27 November 2013

Update plus wedding pics

Some things medical can be funny. For example, one day recently we were sent to the blood testing station and took our turn amongst many others. The procedure is to take a number from a machine and wait until that number is called. We were number 55 so we knew we were in for a long wait. By lunchtime the countdown hadn’t just slowed, it had stopped. There was a definite lull at 26. I guessed the phlebotomists (my medical knowledge is growing) had stopped for lunch.

Well, you know how people chat when they’re all in the same boat. People started saying funny things and I made the comment that when eventually we neared number 55 we might hear someone shout ‘come in No.55 your time’s up’ which immediately reminded me of the old times when people hired rowing boats on the lake and had to be called in by the boat keeper. I can’t count the times as a kid when I heard the man in charge yelling ‘Come in Number 7 (or whatever) your time’s up’. I commented to Joe that I didn’t think that sort of thing went on anymore... ‘No,’ he replied, ‘they probably send a text’.

How very droll!

When play started in the afternoon the phlebotomist took three phials of blood which to my mind was just plain greedy.

We had already seen the consultant and his registrar, neither of whom were satisfied with Joe’s medical condition ... too much blood in the urine. So right after providing the NHS with more blood I whisked him off to another hospital armed with letter from one doc to another. After a long wait we saw a doctor/surgeon/specialist who, like all others, was mystified as to why the ‘good’ kidney wasn’t working as it should. Investigations to commence! Joe was detained in hospital for one night so they could sort out the bloody urine while I caught up with some sleep after the ten hour stint.

Surprise of the week came on Monday afternoon. We were relaxing in the lounge with daughter Rosanne (who is over from Australia) when the phone rang. It was a ‘withheld’ number which could mean someone was ringing from somewhere in the medical profession. We were right! It was our own family doctor who asked if he could visit us that day. After all the hospital visits and admissions plus tests, scans and consultations, you can imagine what went through our minds. I think all three of us suffered from shock in the first instance.

What the doctor really came for was to advise us that Joe has been elevated to a new level now that he is 75 and has undergone an emergency hospital admission as a 75 year old. He will be the subject of frequent discussions between local doctors, hospital consultants, nurses and others, and home visits will regularly be made. Fame at last! I now feel I must curtsy when in Joe’s superior presence. I mean, this is real celebrity status, something that doesn’t come easy to the average man about town. Or woman! I am older than him and I haven’t been graced with such importance.

And they moan about the National Health Service, as far as we’re concerned it’s brilliant.

Rosanne found it all very interesting. She was recently married to Frank and this was our first time with her since the wedding. She has been a great help in so many ways and we spent a lot of time looking at her photographs. We are to have a copy of the video when it is ready. I am including some pictures of her and Frank on their wedding day. 

22 November 2013

Taking a (short) break

I used this picture (sent by a friend) to accompany a statement ... which is that I am once again having to dash to and from the hospital where Joe is currently residing. I don't know how long he will be in there or what, if anything, will be done in the way of medical attention. We only went for an appointment with the consultant and he ended up being taken to another hospital. The consultants there are as mystified as they are at the local place as to the cause of his current problem.

This means that for the moment I haven't the heart to dream up new stuff for the blog but I will try and visit all my blogging friends as a means of light relief. Please keep Joe in your prayers. I love you all xx

21 November 2013

Don’t go too near the water (repeat)

‘Don’t go too near the water.’

Little Meg could hear her mother’s voice but the seriousness of the instruction didn’t seem justified. She was a big girl now. And the water looked so inviting.

Meg had been brought here for her birthday, the trip to Morecambe Beach being part of the weekend celebrations. She’d had some super presents, a scooter, and a dolls house with REAL furniture.

A smile played round her lips and she mentally hugged herself. She’d wanted a dolls house for so long. The inside was lovely, the walls were papered and there was carpet in all the rooms. She loved the tiny chairs and tables, the clock on the kitchen wall, and the bed upstairs, and the bath, and the rocking horse in the bedroom. There were even tiny coat hangers on the hook on the door. It was exciting to have her very own dolls house. She couldn’t wait to tell her friends at school.

