Wednesday, 31 December 2008

The Domino Effect!

Now look, I must be wrong here. There must be something I haven't considered; I hope there is. But it seems to me that 2008 was a B~A~D year.

My over-riding memory is of the mishap I had in July. It didn't seem much at the time but its effects are with me still and look set to remain. The wheelchair has become part of the furniture - and part of the furniture has had to be moved out to make room for it! Whereever me and it are we feel in the way. There is - or was - a BBC radio programme called "Does He Take Sugar", which was the BBC's way of trying to become more 'disability inclusive', if you know what I mean. It wasn't very good really but I am now very aware of the sentiments implied by its title. People do, indeed, tend to talk to whoever is with me rather than to me.

I have often wondered how 'Who Wants to be a Millionnaire' would manage if a wheelchair user snuk through to get on the show. You know? Those very high chairs they have which require driving-standard eyesight to see the monitors? I thought we would find out the other night when they had an Olympic and Paralympic Special but no, they didn't have any wheelchair users on!

My other all-pervading memory of the year is..........horrible weather. Up here in the north of England I don't think there was a single evening when you could sit outside with your glass of wine and enjoy the sunset. On the plus side I heard on the radio that, with all that rain, the butterfly population is likely to have been decimated. Y~A~A~A~Y!!! Sorry but, as some of you know, I hate the flappy things.

Mum had her posh cruise on the Queen Mary 2 in November. From what she said I gathered that this was all pretty sedate and - well - posh, but she is starting to tell the truth now.

Like when she and her sis, the Dynamic Duo, gatecrashed a private party to which they had not been invited. They were plied with champagne and picky bits for a couple of hours before a purser gently pointed out their error but wouldn't hear of them leaving.

Like when they decided to have a look at the art gallery on board. Some of the paintings were displayed not on the wall but standing up at a slight angle. A bit like dominoes. They sat on 2 chairs between 2 paintings. Mum accidentally whacked the nearest painting with her elbow and down went the whole lot - clunk, clunk, clunk, just like a line of dominoes! They left quickly.

If I don't publish this now - this instant minute - I'll keep on thinking of things forever. Next time I'll show you a few things that Santa brought.

Friday, 28 November 2008


I am now going to reveal the Big Secret. Well, it's not much of a one to anyone else I suppose but it's the whole world to us just now. We have just paid off the last installment on our mortgage so now we are mortgage-free! We own every last little brick in these four walls and it feels so good. We don't owe anyone in the whole wide world anythng at all. G-r-r-r-e-a-t!

Lincoln had the pleasure of our company after we had done this deed. Most of the Christmas shopping got done so that makes a change. It's usually a last minute rush in our house. While driving to Lincoln we were treated to our own personal display by the Red Arrows RAF Display Team. Well, they were practising really; they do in that area. They used to be based at RAF Scampton but I think that's closed down now so I'm not sure where the Arrows would be based now. Cranwell perhaps? Anyway, I prefer to think that their formation fly-pasts were just for us.

When we got home we were greeted by the delicious smell of beef stew in the slow cooker. When it's pouring with rain and freezing cold, as yesterday, a hearty stew is the finest smell in the world. Keith was in his element: hot stew, crusty bread, a pint of beer and a warm house - aaah, God's in his Heaven, all's right with the world. If I've misquoted that, I'm sorry!

I don't mean to sound compacent, though I know I do. Just let me have my little moment eh?

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

OOOOOOH - secrets secrets....

I HAVE SOMETHING MEGA TO TELL YOU!!!! But not today - Ha! I'll tell you tomorrow. Here's a clue: I'm not pregnant and I haven't become a millionaire overnight. That's two clues. Can you guess what it is yet? Tee-hee, I'm as bad as Mimuther.

Our first Christmas card arrived today, from Keith's brother in Canada. His is always the first to arrive. He and Keith are very close, more so as years go by, it's a pity they can't meet up often. We had the pleasure of a visit from Stewart this summer and we treasured every minute. Keith had to be at work much of the time but Stew and I gabbed non-stop about all kinds of everything and I was his driver for his trips looking up other relations. I think he was a bit scared!! Keith has another brother and two sisters, all of whom live locally and none of whom he sees from one year to the next. His sisters won't even speak to him (or me, or Stewart), we don't know why. I know he wishes it were not so but what to do about it?

In a minute I am going to eat my lunch and then I am going to do sweet fanny adams all afternoon and watch Diagnosis Murder and then Murder,She Wrote, Columbo, Weakest Link. It means a bit of channel-hopping (aagh, is that work?) but I haven't watched these shows - which apparently make me some kind of geek - for almost a week now and I'm getting withdrawal symptoms. So forgive me for being so self-indulgent (I haven't got any chocolate, more's the pity) but I have to go. Now!

Tuesday, 25 November 2008


Woooo-hooo - superfantasmagorical - hee hee hee <jumping up and down> - I've WON something!!! If I tell you it's the lottery don't get excited. If I tell you it's money, don't disown me. And DON'T send any begging letters. £22! I don't know what that is in dollars or Euros but to my empty purse it is manna from Heaven. I got it from The Weather Lottery which is a charity lottery where contributors choose the charity they want to support - in my case the Brittle Bone Society. You pick 6 numbers and these are matched daily against the temperature lists published in the Daily Telegraph (only last figure of the temps counts). Good eh? I get £22 and the Society benefits too.

