31 July 2014

I am so very sorry....

I am so very sorry
That you’re feeling rather ill
I wonder, yes I wonder
Did you forget to take a pill

You need a dose of TLC
Now you’ve taken to your bed
The formula is guaranteed  
To ease a pounding head

Also you will find enclosed
An additional provision
A hug that I created
To beget a fast remission

I fashioned it with sympathy
Coloured with affection
Adding reassurance
To fight off the infection

I took a crumb of wisdom
To include inside the mixture
To make it known that hereon in
Your cold is not a fixture

So hurry now and get well soon
Your buddy’s very troubled.
It feels as if you’ve gone astray
And missing you has doubled 

If only it was a mere cold that takes Joe away. Yes, he is in hospital again and with everything so upside down I can't get in the blogging mood. An operation is imminent to try and widen the neck of the bladder ... fingers crossed that it works. 

I shall continue to trawl my favourite blogs and will write something as soon as I feel in the mood.

Love you all xx

28 July 2014

Babes in the Garden

The other day I came to within five inches of having a baby robin on my hand. There were two babies but this one was friendlier and stuck around while I sorted out the bits of suet from the seed. The babies were first on the scene when I appeared but only the lively one came closer. He didn't mind me taking his picture but he wouldn't oblige me by sitting in a suitable place. 

I feed the birds in an area under the apple trees so there are plenty of branches they can sit on. Braver than his brother (I have to call them something so I might as well use the masculine gender) he hopped from branch to branch until he was right in front of me. I offered a piece of suet, which he looked at but didn’t move. I put the suet in the palm of my hand and tried gain and he looked more closely, but didn’t move. So he did a bit of taunting, hopping to different branches and coming back, each time a little closer. That’s when I reckoned he was about five inches away. The performance was repeated for a couple of days but now they've gone. Sob! The same thing happened last year, they were there one minute and gone the next. Still I guess they have to find new pastures. Perhaps next year …

Now it's the turn of the mice… yes, two field mouse babies come for seed. They are so tiny I could easily have missed them. I tried to get them on the phone camera but they were too small.They didn't move while I tried to focus, just carried on bravely eating. Pretty soon, like the birds, they will disappear to pastures new because that’s what creatures do. 

25 July 2014


I sit alone, breathing in the silence of early morning. Outside the dawn is beginning to break. From where I sit, huddled against the cold, I can just make out the awakening light through the trees. Soon there will be bird noises. The tiny creatures will need to fluff their feathers to keep warm. They’re lucky it didn’t snow in the night although it would make a nice scene for me to look at.

All my nights are spent in this chair because a recurring dream dictates that I do not go to bed. Did I say recurring? The word should be used loosely because each one has a difference.

Have you ever had a nightmare, one so scary you dare not shut your eyes again? Did you experienced the cold sweat of relief when you realised it was just a dream? That’s how it used to be with me but now… now there is no reprieve. I am doomed to spend my days and nights in fear.

It started a year ago, after the office dinner-dance. I had been dancing with the handsomest man in the party, presumed to be an invited guest from another branch of the firm. Yes, I fancied him.  And why not?  We were free agents. Newly freed, both divorced from our partners, both childless and living alone.

His name was Nick. Friends laughingly referred to him as Old Nick because he was older than most of us by about twenty years. With his dark looks, age didn’t matter.
That evening I fell for the smoldering eyes and the way he held his head to one side when he spoke. You may think there was nothing remarkable about that, but you can’t see what I did. The gesture seemed inviting and I was determined to find out to what I was being invited.

I wore black that night, a strappy, slinky number that suggested more than it showed. I know he liked it by the way he fingered the straps as we danced. I’d only ever danced inches away from a partner but with Nick I was held close to his body, the way I’ve seen in films. We moved in unison, swaying, his body moulded to mine. I didn’t know I was that lithe, to be honest.

It was like that all the way through the evening. I had the greatest time and as the night wore on I began to think about what might happen at the end. Would he want to take me home? Would I invite him in? Of course, I would. He’d got me rearing to go and I was determined to see it through.

You can imagine my frustration when he left me after the last waltz. ‘Catch you later,’ was all he said before disappearing through the double doors to face the moonlit night alone.


It’s a man thing, I realised, as I lay in bed and went over the evening events. Even so, ‘catch you later’ was very off-putting. A girl didn’t know whether he meant it or if it was merely an opt-out. Later on that night I was to find out.
Nick came to me as I slept. In a dreamy state I welcomed him in my arms. It was him, yet he looked different, older. The handsome face was, well, odd. If I told you it was distorted you’d think, yeah, that’s how dreams are. I tried to recall how he looked at the dance but those striking features eluded me. Now all I could see was pockmarked skin and bloodshot eyes.