Meg really wanted to go home and play with the house but since they were here for several more hours she might as well explore.

Surreptitiously looking round, Meg saw her mother talking to Gran, their colourful beach chairs turned away from the sea. She slipped off the blue and white flip flops that had been bought specially for the beach. The sand felt soft against her bare feet, it tickled a bit but she loved the feel of it. If she pressed her feet down she could see the shape of her own feet.

Kneeling on the sand she felt a splash from a big wave. She didn’t realise she was so near to it. Meg leaned forward to sniff the water and a little bit went up her nose. She sneezed. Tasted the salt.

Fascinated, she watched another wave forming. If she hurried she could duck under it. Scrambling up she darted to the very edge of the water and waited.

It was like being in the shower. Turning her face into the spray Meg laughed happily when the water fell away from her face. This was fun, she thought.

Her mother called again. Meg turned and waved, didn’t see the next wave coming. It was bigger and more powerful, knocked her off her feet and dragged her into the sea. Coppery hair fanned out as she struggled against the water.

She felt herself sinking, down, down, down. She reached out to touch the sea bed but it wasn’t there. Instead she was grabbed from behind, arms gathered her up, floated with her. A piece of driftwood glided past, narrowly missing her nose. She giggled, tried twisting her head to look at her rescuer.

‘Keep still, Meg.’

The voice was squeaky, not one she had heard before. She wriggled in the great arms that held her so tight. They were covered in a red fabric. She didn’t know anyone who wore red.

Further and further they went, moving steadily along the coastline. Meg wedged her chin against one of the huge arms and peered into the gloom, wanted to ask where they were yet fearful of knowing. She couldn’t think why it had suddenly gone so dark. She wasn’t REALLY frightened, just a LITTLE bit trembly.

A few minutes later she saw a shaft of light ahead, coming from an open door. That’s why it was so dark, she thought, they were in a tunnel.

Her rescuer piloted her towards the door.

The cave was breathtaking. Meg took it all in, the splendour of it, cave walls lit by lanterns, glow-worms flitting around the ceiling like moving stars, and the biggest cobwebs she’d ever seen. Right in the middle was a table made of sea shells, the colours glowing in the light.

‘Come in, come in,’ said the King, adjusting his lopsided crown.

Meg was lowered to the seaweed covered floor, her hand held fast so she wouldn’t fall. For the first time she could see her rescuer, a QUITE ugly gnome.

‘She was very good,’ the gnome told the King.

‘Oh I’m hopskippingly delighted,’ said the King. His voice reminded Meg of Freddy, the grown up boy next door. He had the same croaky voice. But the King was a lot older. MUCH older than Daddy. Daddy didn’t have a beard either.

‘What’s your name?’ she asked.

Suddenly the room was filled with more gnomes, hands covering their mouths as they stared at her.

‘What?’ she asked.

Her gnome, her rescuer, whispered in her ear, ‘You should never ask a King how OLD he is.’

Meg looked at the King, thinking she should say she was sorry, but the King had sat down at the rickety table with his back to her. He wore a cloak of green seaweed which had caught in the chair. Meg moved across to tug it out but stopped when the gnomes loudly exclaimed in horror.

‘What?’ she demanded, brushing away a silver fish swimming too close to her face.

As if they were automated the gnomes put their fingers to their lips, shushing her.
Her own gnome whispered again, ‘We do not touch the King.’


‘Because he’s the King. The Almighty Ruler of the Seas.’

‘Well, I’M going to speak to him,’ Meg told him. Defiance wasn’t in her nature but she didn’t like being told what NOT to do.

Looking fearful, the gnomes huddled together, then shuffled back so she could move to the front of the table. She wanted to ask the King why he didn’t allow people to speak to him.

Grasping hold of a steel rod that was wedged in the ground, she edged forward. The floor was very slippery and she felt something crunch beneath her foot. Looking down she saw a mass of broken shells, heard the gnomes complaining amongst themselves. Meg supposed the King would tell her off for being clumsy.

Slithering and sliding, she at last reached the other side of the table, sat on a chair opposite the King.

‘Ooooh,’ she said. ‘Why are you crying?’