I've been thinking (yes, I know.....) those savings stamps I was talking about, I don't think they were Co-op, they were Post Office.

Mimuther rang from Birmingham yesterday, where she had just arrived after her cruise. "It was all I hoped and more," she enthused, "Except for the Waldorf Astoria. I'll tell you when I come home next week." Well you can't say something like that then leave a girl in suspenders can you? Unless you're Mimuther!

Keith and I are going Christmas shopping in Lincoln on Thursday. I don't know what on earth to give people, that's the trouble. Some people just seem to be really good at knowing what to give, always exactly the right thing, but not me. What do you give to a baby who is but a few weeks old? Even the Wise Men knew better than me - wish me luck!

On Friday my niece (mother of said baby) and nephew-in-law are moving into their new house. It has been a hard and rocky path for them but at last the house is theirs. I wish them love, luck and happiness and God's blessing.

There, I told you I didn't have much to say this time so at this point I shall leave you.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Harking Back

Ooooooh - I hope the utilities companies are going to be in big trouble. I turned on the news yesterday and what do you think was the first item? That people are furious that with their 'in credit' accounts they are still being expected to pay twice the direct debit - more sometimes - they were paying before. I would like to think my entry here the other day had something to do with it, or my irate phone call to the gas company, but I think not.

The trouble with phoning them is that you only ever get through to a call centre and I am daft enough to feel a bit sorry for the bloke who answers because he is only a small fish in a huge ocean, told what he can say and what he can't and he knows that "calls may be recorded for training purposes". Training....phooey! Taking it as a given that they can read and work a computer before they get the job then they have all the qualifications they need or are likely to get.

So I can only hope that someone finds that it's illegal what they are doing.

It's been snowing, not that you'd notice much now as the sun has come out and is doing its best to thaw it out. It has been freezing hard all morning and if the Siberian blast that just came through the back door is anything to go by, the sun doesn't stand a chance!

This must be the only time of year when you see winter jasmine flower PLUS a few of its leaves still on the branches. In the depths of winter there are just these glorious yellow flowers on completely bare branches.

Harking back - again - to my previous post. I have been reminded of the Co-op divi. If you shopped at the Co-op you had a share number and every time you bought something you gave your share number and on 'Divi Day' you received an amount of money commensurate with the amount you spent.

Everyone's mum was always gleeful when it was Divi Day. It was even better than gasman day! Now personally I can't remember divi day. I think mimuther kept it quiet so us kids wouldn't make any plans for it, but I do know of kids at school who had bank account started by fond grannies whose coffers were swelled by vast amounts (so we thought). We three didn't have bank accounts. Nor, come to that, did our parents, so that can't be where it went. It is quite possible though that we never actually got any because I seem to remember mimuther frequently sending us to the Co-op to get a loaf "on the divi", when the amout of your shopping would be offset against your prospective payout. We probably ended up owing THEM!

Us three kids did each have a Co-op saving stamp book. We could save our sixpences each week byu buying a savings stamp from Mrs. Across-the-Road, who was an Agent and came round every Friday. We never accrued many stamps. Certainly I didn't because I preferred to buy sweeties but I don't remember any of us cashing any stamps in, though I suppose we must have done. Unless.........maybe it's in Macy's till in New York even as we speak? Naaah.

Mimuther and Auntie fly back from New York sometime today, landing at Heathrow tomorrow morning. I look forward to seeing their photos as neither of them knows how to use a digi camera!

Keith is in charge of lunch today. Roast chicken, jacket potatoes, roasted butternut squash with garlic and green beans, all preceeded by home-made (by me) leek and potato soup and finished with vanilla mousse cream cake. I just dread to see how much washing up he can make with that little lot.
Anyway, it's almost 1pm and I am still in my dressing gown! What a slob.

Bye for now

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Wow, am I just a little bit cross! Our gas bill came today and to my delight it was in credit by £83.41. What's to be cross about? At the bottom of the page they tell me they are DOUBLING my Direct Debit payments.

For those in other countries who don't know how we do these things in England: our utilities bills (gas, electric, phone) come out every 3 months (each quarter) and most of us pay a regular amount monthly by Direct Debit from our bank to theirs. Now the way this used to work was that any shortfall over the winter payments would even itself out during the summer months when we use less fuel. Your payments were reviewed annually to see if you were paying enough.

Not now though. It's getting to be every time they send a bill they demand some more but do they read the meter? They do not. We get our gas and electric from the same supplier and I know for sure our electric meter is read most quarters. I know because I have to let the man in. He reads the gas metre at the same time, so he says, which is on the outside wall. Huh They rarely use the reading; it's always 'estimated'. Do you know, the only people who have right of access to your home are...............meter readers! Even the police have to get a warrant.

The bank sent me a letter to say I was £25 beyond my agreed overdraft so they would take an extra £35 off me (next time there was some in there, presumably). Next day they sent me another letter askng if I would like a loan of £20,000! For goodness' sake!

When we were kids absolutely everybody used to pay for their gas with a slot-meter. You had to put sixpences and shillings in and turn the knob and there your gas would be.. We're talking old money here of course. How mimuther used to look forward to gasman day. She used to plan her life around that. He would empty the meter and we would all stand round the kitchen table while he counted it and handed back any overpayment. There always was some, the meters were set that way. The instant he was gone it was "Shall I feed the telly mam?" "Shall I fetch some doughnuts mam?" "Dad hasn't gev us any pocket money (we only got sixpence) for x weeks mam." Nobody, mimuther included, ever thought to stick it back in the gas meter! There was a lot of carry-on, I remember, if the gas went while there was a cake or Yorkshire Puddings in the oven and we were all scrambling about loking for a tanner (sixpence) or a bob (shilling).

