Author

Gill Griffin

Iden

GRAND DESIGNS: This week we drove to Dymchurch to see the sea, and as always, I looked at the countryside with a different pair of eyes. Every view was like a painting. The catkins are nearly over, giving the pussy willow a chance for centre stage. I remember thinking that nothing could be better than this. Our surrounding countryside is gentle and ethereal isn’t it? It never ceases to amaze me how plants never forget to flower, and lush foliage sneaks up on us, like the Witches in Macbeth. There is no time quite as pretty as blossom time. Nature isn’t half as fickle as humans. Even though its timings may be a bit off lately, it never lets us down. Mind you, I’m not sure we’ll have any daffodils left for Easter. I’ve always loved Gorse. It is prickly, stand-offish stuff, but when there’s little else, it gives nice pleasing patches of yellow. I used to try and pick a bit for my mum, but you don’t mess with Gorse. I always think that Surrey, Kent and Sussex have a dainty countryside. Counties are as different as chalk and cheese. Entering a different county is like going through the door of a different house with entirely different décor, but I like our little diddy fields and verges, because they’re quaint without being too presumptuous. If I do ever get to heaven [and that’s very debatable], I wish I could take our countryside with me. But who knows, maybe it’s already there waiting!

Village Voice
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Iden

THE PARISH COUNCIL MEETING: Iden Parish Council met on Tuesday 5th March , in Iden Village Hall, for a normal meeting followed by the A.G.M. Chairman Ray Griffin opened the meeting by announcing the death of James Ramus, a very popular Iden resident, a farmer, and an Olympic sailor, who will be much missed by his wife Joy, and family. Phillip Allard has joined the council, and was warmly welcomed. Councillor Michael Miller said how nice the beech hedge around the War Memorial is looking. Markers are to be placed around the ditch in the playing field car park, as some people have driven into it The gate from the car park to the church is to be reconstructed to make for easier opening.The finger posts in Iden are all back and looking good. The Iden Fete this year will consist mainly of a boot fair, plus burgers and bacon rolls on the burger stall, and teas and coffees in the pavilion. Villagers are urged to buy Grand Draw tickets early, before the fete if possible, to ensure entry to the draw. The fete is still under discussion. Meetings are still in progress. Local and Parish elections are imminent. The next Parish Council meeting is in Iden Village Hall, at 7.30pm on April 2nd.

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Iden

OUR BUDDIES: Iden is well and truly in bud isn’t it? The daffodils are not in a hurry to come out, but their buds are everywhere heralding approaching spring. For so long, deciduous trees have reached out towards to a grey sky with claw-like branches, but now there are tentative signs of buds. The odd tree is becoming covered in blossom. The daffodil family, like all families are all different, from the baby tete-a-tetes to the big blooms like yellow trumpets. Some are white with orange centres, some a pale wan-looking yellow as though a month’s worth of iron medicine is needed [the sickly one of the family like Beth in Little Women.] Jonquils and narcissus, the members of the family who dare to be different. Wild daffodils, small, delicate, yet wayward, growing where they darn well please, clumps of them in woodland [the good time gals, out dancing till all hours.] Somehow, I see daffodils as a family of girls borrowing each- other’s clothes and lipsticks, all out to create a stunning look. They are too feminine and coquettish to be male. Iden is awash with them [that fiendish planting a couple of years ago was a great idea.] They light up the village don’t they, and for the short while they are here, we treasure them!

