Friday, 25 September 2020

All be safely gathered in. . .

Autumn in the Sandwell Valley

Howde Folks,

Sofia here with Donald. We are concerned at the current situation downstairs and feel for you all having to go back into some form of lockdown. Just think of it like this. Life is a game and there are no winners. We all just muddle through and cope with whatever comes our way. Eventually, you will be where Donald and I are so enjoy each day and try to make the best of it. Just to give you some sense of normality and a reminder that the seasons will still change and nature will continue regardless of Covid-19's temporary control over you we have selected last year's harvest post for you.


Hello Everyone,

As a child I loved harvest festivals, in fact I still do. But in those dim and distant days I lived on a farm in the country and there seemed to be a warmth to the harvest celebrations even though they marked the end of summer and the beginning of what could often be a long, hard and very cold winter in bleak Derbyshire.

I enjoyed this morning's church service on what is now known as Harvest Sunday; a time to give thanks to God for the provisions He has given us. I particularly enjoyed the rousing chorus of We plough the fields and scatter. But now I live in an urban community; I looked round at the produce brought in - largely tins from the supermarket. It is so different from the days of my youth and even life today in rural communities where churches have actual produce from gardens and fields in abundance.

My grandfather and father were farmers and I remember my father's words, look after the land and the land will look after you!

A harvest festival is an annual celebration at the time of the main harvest in any given area. Because of the differences in climate and crops the times will differ around the world. Common factors are feasting with the foods that have come from the crops midst celebrations of thanksgiving with music, prayer and traditions.

In Britain harvest derives from the Anglo-Saxon 'harvest' or autumn. It later became known as the time for reaping and gathering grain and other home-grown produce. In by-gone days the Festival was celebrated at the beginning of the harvest Season on August 1st; it was called Lammas meaning 'loaf Mass'. Farmers made loaves of bread from the fresh wheat crop and gave them to their local church for the Communion bread during a special service thanking God for the harvest.

By the 16th century things had changed and traditions became set around the gathering of the final harvest. These included a procession of reapers accompanying a fully-laden cart; a widespread distribution of a special cake to the celebrating farmworkers; a corn dolly being made from the last sheaf of corn harvested; the horse bringing in the last cart load being decorated with flowers and ribbons; the harvest feast or supper being held at the farmer's house.

Early English settlers took the idea of harvest thanksgiving to North America; the most famous one being held by the Pilgrims in 1621.

Just a little info on harvesting to brighten your week!

Thought for the week: A man reaps what he sows. (Galatians 6v7)

Love to you all, Lady M xxx


Sofia and Donald xxxxxxx


Friday, 18 September 2020

Groundhog Day

Sandwell Valley...happy days!

Howde Peeps,

So, how did you do with last week's quiz. One person certainly enjoyed it and left the answers for me! That comment and the answers have been posted. As for this week we are watching the world with horror as America burns, Brexit becomes a disaster, Covid rules. We have decided to take a memory lane trip and are reposting Lady M's post from this time last year. Her fave and 'groundhog' day is the 17th September. She remembers every minute of that day 51 years ago and frequently wonders where things went wrong. We can tell you, "That's life!"

Hello Everyone,

Yes, I know Groundhog Day is February 2nd and the day when if the groundhog emerges from its burrow and sees its shadow it will be an early spring. If it does not see the shadow another six weeks of winter are in store for all. The film Groundhog Day features this day as the day which is repeated every twenty-four hours. The unfortunate weather man sees this whole thing as doom and gloom but eventually accepts that he will have to go through this miserable day for all eternity.

If you could choose one day of your life as your Groundhog Day and know that each dawn would herald all the events of that day which one in your life would you choose? I choose September 17th, 1969. Many of you know that I write my blogs on a Tuesday and schedule them for the Friday. Today is 17th September, my Groundhog Day, and I'm happily remembering that day of fifty years ago.

Why that day? Although, I didn't realise it at the time it was the happiest day of my life. Wedding day? Graduation? The day I gave birth? First job? None of those. It was the day I left home for College.

