29 September 2014


I am getting exceedingly tired of reading all the reports about dangers to our health. Eating red meat has reared its head again. Eat it at your peril! 

Then there’s the instruction to eat five-a-day portions of fruit and vegetables, discounting bananas, of course, because they are now accused of filling our tummies with fat! FAT? IN BANANAS? Fruit doesn't agree with me but I do take Vitamin C on a daily basis, have done for nigh on 50 years. This means I rarely have a cold (first one last week in about ten years) and keep reasonably healthy. 

The latest don’t-do is the taking of statins, which are/were supposed to be the be-all-and-end-all of medication guaranteed to save our lives. I’ve taken them for years and I’m still here, folks. I checked with the doc because I am taking the medium range dosage. He said it was fine so I guess if it was going to kill me it would have done so long ago.

Almost every day there are reports in the newspapers about new discoveries to prolong the lives of oldies, yet – to balance out the news reports – there is great concern that oldies are eating up a fair portion of the economy. If we can’t afford to be kept alive in the comfort of our care homes, why on earth do they keep discovering ways so to do? Before we know where we are euthanasia will be introduced. I say it jokingly but who knows what’s on the cards if the elderly keep costing thousands to keep alive.

My admiration goes to our lovely actress Linda Bellingham who has chosen the time she will die, by curtailing the chemotherapy which is keeping her alive. 

Click picture to read the article)
Not too many people have the strength of will to make such a decision. I have stated to doc and family that if ever I had a stroke or something else just as serious, I do NOT want to be resuscitated. In fact, I now wear a bangle to that effect. I couldn’t bear the thought of lying in a machine waiting for someone to switch it off and just think of the heartache they would have. I wouldn’t know about it, of course, but I would much rather go quickly and get it over with.

 This month the magazine WI Life published an article about Death Cafes, places where groups of people go to discuss the matter of dying. How healthy is that? Death has always been a forbidden topic so it’s good that people can discuss it openly, thereby helping to eliminate the fears associated with it. It is so important to discuss it with family members so they know what our wishes are.
My funeral plan was fun to do, I had more laughs in the planning than were expected. It was planned with the aid of the undertaker, a lady, who asked me all sorts of unexpected questions.

‘What make-up do you wear?’
‘Make-up. You want to look nice don’t you?’
‘Er… yes!’
‘Well, it’s part of my duty to make sure you do.’
‘Oh right!’
‘Do you want a viewing?’
‘A viewing?’
‘Yes, you might want people to have a look at you.’
I thought about it and decided that a viewing would only take place if requested by family.
‘What do you want to wear?’ she asked.
She explained that if I wanted a ‘viewing’ (Gawd help me) you might ...
I interrupted at that point. ‘Well,’ I said’ ‘if I’m going to be gawked at I want to look good.’

So, best clothes are ordered on the understanding that the undertaker lady selects what suits my complexion. Until then I intend to keep a close eye on my wardrobe and remove all the stuff I don’t like. What a great excuse for more shopping….hehehe. She will also pay close attention to the make-up. That was something I didn’t know they did. I said I would leave it to her providing she didn’t make me look like a clown.

I hope you took this post in the way it was intended, to help put things in context and to eliminate fears, plus giving you a damned good laugh in the process.

Altogether now….. whaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

25 September 2014

Life in the garden

In an attempt to defeat or rather lessen the damage done by squirrels, we have invested in a new feeding station which is now installed in our lawn. It is in direct view of the house although far enough away for the birds to feed in peace. This means I can bird-watch to my heart’s content. And do! Oh what joy! I am now seeing birds I thought never see again:

Great spotted woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, the old favourites: Chaffinches, Bullfinches, Greenfinches, plus Nuthatches and all the usual garden birds including, naturally, the Magpies and Woodpigeon. I would rather do without the latter two but I suppose they’re entitled to eat
same as the finches. It’s just that they overdo it and break things in their attempts. Still, I guess I can’t have one without the other.

Great Spotted Woodpecker

The Great Spotted Woodpecker comes for peanuts rather than to peck wood, although as previously reported he did have a go at the wooden bird table.
Green Woodpecker

The Green Woodpecker feeds from the ground and since the grass is green we have to look carefully to see him. It was lucky that he decided to investigate other parts of the garden. Both woodpeckers used to be regular visitors at our last house but until now, as far as we know, never at the present one.