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WHAT’s HAPPENED TO ALL THE COWBOYS?: I love a good western, but the last good one I saw was ‘Open Range’ with Kevin Costner and Robert Duvall. In spite of all its shoot-outs, and cowboys lining the bar drinking whiskey shots at the rate of knots, there is a gentle charm about old cowboy films. People gathered with prairie flowers to sing the two hymns synonymous with cowboy films ‘Rock of Ages Cleft for Me, ’and ‘ We will gather at the River’. I would love to have spent my time in a log cabin doling out fried chicken and grits to a bunch of cow hands. My Canadian granny once lived in Saskatchewan .She remembered covered wagons, and as a child her home was visited by native Indians who knew her father. [that’s true]. Cowboy films remind me of the quaint gold mining town I grew up in. If you’ve lived in two countries you become a product of both. I remember a man in the town who was married to an Indian squaw, and my mum came over from Fulham, England, to be greeted by native Indians gathered around the railway tracks, full of curiosity to see who was new in town. Quentin Tarrantino makes violent westerns now and again, but I long for the gentler, plodding kind, cowboys sleeping under the stars after a meal of beans, keeping one eye open for an Indian attack. I enjoy spaghetti westerns, and I loved ‘Rawhide’, ‘Wagon Train’ and ‘Gun Smoke’] I don’t want overtly bloody or political westerns, just the simple kind where the good guys got even with the bad guys, making the town safe for a while, so the women could get on with their quilting and the cowboys could go on branding their steers and take a nap in the barn!

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MAN FLU: Man- flu has arrived in our house, and for a man who won’t reach for two Paracetamol without being administered to, it’s a time for patience and firmness.” I don’t have a cold”, my husband says, [I know he has because it’s like sleeping next to a traction engine.] I go up to bed armed with Paracetamol, hot water, cough linctus, a medicine spoon, vapour rub, tissues, extra pillows and menthol and eucalyptus. “I don’t need all that”, he says, wheezing away. “Just sit up and open your mouth “I say, “I’m not having nonsense” [I’m a proper Hattie Jacques] He refuses the vapour rub, so I spread a dessertspoon of it on an old pillow case and waft it under his nose when he’s asleep. [it would be easier dealing with open-heart surgery.] Once we little girls learn to burp our dolls, we become hooked on providing any man wearing pyjamas with Lemsip, chicken broth, bed socks and vitamin ‘C’. We learn to appreciate that man flu is the very worst kind, a whole different ball game from female flu because in general men who are willing to fight wars have bigger noses and less tolerance to the sniffles [I have to say the flu is nasty, and for anyone who has it, Get well soon!

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Iden

THE IDEN PARISH COUNCIL MEETING: Chairman Ray Griffin began the meeting on Tuesday 5th February, by mentioning the death of Iden resident Percy Bryant. A report, penned by Rother District Councillor Sally Anne Hart was distributed, listing issues in Rother, beginning with rising crime such as modern slavery, violent and sexual crimes, drug-related crimes, cybercrime and domestic and child abuse. Sally Anne, spoke at the meeting stressing the need for community vigilance in reporting such crimes, also commenting that refuse disposal in Hastings Rother and Wealden, will be taken over by ‘Biffa’, once ‘Kier’ complete their contract in June. ‘Biffa’ will also provide street cleaning in Rother and Wealden [Hastings is to bring in its own, in-house street cleaning] Sally Anne mentioned ‘fuel poverty’, and said that people , particularly the aged can get help and advice if they contact Rother. [telephone 08000851674], email www.eastsussex.gov.uk/keepwarm. Sally Anne is particularly keen that Rother’s regeneration scheme be supported, encouraging tourism as a means to expand education, art and the general ambiance of our area. Rother District Councillor Paul Osbourne said that Community grants have now been spent until applications re-open. Rother has secured some funding for temporary accommodation, for families with genuine problems, such as losing a job, mental health problems etc. Two new members of Rother’s staff have been appointed to work with landlords to see that the scheme is fairly managed. Parish Clerk, Mary Philo said that the ditch in the park’s parking area is to be cleared periodically to help prevent flooding. The mole-catcher has been hired for another year, as moles in the park continue to be prolific. Rother has taken extra finance on board for adequate grass cutting in the area .The next Parish Council Meeting on 5th March, incorporates the A.G.M . A brief council meeting at 7.30pm will precede the A.G.M, which will begin at 8pm. It’s hoped that many will attend, for a chance to air their views.