In those days, too, dad used to be able to mend anything. Most dads did. Many's the Thursday teatime in the early '60's when our dad would be missing his fry-up tea because he had a screwdriver stuckin the back of the telly trying to get it going because Dr. Who was on (it was a different show in those days, fit for kids).

Dad never paid garage fees either, he fixed the car himself. If he was nowhere to be found you would always find him - a pair of boots stickng out from under whatever old jalopy we had at the time. He'd be either mending the car or hiding from Pat up the road who could talk the back legs off a donkey!

Funny old entry this, isn't it? Good to have a rant though.

Monday, 17 November 2008

One thing I absolutely have to get educated in is putting icons onto my blog when people are so kind as give me awards. Many thanks to Joolsmac of Simply Joolz for the Butterfly Award. Now many of you will know, as I go on about it ad nauseum, that I have a silly and irrational fear of butterflies (and moths) but I think I can stand to have this virtual one settle here on my blog! Ha - I'd be no good living next door to Joolz in Australia would I? They probably have butterflies the size of a small aeroplane out there!

Hands up who's been following Marie's blog "A Year From Oak Cottage" ( . Marie, a fab pro chef, fab family cook, fab artist, writer and blogger and fab lots of other things too, has just published her cookbook. I can't tell you it's wonderful because I only just ordered my copy today but I will tell you what it's like when it arrives. Meanwhile, pop across to her place if you want to find a link for getting a little look at (maybe even ordering) the book.

Mimuther set off on Saturday 15th on her epic voyage on the Queen Mary 2. It's only a six days trip across the Atlantic (in November? Brrr) and then two days in New York, but she's been like a kid waiting for Santa for the past several weeks. From the sound of it, she is going to eat Cunard out of house and home and then take New York by storm. What she isn't going to visit there is nobody's business! If she figures out howto work her new digi camera I'll hope to show you some pics. She was a bit disgusted that she had to buy a new camera at all actually, but she got fed up of trying to find somewhere that stocked film for her old camera. Kodak etc must be shrinking fast.

All this technology isn't good for her. She has a credit card for the first time in her life (she's 80) because she was told she can't use cash on the ship. Digi cameras and mobile phones - well she doesn't really understand the concept at all. She rang me up on the night before they sailed to ask me what her mobile phone number is!! Oh well, as long as she enjoys herself. She'll certainly have one or two things to add to her "Memories" file!

Speaking of memories, I found this little poem in our local church magazine:

We met, we married, a long time ago,
Times were hard, wages were low,
No radio, no telly, timeswere hard,
Just a cold water tap and a walk in the yard.

No holidays abroad, no carpets on floors,
But we'd coal on the fire, we never locked doors,
Our children arrived, no pill in those days,
And we brought them up without State aid.

No drugs, no Valium, no LSD,
We cured our pains with a good cup of tea.
If you were sick you werer seen to at once
Not "sign a form and come back in a month".

No violence, no muggings, there was nowt to rob,
In fact you were rich with a couple of bob,
People were kind in those far off days,
Kinder and caring in so many ways.

Milkmen and paper boys would whistle and sing,
And a night at the flicks was a wonderful thing;
Oh we all had our share of trouble and strife,
but we just had to face them, that was life.

Now I'm alone, and all through the years
I don't think of bad times and struggles and tears,
I think of the good times, blessings of home and love,
We shared them together and thanked God above.

Another Keith-ism was given birth to last weekend! It's been so cold lately that he's been putting a hot water bottle in the bed (my side of course). I threw back the quilt and plonked myself down right on it. "You're a Bummie-Boiler" he chortled. And on that note I leave you for now.

Monday, 10 November 2008

And just "Lest we forget......"

I mentioned previously that this past weekend has been a patriotic one of remembrance and of the kind of festival that we English seem to do so well.
There were a few personal remembrances too. On Friday 7th my dad would have been 84 and my Big Grandma would have been 110 (!).
Sunday 9th would have been Keith's mum's 95th birthday. That day is also my great friend, Linda's birthday. She reckons she's 59 but she jolly well isn't. Ha!
Today, 10th, Keith's brother Michael really is 59. We don't see much of him but he is still in our thoughts on this day. As is my father, again. It's the fourth anniversary of his funeral today.
Tomorrow is, of course, the 11th day of the 11th month and, at the 11th hour, there will be a 2 minute silence in honour of those who have died in the service of this country from World War 1 to the present day .
And so, for all those servicemen and women and for the civilian men, women - and children - who have died in conflict I present this display of poppies made in sugar with my eternal thanks and respect.

"A small thing, but mine own"

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Cookpots, Crockpots and Crackpots

There are so many things I wanted to tell you about. So many pictures I wanted to show you. Now I don't know if I can remember them all!
23rd October was (it really was!) our 37th wedding anniversary and Keith gave me these beautiful roses, a dozen of them. We never give cards to each other - it seems pointless when we live in the same house and are on speaking terms - but a little gift is another matter. The roses have gone now but I will always have my photos of them.

