Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Happy New Year

Well, this year has had its ups and downs, the worst part losing our lovely sister in law to cancer as well as my elderly friend dying (but dying is more acceptable in your nineties somehow than in your early sixties).
Then there was baby Peter being born, which was a lovely diversion for Eddie, my brother, being a Grandpa for the first time.
I enjoyed recently cuddling Peter in a family get together where
Eddie unexpectedly had a funny five minutes and dressed as Father Christmas, using shaving foam.
You can find a picture of Eddie and Baby Peter here.

Harry and I have had our ups and downs too, health wise and some how or other, we've come out of scares. I had to make the decision to re-home my rabbits and have worried about them everyday since, not knowing how they are getting on.
One of the good things was Sam and Sandy's wedding at the end of August and our Golden Wedding in December celebrated the day after Harry was discharged from hospital.
We had an exceptionally good Christmas that we shared with our daughter and grandsons.
Dean, the youngest Grandson, is a dab hand at tuning in televisions and assembling things from a flat pack and he did this for us the day after Boxing Day when our new TV needed tuning in and a stand needed to be put together.
So there seems to be a balance of good and bad things in any year.

Here we are on the brink of 2014. I am always a bit twitchy as to what is in front of us. However, I'm just going to trust that whatever things do happen, that I'll be given the strength to cope as I have done up till now.
My daughter says, "Mum its only a number." I guess she is right. Taking each day as it comes is the best way forward, no matter what the year is.

I'd like to wish everyone a very Happy New Year. Hoping that 2014 will hold special things for all of you.

Friday, 20 December 2013

Merry Christmas

Just a quick update.
Things seem to change from day to day here.
Harry is slowly getting better after his chest infection that he tried to give to me. However, I'm shaking it off as it has presented itself as just a heavy cold and cough.
The drug trial is back in existence because we were told, after research into the situation, that the collapse was to do with the chest infection and was most unlikely to be due to the medication.
He is taking things easy and I'm watching him like a hawk!

The house is at last decorated and there are goodies coming in, though I'm really behind with the preparations this year.
My daughter and grandsons will be coming to stay at some point on Monday for the Christmas holiday.
The granddaughters will be  home on Christmas Day but from Boxing Day they will be spending two weeks in Japan with their mother and her partner. We will all be a bit twitchy until they return safely.

So all I can say is....... have a very Happy Christmas everyone.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

We Got There

Well, in spite of all my good intentions, my post got held up last week.
Three days before our Golden Wedding Anniversary, Harry collapsed in the early hours while going to the bathroom. I was awakened by a loud crash and then silence.
I rushed in, still groggy from sleep, to find him on the floor face down and unconscious. I checked his breathing, which seemed heavy and laboured and ran into the bedroom to phone for an emergency ambulance. I really thought he was going to die.
They ordered one straight away, while keeping me alternately talking to them and running to check on Harry. Why hadn't I taken a cordless phone upstairs?
The paramedic arrived within five minutes and when she realised that Harry had been unconscious for two minutes, they said they'd have to take him to Accident and Emergency in the heart of our city.

To cut a long story short, he was seen by several teams of doctors who, in the end, decided that it was the drug trial that was responsible for the collapse and they ordered him off it straight away.
He was discharged from hospital the day before our anniversary.
We had a very quiet time, as he wasn't up to going out at all. So you see, we were able to celebrate it together in the end.

I did manage to get the decorations up and most of the cards sent in between all this chaos.

If I don't manage to post again before Christmas, I hope everyone has a very happy time and look forward to hearing how everybody spent theirs.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

A Mixed Bag Of Events

Photo Copyright: Maggie May

I can't believe that a whole fortnight has gone by since my last post. It seems to be a busy time of the year and now Christmas seems to be really looming ever closer.

This little canine, Poppy, came round to see us last week. She belongs to my brother and sister in law and is a very intelligent and energetic little dog. It was probably the first of many visits to come, as I was not able to let her in before because I had house rabbits and she is a natural predator, being a Jack Russell Terrier bred to dig out small furry creatures.

Not long ago, the lady from the small animal rescue centre where I signed over my beloved pets, rang me to say that they had been adopted, after being in her care for about 9 weeks. I should have been over the moon, but the fact that I would never hear about them again which meant complete closure, sent me spiralling downwards into a depression.
At the time, I really felt it was for the best, letting them go, because of our uncertain health problems but I really did start to question whether I'd done the right thing and I just hope they have gone on to a good, loving home that will be permanent.
At least they haven't gone as a Christmas present to small children. They are with a mature couple with a grown up daughter with no dogs or cats to frighten them. However, they will be living as outside pets. The weather has been mild enough for them to grow thicker winter coats before the really cold weather comes, which is a blessing.
I hope I'll eventually get over this but it is very difficult and I feel I've made a great personal sacrifice by giving them up.