Seven years earlier I had started at Grammar School with the intention of working for my 'O' and 'A' Levels. In those days education beyond fifteen was a privilege and many parents made sacrifices to enable their progeny to proceed into higher and further ed. I was happy and optimistic. It should have been plain sailing. Alas, I had no idea of the tragedy that was in store for me. I didn't know that I would miss a lot of school, in fact a complete term in one go, as a result of my femur slipping out of its socket. At that time placing pieces of steel in people was in its infancy and I was experiencing paralysis with very little hope of ever walking again. I guess, it's as a result of a good surgeon to whom I will always be thankful, plus pioneering surgery and good material made in the sixties that I am still walking today. However, such a disability closed many doors for me. Other issues developed during those years as a result of it and other things. Despite all the odds I managed to pass 'O' and 'A' level exams and gain a place at the Crewe College of Education which was a specialist teacher training college. I don't think they exist these days.

That morning was the beginning of a beautiful sunny, crisp, early autumn day. I remember the dew on the grass in the orchard next to our cottage. My father did the usual morning feed on the farm. My mother and I had packed the car ready. I had two cases in the boot, a weekend bag, train case and box on the back seat of our little red mini. Four years later, my father had to make four journeys to collect all of my possessions. We waited for father to come in for his breakfast before we left. I clearly remember saying goodbye to him but then while walking to the car I turned back, looked at him, and said, "Are you proud of me?" That is one of my most memorable moments with him. He nodded, smiled and said, "Yes". His glowing face spoke volumes.

We arrived at the College about 10.45 and went straight to my Hall of Residence. The Hall President, a second year student, met us and showed us to my room. By today's standards it was quite primitive but for 1969 it was one of the best. Many colleges had dormitories or students sharing rooms and all facilities were communal. This Hall was only two or three years old and built to accommodate the increasing number of students required to cope with the population increase as a result of the sixties baby boom. It was a single room with private wash-basin plus the best furniture and spacious. Kitchen and laundry facilities were communal. After unpacking we went down to the famous Crewe Station to use the photo booth. I needed pretty pics of me for such items as NSU card and meal card. Yes, all meals and accommodation were paid for by the Government unless you had really wealthy parents and then you would be expected to make a huge contribution. Everything was 'means' tested and parents made a contribution if they earned over a certain amount.

Next, we went up to the main town of Crewe, had a look round and lunch. My mother left about 2.30 and I watched others arrive. Early that evening we had a meeting and were told all about freshers week, college procedure and events before being taken over to the dining room for our first meal. That evening we were getting to know each other and our way around the place. It was so exciting. I could go through it all again and get the same pleasure from it. That College was flourishing then with 900+ students. I've heard that it closed in July 2019 due to falling numbers. Changing times!

So, that was my groundhog day. Which day is yours?

Love to you all on my fav day! Lady M xxxxxx

P.S. Why have I selected a pic that doesn't relate to the day? Simple. I don't have any so chose one of my other happy memories.

Friday, 11 September 2020

Quiz time with Sofia and Donald

Howde Peeps,

Donald and I have had a little chat and decided that we would give you a quiz this week to keep those brain cells going, and for amusement. We will put the answers up next week. The Covid thing is getting worse but stay positive!

1. Who wrote 'A Tale of Two Cities'

2. And the two cities were?

3. What is the chemical symbol for iron?

4. What game would you be playing if you started at the oche?

5. Who invented the telephone?

6. How many furlongs are there in a mile?

7. What is the currency of Japan?

8. Which religion worships in a mosque?

9. If you were crossing the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco; which State of America would you be in?

10. What is the capital of Bulgaria?

11. What is the young of a hare called?

12. How many days are there in a leap year?

13. Which sport is Ian Botham associated with?

14. Which tree provides the wood for cricket bats?

15. Who, after a distinguished military career, became the President of the USA in 1952?

16. What type of cat has no tail?

17. Who, in the Bible, wore a coat of many colours?

18. Who, in ancient Greece, made a discovery while taking a bath?

19. Where and when did Diana, Princess of Wales die?
       PARIS, FRANCE. AUGUST 31, 1997

20. At which British railway station do Lucy and Christabelle meet up, in Stay in Touch?

So, these are our brain-teasers. How many of them did you answer without resorting to text books or the Internet? We will leave you with a thought for the week: A little learning is a dangerous thing! (Alexander Pope,1688-1744)

Love you all, Donald and Sofia xxxx

Friday, 4 September 2020

Pretty Pics!