Here's my great-nephew, Lewis, and his baby sister Holly, with their mum Kate. Doesn't Holly look huge? She isn't really, she's tiny and cute with a rosebud mouth and I'm told she has beautiful eyes (don't they all?). I wouldn't know though because I have yet to see her awake - which must mean I either have a profound effect on babies or I bore them to sleep because this one - apparently - never sleeps. She also has hollow legs, so her mum says, as she is always screaming for food. Aaah, a lass after me own heart!

Remember I said some new pans were needed? We took a trip to Lincoln (about 3/4 hour from here) to haunt one of my favourite shops, Lakeland, where I bought just 3 really good saucepans, these:

and a new old-fashioned type of cream mixing bowl. I had one of these in constant use since 1971 then the other week the bottom dropped out! Quite unprovoked, quite unexpected out it dropped, an almost perfect circle of pot and a stream of crumble mix with it! I was a little bit cross I can tell you. Anyway, there's a nice new one taken its place now:

Now THIS little character was Keith's idea, I have to say - our home would not be complete without it, how have we managed all these years etc etc...........

.........It's a mandolin for slicing vegetables straight or, depending which blade you put in, crinkley, chunky, shreddy. All the things I can do with my food processor only much slower and far more dangerous.......AND it all fastens trogether like this for stowing away in a cupboard. And that's where it remains. It has never seen the light of day and probably never will. Anybody want it? £10.

We had to resort to Comet for the last thing we got that day. I have been wanting a slow cooker for a long time and with fuel prices being how they are I got this:

Now I really do wonder how we managed before!

Here in England it's one of those wonderful patriotic, flag-flying weekends. The Lord Mayor's Show was this morning, Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance at the Albert Hall this evenng, the Cenotaph Remembrance service in the Mall, led by Her Majesty the Queen tomorrow morning. This whole weekend is destined to be murky, cold and wet and yet this morning there were still thousands lining the route for the Lord Mayor and everyone in his parade. There they all were, waving their flags and not a shiver or a long face in sight. Everyone must have been soaked to the skin but still they marched - military, civilians and animals - and the bands played.
Tomorrow at the Cenotaph our 82-year-old Queen will lay her wreath and pay her respects to the war dead. She will bow her head in homage to those who can no longer bow theirs to her. Then the parade will start of those still serving, comrades of those who have died, those who have served and given selflessly over the years, war widows and widowers proudly wearing their loved ones' medals. The rain will fall, they will march - and the bands will play.

Don't anybody phone me, don't call and see me, don't ask when lunch is ready because in front of the telly I will be paying my own homage to Them.

Monday, 13 October 2008

I just KNEW it!

Remember I said our Kate's baby was called Erin but that might change? It did! She is now called Holly Mae Kerr. Tee-hee - I couldn't resist pointing out that makes 2 of us. I'm a holly ma-ker too when it comes time for Christmas cakes! My sister (her Grandma) sent me a photo of her and she is just so perfect - well I would say so wouldn't I.

I am going to treat us next weekend to some new saucepans and a slow cooker and maybe some other bits and pieces to make life easier. My pans have been in constant use for 35 years. There s nothing actually wrong with them except that the middle one no longer has a lid (long story but, of course, Keith's fault). I won't be throwing them out but they will be relegated to 'emergency top-up use'. They have withstood the ravages of time and still they sparkle like new. They've been boiled dry, set on fire, used with a wooden spoon as a drum kit and they don't owe me anything. They are by Prestige and were worth every penny of the £10 I paid for them all those years ago. If the new ones are half as good they will do for me!

Yes, yes, I have heard of 'if it ain't broke don't fix it' but my disability now calls for me to make changes so that, in the kitchen at least, I am 'enabled'. I have to be or we shall starve!

Last Saturday evening Keith decided to make us a nice healthy stir fry. I couldn't tell you how much oil he used in the wok - he doesn't know either - but suffice to say it was all very very greasy. Though he promised to wash up, he didn't and I was appalled to find next morning grease all over the cooker, on the kettle and on the floor where it had splattered. And I had the nerve to complain about a sausage sandwich in a lay-by!

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Oh Happy Day

I just had to share this little snippet with you: this morning at 7.45 we welcomed into the world little Erin (though the name may yet change!), a sister for Lewis and daughter for my neice Kate and her husband Jonny.

She was a little bit overdue but everything was 'shipshape and Bristol fashion' on the fingers and toes front so that's lovely. Kate has been a bit restless this last few days and Jonny must have wondered why she kept trying to climb in the airing cupboard. In the end it all came to pass in the delivery suite at the local hospital. Thank God for that and for a lovely sunny day to be born on. May all her birthdays be sunny like this.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

A hotch potch

!!!21st September - it's never that long since I posted something surely? Well, hands up, no excuses. Caught bang to rights this time!

Dundee - City of Discovery; the Tay Bridge at Sunrise

We had a lovely weekend in Dundee 26-29 September. We were there for the Brittle Bones Conference which featured several interesting 'workshops' and an exremely interesting bar! We stayed at the Hilton Hotel, which wasn't as posh as I thought it would be. Never mind, at least somebody else did the washng up!

