Walking in the World


Great Socks of Love


Candy corn is a contentious subject- you love it or you hate it, and rarely is anyone happy to agree to disagree. I love it, a fondness I owe to my dad – or so the story goes. As I have told you on past Halloweens, after the trick-or-treaters have gone home I make an effort to celebrate the sacred nature of Samhain by setting up a small altar to honour my ancestors. They say the veil is thinnest on this night, and I want them to know they are welcome in my home and my life, to know that I recognize my lineage and the roles they have played in shaping who I have become in this lifetime. Usually, I put out a few kernels of candy corn and some roasted cashews for my father, a glass of red wine for my mother, and a small assortment of little items that connect me to others who have passed on before me.


This year I have no little stash of candy corn to draw from – and it’s one of those things I just can’t buy over here. I do, however, have a new version that is calorie and contention free: candy corn socks!


Stitched by a knitterly BFF who knows my story and traditions, they will accompany me through the rest of my Halloweens, bridging old family with new, weaving them together with love and creativity. Candy corn socks…. who knew?


31 Oct 2016

The Church on the Hill

St Peter's Thundersley

St. Peter’s Church in Thundersley always looks disappointingly modern to me, but it is actually quite old and definitely stands on ground that has been holy since ancient times. The original church, dedicated to St. Michael, was built in 1120, but burned down less than a century later, in 1209. A new church erected on the site was completed in 1230, and was dedicated to St. Peter. The current weather vane bears the figures of both saints.

The tower was added later, in 1588, to contain the bell that was given to St. Peter’s to commemorate the English victory over the Spanish Armada. And inside the chancel hangs a helmet that supposedly belonged to King Henry VII who was the Lord of the Manor of Thundersley. The church is, indeed, both old and historic!


The modern (20th century) addition came about when the original 13th century building became too small for the increasing population as Thundersley village expanded.

This week, our local church became personal. While cleaning out Jeff’s mum’s house last month, we found an old plaque that had been presented to the Saward family in remembrance of their soldier son who was killed in Flanders in January 1918. That was news to all of us, having never even heard the name of Bert Louis Saward mentioned. Apparently Jeff’s grandfather Ernest (who used to live across the road from where we now live) had an older brother, whose story we are now beginning to piece together.


Jeff and I walked up to St Peter’s this week to locate the WWI memorial plaque that lists Jeff’s ancestor, public proof of his existence and a private connection to a time and place we hadn’t really considered before. We stood in silence, thinking of a young man with our surname, who died in Flanders in the hell of war, oh so many years ago.

We are holding the thread of his life in our psyches now; our interest has been piqued and our imaginations stirred. I think genealogy does that. As one clue leads to another, a picture emerges and a story unfolds. We will be going to France in search of Bert’s grave at some point, but for now that little corner of a very old village church holds an important piece of a personal history.

16 Jan 2016

The End of an Era


Sixty years ago, Audrey and Peter fell in love and began to build a new house together on land that was already in Peter’s family. When the house was finished, they got married, moved in, and subsequently raised their family in the home they christened St. Cloud. Jeff is their oldest child, and we live across the street from that cosy little house.


But time moves on, and Audrey has been living on her own since Peter died twenty years ago. I’ve loved having her as a neighbour as well as a mother-in-law. Over the past year, we’ve become increasingly concerned about her living on her own, despite our being so close. Two months ago, Jeff and his sister, Gill, helped their mother to make new plans, and today Audrey moved out of her house and into a newly remodeled suite in Gill’s home — not far away as the crow flies, but no longer on the street that she has called her own for six decades.

My heart is really full as I watch this transition play out. I already miss her, even though I’m sure she’ll be both happier and safer living as part of a family again. Her moving has also brought old neighbours out of their busy lives to spend a few minutes reconnecting and reminiscing. It’s been a day of memories and community, the end of an era – none of us on Thundersley Grove can remember a time when Audrey didn’t live at #58.


22 Dec 2015



Beachcombing runs in the Saward family. While I walked along the seawall this morning, Jeff and our granddaughter, Lucy, shuffled along at the edge of the water, looking for (and finding) shells and fossils. From my vantage point, I could enjoy watching the similarity of these two souls as they moved in total sync with each other.



11 Oct 2015

Barbecue Weather


No matter where you are in the world. there’s nothing quite like a Saturday barbecue with good friends. The long hours of daylight here at 51° North make for some lovely summer evenings, though I must say it got a little too hard to wait until dark to set off the birthday fireworks.

19 Jul 2015

Birthday Treats


The rains that were predicted for the weekend never really materialized, so yesterday afternoon we admired the flowers and gardens that are growing and changing day by day as we walked through the village en route to a Very Special Birthday Party.


My friend Jasper turned 2 years old and he celebrated by throwing a party for his family and friends. I’m pleased to report that not only does he chow down on ribs (and red peppers) like a pro, but he has already mastered the word NO, which officially admits him into the Terrible Twos — and oh, golly, he’s heart-meltingly cute! Jasper also proved his mettle with sustained and ongoing dinosaur roars with which he entertained his guests while his parents plied us with fine eats, including these amazing Oreo cupcakes (including a batch made without gluten for me)!

Oreo cupcakes

Aren’t birthdays grand? Happy Birthday, Jasper!

10 May 2015

Tracking the Gruffalo

We started this year as we mean to go on…. with a walk into the wild!

With our granddaughter in hand, and accompanied by some intrepid adventurers, we set off in search of the mythical Gruffalo, determined to follow his tracks and catch a glimpse in the deep, dark woods of Essex, where even the trees have a curious look, as if they could amble off at amble of at any moment.

Gruffalo Tree

We grappled with the local wildlife and discussed the possible benefits of eating roasted fox


or scrambled snake


We poked our noses into ravines and huts
(and one of our party bravely volunteered to investigate every single mud puddle on the path)


Until we finally found our Gruffalo!
And he was as friendly as can be…


And so was his child!


What? You’ve never heard of a Gruffalo?


01 Jan 2015

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