August Oasis Blog

Well another month has passed us by here at Oasis Central and what a month it’s been with probably the biggest U turn the government has made so far which for once  I am pleased to endorse. The students of 2020 have had such upheaval, they deserve to receive their teacher assessed results rather than those produced by a flawed computer algorithm!  According to the Guardian there has been 12 U turns  by the government unless you know otherwise!

As I rummage through the Oasis archives I think of this time last year and of our outing to the 1940’s event at the Mid Norfolk Railway at Dereham, and what was meant to be an annual event in the Oasis calendar before that rotten Covid-19 came along and spoilt things! It was such a lovely day with a good turn out of ladies, partners and friends.

We had another good Zoom meeting (despite Serena’s absence) on the 15th of the month. 14 people took part. It was good see that that Carole was recovering well from her back operation and Geri from a repair to her carotid artery, following a minor stroke.  There was lots of interesting conversation taking place as usual and thanks again to Petra for arrange this.

On Friday 21st, a lovely sunny, if a little windy day saw a visit to East Ruston Vicarage Gardens, just around the corner from Stalham, organised by Theresa which proved to be a great success.  See post

Venice, Sydney and Paris.

Of course, being a lady of financial means has meant that while you were all on lockdown I was able to get out and about to all those places other people couldn’t.  So I thought I would share with you my holiday snaps.  Have you got any lockdown snaps to share with us?

We had a lovely socially distanced lunch in a local pub recently to celebrate Vicky birthday.  This was the first meal we had had away from home since February. In these unusual times in which we live, we have now taken to not removing anything from our diary for at least 14 days after they have taken place in case we get a call from Track and Trace!

Finally it seems a foreign holiday is really unlikely to happen this year, unless like me your a lady of financial means or your willing to risk a 14 day quarantine on your return.  So it’s a chance to explore the wonderful countryside and cities of the UK on a  Staycation.  As your standing in your holiday home, motorhome, caravan or tent looking out the window doing the washing up, we can all dream of what it was like before Covid-19.

Travel Plans 2020?

Keep safe, Beccie x

Escape to the Past

Lilly continues with her Escape series…

I’ve always loved history and the history of science. I like the motto; ‘how do you know where you are going, when you don’t know where you’ve been?’.

These days, I have another important history question; how do I get my hands on the keys to Lucy Worsley’s dressing up box?

Gosh which history though, the brief history of humanity or the history of the universe, all 14 odd billion years? Humans, a rather annoying pin prick in time; just ask the planet right now.

These days we are well served with history on the TV, and it’s not all about Queens and Kings. There are plenty of stories of normal folk. I recommend the work of Ruth Goodman, who through her programmes such as ‘Tudor Farm’. In a very ‘hands on’ way, these shows really illustrate how common people (like me) lived. Ruth likes a bit of dressing up too; in fact I rather think that modern clothes don’t quite suit Ruth.

Another great source of knowledge is the wonderful BBC Radio 4’s ‘In Our Time’, which covers a bewildering spectrum of history, philosophical and science subjects. The programme is always interesting, and well worth investing a hour to listen each week. I’ve even grown to love Melvin Bragg!

‘In Our Time’ features many women and uses many female experts in the discussions.

Here are a few of the women who’s stories have captured my imagination.

Ada Lovelace, was an English mathematician and the daughter of the mad, bad and dangerous (no, not me silly!) Lord Byron. Unusually for a woman, Ada was encouraged to study the sciences by her mum. Possibly in an effort to ensure she kept her distance from her dear papa! Through Ada’s friendship with Charles Babbage and knowledge of his amazing mechanical calculating machines, Ada is credited with writing the first ever computer program or algorithm. When I studied engineering, there wasn’t a girl in sight (I certainly wasn’t in sight). I hope the world is changing and we can all be who, and what we want to be. Ada is an inspiration to young women engineers and programmers; she had such amazing insight.

