Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Happy New Year

Hoping you all had a good Christmas. We really enjoyed ours and it seems to have gone by really quickly.
Does everyone wait until twelfth night to take down their decorations? Mine are now beginning to annoy me and I'm itching to start taking them down. At least I'll see the New Year in first.

I'm always a bit twitchy about the start of another year as I wonder what delights it has in store for us this time.
Halfway through this year, I lost an older friend to cancer and just before Christmas my long term blogging pal, Irene died of it too. I am missing both of them very much.

Does anyone make New Year Resolutions?
This morning, one of the Radio Bristol presenters said he was going to speak to everyone he met with a suitable greeting such as "Good Morning".  I thought that was a pretty good idea and thought I might adopt it.
However, as I was walking out this afternoon, I realised that might not be such a good idea as I live in the city and rub shoulders with dozens of people who might think I'd gone potty. I'm going to adapt that idea a bit and speak to at least two people I don't know each day and try to be cheerful to them.
What are you going to do if you've made a New Years Resolution?

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Christmas Greetings Everyone.

I've had a very hectic few weeks as we've had to travel 17 miles to a hospital in a neighbouring city so that Harry can be assessed by a neurologist for tests with a view to having a shunt in his head to drain off the excess fluid that is pressing on his brain. This might help him to balance better and improve his quality of life.
He has decided to go for the possible operation and has signed the papers already.
However, in order to qualify for this, he has to have further tests done which might mean an overnight stay in hospital beforehand. However, because we haven't any transport and he cannot get into any vehicle unaided, we have to reply on the NHS ambulance service which does make a very long day when we have to go to these appointments. They are always very kind, though and I don't know what we'd do without them.
The possible operation is a ray of hope for us to cling on to.

I've also been to my granddaughter's nativity play at her school where she had an angel part this time. I really enjoy going to these Christmas activities and I also attended a concert that my daughter in law organised for all her pupils (adults and children) she teaches. They all were very high standard flautists (flute players). Some had not been learning for very long at all. 
Millie, my youngest granddaughter recently did very well in her grade 2 examination. (Well, being a grandmother allows one to brag about the grandchildren, doesn't it?).
I'm looking forward to the Carols By Candlelight Service at Church tomorrow evening. 

 We want to wish you all a very Happy Christmas. We're determined to enjoy ours and look forward to my daughter and grandsons spending a good few days with us over the Christmas period.

Merry Christmas, Peace and Goodwill to all men, women and children.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Dual Carriage (way)?

My two granddaughters are of dual heritage (Anglo/Japanese) and strangely enough, most of their favourite friends over the years are also of mixed race, in various forms. They obviously feel akin to people whose parents come from two different lands, even if it seems to be at a subconscious level.
It really doesn't seem to have bothered them in any way, but as my youngest and her friends are now nearing ten, there are obviously some questions being asked.
My friend, Audrey, recently told me that nine year old, Ruby, who is a beautiful coffee colour, began to ask her, "Mummy, am I black or white?"
Audrey explained in depth about Ruby's mixed heritage and thought, well that was that, as she seemed satisfied with her answer.
However, Ruby was later overheard to be saying something to her sister that included the remark, "......after all, I am dual carriage."

Friday, 21 November 2014

Good Neighbours

Photo copyright: Maggie May

Aren't Spider's webs beautiful? When you come to think about it, they are so cleverly and laboriously made, considering they come from a creature that causes so much distaste and fear, to some, anyway You either love them or hate them, especially if they accidentally brush right across your face when you walk through the garden.
This one was noticed before I loaded my washing on the rotary one early morning when the dew was still on it.

We're still having mild weather and I have roses out in bloom which seems really weird in November.
I have seen on TV the havoc that parts of USA are having with heavy snow falls at present and obviously the weather is really being affected by Global Warming. No one seems to be getting their normal weather anymore.