The King raised his head. Tears coursed down his cheeks, his tongue trying to catch them. ‘Too much salt,’ he said. ‘Too much salt.’

‘Don’t you like salt?’ Meg asked, ignoring the horrified noises coming from the gnomes.

‘It doesn’t like me,’ replied the King.

That was a MYSTERY. Meg wondered how salt could take a dislike to anyone. She didn’t like salt but she didn’t think it was offended by what Daddy called her faddy ways. A shoal of fish swam across the table, she wondered if they’d taste good with chips.

Realising the King was looking at her, she returned her attention to him. ‘Why are you crying,’ she enquired a second time.

‘Nobody talks to me,’ the King explained. He seemed VERY sad.


‘I don’t know.

‘Is it because you’re the King?’

‘I don’t see why that should make any difference.’

‘How old are you?’

In the background the gnomes muttered and tutted amongst themselves.

‘I’m VERY old and VERY lonely,’ admitted the King.

‘How can you be lonely with all these gnomes around?’

‘They don’t speak to me. They don’t make a sound when I come home from my travels. I haven’t got a friend, either.’ More tears spilled out of his eyes.

Meg felt bad. He seemed a nice old man, and his white beard was beautiful. It made her want to push her fingers into it, curl it into ringlets. ‘I could be your friend,’ she said. ‘I always speak to my friends.’

The King beamed at her. Suddenly he stood up. ‘Let’s dance,’ he said.

Meg had never danced before but she went round the table to join him. She held out her arms, eager to see what dancing was like. But the King didn’t take them, instead he stood by her side, put his gnarled hand on her shoulder, and jigged on the spot. Meg jigged as well. She started to giggle, and the King giggled too. Her rescuer joined in, and then the gnomes. And the cave was a riot of laughter.

The King yelped with delight, ‘At last,’ he cried, ‘the gnomes have found their voices.’

Meg didn’t like to say they hadn’t lost them.

They jigged the afternoon away, and the gnomes joined in. Meg was so tired at the end; she just collapsed on a bank of seaweed. I’ll just have five minutes, she thought, using her mother’s words.

‘Wake up, wake up.’

Slowly, Meg opened her eyes.

Oh there you are, young lady. I thought you were going to sleep forever. Your chips are waiting. You’d better hurry up before they get cold.

Rubbing her eyes, Meg tumbled off her bed. Her picture book fell on the floor. ‘Can I have salt on my chips,’ she asked, wondering why she suddenly had a desire for it.

Valerie Daggatt 

19 November 2013

My week.... the good and the irritating!

Delivered 2, Posted two. I know it sounds like a football score but actually it’s the amount of books I’ve sold this week. Whoopee! The Chairman of the TG has also asked me to read one of my short stories at the January meeting. Do you think 2nd January is too late for a short Christmas tale?

Can’t believe I’m talking about January... I haven’t yet got round to thinking about Christmas. I guess that’s because we don’t know what the immediate future holds. We have bought some Christmas cards though, that’s a start. Oh, and we’ve booked our usual Christmas lunch at the lovely Moor Hall. We go there every year so it would be a shame to miss it. Still, never mind the food ... as long as Joe is okay that’s all that matters.

I suppose I’d better think of what to hint at for a Christmas present. Does anyone else have that trouble? The older I get the less things I want or need so if anyone asks ‘What would you like for Christmas’ I really have no idea. I’m in the lucky position that if I want anything I just go out and buy it, which beats hoping someone will buy a certain something and being disappointed if I don't get it.

Oh what a dilemma! I so want to delete the Blogger blog roll and move permanently to Bloglovin’ and all its faults. So why do I hesitate? It’s like this, whilst mostly I can rely on Bloglovin’ showing my friends recent posts, it doesn’t always enable me to leave a comment. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t, which necessitates getting further access to blogs without any outside help.

We rely on systems we set up and it irks when Blogger spoils things by not acting as we want. Showing older posts instead of the current one or not showing the blog at all is driving me nuts.