Julian of Norwich (b1343) was a nun in the Middle Ages, who wrote the earliest surviving book in the English language written by a woman, ‘Revelations of Divine Love’. A ‘local girl’, she lived most of her life Norwich, then the second city in England. During her lifetime, the city suffered the devastating effects of the Black Death (pandemics are not new!) and the Peasants’ Revolt. When aged thirty and so seriously ill she thought she was on her deathbed, Julian received a series of visions of the Passion of Christ. Julian’s statue can be seen on the western front of Norwich Cathedral; why not pop round and say hello?

Vera Brittain (b1893), author, socialist and pacifist. I read Vera’s famous, sad and wonderful book ‘Testament of Youth’ in my teens and along with ‘All Quiet on the West Front’ and ‘Catch 22’, heavily influenced my own political views on war.

Vera served in France as a nurse in the First World War and lost both of her brothers in the fighting. These experiences directed her future career as a writer and political activist. She might not have written, ‘War what is good for, absolutely nothing!’ but I think Vera would agree and so do I.

Dorothy Hodgkin (b1910) was the first and only British woman to be awarded a Nobel Prize in any of the three sciences. Whilst born in Egypt, Dorothy spend much of her early life in Beccles.

At Dorothy’s school, girls were not allowed to take science subjects but Dorothy fought this decision and won, later going on the study Chemistry at Oxford. During her research career Dorothy advanced the technique of X-ray crystallography.

Dorothy’s influential discoveries include the confirmation of the structure of penicillin, insulin and vitamin B12, for which she was awarded her Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

On Dorothy’s award, one of the newspaper headlines was ‘Grandmother and housewife, wins Nobel Prize’. What rot, like so many women Dorothy simply raised a family and built a brilliant career!

Caroline Herschel (b1750) was the younger sister of the far better known astronomer William Herschel. Caroline’s contribution like so many other women, has been forgotten but are just as important as those of her older brother.

Born in Hanover Caroline and William eventually settled in Berkshire in 1782 after William was appointed ‘The King’s Astronomer’

Caroline discovered eight comets, and catalogued 560 previously unrecorded stars, and was the first women to be paid for her scientific work. King George III gave her an annual salary of £50. She was the first woman to be awarded the Gold Medal of the UK’s Royal Astronomical Society in 1838. Not bad for a girl!

History continues to be written and I wonder in years time, how will we view 2020? Covid, #BlackLivesMatter, the politics of statues and (our) Trans rights, all momentous events. Generally history is written by the winners, so we shall see who gets to hold the pen.

If you like recent history, why not try the new show on BBC called ‘Mrs America’, a drama based on the feminist struggle in the USA, in the early 70’s. It is great fun and really interesting piece of social history.

See you all soon. Now where did I put my mask?

Love Lilly x

 

Smelling of Roses

Friday 21st August 2020 was the date suggested as a chance for Oasis ladies and partners to meet safely in a socially distanced environment. East Ruston Old Vicarage Gardens turned out to be the perfect venue, lots of outdoor tables and seating in the tearoom area, ample space for everyone.

Arriving not too long after midday, Lorraine and myself found Beccie sitting on her own with a pot of tea messaging others who were expected to arrive on the day. It turned out that unfortunately Vicky and Nina both had motoring related mishaps and weren’t able to join us as planned. Joanna confirmed she was en-route so we decided to stay seated outside and ordered two ploughmen for lunch, this was quite a challenge trying to stop the food flying off the plates while at the same time maintaining dignity with skirts and hair.

Beccie, Joanna and Lorraine posing!

Once Joanna arrived, the Fabulous Four (Joanna, Beccie, Lorraine & myself) set off on our adventures around the garden. It really did turn out to be quite an adventure with something different to be found around every corner, the different gardens and landscapes were amazing. The two guys who built the place certainly have bucket loads of talent and imagination.

