Saturday, September 30, 2006

The original lady of the lamp

Tammy tagged me a few days ago. Since then l have been thinking about the many people l would liked to have been related to. Here is one lady who more than deserves a mention.
Her name was MARY SEACOLE

Florence Nightingale – no it was Mary Seacole who was the real heroine!

Crimean war veteran nurse and original lady of the lamp

Mary Seacole's reputation after the Crimean War (1853-1856) rivalled Florence Nightingale's. Unlike Nightingale, Seacole also had the challenge to have her skills put to proper use in spite of her being black. A born healer and a woman of driving energy, she overcame official indifference and prejudice. She got herself out to the war by her own efforts and at her own expense; risked her life to bring comfort to the wounded and dying soldiers; and became the first black woman to make her mark on British public life. But while Florence Nightingale has gone down in history and become a legend, Mary Seacole was relegated to obscurity until recently.

Mary Seacole was born in Kingston, Jamaica in 1805. Her father was a Scottish soldier, and her mother was a practitioner of traditional Jamaican medicine and had a boarding house where she cared for invalid soldiers and their wives. Mary learned about medicine from her mother, soon gaining her own reputation as a 'skilful nurse and doctress'.
Mary travelled widely - there were two trips to Britain, and in 1851, she joined her brother Edward in Panama, where she opened a hotel. Soon she had saved her first cholera patient, and gained extensive knowledge of the pathology of this disease - which she herself contracted and recovered from. She was widely praised for her work in treating cholera, and returned to Jamaica in 1853, where there was a yellow fever epidemic. The medical authorities came to her to provide nurses to care for the sick soldiers. She travelled again to London, where she heard about the Crimean war and how the nursing system there had collapsed. She made applications to the War Office, the army medical department, and the secretary of war to be allowed to go to the Crimea and tend to the sick and wounded. She pointed out that she had extensive experience, excellent references and knew many of the soldiers and regiments, having nursed them while they were stationed in Jamaica.
But she was turned away by everybody, including one of Florence Nightingale's assistants. Was it possible, she asked herself, 'that American prejudices against colour had taken root here? Did these ladies shrink from accepting my aid because my blood flowed beneath a somewhat duskier skin than theirs?' in her disappointment, Mary cried in the street.
A distant relative of hers, called Day, was going to Balaclava on business, and they agreed to launch a firm called Seacole and Day, which would be a general store and hotel near the British camp in the Crimea. So, at the age of 50, with her large stock of medicines, Mary went to the battle zone as a sutler - a person who follows the army and sells provisions to the troops. The moment she arrived in Balaclava there were sick and wounded to attend to. She opened her British Hotel in the summer of 1855, near the besieged city of Sevastopol. Soon the entire British army knew of 'Mother Seacole's'. The soldiers were her sons and she was their mother.
Though some of the army doctors, despite her saving them a lot of work, regarded her as a 'quack', others were less bigoted. The assistant surgeon of the 90th Light Infantry watched with admiration as she, numb with cold would administer to the soldiers, giving them tea and food and words of comfort. She was often on the front line and frequently under fire.
It was W.H. Russell, the first modern war correspondent, who made Mary Seacole famous. He described her as 'a warm and successful physician, who doctors and cures all manner of men with extraordinary success. She is always in attendance near the battle field to aid the wounded, and has earned many a poor fellow's blessings'.
She was, as she had promised herself, the first woman to enter Sevastopol when it fell. But the end of the war left Seacole and Day with expensive and unsaleable stores on their hands. They went bankrupt, and Mary returned to England a financially ruined woman. The Times demanded how could anyone forget the amazing things that Mary had done, and praise only Florence Nightingale?
Lord Rokeby and Lord Paget, both Crimean commanders organised a benefit festival at the Royal Surrey Gardens in Kennington to raise money for Mary. There were over 1,000 performers, and her name was 'shouted by a thousand voices'. In 1857, Mary published her autobiography, an outstandingly vivid piece of writing called The Wonderful Adventures of Mrs Seacole in many lands which was prefaced by WH Russell: 'I trust that England will not forget one who nursed her sick, who sought out her wounded to aid and succour them, and who performed the last offices for some of her illustrious dead'.
England, of course did forget Mary Seacole. She was awarded a Crimean medal, and a bust was made of her by Prince Victor of Hohenlohe-Langenburg, sculptor and nephew of Queen Victoria. The last 25 years of her life, however, were spent in obscurity. When she died on 14th May 1881


Friday, September 29, 2006

Island Life ~ an oasis of calm in a chaotic world.