Because our new WI secretary didn’t know the ropes, my institute failed to book a WI Advisor to attend our AGM, which is normal procedure. The President had no choice but to run the meeting without a WIA. The day before the meeting a member rang me to check if this was legal ... it took half an hour to satisfy her that it was all above-board. 

The picture, by the way is of The Royal Albert Hall in London where our National AGM is held. Our hall is just a spacious but cosy wooden hut behind a church. 

But, I degress....

I felt reasonably confident that everything would be done according to the book since the President was just completing her ninth year of office and therefore should know all the ropes. Or so I thought! Reports were presented, but there was no vote for President (a yearly event) nor any mention of it. Disgruntled ladies went home, inwardly fuming instead of speaking out. My time at the meeting was occupied trying to right a wrong for a new member so I didn’t cotton on straight away that there hadn't been a vote.  

Next day, my phone was like a hot line with yet another lady asking me to sort it out. That’s the disadvantage of being an ex-Chair... one has to take responsibility for error-fixing, whether I like it or not. After notifying Federation and receiving their advice, I then rang the President-of-nine-years-standing only to find out that she knew nothing about WI procedure. I can only think she’s slept through all nine AGMs. It took me three-parts of an hour to explain the system. 

The next stage will be an election at the start of the December meeting, in the company of an official WIA, when I foresee huge disappointment on the part of the current President.

Joe continues to be philosophical about his medical condition, although if it was me I’d be howling the place down. On Thursday we are due to see the doctor in charge of Oncology though I don’t know what will happen on that day. An ultra-sound scan is also booked, as informed by the very nice Surgeon who appears to be somewhat mystified. 

Enjoy your week, folks. 

17 November 2013

Sunday Scenes

Early morning sun lighting up the trees

And birds arrive to take advantage of the sudden warmth

before the winter snows arrive;

and we should do the same

14 November 2013

FENNY'S QUEST (over two years since last posted)

Concealed by dense hawthorn, Margaret watched the young soldier rake the earth with his hands. In the diminishing light his fair hair blended with his khaki uniform. She could not see his face, but she imagined him to be handsome. As she adjusted the paisley scarf over her tawny hair, she wondered what he would say if he knew he was being observed. Unexpectedly, the soldier straightened and brushed the dirt from his hands, then rested his weight on his heels. Margaret drew a sharp breath as his head swivelled in her direction. Certain her presence had been detected she ducked swiftly behind the bush, and was reassured to feel her bicycle propped against the grey rock, facing the house in which she lodged.
A commotion near the old barn told her that the fearless fox was on the prowl which meant that Sean Bannister, her iron-muscled landlord, would soon burst upon the scene. Sure enough, the heavy kitchen door shot inwards, casting a rectangle of light across the cobbled yard. Margaret sighed and turned away, silently lamenting the disruption of her quiet scrutiny.

While Sean circled the yard, brandishing his shotgun and bellowing vicious intentions, she looked once more over the barred gate to the fallow field. But the soldier had gone, taking with him the mystery of what lay beneath the ground where for three nights he had been rummaging. Filled with the frustration of ungratified curiosity, she swept aside her cloak and jumped on her bike, determined that tomorrow, before darkness descended, she would inspect the field for clues.