While walking around something triggered a thought in my mind, any therapist will tell you, if you’re stressed or racing ahead “don’t forget to stop and smell the roses”, well I took this quite literally and smelled the roses, wonderful.

 

Now you see it now you don’t -mobile phone illusion

Beccie purchased a brochure containing interesting info about the gardens and included the fact there is an unusual view of Happisburgh Lighthouse. Beccie’s map reading skills were put to the test and we eventually found the Light(house) at the end of the tunnel.

Capturing the lighthouse proved to be a challenge for our phones which were determined to make the image simply vanish???

So what an enjoyable day despite the strong winds, would highly recommend the gardens for a visit in future if anyone has the opportunity. They also sell a good range of plants.

Lorraine and Theresa in the Apple Walk

Looking forward to another socially distanced gathering with other Oasis ladies very soon if we can arrange something between us.

 

Theresa x

 

A Boy(?) grows up in a Sect: A True Story – Part 2

We continue Hazel’s story…..Missed part one read it here.

So my school time passed on, with few friends as it was a pointless exercise, making friends. I would not be allowed to visit their houses or socialise with them in anyway, as they had TVs and radios which were “unclean”. A girl who I had got on with during dancing lessons asked if I would walk her home after school. She said she would wait at the school gate, so I found an excuse to avoid this; she gave up after a few days.

I left school at fifteen and started working with my father in a family business. This lasted for a few years until my Uncle, who’s business it was, left the sect to set up his own version, so we had to leave. Father decided we would set up as a building company doing work mainly for church members. We were asked to build a new church hall, which was a massive project for three people to manage. It was made clear to us how privileged we were to “serve the Lord and the Brethren” therefore we should not expect to make much money at it. My wages were £10 per week while others were earning £40.

During all this time I was very friendly with Rachel’s brother and visited his house at every opportunity as it was the only way I could get near her. I used to walk home from church some six or seven miles, (she lived closer) in hopes of getting a chance to talk alone with her, (members would drive by and stop to offer a lift). Little did I know she was doing the same, until one evening I crossed the road when they all had driven past, and walked beside her and we talked, to this day I do not know what we said to each other. This we managed several times, until one evening she suggested she walked a bit further, and we ended up holding hands and we had our first kiss. I was 18 she was 19.  I knew then I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her, but how could I tell her about my disgusting desires? How could I expect such a beautiful girl to want to be with me?

But I had other problems ahead, I spoke to her father who was happy for us, but I had to tell my father too. It took two weeks before I plucked up courage, he was annoyed by it all. Firstly, I was the youngest boy. Secondly, how had I found the time to make such a major decision without talking to him first. Thirdly, he had decided years ago I was going to marry his friend’s daughter who I had only met four or five times (more about her later), but he said he would talk later with mother and I was to talk with him the following evening. So the next evening I was summoned. He was annoyed because mother had told him about the love letter I had received. He had however talked to her father and realised he was outnumbered so he gave us his blessing, and handed me a cheque for £50 to buy an engagement ring. For the first time in my life I stood up him and refused to accept, I had saved up £28 which I was determined to spend on this ring. We decided we would get engaged and planned a trip to Bravingtons; just the two of us. But before I could do this I told Rachel about me and how dirty and disgusting I was, but she assured me she loved me, and when I was with a real woman it would all sort itself out.

So everything in the garden was fine?  No!  The Leader of the brethren decided to make a new rule, there should be no such thing as long engagements; they should be three to six months at the most. This put the dampers on the whole situation because on £10 a week I would not be able to buy a house. It was also decided that during the waiting time we were not allowed to be alone together. This was to make sure that there would be no sex before marriage. During the next twelve months we met at her house with her family around and talked on the phone. Also during this time another boy proposed to her, and I found out later that my eldest brother was weighing up his chances!