I have some good neighbours and every bin collection that is due, Karen's husband kindly wheels my whole assortment of bins and recycling boxes out to the pavement on the evening before collection. I also wheel out my other neighbour's bin because he keeps forgetting to empty his. This struck me as rather funny. The one with a bad back having her bins moved to save her from being injured, who then wheels out another neighbour's bin because he keeps muddling up when he has to put it out. Between us, though, everybody seems to be happy. 
Have you got good neighbours?

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Ancient and Modern

Photo Copyright: Maggie May

I recently went into our city Cathedral on impulse on one of my Thursday afternoons off. I hadn't been there for a good while and although I had to be careful walking in a dimly lit building because the floor levels seemed quite uneven in places with unexpected steps going up or down, I did feel that the windows were so spectacular and luckily I had my camera with me. 
I'm sure my photos don't do them justice but I was overawed by the magnificence of the large windows in the traditional style of Bible illustrations and I was also taken with this small modern one in a corner that I found by chance.
The whole place had a kind of aura of peace and I felt quite small thinking of all the generations of people who had worshipped there and walked before me.
There were memorial stones underfoot wherever I went and tombstones in recesses.
Do other people have these sensations when they go into a very old building/church/cathedral?

Our weather seems to be really muddled and we have experienced sunny days followed by constant rain. A bad day can follow a good one and then it goes back to the bad. The temperature of each day is very varied too from mild to decidedly chilly. I should think the flora and fauna would be really baffled by it.

I was very moved to see the thousands of ceramic poppies that were put around the Tower of London, in a place that used to be the moat. It was meant to be a sea of blood, to represent the soldiers lost in all the recent wars, from WW1 to the present time. Although I got to see it on TV, I wasn't able to go to London. There were thousands upon thousands of individual poppies that were *planted* there, each one representing a soldier who was killed. Even viewing it on TV gave me a really moving feeling of all the suffering that had been caused in the past and is still being caused through war today.
I think you could still Google the Tower of London poppies if you haven't seen this spectacle that was created by an artist for Armistice day on 11th November.

I am amazed/almost dismayed at the amount of Christmas things that are already filling up the shops. Apart from vaguely totting up whether I shall have enough Christmas cards, I haven't given it much thought.
I have some important Birthdays to get through first.
Is it too soon to be thinking of Christmas?

Saturday, 1 November 2014

My Least Favourite.....

I think I can honestly say that November is my least favourite month.
However it started in a really strange way, being unusually warm and sunny.
There was a BBC News announcement yesterday, saying that Halloween was the warmest ever recorded. We were walking around in short sleeves and this was unheard of when I was young and probably in all the years that I can remember and that's quite a few.
I've recently had my daughter and the two grandsons staying for the best part of a week. It was really lovely to have them. The youngest one is now over 6ft tall and almost knocks his head when he goes through the kitchen archway.
Now they have left, it is quiet and Harry and I are getting into our routine again. He loves routine and I suppose it helps me to get everything done in some kind of order. 
I organised the helper to come on Thursday even though I had visitors and I was really pleased that I was taken to Clevedon, a small seaside resort fairly near to Bristol but too far for me to normally go in the allotted time that the sitter is here, in my daughter's car. That was a lovely treat, especially as the weather was so pleasant. I noticed I was not as good at walking as I was when I last went there a couple of years ago. Cranky hip and knee pain and a numb foot slows me down considerably. Oh well, what can you expect at my age?
I thought I would just mention that I'm having a bit of a problem leaving comments on some blogs, so I'm sorry about that. It is mainly when people use Blogger+ and I've decided not to use it. I also find that some other types of blogs won't let me comment either. I wonder if there is some kind of button that some of you haven't pressed to let ordinary bloggers in?
One other of my blogging friends has also noticed this. Have any of you had problems?

Friday, 17 October 2014

The Village Wedding

Anyone who's visited my home over the last six months will be able to now say, "Well, thank Goodness you've got that done at long last."It has taken me all of that time to complete this 1000 piece jigsaw. I did have a good rest from it over the summer but family and friends have seen it lurking about in the front room (lounge) in various stages of being put together, but definitely incomplete. 
I was quite inspired by the figures inside the picture but what was so difficult was the large volume of sky and the country path that are not seen in the photo as I sort of zoomed in a bit on the centre.
In case anyone is wondering, the original picture was painted by Sir Samuel Luke Fildes (1843-1927). I must admit that I'd never heard of him but it's the kind of picture that appeals to me.