Female Chaffinch
Chaffinches were once only seen on the ground but they certainly like the new feeding station. They come in whole families… six or seven at a time. As do the bullfinches. Greenfinches have started to come in as well and that’s good because they are so few of them now. In fact, they are almost on the extinct list.
Male Bullfinch

The fox has made an appearance although his eye is on the tasty looking woodpigeons. He caught one the other day, and what a commotion there was from other birds, all trying to scare him away – and failing. Talk about nature in the raw! Hmm I took a great picture of the fox but can't find it... perhaps he ate that as well! This photo is rather inferior but it will have to do.
The Fox 
I do still have the two field-mice in the garden ... not sure what happened to the third. They're almost tame, certainly they don't run away from me. I said 'smile please' but they didn't bother!
The best thing for me has been watching the babies of each species, seeing them develop from babies to juvenile and then to adult birds. It has been interesting to see the way the plumage slowly changes before the birds finish up with adult colours. It starts with a slight colouring of the downy breast, then the tail changes colour and the back, and finally the head. Because of this I was able to identify the male and female babies.

I am pleased we are able to feed birds in this country. Australians are forbidden to do so and I believe that’s because of the different viruses wild birds carry. I suppose it’s the same the world over so I’ll carry on feeding them until told otherwise.

23 September 2014

Taking liberties...

I had a new computer this year but I still have the old one. Why? Because the new one is a PROFESSIONAL and the old one a mere HOME machine.  I tell you this, though, the old one is more professional than the professional! Whatever I want to do on the new machine takes me three times as long because everything is HIDDEN. Plus half the keyboard commands are missing which slows me down something awful. Everything is hidden and hardly anything opens with a hovering mouse. It didn't take me long to realise the old machine had to be retained! 

What gets my goat more than anything is the new idea of downloading stuff onto the computer that I don't want. Like the following:



Do they tell us these things? Do they ever think of asking permission? Darn right, they don't!

Well I deleted both in the hope that it would give me something to complain about but in actual fact it did nothing to affect the running of the computer. What good does it do to have all these files thrust upon us?

If someone could explain it all to me I would be grateful.

21 September 2014


Let me tell you about my lost family … or part of it, and it was all down to my son’s broken marriage. When Jon was in the army he met and married a German girl. Sadly, the marriage didn’t work so his wife moved back to Germany with their two very young sons. After a few years she came back to this country and went to live in Scotland, which is the other end of the country to where we are in the Midlands. Jon was able to see the boys periodically but I only saw them on one occasion. The youngest would have been about eight at the time and his brother two years older.

When they were still in their teens, after a period of uncertainty and some unhappy changes in their family structure, the boys left home and were ‘lost’ to their father and me, their grandmother. However, the good news is that they have been found on Facebook. As many of you know Facebook has for some time been on my ‘don’t touch’ list but with the knowledge that the boys were on it meant I had to go there too. There they were, grown up and looking fabulous. I also discovered that I am great-grandmother to a baby boy … quite suddenly I felt not just old, but positively ancient! Just waiting for someone to say I don't look it!

The 'find' was due to Jon’s partner, Karen, and I can’t thank her enough for her endeavours to trace the boys. Jon doesn’t walk well nowadays nor can he do long distance driving but that was okay, grandson would come to us. Two weeks ago it was when my youngest grandson, Keith, and his Swedish partner, Sara, came to the Midlands. And Joe and I got to see them.

It was about twenty years since last we met but Keith walked in to my house as if he’d been coming there all the time… and gave me a HUGE bear hug. I felt very emotional and happy. Actually his memory is good, he remembered the house, and especially the garden. That made me feel good.

Joe and I had a whole day with them all. We took them to our usual eating place for lunch, which was a great place to get to know each other. It was lovely.
Top left: Keith and Sara
Top right: Keith and Jon
Bottom left: Keith
Bottom right: Jon

Keith is handsome, friendly, intelligent, fun, and the image of his dad when Jon was his age. 

Sara is a delight. As you can see she is a pretty girl, with the sort of good looks you want to keep staring at. She is petite and graceful and very friendly… and what’s more she speaks perfect English. She and I are now in regular contact by email. 

There were none of those awkward moments that occur when people haven’t met for a long time, it was as if we had always been together. I am really hoping that we can all meet up again and become a proper family unit even if there ARE many miles between us.

That’s not all. Imagine my surprise when I arrived home from a meeting to find a box of flowers in the porch… delivered and obviously not heard. Yes, they were from Keith and Sara, and they're still good today. 

Since hearing a little bird whisper that Keith and Sara might be here for Christmas I am living in hope with fingers firmly crossed!

