24 April 2016


(Picture borrowed from the Internet)
Saturday was always the day Joe and I had a meal out and since he died I have tried to maintain the tradition. It’s not easy, though. I don’t mind eating alone but there are some restaurants/cafes that are so filled with family groups that I feel a bit out of place. Thus, I tend to stick to the places where I know I will feel comfortable.

I listen to others and get ideas from their experiences of eating places so that I can do the rounds, so to speak. A couple of weeks back I went to a garden centre, one I visited many times when Joe was in Australia. It’s quite nice to eat a meal when surrounded by plants and other gardening stuff, particularly if the sun is shining, but this particular place is quite a distance from home so I don’t relish a long drive just to get some food inside me.

Paola, my lovely cleaning lady and friend, told me that another garden centre, a local one, had opened a restaurant. It was her opinion that the food was really good so I was quite interested. It's funny how the thought of food stimulates my interest. Anyway, I checked it out last weekend and was pleasantly surprised.

Halls Garden Centre is a family run business and has been on that site since 1952. It’s very popular with the locals and a pleasure to wander round. Right next door there once was a public house with a huge car park that extended right past the garden centre. The convenient car parking facility probably encouraged customers ... well it would in this age of the car. Eventually the pub closed and the building was used as a wine bar. With bars only opening at lunch time and at night the garden centre did well for customers. Now, though, that building has been taken over by the centre and that’s where the new-to-me restaurant is. Why I haven’t found it before is a mystery. I guess I don't read the right newspapers!

The restaurant interior had been well thought out, with tables on various levels and spiralling steps to reach each one. The decor was comfortable and interesting. Putting it mildly, I was impressed, especially with the service and food. The menu was appealing; it catered for the breakfast crowd, through to dinner and then afternoon tea. There were dishes I felt like trying but to be on the safe side I went for the home cooked ham with two eggs, a bowl of chips and a side salad. It might sound ordinary but it was cooked to perfection and tasted wonderful. The price was better than some eating houses that serve the same fare at twice the cost. 

Afterwards I decided to look round the garden centre. I know it well and have photographed it often, but not yesterday. Pity I can’t find those photographs! There's a picturesque Japanese water garden with a red bridge to enable people to get close to the Japanese Koi and other fish. I wished I had my camera with me but without it I could still appreciate the view. Anyway I have pictures of the bridge somewhere in the house – if I only knew where!

I decided to cross the bridge and take a look at the Aquatic Centre, something I have often done but I was younger then and didn’t realise how much my walking had deteriorated. The foot-way might have been uneven and the steps to the bridge unevenly spaced but really I think the fault was mine for not looking where I was going.. Yes, I fell. Ouch! I had landed on my knees which felt as if one of the flagstones had tried to cut them off.

Nobody was around so I didn’t feel embarrassed. I managed to swivel round so that I was in a sitting position. Then, of course, I couldn’t get up. These days I can’t leap into action from a sitting position on the floor... instead I have to crawl towards something I can grab and then haul myself up. It’s all very unladylike! Well, I couldn’t do that on the uneven steps so I just sat there trying to recover from the shock. Fortunately a young couple spotted my predicament and came to help. Oh the strength that woman had in her arms... she had me on my feet in no time. After checking that I was okay they wished me well and went on their way. As they walked off I heard her saying that the centre should really even out the steps to the bridge. Maybe I was wrong then, maybe it wasn't all my fault.

Feeling surprisingly calm I drove home, thankful that I was still in one piece. It wasn’t until later, when I knelt to turn on the gas fire, that I felt the pain in both knees. Fortunately nothing was broken but they felt badly bruised. They took an awful knock so it’s no wonder they felt sore. The soreness is wearing off now but I can still feel it when bending and walking.

Reflecting back on the scenario I came to the conclusion that maybe I should have another type of alarm, one that connects to ‘helpers’ further afield. It’s that or stay home and vegetate ...  heaven forbid such an idea!

17 April 2016


I’ve done something I thought I would never need or want. Yes, I’ve installed a personal alarm. My friend, Judy, has one and advised me to get one since I, like her, am now living alone. She had researched the whole thing and advised me to go with AgeUK, a society that deals with ageing folk. You’d never guess that from the name. I did some research as well and decided that the service as well as the equipment outweighed others; what’s more it worked out cheaper.

