In March 2000, Christine underwent a hip replacement at Heatherwood Hospital, Ascot...
Christine: "I was given a corner bed with three other ladies in the men's end of the ward - ladies all full up! I have a nice nurse called Mariana... she asked me lots of questions, and told me Mr Thomas is doing three hip replacements next week. I hope I'm the first on the list - I want to get it over! The Radio Heatherwood people have been round... I asked for 'Young at Heart' by The Bluebells. It reminds me of the times Diana drove me home from Brighton [where Diana was at Uni], and is also how I want to remain - young in body too after my op."
The operation (which was actually performed on March 2nd - her 64th birthday!) was a success, but Christine remained in the hospital during her recuperation...
"I got out of bed and took my first steps - very difficult and painful, more than I expected - feel as though I'll never walk again at the moment! Sat out for a while. My gentleman friend made me laugh tonight - he watched 'Blind Date' with all the ladies, then wanted to see the Lottery results - but they [the other patients] wanted to see 'Casualty'. His remark to me was '... think they'd had enough of bloody hospitals, wouldn't you?!'. It sounded so funny. I've had lots of cards, and have been very lucky... can't believe it's nearly all over. It's certainly been an experience."
This family photo shows us all at the Stag & Hounds pub (later renamed The Pinkneys Arms) in Pinkneys Green, Maidenhead, in July 2000. Siting between my mother and myself is Neil Brooks, Diana's new partner (and future husband), and we arranged to go out for a meal all together to meet him - and for him to start to get to know Diana's family. Her marriage to Dave had ended in the latter half of 1999 - he has since re-married an Australian (Simone), and now lives happily in Australia! They later had two children, and he still keeps in regular contact with us. Diana and Neil also went on to have two children - Charlotte and Emily.
Christine: "Neil is very tall (I have to look up to see his face!) - there's about 18" between us, but that might be exaggerating... but he's over 6ft. Seems very nice and unassuming - reminds me of Christine's Ken. Has an attractive west-country accent - I'm glad I've met him. Sam enjoyed running about in the grass [in the pub's huge garden], and Maurice, Stephen and Diana played with him - there was also a swing there, and a see-saw."
I love this photo of myself and mum (which was taken by Sam in the back garden of 9 Shirley Road) during the several days of snow we had over the Christmas of 2000. We made a little snowman too, which Sam loved.
Christine: "Stephen and Sam made a mini-snowman in the back garden - he had a pointed paper hat, frozen peas for eyes and mouth, and a frozen parsnip for a nose. Bugsy [the beagle] tried to eat the first parnsip, and was eating snow as well - he's mad!"
The above photos show my mum (with Diana and Sam) at home on her 65th birthday - March 2001.
Christine: "It's my 65th birthday today - which I can hardly believe! This time last year I was in Heatherwood Hospital feeling very sleepy after my op. I opened four cards and letters... from Marion, Lillian, Brenda and Carol. Stephen collected Sam from school... they gave me presents and two nice birthday cards with badges on, which I put on my jumper.
[Diana] gave me my present - a clock with pictures of different birds at every hour (which sing their own song on the hour) - I want it in the kitchen, where I can hear it! Maurice came later and gave me a dictating machine which I'd asked for, in the hope of telling my life story!"
I was very happy of course to oblige Christine's wish with the latter, and produce this website - using her actual words wherever possible. I've tried to do my best!
Christine: "August 25th 2001 - the dreadful Charlie arrived!"
My mum had been very upset when Bugsy the Beagle had died earlier that year, and when an opportunity came to look after Charlie, she decided she'd like to have him! He was quite a challenge though at first to say the least, buy my mum persevered with him, and he certainly improved and calmed down as time went on.
Christine: "Had a surprise phone call from Dorothy [our neighbour at the time from three doors down, and the mother of my friend Jon] to ask me if I'd like to take on another dog - a 2-year-old Dandie Dinmont. [It's] a type of terrier - only drawbacks are that it has a very loud bark! It belongs to a friend [of Dorothy's] who can no longer look after it. I said I'd think about it, and maybe take it on trial."
Well, after the week's trial, my mum ended up keeping Charlie (whom I renamed 'Scruffy'!) for the rest of her days. She wanted to give him a good home and, being an animal lover, enjoyed once again having a dog around for company and to take out for walks.
This was at the Horse & Groom restaurant, Hare Hatch (near Twyford) on the day of my mum's 66th birthday - March 2nd 2002.
Christine: "My 56th birthday - oh yes it is! Had a nice meal together - I really enjoyed it and ate a lot. Came home and had a lovely chocolate cake Diana had brought over, and my presents - yoga video from Sam, ginger wine from Stephen, cycle helmet and hand cream from Diana and Neil, and a cordless phone from Maurice. I was very lucky - they were all very kind, and treated me to lunch as well."
Christine: "Jubilee celebrations in Shirley Road - me and Dorothy, June 2002."
