24 December 2016



The scene beyond the rustic garden gate was like a Christmas card. Outside the ivy laden cottage a robin was perched in a holly bush. A recent snowfall covered the thatched roof like oddly shaped clumps of cotton wool. Leaded light windows reflected the orange flames from the fire. Beneath those windows, a wooden wheelbarrow filled with logs.  The bare beech tree looked strangely out of place, dull brown when everything else was highly coloured. The cottage door, as red as the holly berries, was adorned by a festive wreath. The door was ajar and inside could be seen a Swedish Pine of mammoth proportions ablaze with twinkling lights. And the aroma that emanated from within was of turkey, slowly roasting. 
In the snow-packed lane, an elderly itinerant peered over the boundary hedge, white unkempt hair wafting skywards in the biting wind. With ice-cold fingers he smoothed it over his crown then pulled his shabby grey coat closer to his chest. The motions were entirely mechanical for he was truly not conscious of the cold. He had no need of fires or Christmas fare, for his soul was warmed through with love for Jesus, who kept him safe and whose birthday they shared. 


18 December 2016


I found a piece of paper which had been pushed through the door. This is what it said:
Need odd jobs doing by a local 19 year old with experience in the area?
Gardening/removals/dog walking and sitting/heavy lifting/no job too big or small!
This was followed by contact numbers, home and mobile, and ended with

I don’t normally take notice of things pushed through the letterbox and I’m not the sort of person who buys stuff or deals with strangers who call. But this was different, I wasn’t put under pressure by a personal visit, all I had was this note. It was my choice – take it or leave it.
It was the photograph of the lad who was touting for work that decided me and let’s face it all I had to do was phone. Studying the photograph I saw a pleasant young man and mentally praised him for his ingenuity. At least I could see who I was dealing with.
There were one or two things I could get him to do, the first being the removal of autumn leaves which were literally covering paths and lawn in my garden. It was too much for me now that I can no longer bend for longer than two minutes and sweeping up leaves would have my heart pounding in no time.
So, I rang and spoke to the lad. It turned out that he is a student and tries to earn money when he’s not studying. Well, from all accounts and stuff I read in newspapers it is unusual for a young fellow to want work. He said he would come and view the job and then fix a date to do the clearing up.
I must admit I liked what I saw. His name is Luke, good looking and polite and when he did the work he did it well. I have promised to bear him in mind if something else needs doing.
There’s another side to this story and not as pleasing as the above. Garden rubbish is
collected by the council twice a month and I pay for the privilege. Naturally this is a seasonal thing, collections stop in winter. Every week I check on line that I have up to date collection times, and print the information for ease of reference. Luke and I had worked out the exact date when he should do the clearing up job and on the due day the wheelie bin was put out for the men to collect. We have to put our bins out, the collectors don’t walk up the path to collect them.
Except, they didn’t do either.
I checked on line and, yes, I had the right date. What I didn’t know was that THEY had made a mistake. The next time I checked the date had been withdrawn. Now I’m stuck with a wheelie bin full of leaves, too heavy for me to shift. The window cleaner helped out by bringing the bin into the front garden where it will have to stay until next spring.
I was feeling disgruntled about it all but then the phone rang. It was the lady who organises my section of Visiting The Elderly asking if I would like to go to a Rotary Club lunch in a week’s time? Would you believe I said I couldn’t make it – I had checked the diary and realised the chiropodist was coming to deal with my feet!! I realised what I had done as soon as I put the phone down and promptly rang back.
YES, I said I CAN go! To hell with it, I could always change the appointment with the foot man.  
What a way to end the day!

11 December 2016

A Birthday Celebration

In November it was my old ex-neighbour’s 80th birthday. Joe and I had lived next door to Doug for 26 years but he is now in a home. I was going to say a home for the bewildered but that isn’t quite true, the home isn’t strictly for people with poor memories but they look after them the same as elderly folk who are mentally hale and hearty but incapacitated in other ways. Along with a couple who lived the other side of Doug’s bungalow (that’s the one that’s been ripped apart and practically rebuilt) I was invited to and attended his birthday dinner at one of my favourite eating places, Moor Hall. Yes, that’s the one I’ve written about many times before. The other invitees provided the transport for which I was truly grateful. It meant I could drink some wine and not worry about driving.

