Thoughts, quirky insights and experiences in my meandering life.

The Table

Not so many quirky insights on the blog so far, but lots of reminiscences.  I have heard from some that it has stirred their own memories so I hope you will indulge me again.  About our dining room table.  Yes, a table.

I had been at Sally’s for a short while when we bought fabric at a Sewing and Knitting show (that was more like Toronto’s One of a Kind than “do it yourself”).  We then borrowed a sewing machine and I started to sew.  While sewing one day it suddenly hit me, almost as a physical sensation, that I was sewing on the table that I sewed on as a kid, alongside my Mom.  It took my breathe away.

I have always loved that table, and it has so many memories associated with it.  My parents got it second hand from the rectory in our village.  It must have been the kitchen table, it certainly was not built for fine dining.  The vicar smoked and he left the cigarettes burning on the edge of the table.  I remember the marks as a kid, but now they are erased by years of use.  As a kid I wanted Mom (Dad was not “handy”) to sand it down and vanish it but now I am glad that it hasn’t been touched.  Goodness knows how the wood was treated when the table was first made, but there is none of it left now.  Just wood polished by age.

Sewing machine in action!

Coming home from school you never knew what Mom might be creating on that table.  She tried her hand at so many crafts including putting pebbles on the outside of bottles to make lamps, wrapping string dipped in plaster of Paris around balloons to make lamp shades.  Cutting red ribbon into poinsettias.  We couldn’t get poinsettias in England and she loved them from her Canadian childhood.  Or she could be cleaning the copper kettles and silverware and believe it or not we would excitedly join her!  Mad!  And of course, she sewed, and I learned.

It had to be a big table to sit seven people at a regular meal, and more when we had company, and we often had company.  How many Sunday roast dinners did we eat around that table.  Dad carving, Mom serving.  Always roast potatoes, roast parsnips (yum), Yorkshire puddings, veg and gravy.  Then pushing back the chairs and talking and talking.  So many meals, at least dinner as a family, or tea as we called the evening meal, and lunch if there was no school.  We always ate together and it is something I still love to do, share meals around a table.

Dad’s chair

Jane got the table when Mom and Dad no longer needed it and it was the childhood table of my nephews, Edmund and Lucien.  Another generation of memories. And we all continued to sit around it when we gathered at Janes.  Extended to its full length with the extra leaves.  The table is opened with a hand crank!  Jane had her own table made, much like the original, nice and wide, and the original now resides with Sally and Trevor, and it still hosts lively meals.

Sally’s Knit and Natter group around the table

Clearly I am delightedly following in my Mom’s footsteps and love to try new hand skills and crafts.  I am really enjoying turning water smoothed pebbles, and now some glass, into jewellery, and have bought a dremel and drill press over here in England and am merrily drilling away.  I actually brought stones from the shores of Lake Ontario and Sally’s friends at her gym bought quite a few pieces for Christmas presents.  Loving that the stones came from the Great Lakes.

Great Lakes stones, from the shores of Lake Ontario

Now I am about to start on pebbles and glass picked up on Seaham Harbour beach, where we usually went on Boxing Day for a walk.  Mom would walk along with her head down searching for coloured glass.  Red being her favourite, and of course hard to find.

Seaham Harbour beach. Can’t wait to drill, polish and make jewellery from the pebbles I collected. Great colours and formations. Some very small, smooth old bricks!

I have really enjoyed being back in my old home town, and at New Year Sally, Trevor, Jane, Martin and I were tourists in our own city.  We went for a walk around the sites that Durham has to offer.

Durham Town Hall in the Market Place.

Durham has a very old covered market under the town hall, a fixture from my youth, and now much better than it was then!

“The Horse”, a much used meeting place in Durham market place. I have just learned that he was the owner of most of the mines in the north east, Lord Londonderry. Rich off the backs of the miners who often died from pneumoconiosis, probably not spelled correctly, black lung disease.

This building on Silver Street looks like it is Tudor or older.  The bricks have replaced the original wattle and daub that formed the original walls put in place after the oak frame was hoisted into position, layer by layer.

Silver Street looking down to Framwellgate Bridge. The same building on the right as the last picture.

When I was growing up double decker busses went up and down Silver Street, and through the market place.  The stores had false fronts covering up the old buildings, which now thankfully have been removed, revealing more of the history of this more than one thousand year old city.

Love the eccentric little addition over Elvet Bridge.  Was it originally a toilet, going straight into the river, just as they did in old castles?

The Rose Window, carved stone screen and Nave of Durham Cathedral. Each pair of columns is different.

The Normans began building the Cathedral in 1093.  William the Conqueror used the endorsement of the Pope to legitimize his rule, so he reinforced it by building cathedrals and churches.  Durham was built on solid rock which has stood it in good stead, and has not required the buttressing that other cathedrals have needed due to poor foundations.  It still costs more than one million pounds per year to maintain!  It must have been quite an impressive sight for those attending who lived in unlighted, smoke filled, one story buildings with small windows and probably no glass, just oiled fabric.  And smelly to boot.