Just having the thing in the house is enough to make me feel ancient, let alone the alarm button I have to wear round my neck. But it makes sense, I guess, in case I ever have a fall or something equally worrying. Jeez, I felt great until the thing was installed.

It took the demonstrator two hours to explain the system and set it up, with lots of paperwork and financial arrangements to be gone into and friendly chat in between. As she, the demo lady, went along I kept thinking I would never remember it all but at the end she asked me a question.  ‘What will you do if you have a fall and can’t get to the phone?’

‘Press the button.’

‘There you go,’ she said, ‘and that’s ALL you have to remember.

All through the demo I had been wondering how much my awful memory had retained but she proved that I only needed to know that one thing. Press the button. I surely can’t forget that!

There are two ways of wearing an alarm, on the wrist like a watch or a pendant round the neck. I chose the neck version on the grounds that if I fell on my arm I might not be able to use the alarm. 

I was advised to wear it all the time, even out shopping. The range it covers is quite remarkable but I didn't think it would stretch to the shops! Okay, so I hadn't thought it through! What if, I was asked, when you arrive home and had the misfortune to fall in the drive? I couldn't believe the alarm would get through to the operator from outside the house. Wrong! To demonstrate my advisor walked down my rather huge garden while I watched from the house. Every time she pressed the button I heard the connection to the operator. I was told to wave so she knew it had worked okay. She covered such a distance my arm ached but at least I got to know that wherever I am on my own property I can buzz through for help. I have said it before and will say it again, and again... technology is a wonderful thing. 

For the first three days I had to do test runs by pressing the button. I was almost a nervous wreck the first time but I forced myself to do it. Quivering a little, I pressed the button and the gadget that connects me to phone and specialist operator lit up. I could hear the dialling tone and then some weird noises and then the dialling tone again and more noises. Then a voice came through loud and clear, ‘Good morning,’ a woman said, referring to me by name. ‘What can I do to help?’

I’d rehearsed the reply, ‘I’m just doing my first test’.

‘You’re through loud and clear, the test is a great success.’

What a relief!

Next day it was a man who answered. His words were similar and then he wished me a nice day.
That REALLY made me feel good... grins...

It was nerve-racking at first but I think I’ll get used to it. There was just one more test and now I only have to test the system once a month. With my memory you can imagine the terror.... so I’ve put it in the iPhone to be repeated on the 23rd day of every month. I was advised to pick the 23rd since my birthday falls on that day and it would be easier to remember. Age Concern is obviously used to dealing with oldies!

Apparently the phone is manned every minute of every day and night throughout the year.
It’s reassuring to know that if I get in trouble I can press the button and someone will come to my aid. Depending on what is wrong the operator will call my key-holding neighbour, police or ambulance. How marvellous is that? Suddenly I feel quite safe and not quite so alone.


Incidentally, those who read about the problem with getting Joe’s Will might be pleased to know that it arrived at the solicitor’s office last Friday. I shall soon be able to sort things out, particularly on the financial side.

10 April 2016

A mistaken idea put right...

One shop I never, ever visited was The Body Shop. For some unknown reason I imagined the products to be cheap and worthless. This idea might have stemmed from family opinions that anything unfamiliar was worthless. Let’s face it, The Body Shop was extremely unfamiliar to the then older generation, consequently I was raised to think the same. However, now that I am a fully fledged and paid up member of the elderly section of the universe I thank the youngsters for introducing me to some of The Body Shop products.

I confess to suffering with dry, ageing skin, something I thought would never happen to me after all the years of regular moisturising. I’m told it doesn’t show but I know it’s there. Hard to miss really when the lips are continually sore and there is hard skin around the nails, so hard it makes me want to pick it off. Same goes for the feet; I am constantly treating the heels. Now isn’t that curious, it’s only the heels; skin covering soles and instep are fine. Anyway, all this causes a lot of anxiety, or rather it did before our Rosanne bought me some hemp products.

Hemp? Isn’t that some kind of cannabis?

