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Friday, 7 December 2018


Good morning from Arundel Eccentrics

Bit of a change from light-hearted chit-chat this morning.

We've heard a lot about mental illness over the past week on British TV.

With Christmas coming up, the time when loved ones get together,
 I thought I would repost this blog posting from earlier in the year.

I went to visit someone close to me yesterday.

The path of her life
 changed forever
 at 22 years old.

She was one week away from completing her nurse training.

A beautiful, vivacious, funny, gregarious young
 woman who dressed stylishly
 and always wore at least a dab of makeup.
Dated footballers.
 Went clubbing.
 Had a circle of friends who adored her.

In short, led a normal life.

But...she felt something wasn't right.
 Didn't know what it was. 

Went into doctors surgeries and
A and E departments begging for help.

 Was found in the middle of Brighton
 wearing pyjamas on a bitter winters day.

Then she stole something from a large department store.
 The police officer who arrested her recognised the cry for help.

 The young constable had been called
 to the cliffs of Beachy Head the day before.
 A Sussex beauty spot renowned for suicides.

"I wasn't going to let that happen on my watch again," she said.

After weeks of psychiatric appointments came the diagnosis.


Her widowed mother tried to keep her at home but
 it was just too much for the old lady to cope with.

The voices dictated her daughter's every move.

They told her to walk into the sea in Brighton and just keep walking.
How she didn't drown we just don't know
It happened twice.

Her mother knew she couldn't keep her safe.

Then came a succession of psychiatric wards.
And the people you met therein.

She became involved with an alcoholic schizophrenic.

Luckily she had her wits about her the day
 he tried to coerce her into going with him.

To rob the local Building Society.
Holding them up with a cricket bat.

He wound up at Her Majestys Pleasure on the Isle of Wight.
The one good thing to come out of the day.

Chunks of family history were erased
 from her brain after ECT treatment.

Some of the treatment enforced.
She was considered too ill to make the decision herself.

Family events were lost too as people became
 unsure of how she would be at weddings, parties, funerals, dinners.

Nervous their event would be spoiled they stopped asking her.

Visitors slowly stopped coming.
Her mother passed away.

Thirty years on, her face has aged well beyond its 55 years.
 Home, a hostel, for the past 22.

Visitors are rare.
People are nervous about psychiatric illness.

Sometimes I go and am turned away from her bedroom door.
 Her pale face contorted in mental anguish. 
The voicing driving her under the duvet for days on end. 

She doesn't leave the safety of her room and the staff knock
 at meal and drug rounds, but she stays hidden, living on hoarded tins of food.

Yesterday, was a better day than most
 and we went out for coffee.

I took her gifts of toiletries that a friend
 who works for a high-end company gets cheaper.

 Bath gels and creams that she glanced at
 and said her voices wouldn't let her have.

They seem to prefer her to go to Wilkinsons, the cheap shop on the corner.

For the first time in years, we were able to discuss her illness.

" How would life have been without it?"

She thought for a moment. 

" I think I would have had a job and a car. 
A flat or house and a boyfriend or husband.
 Maybe children. I wanted children. 
Friends to go out with."

She was quiet for a moment and sighed,
" It changed my whole life."

Instead, she lives in a hostel with staff who clearly
care, but who go home every night. 

Her family the other residents
 who also are in their own private world.

The only high spots are the cigarettes
 she constantly smokes and the
 scratch cards she's become addicted to.

I told her she needs to get them both under control.

"What else have I got?" She said.

And I thought, but didn't say,
" Yes, you're right. F all."

She has few visitors.

Maybe one every few months. 

That seems to be the way with mental illness.
No flowers or cards or visits.

After 30 years of it....people just forget.

On the way home I
pulled in and cried.

And gave thanks for my
 life with all its ups and downs.

And it's normality.

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Upcycling, Arundel and Other Stuff.

As much as possible we like to keep antique
 and vintage pieces as near original as we can.

Sometimes though..... get my point

So..... then we like to give things a helping hand.

We paint and decorate with decoupage, using 19th-century images.

Here's what we did with those vintage enamel buckets and tubs.

sometimes we gild and then decoupage

we start with this

and wind up with this

lots of work yes...but satisfying

and sometimes I get help.....

and sometimes I don't.

We do the same work on bamboo

and chests of drawers

that start out like this

and end up like this

they've also been on the 4th floor of Liberty London

and in magazines

So we are pretty chuffed.

oh by the way

I went to
Arun Business of the Year Awards.

Best small business of 1-5 employees

exciting hey?

Arundel Stuff

Arundel is the most beautiful town on the south coast of England.

