Monday 26 February 2024

Today's the day

 At least it is for those two tete-a-tete daffodils who, at the first hint of a sun-ray reaching them, decided to open their petals to greet it.   Sadly, by the time they really managed it the sun had gone behind a cloud as it crossed over on its way out to sea(I hope),  The weather man says there will be the 'odd bright spell' this afternoon so perhaps they won't live to regret it.

I am still quite well and enjoying a somewhat limited life - but as that situation has approached stealthily rather than happen overnight I have gradually adapted to it.

An hour's chat morning and evening as my Carers scurry around doing their allotted chores - lots of laughs and a good start and end to the day. (7am morning shift and 6pm evening).   I am still able to put myself to bed thank goodness and need only to remove my dressing gown and slippers.

The middle of the day passes quickly - various friends pop in (yesterday T and S came for the usual Sunday chat with tea and kit kats and as they went D and J, my gardeners and friends, arrived with a very large bunch of roses.   Red ones, yellow ones and apricot ones.   This morning they  have all opened out and the apricot ones in particular are an absolutely luscious colour.)

Already this morning soon after J, my morning carer, had gone, friend and carer K arrived on her way back from Tesco with some bananas to top up my fruit bowl.   She arrived in windy weather, cold with bright sunshine, and stayed a quarter of an hour for a quick chat before going home to put her frozen stuff in the freezer before it began to defrost.  Now it is cloudy and light rain is falling.

When I read Rachel and Derek I feel I shouldn't complain about a little rain shower - really poor old East Anglia has suffered greatly throughout February  (and I rather think most of the winter) with awful rain.   I suppose it is the price they pay for sticking out into the North Sea and catching the worst of the cruel East Wind.   I don't know about them but I always feel rather smug up here in the North of the country when the weather map shows horrible weather in the South and sunshine up here (a somewhat rare occurrence though).

Nothing much to tell you today.   Last evening, after two lovely visits from friends, I was very tired indeed.  I made myself a milky drink and dozed until time for Channel 4's 'Great Pottery Throwdown' - last night was a real cliff-hanger with tears never far away from the contestants left in the competition (and I suspect many of the viewers too).

Today is quiet so far.   Mondays usually are these days but thinking back to my young days when Dad lit the copper before going off to work and Mum slaved away in the wash-house washing heavy twill sheets (no non-iron fabrics in those days) and lugging them in the clothes basket down to the line across the lawn to peg them out after first putting them through the big old mangle with wooden rollers (keeping a close eye on the weather) - Lincolnshire, the second largest county in England, carries on North from East Anglia and is not noted for blissful weather on Mondays - in those far off days the obligatory 'wash day'.

Saturday 24 February 2024


 It is a glorious "Spring" February day here - bit chilly with it (sharp frost this morning) but a beautiful, unblemished blue sky.   All the birds in the area are singing their beaks off and every single flower out in my garden is singing.

I couldn't resist a walk round the garden so I put on a topcoat and walked out onto the patio (in my slippers!).   All the golden crocus were out - and the snowdrops, the winter primroses in all  their bright finery and two tete-a-tete daffodil buds, sitting next to one another, are having a discussion about whether to open or not.

One clump of very large purple crocus had been decimated by the frost.   Three of the flowers were laid flat on the soil, cut down by it.   They were close to the edge and I could reach them - each had a long white 'stalk'- almost inviting me to pick them.   My farmer loved purple crocus so I brought them in and put them in a specimen vase by his photograph in the sitting room and lo and behold within five minutes the flowers had opened wide - their bushy stamens are thick with golden pollen and they look superb.  I don't expect they will last long.  That is three that my solitary bumble bee will miss if he calls again today.

On a wider front I am reading again -dibbing into here and there - a book my son bought me years ago - 'BETTER THAN FICTION ' edited by Don George.   It is 32 true travel tales from great fiction writers (Isabel Allende, Joyce Carol Oates, Jan Morris and many more).   Over breakfast this morning I read 'A visit to San Quentin' by Joyce Carol Oates.   Not jolly reading by any means but her standard of writing was so brilliant that I was there with her.  If you like travel writing give it a whirl - I'm sure you'll enjoy it.  

