28 August 2014


Let's have a bit of fun!

Can you find the word in this picture?

26 August 2014


I’m losing my skin!

I’m not joking so please don’t laugh out loud otherwise I won’t tell you the tale. 

For some time now, when stretching with tiredness or doing morning exercises, whenever I’ve held up my arms I’ve thought how different they look compared to just a few months ago, or thereabouts. It may be longer but I’m not owning up to anything that might incriminate me! Seriously though, if I held the arm up the appearance changed… the skin suddenly acquired a crinkly look and literally seemed to hang off the arm. Not liking the appearance I would quickly lower the arms and pretend I hadn’t noticed anything.

But you can’t escape nature, can you? Or in my case, I can’t escape things changing. It really hit home when Joe was in hospital. I had ordered a cab to take me there and it arrived early. I thought I was ready but at the last minute I remembered something I had to take. I shot into the kitchen, grabbed the required item, and dashed back to the front door. That’s when it happened…. I caught the arm (uncovered because it was a hot day) on the door latch. Ouch! No, not really an ‘ouch’ since it didn’t hurt, more an ‘ouch’ at the sight of so much blood and no time to see to it. I had visions of the cab meter working overtime but I hadn’t got time to worry about it. Back to the kitchen and a quick hunt in the medicine drawer for a plaster and I was ready to go. It wasn’t until I returned home that I was able to inspect the wound.
It wasn’t a straight cut, more like a slice of skin, about an inch wide, completely torn away from the flesh. And still bleeding. More plaster was called for. And so it went on for two days. By this time Joe was out of hospital and the district nurse had resumed visits. I took advantage of the situation and asked her to look at the arm.

‘We would have put butterfly clips in if we’d seen it at the start’, she said, before going on to advise me what to do … which was to cut off the skin flap, wash the wound and leave it open so the fresh air could do the healing. Okay, did that, and it worked. Thank you, nurse.

A few days later, I did the same again. This time, catching the same arm on something else and creating the same sort of wound. Aha, I knew how to deal with that one, but when it happened a third time I realised that I had to take precautions to protect the arm because the skin was no longer thick enough to do it.

Isn’t it alarming how things change? In what seems to be one fell swoop I go from a healthy person to a poor old thing. I don’t feel depressed though, just anxious that it doesn’t happen again and that the brain matter works stuff out in advance of stuff happening.

I’ve ordered a pair of protective sleeves from Amazon, but since they’re coming from Japan I have a lengthier waiting period. I will report on them when they arrive. To tide me over I cut up an unwanted summer top, removed the sleeves and turned them into make-shift protectors. I’ve bought blouses with longer sleeves (any excuse!) in the hope that by doing so I will avoid slashing my arm to bits. Notice I said arm, singular… that’s because these things only happen to the active one. I guess the next step is to try using different arms …. oh what joy that would be when the brain dictates which limb to use!

I did a bit of internet research on the problem and found out that we should all be preparing for such an eventuality by constantly moisturising our skin … several times a day was recommended. Well, I did, and do, but confess that over the years the arms took second place to the face when it came to daily care. Of course, in my case, there’s another reason for tissue-paper skin, and that is because I don’t make as much collagen and elastin. See what I found out:

As we age, the thick collagen layer of the skin (the layer that leather is made from) atrophies or thins out. This is due to normal aging processes where breakdown of collagen and elastin (the proteins that makes skin spring back when stretched) is not balanced with production of new collagen and elastin.
This loss of collagen is accelerated by ultraviolet light damage. Ultraviolet light, which is a form of radiation from the sun, leads to a gradual but relentless destruction of the collagen and elastin in the skin. Thin, tissue paper-like skin occurs mostly on the arms and hands —  two areas that have very high levels of exposure to ultraviolet light over a lifetime. Here in the US, the left arm is usually worse than the right; this is from a lifetime of exposure from the driver’s side window when driving.
So there it is, folks, in a nutshell. Bearing in mind that those protective sleeves are readily available in the US and not the UK must tell us that climate plays a big part in wearing us out. Something to heed before it’s too late, methinks.

24 August 2014

Views at lunch time

There is always something to see when Joe and I go out to lunch. This time it was the entire Fire Brigade, or so it seemed. As I drove into the road leading to the car park I passed a line of about a dozen parked fire engines and, of course, we wondered what on earth was going on. There were more such vehicles at the end of the car park but the main show was when we were taken to our table (my favourite because we see more from there) and looked out of the window. I've never seen so many fire engines and other working vehicles ... according to the waiter they had been there all morning - training or something - and there was an Academy Observer there too, or so it said on his jacket.