On a brighter note, it seems that Harry and I will be definitely celebrating our Golden Wedding very soon. It didn't seem very likely a short while ago with all our health issues and scares etc.
To mark the occasion, we have decided on a lunch time meal in a restaurant with our brother and sister in law who own Poppy and who will be celebrating their own Golden Wedding in March.
Fifty years seems a very long time....... doesn't it?

This is the time of the year when the children have concerts at school and the younger ones have Christmas plays and festivities, that I'm looking forward to going to.  There are also Carol Services at church and Christmas dinners to attend.
This all helps to get me into the festive spirit, though I feel that the shops all start decorating far too early. None the less, once December is here, then I start to get involved with practical things and expectancy, never forgetting the real reason for Christmas in the first place.
I won't be be putting up decorations just yet though. When do others trim up?

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

What's Going On? Roses in November?

Photo Copyright: Maggie May

The weather continues to be fairly mixed. One day being mild and sunny and another cold, wet and windy. We never really know what to expect.
When I was a child, the winters were hard, cold and snowy and without central heating, or double glazing, I can remember it was really freezing, even inside. We had a small electric fire to get dressed by, while my mother raked out the ashes of yesterday's coal fire and laid another one for the day. We wore layers of clothing and we often got long drawn out coughs, colds, tonsillitis, as well as all the children's diseases that went around in cycles. Some of them such as Measles and Scarlet Fever were killers. However, we survived.
A good memory, from my point of view, was being pulled along on a home made wooden sledge by my Mum or Dad. It might have been a nightmare for them taking me to school in thick snow and ice but I considered it fun.
Those were the days when we knew the seasons and the weather followed a definite pattern.

It is now getting on for December, the Christmas month, the shortest day soon upon us. Today, I'm looking out of the window and the sun is shining. The heating is off and because I'm wearing my *thermals* I'm not really cold at all. Out in the garden I can see a rose bush covered in flowers, a bit tatty by any standard, but quite recognisable as clusters of roses. Don't you think that is remarkable, roses blooming in the heart of the winter in England?
My Pelargoniums that are only hardy if brought indoors are still flowering in their pots outside.
Is Global Warming the cause of this?
The terrible typhoon that has happened in the Philippines is supposed to have been caused by the shift in the weather patterns as well as all the other disasters that have happened in various places round the world.
So I suppose that it's swings and roundabouts, what weather you get, depending on where you live.
There are warnings of really bad weather to come here, so I'm stocking up a cupboard of basic foods in case we can't get out. Salt is at the ready for the pavements.

I wrap up warm and get my jigsaws out if the weather is bad.
The kitten jigsaw was in a big box of 10 different ones that I bought in a charity shop. I'm glad that they seem to be individually wrapped. With second hand puzzles you can never be too sure of what state they might be in.
Imagine trying to sort over 6,000 pieces into 10 separate puzzles.
I recently was told by the doctor in the cancer clinic that we attend, that doing jigsaws helps the brain to get into a meditative state that is very benficial. 
After I have completed one, I don't like to smash it up straight away, like my sister in law does, so I take a photo of the ones I've really enjoyed doing and this one fits that criteria. That way, I don't feel that I've *lost*  what has become a friend during the time its taken to complete it and can recycle the original.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Unexpected Blue Skies

Photo copyright: Maggie May

As today was unexpectedly sunny and fairly warm, I thought it might be a good idea for Harry and me to jump on a bus using our free bus passes and visit a place that we haven't been to in years.

Off we went to Bristol Bus Station, where a bus going to Portishead, which is a town that lies along the Bristol Channel, was about to pull out. The sea front in this location, is muddy and dangerous and this is the part of the town that we both knew from our motoring days but it is a fairly busy shipping channel and it can be interesting watching large and small vessels of all kinds sailing past and the walk along the sea front is pleasant. 
However, we didn't get as far as the sea front because the bus took us on a meandering route through little villages and windy roads and we really didn't know where we were and we found ourselves heading back into the high street that we'd passed earlier. I had thought we might end up going back to Bristol if we didn't make up our minds where to disembark.
An elderly lady passenger, who was obviously local to Portishead told us not to try to go to the sea as there was nothing there and certainly no toilets available. She told us to get off the bus at a certain place near the high street and gave us useful information as to where we could get a pot of tea and more importantly, visit a toilet. 
We found a large supermarket, where we were able to do both these things. (Strange how a toilet stop seems to be more important than anything, in our age group). Anyway the lady had told us to go to the Marina, which in her opinion, was much nicer than the sea front and following her instructions we ended up in a really lovely part of Portishead that we'd never been to before, where attractive homes overlooked The Marina. There were many small boats moored there and on the other side of the water, there were new houses and flats being built too. It obviously seemed a desirable location to live.