It was a 7 hour drive and as I am not able to drive the car at present Keith had to do it all. I was the navigator but snoozed most of the time while this guy called TomTom did all the work. I had thought we might stop somewhere really nice for lunch, take in some scenery, you know? Not a bit of it. We did stop twice: once for the loo and then for lunch. I realise you probably think we just starved but that's not quite true. Our second stop was in a lay-by on the A66 where we got a sausage sandwich and a cup of tea from a kill-you-quick greasy spoon caravan. Normally I wouldn't eat a thing from one of those places but I was so hungry I would have eaten a scabby dog!! Guess what? That sausage sandwich was probably the most delicious thing I have ever tasted. And the cup of tea - complete with resident teabag - scrumptilious! I feel much more tolerant of these roadside food vans since then. After all, I never heard of anyone who caught anything nasty or died from eating there. Did you?
The Discovery - Capt. Scott's ship on his journey to the Antarctic was built in Dundee. It returned there in 1988 and is now a major attrsction in the city.

Did you think this was Desperate Dan from the Beano? It is! Alive and well and in Dundee.

For those of you who don't live in UK, let me tell you the A66 is an incredible road. If there is any appreciable snow in winter it is usually among the first to become impassable. It cuts through vast swathes of open moorland with very little shelter from the elements and it climbs quite high. Although it was a lovely sunny day, it was also very cold and extremely windy and I could see what a bleak place it must be in the depths of winter. For mile upon mile you see nothing but road and moors and the only way is forward. I wouldn't like to be stuck up there with no petrol or in a snowstorm >.

The latest cookbook!

I came out of Tesco the other day to find a cookbook in my trolley. I swear it wsn't me who bought it, honest! it Wednesday? I tell fibs on Wednesdays. It is supposed to have in it 1000 cake and bake recipes so I did 2 of them yesterday. It's a start. I would like to have Dorie Greenspan's 'My home to yours' but it's a bit expensive and this one was only a fiver, so there we are. I am, however, letting it be widely known among family and friends which one I really would like!!!

Anyway, these recipes I did: Chocolate Meringue shortbread and Fruit Flapjacks. The Shortbread ones lacked a certain je ne sais quoi. Well, I do know quoi, they were very bland. I think next time I'll try putting in an extra ounce of sugar and a little strong coffee where the recipe calls for vanilla essence. To be honest I couldn't really see why they wanted to use any vanilla with such an obviously strong chocolate taste. So thumbs down to that one - for the time being anyway. The Fruit Flapjacks were lovely but they are better today, having been in the tin overnight. The hardish edges have softened up. Flapjacks are a thing I rarely make so mine always seem to look messy - nay, home-made! When Keith had his own teeth he used to say flapjacks gunged his teeth up and he was chasing oats around all day. Nowadays "They get under me plate" but he eats them anyway.

So AOL is closing down its journals from end October eh? I feel I ought to be saying "Oh what a shame" but to tell the truth, I'm glad! I was with AOL but came over here before all this happened and I was afraid of losing touch with so many old friends. Now here they all are, setting up on Blogspot. I would love to commend loads of them to you but there are so many I wouldn't know where to start. One I will just mention is my dear friend Jasper who you can find at: He doesn't get that many comments, though I think quite a few read him. He is so funny and well worth a visit, so if you have a minute............

Sunday, 21 September 2008


Did I tell you I'm a bookworm? I have been from a small child. I rarely read anything intellectual, unless it's the newspaper. I always nod off though, reading newspapers, so I more often get my news off TV or radio.

My favourite reads are always who-dun-its! Before we came to live in this tiny house I had hundreds of books of one sort or another but I had to give most of them away; except the cookery books, and there I had to draw the line! I wish now that I had tried harder to find space to keep them all. There was everything Agatha Christie ever wrote, all of Thomas Hardy and Dorothy L. Sayers' Lord Peter Whimsey series, many by Ngaio Marsh, Ruth Rendell, PD James.

There were others too, not connected with crime (you're breathing a sigh of relief, I can hear you!). I had all the James Herriot Vet books, 'Bless me Father books (remember that series on TV?). All of them were paperbacks but I loved each one and they all went to our local Hospice shop. Just today I was talking on the phone with a friend who was telling me that another friend of hers had just bought all of Agatha Christie's work - in paperback - FROM THE HOSPICE SHOP!!!!!!! Grrr.

I have been reading a lot of Patricia Cornwell's books this past year. I love her Kay Scarpetta character. Although each book is a story in its own right, there is a theme running through them all of her main characters' lives. If you don't read them in the order they are published - and I didn't to start with - you start to wonder how and why a regular character is as he is. So you have plenty to think about: Scarpetta, her family, her colleagues, her job (she's a forensic pathologist),the plot. I would rate her as one of the best writers around. If you like that kind of thing.

Strangely, in spite of the TV costume dramas that abound at present, I have never in my life read a Jane Austen novel. Maybe that 'in spite of'' ought to be 'because of'': it's just that I generally do not like these TV adaptations. They get in the way of my imagination. So-and-so doesn't look how I thought and, while I wouldn't presume to foist my imaginings on the rest of the nation, they do take precedence in my head. One day I may wish to read Austen and I don't want her descriptions sullied by the art of the screenplay writer. OK?

What I'm reading at the moment though is Ruth Rendell's latest Inspector Wexford mystery, "Not in the Flesh". Wexford really is the architypal bumbling plod! He's lovely! Whoever cast that role to George Baker got it exactly right. I wouldn't like him to be after me, much too clever. Sometimes Ruth Rendell's books take a while to get down to business and there bloodthirsty me will be, wondering when it's all going to kick off. Not with this one though. Straight in there! Great bedtime reading.