Then we were told her mother had walked past an estate agent and seen a house that had just come on the market for £2800.00. She went in and paid a £500 deposit which would be our wedding present. It was also directly opposite the “meeting room” and my father–in-law to be had arranged a mortgage with an elderly sister for the balance. I should say building societies were not allowed. She was charging 10% interest. I later got a mortgage for 2.5%.

Did we care? No, we could now get engaged and better still be seen together, albeit only at church or home or walking between the two. No cinemas, pubs, meals out and most of the time we had a chaperone.

We could not wait to be alone together in our little two up two down cottage. It had no bathroom, just an outside loo. It needed an extension with a kitchen and bathroom which was done. Father also decided we needed to make downstairs a through room so we would be able to entertain brethren. We were hoping to spend most of our time alone.

Eventually a day in March 1967 arrived: our wedding day. We were told we could not get married on a Saturday, and the service had to be in the evening, so it was a Tuesday at a registry office, midday and we sat around with a few family people, and those church members who never missed a free lunch, eating, if I remember right, cucumber sandwiches and cake. I found out later my new brother had hidden a bottle of sherry which he and my brothers drank.

Then, much to father’s disgust, we went down to Devon the next day to stay with a family. The wife had been one who we had grown up with us and moved when she married. We had little quality time as we were expected to take their children out during the week for visits to the seaside.

Twelve months later our son was born and eighteen months after our daughter was born. It was hard bringing up two children on my wages I was given a raise to £12. Of course wives were not allowed to work, and anyway she had her hands full with two children, but I was kept being told the “lord will provide”. We could not afford a car so every night during the week I would get home from work at about 6.30 pm, have a quick wash and eat dinner and rush up the road for a lift by 7 pm. No time with the children, no time to talk to my wife about how the day had been, but I had to turn up and pretend I was interested in the goings on, which I did as I did not want to go to hell. Sunday was full on, taking two babies to church at 6 am and most Saturdays we would be taken somewhere, but we started to have reasons to stay at home and try and be a normal family. I put my feelings away we did talk a little but there was so much else to discuss.

By this time, we were getting a bit fed up with all the restrictions and nonsense that was happening. This is not the place to go into the details, but suffice to say I missed my lift one evening and for the first time we spent the evening together not knowing what to say. But things started to change, we wanted to be a normal family, and then the straw that broke the camel’s back was the main-man deciding it was God’s will that if he needed/wanted it, he could ask any sister to “wash his feet with her tears”; in other words, he could commit adultery without it being wrong. This was enough. I told my dad I was leaving along with several other people.

He assured me that if I did that I could expect every pestilence known to man to be visited on my head, and as I explained I was setting up my own business he guaranteed it would fail.

So we started to live as normal people, only we had no idea how to do it, we still lived opposite the meeting room, but they would ignore/shun us. I acquired a record player and our love of country music started then. Jim Reeves, Roy Orbison, The Shadows, The Seekers, etc. Yes, we got a second hand TV. The first programme we saw was Sergeant Bilko. If they were having a meeting opposite we would watch it with the lights off, forgetting that the flickering light could be seen through the curtains so they all knew how wicked we were.

I had to start working for myself. My father-in law, who had joined in the exodus but was not pleased with how far we had gone down “the Worldly” route, helped by getting me to fit a new kitchen, and more work came in. I will come back to my business later.

We were expecting our third child by now so we decided to move. Our youngest son arrived several months after we settled in to our new house (with a new TV). Rachel’s parents were happy to visit as long as we covered the telly. However, my parents and family were not happy. My mother did get my sister to bring her to the house to see the baby, which she held for a few minutes, then said, “you realise that unless you repent and return to the Brethren, I will not be able to see him again,” and then left.

So time went by. I made a point of calling in to see my father and mother, although these meetings were difficult and filled with constant pressure to make me see how bad I was, which of course I did not need, as the desire to cross-dress was always with me, making me feel bad anyway.