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My mother: was as neat as a pin. Unfortunately, I didn’t take after her. She never got messy, and if she met me from school, I was always proud, because she wore clothes well. She made several pairs of plastic cuffs, edged neatly with bias binding, which she wore to do the washing up, lest her cuffs got wet. “ Don’t put down, put away, ” she would say, and she always promised that when I had a home of my own, she would come and mess it up the way I messed hers up. She taught me to love words [rather unfortunate, because I never shut up] but next to flowers, I love words. She made me look up a word in the dictionary every day, and if anyone said, “different to”, instead of “different from,” she would go on for ages about poor grammar. Sometimes it was as though she was lifted from her school chair and set down in the kitchen. She wasn’t overly clever, but very pedantic. “You look like a Piccadilly totty”, she would say if I wore a lot of make-up. It’s funny the way we differ from our parents in some ways yet are the spitting image in others. I don’t do family- trees, but I love to compare the family I know, one with another, little traits coming out of the woodwork. If I eat a bowl of soup in front of the TV, I’ll be spattered in soup in no time. I invariably have to change my jumper. I need a bib like my mum needed her cuffs, but then my mother would never have eaten soup in front of the TV, she would lay the table for just bread and cheese.” “I don’t know where you were dragged up”, she would say!

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SEA FOOD AND EAT IT!: My husband and I are dieting [not before time]. It’s a difficult process, counting calories, ignoring the Quality Street left over from Christmas, and basically pretending that we loath and detest the sugars and fats which pile on the pounds [which is phenomenally untrue!] We have a big salad each night, lettuce, grated carrot, peppers, celery and tuna or some chicken perhaps, and a few low-calorie flavourings and maybe a few nuts and bits and bobs to make it resemble a meal. I love salad, but my other half moans that he’s turning into a rabbit. He also blames me for every blip in his diet. “I only eat what you give me”, he says, putting the onus on me, but I’ve seen him tucking into chocolate fingers behind the Daily Mail. My mother in law used to think that she could eat whatever she liked as long as it was accompanied by a slice of lettuce. She’d look up from a scone, jam and cream and say “no, I can have this because I’ve just had my piece of lettuce.” [I think it helps to have a grasp of calorific values before commencing a diet!] One thing I miss is cupcakes. I love cupcakes. Every now and again I have one as a treat, and it feels like having the first decent meal in a concentration camp. I only hope I stick to my diet and don’t fall off the wagon. I fear that Peter Rabbit [him indoors] has already fallen off [someone is eating the Christmas cake!]

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SOMETHING ABOUT A PIE: This week I bought the ‘Hairy Biker’s’ book on pies from a charity shop. It was almost pristine, and full of innovative pie recipes. I like to take a recipe book up to bed, but it makes me feel hungry. I have to get up and make some toast. There is something about the crimped circumference of a pie that invites hospitality, probably its continuity. Its reputation and it’s shape, is as unwavering as the moon or the clock in the hall. A circle is so friendly. As long as the ingredients are compatible, we can put almost anything in a pie can’t we, and of course apple pie is always a deal maker. Covering a pie with a layer of shortcrust is like wrapping it in a rug and bedding it down for the night. No wonder it’s so satisfying and soporific, it starts off cosy before it even gets to the oven. A pie is an expression of forethought and regard. Sitting around an apple pie reminds me of the Walton’s. Do you remember the Waltons on TV? We still call out ‘Goodnight John Boy’, ‘ Goodnight Mary Ellen’ occasionally as a joke. It’s become a cliché. I like it when on occasions the family stay, and we call out goodnight from different rooms. Just that one word says “Love ya lots, but this is my lone-time, I’m closing the door on the day!”