Although his suggestion that we go on a train journey was met with surprise, I agreed.  How we got there is a mystery but, yeah, that’s how dreams are. We were comfortably seated in a compartment, the only two people there, when he suddenly got to his feet, dragging me up as well. The next thing I remember was being hustled along the corridor. I dropped my bag and began to fret about losing the valuables, credit card and cash, but Nick wouldn’t stop. Instead he dragged me further along until we reached the door. The train was rocking with speed as he pushed it open and tried to throw me out.

I woke up screaming. My face and throat were wet with sweat. The duvet was on the floor, pillows strewn on top. It took a long time to regain my calm and grasp that it was only a dream.

Normally I forget dreams the minute I wake, but this one lingered.  It haunted me through the tea and toast, it bothered me while I dressed, and worried me even more when I was ready to go and couldn’t find my bag. Had I left it at the hotel? Still somewhat taken aback by Nick’s sudden disappearance I’d walked home, trying to analyse the whole thing. There was no need for money and my house key was hidden under the pot in the garden. I never took it with me when I went dancing.


The first thing I did when I arrived at the office was to ring the hotel. No, Madam, no lost property was handed in. I went round the staff, asking questions. No, Maria, they said, they hadn’t seen anything lying around. Perhaps you didn’t take it to the dance, suggested my closest working companion. I was pretty sure I did.

So I reported the loss to the hotel, the office administrator, and the police.

It bothered me that I should lose a bag in a dream and then find it really was lost.  

After doing the important things like notifying the bank, I settled down to work. In fact I worked extra hard in the hope that the awful day would end quickly.  


There wasn’t much of interest on television but I carried on watching until my eyes began to blur. A hot shower and an early night would be good, I thought, and then bed.

I climbed in, hugged the comforting duvet to me and tugged the pillow into position, then went straight to sleep. For once my overactive thoughts left me in peace. 

23 July 2014

More Souvenirs

These wooden Matryshka dolls were bought when Joe and I went to Russia. As a child I was fascinated at the way each doll nestled inside another so when I saw them on sale in St Petersburg I just had to have my own set. Actually I had forgotten I had them since they were out of sight in a little used cupboard it was only a comment from Pamela Beers that reminded me. I hunted them out and took a picture. 

Russian Matryoshka Dolls and Italian Cruet

We loved St Petersburg, especially the tours round ornate palaces learning the history of the place, but our coach had to pass through rougher areas first which served to emphasise the wealth we were to witness. 

  • Saint Petersburg is the second largest city in Russia, politically incorporated as a federal subject. It is located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea. In 1914 the name of the city was changed from Saint Petersburg to Petrograd, in 1924 to Leningrad, and in 1991, back to Saint Petersburg. 
  • I collected that snippet of information from 

  • We had lunch in a hotel and were entertained by folk singers. That was where I tasted my first olive. They were huge. In fact, I've not seen such big olives since. Other passengers didn't like them so I ate the lot. Oh Happy Days!

21 July 2014

Time will tell!

Whenever we visited Sorrento, or rather when we were leaving Sorrento, the hotel proprietors always gave us a gift, as they did with all their regular visitors. We’ve had locally made, handcrafted and colourful Italian mugs, cruets, olive oil containers, an earthenware vessel from which to pour limoncello into matching ‘tots’, Italian plates, and many other things to remind us of happy holidays.

My favourite gift was the kitchen clock you see in the picture. It’s a clock that has no glass over its face but that doesn’t stop it working and it’s stood the test of time over many years. Because of the absence of winding knobs I always change the time with caution, moving the hands as gently as I can and cursing the need to do this twice a year.

A few days ago I noticed that one of the hands is bent, significantly so, and I KNOW it’s not me who did it. A process of elimination leads me to think our lovely cleaning lady has unwittingly caught the finger in a duster ... or something. Fortunately the clock still works well, even with a crippled finger, and I hope it continues to because I would miss that clock if something really bad went wrong.

Does anyone else have treasured possessions to remind them of vacations?