Sadly, one morning my father was rushed into hospital and passed away in the evening. I was not told till later that night. I went straightaway to visit Mother to see what I could do. I ended up helping my middle brother to do the funeral arrangements over the next few days. We were allowed to attend the funeral service but had to sit at the back with all the other “Worldly” families. I should say here that my father became very fond of Rachel and she of him. He doted on his eldest grandson, but as soon as we left this was not allowed to be seen.

We were asked back to his house for refreshments, but the other church members went to my sisters, it was definitely “Them and Us”. It was then I found out that my baby sister was also “out of fellowship”. She had promised my mother and other sister she would keep away from me, as we were seemingly involved in wicked pursuits such as partying, going to pubs and getting drunk, smoking, going to discos, wife swapping. You name it, she had a complete list. We were both gob-smacked as to how they could spread such rubbish. Rachel and I have always been faithful. Yes, we had been drunk on a couple of occasions and yes, we smoked now and then. Yes, we did have friends around for dinner parties. In fact, we were living a “normal life”.  Yes, I did frequent pubs.  I was involved in the renovation of several East End Public Houses!

I made a point of visiting my mother as often as I could. Rachel would take the children but they were difficult times as she was not allowed to eat with us. I always made a point of having a cuppa and biscuit with her, but she would let the tea go cold and refuse the biscuit. Always she would try to get me to see the error of my ways. I would try and convince her I was a good person. If only I could have talked to her about my desire to cross-dress, perhaps she could have told me about my birth. I will always regret I was unable to discuss this with her but I was ignorant as to where I was in the whole matter. Sadly, the same happened to her. She fell early one morning in the bathroom hitting her head on the bath and never regained consciousness and, yes, I was not told. So in both my father and mother’s passing I was never given the chance to say goodbye. This I will never forget, or understand WHY.

To be continued….

Hazel x

Jessica Lynn’s Trans Stories

Over the years, probably like us all, I have read many blogs written by Trans folk which I often find very helpful.

I really try to avoid the negative stuff, and focus on those that are more upbeat and inspiring. These blogs are a constant reminder that I am not alone, and many times express the joy of finding one’s true self.

Jessica Lynn

An American living in the UK, Jessica Lynn’s website has recently produced a series of podcasts together with British academic Dr Sam Martin. Each hour long episode, tells a particular Trans story, focusing on how the subject has over come the issues we have to overcome. Jessica’s website is full of interesting resources and can be found at

https://www.jessicalynn.website/

I particularly recommend this podcast episode with Sarah Stephenson-Hunter who has also overcome losing her sight, and there are other interesting tales too

https://www.jessicalynn.website/podcast/episode/256543e5/sarah-stephenson-hunter-riding-the-waves-of-change/

The podcasts also feature Transmen, which can give a different perspective.

Love

Lilly

A Boy (?) born Into a Sect: A True Story – Part 1

Some time ago, Hazel put pen to paper to tell us about the things trans people do. After reading the post Ultra-Orthodox and trans she wanted to tell us about being born into a Sect.  This was first published in the Beaumont magazine.

This is a story I have long wanted to write but had no idea where to start, so I suppose the best place to start is the beginning.

I was born in January 1947, the third male child to a family that were part of a religious sect. My grandfather was bought into it during the first world war. Quite why or how, I never managed to find out because his family were all publicans, and my grandmothers family were never part of it, but it happened. During my early years  I was not aware that my father was strongly involved. At that time he was one of nine children, and only one of his brothers and two of his sisters had joined and became part of the sect.

I suppose at this point I should mention that I learnt many years later that my mother was convinced I was going to be a girl, everything about me was apparently different, but I will talk about that later.

When I was four, it would appear that father was asked by the Brethren”to move to a town in Essex to help sort out a problem in a meeting” there. I will not go any further with that as it will appear far-fetched. But there it was; we went and my father became, with another brother, the elders responsible to clean things up. Looking back I can see how my father came under the spell of the other person; he was a domineering character who rose to be a leading light within the sect while my father was content to play second fiddle. I only mention this to give some idea how things were.