I am grateful for the way that I can get absorbed in a jigsaw the same way as I can read a book, tackle an easy crossword or a do simple sudoko but I think the jigsaw is more creative and meditative.
I must admit that I do shut myself into the front room quite often. How people can live in a small flat or house with their *other half* around them all the time, I shall never know. All I can say is that you're a better person than I am if you can do that.
Do you like to live in each other's pockets or do you like to spread out? What type of person are you?

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Weather For Frogs Maybe.......

Photo Copyright: Maggie May

There's a real feel of Autumn in the weather now and we've had much cooler, shorter days and our share of rain and high winds too. I guess that is fine for frogs and ducks..... but I like it a bit warmer.
I'm glad of the new central heating that we had installed during the summer, though I'll have to ask our son, Sam, to show us how to operate the settings as I am a technophobe about such things. For the time being, though, I can work it manually, which is sufficient for now.

For those who are wondering about the slugs coming into the kitchen (look at my last post), I think I've solved the problem. I have put cardboard in the gaps between the bottom of the units and the floor. It was such a small space that I wouldn't have thought that a slug could make itself that small. They will eventually eat through the card but I have lots more. Of course, it doesn't explain how they got in under the units in the first place as I can't see any possible place from outside. Other people tell me they're having the same problem, which helps a bit.

Harry's health is much the same. We get good days and bad but on the whole, we're still in a good routine. If I can keep things ticking away like this, we'll be fine. 
Today is my day off, when his carer comes to sit with him. It's not quite so appealing to be out in the colder weather, but I guess I'll find plenty of indoor things to do and will wrap up warm.
I have some shopping to do and then I'll have a little think.........

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Not In MY House

Slugs have always given me the creeps but I have always left them alone outside.
I haven't used slug pellets because of the frogs, toads, hedgehogs, birds and other small creatures who might be affected by eating the poisoned slug.
However, my patience is fast running out. 
For the past week I've noticed small brown slugs crawling up onto my work bench after dark. At first I couldn't believe my eyes and the offensive first few were carefully removed with tissue and thrown outside. I sprayed the tops with disinfectant which I left neat on the counter tops, feeling sure that they'd be killed if they came back. That proved to be no big deal to them and they just travelled around it.
I've searched high and low for a hole or entry point. How would a slug get into my kitchen? Or to be more realistic...... how would an army of slugs get in?
They don't give me a trail to follow to an entry point. That in itself seems strange.
In fact they seem to be very clever in evading detection.
Last night, I thought I'd get the better of them and I left a sprinkling of salt on the floor near the place they seem to choose to climb up to the tops, thinking that would surely finish them off but no........ I went in there late in the evening and saw them just skirting round the salt and seemingly unharmed by it.
Tonight I will be forced to put down slug pellets on the floor. 
Can't think what else to do short of napalming the whole area!
Any ideas?

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Summer Break!

We continue to have beautiful weather and it looks like we are experiencing what we call an Indian Summer. Our weather seems mixed up, probably due to climate change, as August was not a good month at all. We are continually being surprised.

Harry and I are settling into a good routine and we seem to be growing accustomed to each other's needs.
Obviously there are good days and there are bad ones but to keep on an even keel like we are at present, seems good.
I just went into the garden to drink a mug of tea while I sat in the sun. I heard a bit of a crack..... fortunately I noticed the metal seat was giving way on one side before I reached the ground. I know I'm a bit overweight but didn't think enough for a metal seat to break. I noticed it had corroded with rust underneath on one side so I'm let off rapid dieting.
Now I have to think whatever to do with the cumbersome thing, as it's wrecked beyond repair!