Strolling along the length of the Marina made a lovely walk and we managed to travel the whole distance where the Marina finished and just past the lock gates, our path led to the sea after all and we watched as two tug boats chugged by.
I was surprised that Harry wanted to walk as far as he did as it was a long way to the end and back again. As we walked, we encountered a group of swans and one of them came very close, thinking we had something to offer in the food line but all our sandwiches had been eaten by then.

By the time we got back to the bus stop, we'd walked a fair distance but we both agreed that we'd had a lovely day, which had been quite unplanned.
Who would have thought that we'd experience bright blue skies in November in England? 
Don't you think that unexpected outings are more enjoyable?

Monday, 4 November 2013


Photo Copyright: Maggie May

I had never heard of Byrhtnoth until I went to Maldon in Essex while having a few days break on the east coast and we came across his statue overlooking the Blackwater Estuary. If you want to read how this man in his sixties tried to ward off a Viking invasion on the town of Maldon, then click the link.

After a stormy weekend, the weather decided to behave itself and Harry and I were able to visit several places in Essex while we were staying there for a few days with our daughter and grandsons.
It was a really lovely break for me as it was the first time that I'd had a holiday for three years because somehow or other we'd had illness every time we tried to go away before then and of course the rabbits did complicate things too.

In dry weather, we visited a stately home and did a few walks in the lovely grounds and also the nearby town and visited a market place where we browsed and bought a few items. We also went to see the film Philomena  starring Judi Dench and Steve Coogan which was a real tear jerker but I thoroughly recommend going to see it. Based on truth, it was a story that had to be told. Quite shocking that things like that seemed to frequently go on.
Has anyone else been to see the film? If so what did you think of it?
I bet no one had ever heard of Byrhtnoth?

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Beating The Storm

Tomorrow in Britain, the clocks go back for Winter time. The only good thing about that is an extra hour in bed. We've been getting up in the dark for sometime now as two of the granddaughters come for breakfast most mornings and we have to make an early start. However, I don't mind it being dark at that time of the day but I do hate dark evenings.
We have had warnings of a storm that is heading our way with 80 mile an hour winds that could cause structural damage. Something to look forward to!
I am hoping that the roof leak (that has behaved itself through some wet weather quite mysteriously) will not be provoked into making a nuisance of itself again, by the storm.

Sam and Sandy seem to be in the best place, as they have gone to Spain for a belated Honeymoon. It should still be warm weather, over there. They were going to meet up with cousins who were also going to be in Spain at the same time. They had booked their individual holidays quite separately without prior knowledge that they would be in the same place at the same time.
One of life's coincidences, as they live thousands of miles apart and don't really communicate regularly.
It is half term here and the children are with their respective other parent/s.

Tomorrow, my daughter is coming over from the east coast, hopefully dodging the predicted bad weather and will take us back to her home for a few days break later on. This will be the first time that I've been away for a long time so whatever comes our way will be a pleasant change for me.
I will be taking winter woollies and weather proof jackets. Surely that will provoke the sun to come out.

Do you prefer darker mornings or darker evenings? Of course, people living in countries further south won't have such extreme differences as we do here, so you might have to imagine what it must be like.

Friday, 18 October 2013


I went to the rotary clothes line the other day with a wet towel in one hand and clothes pegs in the other.
The next thing I knew ... thwack.... a sticky mess in my face. I'd walked straight into a spider's web.

This is the worst thing about Autumn, the spiders are out en masse, making it impossible to do any gardening without the risk of being wrapped in gossamer. Even worse, the possibility of a huge spider running up your arm or down your neck!
I'm not a full blooded arachnophobe and I know that they help to keep garden pests down and I wouldn't ever kill one intentionally. However, I don't like them.
Last night, I had to catch a huge one that was sitting on top of a mop, armed with just a mug, hoping to release it in the garden. I didn't get a chance as it jumped over the top and hid itself in a dish rack.  I usually put something over the top of the container but didn't have time on this occasion because it was so fast and large. It took me a long time to track it down as it was carefully camouflaged in its surroundings.
I sometimes see one scuttling across the carpet and I have to catch it.
Do others mind these squatters in their home and gardens?