My sister would have been born before we moved, so Mother had the girl she wanted. Several years later my baby sister was born, so I was now the middle child of five. This is probably the time to mention my birth. I am convinced my mother wanted a girl so badly that, until the arrival of my sister, I was that girl. I can remember being given a doll with a china head, when at the same time my two brothers were given cars, this dolly was my constant companion until I was about six. I loved her. When I wasn’t playing with her she stayed tucked up in my bed. This was until I was about six, when my mother asked me to hand her over and she was put in the dustbin because “boys do not play with dolls”. Needless to say as soon as Mother’s back was turned I rescued her and hid her under the bed. But, of course, mothers find everything, and once again dolly ended up in the bin, only this time I was told to get a hammer and her head was smashed. I can only think that she took such drastic action because she wanted to exorcise some inner guilt feeling she had about the way I was bought up at the very beginning because, lets face it, she could have insisted I give the doll to my sister. In those days children had only a few toys and I am sure my sister would have been delighted.

So I grew up and arrived at the age when I would be expected to become interested in becoming a “Brother”, learning about the bible and listening to my elders, because I needed to be saved* so I could become a fully fledged member of the meeting. I could give at this point a history of what this sect was about but that would be for another time and place, as this article is about how I coped with it but, suffice to say, it was full on. This is how a week would go:

Monday 7.30 pm: prayer meeting.

Tuesday  – 7.30 pm: ministry meeting (once a month “Care” meeting to discuss  the running of things).

Wednesday – 7.30 pm: mid week reading meeting at the main meeting room.

Thursday  – 7.30 pm: reading meeting where we would visit nearby gatherings.

Friday  – 7. 30 pm: same as above.

Saturday – 9.00 / 10.00 am: Fellowship meeting in nearby towns. Usually they would hire a school and brethren from surrounding areas would meet up and invite a“Ministering brother” to conduct the proceedings. This would have three main meeting with intervals where food would be served, and would finish at 3 or 4 pm. These gatherings would have 100 or more members. They hired Westminster Central Hall / Alexandra Palace for special occasions and these would be filled.

Going back in time here, I was beginning to feel different to others. At around the age of 6 or 7,  I was aware of my mothers stockings hanging up in the bathroom and, after a lot of longing, I had to touch them and then I plucked up courage and tried them on. The exhilaration I experienced was soon followed by a fear of what was happening. I was also aware of the girls in the gathering who wore wonderful full skirts with layered petticoats or, alternatively, short skirts. I would keep looking and longing to be one of them. The attraction was not sexual as I had no idea what sex was, I just wanted to be a girl and sit with them. I wanted to join in with them and talk with them. But no, I was a brother and had to pretend to be different and spiritual. I had also found a corset that had belonged to an aunt who used to live with us. I wore that a lot, hidden away in the bathroom, on the odd occasion I managed to find an excuse to stay behind in the evening looking after my sisters.

I started to have feelings of disgust with myself. We were constantly told about evil thoughts and feelings and I knew how God would punish me. One day all my family would be taken up to heaven with all the brethren, and I would be left behind with everybody else and end up in Hell. But I could not stop; I so wanted to be a girl.

I thought one of the girls, Rachel was special, really beautiful. When I was seven she slipped a note in my pocket that read, “I love you and I am going to marry you.“ I was taken aback and so happy. I put it in my pocket but my mother found it a few days later when she was checking my “go to the meeting best suit”.  She informed me she had talked to Rachel’s mother to make sure no more notes were sent, because I was not to think about such things for years.