17 July 2014

Taking a Cab

Because of the difficulty with parking in the hospital car park I tried using taxis to and from the hospital. However, after three days I gave up and drove there in my own car. It is fine for the odd visit but using a cab more than once is very expensive. It was an eye opener though. £12 for one person from home to hospital, and £12 on the return journey, which made £24 per day. Admittedly there was no parking fee but I still considered it to be on the high side. So I went back to driving there in my own car. I couldn’t have used much fuel (diesel driving being quite economical) and the charge for parking was just under £5. I have worked out the best place to park as well…. right at the back, yet nearer to the actual hospital building, there are always a few spaces.

One thing I noticed whilst taking the cab was that all drivers are foreign,
Asian mostly. Quite a few had to rely on satnavs to get to my destination, which I found quite irritating. Who wants to listen to someone telling you which road you’re on, or when to turn right or left whilst reposing in the comfort of a taxi cab. To be fare though, I can understand the satnav whereas I often couldn’t decipher the driver’s pigeon English.

All the cabs had what appeared to be mobile phones on the dashboard. Of course they were not phones as such, just a way of recording fares etc, and which needed constant attention whilst driving. I saw one man happily pressing buttons with one hand while the other hand was operating the steering wheel. Dangerous or what? We have laws here that ban the use of phones in cars … not that many take any notice … but there doesn’t seem to be a law about taxi drivers feeding information into their gadgets whilst driving.

I was quite happy to get back to driving my own car. Lesson learned… only use a cab in an emergency.

I have a several days break from hospital visits. Joe is home until the end of the month when a ‘procedure’ will take place. At this stage we’re not sure what the consultant intends to do but I guess we’ll soon find out. I still think he deserves a medal especially after the last rather testing experience. 

14 July 2014


Joe was pain-free and cheerful when I visited the hospital yesterday so this post is a complete change to that of yesterday. The doctor finally managed to fit a catheter which was an extremely painful experience but the good news is that Joe is now pain-free

He had palled up with the guy in the next bed and we all had a good laugh. One of the main causes for laughter was the fact that they had ordered turkey for dinner but were later told there was no turkey. 'The bird had flown' was the joke of the day. But then I added to it with this tale. 

On my way to the ward I spotted something through a huge picture window that overlooked the roof covering the hospital entrance. I thought it was a bird so I had to go and look, didn't I? You know me and birds. Well, I was right, it was a bird. A dead one, with a gentle breeze ruffling it's feathers. As took the picture this thought passed through my mind....

Hospitals are supposed to take care of visitors, even those on a flying visit....

That, plus the tale of the missing turkey had the patients in stitches (not literally!)

13 July 2014

The latest development


After a few weeks of not hearing anything from the hospital, we received three appointments. One for a pre-op assessment/consultation, another for a CT scan, and finally a day patient procedure to remove a stent and tidy up his nephrostomy tubing. My opinion was that a consultation and/or the scan would reveal other things that needed to be done.

It just shows how things can change.

Three days ago Joe was full of pain in the nether region. My advice was to see the local HP but Joe decided to ride the pain and wait until he saw the consultant in a couple of weeks’ time. The next day he was still adamant he wanted to wait. But on Saturday I ignored him and rang the doc’s surgery to get an emergency number, since the surgery hadn’t yet opened for business.

The emergency service is known here as the Badger Group, which is an out of hours health service and as I discovered is simply marvellous. Here’s an extract from their website:

For over 15 years, the Birmingham and District General Practitioner Emergency Rooms group (Badger) has been delivering high quality, out-of-hours primary healthcare to local patients. 

Badger was established in 1996 by GPs who joined together to provide an improved out-of-hours service to their patients. Since then, Badger's trusted service has grown substantially and is now the leading out-of-hours service in Birmingham employing nearly 500 clinical and operational personnel, servicing contracted PCTs and 234 general practitioners with a patient base of over 1.5 million. 

Renowned for its extensive experience and quality care, Badger has built up a prestigious reputation which is well respected throughout Birmingham, Walsall and South Staffordshire and known across the nation. 

Badger's vision is to be the preferred provider of innovative and responsive health and social care to the UK public sector. We are a people business and therefore we put people first, we are passionate about helping you save money, hassle and time. Our aim depends on transparency in our dealings with service users, commissioners and employees.’ 

I only heard about it last week… strange how things turn out, isn’t it?

Lady Doctor, called Barbara, had one of those jolly personalities that puts people at ease, and she was really skilled. After giving Joe a thorough examination she said she thought the bladder was full and that was the cause of the pain since there was no escape for the urine. And we thought the urine was going across to the nephrostomy bag! Obviously there is still a lot to do on Joe’s innards!!

