My 2017: September

Our lives had seemed very settled… the children had left home and we were busy with all our activities, then suddenly we had some exciting news! Daughter was moving back home – just temporarily to build up some funds to go travelling, but even so, we were thrilled and very pleased!

So that was one bit of excitement, but in a way not unexpected… what else happened in September though was very unexpected and really thrilling!! Here is the story behind it:

Way back when I was at school, we sometimes had people join us who were only with us for a year or a couple of years because their parents were in Cambridge for some reason. It was always nice to welcome new people from different places but one girl who joined us immediately became a friend. I think we were quite naughty (in an innocent way) and probably very silly; the sort of things we did was to swap one shoe, so we each had a brown shoe and a red shoe… and I’m sure there were lots of other things too, which I don’t now remember.

In those days the only way to keep in touch was by letter… and I don’t think we actually ever wrote to each other when she left our school. I’ve often thought about her over the years…

If you can spot me on the back row, you can spot her, standing next tom me – she must have been standing on a step because she looks taller than me, but in fact we were the same height!

Luckily these days, there are lots of ways of keeping in touch – and also finding people you’ve lost contact with… and so it was with us! We found each other!! We have been writing, and although it is decades since we saw each other (we never met again after she left school) we are just as ‘in tune’ with each other as we ever were.

She is an artist, and I am so excited because she and her brother and sister are having an exhibition in London, and I am going up there on Friday to see it!  More exciting still, she has been on some travels, and was able to drop by for lunch on her way back to London! Well, it was so lovely to see her and meet her family! I think we just about talked nonstop!

It really is amazing that whatever it was that sparked our friendship all those years ago is still there!

We didn’t just spend that day together, my daughter and I travelled to London to visit my friend and to see her exhibition, and here is what I wrote about it:

My daughter an I visited her exhibition.

I’ve seen lots of photos of her fabulous paintings, but photos and the real thing are no comparison! Her work, landscapes, domestic interiors, still lifes (or is it lives?) are just wonderful, and i very much enjoyed seeing her sister’s photos and her brother’s ceramics. It was a wonderful day, and a picnic lunch in the garden at the back of the gallery made the whole thing perfect.

Discovering places… the exhibition was held in a most interesting gallery in a two hundred and forty-year-old mill… not just a mill but a huge industrial mill for producing flour on a huge scale. Built in 1776, the House Mill is the world’s largest surviving tidal mill. It was built on the site of a much older mill, with foundations dating back to between 1380 and 1420.. It was called the House Mill because it was sited between two other houses… simple! There was a windmill also on the site, but it vanished halfway through the nineteenth century. Forty years after the House Mill, another mill was built opposite with a clock tower which gave the mill its name – and the fact there were three mills ensued for obvious reason the place was called ‘Three Mills’;  the site was ideal for such operations with the River Thames giving reliable free power!

The Clock Mill

I didn’t realise until I looked it up, that the House Mill lies on an island in the River Lea, a tributary of the Thames, although I should have realised as we went there, that there was water at the front and at the back. Obviously milling grain for flour was the chief task – except when England’s security was at risk with the threatened invasion by the Spanish Armada in 1588, when a gunpowder mill was established. Another interesting part of its history was when it was used as  a gin distillery – with the popularity of gin again these days, the fashionable drink, maybe that’s another future plan! Milling stopped in 1941 at the House Mill, but continued at the Clock Mill  until 1952.

You may be too late for my friend’s exhibition, but the House Mill and Clock Mill will remain her for centuries to come… so plenty of time to visit!


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