Howde Peeps,

Donald and I are still with you and concerned about this awful virus. We know you need cheering up.  So, we have found some pretty pics from her gallery for you. Enjoy. Be happy.  Stay safe.

The glass is always half full!

Pretty pigeons waiting to be fed.

Snowdrops at Birtles Church

The Manor House in the summer

Isn't he adorable? Paphos animal rescue centre

Afternoon tea at the Tower Ballroom, Blackpool

A Paphos sunset

A Cypriot village street, Lania I think

1920's style bus in Malta

Yerikipou  Church,  Cyprus

Autumn in the Sandwell Valley

A Malta bus


One of Lady M's fave pics!
Love Sofia and Donald xxxxxx

Friday, 28 August 2020


Howde Peeps,

This week we have found one of her posts from January 2016. It made us laugh and so we hope it makes you laugh and brightens your day. if all else fails think of Captain Sir Tom and his outlook on life, "tomorrow will be a good day". Stay positive, friends. Love Sofia and Donald xxxx

Hello Everyone!

Congratulations! We've all made it through to January 22nd!

I hope my tongue twisters of last week helped you chuckle through the last few days. This week I am going to give you some humorous jokes and quotations to keep you smiling...

1. A man asked a friend how his wife was before remembering that she had died. So he  added, "Still in the same cemetery?"

2. First girl, "My elder sister gives me the creeps."
    Second girl, "Why?"
    Reply, "She passes on all her ex-boyfriends."

3. At school dinner the teacher said, "Let us all stand for grace."
    Wise pupil replied, "Okay, where is she?"

4. A passenger on board a cruise liner, in the middle of the Atlantic, while crossing from Southampton to New York went into the shop and asked for some hairspray.
   "I'm very sorry Madam but we have run out of that particular brand."
   "Oh, will you have some in tomorrow?"

5. An English man wanted to emigrate to Australia. 
   The Australian Immigration Officer asked if he had a criminal record.
   He replied, "I didn't know you still needed one."
   His application was rejected!

6. "It was a woman who drove me to drink and I didn't have the courtesy to thank her." attributed to W.C. Fields.

7. A rather anxious passenger on board a plane asked a member of the crew, "How often do these planes  crash?"
    "Only once." He replied.

8. "It's not the men in my life that count but the life in my men." Mae West.

9. Women have their faults. Men have only two. Everything they say and do.! Anonymous.

10. Girl, "Mother, I think I'm pregnant."
      Mother, "Are you sure it's yours?" Anonymous.

11. "I don't believe in the afterlife, although I am bringing a change of underwear." Woody Allen.

12. "It's not that I'm afraid to die. I just don't want to be there when it happens." Woody Allen.

13. "I went on a diet, swore off drinking and heavy eating, and in fourteen days I lost two weeks." Joe E Lewis.

14. A man called a hotel and asked for the price of a room. The receptionist replied that it depended on the  type of accommodation and number of people.
      "Do you take children?"
      "No, just credit cards and cash."

15. "My parents are the epitome of abstinence." The boy told his friends. " They do not smoke or drink and   my sister and I are both adopted."

     Okay folks, that's fifteen howlers to keep you chuckling. If you think others would laugh at a joke of yours feel free to add it in the reply/comment section. Let's all keep each other smiling through to February.

Lady M

Friday, 21 August 2020

The Game of Life

Lady M kite flying in Paphos. A happy day in her game of life! 

Howde Peeps,

Donald and I are still with you and trying to find posts to cheer you up. This Covid thing is still with you and causing chaos. We know that Lady M see life as a game in which we can never win but she  always remained positive when the dice throws her low numbers. Right now, it's throwing everyone low numbers. So please enjoy rereading this, stay positive until the dice begins throwing double sixes again. Love S and D xxxxx


Hello Everyone,

Lady M still here and is feeling philosophical, positive and nostalgic while working on the present theme for her blogs, namely Life.