Barbara immediately sent us to hospital with a covering letter which meant he was admitted straight to the ward. No messing! It turned out that Barbara was right in her assessment.

A doctor at the hospital tried and failed several times to fit a catheter but it wouldn’t work, and poor Joe was in agony while this was going on. However, he has since had another operation to fit another nephrostomy bag on the other side. Greedy man now has two but at least he’s got rid of that terrible pain. It was heart-breaking to see him hurting so much. I wish I could give him a medal for bravery.

So this is why I’m a bit tardy about blogging… I’ll try to get back to it a.s.a.p.

10 July 2014


I was about to donate this plastic bag to the recycling people when the printed message caught my eye. 
If any blogger wonders what to do with their plastic carriers here are a few suggestions.


Novel ideas!

07 July 2014


‘There’s a snake in the garden…..’

I remember yelling that a few years ago. We lived in a house with a smallish garden, beautifully laid out, with a curvy lawn that was Joe’s pride and joy … he designed it.

There were two sections divided by a crazy-paved path. On the left was the lawn, various rose shrubs and low trees. At the end of that was a small wall, on the other side of which was a paved area where we could sit and catch the sun.

On the right hand side Joe created a zig-zag brick path which ran in, out and round the shrubs. At the front was a small pond which was home for a couple of koi and breeding area for frogs. Our cat loved to fish for tadpoles and on one occasion a group of visiting nephews played toss the frog, a game which came about by accident when a frog jumped onto a table tennis bat. The frog didn’t suffer and since he didn’t shift I reckon he enjoyed it.  

At the end of that section was a small wooden shed, more like a child’s dolls house in size. We couldn’t go in unless we were bent double so I imagine it was erected by previous occupiers for kids to play in. The garden was fenced off from a right-of-way leading to other people’s back gardens and our little shed almost touched it. There was just enough room for a small wooden ledge….and this was where I found the sunbathing snake.

Now snakes are not common in my part of the UK so it came as a bit of a shock to see it. I remember thinking how colourful it was. Lots of yellow and I seem to remember some red in the snakeskin as well. I wish I had a photograph, but this is the nearest I could get to the picture in my mind.  

So there the snake lay, seemingly asleep, and I couldn’t wait to tell someone. As you can imagine when I rushed in shouting ‘there’s a snake in the garden’ I wasn’t believed. Joe just laughed and muttered something like ‘oh, don’t be daft.’ I had to drag him out into the garden for a look-see. Anyway, the news spread and we started having visitors, the kids in the road wanted to come and see it. Honestly, I should have charged entrance fee! My neighbour, who was a school teacher, checked its colouring and looked it up in books at her school. She came back with the idea that it was probably someone’s pet, and probably originated in America.

The viewing went on for about three days before the reptile disappeared never to be seen again. I quite missed the excitement of having a snake in the garden.

Several years later I had another encounter with a snake when a speaker at one of the WI meetings brought some to show us. There were lots of oohs and aahs and even some shudders when the ladies saw what he’d brought. Silly lot, I mean they weren't even close. The display was on the stage several feet away from the audience. One lady even called out ‘don’t drop it’ when the guy pulled the first one out of the snake box. He reassured her that he was in complete control.

We were given the history of snakes and their various habitats and I have to admit it was all very interesting … certainly different to our usual kind of speaker.

At the end the guy asked if we’d like a closer look. Some did, some didn’t, but he circulated anyway, carrying one of the larger snakes. You could tell which ladies were interested by the way they flocked round, unlike those who hugged the walls in fear. I was one of the lucky ones who got to handle the rather large reptile. Of course, I forget what sort of snake it was but I have never forgotten how it felt. Not a bit slimy, as expected, but smooth as velvet and really quite nice to the touch.

A pity we don’t see them in the garden!

04 July 2014

4th July

Wishing all my American friends a Happy 4th July

03 July 2014

Lunch out... with plenty to look at

A friend and I went out for lunch in the local park and were given a corner table with a two way view of the lake. What a surprise, though, to see so many cows coming down to the water. Mixed breeds, which is unusual, so we guess there was more than one owner. Every year the cows are allowed in this vast park where they spend the summer munching and roaming the entire area.

Eventually though they wandered back to the forest and as they retreated so the Canadian Geese swam in. There were a lot more than can seen on this picture and we think they had actually just flown in. There's not usually that many geese on the lake.

Eventually the cows returned and the birds swam away. 

It was all going on while we ate. Just look what came in next.

Closely followed by this 

 And this ... can someone actually get in that that thing?

Apparently so!