AFTER A SUPPER of potatoes and beans Margaret described the young soldier to Aileen, the landlord's wife, a tall, lean woman with greying hair.
'That'd be Fenwick O'Brien,' said Aileen, letting the sock she was darning fall to her lap. 'Always comes in March to search for the Springer's name tag. Been lookin' nigh on ten years. Won't rest 'til he finds it.'
'But he's gouging the soil, Aileen. Is the dog buried there?'
'Oh no. Dog's with us. It's Sadie I'm talking about. It's a sad tale, if you've an urge to hear it.' Aileen waited for Margaret's agreement before continuing. 'It happened on St Patrick's Day. We were celebrating with fireworks and a bonfire. Poor Fenny joined us, even though he was on compassionate leave. He was just showing the disc to his cousins ….'
'The disc?'
'Sadie's disc. She originally belonged to Fenny's young wife, Lucy, and when she died of pneumonia he had her wedding ring melted down and transformed into a dog tag.’ Aileen leaned back in the wooden armchair. ‘The night of the celebration, the cousins started a jig. Carefree with whiskey, so they were. It was trying to keep out of their way that caused Fenny to drop the disc. That was when the barrel of fireworks exploded. He was killed outright.'
Margaret was aghast. 'Are you telling me that the man burrowing in your field was a ghost?'
'I am. T’was a dreadful accident, and him just back from Lucy's grave.' Aileen flinched as she uttered those last words and glanced at the shuttered window as if expecting to see the soldier there.
Ludicrous was Margaret's opinion of Aileen's tale. The man she had witnessed was as real as Sean, only much more pleasing to the eye. Troubled souls did not burrow in moonlit fields. Despite the intensity of the peat fire, Margaret shivered. Abruptly, she reached across the range for the blackened kettle. If ever she needed a cup of strong tea, it was now. Moving to the stone sink, she swilled the enamel pot and spooned in the tea.
The outer door flew open and Sean rushed in with the liver and white Springer at his heels. 'Fenny's here again,' he announced, putting a reassuring hand on the animal's head. 'Sadie was frettin' to find him. Sure, it was as much as I could do to get her in.' He looked at Margaret who was pouring tea into three mugs. 'Ah, tea. Just the substance for a tired body.'

THE FOLLOWING morning, bent on disproving the absurd fable, Margaret interrupted her journey to the village school. She wanted to examine the field at close quarters, needing to establish the authenticity of her own sighting. The soldier would have had a legitimate reason for scrubbing about in the dirt, though for the life of her she couldn't think what that reason might be.

She waded through calf-high weeds to the spot where he had toiled. Except there was no spot. The growth was undisturbed, the ground rock-hard; there was no fissure and no evidence that for three nights a pair of hands had probed the soil. In spite of her scepticism, Margaret shuddered. Unconsciously, she began to retreat, her eyes riveted to the alleged site of Fenwick O'Brien's yearly emergence.
As she prepared to climb the stile she noticed something glisten in the base of the hawthorn. A bottle top, she thought, thrusting a boot-covered leg over the bar and berating herself for letting her imagination run riot. But, astride the stile, she hesitated. What if it had been the disc? What if it had been safe all those years, protected by vegetation, or wildlife ... or Lucy. Margaret was bewitched by the novelty of such a phenomenon and though she tried to dismiss the idea as idiotic she went back.
Thankful that her arms were covered, she burrowed through a grimy mat of twigs, snagging her nails and tearing ribbons of skin until eventually her fingers closed on the circular object. She stared at it in amazement. It was not silver, as she first thought, but gold, and genuine by the look of it. It resembled a flattened ball about an inch in diameter. Ignoring her scratched and bloody hands, Margaret fished in her pocket for a handkerchief with which to clean the metal and she rubbed until the grime was removed and the name Sadie was revealed.

At school Margaret pondered over her find, giving only half her attention to the children, whose paint-smeared white pinafores were in danger of becoming totally coloured with purple, black and red. The dog tag lay heavy in her pocket and she frequently took it out to scrutinise the intricate engraving round the edge. It was more like a locket than a dog's tag, but there was no hinge and she felt stupid for trying to locate one. Why would a dog be wearing a locket, for goodness sake, but she giggled when she thought of Sadie being inspired by its splendour to find a canine beau and wear its picture around her neck. Margaret checked the classroom clock, wishing it was time to go home and report the find to Aileen, then she climbed down from her desk and went to attend to the restless children.

AILEEN HAD a hot meal ready when Margaret got home, baked ham and roast potatoes with sprigs of rosemary and carrot sticks adding colour. Margaret hung her cloak on the door hook and washed her hands at the kitchen sink. She moved quickly for Sean was waiting to say grace. As always his words stirred her, for where she came from grace was never said.

