Since visiting Penny last month, again with the help of a friend here who was giving a lecture in Warwick with an overnight stay there, and the rescue of tea and rest with Janice in Warwick, I was able to spend some precious hours with my friend. It was just a flying visit and even though weakened, Penny really wanted to spend time making a few almond biscuits for me, and had recently found a few items to give to me. What was lovely was to see her eat the brioche plait that I had made specially for her with some preserves I had taken. It brought back many memories which she and Q shared with me of buying similar bread in London when they were young.
Here we are a few years ago....Ladies who lunch, it was Penny's treat and we drove out to celebrate her 'windfall' when I did my usual thing...persuading and cajoling her, and everyone else by the way, to trace pensions and also claim State Pension, both of which she thought would be worthless.....
Penny first turned up on my door within days of our first moving to Warwickshire, picking up an item I had posted on Freecycle. A few question later, establishing that she had caught buses and walked to the house, Penny was invited in for a cup of tea etc., and an invitation to return again led to a wonderful friendship.
Penny was a doer not a preacher, it was in her actions not her words that she expressed her being. She was very into the environment, and was a leading light and coordinator of the Warwick Tree Wardens and was very much involved in Friends of the Earth. Penny even managed to get me involved in planting then checking up on trees planted in grass verges in Kenilworth. Penny gave me much support in my activities and my blog, but preferring to talk on visits or over the phone rather than leaving comments, but often sending personal emails etc.
It was Penny who introduced me to the NCCPG: The National Council for the Conservation of Plants and Gardens, at first because she knew that I loved old buildings and the meetings were at Lord Leycester's Hospital, and by then after only a few get together, that I also loved plants and gardens. Penny often volunteered at the Hill Close Gardens in Warwick, and we met there from time to time. Together we went to visit Rob and Diane Cole on a couple of occasions, and spent time together in their wonderful garden.
Here is proud Grandma with little Daniel ready for his lunch. Coming on the bus they both regularly visited. From a shy toddler who first clung to Grandma's legs, he soon came to feel at home, running down the garden, and picking little strawberries. Often we would go together for walks to the Castle, visiting swings etc en route. I even bought, second hand which I knew Penny would approve of, a huge bag of wooded brio layout, which we would set up across the living room floor for Daniel to play with.
I was amazed and overwhelmed with gratitude when Penny decided to come and check us out in our new home, taking several bus journeys, during a week off of her treatment, to travel cross country to us. We took her for drives to view the Somerset hills, and also visited some of her places she remembered from years ago, and always the 'explorer' here is Penny the other-side of the gate that says Private.
Penny was interested in the culinary arts, and we often shared a bag of 'unusual' herbs and spices, and I very much appreciated the quinces which came from her garden. Once she brought me a little box of white-currants, which, pending inspiration went into the freezer, only later to be combined with Mulberries from Janice's garden into three little pots of special Jelly. One for each of us. I kept my little jar to have with my Christmas morning breakfast, when it is customary for me to remember friends and give thanks for friends and friendship.
On one of Penny's volunteering sessions at a recycling centre, she found this little ceramic pot, and instantly thought of me. We pondered on what they were used for. I was delighted and said I would give one of the 'self germinated' wild ferns from the garden a special position in it. Here it is posing with some socks I had knitted.
A few weeks later she found a further two for me. When it came to my knitting, Penny would never accept any, saying that she knew just how long it took me, and as she would be afraid to wear a shawl in case she lost it on her many journeys! However some months ago when she explained to me just how cold she felt...I didn't ask I just sent her something warm and woolly from my Stash, by post.
I am sure that all Penny's friends have wonderful memories of her, and I cannot start to imagine how sad all her family are at the moment.