While driving up to visit my son at university last week l was listening to the radio show called Ramblings. This broadcast in particular was about the Island of Jura. It was nice to listen to the local folk of Jura and their descriptions of the Isle. I felt as if l had experienced the walk and sights myself! Here is a nice wee video of the place.
I remembered at college doing a design project on Jura and because of this knew quite a bit already about the Island ~ I have always wanted to go there ~ would love to try the local whiskey and breath in the fresh Hebridean air. We do not live far from the Inner Hebrides but because of the geography of the area it is still a fair journey. George Orwell, wrote his book 1984 here and lived in Barnhill.
Within the next few weeks my husband has work on Islay - l have been thinking of going with him for the few days. Islay is the island just to the south of Jura- they are a stones throw from each other- divided only by the Sound of Jura wherein lies the Corryvreckan whirlpool ~– a bubbling maelstrom!
There is wonderful forklore about the Corryvreckan ~ about a Norse prince and local chieftain’s daughter.
I could easily go and live my life on an island- where doors are open and time seems to be more in pace with the rhythm of life. I would enjoy the smaller local community gatherings, the quieter days and self sufficiency of it all. Perhaps l will drop by the estate agents when we visit.
Spring tide dates for the Corryvreckan are reported to be best seen during this Oct. 4th-11th! Interesting.

"Near the sea we forget to count the days..."

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Tagged by Tammy!

1. Which famous person would you most like to learn you are descended from?
For one ~ Grace Darling ~ the young heroin who fearlessly rowed through battering waves to save survivors from a shipwreck. I admire the way her mind was set on saving those in pearl and not on herself. She had an inner strength to carry it through and was neither boastful nor proud.

These words below, published in the Daily Mail in the late 20th century, echo the romance and legend that has grown up around Grace Darling and the events of the night of September 7th, 1838.

The SS Forfarshire lies stricken on the Big Harcar rocks off the Farne Islands, but through mountainous waves the survivors see their salvation, Grace Darling, the 22-year-old daughter of the Longstone lighthouse keeper rowing into legend. Grace epitomised the gritty inhabitants of a wild and wonderful coast on that day in 1838 when she rowed with her father almost a mile in a flat-bottomed coble to rescue shipwrecked crewmembers.

2. Which famous person would you hate to learn you're descended from?
Josef Mengele (Nazi scientist)

3. If you could be an ancestor to any living famous person who would it be and why?
Ellen Macarthur , best known as a solo long-distance yachtswoman who, on February 7, 2005, broke the world record for the fastest solo circumnavigation of the globe.
I admire her gritty tenacity—the determination to accomplish an ambitious, long-term goal despite the inevitable obstacles. Psychologically l admire her motivation and self-discipline.

4. If you could go back in time and meet any known ancestors of yours who would it be and why?
This for me has been a hard one as l have been putting together my family genealogy for some time. There are so many questions that l would like to ask so many different family members.
So sticking with the ‘sea theme', l would have to say the Mackenzie side of the family in Caithness. They had a fishing fleet at Wick, spoke in fluent Gaelic and prospered well on the Silver Darlings. The whole family would have been involved in the fishing industry at this time.

I love the history about this part of Scotland at the time of the herring fisheries and would liked to have met them, worked beside them to see what life was like and to share in their world of hardship and outlook.
They were closer to the natural and simpler harmonies of life where people had time for people rather than possessions.

