Grandma – an update

This re-post is a request from cousin Maurice in Australia.

gran-henton-A while back I was looking through some old family photographs when I found one of my old Grannie Henton. She was a great character, a “wise old owl” as someone once described her. She was loved and revered by all the family.

She was born in 1889 and died in 1962. A sad loss that affected all the family. Members of our extended family in France and even from Australia came over especially for the funeral. It was on of the biggest funeral and wakes I have ever seen. Gran had no time for organised religion like Christianity, she was a Quaker (a member of the Religious Society of Friends, who reject sacraments, ritual, and formal ministry).

She used to say and do the strangest things at times. Whenever she visited me, or any of the family homes, before entering she would draw an imaginary line across the threshold with her cane and say,

“With this cane I draw the bound,
all malice and bane I thus confound”

Her walking cane always had a fresh flowers or bunch of herbs tied to it. One of her favourite sayings was:

“When I die, please do not cry,
For I will leave you riches,
A knife, a fork, a cabbage stalk
And a pair of mouldy breeches”

Another one was:
(please excuse the Anglo-Saxon word!)

“Farting is such merrie fun,
It giveth great delight,
It cheers thee in the daytime,
And keeps thee warm at night”


“Where ‘ere thee be, let the wind go free,
For t’was the wind that killeth me”
. Probably was!

I can’t remember many more and I wish now that I had written them down at the time.

When we visited the farmhouse for a meal she would always recite this “grace” before we ate:

“We wish that all people everywhere will have food to eat, water to drink and friends to meet. May the spirit of God be at this table and in the hearts of all those we know and love”.

We all missed her when she died because she was the the matriarch, and kept all the family together and sorted out any differences that cropped up, as they do in a large family group from time to time. Now 53 years on what was a united family unit has gone, every one has drifted away because of silly arguments and other unpleasant situations. I have lost contact with cousins and their siblings, and even my own sister has become a stranger now.

My Gran lies in Twycross Church graveyard next to Grandad, three of my aunts, two uncles and a cousin who died young. Every year at this time I buy eight red roses and place one on each grave. All the graves are in a row under a big tree, and they don’t have any headstones or memorial.

Perhaps it’s a good thing that Gran can’t see what has happened to the family she was so proud of once.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Bits and Bobs

Unidentifed-bird-lrgIn one of their programmes the BBC highlighted the increasing number of bicycles being stolen every day in this country. In this shot a bike has been chained to a lamppost as bait. What any potential thief doesn’t know is that a tracking device using GPS has been concealed under the seat and the bike is under constant surveillance by a hidden camera. All very well, but what I found amusing was the fact that when a blackbird walked into shot and wandered about looking for crumbs, the BBC blurred out it’s head so that it couldn’t be identified, according to their policy of protecting the innocents identity. I can understand them blurring out peoples faces, car number plates and house numbers and names, but a bird? I don’t know about you but all blackbirds and Chinese people look the same to me, blurred or not! Daft I call it. . . .

wooferI have an ornament of a German Shepherd dog, which was originally an engagement present to my parents, and it must be at least 80 years old and I give it pride of place on a small table by my favourite chair.
 One day last week Dinky the cat ran into the room at high speed and jumped onto the table and knocked the dog off. The front paws were broken and an ear chipped, the dog imean, not the cat. She did get her head wet though, because I grabbed her and put her head under the cold water tap for a few seconds to emphasise the fact I wasn’t happy.
 Now she has strict orders that she must take the dogs place on the table from 8am to 4pm every day and if I ever get any visitors. Otherwise, no special treats like food, water or the use of a litter tray! When the dog has been repaired by a ceramics expert I know, and glued(?) to the table she will be forgiven.

new ornament
Here is a shot of my new realistic cat ornament. What do you think?

ingredientsI’m preparing a little snack for supper. This is very popular in Italy, mainly because it takes only little time to prepare. Look carefully at the ingredients and see if you can guess what it’s called. The first person to give me the right answer wins a night out with me at Jim’s Cafe for a “Truckers Dinner”, (2 eggs very well done, 4 rashers of burnt bacon, big dollop of beans or tomatoes, over-cooked fried bread, black pudding and greasy chips, all cooked in lashings of lard) Yummy! What could be better?

Posted in cat-astrophic, Cookery | 5 Comments

Let there be light. . . . .

candle-animated1 (1)“LED lighting has its place: cold, detached, hollow places like office buildings, factories, fast food chains and public schools – places full of humans but no human emotions. LED lighting really belongs in the apathy of the digital age, where science and technology rules over friendship, love and freedom.

