04 December 2016


I had never heard of this organisation until I saw a leaflet, yet it started in the early 1960s. I can’t remember if the leaflet came through the door or was an insert in a magazine. Whichever, I saw it and discussed it with Rosanne. She has a brain to die for so when she suggested I ‘go for it’ I did. All I had to do was fill in a coupon and send it off; if I didn’t like what came back I didn’t have to follow it through.

The idea of the organisation is in the name – Visiting the Elderly, predominantly those who live alone. In no time at all I received a lovely letter with a request that in double quick time, after completing another more detailed form, I received a phone call from Janine, one of the organisers who was starting a group in my area.

I was a bit apprehensive when another call came making an appointment for Janine and her colleague, Fran, to visit. I was nervous, you see, not knowing what would transpire from their visit. I needn’t have worried. It was all very informal. I think my nervousness came from the fact I was now officially an old person being offered help. It’s not something you think about until faced with living alone but I wasn’t the sort to dwell on my circumstances. I did things, that was fine. I was okay.

Janine and Fran arrived and they couldn’t have been nicer. I was invited to afternoon tea one Sunday afternoon. At someone’s house. With my own driver (Fran) who would be my regular chauffeur. I was given a schedule of dates for afternoon tea once a month, always on a Sunday. Apparently, there were seven of us, not counting the volunteers, which they said was a good start.

I have just been on my first one and enjoyed every minute, especially the drive there and back in a fabulous sporty blue Mercedes with gadgets everywhere. Just imagine owning such a thing! I can tell you, I was in my element. Marvellous! And to think I shall be going in that beauty again. Yes!

The tea consisted of a variety of fancy sandwiches, various pies, trifle, and cakes of all description – cup cakes, slab cakes, fruit pies and tarts, followed by chocolate sweets to die for. I knew I shouldn’t have had such a big lunch!

The company was great, some fab conversations and plenty of laughs. One lady, who bragged about being 94, had a terrific sense of humour and told us plenty of funny tales about her life and family. Another one told us tales about her cat, so I whipped out my phone to show pictures of Charlie. It was all very light-hearted and enjoyable and I can’t wait to go again.

Fran brought me home (in THAT car) and asked me to contact her if I need anything. I won’t be a nuisance but it’s nice to know that there is someone I can ring if I need to. I have since told a friend of mine about it. She is older than me and lives alone, so maybe there’s a group in her area that she can go to. I know one thing, she would never regret it. 

27 November 2016


(borrowed from the Internet)
I write this post at the risk of upsetting squirrel fans, in particular my good friend Ron who adores them. 

I have written before, many times, about the squirrels and the problems they cause. However, where I live it only applies to those that scoff all the bird food. I have tried various ways to stop them getting at all the delicious seed and nuts, (thus preventing birds from feeding) to no avail.

It’s not just the stealing of food that bothers me, it’s the fact that as well as having to fork out for bird food, I must also replace feeders on a regular basis. There’s only so much money in the bank so I continually search for solutions to the problem.

(cow bell brought home from Austria)
I have tried banging on the window to scare the pests away. I have tried screaming, ringing a cow bell, clapping hands, slamming doors, to no avail. As soon as I stop the squirrel or squirrels jump once more into action.

A week ago, as I was preparing to sort the refuse bin ready for collection, I spotted a squirrel jumping onto the birds feeding station. I happened to have a black plastic bag in my hand which I waved in his direction. Oooh he didn’t like that; scarpered as fast as he could. Oooh, I thought, better keep a black bag handy for future scares. It worked. I only had to wave the bag and the squirrel scooted - couldn’t get away quick enough – but if I went out without the bag he stayed put.

I left the bag in a permanent position by the door in readiness for another
squirrel visitor.

Just the other day I gave it serious thought. Why not tie the bag to the station, a bit like flying a flag. Well, reaching the top would have been a problem, me being quite small in stature and not agile enough to stand on steps. So this is what I did, I tied it to the middle section of the pole which is how the squirrels get up there. I reckoned he wouldn’t be able to get a grip on a pliable bag that kept shifting in the wind. 

Three days later, still no squirrel. Correction: I saw him, or rather ‘them’, but only on the bird table upon which I put seed for bigger birds. Okay, so he still got fed… but it stopped him from damaging the expensive feeders which was my aim. I patted my own back for hitting on a solution but deep down I wondered if a committee of squirrels was at work trying to solve their problem.