5 Weird Things About Me...

• I straighten duvets in the middle of the night much to the amusement of my husband.
• I love power tools and hate when my husband uses mine instead of his own.
• I cannot leave a Sudoko unfinished.
• I am driven, impulsive, creative, like doing practical things and will redecorate an entire room in a day, build a deck outside, assemble scaffolding etc. My husband has got used to leaving the house in the morning and returning home to something completely new in the afternoon!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

A month of family

You may notice that the furniture in the lounge is different ~ we got a new suite last week. :) As you can see we have all had quite the time together.
Hope you are all keeping well. l spent this morning checking up on what Daniel needs for the halls of residence at uni. He is in the largest and oldest hall on campus ~ they call it the 'ghetto' ~ OUCH!
We drive him up on Saturday.
Bests all.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Oh.. the life of a Butterfly

What a joy it was yesterday to be out in the garden among the butterflies on such a happy day of sunshine and merry winds- much was caught up with, as it had been left for quite a while!
While the bees were all business because there is so much to do putting away honey for the winter, the butterflies hadn’t a care in the world. I so enjoy pottering in the garden, where l have time to take in all that is good and leave the worries for later. I envy the butterflies who have nobody to look after but themselves, living on an occasional sip of nectar, they spend the livelong day flitting and drifting about in the golden air. How wondrous to see them up close, the scales on their wings - sculptured dust!

Now it is Monday morning and l have been up since the early hours, have visited the doctor and am getting packed up to take my sister and her children over the water to see our dad. It will be an emotional trip but I’ll take the kids to Burger King and we will do a light bit of 'girlie' shopping as well ~ which always helps.
The invitations are out now for the Baby Shower- no turning back! ☺
Daniel is spending the day getting organised and packing up for university- he will enjoy the quiet.

The photos were taken half an hour ago - overcast today as you can tell.
It is a little sad to see the end of summer come.
Bests all.

Friday, September 08, 2006

A book meme

I was over at Sue's blog and l was reading her 'book meme' post...

Instructions: Grab the book closest to you.
Open to page 123.
Scroll down to the 5th sentence.
Post the text of the next 3 sentences on your blog - name of the book and the author.
Then tag 3 people. l picked up the book nearest me and here is the result.

To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

"It could not last she knew, but at the moment her eyes were so clear that they seemed to go round the table unveiling each of these people, and their thoughts and their feelings, without effort like a light stealing under water so that its ripples and the reeds in it and the minnows balancing themselves, and the sudden silent trout are all lit up hanging, trembling. So she saw them; she heard them; but what they said was like the movement of a trout when, at the same time, one can see the ripple and the gravel, something to the right, something to the left; and the whole is held together; for whereas in active life she would be netting and separating one thing from another; she would be saying she liked the Waverley novels or had not read them; she would be urging herself forward; now she said nothing. For the moment she hung suspended."

ok- just one more passage- page 125

" No, she said, she did not want a pear. Indeed she had been keeping guard over the dish of fruit (with-out realizing it) jealously, hoping that nobody would touch it. Her eyes had been going in and out among the curves and shadows of the fruit, among the rich purples of the lowland grapes, then over the horny ridge of the shell, putting a yellow against a purple, a curved shape against a round shape, without knowing why she did it, or why, every time she did it, she felt more and more serene; until, oh, what a pity that they should do it - a hand reached out, took a pear, and spoilt the whole thing."

Some people go to priests; others to poetry; I to my friends.

I'll tag my sister-in-law, Tammy & Somershade

Midnight Mumbles

I am still up this evening and have been able to catch up with most of my blogging friends. My heart however has also been heavy with thoughts of Daniel leaving home. The moon has drifted across the sky tonight and it has been indeed soothing to watch. Life on the other hand has an unfortunate habit of rushing by too fast ~ there is always so much to do with deadlines to meet and before you know it another week has passed.
When l returned from America l was happy to settle back into a slower pace of life again but tell me, where has it disappeared to?
Thank goodness for a constant moon.
Good night all.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Parking Not Fine!