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Age Old Therapy

Photo Copyright: Maggie May

One good thing happening at the moment, is that Harry seems to be so much better since he started the drug trial. Fingers and toes crossed about it continuing that way. We are so grateful for the thoughts and prayers of all those who left kind comments. Thank you for this and also for those who went over to my brother Eddybluelights blog and left a kind word there. It really cheered him up.

Since my last post, it has been warm and sunny quite often with the odd wet day in between. I have noticed that our bedroom ceiling seems to be getting marked with water stains that have probably been caused by rain coming through a cracked tile or loose flashing where the bay meets the main roof. This is the kind of thing that causes me to feel stress as it is completely out of my control.  I must get someone in to fix it. At one time Harry or Sam would have gone up to check the roof for anything amiss. However, there is no one in the family that can do this now. The whole roof was renewed not  so long ago, so surely it cannot be too serious? I know that a little water can go a long way.

Ever since going to the Penny Brohn Centre, I have become aware of the havoc that stress can do to the body as well as the mind. Anyone having had cancer can impair their immune system through worry so it's best to try and keep calm, though not always easy.
Going long walks helps to keep me healthily calm and I read all the time, do crosswords and simple sudoku, eat well and get enough sleep.  Looking after grandchildren occasionally and a little gardening all adds to my enjoyment. How ever did I used to fit in going to work?

When I was young, my family used to enjoy jigsaws and I have recently started doing them again thanks to my granddaughter Millie, who is a dab hand at them.
I have found that doing puzzles helps to keep me absorbed and calm, though the black border and the white design of the serrated stamp edge of the above jigsaw that Sandy recently lent me, at times did the very opposite of that. It was quite a difficult puzzle to do and I found myself starting on the inside and working outwards. I did the hardest black edge last of all. This seems to be the very opposite of what one normally does.
Are there any other jigsaw enthusiasts out there?

Monday, 30 September 2013

The Penny Brohn Centre

Photos Copyright: Maggie May

I have visited this lovely holistic cancer centre a couple of times now. The Penny Brohn Centre is in lovely surroundings and was recommended by the Macmillan nurse at the oncology centre that Harry attends. 
Initially, I decided to go as Harry's helper/carer but it soon became apparent that it would benefit me also because I have been living in remission from cancer and have experienced all the difficulties and horrors that diagnosis and treatments have brought to my mind and body over the last four years since my journey with this condition first started.
The charity run centre helps people to live well with their cancer while using all the medical treatments that are available alongside the complimentary methods they recommend.

They use acupuncture, dietary advice and whole foods, exercises of various descriptions, relaxation, group therapy, one to one counselling sessions and many other therapies that help people to live a good life while experiencing cancer (in whatever stage it happens to be in).

As well as meeting other people in similar circumstances, eating a very healthy lunch, joining in all the activities designed to help, there are beautiful grounds to walk in, and advice on how to boost our immune systems and a wonderful short film watching cancer cells being eaten up by our own healthy white blood cells (speeded up and looked at through a microscope) which I thought this was really inspiring. Apparently this onslaught is happening all the time in healthy bodies. I believe it can be looked up on utube somewhere.
I'm hoping to go to the centre regularly as I feel its a truly marvellous place and I consider myself lucky to live in a city within reach of it.

I was very pleased to see that my brother, Eddie Bluelights, has put in a new post. I had thought that he might never be able to blog again as he has found things very difficult since last April, when his wife passed away. It is very difficult to lose a beloved partner of 40years and his lovely creative writing brought tears to my eyes and I found it was really beautiful. I think it is an excellent way to release his feelings and I hope that he will find it very healing to open up like this. So please pop over and give him your support.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

A New Week

Photo Copyright: Maggie May

It is now the beginning of a new week since I put my pet rabbits into care. I obviously miss them like mad, but life goes on and they are settling into their new surroundings, according to their new foster mum who has phoned me a few times, knowing how upset I was to part with them.
I have kept busy which I find is always the best way to get over anything sad or upsetting.

