company who also provided champagne and M&S sandwiches afterwards. Obviously, this will have to be done when family members have their various limbs out of plaster.

Rest in Peace my darling Pa, I will miss you so much.

As for me? Each life event has a stress level number. With Mum dying last year, retiring from work at the end of January, moving into a new area at the end of April, missing close friends and my garden and now Pa dying, my level is extremely high and I am really struggling. However, there is always light at the end of the tunnel and I will get there eventually. Writing this has helped.

allotment, Garden blogging, Garden Meme, Six on Saturday

Six on Saturday – 4 August 2018

My Six on Saturday is an allotment update.  The ground is like concrete, I am going daily for about an hour to water and ‘stock take’.  There is little else to do, so I am appeasing myself that I am building up a tan and tightening my biceps carrying heavy watering cans from the trough to the plot.

First an apology I have broken rule 7 of Six on Saturday:

Not too much verbiage. ….it’s easily done, but since there are Six things, and a growing number of Six posts to read in a typical week, consider being a little frugal with the wordcount.

1. Protecting sweetcorn husks

53FDD0D5-C284-4534-9FF4-B6E9E46E5F11The sweetcorn (Northern Extra Sweet) is coming along a treat, despite the strong winds last Sunday.  I have staked them and built up the soil around the base of each plant – there are only 8.   I read that night visiting animals have a panchant for ripe sweetcorn and it’s recommended to protect the husks with large plastic bottles until ready to pick.  Now, I’m not sure if this was a wise thing to do.  I have carefully punched holes in the top so they don’t sweat.  Any thoughts on this?

2. Pumpkin update

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I planted 3 pumpkin plants and have 3 pumpkins,  there is an abundance of female flowers but no more male ones,  I wonder if that is the norm, I don’t needs lots anyway.   The one with the yellow bottom I can’t stand up because the stem is too short, the one at the bottom right of the photo is now on its end so with a bit of luck it will become round in shape.  I’m seeing a lot of posts on FB allotment group pages of pumpkins splitting so fingers crossed mine will be ok.

3. Cauliflower protection 

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This is allotment life on a shoestring.   I had a freebie packet of cauliflower seeds so for a bit of fun I sowed them in pots.  Only 2 came good and because the ground was so hard when they were ready to plant out I put them in a doubled up growbag.  Someone told me an elderly gentlemen on her allotment said they thrive on solid ground, he compacts the soil with a roller and drills thin holes for his plants.  She said his cauliflowers and cabbages are the envy of their plots!   Anyway – my homemade cage.  Despite putting collars around my two precious plants they are still swarming with whitefly.  Rather than buy a cage, or netting, I found an old net curtain I was about to throw away and made my own cage.  It’s a bit rickety but I am hoping it will do the job.

4. Blackberry heaven 

When I took the plot over a number of folks told me that the blackberries were always fabulous and they were not wrong.  Last week I picked a punnet full and decided to make blackberry gin.   There are so many recipes on the Internet but all are roughly the same, however, they vary in the time that the gin is ready from 2 weeks to 3 months and I’m  not sure why or if it matters.  I’m going for 2 weeks in time for my daughter’s birthday.

Ingredients

250g Blackberries

70cl Gin

100g Sugar

Method

1. Put the blackberries in to a 1 litre sterilised bottle or jar

2. Add the sugar

3. Top up with the gin

4. Shake well

5. Store in a dark cupboard and leave for a maximum of three months, shaking the bottle every week or so.

This recipe is courtesy of NicholasJon.

5.  Apples galore

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The little apple tree on my plot would appear to be some type of Pippin.  They are still very small and it could be due to the lack of water. I understand they are usually ready in September so we shall have to wait for a taster session then.   I’ve seen recipes for spiced apple gin 😄😄, so much better than eating every apple from the tree.

6. Baby strawberry plants

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I am wondering if I would do better to put these little strawberry runners into individual pots rather than a new bed.  Any advice please?

If you’ve been a great reader (thank you) and got to the bottom of this post, please now pop over to The Propagator Blog who hosts this weekly meme and has lots of contributors it’s always great to peer over the fence at other peoples gardens.