I'm quite enjoying having the upstairs all to myself and am getting the bedrooms in some kind of order.
My new cleaner comes in for the first time next week and I feel I have to get everything tidier.
I wasn't sure which room I actually did sleep in as I seemed to have things spread over in different rooms because Harry was needing a room to himself so I was moving about a bit while we were in a state of uncertainty.
Now I've decided, I'm back in the front and I'm slowly moving my things there.
In the meantime, Harry really loves his bedsit downstairs and we both seem to get a reasonable nights sleep.
So it seems we are both benefitting from the new arrangement.

Millie our youngest granddaughter still comes for breakfast most mornings before school. Amber, her older sister started secondary school this term so I don't see much of her now.
However, I was coming home from a shopping trip in town the other afternoon and I saw a person who was taking up a double seat because of a musical instrument and I asked if I could sit there. What a surprise when the person smiled and I saw I'd sat next to Amber. She looked so grown up in her school uniform and the instrument was a trombone that she is learning to play.
We had a lovely chat and she got out her music to show me. She is most fortunate to get into a very good school where music is predominant.
I wonder what the chances were, of me getting on that very bus in our busy city, at just the right time and attempting to sit on that very same seat next to Amber?

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Home Sweet Home

Harry has been longing to come home for most of the days of the month that he's been in hospital. The first week that he was there, he really couldn't remember a thing about how he got there or why he was in hospital in the first place. In fact he can't remember any of it.
Maybe that was for the best as he gave all the family a really bad scare, being practically unconscious for the first week.
The following three weeks, he steadily improved for the better, though at the beginning I was very doubtful that I could look after him when he was discharged. Well, he has been home for two days now and we fixed him up in a bed downstairs as he isn't safe to walk up and down the stairs any more.
When he first saw the new arrangement, he was very pleased with his new *bedsit* with everything in it for his needs that would make him happy.

Although I was very nervous about having him home, as I wondered if I had it in me to provide for all his needs, the first two days have gone well. We make a good team. I didn't think that I would sleep at all for worrying about him being downstairs and wondered if I'd hear him if he needed me. He finds it peaceful after all the hustle and bustle, lights and noise, buzzers wailing and people calling out for help in the hospital ward.
I have managed to sleep for five to six hours per night, so I can manage on that.
In the end, I didn't have the offer of six weeks free help so I decided to look after Harry myself. 

For those who don't know about our *free* National Health Service (that seems to attract so many overseas people), I find the treatment is good, though you might have to wait to get it and queue for hours. We are used to it over here. I have a lot to thank them for.
To us, it isn't really free, as all our working lives, we've had money from wages stopped towards it and at one time that would have meant free treatment from the cradle to the grave. Not any more though.
I feel the thing that is really bad, is the aftercare of the elderly who need ongoing care from hospital.
If you have no money then the basics are free. If you've saved, then you have to pay, even if you aren't wealthy and have little income coming in.

I soon sussed out that it was a better deal for me to provide the personal care that Harry needs and to pay for a cleaner to come in to do the basics that I now haven't time for. I'm seriously thinking of having a monthly gardener too. That should free me up no end to give Harry the care he needs.

It is still lovely late summer weather and that makes everything seem better, somehow and of course, I don't have to visit the hospital every day and climb that huge hill!
Bristol is a lovely city in many ways, but it's impossible to go far without climbing a hill.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

The Last Surge of Summer.

I had hoped that if I waited long enough then I would have something different to report about Harry's predicament but I thought I'd better do an update as people are wondering what is happening. He's been in hospital for three weeks now and I've managed to visit him daily. Walking up the huge hill every day seems to be keeping me fit and my back and hip problems seem to be calming down a little.

He will be coming home soon and I'm going to have to try harder to cope with the fact that he's now less able than he was before.
I will have more free help for the first six weeks but I'm going to be left pretty much on my own with it after that. However, six weeks is a long time to me.