I expect I shall give it away so if anyone wants it please let me know. I can post it to you.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

...and cabbages and kings

First of all may I say thanks most heartily to Grammy Staffy for the award. I will wear it with pride just as soon as I figure out how to display it! It's terribly embarrassing having to admit I'm so thick but Marie at Oak Cottage has sent me a few pointers which I shall try out as soon as I get caught up.

Julie in Australia asked me if I could show some photos of the sugar flowers that I make. I would have emailed her some but I don't know her email address so the rest of you will have to suffer them too. This one is some yellow and red roses with lily of the valley, which I made for no purpose other than showing off (!). These two cream roses are not actually made from edible sugarpaste but from a very lightweight and virtually indestructible paste called Arista Soft. They were buttonholes for my niece's wedding. In the vase are some I made from 'proper' flower paste. You wouldn't know the difference to look at them but you can throw the buttonholes across the room and they won't break. Those in the vase are very very fragile. I made her wedding cake too but I can't seem to make a picture of that appear. Mum was 80 in February this year and this was her cake. Silly me, I never thought to make a spray of flowers to decorate the knife too.

Here's a 60th birthday cake.........

...........and a close-up of the flowers

Last year's Christmas Cake. As you may have guessed by now I like the cakes themselves to be quite plain so that the florals speak for themselves without having to shout!!

.......and finally! Here's one that Keith decorated on Easter Sunday before I got up. Bless him!

I'll leave it at that for now and HOPE to get back soon.

with love,

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

A Pants Morning

Today has not started well! Keith is on the early shift at work so about 6.30 (yes, I know) I got up and did the usual and got dressed. "Right," I thought, "The working day starts here, let's have some laundry sorted out for the wash." So, working from my wheelchair, and with the help of my trusty grabby stick, I started to make a pile in my lap of mucky washing. I felt something brush my ankle but thought it was my skirt,

WRONG!!! First mistake.

It was something falling off the pile, had I but looked. I didnt. I started to turn my chair around with me in it and with one hand because the other was hugging the pile of laundry, but it - - -wouldn't (puff, pant)- - - go (huff huff). I threw the laundry on the bed and looked down. Silly me, I thought, I'm running over something, so I wheeled backwards,

WRONG!!! Second Mistake.

Whatever it was just wrapped itself even tighter around my front wheel. A few choice words may have fallen from my lips. I didn't remember seeing a boa constrictor in the bedroom. In vain I tried to unravel it but the thing was tightly wrapped around that wheel and I was going nowhere. And where was the walking frame? In the hall. The only thing to do was make for that and so, using the bed and the wardrobe doors for support, I waddled out of the bedroom, got the frame and waddled on into the kitchen. Good job this is a small house!

What now? This nonsense has taken about an hour but the carer isn't due for 2 hours more and I need rescuing! The bedroom looked like a major war zone, with the bed all upside-down and a pile of mucky washing chucked on it.

The dog wanted to go out as well so I opened the back door for her. It was pouring rain, which made me remember I wanted the loo too so I sat on the stool again quick!

Now, I do truly believe that God made me the kind of person that doesn't give up easily. I also believe that He endowed me with common sense enough to know when I'm beat! I daren't try to walk further with the frame in case I couldn't get back so I just had to sit on the perching stool and watch tv (awww) and wait to be rescued.

Weeks later (well, a good couple of hours anyway) the cavalry arrived and killed the boa constrictor with her scissors. What was it? Well, the clue is in the title to this entry!
P A N T S !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, 8 September 2008

Care givers

I can't believe it's so long since I posted anything! I haven't had a relapse or anything but I never know where the time goes to.

I think I mentioned before that as a result of my injury a care worker comes in each day. This is free for 6 weeks and the idea is that you decide at the outset where you would like to be in 6 weeks' time (not Barbados) and they help you try and achieve whatever goals you set for yourself. They will do as much or as little as you want them to do. You also get visits from Occupational Therapists (OT's) and Physiotherapists, from district nurses if you need such as blood tests or other nursing care, social workers in case there is any other help needed. It's wonderful, specially when I think what a fight we had to get care for my dad, a stroke victim, and that was only 5 years or so back. How things have changed.

This morning, chatting to Jean - today's lady - I got a little insight into some of the things they do. They are not trained nurses or social workers, though they do have training in many fields where nurses don't. As Jean said, they become involved with people from all walks of life, different nationalities, different religions, different cultures, different health conditions. There are deaf people, blind people, old people, those who can't walk, lonely people. All sorts of people and the Jeans of this world have to have an understanding of all their situations. Some carers know British Sign Language, some can speak other languages, there are men and women, some are young, others not so young.

They all have training in some of the situations their clients find themselves in. Jean asked me if I had ever had to be lifted from one place to another in a hoist.

"It's terrifying," she said, "There are lots of different types of hoist and we carers all have to experience what it's like to need one. Up there being hoisted is not a 'normal' sort of feeling. Imagine if you're blind or, worse still, deaf/blind. We have to learn to communicate to those people what is happening."