It all started on that day when she thought about her age. Life is definitely a game which we all play. We have no choice. We are automatically included on the day we are born rather like being the car, dog, top hat or other token placed on Go on the Monopoly™ board. Someone else threw the dice and decided on our starting number. However, unlike Monopoly™ there are no winners in the game of life. (The pic of daffs on the left? Lady M likes it).

So, we are born, and we begin to move around the board of life. If we are lucky we may find ourselves living on Mayfair or perhaps our destiny is to remain on The  Old Kent Road.

 Our first memories are of that so called glorious period of childhood or the age of discovery. We discover the difference between right and wrong, we discover that we have needs like sustenance, we learn how to communicate, we learn that humans wear clothes, we learn how to behave. Our gathering of knowledge begun in those early months before we even walk is the beginning of a lifetime of learning. There will be talk of that place called school where education is drummed into the brain; much essential learning for what follows childhood... adulthood. The dice will be thrown again. Where it lands will determine our education. We will go through this stage because Time and Tide wait for no man. During those years the dice may be thrown again and throw things into confusion. Maybe, one of those factors determined by fate of the dice like moving, redundancy, death, divorce, or other changing circumstances will change everything. As children we are not in control and cannot change where the dice lands. Of course, other factors play a part in the lives of different individuals. The country and place of birth will have an effect on opportunities and chances.

Lady M likes this place
 We move round the board of life. If we break the rules it is Go to Jail. Alas, unlike Monopoly™ there is no get out of jail free card. Sometimes. it may seem as if life is easy or we are on the Free Parking spot. This will not last for long.

 Another  throw of the dice and we are either in higher education and still learning for some career or other or we are in the work place and struggling to pay the bills. At some stage we will pass Go and have a windfall. Hopefully, more than £200. For others, it will be a low score and a sad lot in life... homeless, refugees, poverty, poor health.

A few more years pass by and we move on to another phase after another throw. What has the dice given us... a partner, a marriage, children? We are parents but we don't feel prepared. It all seemed so easy in those lazy, hazy, crazy days of childhood. What do we do? We muddle through and do the best we can.

 The pic? One of her memories from afternoon tea at The Tower Ballroom in Blackpool. Another happy day for her. It reminds her of a German phrase she learned, Abwarten und Tee trinken. Simply means, wait and drink tea. When the dice are conspiring against us all we can do is wait and hope. Or, many find consolation, support and hope in their faith whatever it maybe. Our faith or religion is a personal choice. We may be born into a specific one but in later life it will be our choice or determined by the dice. Those children grow up and throw their own dice. Our lives have changed again. We are moving faster round the board. We question why we are playing this game. Could or should we have made different decisions? No! We wait for the inevitable.

A good attitude to the game of life!

Those final throws determine how we spend those last days of mortality. The final waiting game. I have a friend who lives in a retirement village. He said that they referred to the village as 'God's waiting room.'

Yes, I confess, although I do not reside in such a village yet I am in that waiting room. The dice has given me some good numbers and some bad ones over the years but somehow I have survived. They say that wisdom comes with age. I don't know. I was born a genius! But what I do know is that we will never win in this game so the best we can do is enjoy it, particularly the good times, and be happy as we float round the board.

Next week, Lady M will be challenging you!

Until then, just remember that you cannot win. It is impossible but have a great week anyway! If the dice throws a double six and you win the lottery my number is... 😃😇😉😊😁

Yours, Lady M

Friday, 14 August 2020

The 'Sofia' Trilogy

Howde Folks,

This week Donald and I thought we would tell you more about ourselves and where we can be found. Donald was my brother-in-law when we were downstairs but, I confess, we were rather naughty and began an affair. Well, if you had been married to his twin brother, Derek, you would understand why. Now, after we were both unfortunate victims of accidents, we are together in the afterlife and spend our time (although time does not exist here) keeping an eye on our family downstairs. Lady M wrote about us in her trilogy and she talks of them below.

Have a great week my friends and stay clear of the dreaded lurgy.