They ate in customary silence, Margaret hastily cramming food into her mouth in order to get the meal over. However, although she finished in advance of Sean, she waited until he laid down his knife and fork before venturing to speak. Laying the gold tag in front of him, she said, 'See what I discovered in the field.'
Anguish crept into his face as Sean picked it up.
Aileen gripped her husband's arm and with her free hand took the disc from him. 'After all these years,' she murmured in a solemn voice. 'Fenny'll rest now, bless his soul. And so will Lucy.' Aileen fondled the Spaniels's ears. 'I guess this one’ll be glad to get it back. Sure, she's been too long without her mistress.'
'Fenny must have loved Lucy very much,' observed Margaret.
'She was the air he breathed. He worshipped her and she him.' Aileen put the tag on the gingham cloth, absently centring it on one of the blue squares. She eyed her husband who was lost in his own reflections. 'Sean took it badly. Felt guilty, bonfire being on our field. It was twelve months before he could talk about it. It was Sadie who pulled him through.'
Margaret offered to put the disc on Sadie's collar, but Aileen shook her head. 'Sure, Fenny needs to see it first or he'll never stop scouring. You'd better plant it in the field, somewhere where he's bound to find it.'

So Margaret returned the tag. Initially she had found the legend of Fenwick O'Brien fascinating, but now, as she poked black cotton through the hole, she questioned the validity of her actions. Did they honestly believe that hanging the dog's tag on a bush would put an end to such foolishness? 'A pointless exercise,' she muttered as she tied the thread in a knot and let the tag dangle. Aileen and Sean would be pleased it was reinstated and it suited her to oblige, but before the week was out she vowed to cut it down for it would serve her well when she saw fit to marry. As a measure of defiance, she flicked the disc so that it spun. 'To be sure, Fenwick O'Brien, you'll be diggin' that pasture til' kingdom come.'

THE WIND howled round the eaves that night. In the barn the hens made such a racket that Margaret left her bed to peer through the window. She was astonished to see the yard lit by moonlight, assuming that with such a wind it would be pitch black and the rain would be sheeting down. She opened the window and leaned out. Beyond the silos, the line of silver birch trees swayed. A barn owl hooted and was answered by its mate. Margaret expected to see Sean wielding his shotgun, but the yard was deserted. Sensing movement she scanned the outbuildings, watching for the recalcitrant fox, but it was only Sadie nosing for vermin.

It was chilly for the onset of spring. Margaret hugged her shawl and started to turn away, but something about Sadie stopped her, something gleaming at her neck. She trembled and drew the shawl closer. As she watched, Sean appeared at the kitchen door. Sadie bounded to him and he hunkered down to stroke her. He seemed to freeze for a moment, then he put his hands round the animal's neck and tugged her collar round. Sean Bannister smiled as he fingered the gold disc. 'Sure and about time, Fenny lad. About time.'

12 November 2013

Bits and bobs plus a touch of emotion

Townswomen’s Guild is proving the place to go... I keep selling books there. Yep, last week I sold a copy of my Fiction in Miniature and received two orders for the doggy tales. I’ve had to have a reprint on Feline Capers so I feel I’m doing well. The TG Chairman, Margaret, was the one who bought the volume of short stories which she held up to show the members. She told them they had an author in their midst and related the info that I had once won a WI National Award in a short story competition. The applause was thunderous... well maybe not actually thunderous, but there was some hand clapping which left me a bit swollen headed. One of the nice things is that they want me to autograph their purchases which affected the emotions more than the sale.

Emotion has played a big part in my life recently. Last week Joe and I saw the radiologist at our local hospital. The news wasn’t what we expected. Medical opinion is that surgery is no longer on the cards. Apparently the cancer has spilled over to where it shouldn’t go which means chemotherapy is the only way to control it. Although shocked Joe showed remarkable philosophical spirit and I am so proud of him. We are expecting an appointment for chemotherapy to start in just under a two weeks. It will be carried out at the hospital nearest to home and for that we are truly grateful since it will help on the travelling front.

So, ‘life as normal’ advises the district nurse, which means we can still go out to lunch on a Saturday. Last weekend we dined out at a Miller and Carter restaurant which overlooks the reservoir in Sutton Park. We had a table with a view of the lake and I watched as twelve men sailed their model yachts. From where I sat it was quite a spectacle and I did try to capture the scene with the iphone camera. Not very good but here is the best one.