17 September 2014

15 September 2014


Two things. 

First, my arm protectors have arrived from China (not as hitherto thought from Japan) and I am wearing them right now. They are soooo comfortable. 

Basically they are designed to protect the arms from ultra violet (UV) rays when playing golf or tennis or simply hiking, but my need was to protect the skin from being torn off by something sharp. 

What amazes me most is that for a couple of GB pounds I can purchase something from so far away. The world is definitely an open marketplace these days, thanks to Amazon.

Now that I have seen the quality of the sleeves I’m wishing I’d ordered more than one pair. Still, I guess there’s nothing to stop me doing so now I know how easy it is … and how cheap.

Next is a moan about the phone.

It seems that the business pests who continually ring have cottoned on to the fact that if they use a WITHHELD number they can get through to ANYONE. Hospitals and doctors always use a withheld number so we are obliged to answer in case it is the hospital giving Joe an appointment. It was fine for a while but now everyone seems to be using the same system.

We opted for a phone system with caller display so that we would know who was calling. If it was a mobile/cell phone number we answered, if it was an unknown number we worked on the premise that if someone really wanted us they would leave a message. Unavailable was ignored and, until now, so was Withheld. And quite often, if we don’t answer an unknown number the caller leaves a lengthy message … which we have to pay for.

Ever had that feeling you can’t win? We have!

13 September 2014

And I thought we were winning......

Have you ever been wildly excited only to be smashed down, then get that awful feeling in the pit of the stomach? Well, that’s me!

Last Wednesday the district nurse came to change Joe’s nephrostomy bag. However, in so doing the tube attached to his body came adrift. Panic! Not to worry though, the nurse would deal with things. She couldn’t do surgery but she could contact hospitals and show her authority to get Joe seen to post haste.

As explained before, peeing was something he couldn’t do for a long time but then he could, and the most amazing thing was that the loss of tubing didn’t affect that. We were both so delighted at his good fortune. The consultant at the hospital was also happy. He said it could be that Joe wouldn’t need the bag again. Whoopee!

Before sending him home the doctor ordered a scan to check the state of the hitherto malfunctioning kidney and the result showed a low priority dilation (I think that’s the word – we were calling it distillation haha).

So we get home, thanking the good Lord for the current situation.

Until nightfall.

That’s when everything seized up – reverting back to how it was before when he couldn’t pee as well as being in pain. He suffered all night while I slept (and I slept well because I’d been driving to and from the hospital the day before … that plus anxiety had worn me out). Joe apparently rang the hospital at two o’clock in the morning and then rang again before I woke at around six. He was told to get there ASAP and that’s where he is now. He was taken by cab because, he said, I was in no fit state (still bleary eyed) to drive. You can bet your bottom dollar I’ll be there ASAP though. I typed this whilst having a cuppa and a bite to eat since need to be strong for what faces us.

Since writing this I have had a message from Joe. He has had a bladder scan which was found to be 575 mg full. That’s almost as much as was there before he was fitted with a catheter. Looks like he’ll be having another one.

Off to the hospital now. Wish us luck!

09 September 2014

Doggy Tales Part 1 (repeat)


It was the way he stroked my ears through the bars that gave me the idea he fancied me rather than Ginger in the next run, though by the clamour Ginger was making it sounded as if he thought otherwise. I'd never seen him so active, galloping aimlessly round his enclosure, only stopping to issue those attention-seeking howls. The man had given him a cursory glance, then came to scrutinize me, shunning Ginger as if he was the worst captive canine he'd ever seen. And all down to the howls. I had to admit they were greatly off-putting, that's why, now I was the butt of the man's inspection, I was staying cool and not trying to win him over with silly tricks.
Somewhat experimentally I sneaked my tongue out to lick one of his fingers. It tasted kind of interesting, as if he'd been gnawing chicken legs with bare hands. I knew about chicken legs. That's why I was caged up in this unholy place; because I ate the old lady's supper when she was out. Not an adventure I ever had an urge to dwell on with all the caning and outraged bellowing that went on.
The man crouched to get a better view, then stared me straight in the eye. It was a strange thing to do to a dog and I wondered if he was being hostile. If he was, I was in trouble, but he looked genuine enough so I ignored it. If he'd a mind to offer me a home I didn't want to spoil things, especially if there was chicken in the offing. I had a vision of chicken scraps in a huge brown bowl (with mixer and gravy the way the old lady served it in the old days) until the iron gate at the end of the pens crashed open and knocked the image away. I could hear the Gaffer pounding towards us, his hobnailed boots striking the concrete like a salvo of bullets.
'Fancy him do you, Buddy?' he yelled as he approached the man.