One of the mad things I did yesterday, was to queue up for nearly two hours to see the 80 Gromits en masse in what used to be a very large department store in a better part of Bristol, at the moment lying temporarily vacant.
Bristol has gone slightly mad over these brightly painted model dogs previously scattered all over the city and surrounding areas, now collected up and put in the exhibition before being auctioned off in aid of the Bristol Children's Hospital Charity.
I was very impressed by the excellent behaviour of the many pre school aged babies and toddlers who queued patiently when I was in what must have been a thousand or so people in a long snake round the local roads.  Slowly we crept to the entrance as people trickled out of the exhibition in ones and twos.

 Apparently, visitors have come to see the Gromits  not only from the EU countries but from the far east, Australia and New Zealand and many other parts of our own country. Wallace and Gromit seem to be very popular everywhere. Of course, we are very proud of the fact that they were created in Bristol by Nick Park and his team.
I thought it well worth the wait.
I'm glad that I went to the exhibition yesterday, though, because Radio Bristol are now saying the queue started very early today and there is awaiting time of 6 hours. The exhibition only lasts for a few more days and school aged children only have this weekend to see them.
I am a bit puzzled as to how people are managing with no toilets at the end of the wait. Trust me to think of something like that.

Harry is now on the drug trial and so far he seems fine. While taking this drug, he has to avoid eating anything containing oranges, grapefruit and star fruit. It is surprising just how many manufactured foods contain orange extract of some sort, so we have to be very careful to read ingredients and to check out home made cakes.
Do you all use orange juice regularly in homemade cakes?

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Heartbreaking Week

Sorry that I am really down at the moment. I had thought that I wouldn't blog anymore but I guess that would be over reacting.
I eventually signed my rabbits into the refuge yesterday and all their equipment went with them.
I know that it is for the best for them, but I am going to miss them so much as they lived in our home and they were very much a part of our lives.
The last week before they were taken, was the worst bit. As the countdown started, I got more and more depressed. The actual handing over was not so difficult but now, a day later, I feel as bad as ever again.
The weather is cold and rainy. Surely there is something good just round the corner?

Harry starts his drug trial this coming week and that brings about some really worrying thoughts because, as its not been approved yet, there are some nasty, possibly dangerous and unknown side affects. He has a two in three chance of getting the drug but he might be given the placebo and that will not be good either as he is getting tired and experiencing more pain as the wretched disease progresses.
I'm sorry that this is a depressing post, though you don't have to read it or comment on it.
I am very grateful for support and your comments though.
Hoping to be more cheerful as the time progresses and I get more used to things.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Summer Incentive

Photos Copyright: Maggie May

I've continued to go Gromit hunting throughout the summer and spotted this one......

 and this one..........

and this one.........  Altogether I think I visited about 66 out of the 80 scattered about our city and surroundings, so far. (Except that ones in London.)
This helped me to visit places that I would never have thought of going to before and I think I now know Bristol a bit better than I thought I did before.
I met young people who stopped to talk but far more older people, either alone or in couples. If anyone spies another person with a Gromit map in their hand, then a conversation strikes up. "Have you seen this one?"  "Do you know how to get to such and such a place?" "I can't find this one."
This project has attracted so many people and has given me an incentive to get out and about and I really enjoyed hunting them down.
The weather was extremely warm and dry, which helped.

However, with only a week or so before the wedding, I was battling with not feeling at all well and noticed a couple of lumps in my neck.
My own GP scared me by saying, if I didn't get to Oncology as an emergency, then they would ring from the surgery and book me in.  Of course they had to cover themselves because the nature of the cancer that I'd had previously in 2009, was in the lymph.
I had to wait almost a week to get into the Oncology Clinic and between my GP and the cancer nurse that I spoke to on the phone, I was convinced that I was definitely suffering a recurrence.
I was immediately worrying about how I'd cope with a sick husband and wondered who would be able to look after my rabbits.  (Not the easiest of pets to look after.)
With this in mind, I rang up a lovely lady who runs a small rescue shelter for rabbits and who had told me she would take my bunnies in if I got sick again. So it was arranged that they could be taken in with the possibility of being rehoused after the summer holidays when she'd finished boarding out rabbits.

I was rather surprised to hear that Oncology were not unduly worried about the glands in my neck as they were symmetrical in shape and size and the Consultant thought I was obviously fighting off some illness. She gave me a thorough examination and after finding nothing to be suspicious of, told me to come back in a fortnights time.

My daughter had promised to take Harry back to the east coast with her to give me a break before the wedding. Unfortunately it was the week that I had to wait to see the Oncologist so I was neither well nor relaxed while he was away. I forced myself to Gromit hunt though, so that I wouldn't be moping in the house thinking the worst.
Anyway, Harry came back home in time for the wedding but everyone had been worried and the preparations running up to that week had been tainted by the possibility of my cancer returning.