You know, somebody actually complimented me on my driving today. They left a little note on the windscreen, it said 'Parking Fine.'
Tommy Cooper

Our local council this past week thought it fit to grace us with two lovely yellow lines in front of our house ~ the place where we have parked our car for the last six years. I now have to find a space up the street or play parking swap games with the neighbours across the road- very embarrassing.
So, over this past weekend; just when we thought we’d be able to rest; we had to start ripping out the shrubs on one side of the garden in order to clear a space for a driveway!
In order to get the kerb lowered the council will charge £1,500!! That is an expensive 6ft of yellow paint, don't you think?
What angers me is that in this town we pay one of the highest council tax rates in the country- they should give people in our situation a break or at least a reduction. We are the ones who have been 'put out' and are now having to foot the bill for skips, diggers, tons of rubble, stone etc. Ironically my neighbour is the 'Head of Roads' man for the council but then he has a driveway already.
Ahh, life ~ just when you thought you could rest.

My Calendar:
• My oldest son leaves home to start at University- he has just over a week left with us and then we go to settle him into his dorm. Things to buy, pack etc.
(I am dealing with some emotions on this one but at the moment they're ‘shelved’)
• Hosting a Baby Shower for my Sister-in-law. Have never done this before but am today doing the invitations. If you have any ideas on this party would you please send them to me via E-mail as my sister-in-law sometimes drops by here to visit. ☺
• Share quality time with my Sister who is still here visiting- go for some trips, dinner, movies, etc. I will miss her and the kids very much when they leave.
• Mel needs some school trousers. Another trip over the water.

car MOT, car TAX – help! Trip down to Cornwall to visit family.
Daniel’s 18th, Mel’s 17th- my Mum and youngest sister’s birthday too. Oh and the biggest news- my sister-in-law has the baby!
Lets just Forget Christmas - LOL.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Crikey, what a Life, what a bewdy.

Sad news about Steve Irwin (here)
who died today while filming on the Great Barrier Reef.
Steve became famous as the Australian "Croc Hunter", he was also a passionate environmentalist, a loving father and devoted husband.
My Sister who is over visiting from Australia was shocked to hear about his untimely passing. Mel will also be upset when she gets home from school having been very fond of all of his shows and ideas. Our thoughts go out to his wife, Terry and their two wee children.

You will embark on a fair sea,
and at times there will be fair weather, but not always.
You will meet storms and overcome them.
You will take it in turns to steer your boat through fair weather and foul. Never lose courage.
Save harbour awaits the end.
~Daphne Du Maurer

"Crikey, mate. You're far safer dealing with crocodiles and western diamondback rattlesnakes than the executives and the producers and all those sharks in the big MGM building!"

Sunday, September 03, 2006

The kitchen now

As promised: some pictures of the kitchen. So glad to see it finished.
My husband is busy at the moment cooking up a Sunday roast dinner- that's me having the before dinner drink- LOL.
I'm just exhausted but glad to have my sister over with her children. Today they have all gone a drive with my brother up to Stirling to visit the castle and theWallace monument ~ l am enjoying a wee break. Bests to you all.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Help l need more fish oils!

SW and the kids made it over safe and well ~ thought they would be exhausted ~ think again RR!
My Sis has been on the go since her arrival ~ meeting up with all the family, her friends and old haunts. Ironically, I am the one popping the fish oils in an attempt to keep up!!
My Sister and her children look fantastic ~ all that Aussie fresh air has done them good ~ photos to follow when l get the chance.
The first week we went to a Fayre in a neighbouring town ~ Sam loves spending time with his cousins. They all walked along holding hands together ~ sweet. ☺
The girls love coming up to my place for sleepovers and next week we have planned a makeover night~ lol.
Last weekend we had the Cowal Games and yesterday was Snow White’s birthday. We had a fun family birthday get-together for her.
I am trying to catch up with all my blogging friends now but please be patient with me ☺ Miss you loads.
Ps- Glad to report the kitchen got finished in time. ;)
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