As I look out of the window nothing much is moving.   A couple of hedge sparrows are hopping along the top of the wall and - as usual - Mr Blackbird is showing off in the hawthorn.   Incidentally I asked about Hazel catkins and Derek kindly let me know that on the Reserve they are full out.   If you are reading this Derek, the sun is really bright on the hazels I can see from my sitting room window and here too the catkins are waving in the breeze.

Yes - Spring is winning the battle.  Enjoy your day.

*In case you are wondering B.B.B. in the title stands for "Big, Bright and Blowsy" - a good description of my three purple crocus.

Friday 23 February 2024


Chatting with Derek on e mail this morning about sleeping - how long we sleep   Thinking about things after reading his e mail, I got into another 'stream of consciousness'(see yesterday's blog about such things) which has gone on all morning more or less.

I did the Mind Games, read my e mails, cursorily read bits of the Times which were not depressing, but all the time I was thinking on and off about the transitory nature of life. .

Last night I watched 'Dynasties' on BBC 2.   It was about Macaque monkeys and their way of life.   About who was the boss of the troop (always a male of course but then they are bigger and stronger and that is what matters in the animal world).  About how you really had to fight to be the boss and when you got there it was a constant strain to keep there.   You needed eyes not only in the back of your head but on each side too.  And when a male who was bigger/stronger/more wily picked the right moment it was very easy to be toppled off your perch.

Then this morning I read how the writer moved to the country almost 'on the spur of the moment' during Covid (time to really 'think about things'  for so many who were isolated) and I thought of Robert Frosts's 'The Road not Taken' (yes I have a 'Butterfly Mind') - how when we come to a metaphorical fork in the road we have to decide which fork to take - often having to make a quick decision rather than pondering on it for days.   And how such decisions can in an instant alter the whole course of our lives.

And as Priscilla and I did our 'fineweather' circuit of my garden in chilly sunshine I stood and watched my first bumble bee of this year as he investigated every flower then moved on.   Hopefully he would find pollen,    enough work to keep him going to get back 'home' before he ran out of steam - otherwise at this time of the year it would mean the end for him.

And I thought about what a short time we are here in the giant scheme of things.   How the tiniest of decisions - pondered on for days or made in an instant - moves us on to the next stage in our lives.

Here we all differ don't we.    Some of us think hard at a fork - shall I do this or shall I do that?   Others go headlong into a new adventure - go to the Antarctic,  climb Everest, go to Glasto, move house, decide to marry (or these days 'shack up with), change careers, row the Atlantic.   the list of possibilities is endless and often we make the wrong choice.   But it all builds up to a life lived.

We are transitory beings - flitting from flower to flower, deciding where to settle and I suppose hoping for the best of outcomes.  And then  one day we are gone.   And in a couple of generations we are forgotten - that is unless we have written a book or won Wimbledon, or fashioned a beautiful garden or a fine building, or 'ruled' a country or some such.

Or to quote Macbeth we are mostly poor players who strut and fret their hour upon the stage and then are heard no more'.

I suppose the moral of all this rambling is - don't look back and regret - move on and enjoy every minute.


Thursday 22 February 2024

Stream of consciousness

 Good morning on a dull, wet and typical February day - and commiserations to anyone down the Eastern side of the country as we are under dull, dour February skies.   But Spring is beginning to shout out all over  knowing it will win in the end, so let's square our shoulders and get on with the day.

When the 'solitudes' begin to close in - as they inevitably do  when one is on 'end of life' care - suddenly memory becomes incredibly important.  I usually wake around 5am - as I go to bed around 9pm (apart from the odd evening when there is something tempting on television) and I rather look forward to that hour when I can lie warm and relaxed and let my mind wander wherever it chooses to go.

This morning I woke up playing music.   For almost twenty years my first husband,Malcolm,  and I played with a group of musicians regularly each week and managed to get quite a lot of pieces up to performance standard.  We also played with another husband a wife friends and really enjoyed just playing rather than 'working' to improve our performance.   And this morning I woke to Bach's Brandenburg 4 playing in my head.   And I thought of F and K - we loved having a go at this in the privacy of their music room where nobody was listening or criticising. 

Now long retired and in their eighties F, who was a highly intelligent man in a top job in a hospital - a rambler, a musician, a committed Christian, friend and helper to many - a really lovely man, has dementia and can no longer remember the music he used to play - or the friends he used to play with.

And I thought of our playing, of our walks together in the Clee Hills of Shropshire, and on the Long Mynd and of visits to Scotland to stay in a cottage in Kincraig and our wanders in the surrounding countryside (nothing too strenuous).