This girl was special. As I grew older I worshipped her, but I was too shy and embarrassed to talk to her. I had this terrible secret which I was carrying. I knew I was not worthy of her. I was struggling to be a good member of the sect. I tried hard to be good and function as a brother, but all the while I was longing to be one of the girls or  sisters as they were known. I did manage to cope and passed muster. I asked to be accepted into “fellowship” at about the age of twelve, which meant I had to try really hard to participate, which for the most part I did. looking back now, did I understand what I was saying? Did it make sense? I doubt it, but I wanted to put behind me all those wicked evil thoughts. I did not want to go to hell. I also wanted to be worthy of Rachel. She was also attracting the attention of other boys. I was very jealous, but I thought they were better for her than I could be. One of these boy’s family was later excommunicated and became “worldly” and she was stopped  from having anything to do with them.

All this time I was at school, which was difficult because at home we did not have television or radio. We were not allowed to go to the cinema. I no idea about any of these things, and hated it when I was questioned by teachers and pupils. I did not know what to say. We would be asked to write about programmes or films that other children had seen. I had to admit I did not have such worldly things. I had to reply with the answer that the brethren told us to give: “We love Jesus and he says these things are not good.”

During my secondary school we had to be asked to be excused from school weekly assembly and religious instruction lessons because in these activities we were being taught things that the sect did not agree with. This made me personally feel isolated and different. I tried to get involved in other things at school, and I was so proud to be asked to play for the school rugby team as the master felt I was a natural “hooker” in the scrum, but when I got home late from school, because I stayed for practise, I was in deep trouble. It was explained in no uncertain terms that all my spare time was to be spent at the meetings, so there would be no time on Saturdays or after school. I was told to tell the master the “I love Jesus” line.  A similar thing happened with the cricket and athletics teams. I was told I was a good bowler but I made sure I bowled overs of wides  and no-balls, and when it came to the semi-final of the hurdles, where I was told I was going to be asked to represent my house at sports day,  I made sure I knocked half of them down. Otherwise I would have had to explain why I could not take part on Saturdays and after school. At the same time as having to deal with this, I was still agonising with my inner feelings. I wanted to be a girl, I longed to wear pretty things, and I was struggling so hard to be the opposite. I did not want to pray out loud and make comments about any passage of the bible we would happen to be studying.

To be continued….

Hazel x

Glossary of terms

Brethren:- Was the name they went by and also referred to each group as.

Meeting :- Was a gathering of Brethren they did not use the term church, also it referred to service i.e. prayer meeting etc.

In Fellowship:- you had to be “in fellowship” to be able to partake and participate

Saved:- you had to be saved and ask to be taken into fellowship before you could participate, believe you me they gave you no rest until you got there.

August update from Serena

Hi again Oasis ladies, partners and friends.

I do hope you are all managing to keep fit and well. Back in February, I don’t think any of us would have predicted the scale, seriousness and impact of this pandemic. A doctor friend said, “It’s just flu”. How wrong he was!

Beccie pointed out that the Covid-19 information on our website was out of date and would I update it. I was half way through writing and Venetia said, “Have you heard the latest announcement from Boris?” So that draft went in the bin and I started again. The situation is changing day by day. Having looked at the statistics this morning, the rise in cases in Spain and hotspots in the UK, like Oldham, is alarming.

Having googled ‘Current government guidance on covid-19’ I was rather taken aback by the sheer volume of information and downloadable leaflets. For that reason, it is neither appropriate nor practicable to reproduce it all on our website. However, there are relevant parts which impact on our ability to hold Oasis meetings in the near future.

Click on this link to access the extract summaries about what we can and cannot do.

Clearly, Oasis cannot meet whilst these restrictions remain in place. This is disappointing for us all. However, I am trying to think positively about how we might be able to meet at the earliest possible opportunity whilst ensuring everybody’s safety. The food and drink problem could be solved by each person or social bubble bringing their own picnic in a bag. Hand sanitizer and wipes can be provided and used frequently. Door handles, surfaces and toilets wiped frequently. Social distancing would need to be maintained with definitely no hugging or kissing! It would be nice to think we could meet before Christmas but don’t hold your breath. In fact, do hold your breath, then you’re less likely to spread the virus!