I was right not to get too complacent since in the approaching dusk I saw the squirrel leap and successfully land on one of the feeders where he proceeded to scoff the seed, that is until I shot out, screaming and ranting and threatening him with his life. He didn’t hang about, mainly because in my hand was another black bag.

Oh well, back to the drawing board I went, but for short term measures I kept the black bag right by the patio window because one shake was all it took to send squirrel into a dramatic fleeing performance. The only problem was having to be on watch all the time although squirrel saw to it that I didn't have to wait long before finding another way round the problem. He did no more than unhook two of the robust squirrel-proof feeders and smashed them on the ground. 
new fence, new bird table
While all this was going on I had had a new fence erected in the garden (see picture above) which pushed me into purchasing a new bird table (see picture above). It was cheap and pretty so it was off with the old and on with the new. Let's see how long it takes the squirrels to wreck it like he did the first one I had. 

Cats sulk quietly in their beds
They do not draw attention to their unhappiness
by huffing loudly and banging doors

20 November 2016


According to the British the correct name for a cell phone is, did you guess, a mobile phone. Maybe the following will explain!

Why do men walk about when they talk on a cell phone? I have noticed recently that the workmen at the house next door cannot keep still when they talk. They strut! They cross the road while on the phone, then cross back, repeating the routine until finishing their chat. Sometimes they cross the road and walk a little way on the other side, then reverse the programme until they are back where they started. There is also a guy who carries a mug of tea at the same time, phone to ear, drinking vessel to mouth. There are low walls they could sit on but it seems they prefer to keep on the move.

Whilst watching this from the window (yes, I’m a peeper) I was reminded of my Joe. He had ants in his pants, I think, because he couldn’t sit still while on the phone. Not a cell phone, though, he wasn’t into those things. No, he did it whilst on the landline house phone which, you can guess, was one he could walk about with. And did! Always! He would walk from room to room, sometimes hurrying as if to prove something, then adopting a go-slow gait, all the time talking and demonstrating with his free hand. I often mused about it, wondering if looking busy was a throwback to when he worked in an office. He certainly gave that impression.

Women seem a lot more casual about phone calls. I have never seen one strut about whilst talking. Yes, they talk as they walk but they don’t seem to amble up and down as if trying to look busy. Me? I never move around because I don’t take calls outside the house and never answer when I’m driving. Just call me Goody Two-Shoes! I feel quite proud when I hear official pleas for people to cease using phones while driving, and pleased when those idiots are caught red-handed and dealt with by the police.

So, to end this rant perhaps you guys could explain to me what it is all about. Do you strut about while talking on the phone?

13 November 2016


I’ve done it. I have resigned.

It is three years since I took on the presidency of the local Women's Institute, and I said at the outset I would not serve any longer. Three years is enough. Year 1 is a learning process, year 2 is enjoyable, year 3 is a chore and a worry. It has always been the case in all walks of life that as time moves on the top of the tree becomes more tiresome than enjoyable.

I’ve done it all now so it’s time to give it a rest. I’ve done the Federation Chairman bit, which involved being head of a large county area, and being President of my local branch. I can do no more and I need a break.

Don’t get me wrong, I shall still be a member but it would be good to sit back and watch others at work. 

Like many organisations falling membership hit home. My institute is elderly; we have been around since 1932. Modern women work during the day so there’s little chance of luring them to monthly afternoon events. One or two retirees have joined but they don’t want the responsibility of an officer’s job. They just want to meet friends and listen to a good speaker.

Speakers these days don’t like to do it for free. Some charge £60 to £100 to give an hour’s talk, on top of which we had bills to pay. Owning the hall meant we must pay rates, gas and electric bills on top of speaker fees, repairs, decorators. plumbers, and more, so less fees coming in means we just can’t cope.

I said at the outset that I would only serve for the recommended three years and that time passed quickly. I faced the Annual General Meeting with determination to keep the promise I made to myself and others. Yes, it was time to elect a new president. Not one hand went up. It meant only one thing…. closure. Obviously, nobody cared about the institute.

Should I feel guilty? Well, I don’t. What I feel is huge relief.

My involvement will continue, helping others to dispose of a hall that was a gift from the parents of a WI member all those years ago. It may be an easier job than we thought, but then again it might not.

I have made plans to join another local institute in the New Year, one where I can sit and listen and make new friends. I won’t be alone, others will do the same. I think I’ve gained something, don’t you?