I like the way the waterproof suit was hung from the door, it looked for all the world like a body.
We were told that, along with fires in dustbins, this training 'ship' (used by sea cadets) was also set on fire a couple of times so the brigade could demonstrate or practice putting it out.
Even the boats were out, both speed and dinghies

It was an eye opener to see all the equipment
Then they were gone ...
...and the place was left as before!

I'm always interested in the fire brigade since once, a long time ago, they saved my life. As you can imagine, lots of memories were recalled as I watched the men at work.

22 August 2014


Joe and I went out to lunch again. Yep, that's two weeks running. Our Saturday treats have now resumed. Now that he is so much better there is no stopping him. Actually, being so pleased with his current state of health, he pointed to a sign in the road and made the comment that he once felt like that. Isn't that good news? 

Whilst on the subject of road signs, here's one that is a real mystery... at least it is to me. It means what it says 'No entry except for Cycles' yet we still see cars and vans turning in there. Is there a sudden movement to disobey signs or is it that drivers can't read? Or maybe the rules don't apply to everyone. If that's so I think we should be told ... but you can bet you're bottom dollar if I turned into that road I would be hauled before the courts.

Two pictures to lead onto the next subject.

We get so many people pushing rubbish and stuff through our doors that the paper recycling people must be in their element. Not so the householder! In desperation we seize on notices that might put leaflet deliverers off. Hence the above. The police are clamping down on door traders so we don't get so many of those but you hear such awful things about bogus traders that many people are now displaying one of these. Note the different wording on the two sides. The first is what the 'visitor' reads and the second what the householder reads on his/her side of the door. Heehee, I wouldn't like to read the first one!

I know the next isn't a sign yet in a way it could be seen as a sign of the times. whereby anything and everything is shoved through letterboxes whether we want it or not. Most people in the road are elderly so I'm wondering what they thought of this one. I saw the young woman who posted it through my door, she was definitely fit and healthy. I could tell that because she was able to bend down to read my notices ... yet she still pushed it through the letterbox.

Last Saturday we went to one of our favourite haunts for lunch: Moor Hall which is surrounded by grounds and golfers, with a lovely lane leading up to the hall. We were on the way out when a lady stepped into the road in front of and signalled me to a halt. No, there wasn't a 'don't enter' sign but there was something coming down the lane that she wanted to warn me about. She was waving a camera and as she took aim I saw what was coming towards me. A horse-drawn bridal carriage. It turned right in front of me so quick as a flash I produced the iPhone. However, the angle of the carriage and my car wasn't good for picture taking. Oh well, I tried, but apart from getting out of the car and upsetting all those behind me there wasn't much chance of a better shot. Pity because the horse drawn carriage was a lovely sight. 

I didn't see the bride but I did see the bridesmaids from distance. 
How unusual that they all wore black.

Wishing you all a happy weekend

18 August 2014


I’m just not quick enough with my camera, although to be fair I can’t sit around all day on the off chance I might get a shot of the unusual.

My latest regret is not capturing the scruffy baby blackbird or the two-tone baby robin, both of whom came and went in a couple of blinks of an eye. The Blackbird looked hilarious, half adult and half baby. Head and wings sleek black while the tail end was adorned with the brownish speckled feathers he was born with. The robin looked slightly tidier although with a mix of red and baby brown feathers. It is so interesting watching the development of the babies.

photo courtesy of
Another missed opportunity was the first visit, or rather the first sighting, of a Great Spotted Woodpecker. We saw them in the garden of our last house but never at this one. He was too far away to photograph but we watched through binoculars. He had landed on the wooden bird table which is now situated on the lawn, but he was on the upright stem, as if he had landed on a tree, rather than the feeding platform. He kept looking up as if trying to decide how to get on the platform and it was the next day that I found out that he was really doing what his name implies, pecking wood. Yes, as later investigation showed, there’s been a whole lot of pecking been done in that area. I guess he’s not called a Woodpecker for nothing.

When we were visited by Woodpeckers before (the Great Spotted and the Green) I used to smear meat fat in the tree bark in wintertime. They loved it. I have tried it in our present garden but never seen who ate it, presuming as always that it was the squirrel. Now I feel I owe the squirrel an apology since I blamed him/them for the state of the bird table!

Isn’t that the second time I’ve felt like apologising to the squirrel?

Prior to posting this the bird came again and we were able to watch for some time while he dug into the wood in different places, after which he had a rest before flying off to pastures new...or should I say trees, or maybe some garden chairs?

Well, I've decided ... tomorrow's dinner will be bacon so that I can get some fat to smear on the bird's feeding table! Isn't that what a true 'birder' would do?