Incandescent light bulbs have a warm yellow-orange glow like the glow of a nice fireplace, where friends and family might sit and talk together or where children might open Christmas presents, a glow that can project celluloid films and bring back old memories, a glow that can light the text of a paperback novel. Something that beautiful, with that much power, could never last very long in a time as depressing and uncertain as the 21st century.”
Rebecca McNutt

My thoughts exactly. I can recommend her books, as the website says “Goodreads”

Posted in Big Brother obsession, Good Old days, Lamps | 5 Comments

Not a lot of people know this

header-022 copy

Some of you may be wondering why I use the name Pontillius in my emails and on my other pages, and some of you probably couldn’t care less. In that case just skip this post.

Many years ago, when I was in the “being silly” part of my life, 1997, (60 yrs young) and looking for something unusual to do, I joined the Roman Army. Bungee Jumping was not available then, pity really.

When I say the Roman Army, I don’t mean the real one, this one was just a re-enactment group, where we all dressed in armour and marched about a bit to amuse the tourists from the American colonies, and others of course.


After about two years I had enough of the marching about a bit so I resigned and hung my sword up. Believe me the lorica segmentata (body armour) was very heavy, and damned uncomfortable on a hot summers day.

The real Pontillus Antonius was a Tribune in the Legio XX, and by all accounts was a formidable opponent if you got in his way; according to my book of The History of Roman Britain.

A few years ago I bought an Acer Chromebook, a small notebook computer, and found out that to use it to it’s full potential one had to get ones self a Gmail account in order to sign in and use it. I think I spent a whole day trying every combination of my name, Keith Smith, I could think of, even Smithy.KR, Smiggy, Smiff.KR, etc., only to be met by “Sorry, that name is taken” every time.

Then I thought why not use my re-enactment legionnaires name which I had changed slightly to protect the guilty, by adding an “i” into Pontillius. I reversed the name and typed in “antonius.pontillius [at]” and it worked! “That name is available”.

So now you can stop wondering. . . .

Posted in What have the Romans ever done for us? | 6 Comments

Cook-in Day

quicheandsaladI was planning on mowing the lawn today and doing various other outdoor jobs that urgently needed doing. The sun was shining (a rarity here) so I went out and was immediately hit by an icy wind and I thought “Maybe not!” and scurried back into the house and spent the day baking bread and making some cakes.

I made some “Mini Spanish Omelettes in Pastry” to freeze as snacks at a later date. I kept one back to have with a ploughmans lunch/salad.

                  Clic the Pics to embiggen.

breadandtomatoI made several baguettes from the recipe on this site. I had never tried this method before, but it all worked out OK (see right pic), and the bread was delicious, as the man said, due to the large amount of yeast used. Most importantly, stick to the measurements and method exactly!

I also made a tomato and onion salad, a favourite starter of mine. The salad is prepared with a good dollop of French Vinaigrette, then fresh chives, parsley and basil sprinkled over it. Cover with cling film and put it in the fridge for two days to marinate.

Posted in Bread, Cookery, Food, Herbs | 4 Comments

Marriage Chess

Chess_set Marriage is like a game of chess, except the board is flowing water, the pieces are made of smoke and no move you make will have any effect on the outcome.

Being a good husband is like being a good stand-up comic – you need ten years before you can even call yourself a beginner.

Jerry Seinfeld

Posted in Just saying. . . . | 3 Comments

Don’t Panic, Mr Mainwaring!



This means that a terrorist attack is highly likely.

Oh, my God! We’re all doomed! Run for the hills. . . . . .

Posted in The truth | 6 Comments

Healthy Food for Kids

I’ve always keen a keen supporter of healthy diets for school lunches. Jamie Oliver, the well known TV chef, tried to change to way food was served in schools by forcing the little brats to eat things like high-quality meat, poultry or oily fish, fruit and vegetables, bread, potatoes and other cereals, instead of deep-fried battered or breaded food such as Chicken Twizzlers, Pizzas and fatty Burgers which the kids love.

They had to drink water or milk with their food instead of drinks with plenty of added sugar. Terrible!. They were even denied crisps, chocolate or sweets in school meals and vending machines. Instead the vending machines were filled with apples, oranges and other such unappetising horrors!

Well, I’m pleased to say that some school authorities can now buy healthy foodstuffs from specially set up farms that will satisfy the snotty-nosed school kids and the authorities that they are providing a well balanced diet.

