Although I haven’t lived full-time in my home town of Cleethorpes since I left for university in 1979, I remember it very fondly – not least for views of the Humber estuary (left) with its particular beauty. So I’m always glad of an excuse to visit, and 9th September gave one of the best reasons ever: the 45th anniversary reunion of the First Forms of Cleethorpes Girls’ Grammar School. It was an historic occasion – the first time that so many of us had been in the same room for almost four decades, and also because we were the last ever first year intake at the school before it was swallowed up into the comprehensive system.
It was held at the locally-renowned Willy's wine-bar and micro-brewery, (below left), which back in the day we knew as Ye Olde Barn Restaurant.
So it was an amazing nostalgia trip, and I felt very honoured to be asked to give a speech (click the button to read it )
and very pleased when it was well received. Hubcap enjoyed himself, too - he’d been wary of coming in case he cramped my style, but as I pointed out, at my age I have no style left to cramp – and lost no time establishing himself in ‘Man Corner’ with the other husbands. (Unfortunately it was directly beneath the speakers, so by the end of the night he’d shouted himself hoarse). He was also flattered and surprised to discover how many of my friends greeted him as the 'Hubcap' of my Facebook posts!
Altogether it was an unforgettable evening, complete with a glorious cake expertly baked and iced by one of our number, and party bags to take home containing a selection of our old favourite tuck-shop treats like Parma Violets and sherbert dib-dabs. I never expected a school reunion to be so much fun; now we’re all back in touch again, I hope I’ll enjoy many more meetings with my old chums, and look forward to our 50th anniversary in 2022!
Above, L to R: Willy's on the promenade; Sea View Street, one of the oldest streets in Cleethorpes; and the RNLI lifeboat coming in from a Sunday morning training session
This month has seen the most profound and unexpected change in my business life since I founded Herstory back in 2006: I have made an abrupt switch from working from home as a speaker and writer to becoming a full-time assistant gardener.
Regular visitors to this site or my Facebook page may not be too surprised by this news; as you will know, I've always been a gardening enthusiast, and especially since my hip replacement, have enjoyed getting stuck into helping Hubcap at work and developing our forest garden at Beckside. Alas, however, my recent job change has come about for the saddest of reasons: on 13th September, Mick's employee and workmate of 25 years died suddenly of a pulmonary embolism at the age of only 50. So in order to keep our bread & butter business running and maintain services for Hubcap's clients, I have stepped into the breach and taken on a portfolio of work ranging from prosaic contracts like maintaining the plantings at a local industrial estate, (above left), to helping care for some of the glorious private gardens Mick has created for customers around Wakefield (below left).
The immediate upshot for Herstory is that I'm now only available to do presentations and guided walks on weekends, the odd weekday during the gardening 'off season' (January - March), and occasional evenings - and until things have settled down and we've established our new work schedule, I'm not taking on further bookings. I've also removed the website and all advertising for my funeral celebrancy service and henceforth will only carry out funerals for personal friends, although I will continue to sell SafeHands pre-paid funeral plans. But I do hope to continue writing and publishing in my spare time (if I have any!), and my full range of publications is still available to order.