What will I do about my rabbits? Reluctantly, I have decided to let them go to the Rescue Centre because I believe in the long run it will be for the best. They stand a better chance of getting used to the great outdoors before the winter sets in and before they get used to the central heating in our house. They will be housed most of the time in the owner's huge shed. That lady is nutty about rabbits and has been doing this work for 25 years and is totally dedicated to the cause. She vets out all applicants to see if they are suitable pet owners and she gets everyone to sign a form to promise that they will bring back the pets if it doesn't work out for them and they wouldn't be passed on to a third party who might know nothing about rabbit care.
In the meantime it is breaking my heart and the precious days left with them are slipping away fast.
It is my greatest sacrifice for a long time because I know that sooner or later, I won't be so lucky health wise and I have to think of them longterm....... 

Monday, 26 August 2013

Seeing Red

Harry and I had a very lovely weekend as Sam and Sandy married each other in our local Register Office which was followed by a fantastic reception in what used to be a Stately Home but it is now a country pub in beautiful surroundings with a huge hall for all the guests to do their own thing. In many ways, it was an unconventional wedding. The most noticeable thing being that the bride dressed in red and the groom had a matching red waistcoat.
Their four children each wore outfits that suited their personalities best. The youngest in a lovely netted, flouncy dress with a bolero in contrasting colour. The two middle girls, being tom boys, dressed in suits with brightly coloured waist coats and the eldest being a boy, decided on a dark suit with red highlights.
The guests were invited to take part in the entertainment and several relatives and friends recited monologues or sang or said something significant.
This was all followed by some really wild dancing, which I felt was really amazing.
It is a long time since I enjoyed myself so much, though it was an effort for Harry because of his illness but he enjoyed it too. He finds it hard to stay up late, though.
My daughter and grandsons stayed with us over the weekend mainly because of the wedding but also to bring back Harry, who had spent a week near London with that branch of the family supposedly to give me a break. However that is another tale for another time.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

My Favourite

Photocopyright: Maggie May

I've been trying to hunt down some of the Gromits that have been scattered around Bristol. Altogether, there are 80 but one is in Paddington, London and some are in very remote places, beyond my reach. 
So far, I have found about 25 and hope to visit some others within bus and walking distance, very soon.
I think the one in the picture, named Dog Rose, is my favourite.
Most of my relatives and friends are, or have been, on holiday over the past two weeks, so searching for Gromits has given me something to do.

I'm feeling a bit under the weather and plagued by what I hope, is Arthritis, and nothing else. I have to see my Consultant in early Sept, so in the mean time I keep going and hope for the best.
Harry, is not doing so well, either, now that his chemo is over and he is thinking of going on a drugs trial to help others who will be going through Prostate Cancer in the future. Its all you can do really, isn't it?

Sunday, 4 August 2013

When A Small, Furry Creature Gets Sick

Photo Copyright: Maggie May

This is the way two healthy bunnies should be, munching their breakfast. However, if a rabbit becomes lethargic and stops eating for very long, the outcome can become very serious and sometimes fatal.
Their digestive systems are delicate and they need to be eating much of the day to keep everything working well.
When Lily went off her food last Thursday evening, I thought she must be suffering from the heatwave as we have no air conditioning in Britain. I opened all the doors but obviously couldn't leave windows or doors open when we went to bed and I wasn't sure how safe it would be to leave a portable fan running all night unattended.
The next day, she seemed worse, so I made a quick decision to take her to the vet because they aren't open from Saturday lunchtime till the following Monday. The large after hours emergency practice is in a different area so that I wouldn't have been able to get her there.
I set off with my animal carrier to my local vet and considered myself very fortunate that I erred on the side of caution and nipped things in the bud. She needed four injections and the bill was fairly hefty. 
Within 24 hours she seemed back to her normal self.
I was quite pleased with my quick thinking.

On Saturday evening, I noticed Ash was very off colour and he appeared to be completely disinterested in food or drink. He sat hunched up with his eyes half shut and his fur looking very unkempt....the picture of abject misery. His ears were trembling uncontrollably.
My son and a friend who I can count on, who both have cars were away on holiday. In fact most people who would normally help me were on holiday. I thought there might be someone at Church who might take the poor animal to the emergency vet. There was nothing for it but to leave the bunny until the next day. 
I had a very sleepless night. I expect most of you will be groaning with boredom and impatience if you have got this far, but I am very attached to these two furry creatures who are part of my extended family.