I know springtime is the normal time to organise the house, or in my case the cupboards, but I have to do it when the mood hits me. It certainly hit me last weekend. I have reorganise d, sorted, packed, stored or rehoused computer stuff, chiffon and woolly scarves, photographs (of which there were many), stationery and correspondence. And I feel better for it. Let me see, what else can I organise....

Hope you all have a wonderful week and don't do anything I wouldn't do!

11 November 2013


We shall never forget those brave men and women who died so that we may live in peace.
God rest their souls.

07 November 2013


Believe me, female clothing can be very uncomfortable at times. I’ve noticed this more as I got older and spent more time sitting down. By the end of the day everything gets tighter. It must be that our clothing shrinks as the day draws to a close, I mean it can’t possibly be that our bodies spread. Can it? A few months ago I began to suffer from too much tightness around the middle. The cause? Skirt waistbands with buttons that dig into my back, tight ‘tights’ or rather the elastic that holds them up, not to mention bones in bras. Everything is fine all day, it’s just in the evening I begin to suffer. It was painfully obvious that action had to be taken.

I’m not a lover of trousers, they always make me feel so unfeminine, but it crossed my mind that I should try and overcome my dislike and spend the coming winter wearing them. This, of course, raised another point. I hadn’t enough pairs of trousers to vary the daily attempts at fashionable attire. There was nothing for it, I had to go shopping.

It was great fun trying on the different styles of trousers, cords, linens, but they were mostly black or navy. I told the assistant I needed colour. That surprised her a little, she probably thought I was one of this little old ladies who always wear black. Wrong. Colour is my thing. Black makes me look like death and I ain’t there yet, thank you very much.

Assistant lady goes hunting and comes back with three items: a super pair of tailored grey which would go with any colour I chose to wear with it, a pair of maroon cords, which clung where they touched but which would ‘give’ in time’, and a pair of pebble coloured cords. I tried everything on before dismissing the maroon on the grounds of feminine pride and putting the pebble on one side for second thoughts. The grey was a must buy item which I later did. So, back to the pebble colour. What to do? Young assistant had a brainwave and called in an older colleague to give her opinion. Ah, that’s more like it, I thought, a woman who understands and knows what she’s talking about.

New lady, known as Lily, quite liked the pebble cords so I wondered why she hesitated. Then she blurted out, ‘have you tried jeans? Jeans? Did she mean DENIM jeans? Yes she did! Lily told me she had several pairs (I later learned that she was a mere 68) and wouldn’t be without them. ‘Go on,’ she pushed, ‘try some on,’ and promptly dashed out to collect a couple. Whilst inwardly pooh-poohing the idea of ever wearing jeans, I went along with the idea of trying them on if only to prove a point. ‘Much better than the cords,’ said Lily, who went on to explain that she even wore jeans for evenings out. Apparently they team rather well with smart tops and jackets.

I am now the proud possessor of a great pair of dressy grey trousers as well as the most comfortable pair of trousers ever designed for an elderly woman. Jeans! Couldn’t wait to try them with all my lovely jackets and tops so whilst still in the store I bought a couple of tops to go with them. Now I’m wondering if one pair of jeans is enough! And those colourful sneakers would look good with jeans, don’t you think? 

05 November 2013

This and that, and a bit about coffee!

Rosanne and Frank 
My stepdaughter and new Italian/Australian stepson-in-law
Their wedding took place in the middle of the night on 3rd November ... my night, that is. It didn't stop me from being in Australia in spirit since I was awake most of the time, sending email at what I thought were appropriate moments... before the ceremony, naturally. Rosanne started it by sending pictures of the flowers and having her hair done and how she looked when ready to be escorted to the church. 

Joe was over the disappointment of not attending the wedding since he had a lot to contend with health-wise. Unfortunately, again health-wise, it wasn't a good night for him. The next hospital appointment for us is 7 November when we are due to see the Radiologist. I thought it was for a consultation about the proposed procedure but we've been told to allow two hours for the appointment. Hmm that will be either a long talk or a long wait. 