Sally and Trevor have welcomed me into their life, just as Jane and Martin did when I first arrived.  Or at least they are putting up with me for the duration without complaint!  It will be ten weeks with Sally and Trevor when I get on the boat on February 2nd, a long time to host a guest.  I have joined Sally’s gym and am doing pilates three times a week and working out four times a week.  Yes, me!  As well as joining some of Sally’s friends at Swingfit on Friday morning.  What a blast, following the teachers moves to old big band music and songs.  Stormy Weather, Mac the Knife, New York New York.  I have learned about 60% of the steps, the rest I just fumble along.  Sally’s friends have included me in their events, and I am thoroughly enjoying my time here, despite the damp weather.  Last week four of us went to York for the day, took the train.  Had humus and pita for lunch in a once Roman town, and then Yorvic, the capital of Daneslaw, when the Vikings ruled much of the east coast of Britain.  That was news to me, I know the Vikings raided over the centuries, but I did not remember or ever knew that they ruled.  Canute was a Viking king.  Who knew!

Carolle, Sally and Chris on the Roman wall around York. York Minster is in the background.

Just a few more weeks before the next phase, on the water, begins.  It will fly by, and I need to get organized.  Again.  This week we are going to London to visit with Ed, Laura and Ruben, my great nephew, whom I have only met once, but feel I know through all the pictures forwarded to me by Sally or Jane.  The wonders of modern technology.  The adventure continues.



Stories, myths and memories


Planes, trains and automobiles. And canals, of course.


  1. Christine A

    A very interesting read, Maggie. Lovely to see you settling into life in England.

    • Maggie

      Hi Gail,
      I often think of the people that I hope will read and enjoy it. It feels like I am having a conversation with them. So it is lovely to read your response. I am really glad you are enjoying it. Big hugs, Maggie

  2. Gail Carpenter

    Hi Maggie ❤️ What a wonderful story. I loved reading this snippit of your trip. It evoked all kinds of feelings and memories of my own xxx. It took me right along with you and made me smile. I love how you swept me up in what’s going on with you. So glad you’re enjoying your adventures. Looking forward to the next chapter. Miss you ?

  3. Mary Mann

    Wow Maggie… what a trip down memory lane… feeling very nostalgic right now!!! We were so lucky growing up in such a creative atmosphere and beautiful town. One of my strongest memories on returning home from school was Mondays when Mum (I notice you use Mom!!!) would be ironing and listensing to a play or story being read on the radio. I would lean against the sink facing her and listen to the end with her. Strange what we remember huh? I remember Mum making our sleeping bags from orange and black and white checquered fabric. it was a real challenge getting the slippery fabrics and stuffing to hold together so we could sew it. She could not get the old treddle to work and bought an electric sewing machine so as to do it. On starting at Whinney Hill I already knew how to sew but had to do it there on a hand turned machine…. only one hand to guide the fabric under the foot.. yikes!

    Also re the previous posting, I remember Dad saying that after the evening class the only way for him to get home was with the postal train. at that time they would sort the letters on the train as it slowly made it’s way to the next collection point. As the train went through the station it would slow down even more so that he could safely jump off…. can’t imagine anything like that happening these days with all the rules about safety, can you?

    much love and keep em coming! Looking forward to doing some jewelry with you on the boat….

    Mare, oxoxo

    • Maggie

      Yes, I remember Mondays, laundry day. I loved the smell of the air dried clothes, the ironing, and the stew that Mom would sometimes have on the stove. Smelling a stew today can take me right back there.
      I hope you enjoy the rest of your time in California,
      Big love and hugs

  4. Marnie Munro

    Happy New Year, Maggie! I’m happy to see you enjoying all the memories and new experiences. I remember the days of fetching the extra leaves from the hall closet because we needed to extend the table for a holiday celebration. Now it’s mostly just two of us, my mother and I, for Christmas, with plenty of elbow room at the table. Oh well, the clean-up goes a lot faster. Now I have to get ready for my last client on this sunny Sunday afternoon. Waving from Toronto!

    • Maggie

      Waving back Marnie, good to hear from you. I sure miss your massages! Funny how life goes in cycles, I imagine there will be a time when that table will be full again, just as my siblings left home and it was just Mom and Dad and they passed it on. Got a round table that Mom had always wanted!

  5. clela errington

    Hi Maggie,

    So interesting to read about you and the places you are visiting. I loved watching the video of you at the table with the grinding machine.

    • Maggie

      I love that head lamp and magnifier! I see your postings for your singing and your daughters on fb. I love how the world just continues along in its groove. Very reassuring.

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