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KITCHENALIA: I can’t resist buying handy paring knives. Just when I want to peel a turnip, the best ones are in the dishwasher. Thank goodness I’m never searched by the police because I often buy one at a flea market and pop it into my handbag. It’s the whole ‘kitchen drawer syndrome isn’t it [a love of natty utensils] I got a garlic press for Christmas which pleased me no end, but we need such things don’t we, it’s amazing what a conglomeration of things become suddenly necessary when we’ve watched an episode of Master Chef. I feel a sense of completion when I look in my kitchen drawer, fifty years- worth of items, some I may only need once in a while, but they are there at least, waiting patiently for a chance to be used. I have more spatulas than I have posh frocks, but there is something endearing about utensils, something which says we are in a proper home, rather than just living quarters [I find I can trust a person who owns an egg-slice] I tried doing a Jamie Oliver, smashing a garlic clove with my hand, it was agony. How does he do it without needing a crepe bandage? How on earth I’ve lived to be a pensioner without a garlic press I’ll never know!

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A GILDED INFLUENCE: If we were to unwind our lives, we’d find them littered with people who have influenced us profoundly, probably without their knowledge, and unless we give it some thought, even without our own. One such woman was my aunt Dingy, a ‘churchy’, religious woman who presented me with my first Bible, and told me that she never watched Television on a Sunday because it was ‘sacrilege to the Lord’s day’. Anyway, everywhere I looked in her home was there were gilt-edged photo frames, gilded statuettes and dark furniture with intricately carved legs, and I became daft about gilt frames and old wood [I do love a bit of a shine]. I can’t pass by statues or gilt objects without going into raptures. She had a huge, gilt- framed picture of the angel Gabriel over her fireplace which even as a teenager I deeply admired, but she left it to the church. Auntie Ding had no idea that a bottle-blonde niece wearing heavy eye-liner and mini- skirts would covet such a thing, [never judge a book by its cover !] So many people leave their mark upon us, don’t they? This morning We went to Rye Auction Galleries and purchased two lanterns, gilded of course. We steal other people’s tastes, other people’s words, other people’s recipes for life and claim them as our own, but when you think about it, our theft is usually borne out of a deep-seated regard, an admiration that leaves it’s mark on us – forever!

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GRADUALLY LETTING GO: I get very attached to my old tea -towels. I have tea towels in the kitchen drawer as thin as tracing paper, and as holy as a priest, and yet I can’t bring myself to throw them out. It’s not that I have nothing to replace them with. I still have a stack of new Christmas tea towels in the airing cupboard from last year, and got another stack this year, and although the oldest of my tea towels haven’t enough material left to dry up an egg cup, I mourn them when I finally relent and settle them into the duster bag. It’s like leaving them in an old folk’s home with a bottle of barley water and a clean nightie. They have been constant companions, and like a fine wine, they’ve matured with age and become just right for drying up. New tea towels need a lot of breaking-in don’t they, a good few washes before they are fit for purpose. Oh, sentimentality isn’t just for family and old friends is it? I’ve been wearing a pair of socks for ages, totally absent of heels, but my heart still melts a little when I roll them up together snug as a bug in a rug, and I can’t get rid of them either. A resolution for 2019. Please learn to let go of inanimate objects!

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Iden

IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER: I love this time of the year, don’t you? The bleakness and gloom of the countryside has its very own beauty. Barren, twiggy trees, stripped of leaves reach out to us on either side of the road as we drive by, as if to remind us that this is their period of rest, a deciduous tree’s equivalent of taking time out to read the paper and put their feet up on the coffee table .Everywhere is cold and damp, and the dreg ends of fallen, brown leaves lay under trees like a wet army blanket. Deserted fields attract a crop of crows, and hedgerows drip with dew or rain, or the first few spots of snow. Only a few red berries remain to brighten them up a bit, but the birds already have their eye on them. My goodness though, the landscape is breath taking. Grey skies allow a little sunlight to filter through now and again, but let’s not get our hopes up, it won’t last. The weather is supposed to be like this. There is a muted silence in the air, full of expectation, and that muted silence is very special because it gives us cart blanche to be as cosy as we like once inside our own front doors. Lights come on, fires are lit, we turn on the stove, put a low light under a stew or place a few crumpets in our four- slice toasters. The kettle boils away merrily and we make time for a mince pie or a rock cake before dinner. We get ourselves a throw, find our slippers, and maybe switch on ‘Strictly’, or ‘Bargain Hunt’. If we hadn’t been out walking or riding through the lanes in the countryside we wouldn’t be half as appreciative of what lurks inside our own front doors, that familiar sense of being warm and being at home!