All our love, Donald and Sofia xxxx

Hello Everyone,

The first of the 'Sofia Trilogy', Look After Each Other

The idea for this book was to interweave three things. The inspiration, once again, came from events in my life. I once had the misfortune to meet a gentlemen whose sole aim in life was to complain and find fault. I have always had a strong relationship with my father and thirdly, have visited clairvoyants/mediums. What if? Could I work with a plot involving these three ideas and a lot of 'what if's?  It worked!

"Sofia Haslington is a 36-year-old mother and housewife kept under the thumb of her priggish, anal-retentive husband, Derek. Living by a second-to-second timetable and under strict rules enforced by her husband, Sofia decides to visit a well-respected clairvoyant, hoping for a bit of respite from her otherwise dreary existence. But what she is surprised to learn that day not only changes her changes her.
Sofia, now planning to die on March 5th 2005, writes a "Do or Die" list and, with a renewed sense of spirit, unleashes the bad girl hidden deep down inside. From breaking the Ten Commandments to exploring the marvels of Tantric sex, Sofia goes on a liberating journey of body, mind, and spirit, relishing every last minute she has left on this earth. Women everywhere will laugh, cry, and cheer as Sofia counts down her final moments, making each one more memorable and enjoyable than the last." (Blurb from SBP edition)

I self-published this book in 2007. Later, in 2009, it was republished by the American Strategic Book Publishers in hardback. Both editions (paper/softback and hardback) are still available worldwide on Amazon, The Internet and the hardback edition from good bookshops. The paperback edition is ISBN 9780953945139. The hardback edition is ISBN 9781608600946. Both may be obtained from Internet sites or signed copies from myself. Just leave a message below.

The second of the trilogy, Sofia's Legacy

Sofia's Legacy  answers the question," Is there 'life' after death?" Sofia has died, but come back from "upstairs" to watch her funeral. What a revelation! To be able to see and hear what people were saying about her now that she was dead and they had no idea she could see and hear them. And Derek? Well, if ever there was a hypocrite it's Derek. Her father, Scott was with her and while Derek was, (trying to be the centre of attention), reading a passage from 1 Corinthians at the crematorium, Scott blew smoke rings in his face. He tried to shout above the smoke rings. It was hilarious. You really have to read it to fully appreciate it.  After the service Scott and Sofia joined them for the wake at Haslington Towers.

Sofia becomes accustomed to her new life in a world where time does not exist but where they keep an eye on events "downstairs" and try to help or hinder things. She manages to complete the 'do-or-die' list. Donald and she have many exciting adventures together. They also repeat some of the most enjoyable events; that's another advantage to being deceased or having passed over, because time doesn't exist  experiences may be repeated.

I'm afraid I'm not going to tell you anything else. Just read the book.
SOFIA'S LEGACY (ISBN 9781609763800)  Just email: for further details or you can download on Kindle and all eBooks. Just put the title or ISBN in Amazon, B & N, bookshops on line or Search Engine. It is also available in paperback/softback from Amazon and Internet sites, all good bookshops or order it from your local library... all you need is the ISBN. Finally, purchase from me!

And, completing the trilogy, Love You Forever

Five years have passed. It is 2010. The reader sees how dramatic and unimaginable events have changed the lives of everyone Sofia left behind at Haslington Towers. Even more surprising events occur that lead to devastating consequences. You really will have to read it! I am not going to give anything else away!
But to quote from the blurb,
 "This stunning book series delves into karma, the afterlife, and more things in heaven and earth than you have ever dreamed!"
ISBN: 9781631353659     Soft/Paperback.
Available from Publisher’s Website:   Amazon, online retailers and good bookshops.

Or SIGNED COPIES from the Marilyn L Rice: Email:

Happy Reading! Love Lady M xxxx

Friday, 7 August 2020

An afternoon trip to the Leonardo da Vinci exhibition

Howde Peeps.

So the news is not good. The Virus is taking control. We are trying to cheer you all up the best way we can. We were scrolling through last year's posts when we found this one from March. It was just after her Cyprus hols. She was intrigued by this exhibition at the Museum and tootled off into town. We followed our Lady M with amusement, later she scribed this account for you.  Incidentally, those trams have been replaced with new blue ones. She does not think they are as pretty as these! Please enjoy this post, and remember nothing lasts forever. Not even Covid19. Stay positive, safe and strong. Love Sofia and Donald xxxxx


Hello Everyone!