This is the day of the street party in Shirley Road marking the Queen's 50th Jubilee (held on June 3rd), when we were all given an extra Bank Holiday Monday!
Christine: "They'd organised it very well... they'd got a BBQ with burgers and drumsticks, and very nice sweets. Saw Mrs Philpot (Jacqui) - Sam's teacher helper from Boyn Hill School, and spoke to her - also Mary who lives at no. 29. Sat mostly with Dorothy and Tony [Crane], and Penny and Jonathan, she's very nice too. Jon was pounding out the music from Mary's drive (I'm sure he'll be deaf by the time he's 50 or 60!). Sam enjoyed himself with the children."
Sadly Dorothy and Tony both passed away within a few short years after my mum too.
This is mum and Sam (literally) stopping to smell the roses at a favourite spot - Greys Court House, near Henley, in June 2002.
Christine: "Had a very pleasant afternoon. Went round the maze again, then walked through the walled garden - beautiful roses. Climbed up the tower - I didn't do that two years ago when we last came after my hip operation. Lovely view from the top of the countryside, and Greys Court itself. Crossed the moon bridge and looked at the icehouse... next on to the donkey-wheel, which was used to draw water from a very deep well. Stephen and Sam threw pennies into it... waiting several seconds before hearing the splash!"
Here are myself, mum and Sam at Dawlish Water during our week's holiday in neighbouring Teignmouth, during Jul/Aug 2002.
Christine: "We're staying at the Devonia Guest House, Brunswick Street - run by June and Ken Ball. Went to station and caught train to Dawlish... [it] consisted of one coach which came in bursting at the seams! Walked to Dawlish Warren... stopped at Langstone Cliff Hotel - Stephen wanted to see it again after 30 years! We had some drinks there and sat at a table on the lawn in front of the hotel - it looks a bit more 'up-market' now. Drove back to Dawlish in evening and showed Sam the stream and black swans, and the lights came on - had some food in a café. Lights very pretty coming back as it was nearly dark."
This is from our visit to Brixham during the same week - the place of Christine's grandfather (Gamps) birth, so it was always a place she found special.
Christine: "Stephen drove us to Brixham, which was absolutely brilliant for me - lovely to be there again after four years. We walked round the harbour after going on the Golden Hinde, [then] had a meal in a fish restaurant. Walked to look at the hotel where I stayed [in 1998] - then back over Ranscombe Steps and Temperance Steps to Fore Street. Very nice day - thank you Stephen (especially Brixham). Must go for a weekend again, I love it so much.
We all enjoyed our week at Teignmouth so much, we decided to return there (and Brixham) the following year!
This shows mum (with attached butterfly!) at London Butterfly House, Syon Park, during our visit there in October 2002.
Christine: "Butterflies beautiful - one large black and white one landed on my arm, then went on my face and neck - Stephen took a picture. Lovely to see them all flying round... looked at some tropical birds too. Also saw crocodiles, terrapins, fish and tropical insects."
This is Christine (with Maurice and Diana) on March 2nd 2003 - her 67th birthday.
Christine: "It was a lovely morning so I decided to go to church, at last - been meaning to go for the past three years! Opened Stephen and Sam's cards and Sam's present - a lovely scented candle which I had lighted in the kitchen this evening. Diana and Maurice arrived about 4 bearing gifts! Diana also brought a beautiful birthday cake [pictured left] decorated like a little garden with a gnome sitting in front of a pond, with flowerpots on the grass (green icing) - really nice."
Here are mum and Sam outside the Devonia Guest House, Teignmouth, during our return holiday there in 2003.
Christine: "Woke up calm - then suddenly remembered we were going on holiday too! Got to Teignmouth 5:15 - earlier than last year. I haven't got the pink room this year (which is rather disappointing) but am in the room Stephen and Sam had last year. 72 degrees - lovely sunny day."
And here they are at Brixham marina, where we promised mum we'd return during our stay!
Christine: "Sam wanted to go on the Golden Hinde again - then we walked down to quay and had something to eat. Walked round other side up to breakwater - they've built a wide walkway round there now. Very crowded with holidaymakers - I wouldn't spend a holiday there in August, but nice to see it again! Didn't leave till 9 - heard All Saints' Church clock chiming the hour."
Here are mum and Sam at Carters Steam Fair, Holyport, in September 2003. This was a place we always enjoyed visiting on its annual stint on the village green. This was also the day I got very excited when I actually succeeded in knocking the coconut off the shy for the first time ever!
Christine: "Lots of amusements and rides etc. Stephen won a coconut, and Sam won a few prizes too. Had a go on nearly everything - lots of people there. Afterwards... we walked up Holyport Street - very nice old cottages and beautiful old houses near the green. Also walked up little [allegedly haunted!] path and found John Gay's house. He was a poet/dramatist (1685-1732) and wrote 'The Beggars Opera."