She told me "We have to experience being blindfold and making a cup of tea and sandwich without pouring boiling water on yourself. We are taught what it's like to be wheelchair bound and have to manage in a kitchen where the counters are too high; what it's like to be ignored in conversation as though your brain must have packed up along with your legs or your voice or your eyes, whatever. Basically, we are taught the meaning of human dignity in all its guises."

Wow! And I thought they were just ladies who come to help you get a wash or go to the loo!! I don't know exactly how much they earn but I do know it's not much and, to all those people I so often hear complaining about their local authority care services, I would say : You try it. They wouldn't last 5 minutes!
For my care ladies!

One or two little advances for me this week. I can walk a little bit using a frame. Not enough to be completely mobile round the house but - hey - I couldn't do it last week! I have at long last managed to get into the shower. Having a wash is grand but a shower is Something Else. All that lovely hot water running on your achey bits. I can't get in there alone but with Keith's help and a little ingenuity I can. Last weekend I achieved 2 feats of culinary genius! I made a steak and mushroom pie for Sunday lunch and a plain old Victoria sponge. Not much, you might think, but a triumph as far as I'm concerned! Who knows what I may achieve next week that I can't do this week?

Friday, 22 August 2008

Look out, World...........

A Victorian letter box in Lincoln

First of all I want to thank my Blogger friends for sticking with me. It's great to be back, I must say. I can't get outside to take any pictures quite yet so patio photos will have to come later. Let me try and paint you a word photo of our garden (so this is likely to be a short entry!)

Here's one I took earlier!

We are lucky in that our back garden faces south so, if there's any sunshine to be had, we get it out the back. Lovely, as far as I can remember! It's not huge, "manageable" is the word estate agents use. This being an old house though the garden is a bit larger than on today's houses in England. Lack of warm sunshine is our problem at the moment but at least the garden never needs watering - there's no shortage of rain! The only problem that causes is the rainwater butts are constantly overflowing. We used to live next door to a guy who was always watering his garden. In the pouring rain there he would be with his hosepipe playing on the lawn. Fortunately for him this lawn was only the size of a postage stamp because - you know those bits of stuff that ALWAYS manage to evade the lawnmower and pop up stubbornly five minutes after you've put it away? Well, this chap used to go all over his lawn on his hands and knees, eying along the surface and snipping off any such things with a pair of manicure scissors!!! Then out would come a teaspoon he kept for digging out the remains of any dandelions and in would go a few grains of grass seed to fill up the hole. For a self-confessed non-gardener he certainly put the rest of us to shame!

As I mentioned before, Keith has been extending our patio. So far all we've got on the patio is a tall(ish) stone planter with something colourful in it. The tomatoes, which haven't done very well this year because there has been no sunshine, are in a Growbag near the garden shed wall. Next year though they can go in a border of the patio where there is a fence for them to grow up. There's rhubarb in a big tub but that's so ugly it's not coming near my patio!

Are you wondering why I entitled this "Look out World....." ? No? I'm telling you anyway. It's Mimuther's shock announcement the other day. For those who don't know, Mimuther is the woman who gave birth to me, who was 80 in February, has been a widow for 4 years and who wouldn't be seen dead without her high heeled shoes!. She rang on Thursday to say she has booked her holiday - a cruise on the Queen Mary 2 across the Atlantic to New York and 2 days there for shopping (or whatever). Mimuther, who claims abject poverty as a poor old pensioner! She who won't even catch a bus down to Birmingham is grabbing her sister and cruising to the States; is being let loose on the streets of NY; is FLYING (she hates flying) back to London; is catching a train back to Birmingham to take her sis home! The posh frock hunt is on in earnest and, believe me, she was only half joking when she said she might try and get a cheap tiara.

Can't teach an old dog new tricks? I beg to differ!

Thursday, 21 August 2008


As nothing exciting is happening in my life right now, I've pinched this from the blog I used to do over on AOL before I came here

"When I was young in the late '60s.........." - if I was an 18 year old now I would cringe at those words. But I don't care, I'm going to carry on anyway!

1968/69 I was a student nurse and do you know, try as I might, I can't think of a single example of an unhygienic practice then. Each hospital ward had a regular domestic assigned to it who was there every day and there was another regular one who covered her day off. For the whole of her shift she was busy with cleaning the ward, toilets, public areas. Even rooms that were only used occasionally werethoroughly cleaned at least every other day.

The floor was damp mopped several times a day and all floors were asclear as possible so this could be done. Window ledges and frames were regularly gone over, and the curtain rails around beds damp dusted. There was no dry dusting.

First year students (such as me) also had to do cleaning jobs. Each morning a student would be assigned to cleaning locker tops and bed tables "...and don't take all day about it". That didn't mean carrying a mucky cloth from bed to bed, it meant a bowl of hot soapy water and lysol (gloves provided!), on a trolley, tidying away things from locker tops and washing them down. Same with tables. This all had to be done very quickly and you had to let the bed making nurses (first years again) get a start on you as there was no point cleaning things if the germy old beds hadn't been done yet!

There would be no vases of dead flowers because that was one of night staff's jobs. They took flowers out of the ward at night. I can't think where they put them but one of a junior Night Nurse's tasks would be gettiing rid of dead flowers.

Why was it all done? Not MRSA orC-diff. certainly. I never heard of those. No, it was scarier than that: Matron's Rounds.