All these ordinary, everyday things which we did - and took forgranted in a way.   Now I can no longer walk unaided I can do them in my memory as I lay snug and warm in the early morning (and I never make mistakes when I am reliving them - no wrong notes, no groaning when I lag behind on a too long walk, no stumbling on stony ground.)  How kind our selective memory is at this time of life.

F can do none of this and I grieve for him and his solitude - so different from mine.   And for K who looks after him with a mixture of love (they have been married a very long time) and sadness.   As she says in her letter 'he can no longer remember the Brandenburg 4'.

Tomorrow I shall have my float down memory lane - a personal journey, many of those with me are no longer around.  Those who are will have a totally different memory of the same events.   The memory is so selective (and sometimes so inaccurate).   But my   ' stream of consciousness' spurs me on to get up when the clock shows 6 and then I can potter around with my wheeled trolley getting my breakfast and my morning cuppa.

Have a good day - oh and if you live in the UK and have to go out  - take your brolly.

Monday 19 February 2024

Perky today!

Feeling my old self today - long may the feeling last.

I am in no doubt that my garden keeps me cheerful.  I suppose non-gardeners might not feel the same, but having been a gardener since I was a child I just can't imagine life without growing plants just outside my window.

A friend called on Friday to show me some of her exquisite handwork - neat and precise (two strengths I never really achieved with my handwork apart from beading, a craft I enjoyed until trying to get the beading needle and thread through the tiny hole in the bead (having already spent a long time actually threading the needle) became impossible)).  If you are reading this G then I hope you realise just how much I admire your craft work.  And in case you think you are too precise you then let yourself go entirely with your highly colourful, hand-dyed material using wax-resist so that the colour and pattern burst out and dazzle.  I do wish you had a blog so that we could all enjoy that colour.

As one's end of life becomes visible even if on a fairly distant horizon (and yes I do realise I might fall on the garage floor on my way to the freezer at lunch time today) it concentrates the mind beautifully.   So many things one worried about suddenly become unimportant and tiny things which were hidden in secret corners of one's mind pop out and loom large.

Marvel at the way the blackbirds suddenly seem to know St Valentine has woken up  their 'flirting songs'.   As I write this a male blackbird is singing his beak off in the hawthorn in next door's garden.  I have no idea whether Mrs B is impressed because I am sure she has heard it all before.  But I do know that come hell or highwater it won't be long before the pair of them will be wearing themselves out flying back and forth to my hedge with beakfuls of twiggy bits - I just hope they build far enough down in the hedge so that they are safe from bigger beaks.

It's hot choc time (11.30) and an added Kit Kat but before I go I wonder if anyone out there can help me.   Some time ago I read a verse on line somewhere which I thought was very beautiful.   Now that it so appropriate for me I would like to find it again - but it seems to have disappeared.   I write it here.   Does anyone know where it comes from please?

At this time I would ask three things

as the Solitudes round me close.

Spare me the sensitive nerve that sings,

the storm cock*

and the rose.

*the storm cock is the Mistle Thrush

Enjoy your day if it is warm (16 degreesC) and very sunny - unseasonable but welcome.  As the doom-mongers will say - it won't last!

PS.    If you have access to The Times do please read Melissa Harrison's Nature Notes on   Page 23. The uncompromising first sentence "Badger droppings are fascinating" might be a bit off-putting but the paragraph is well-worth the read.


Friday 9 February 2024


 Yes typical indeed.   Just when we begin to marvel at the absolutely glorious sunrises (they were exquisite last week - especially when flocks of rooks chose to fly right across the deepest red part), just when folk began to say,"at last the dawn is coming that bit earlier and did you notice it was still light at half past five last night?" February chooses to remind us that Winter is not yet past.   It obeys the Weather Forecasters on the TV - they said the snow would begin here in the foothills of the Pennines at around 8am yesterday - they were two minutes out.   8.02am light snow began to fall.  By tea time the darkness had set in and it was turning to sleet.  But February had the last laugh - the temperature went down a tad (minus 0.5 degrees C according to my carer's phone), what had been sleet turned to 1p sized snow flakes and when I went to bed there was about four or five inches of the stuff (sorry in an emergency metrics go out of the window quicker than a gnat's fart as a dear member of staff in my teaching days used to say - a male member I hasten to add as it is certainly not ladylike language).