In the mean time we are having a last surge of summer weather and it has been warm and sunny again which is a real bonus.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Stuck Between A Rock And A Hard Place

The very next day from the last post I wrote, Harry started to be very ill and although I'd called the doctor, by the next day on my Thursday afternoon out, his carer phoned me to say that Harry was in a state of collapse and he was getting the ambulance. Fortunately, I was only ten minutes away because I knew he wasn't well and had decided to stay in the local vicinity.
He was kept in a general hospital for a few days and then transferred to the Bristol Cancer Hospital, where he still is now.
Trouble is, each time he has one of these episodes, he is left more disabled than the last time. I have noticed that he is now unable to transfer from bed to any apparatus he needs without support. I see that in the hospital he has a notice over his bed stating that he needs 2 people to support his weight. I know in my heart I'm not physically capable of supporting or lifting him. I know my own health problems and weaknesses, though I love him and want to help him. He deserves that.

I now learn he doesn't have the criteria to go into a Nursing Home as he is too able bodied and I would have to fully fund it if I insisted. They can't tell me how long this situation is likely to go on.
I wonder what state of physical decline I would have to get into before I get listened to?
The NHS is in a tricky situation, I know, but there must be thousands of carers at their wit's end trying to cope with situations like this or even worse. The only thing we can do is empathise with each other as no one else can possibly know what its like until they get into this situation.

I really can't apologise enough to all the people who I normally visit and leave comments on their blog.
I don't seem to be able to get much time for blogging although I really want to keep things going.
Please bear with me for a while........

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Thursday Afternoons

Photo Copyright: Maggie May

Thursday afternoons come round quite quickly. 
It is my time of respite when a carer comes in to sit with Harry and keep him company, maybe take him out or just see that he keeps safe while I'm gone.
I get 4hours to myself.
I sometimes manage to get into town and see some different shops and buy things that I can't normally get in my local high street.
Other times I get a bus to The Downs and sit in a shady place reading a good book or just sit and people watch.
Sometimes I meet up with a friend.
The Avon Gorge in the photo above is a picture I took looking down from one of my Thursday walks before my hip started to hurt. I hurt my back and hip while trying to push Harry along our awful pavements in a wheelchair about six weeks ago. I won't be doing that again and I'm still having a lot of pain from it.
I go to the Museum or walk round the Water Front, off the Centre of Bristol but seem to be running out of ideas. Many of these things need to be done in the better weather, which we now seem to be running out of.

I am really grateful for this time to myself.
However, what I'd really like to do is to hop on a bus to our local seaside or go to the Cinema but there isn't time. The hours that I've been allocated don't fit in with the right time for the Cinema and coincide with the rush hour late afternoon.
Unfortunately, because we haven't a car, it would take too long to get out of the city and then back in. Even with a car it might be difficult to get back across the City. It is too stressful to even think about in case I didn't get back in time after the carer left.

I've recently started going to a Carer's course run by our local Hospice. The course is only for a few weeks and I've met people with similar and also very different situations. It does help to share and we all have similar feelings. I realise that compared to some I am very lucky. It must be awful to look after a young person with *locked in* syndrome, as one in the group  has to do ....... maybe for years and years.
There is always someone in a very much worse position than myself.
I think the group does help me in that respect.
I am not alone with it.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Have I Gone Too Far?

As I still help with the local Brownie pack one night a week, I was really looking forward to a *hedgehog rescue lady* coming to talk about them and possibly bringing some along for us to see.
Well, she did bring one round for us to see, but not touch. It was one that couldn't be returned to the wild because it was *not too bright* and didn't have the instincts to keep away from humans or other animals. The one she brought would need to live in the sanctuary for the rest of its life for it's own safety.
I've always been quite fond of hedgehogs ...... not that they seem to be prolific round our way and they do get squashed on the roads in the country side and towns alike. Other than that, I don't really see any but they do seem to be lovely little beasts who keep the garden free from slugs and snails and need to be encouraged at all costs.
I was first introduced to them at an early age through Beatrix Potter's The Tale of Mrs Tiggy-Winkle book.