Here we are gathered at the Shire Horse restaurant in Maidenhead for Christmas Day (2003) lunch! In recent years, we'd decided to have our Christmas lunch out to give our mum/nana a bit of a rest. The balloon dog I'm holding was fashioned by Maurice's friend Richard Trayner - who was also celebrating with his family at a nearby table.
Christine: "We had a nice table in a bay-window at the front of the building. Had a very nice pear salad to start... and a nice mix of vegetables. Shared a bottle of Chardonnay! Hadn't eaten such a big meal for ages but enjoyed it - lovely to go out, and would like to do it every year. Richard's family had walked to the Shire Horse through the Thicket... his mum spoke to me, and is very nice."
Here we see Christine with her second grandchild - Charlotte, first daughter of Diana and Neil, who was born on March 14th 2004.
Christine: "Stephen drove us to Wexham at 3pm - [Diana] was in ward 22... same one Marie was in. She had [her] own TV, telephone and TV games - luxury! The baby's beautiful - I think it'll look like Neil, but can't be sure... I held it for a long time. She's going to be called Charlotte Reva (another Charlie!). Lovely to see baby - hope she grows up a nice girl."
Here are Diana, Sam, Lottie, Mum and Charlie the dog on the walkway over the weir at Hambledon, near Henley, with the famous mill in the background.
Christine: "Spring Bank Holiday - we all went to Hambledon Lock for a picnic. Set off about 10:30... we parked, and walked back to the road and crossed, passing the mill (now flats) and walked acros the lock. Found a spot under a tree on the grass to have our picnic - very nice... lots of people out walking dogs. After picnic, walked to Flower Pot inn at Aston... very nice day."
Here's Mum and Sam at the water garden at Cliveden House, just north of Maidenhead - another favourite place of ours for a day out. On this particular day we made sure we saw everything!
Christine: "Went to water garden first, as we usually do - very attractive there. Walked through the Long Garden to the Blenheim Pavilion, then found [the] amphitheatre. Wanted to find Canning's Oak for Sam - were shocked to find it no longer standing but lying on its side, with a notice saying it had blown down in May - great shame. Walked on again and came to the war memorial and cemetery, which I hadn't seen before - several soldiers from the First World War buried there, presumably they'd been treated at the Canadian Red Cross Hospital. Got to the river bank and sat under a nice shady tree and had a nice picnic - it was so hot! Walked back up the 172 steps... to the house, and walked along to the west side - hadn't been there before. Searched for the Secret Garden, and after a long time looking for it finally came across it - never been there before either. Very nice with arches covered in honeysuckle and clematis."
Here are mum and Sam walking up the hill at Lulworth Cove, Dorset, during our week's holiday in Swanage in August - our second visit there together in three years. Christine had of course also visited Lulworth with Brenda a few years earlier too.
Christine: "Walked down to the cove, and found the pond and the spring which flows into the sea. We went to look at the cove, then climbed up the hill and looked at the Stair Hole and rock formations. From there, walked over the cliffs to Durdle Dor, took about an hour. Had a lovely time there - very nice."
On the final day of our stay we visited the 'hidden village' of Arne - mum had seen it on a postcard, and liked the look of it, so we decided to investigate further! We visited the village, and walked along the heathlands that stretch to Poole harbour, as seen above.
Christine: "Drove to the village of Arne in Poole harbour - went to a toy museum there - very interesting, and had drinks in the adjoining café. Walked to Shipstal Point, and Sam had a paddle - it's all part of RSPB nature reserve, and the area is covered in different heathers and gorse. Saw deer grazing near the water and seabirds feeding - wished I'd had my binoculars. Very peaceful by the water, and we enjoyed it. Walked back... went in the small 14th century church of St Nicholas - mummy would have loved it, so small like a tiny chapel. Village of Arne only composed of a few houses, and no pub! We all enjoyed our visit to Arne as it was so different - very quiet and peaceful, and a nice way to finish our holiday."
This is us all enjoying Christmas Day 2004 lunch at the Ring O' Bells restaurant, near Maidenhead. This was also Maurice's 40th birthday! Neil and Charlotte are also present too (though not visible in this picture). Sadly, this was to be our mother's last ever Christmas.
Christine: "Got ready to go out - red beaded cardigan, black skirt, aquamarine ring (and mummy's ring), ring necklace mummy gave me (crystal one) and jingly bell earrings. Got to Ring O' Bells at 12:30 in good time - only one party before us. Had tomato soup, then melon, then large plate of turkey, sprouts, carrots, parnsips, roast potatoes, bacon and gammon - I tried to eat it all! Ended with coffee and mince pies. Did our presents when we got home, then Maurice's birthday presents and cake. Maurice bought Lottie a lovely al-in-one reindeer outfit - really sweet. Maurice stayed, and we [all] watched a recording I'd made this morning of a Morecambe & Wise [Christmas] show."
The story finishes in 2005... with Mum's Photo-Biog Part 5 on the next page.