I got up at five am and crept down to see the state of the patient and noticed that he had moved and was using his tray.
Relieved to see he obviously wasn't dying, I managed to get two hours sleep.
Needless to say, Ash did recover by himself and he ate some breakfast when I offered it to him later on. By then, I could have throttled him because of all the worry that he'd caused.

Now the point of this account is...... that many people I spoke to said they wouldn't pay for expensive treatment for a rabbit. They would take their dog or cat to a vet, but anything small and furry must take its chance without treatment. I was fortunate that Ash recovered without  any injections but it could have got really bad by the time I got him to the vet and then might have been too difficult to treat as rabbits illnesses have to be caught early. As the rabbits live indoors, anything wrong with them is noticed earlier than a rabbit left in a hutch outside so that was an added bonus.

Surely, if one takes on an animal as a pet, no matter how small, then it is one's responsibility to get it treated if it gets sick. Otherwise maybe that animal should not have been taken on in the first place.
What do others think?

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Horse Power

Photo Copyright: Maggie May

Today, the weather turned from a dry heatwave to rain but Amber, my granddaughter didn't mind because she was doing her favourite thing...... horse riding. Although I always knew that her passion was in horse riding lessons, I had never attended one with her before.  It was a good tonic for me to watch her on her trusted steed because her pleasure was obvious from the very start.
Although I suspect that many young girls love horses too, this one cannot wait until she is twelve so that she can come in regularly and muck out the horses and help with leading them in and out of the ring, saddling them up or whatever else needs to be done in the smooth running of the horsey world. There seemed to be a team of such girls helping out at the stables and they appeared to be pretty dedicated too.

Horse riding is something that I never did as a child. In fact, it would have been a very unusual thing to do in that era so close after World War Two with all the hardships we had to endure and the only time any of us got to do anything remotely like it was an annual visit to the sea with ride on a donkey thrown in for good measure.
Although I wasn't by any means a rich child, I suppose I was better off than quite a few but the standards are so different today and children seem to have so much more materially than any of us did, with trips abroad being the normal thing for most families and all the technical apparatus that they seem to have in a normal household. However, I had so much more freedom compared to children these days. We roamed the countryside and did some rather dangerous things by ourselves. I didn't think I missed out on material things then and looking back, I am glad I was born when I was because I don't think there was the same pressure that children face today. Life seemed to be lived at a more leisurely pace and children seemed to stay children for much longer.
I wonder if others are glad to have been born when they were?

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Rabbit Droppings To The Rescue

Photo Copyright: Maggie May

It's official now. Six days of 30+C (that's up in the 80F range) and no rain means its a heatwave. Although the farmers and gardeners are struggling and I dare say that we will be threatened with a hose pipe ban if it goes on too long, it makes a welcome change from the cold and damp that we had previously. When I think about the wet Summer we had last year and our late Spring this year, it seems incredible.
British homes, as a general rule, don't have air conditioning so that we do tend to swelter when it gets like this. Electric fans are a must though when relaxing in a chair. However, it is always a treat to go into a supermarket where there is air conditioning and cool down before the trek home in the heat and of course its good to have a cool shower.

The Clematis, roses and all the other plants in my garden are all doing well. I have been throwing rabbit droppings on the soil around the roots of many shrubs that were looking tired and that seems to have given them a new lease of life. As far as I'm concerned, one can never have too many rabbit droppings.

Harry has finished his 10th chemo which he's tolerated with stoical determination. I'm hoping that he will have a bit of respite from his cancer now and that he will be able to enjoy and take part in Sam and Sandy's wedding that is now only a month away. They have found a very picturesque place to have the reception that will make a good backdrop for photos and the grounds will provide a lovely play area for the 20 or so children who will be attending.

It is nearly the end of term now and we have both been to see the children in their school musicals. Millie played a villager in The Pied Piper Of Hamelin which was a delight to watch and she spoke her lines very clearly and confidently.
Amber was an orphan in Oliver and I must say that they are a very talented group of children and the singing was extremely good.
So now we are nearing the end of the early breakfasts and keeping an eye on the clock in order to move on to the next activity and I daresay that it will take a bit of getting used to having time on our hands. However, there are books to be read and endless sunshine....... What more can anyone ask?

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Spot The Gromit

Photo Copyright: Maggie May

All over Bristol there are colourful Gromits hiding in secret paces and this is just one of them.
Surely there isn't anyone alive who has never heard of Wallace and Gromit?
Bristolians' are very proud of these characters, who appear in animated films, because they originated here in this city.