My milkman delivers my Friday milk at 5am.  He walks across my front lawn and I haven't the heart to tell him to use the drive at that time in the morning.   When I unlocked the front door and looked out at about a quarter to seven his footprints were melting nicely.   And now - at 1.48pm according to this dear laptop - the cars have swished the slush off the road and into the gutters and there is green grass where his feet trod.

Apparently there were photographs abounding on Facebook of abandoned cars  littered across the roads through Wensleydale (we are a mile or so outside the National Park and just in the 'foothills' of the Pennines so not so bad here).

Neither of my morning carers for today could get here on time.   W had to go right into the Pennines for an hour before 7am (and managed it as much of the worst of it had melted overnight) and J couldn't get the car out of the garage.

So a rather different (and rather nice ) morning.   I always get my own breakfast (porridge this morning  - Flahavan's Organic Jumbo Oats) with the obligatory prunes, banana, grapes and orange juice. Two cups of tea.   Times spot on cue at 8am, Mind Games until 9.30 and then half an hour of TV News on 231.  A message from both carers.  W to say she would call in on passing = she lives nearby  = to bring in the milk and see if I was OK (I was) and one from J to say she would be round shortly. So here I am - showered, dressed, sprayed with Elizabeth Arden Toilet Water, de-whiskered (a secret from the Boudoir - everything might slow down when one is on 'End of Life Care' but whiskers just have not got the message yet).

My Son is bringing my Grandson, over from Shanghai, later - that means a nice chat and I am so looking forward to it.

Hope you are all coping with the weather here in the UK - it is set to get better over the next few days.

Thursday 8 February 2024


'Busy'.   A pretty meaningless word I think.   It means something different to each one of us.

There was a time - in what seems to be the far distant past - when I was busy. Our bedsit (wash basin, kitchen cabinet, table with two dining chairs, two single beds, small wardrobe  and small settee) - our very happy home for five years of our married life-and a full time office job kept me really busy and fully occupied - Saturday morning was bedsit cleaning morning.  Then it was off on the tandem if the weather was fine.

The arrival of a baby and when he was fourteen days old moving into our cottage in the Lincolnshire countryside - baby, new home, front and back gardens  to work on from scratch (it was the old school which we had had converted so the surroundings were what had been playgrounds).  I used to think I had never before known the real meaning of busy.

Teaching in a large comprehensive  - first as Head of a unit for ESL, then as a Head of a large department and finally as Senior Mistress -made me interpret the word again.

Now - 91 - on end of life care - cancer known to be at least in colon, liver, lungs and now bones - it has a different meaning altogether.   

One tiny quarter of a hour activity means busy.   The rest of the time I sit in my comfy chair (on a cushion aimed at avoiding sores on my bottom from sitting too long), do the mind games, make a pot of coffee, open the curtains all round the bungalow, sit down again, read the Times, get up from my chair, put my dinner in the micro wave, sit and eat it.  Gosh I have been busy all morning.

Monday my Grand daughter, her husband and my two Great Grandchildren (7 and 2) called in on their way back home to Glasgow.  They stayed for a couple of hours.   It was so lovely to see them all.  Gosh - what a busy time I had - chatting, laughing with them, generally catching up.

Tuesday my friend E came for sherry.  Carer J provided us with a lovely scone each - and E poured the Croft Original - nice large ones!  What did I do?  Well I put the daffodils E brought me in a pretty jug, put it on my trolley along with the sherries, the scones I had buttered and two paper napkins and pushed it through to my chair.   Two and a half hours of chat, laughter and reminiscence followed - lovely busy morning.   Friend W called after lunch for an hour and then nearer tea time friend S called with the cash she had got for me.  I slept well after such a busy day.

Yesterday?  My cleaner D, who comes once a month to clean through the whole bungalow, came.  Simultaneously my Doctor came for our half an hour monthly chat.   What a brilliant Palliative Care programme we have.   District Nurse, Palliative Care Nurses and the Doctor call each month to check on me.  Doctor T told me that the whole team then meet once a month for the afternoon during which they discuss each 'end of life care' patient under their care idividually.  Carer W came to help me get ready for bed (and brought me a bag of oranges picked the previous day from the orange tree in their garden in Spain!!) - I ate one as soon as she left.  Watched a programme on Chimpanzees and how the 'top' male has to constantly plot and fight (and get 'allies' on his side by grooming them), drank my Ispaghula Husk drink and went to  bed musing on them being one of our closest relatives and thinking we haven't evolved all that  much.  Phew - what a busy day - slept like a log (apart from numerous 'toilet' calls best glossed over).  Phew and double phew - what a busy day.