Yes, that’s what I thought until I checked it out on Wikipedia:
Hemp (from Old English h├Žnep) is a commonly used term for high-growing industrial varieties of the Cannabis plant and its products, which include fiber, oil, and seed. Hemp is refined into products such as hemp seed foods, hemp oil, wax, resin, rope, cloth, pulp, paper, and fuel.
Hemp is not to be confused with the close relative cannabis, which is also a Cannabis plant, but is widely used as a recreational drug and medicine. These variants are typically low-growing and have higher content of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD), and other cannabinoids. The legality of Cannabis varies widely from country to country, and from state to state in the United States. In many countries regulatory limits for concentrations of psychoactive compounds, particularly THC, in hemp require the use of strains of the plant which are bred for low content.
Actually my first venture to The Body Shop wasn’t to buy products made from hemp, it was to acquire a pot of Shea Butter ... on the recommendation of Paola, the young lady who helps with the housework. She was very into Body Shop products and couldn’t wait to introduce me. That was when I complained about the dry skin on the legs.  Shea butter is what you need, she said, before talking me into buying some. She’s good at persuasion, is Paola. She knew very well it would work.
Then came Rosanne, but she didn’t just talk about it she bought stuff for me. First off was the hemp lip salve which I found so good I now have three tubes, one in the handbag, one in the bathroom and another in the kitchen. 

It wasn’t long before she came bearing gifts of two kinds of hand cream. Hemp Hand Butter with heavy-duty hydration and Hemp Hand Protector which is described as a hard working moisturiser. I use the latter more because of its deep seated penetration ... that’s my description not something I read on the tube. I have to use it a lot, certainly every time I wash my hands, but their appearance is 100% better than it was a couple of months ago. At one time I hid the hands rather than let people see them, now I can show them without shame.

Altogether now..... HOORAY!

03 April 2016


I am faced with a new dilemma. Loss of memory. It’s not a permanent loss, more like forgetfulness at particular times. The business of retrieving Joe’s will has been a real trial for me for the following reason.

A few years ago Joe and I wanted to rewrite our wills and he had the idea of using the will writing service at Skipton Building Society. Those of you who don’t live in the UK won’t have heard of it but UK residents might have.

We went in for mirror wills – as they called them then. It meant that Joe and I left our estate to each other. It seemed like a good idea at the time. By that I don’t mean the act itself was wrong, it was using Skipton that was the big mistake. However, we weren’t to know that at the time.

Joe died on 20 January and as I write this on 1st April the will is still held by Skipton even though the request for its release was sent immediately Joe died. 

The whole thing has caused memory failure for me. I didn’t realise I was losing it until I became submerged in worry and pressure. I guess at 82 (next month) I am entitled to be forgetful. I have a system that I adopted to help in the forgetfulness. I write notes, scores of them, which works most of the time. However, when pressed by worry and stress the memory goes AWOL and that is something other people don’t seem to understand. Actually, it’s not something I understand either. Sometime I shed tears of frustration when I realise I’ve forgotten something important and dealing with solicitors and legal stuff is the worst time. Pressure and things I don’t understand makes me worse. I can cope with everyday matters but the brain gives up when faced with anything new and complicated. Legal stuff, for example. Yet I can run my WI without any problems.

The worst thing is dealing with people and saying the wrong thing. Seeing the frustration on their faces is awful. Attitudes change, too. Hearing the words ‘I told you’ is particularly killing. I  
mean, how can I tell them I will remember at a later date – which is true. It’s as if a curtain is drawn over something I don’t understand and then opens when the brain is more relaxed. How frustrating is that for ME let alone other folk?

But back to the Will.

To my mind, and the minds of those with real thinking powers, there is no earthly reason why the Will cannot be released. Okay, they want £200 to do it (hints at compensation have been made) but that piece of information has only just been presented. The first excuse was that the Will was ‘lost’. Then, after I visited Skipton’s local branch, it was suddenly ‘found’ at their head office. That was a few weeks ago.

There were three people named as executors of the Will. Skipton (because they wrote it), Me, and Joe’s daughter, Rosanne. As I see it we were all of equal standing but Skipton say they need to ‘step down’ ... an action that seems to warrant a Royal Pardon. It’s only a name on a piece of paper, for God’s sake! Neither Joe nor I were told at the time of drawing up our wills that Skipton would class themselves as ‘head boy’ and demand money to step down from that position. It seems that Rosanne and I had no say in the matter. My solicitor is dealing with it but progress is extremely slow. I feel like exposing the company on the media but it would only prolong the matter. I dread to think of the solicitor’s bill when it’s all over.

I hope I haven’t bored you with this but it helped me to get something down on paper and then on the blog. Who knows, with a bit of luck an employee of Skipton might read it. Preferably their CEO. Well, just in case he does pop in for a read let me tell him that I have written a new Will - to be held by my Solicitor’s firm ... and to hell with Skipton!