This project is all in aid of charity and the Bristol Children's Hospital will benefit from the proceeds of the kind people who sponsored and painted them and the eventual auctioning of these beautiful creations.
Last year we had gorillas everywhere and it is such fun for families to go on The Trail to find them.

Would you believe that two of the Gromits were vandalised on the very same day that they were put on show and are being repaired right now.
Who would do such a thing and why?

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

The Scent Of Roses

Photo Copyright: Maggie May

Just now, there are so many different flowers giving off such sweet fragrances.......roses, honeysuckle, and alyssum to name a few. Not so long ago it was wallflowers and violas giving off their lovely scent. 

As I pass different gardens when out walking and I smell the sweet aroma of a variety of flowers, I am taken back to my childhood experiences of them. I can remember always finding plants attractive and on one occasion when I was only about five years old I crept up a neighbour's path and thought I would pick some flowers to take home. We didn't have any like that in our garden and they smelled so beautiful. Suddenly, there was a rap at the window and the irate neighbour shook her fist at me. I ran, terrified that I would be punished and I realised that I had committed an offence.

Smells can evoke such powerful memories. Some beautiful and some not so pleasant, like the strong smell of disinfectant in hospitals and the scent of boiled cabbage at nursery that fills me with horror even to this day. Probably because I had my nose held while it was poked down my throat at nursery school while I was gagging and struggling. It wouldn't be allowed to happen today, thankfully. 
I hate the smell of pineapple because when I'd had my tonsils out at twelve years old, this was also poked down my throat in hospital because I didn't want to eat it as the juice stung my throat horribly.

I can remember that I loved the smell of wallflowers and to this day when I smell them, I'm taken back to a very young child marvelling at a neighbours flower bed before I had to run away.
The smell of roses takes me back to when I was a tiny child, at a June fair, dressed in crepe paper dress and throwing rose petals from a wicker basket in front of the May Queen, who we all thought was really beautiful.
What smells bring back vivid memories for you?

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Heady Ceanothus

Photo Copyright: Maggie May

Since my last post, there has been an improvement in the weather. The Ceanothus at the bottom of the garden has come out in glorious array, giving off a very heady aroma which attracts many bees and hover flies. The warmer, drier weather must have reminded it of its original warmer climate in California because flowering seems to have been delayed this year until now.

Also since the last post, I haven't been troubled by the gas smell. Fingers crossed that it won't come back, whatever it was. I had some useful replies left in my comments and I particularly liked the idea of a gas burp.

Over the last week I have been on a couple of day trips because Harry was feeling well enough to be left on his own. However, his next chemo starts again next week. It soon seems to come round. This is supposed to be the last one....... number 10. It is a lot for any human body to endure. He is very brave.

I have been out on the garden the past few days and have managed chop back some of the appropriate shrubs and do some weeding and tidying up, so I am fairly pleased that my back stood up to the test. I do little and often. Long may this good weather last. I was a bit dismayed to realise that the longest day is now over.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Elusive Smells

Over the last few weeks we have had an enigma in our home in the form of a gas smell that is there one minute and not the next.
When I first noticed it, I rang the company who service my boiler and they sent a man round to check the boiler, where it seemed to be coming from.
They used gadgets to check the meter and the whole system. I was told there was no gas leak in my house and that everything was completely safe.
I felt so relieved that it wasn't anything to worry about and gladly paid the fee for the reassurance that the man had given me. He told me he couldn't smell anything.
In case you are wondering if I was imagining it or that I have a faulty sense of smell, Harry had also smelt it. In fact I think he was the first to notice it.

A week went on without a problem and then, to my dismay, we noticed the smell again. This time, I decided to ignore it because it was there one minute and just when I was beginning to panic, it disappeared without trace.
After several days of this, I still felt very uneasy and decided to ring the Gas Board Emergency Service. Surely they would find something wrong?
They were round within half an hour and did a free extensive search both in my home and next doors. They used all sorts of gadgets to test everything and a smoke test on the chimney flue. Everything was passed as safe and I was assured that their equipment would pick up minute amounts of gas leaking and set all their alarms off full pelt. Nothing happened and they could not smell anything.
Feeling very reassured and being told that the most likely cause was a rotting bird behind the boiler that would smell similar to gas. 
Well that was over a week ago and yesterday we smelt it again.
I have been assured that a gas leak would be constant and not come and go like it is doing. However, surely a rotting bird would be constant too and quite honestly I don't think it is a rotting beast.
Has anyone else had a similar problem?