Watch the video to see the type of farms that are now being set up across America and Britain.

Posted in Cookery, Education, Just kidding | 4 Comments

Oh dear.

Today I had to go to the doctors for the surgery nurse to change the dressing on my poorly leg.

The waiting room was fairly crowded. I sat down opposite a youth, or young man of about 17 or 18 yrs, and picked up a magazine (I think it was “The Arc Welders Weekly”) and lost myself in the riveting articles contained therein. Every time I looked up from it I noticed the young fella was staring at me, and after a while I said “Excuse me, but do I know you?” (In other words ‘who the hell are you?’).

“You bear a remarkable resemblance to my Grandmas brother, I’ve never met him, but she has a picture of both of them at a wedding a few years ago” he said.

“What is your Grans name?” I asked. “Sandra”, he replied. Now that is my sisters name, and I never knew she had a grown up grandson. She and my brother-in-law distanced themselves from me many years ago for reasons known only to them. In fact the last time I saw her was at that wedding of another distant cousin.

“Really? Can’t say the names familiar” I said. “So you are not uncle Keith then?” he asked. He sounded a bit disappointed, after thinking he had found a long lost relation. I asked him for his Grans surname and he replied “Mitchell” (her married name)so then I knew he was my great nephew. Now I’m not of a mind to get involved with that side of the family again. So I said “Sorry, afraid you’ve got the wrong person”, and went back to reading the magazine.

A few minutes later the sign in the waiting room lit up with a loud “Peeep” to attract attention, “Will Mr Keith Smith please go to room 9″ . . . . .Ooops! I forgot about that gadget.

In case you are wondering, when I left I went out by another exit.

Posted in Family, Unbelievable | 7 Comments

Fathers Day? Bah! Humbug!

Last Sunday was Father’s Day when one’s children pay show respect to their Dad; usually by a personal visit and sending a sloppy card to “The Worlds Best Dad” or something along those lines.

I did not get a visitation, card, phone call, text or email from my daughter. In fact by evening I was getting really worried because I thought something had happened to prevent her contacting me. I managed to reach her eventually by phone and told her of my concern, to which she got quite irritated and told me in no uncertain terms that she is holding down two jobs and just hadn’t had time to contact me.

Now I don’t give a pig’s bum about “Fathers Day”. To me it’s just another way for big business to make a quick buck selling crappy cards and presents. If she had told me in advance that she was not intending to do anything special for that day, I would have accepted that and slept easier knowing she was alright.

Today I did a little research on the net to find out if this was a general thing, or did it just happen to me?

Here are some of things I found out, which shocked me I must admit.

Half a million lonely old men are paying the price of the divorce boom.

Half a million elderly men lead lonely lives with no friends and no contact from their families,

One person in five with an elderly father is no longer in touch with him.

One in four claims to be too busy to maintain contact.

Divorce and family break-up has left millions of men without ties to their children and with few or no family links, said the charity “Help the Aged”.

Retirement deprives many of the company of work colleagues and others are left alone by bereavement or their own poor health. Daily Mail.

Half a million elderly men live lonely lives, with no support from the family.

Of the million elderly men who live alone, half have no human contact and many feel trapped inside their homes.

Amy Swan of Help the Aged said: ‘We are seeing the first real wave of the “divorce generation” hitting retirement, ‘As fathers were typically the parents who did not win custody of the children, many are entering later life with strained family ties. ‘Today, around half the number of older men living alone are experiencing some form of loneliness or isolation.’

The number of divorces tripled in the early 1990’s after the liberal reforms of 1969 made ‘quickie’ decrees available for the first time and removed the question of fault in many cases.

Men who divorced in the early 1990’s and many have lost all contact with children who would otherwise be close to them.

While divorce rates remain high the effects of the growth of cohabitation and rapid family break-up from the 1980s are now beginning to have an impact on the lives of men who have grown old.

A survey of 2,000 respondents carried out for the charity and the Zurich Community Trust by ICM Research said one in five adults felt guilty at not seeing an elderly father more often, half would like to have more contact with their father and two in five live too far away to see him regularly.

Two in five, the survey found, did not intend visiting ageing fathers last Sunday, Father’s Day.

flowers-fakeSo there you have it, at least I’m not alone (pun intended) in my loneliness.

To end on a brighter note, I did however get an artificial flower display and card from my “adopted” daughter, Wendy, in Cardiff on Saturday. That’s two this year, the last one was for my Birthday.

Posted in Family, Getting old | 6 Comments