I came away from the Brownie pack meeting a changed person.
From then on, I squashed my washed out tins of food before putting them into the collection bins as hedgehogs often get their heads stuck and end up being horribly injured or starved to death. The same with yoghurt containers that are now slashed down the sides and plastic bags that are tied in a knot before going into the waste. Netting is really horrible stuff that needs to be knotted so as not to entangle little creatures.
There were whole lists of things to do and not to do in order to keep the hedgehog population from extinction.
Human beings do seem to be sending these prickly creatures to an early grave as well as our pets who also maul them about.
So now I go for walks and notice other peoples' hedgehog hazards. Instead of looking at their lovely displays of plant life, I'm noticing things in their waste containers that need to be squashed and made safe.

I recently found myself watching an unfortunate spider that had fallen into a tray under my dish draining rack. The spider had got soap on its legs and was struggling to get out of the rack. I put a tissue from the water to the other side of the tray (as I don't like spiders so didn't want to touch it but felt sorry for its predicament.) 
After a while my plan worked. It recovered enough to climb up the paper and ran to safety, amongst my dish mops.
Have I taken this *saving creatures* lark too far?
The spider is still out there in my kitchen somewhere.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Glorious Purple

Photo copyright: Maggie May

We've been experiencing the hottest summer for years. It is really lovely to be able to dry all the washing so quickly and always be warm. Only occasionally has the atmosphere been oppressive with storms or the nights too hot to sleep. 
Everything in the garden has done really well this year including this clematis. I wish I knew it's name. There are hundreds of different varieties so will probably never be able to identify it.
Maybe some one else might know?

Photo copyright Maggie May

Friday, 18 July 2014

Wheelchair Madness

I've been looking after Harry for the last 6 weeks or so and before that was visiting him daily in hospital for nearly a month.
After he came home, I thought we'd got into a fairly good routine which started early in the morning and finished with me rolling into bed by 10.30 which by my usual standards seems very early.
However, I've been very tired and seem very ready for sleep by then.

Everything was ticking along in a fairly smooth way until I borrowed a wheelchair.
As Harry was getting fed up with being trapped indoors, I thought it would be good for him to be able to go to church again or even go for short walks.
Trouble is, Bristol is very hilly and there is no area that doesn't face a moderate to steep hill to get to it.

I thought I'd sussed out a really level way to get Harry to Church, but hadn't realised just how wheelchair unfriendly the local area is. We can see the church practically from our house and it would normally take less than five minutes to cross the busy road and walk up the flight of steps into the sanctuary. The wheelchair access is round the back and the roads to get there are rather rough.

There are sometimes cars who park half way onto the pavement right next to a lamp post. I'm sure the owners have no idea that they've left no space for a wheelchair to get through and I'm not strong enough to face the drop of the kerb to the road let alone get him back up again onto the pavement. Where some of the pavements have a lovely surface of tarmac, which is excellent for wheelchair users, everything is ruined by a private lane that crosses the pavement leaving very uneven slabs that are really jarring for the carer to push across and the wheelchair user is very shaken up. Not good for bad backs.

The local hairdresser that Harry has always used has a raised metal bar going across the bottom of the door that is also up a giant step.

Needless to say, my sciatica has come back with a vengeance and now I can hardly walk without excruciating pain let alone push Harry anywhere.

I'm ashamed to say that I've never really given wheelchair users much thought in the past. It is only when seeing it from another angle by necessity, that I've realised just how difficult things can be.
Maybe everyone should have to go around in a wheelchair for a month to make them wheelchair aware. This could be part of a youngsters education.
In the mean time I must just plod on and get on with life best I can.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Thistles versus Gravel

I expect you remember me telling about the waist high thistles in a neighbours enclosed garden and the beautiful Painted Lady butterflies that emerged from them a few weeks ago.

This morning I felt the whole house vibrating and went to investigate outside. We don't get earthquakes of significant magnitude to cause that kind of experience over here, so I was a bit mystified.
My *neighbour with the thistles* was having the workmen in and everything was being raised to the ground, dug up and the earth hammered flat and covered with a membrane. This was later covered over with a thick layer of shingle.
The whole garden is now gravel.
This is what happens when someone absolutely hates gardening.

I'm glad the butterflies had a chance to hatch out before this happened, though I guess there'll be none next year.
One good thing to come out of it is that the yellow thistle flowers didn't have time to develop into seed. Last year I had quite a job to pull out the baby thistles that sprung up all over my garden.