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WHAT A WRAP: Things happen to us in life, particularly in childhood that stay with us forever. Its as though someone has pushed the equivalent of a nasturtium seed into our brains with an index finger, so we never forget. Often, it’s small things we will emulate for the rest of our lives. I remember my mum working in a chemist [drugstore] in Canada, and the boss’s wife always wrapped a Christmas present for me so beautifully that the actual present became less important than the wrapping. She etched Christmas trees onto deep green cellophane paper and decorated each one with glued on Smarties. Now, I can’t wrap anything, even a pack of wine gums without fluting the paper and making them into a cracker, and it’s all down to the chemist’s wife .My husband’s cousin Tracey came this week with a whole line of beautifully wrapped family parcels, all in silver, with a lovely bauble on each depicting Santa’s coat. They filled me with joy. They are much too nice to open, and the amount of thought behind them is what Christmas is all about.

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OH! CHRISTMAS TREE, OH CHRISTMAS TREE: For a whole year, evergreen trees tend to stay in the background like poor old Cinderella sweeping the hearth, but Christmas time is their time to shine. Other trees have shed their leaves and become bleak, moss-covered spindles, so God forbid, someone in the tree family has to step forward, and the evergreens do it with aplomb. Lush, dark green pines, spruce, cedar and holly become the things of Hollywood movies, the poor, forgotten little shop-girl suddenly makes good and becomes feted at Christmas time. We don’t bother covering oak or ash with baubles and a fairy now do we? The evergreens reign may be short-lived, before deciduous trees come into their own again with their sweet new buds of spring, but my goodness, conifers are winter’s rock stars, and yet they are so personable. They stand still and don’t fidget as we pile them up with a loft- full of decorations, they smell nice [their personal hygiene is second to none] I even reckon that if they were mobile they would fetch the hoover and sweep up their own dropped needles ‘Oh Christmas tree, Oh Christmas tree how lovely are your branches’ is a fitting carol for a tree so valued and pampered, albeit once a year.

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DISAPPEARING WOMEN: Women from Iden, Brede, Winchelsea and Appledore go missing from our streets at this time of the year. Their absence is unfortunate, but it isn’t a Police matter, they are merely at home, in their kitchens furtively making mincemeat. Secret recipes abound. The smell of zested lemons, cinnamon and brandy seeps through keyholes on the darkest of nights but we dare not knock, for a mincemeat recipe is a sacred thing, not to mention the Christmas cake recipe, or the puddings. Though a Christmas pudding recipe may have been the only thing bequeathed by a parent, it’s worth its weight in gold. Suet and dark brown sugar is carried home like a gift from the wise-men, followed next week by the glace cherries and the candied peel. The brandy bottle is fetched from the back of the cupboard dusted and sniffed at in order to soak the sultanas. These women have a determined demeanour, unsurprisingly for, they may have a line of puddings to make, one for aunt Ada, one for the lady next door who never goes out, one for the vicar perhaps who’s Christmas is nothing but sermons, one for a plump, lazy cousin who’s never boiled an egg in her life, but it is of no matter. To be known for one’s puddings, one’s mince pies or delectable Christmas cake is high praise indeed. These women are not missing from our streets at all . They are in their kitchens wearing Christmas aprons awaiting their accolades!