Matron never had a set route for her ward round so it could be as early as 10am. Might ot be, but it had to be all done by then, just in case. Our Matron used to put on little white gloves to check for dust and woe betide if your bit made her gloves dirty! She had something a bit regal about her and she filled us with dread. All patients had to be in bed: none of this slouching around in chairs. They could do jigsaws r read a book but no newspapers before Matron decended bcause they made the sheets grubby!

When someone went home - or died - the bed was dealt with the instant they were out of the door. The bedding - all of it - was put straight into a linen trolley and removed from the ward immediately. The entire bedframe and the rubber matress cover were thoroughly scrubbed with hot water and lysol. The locker was washed out and stood open to dry. Then, when the bed was dry, it was freshly made up again. Nurses did those things. It was never left until later and not up for discussion.

None of ot was any big deal to us then. It's what was done; part of our training. There was much more than this, of course there was, but these things were absolutely basic, fundamental parts of getting Mr. Patient in and ot without him catching anything he didn't come in with. It was so easy.

What went wrong?

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Playing Catch up

While my bum is rooted to this chair you may have to make do with some fairly inane, work-a-day kind of stuff - Sorry!

As well as looking after me and everything else this past few weeks Keith has managed to extend the patio sideways so that there is plenty of room to sit out there (SHOULD we happen to get the weather for it) no matter what he makes in the way of ramps to get me and my chair out. It has become glaringly obvious that, if this house were to catch fire, poor moi would just have to fry as there is no door that I can get out of on my own. The OT (Occupational Therapist) who's coming tomorrow will be able to advise if their department can help, specially with the cost, but we hope with the installation too. Otherwise it's Keith - alone again, naturally! I'll get him to take some patio pics soon as I can so you can see.

He's decided that his vegetable patch has had its day. I knew that would happen - but what do I know eh.............! He says it looks too messy when the potato tops have died off. I say what's veg for - eating or looking pretty? He says it's not big enough to be worthwhile. I say how much stuff do 2 people want? He says I don't have to dig it. AH-HA! Now we're getting there. So it's going to be turfed this Autumn.

Well, it's not much but it's the best I can do for now - not much going on while I'm stuck here in the house but at least I'm still here!

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

For Better, For Worse..........

Well, my last post seems a lifetime ago. In fact it has been about 5 long weeks. Some of you will know I had an accident in which I was run over by a driverless shopping-sized mobility scooter. My scooter actually. I was loading it into the car using the electric hoist in the back...........or rather, I would have done that if only I had remembered to turn off the scooter's ignition. As it was I caught the 'backwards' lever with my shoulder and the scooter took off and took me with it. At some point it must have run over my foot as I ended up with a fracture to the 2nd metatarsal on my right foot, most of my foot black and blue with bruising - even on the sole - and, jack-knifing heavily down onto the concrete drive, damaging my coccyx and consequent nerve damage.

At first I thought I was just shaken up and had a painful toe and I didn't go to hospital. With my bone conditions there are some things I have learnt to be more thankful for than concerned about. But it got worse and worse until, after 2 weeks, I couldn't stand, could hardly get out of bed, Keith had to wash me and even toilet me. As it was impossible to get in the car, my sis called an ambulance and away I went. Just as I thought, the doctor there, after x-raying my hips / back said all I could do was take pain killers and rest.

Then he noticed that my right leg seemed fatter than the left. To cut a long story short they found, after blood tests and an ultrasound scan, a DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) in my right leg. Treatment started there and then with an injection of heparin into my abdomen (nope, didn't hurt at all). The District Nurse came each day for a week to do these and I also had to take a variable daily dose of Warfarin orally. The Warfarin continues for 6 months and then, if an ultrasound shows that the clot has dispersed they stop the Warfarin and I have then to keep my eyes open for any recurrence. I don't know what happens if it hasn't dispersed. I didn't ask - well, would you?

Just think, if I had gone to hospital straight away when I first got injured they may not have noticed the DVT. God does, indeed, move in a mysterious way............

Poor Keith! He never signed up for this, though he swears he doesn't mind. He had to do so many things for me, even for instance after I had been to the loo (with me?). He had to wash me because I couldn't get in the shower, do the cooking and cleaning AND go to work. He was meeting himself coming back half the time and was terribly stressed. But God and his mysterious ways was at it again! Keith asked our GP to give him a sicknote so he could look after me but, as Keith wasn't actually sick, the doctor could not give him a sicknote. Next day the doc came to the house to see me and from there Things Happened! The Disabled Persons care team became involved. A carer comes in each morning to give me whatever help I need with washing and dressing and getting the day started. District Nurses, Occupational Therapists, Physios and rehab people - all have been to see me and are scheming to get me back to where I was before the accident. This is the NHS at its best, ladies and gentlemen, and I take my hat off to them.

There is another person - not called Keith - who doesn't work for the NHS. From the start of all this nonsense she has been with me whenever she could. She has cleaned the house, done the ironing, washed my hair or just chatted. She has tried to be here when Keith couldn't be, though her own hubby must have been shoved aside quite a bit. She has colluded with Keith in some of his less outrageous Heath Robinson-ish ideas for making my life easier. My sister. Our Gwyn. She is a star and I love her to bits. She's on a well-deserved holiday in Cyprus this week (hope she remembers the postcard) but, by gum, I miss her.

Well now, I think I have done quite well to sit here long enough to write this but the backside is protesting now so I'll try and get back again soon. Thanks for thinking about me and praying for me. I hope you still will - it ain't finished yet!