To end this wildlife post, I'll tell you about the baby woodpigeon I found loitering by the patio. He was there all day and seemed reluctant to move far. It was obvious he'd been hurt by something but I couldn't see any wounds. His feet seemed okay and he could fly the short distance from ground to birdbath; other than that his movements were slow and deliberate. He didn't mind me taking the photograph ... I think he felt safe tucked away by the bush. 

Maybe he was stunned or attacked by a predator in which case I thought he might be okay after a good rest. He took bread from me and had a drink of water but not much. It was awful that I couldn't help him further. 

I was finishing this little tale and thinking he might be gone by morning, when Joe called me to have another look at the bird. By the time I got to the garden the poor thing was on his back struggling to right himself. I picked him up and turned him over but his head drooped and his eyes closed. It was obvious the bird was dying. I felt so sad and useless as I laid him to rest on a bed of ivy, at the same time hoping I'd given the poor creature a measure of comfort on his last day on this earth.  

It's a sad note to end on but as the experts say ... that's life!

17 August 2014

Easy Listening

I could listen to this man's voice forever

Looking for the Summer 
by Chris Rea

12 August 2014

THE MOLE ... and me

There are two definitions of the word precocious and as a young child I was neither, although if you knew me when I was aged two you might have wondered about that.  I was born chubby, in fact I was known as the Michelin baby, but I levelled out by the time I was two. Thank your lucky stars I can’t find that baby photograph … those rolls of fat would have you die laughing.

I was born with a mole in an embarrassing place, at the top of the inner thigh. Of course as a toddler I wasn’t embarrassed, simply fascinated. I showed it to everyone I met; I can almost hear me saying ‘I’m two in May and I’ve got a mole’ before lifting the skirts to show it off. I guess it was their smiles and laughter that made me do it all the more. Such encouragement was rare in those days!

The more my parents told me not to expose myself in such a fashion the more I did it. As soon as I met a new person I would lift the frock and adopt the particular stance that showed the mole to good advantage, then wait for the laughter-filled praise. It went on until I got to school age although not as frequently.

Before leaving the house on my first day at school I was given a lecture. Even to this day I remember walking up the road and worrying about what might happen if I showed off my mole. I think I cried a bit and wished I had someone to comfort me. Young kids were on their own in those days, parents didn’t escort them to school like they do now. Mother had said the teacher would cane my bare bum if I did it in class … and after one look at the teacher I believed it.

Her name was Miss Pinches, a woman with the sternest face I ever saw. Her name was appropriate for someone who thought nothing of pinching school kids or using a heavy ruler as a weapon.  She haunted my early schooldays, she moved up with me, and wherever I went she followed … the wooden ruler always within easy reach. One time she smashed it on my hand while I was writing, breaking the nib of a brand new fountain pen. That got me in trouble at home. ‘You shouldn’t have misbehaved,’ said Mother, giving me another slap for deserving it in the first place. Nowadays parents rush to the school to complain about such a thing. Not in my time, we were punished for no reason… twice. That’s when I learned not to tell Mother anything.

Remember fountain pens? Mine always leaked. Oh the hours I spent scrubbing ink from my fingers … and woe betide me if I got it on the dress. It’s a good job Mother never found out about the tar in the road! That happened during war years when I was evacuated to grandmother’s house. On my way to school I joined with others in a new game of bursting freshly laid tar bubbles. It was great fun seeing them burst and hear the squelching noise with each pop. I didn’t even realise the newly released tar landed on the white frock!

For such a quiet child, I got into all sorts of trouble, both at home and school, yet I was placid by nature, wouldn’t say boo to a goose, and never, ever answered back or cheeked an adult. Even now I am careful what I say to people, usually weighing up in my mind the best way to approach things.

I’ve wandered a bit from the subject of the mole, haven’t I? As I grew so the mole reduced in size and by teenage years was no more than a pinhead. By that time I was reluctant to show a leg let alone the mole, yet deep in the archives I found pictures that would make you believe otherwise. It seemed to me I did nothing else.

10 August 2014

No Cooking Saturday

Chocolate pot with floater coffee

This was my round-up course at yesterday's lunch out with Joe, the first time since May when we had the big birthday celebration. 
Guess you can tell I was excited to be out with him again. 
Happy Sunday to you all.

08 August 2014

Who do I thank?

It is that time of year when the self-seeded Montbretia comes into flower. I love the splashes of colour around the garden. The only trouble is the leaves are quite prolific so I have to trim some off in order to move along paths etc, but aren't the flowers a pretty colour? Years ago I had one clump of leaves and no flowers and the same pattern was repeated for a very long time but when I turned part of the garden over to the wildlife the Montbretia came into it's own. Now I have four clumps scattered around and I don't know who to thank... the birds or the bees.