Today?   Nothing planned.   Light covering of snow - that fine stuff you can hardly see falling but which covers all surfaces like a coat of paint.  Off now to make a cup of hot chocolate, get a two-finger kit-kat (or maybe a couple of chocolate digestives (decisions, decisions), sit down and do the mind games.   Am exhausted at the thought of it all - but at least the house is all clean and shiny and smells of polish.

Looking forward to seeing my Grandson - all the way from Shanghai (must remember to greet him with Ni Hao - the only Chinese word I know).

Sunday 4 February 2024

Hello again

 Hi everyone!   Still alive and kicking - more lively some days than others.   Sunday is a good day for me in that I have my dear friends S and T each week for a couple of hours.   Today, as often, I have several jobs lined up for T - a letter to post in the box opposite (I can no longer go that far) and a message for the milkman in the morning in our secret place.   He comes at 5am so there is no catching him unless I happen to be having a sleepless night.  At present I am sleeping like a baby so no making cups of tea at dead of night.

Friend E is coming for sherry in the morning at 10.30  so I look forward to that - we always find plenty to chat about (as ladies who sherry always do).

S and T went a while ago but I dropped off to sleep - perhaps as well as I intend to stay up until ten tonight to watch Simon Reeve's "Wilderness".   It is a wonderful hour if you like travel programmes.   The first episode was in the Second largest rainforest in the world (the first being the Amazon) in The Congo.   Last week he was in the wilds of Patagonia with the Pumas who were magnificent animals - not by any means tame but certainly not afraid of humans.

Speaking of animals - in case you don't live in the UK you may not have heard of our escaped monkey!   He escaped from his 'home' in a wildlife park somewhere in Scotland - somewhere near Kingussie I think - and has been 'on the run' for about a week - spotted now and again in various villages around the area.   He became adept at dismantling bird feeders to get at the peanuts and villagers were I believe asked to take them in.   But most of all I love the way he was finally caught: LURED BY A YORKSHIRE PUDDING put out for the birds.

In these days when all the news is so dreadful - both at home and abroad - wars, stabbings, attacks with a corrosive substance, terrible, terrible days, isn't it good to have just a little bit of light relief?

How are your gardens doing, those of you who live in the Northern Hemisphere.   (Pam feel free to tell us of your Australian garden.  We are  within spitting distance of Spring now so it will give us something to look forward to).  I have golden crocus, a few purple ones (they never seem to do as well as the 'ordinary' golden ones), snowdrops, Helleborus Niger - four plants all in full flower with snow white flowers and a host of different coloured Winter primroses - red, orange, yellow, cream and purple.   The one or two really sunny days have brought them out.   Today is dull, windy and chilly with that thin, drizzly rain than soon gets you wet through.

I am just going round drawing blinds and curtains and washing up ready for my carer coming at 6pm to help me get ready for bed. I have one night each week when a carer doesn't come but I think shortly I shall have to have her as it is becoming harder by the day.   Last Friday I accidentally pressed my lifeline button while getting ready for bed.   My answer  button machine is in the sitting room so I didn't hear her asking if I was alright.  Alarm bells must have started ringing as she telephoned me on my mobile (I always sleep with it on my bedside table) to make sure.  Lifeline is a really excellent service.   Do any of you have it?

Hopefully back tomorrow.   See you then.

Saturday 3 February 2024

A Short Post.

John (Going Gently) has given me a 'kick up the knickers' to say I have to keep going.   Thank you John.   I absolutely must not give up.   One of my daily drugs became unavailable, another was tried and was not helping at all - at last an alternative seems as though it might be going to 'work' (only started on it yesterday) so hopefully I will be back.   In the meantime just a short quote from  today's Times which will make us all - whoever's side we are on (I am on neither or both whichever way you choose to look at it - believing I know nothing about the real situation so I am better not taking sides):

It is 55 years ago today when - in 1969- Yasser Arafat was appointed chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organisation.   What more can anyone say?  But we should all be aware of the fact and ponder on it.