We are lucky enough to live and work there.

 Every morning Elsa and I do a different walk...

sometimes along the riverbank....

by the way

this is Elsa

just over a year old...nearly lost a grass seed that went into her leg and migrated to her spine

She couldn't walk at one point.
Or feed herself.
Or even lift her head.
Just the slightest flick of the tail.

Look at her now.

Here's her story

sometimes in the hills...

or Arundel park

If you've never been to Arundel it's well worth a visit.

This weekend we have Arundel By Candlelight.

Here's all the details.

We will be open.
Pop round to the warehouses
behind Arundel Co-op and say hello.

Heres our FB page

and all our latest English and French antiques can be found on The Hoarde

Have a great day

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Joanna Lumley Showed the Real Iran

Did you happen to see
Joanna Lumley on her Silk Road Tour.
Week 3 she was in Iran.

Well,  to Joanna and her team.
Huge Congratulations.


Because this was the first programme we have watched
 that really shows the Iran that we see.

The one we visit year after year.

Not the Iran of the news stories.

But the people and
the breathtaking sites.

Catch up with it if you want to see what Iran is really like.

Thanks, Joanna you have done an absolutely fabulous job....oooouch sorry.

Last year we went for a big wedding.

Visiting Iran

"I'm going on holiday."
"Oh, lovely! You deserve a break. Where are you going? "
" Iran."
 these wondrous camels are just outside Yazd beside the road

made by a local artist

The friend goes silent and physically blanches.

Then quietly,
"Will you be OK? Will you be safe?"

It happens a lot.
But not all the time. 
Some friends have been to Iran and know the country and it's people well.

"Oh! How exciting," they say breathlessly, their eyes lighting up, 
" I wish I were coming with you."

Lonely Planet on Iran 

"Welcome to what could be
 the friendliest country on earth."

Check it out if you are thinking of making the trip.
Seeing for yourself.

The photography is brilliant.
There are videos and information overload.


And yes, although I feel safe.

There are a few things that unnerve me.

The traffic mostly.

Imagine the lanes around the Arc de Triomphe on a bad day.
Then multiply that by 5 and you are getting close.

Many people don't wear seatbelts.
Mobile phones are clamped to ears of drivers speeding through traffic,
one nonchalant hand on the wheel.

Five people on a motorbike is not a rare sight, though crash helmets are.
I saw a man wearing one last year.
I pointed him out.
The first I had ever seen.

Crossing the road can be terrifying.
You have to walk, and not feel scared by the traffic hurtling towards you.
They will go round you.
Unless you run.
Which is your instinct.
Then you would run directly into the path they are taking to avoid you.

If you get me.

The only way I can cross a busy road is to hang on to someone who knows what they are doing.
With my eyes closed.

This is the lovely Farhad.
Once the smallest, quietest person in the family.
Now the most gregarious.

When he was a little boy he used to say,
"Aunty Berennie I will take you."
And he would put his tiny hand in mine while I closed my eyes to run the gauntlet.

I laugh with him and say he could just carry me now.

The same scariness applies to being a passenger in a car.

I mostly close my eyes.


It's not the just historical sites that make the visit so amazing.
It's the people.
As a foreigner, I'm regularly stopped in the street.

"Welcome to our country"
"What do you think of Iran?"
"Do you like Yazd?"
and so it goes on.

"Welcome. Please come to dinner at our house."
And it's a genuine offer.

I was surprised just how many friends made in later years had been to Iran.
They had mostly gone pre-revolution.
Some just getting out in time.

I first went when I was 17.

Strange, to meet and marry an Iranian man
later in my life and return to a country I never thought I would see again.

One or two friends had stories of getting out just in time before the you-know-what hit the fan.
Some made their way through Turkey.
Oh to be 17and slim and carefree again

A few have visited in recent years.
Going on tours mostly.

But all will tell you the same.
"What a beautiful country."
"What welcoming people."
"How kind the people are to strangers."

I won't mention politics.
You can't blame a whole nation for who is in charge n'est pas?

I just want to tell you about my experiences in a country where I've always felt welcome.
Of a people who will invite you to their home for dinner on the strength of a chance meeting.

Of women who are mostly living a life that you would never guess, being on the outside looking in.

Have a read of this......


Airport Control

Going through passport control at Tehran airport in the early days of my return,
I always felt on edge.

One day as I walked through and breathed a sigh of relief, the man at the desk called me back.

Red and flustered I returned, wondering which bit of paperwork might be out of order.

"Er.... Yes?" My voice a bit shaky.
"Madam," said the passport controller, and in halting English added with a smile,
"Welcome to our country. Enjoy your stay."