Doug was married once but it didn’t work out. After the divorce he returned to live with his parents and stayed there for the rest of his life, leastways until last year when he moved into the care home. After his parents died he made no effort to redecorate the bungalow, nor did he splash out on modern equipment or anything that would have made life easier. Every week he took his laundry to a laundromat, he never redecorated, and he had nothing to make his life more comfortable. He had a gardener to do the mowing, but then so do I. I used to think it was awful but now I’ve reached the age when I don’t want to be bothered with these things. The difference between Doug and me is that I still know it and can still get things done.

The first thing Doug said to me when we were seated at the ‘birthday’ table, was ‘Did you move into the Close, which is a cul-de-sac opposite our bungalows. I reminded him that I lived next door. Oh, says he, you must know Joe. It was difficult enough talking to him without having to explain that Joe, my husband, had died so I left it. Gradually though he started to recall things, for example our dogs. He looked after them when we were away, in fact over the years he looked after many dogs in the neighbourhood.

Despite communication problems we got through the evening and it was enjoyable watching him open his presents. He got tired of doing it half way through but his family made him carry on. I felt sorry for him then. It is so easy for people with no memory problems or ageing hands to think they know best. For me, it was a relief to know that others have the same sort of forgetfulness, particularly this morning when I picked up a bowl that had been washed and wondered where to put it. Everything has its place in my house but it seems I am slowly forgetting where those places are. Perhaps I should make a list! I told myself to get a grip but whether I listen to my own advice remains to be seen.

So, seeing Doug as he is now and remembering how he was all the years Joe and I knew him was quite sad. I am thankful that I manage to find solutions to overcome some of the problems … I have plenty of paper - I can write notes. Just praying I will remember where they are…. grins. 

04 December 2016


I had never heard of this organisation until I saw a leaflet, yet it started in the early 1960s. I can’t remember if the leaflet came through the door or was an insert in a magazine. Whichever, I saw it and discussed it with Rosanne. She has a brain to die for so when she suggested I ‘go for it’ I did. All I had to do was fill in a coupon and send it off; if I didn’t like what came back I didn’t have to follow it through.

The idea of the organisation is in the name – Visiting the Elderly, predominantly those who live alone. In no time at all I received a lovely letter with a request that in double quick time, after completing another more detailed form, I received a phone call from Janine, one of the organisers who was starting a group in my area.

I was a bit apprehensive when another call came making an appointment for Janine and her colleague, Fran, to visit. I was nervous, you see, not knowing what would transpire from their visit. I needn’t have worried. It was all very informal. I think my nervousness came from the fact I was now officially an old person being offered help. It’s not something you think about until faced with living alone but I wasn’t the sort to dwell on my circumstances. I did things, that was fine. I was okay.

Janine and Fran arrived and they couldn’t have been nicer. I was invited to afternoon tea one Sunday afternoon. At someone’s house. With my own driver (Fran) who would be my regular chauffeur. I was given a schedule of dates for afternoon tea once a month, always on a Sunday. Apparently, there were seven of us, not counting the volunteers, which they said was a good start.

I have just been on my first one and enjoyed every minute, especially the drive there and back in a fabulous sporty blue Mercedes with gadgets everywhere. Just imagine owning such a thing! I can tell you, I was in my element. Marvellous! And to think I shall be going in that beauty again. Yes!

The tea consisted of a variety of fancy sandwiches, various pies, trifle, and cakes of all description – cup cakes, slab cakes, fruit pies and tarts, followed by chocolate sweets to die for. I knew I shouldn’t have had such a big lunch!

The company was great, some fab conversations and plenty of laughs. One lady, who bragged about being 94, had a terrific sense of humour and told us plenty of funny tales about her life and family. Another one told us tales about her cat, so I whipped out my phone to show pictures of Charlie. It was all very light-hearted and enjoyable and I can’t wait to go again.

Fran brought me home (in THAT car) and asked me to contact her if I need anything. I won’t be a nuisance but it’s nice to know that there is someone I can ring if I need to. I have since told a friend of mine about it. She is older than me and lives alone, so maybe there’s a group in her area that she can go to. I know one thing, she would never regret it.