I had a nice day out with Rachel and Dee recently. We went to the Waveney House Hotel in Beccles and had a long and leisurely lunch. On the way back, Rachel and I called in to see Carole and Alice. Carole is now upright but the wound is taking longer to heal than she had hoped. However, she did manage to drive, albeit only a short distance to the local shop, and walk for about 20 minutes. So things are moving in the right direction.

I would welcome any comments you may have about restarting Oasis. In the meantime, stay well and keep as cheerful as you can.

Love to you all,

Serena

Loraine the book Worm!

Thanks to Petra, our Zoom expert for this article from her wife Loraine, originally written for publication in her local village newsletter.

I must write this month about how I have enjoyed reading `Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine’ by Gail Honeyman. The book has received many accolades and was in fact recommended by a friend. It’s about loneliness and discovery.  Fear not! Although it has a few dark passages it is very funny and uplifting; a tale of Eleanor’s journey from being a very fearful solitary unsocial creature with a secret dark past to becoming a girl with friends.  During her journey she learns how to interact with her work colleagues and although her pet plant (yes really) dies it is replaced by a domineering grey cat.  What’s not to like!?

Ah yes, the dread secret is also slowly revealed and unravelled.

Another recommendation is `The 100 year old man who climbed out the window and disappeared’ (by Jonas Jonasson)  I thought, what a strange title, how odd? But I giggled my way through this book of unlikely happenings and co-incidences, and odd friendships.  Scandi books are not always grim crime shockers.

In the meantime I’ve not neglected my `chick flick’ pot boiler books.  Regency stories by Tessa Dare about Spindle Cove and its boarding house for misfit women and their romances are an easy read.  Plenty of humour, a reasonable plot and some steamy sex if that appeals!

I enjoy reading fiction based in East Anglia, naturally so atmospheric!  Crime stories written by Jim Kelly and Joy Ellis come to mind.  The BBC series Books that Built Britain has featured some other authors including our own Nicci French. I am looking forward to read Losing You about a missing teenage girl. Could this be based in Southwold?

Nine Taylors is a crime book by Dorothy Sayers (back in 1934) featuring Lord Peter Wimsey.  It features our East Anglia and some bell ringing. I read it years ago but I’ve got to the stage in my life that I actually enjoy reading books again.  Just like seeing a good film you note different things or characters each time.

Now enough of this! Enjoy the summer, keep safe and above all “keep reading”

Loraine – The Book Worm

Oasis call to nature!

At the last Zoom meeting in July, Theresa wondered if anyone was interested in a day out at Pensthorpe, near Fakenham on Friday 31st July.

Flamingos at the watering hole

There wasn’t much interest expressed, but I arranged to meet her, Lorraine, Jodie, Theresa’s daughter, and Vicky for a socially distanced get together lunch and walk around the park.  It was a pleasant day and a chance to meet up and chat after such a long separation. Little did we know it would he one of the hottest days recorded in the UK and the world and his wife would be on the roads!

Jodie, Beccie and Vicky at the lakeside socially distanced

Lorraine was kind enough to put pen to paper and here’s her account of the day:

Just wanted to share a little thought of the day with you. I had a lovely day out at Pensthorpe with Jodie and Theresa. We met up with Vicky and Beccie.

Whilst we were sat together in the outside area of the cafe, I happened to notice a woman staring at our table, I stared her out and she looked away, as they do ! 

Lorraine and Theresa

I sat there thinking, ” Woman you don’t know these people, These are lovely decent people”

It was an absolute pleasure to be in their company, and who I am extremely proud to call my friends. and I also extend that friendship to the other members of Oasis. 

Oasis is a wonderful group of people and I am proud to be a member. 

Miss you all and hope to see you all in the not to distant future. See some of you at the next Zoom meeting xx

Theresa is looking to planning another get together before the summer is out.

Beccie