'How much you asking?'

'Fifty, providing you can give him a decent home. And I'll need references.'
I planted the ears back in amazement. Since when did buying a Staffordshire need references?
Ginger's tethering chain began to rattle as he clawed that damned ear of his; he'd been plagued by dreaded mites for a while. Well he could keep them to himself if he didn't mind, an invasion this side of getting adopted was out of the question. It wasn't every owner who could tolerate infestations, I realized that when the old woman brought me in and stridently advised the Gaffer to scrub my ears with Lysol. The mere sound of the word sent me dithering into a corner, but to give the Gaffer his due, he simply used drops to cure the irritation. 'So, if you can hear me Ginger, quit showering me with your bugs.'
Chicken Fingers said, 'I really wanted a bitch.'
A bitch? He had to be joking. What use was a bitch to a bloke like him. Slurping water from the steel dish as if it was a cure-all for shock, I pinned the ears further back so as not to be distracted when I studied his face. A dog's man if ever I saw one, beefy and hard. Suddenly he bounced upright, his thighs quivering with the exertion. I followed the curve of his leg until my eye rested on his corpulent gut, and thought of all the meat it must have taken to make it grow so big.
'The wife wanted a bitch.'
Dejectedly, I lay down and put my muzzle on my paws. The fantasy was over. Chicken Fingers had a wife, which meant I was doomed to stay forever with Irish Ginger and the wretch who looked after us.
Chicken Fingers stooped again and poked his hand through the bars. 'He's a fine looking animal,' he said.
I raised one eyelid.
'I'm sure the Missus will understand when she sees his funny grin.'
Scrambling to all fours, I began to pant with excitement, but I didn't run about. Good behaviour was of paramount importance if I was to be salvaged from this dump and transported to a place where a Missus cooked chicken and fed her man until he could hardly move.
The Gaffer reached up and drew the bolt on the gate. Merciful heaven, the gate swung open and liberty loomed. Producing a leather strap from his trouser pocket, he rapidly slid it over my bonce. 'Come on, Butch. Go walkies with the nice gent.' Turning to the nice gent, he added, 'And don't let him pull you. He'd tug a bus to the ground if he was let.'
Chicken Fingers laughed and scratched the spot between my ears, making me go all gooey inside. 'Don't worry,' he said. 'I'm used to dogs.' Then he rubbed the tip of my ear, little knowing it was another of my sensitive spots. 'Things'll be fine when he's found his bed and had his first bite of grub.'
Spinning my tail to show I approved of his plan, I immediately looked up and down the gully trying to remember the way out. Ginger shoved his nose through the railings and gave a subdued bark, and I woofed at him: 'Hey, Ginger. It was my funny grin that got me placed. Now, if you really want to get out of here -'
'How much for the Setter, mate?'
I shot my head round to stare at the new man in my life. He was surely not thinking of taking Ginger as well as me. Him and Missus must live in a mansion.
'Same,' Gaffer said. 'Fifty and a good home.'

'They'll have that all right. We live on a farm. Fields to run in and a barn to share.'

'Won't the wife create if you buy two dogs?'
'If she saw the mutt's downcast expression, she'd be cross if I didn't. I ask you, in all conscience how could I leave him behind?'
As if he had the sense to know what was going on, Ginger yapped wildly and started to chase his tail, taking no notice of my warning that if he didn't behave he'd be left behind; however, since he hadn't been incarcerated as long as me, I suppose he hadn't had to learn the hard way.
A similar strip of leather went over Ginger's head, stopping him in his tracks. Gaffer said to him, 'Okay, Ginger. You're off as well.'
And with that the nice gent clipped a lead on my collar and looped it through Ginger's so we couldn't help but walk as one, and we were led away, my short legs racing to match Ginger's stride. I didn't care, I'd have slid on my belly if needs be.
So we vacated the squalid billet that had been our home, glad to go yet grateful for the shelter it offered when no-one else would take us in. Perhaps one day we would return, but in the meantime we'd have Chicken Fingers for boss and chicken legs, if we were lucky, for our rations.

07 September 2014

04 September 2014

Puzzle Time

Okay, bright people... what's wrong with this picture?

Puzzled again?

Try this one... it's just a short sentence so it shouldn't take long to decipher.

(With apologies to those who saw this before - I accidentally scheduled it for the wrong month yet you saw it a month later ... Blogger never fails to amaze me)