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THE CHRISTMAS CHAIR: What is it about growing older which makes us decide upon a chair in the living room and lay claim to it. When we are young, we sit anywhere, lolling about, lounging around on any old chair, but as we mature, we sort out a chair which best suits our aches and pains and our disposition. We migrate towards such a chair, and if anyone else sits in it, it can seem an intrusion of the highest order. I have such a chair, a smallish armchair which badly needs a recover, but sitting in it is the equivalent of having a cup of hot chocolate and two aspirin. Surrounding my chair is a mess of the day’s newspaper, sewing, tea cups , and at this time of year baubles, tinsel, scissors ,ribbon material,endless lists of food and presents and red bows . It’s a work in progress, a Christmas factory , and if anyone drops in, it’s a mad rush to tidy it up and get a dustpan and brush. It is indeed Santa’s workshop. I wouldn’t be surprised to see an elf bringing me a cup of tea, but to me there is nothing quite as homely as preparing for Christmas .

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NORMAN’S CANDLESTICKS: On Saturday evening I polished a pair of candlesticks given to my mother by her first husband Norman Donaldson. Norman was killed in El Alamein during the second world war. They had a daughter Jennifer, who only lived to be three days old. My mum eventually met my dad, a Canadian soldier, they married, and lived in Canada where my dad was killed in a mining accident three years later. My mum told me a lot about Norman, and he automatically became a part of my life through here say, as did Jennifer. After I put the candlesticks back, dust-free and shiny I watched the BBC’S beautiful service to mark the end of the First World War, and I thought of Norman dying for his country. If he had lived, I wouldn’t have had my life. A good friend of mine got me a copy of Jennifer’s birth certificate. I would have loved her because my immediate family was just my mother and myself. Most of us have been touched in some way by the sadness initiated by war, our lives, entwined with soldiers who gave their lives for us. It’s very possible to feel love for people we have never met, and yes, at the going down of the sun and in the morning, we shall remember them.

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GETTING TO KNOW YOU: My friendship with my computer has been a gradual thing, but It’s fast becoming the kind of friendship where we share secrets and have the odd sleepover in our pyjamas. However, I have to say it’s been an arduous journey. For a very long time Imagined a little man with a pencil inside it, frantically looking up things on Encyclopaedia Britannica. Even now, we have dreadful ‘fallings out’ which I swear blind is all the computer’s fault [nothing to do with my elbow leaning on ‘Caps Lock’]. I find things out about it every day, a bit like finding out that a friend is allergic to prawns. The worst thing is wondering where my written tombs go to. They suddenly disappear, like a friend packing up and spending the summer in Cleethorpes without asking me to feed the cat. I find myself running after documents, similar to an anxious mother yelling “will you please come home for your tea”. I must say though, like the best of friendships the more I find out about its strengths, and the way it actually does save my letters, the more I look forward to switching it on, but I have to concede that it’s less fond of me than I am of it. It’s a case of “Gill, if you press my delete button one more time you can cancel the sleepover!”

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DON’T RING ME RICHARD BRANSON: This morning the moon lingered in the sky as we had breakfast. Wispy dreg-ends of it could still be seen though the sun was out. The sky is a real enigma isn’t it, a law unto itself, a whole new ball game. It behaves as it wishes, but I don’t want to be involved with it apart from viewing its antics from a distance. Even looking up at the stars makes me giddy, no matter how much I appreciate their beauty. I can’t imagine walking on the moon, eating a dehydrated sandwich, while floating around in a space ship. Richard Branson may still hope for his ’Virgin’- trips into the abyss, but I’ll stay down here and hold the coats. In truth I can get lost on the way to Croydon, so exploring space seems a step too far. I love it down here on earth, being able to watch the sky, but I don’t actually want to become personally acquainted with it. Can you imagine being responsible for a spaceship, its bad enough checking the knobs on the cooker last thing at night. Some people are so clever and so brave, moving around weightless, catching a roast potato in mid-air, but it’ ain’t for me kid!’

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