Waste not, want not. Yes, I’m still at it, much to the surprise of Paola, my 39 year old cleaning lady, when she caught sight of me draining an apparently empty bottle of liquid soap into a new one. I’m sure she thought I was quite mad when I explained that it was something I always do. ‘Don’t know how you've got the patience’, she said, but didn’t stop to hear my reply; well, she did have work to do. Considering the nation and the people in it are hard up I’m surprised at the lack of inventive ideas for saving a few pence. After all, a few coppers here and there really mount up. I suppose I got my training the hard way, i.e.  the aftermath of war years and a period of wage freezes in the 70’s.

A week ago we went out for our usual carvery lunch at a pub in Sutton Park. There was a party alongside our table, a celebration of a lady’s 70th birthday, complete with children and grandchildren. A young girl, I suspect not yet a teenager, made the birthday cake which was displayed with pride. And quite right too, it was a beautiful piece of work. 

Two enormous birthday balloons in glittery gold were attached to their table, one in the shape of a 7 and the other an 0. As they waved wildly I prayed one wouldn’t burst and land on my roast pork. The young children had their iPads to play with so I don’t think they cared about the balloons. Actually, one little lad was playing a game that fascinated me although I tried really hard not to appear interested. I did keep sneaking a peek though to see how he was getting on. I would have loved to take over.

Hands up, who likes Floater Coffee? Yes, so do I. In fact floater coffee has become a must have when my friend Judy and I go out to lunch. She takes her coffee with sugar and I don’t and thereby hangs the problem. One with and one without, we order. ‘Oh no,’ comes the reply, ‘you can’t have floater coffee without sugar.’ Now according to the so-called experts, it is the sugar that makes the cream float. So why is it that it varies from establishment to establishment? Take our recent visit as an example. One with and without was ordered. Again the ‘Oh no’ response came, complete with explanation about the necessity to have sugar to enable cream to float. I gave up and told the waitress to bring it ‘as it comes’. She did. My coffee arrived with sugarless coffee and a sugar lump in the saucer. Judy and I compared coffees ... both had floating cream! Later I looked it up on the Net and found plenty of ideas, including this one 

What if you don’t take sugar? I have worked in a restaurant and I used to make them without sugar all the time. It’s how you pour the cream.

So now I know!
A recent item in a newspaper read like this:

Are disabled people invisible again? In London in 2012 disabled people were suddenly in the spotlight during the Paralympics. But a year on, have they gone back to being invisible?

Of course they’ve gone back to being invisible. That’s not to say we’ve stopped thinking about them or helping where we can. Obviously competing Paralympians were brought to our attention through television, radio, and the printed press and once over they disappear from view, but there are people out there who care about and for those same people. There is room for growth in the community with regard to facilities for the disabled but we haven’t suddenly pushed our disabled friends into the background never to be thought of again. I resent the implication that we don’t care.

01 November 2013



The Prose 

November is perhaps the most moving month of the year, steeped in tradition and teeming with expectancy.  Why yearn for sunnier climes or a terracotta tan when November's seasonal pulchritude comes free of charge. Broad avenues, awash with colour and piled high with copper jewels: red-gold gems cascading from majestic trees, making way for fresh creations of embryonic buds.

Natural beauty contrasts sharply with more morbid attractions. Searing bonfires concoct a vivid tableau. Orange flames triumphantly lick the feet of man-made guys, egged on by a jubilant audience gobbling sausages and baked potatoes. Historical, traditional, and macabre, as are the fireworks: pretty explosives noisily winging, gloriously beguiling.

Scarlet poppies adorning our attire signify remembrance for the soldiers who fought for liberation … the war dead, who gave us optimism. Yields of mistletoe and holly and sometimes early snow prompt thoughts of Christmas celebrations, of nativity, and gatherings of families and friends.
Thus, November is a month of diverse elements: breathtaking, poignant, and sad. But it is never dull and those who claim that it is should examine its true potential, and wrest a soup├žon of comfort from the depths of the sombre monotony that exists solely within their hearts.

This is November. Enjoy!

November was the month, many years ago, when I was seriously burnt and had the misfortune to be in hospital when victims of bonfire and firework ‘accidents’ were admitted. I felt obliged to write the poem (see it in my sidebar) which incorporates other monstrous November scenes.