Now, we all know that Lady M likes riding the trams particularly as it is free for her. One of those privileges that accompanies senior years. She loves presenting her concessionary pass and watching it click on the reader and then she watches others pay for the privilege of riding. She is frequently amused as she watches peeps behaviour and ponders over what kind of life they have. Such a fascinating hobby. She thinks about their ages and then is reminded of her own and asks the question, how did I get here? Memory lane can be wonderful. 

Anyway, last week she tootled down to the tram stop at West Bromwich Central and hopped on board or to be more precise she carefully stepped on board and almost fell into the nearest seat. The tram filled up on the way into Brum and all seats were occupied when another senior with a stick boarded. She was really impressed when a young person, not seated in a priority seat, politely got up and offered the senior her seat. There is so much bad publicity regarding the youth of today linked with crime and anti-social behaviour. This was a reminder that not all of our youth are miscreants. On her return journey she witnessed a similar situation where another youngster willingly gave up her seat for an elderly person. 

So, where did she go for her afternoon treat? The Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery to see the Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing exhibition.

"In February 2019, to mark the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci, 12 of the Renaissance master's drawings from the Royal Collection will go on display at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, as part of 12 simultaneous exhibitions across the UK.
Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing, a nationwide event, will give the widest-ever UK audience the opportunity to see the work of this extraordinary artist, with 144 of his greatest drawings from the Royal Collection forming the 12 exhibitions.
Twelve drawings, selected to reflect the full range of Leonardo's interests – painting, sculpture, architecture, music, anatomy, engineering, cartography, geology and botany – will be shown at each venue.
Visitors to Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery will see the intricacy of Leonardo’s work through works never seen in the city before. 
Leonardo da Vinci exhibitions across the UK
The exhibitions Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing will include examples of all the drawing materials employed by the artist, including pen and ink, red and black chalks, watercolour and metalpoint. They will also present new information about Leonardo's working practices and creative process, gathered through technical research using a range of techniques including ultraviolet imaging, infrared reflectography and X-ray fluorescence. The findings will be brought together in a ground-breaking new book, Leonardo: A Closer Look, published by Royal Collection Trust in February 2019.
Following the exhibitions at Royal Collection Trust's partner venues, in May 2019 the drawings will be brought together to form part of an exhibition of over 200 sheets at The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace, the largest exhibition of Leonardo's work in over 65 years. A selection of 80 drawings will then travel to The Queen's Gallery, Palace of Holyrood house in November 2019, the largest group of Leonardo's works ever shown in Scotland. This will take place 22 November 2019 – 15 March 2020."
Taken from the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery website,
Was she impressed with what she saw? Definitely. The name 'da Vinci' tends to be associated with two things these days, Dan Brown's novel and The Last Supper the masterpiece painting by the artist Leonardo da Vinci. It was that painting which she had in mind when she walked into the gallery. She gasped in amazement at the sight before her. Twelve intricate but small drawings which have survived the test of time. To behold such work which had been penned by a hand 500 years ago in itself is remarkable... to imagine this individual working to produce them at a time long before computer images had been invented. Her mind can be over active. Naturally, she took pics before leaving the gallery in awe of this great man's mind and imagination. She would now like to share some of this pics with you and suggest that if you're in the Birmingham area you pop along and see them in the next month or look for the other museums where more of his work is on show.

Just remember, peeps, this work was produced 500 years ago!
Before she left the city she popped into Costa for her fav panini, well one of them, (brie and bacon) and a latte. She thought it was nice of Costa to place one of their coffee houses a few yards away from the tram stop at Grand Central. That was an afternoon which will stay in her mind for a long time. She is a believer that life is what you make it and should be enjoyed. She likes 'firsts', taking opportunities and enjoying experiences. That afternoon was definitely a super experience. So, peeps, go and get yourself some memorable moments this week. 
Have fun, Lady M