However, I guess the cats will now come over to use my garden for their toilet needs as unless they enjoy digging about in gravel mine might be more appealing. Come to think of it, they may look on the gravel as a giant cat tray. Eek!

Monday, 30 June 2014

Trees Or Toilet Paper?

My Granddaughters come round for breakfast most mornings before school and they go upstairs and brush their teeth and see to their ablutions before leaving.

The other morning, while I was in my bedroom, I overheard a conversation through the bathroom door whilst Amber the oldest was brushing her teeth and Millie the youngest must have been on the toilet.

"Millie, you're using far too much paper. Don't forget the poor trees that have died for you so that you could wipe your bottom!"

In theory, that was quite a touching remark...... except that I haven't really noticed Amber being particularly into conservation and recycling.
Millie is probably into it more...... so you never know, she might try and cut down on the amount she uses.
Its easy to criticise other people's habits though, isn't it? Especially if it's from a sibling.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Painted Ladies

In my last post I described the flocks of butterflies that were swarming all over the gardens and I mistakenly identified them as Peacocks.
They always seemed to be fluttering quite fast and never stayed still for long enough to positively identify them.
One day last week, I was gardening and found one butterfly that was resting in the shade of a honeysuckle hedge so I was able to study it at length. 
It was a Painted Lady which is another common species of British butterfly that lays eggs on thistles. Plenty for the caterpillars to munch on in the neighbour's garden that is filled with them.
 Maybe not quite as spectacular as the Peacocks, but they do look dramatic when they are all fluttering by the dozen and during the late afternoon and early evening they continue to visit in kaleidoscopes, which is the collective name for many, apparently.

Life goes on in a humdrum sort of way in this household. One day is very much the same as the next. Harry continues to make small amounts of progress and has enjoyed sitting out in the garden during our glorious sunshine. The weather is consistently summery and I see that today is the longest day already.
It is still light at ten o'clock in the evening and the sun rises again at 5 am.
It will all start to change from now on, little by little but we should get another two months of summer if we are lucky.

Friday, 13 June 2014

Good Out Of Bad?

My neighbour makes no secret of the fact that he hates gardening and I sometimes do a bit of weeding for him in his small front patch. However, the enclosed garden at the back of his house is full of almost waist high weeds with a lot of thistles.
They eventually pollinate and I have lots of downy seed heads flying into my garden with the breeze. This, of course means lots of weeding eventually for me.

I was surprised that all during yesterday afternoon and especially late evening, the sky seemed full of orange fluttery things flying over our garden and they were spreading all up and down the road. They were definitely coming from the garden filled with weeds!
I was amazed when I went outside to inspect these fluttery beings. I'd never seen so many butterflies in all my life but none of them would stay still for long enough to positively identify which species.
I searched my book on British butterflies and found that Peacocks definitely thrive on thistles and they looked the same size, colour and shape, so I guess that's what they are.
Just goes to show that something good can come out of something bad.

I continue to look after Harry and he is marginally stronger than when he first came out of hospital. Although I am tired, we are getting into a routine now and help seems to be coming in slowly now, in various forms, so progress is being made there, too.


Tuesday, 3 June 2014

It's All About the Little Things........

Photo copyright: Maggie May

Harry was discharged from hospital last Thursday, amidst absolute chaos at home because of the gas central heating conversion that affected nearly every room.
The good thing about allowing him home was that his pain was more or less completely under control. The bad thing was that the plumbers and gas fitters had taken up floor boards in most rooms and that Harry now needs a zimmer frame to get around and he caught a chill because the front and back doors were left open because of fumes in the house. This affected his waterworks ........ need I say more?
Anyway, it has taken me a long time to work out a good routine to care for him and my day starts at 6.15 am and I collapse into bed by 10.30, which I would have considered extremely early until a few weeks ago.
I am manning the ship single handed as many others do, so get very tired. However, since he came home, Harry seems appreciative of the things I do and I find I can leave him for quick local shopping or a bit of gardening and I manage to go out for walks to keep fit.
My Ceanothus is having a ball at present and gives off a heady perfume that seeps into the house especially in the evening.
I am finding that little things, like a bird coming to feed in my garden, sunshine, fragrant scents from flowers or the way the sun shines on the leaves of trees, give me a lot of pleasure.
It's all about the little things and a good routine.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Catch Up

I'm going to do a quick catch up to let everyone know where I've been lately and to apologise for not visiting or commenting for so long.