And that's been the case since.

This Trip

We returned for Nass's nephew's wedding.

We arrive in Tehran and always go to Nass's aunt's house while we await the internal flight to Yazd.
Aunty never seems to stop smiling

Jabbab is his cousin.
He has Downs Syndrome.

For twenty years he didn't see Nass when Nass was stranded in England.
Younger and only 6 years old when Nass left, he still remembered him.

He adores Nass who jokes with him constantly.
Waits by the door for days when he knows we are about to visit.

Jabbab takes a lot of flack from Nass that he wouldn't accept from anybody else.

He mimics everyone and even when he doesn't see me for years
he puts on a scarf and takes me off to a tee.

The family live simply.
Mostly in two rooms.
With little furniture.

Out comes the chai.
The routine in every household in Iran.
Followed by fruit.
And however much you say no....

(Taroff. Have a look at the links. Taroff  the Persian art of etiquette)

..You mostly give into it


We went for a walk in the park nearby and sat in the shade 
watching these two old friends doing their keep fit regime.

It was 40C plus.

Many parks now have these fitness areas.
They are well used.


On our first evening in Yazd, we went to a coffee shop.
It's been 9 years since I was last in Iran and things are definitely changing.

Coffee shops have sprung up all over town.
At last, a decent coffee.
The cafes are places families like to spend time in the cool of the evening.

Some of them have the most beautiful decor.
Lots of cool to the touch marble.

The first two days were in preparation for the big wedding.

Dramatic, noisy, dressy, affairs.

If you want to see more heres the link

Family Lunches

We always stay with Nass's sister and her husband at their large house in Yazd

Family turn up most days at the house to eat lunch with us.

A plastic tablecloth is set on the floor and we sit around it.

Nass's sister and husband have a table.
But I have never seen it used.
They prefer the floor.
The same with many families.

Ten/ fifteen sit round eating/talking/arguing.
But mostly laughing.
And they are not without their any family.
But just for that short time, they are forgotten.

I've never known a family laugh so much.
and so LOUDLY!
I wriggle a bit.
I have never ever been able to sit cross-legged.
Even when I was really young and did yoga... I struggled.

You try sitting on the floor leaning on one hand, eating with the other.
It's not easy.
Then when you think you've cracked it....try eating spaghetti.

Incidentally, the Persian way of cooking spaghetti would make any Italian turn pale.
But crazily, it seems to work.

After lunch, one by one in the heat of the day, people have a couple of hours sleep.
I really could get used to that.

Once we went to lunch with people I hadn't met before.
I felt sleepy after eating.
Nass said
"Lie down and rest"
" I can't do that!"
"Everyone else will soon."

So I closed my heavy lids.
Two hours later I woke to see every guest fast asleep.
The hostess had put a small cushion under each head and a blanket over every snoozing body.

Places Worth Visiting

There are many tour companies
 that visit all the relevant historical sites.

Yazd is always on the list.

For good reason

Last year

 Yazd was added to the coveted list of World Heritage cities endorsed by UNESCO.

Yazd is now the only UNESCO-listed Iranian city where people
still live. It is also believed to be the world's largest inhabited adobe city.
( buildings constructed from adobe clay or bricks.)

meet the family ..outside Yazd's famous mosque

Nass and Omid, his youngest brother

as antique dealers, we just can't stop ourselves looking.


At least 1800 years old.

Nass and his brother Omid

Omid and his lovely wife Nasim.
They looked after us well.
Nasim speaks good English which was wonderful.

What we didn't know when Omid and his wife took us out for the day,
was that he had worked all night.
And was going to be working the following night also.

There are the most spectacular views from the top of the old castle.

and then it's off to the restaurant in Meybod for lunch.

and no we didn't snooze afterward.....felt like it, mind.
My husband sneaking off to the toilet...when actually he's gone to pay the bill..Taroff.....

Desert Sunsets.

Would we like to go into the desert and watch the sunset?
Would we???
Oh yes.
we jumped at it.

Just outside of Yazd city we drove on to the deserted desert roads.

Down some pretty scary tracks.
On the way, we noticed the occasional four-wheel drive vehicle heading the same way.

We had heard it was on the tourist agenda, so assumed it to be for tourists.

Sliding down a steep dune, we arrived at the oasis.
We stood for a moment. 
No one spoke.
It was stunning.
And peaceful.

The sunset when it came was beautiful.

Leaving, we kept looking back over our shoulders.
Wanting to take it all in.
We headed off to a meeting point where we were to link up with others from the family.

For ice cream

It was a wonderful trip.