Harry had to be admitted as an in patient at the Bristol Oncology Centre.  His pain level was way out of control. That was two weeks ago now and he's entering into his third week. I've been spending as much time at the hospital with him as possible as well as trying to keep house and garden up together as well.
I've been very tired but have managed to catch up on my sleep at night.
He is due to be discharged soon...... and he'll now be an invalid so I'll have my work cut out to look after him with my own health problems too. However, I naturally want to do this and will give it my best shot.
He is known as a *bed blocker* and they want him out of that hospital.
The thing is....... I'm having a big central heating change over (boiler update) next week and will have absolute chaos in most rooms. The job is desperate to be done and now is the time of the year to do it. The system is simply gushing out heat in the bedrooms in hot weather and I'm unable to stop it .....perspiring badly as I write this........ or it is too cold in winter.
There is an intermittent smell of gas from behind the boiler so I have just got to have it done. Harry will be discharged very soon.
To make things worse, my new daughter in law's mother had a major stroke over the last weekend and is in a city hospital, lying helpless. Every one is on the verge of exploding with stress and exhaustion.
So blogging has been the last thing on my mind.
I have a phobia about lifts (elevators) and I have to walk up many flights of stairs to avoid them  when I visit these two patients and I am wearing myself out with this and carrying all the washing that I'm taking home daily and bringing back clean things etc, even though this is my own fault as people tell me. So the hospital visiting is not easy .....many because I'm making things hard for myself because of the lift phobia.
Will keep you all posted.
In the mean time Harry's pain level is more acceptable which a good outcome.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Pain, pain, go away

It is really dreadful to watch someone you love having to put up with severe pain. Even more horrifying  to have experienced that particular pain myself before having my course of radiotherapy three years ago.
Unfortunately, Harry has this pain in several different areas of his spine, hip and shoulders due to advanced prostate cancer spread.
He is on painkillers that seem to mask it for a while.
His face goes white when the pain gets bad and he nearly cries.
He is normally a *toughy* and used to be on building sites all his working life, so he is used to roughing it. However, this pain is unbearable at times. He cannot walk very well and sometimes not at all. He has to get up in the night and have the lights on and be helped to the bathroom. By the time we get back to bed, he falls into a deep sleep and starts to snore loudly. I lie awake until the dawn. I am feeling really tired and totally uninspired when it comes to blogging, as well as all the emotional stuff.
Hoping everyone will understand.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Getting Steamed Up.

Photo Copyright: Maggie May

 My daughter had come over from the east coast with my grandsons to spend the four days of the Easter holiday with us, so when we realised that Saturday was a warm, dry day, we packed a picnic and travelled by car setting off mid morning for the Brecon Beacons, which is situated in Wales. We crossed from Bristol via the Second Severn Bridge (three miles long) on which I once did a sponsored walk across and back, the day before the bridge officially opened a good few years ago.
As it turned out, we were wise to choose Saturday for that trip as the two remaining days went much colder with rain.

My grandsons are steam train fanatics and they've visited many different lines in Britain but so far hadn't been to this one and neither had I. I'm getting used to doing this kind of trip with them though Harry didn't feel at all up to going, so he relaxed at home and I'd left him a cold lunch which he had with some soup. I worried about him a bit but he answered all my texts to let me know he was Ok.
We had a lovely time and when we were almost home, I popped into a fish and chip shop that we think are the best in Bristol and I brought home a steaming hot portion for Harry, which he really enjoyed.

It seems very quiet now that the family have all gone and we are just the two of us again.
Hope you all had a happy time too.

Photo Copyright: Maggie May