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Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Pause

467 days ago my life changed when I decided that my best plan would be to keep out of the way of this dreadful virus.  Soon afterwards the law made that policy compulsory for everyone.  I sat down with a large drink and decided that I would just have to make the best of it and I am pleased with how I have coped.  In the beginning it was simple.  No contact with anyone.  It wasn't easy but it was simple.

And we all longed for things to change again so we could see our families and friends, laugh with them, cry with them and just be with them.  To help we kept contact through technology or pen and paper.  We found things to do, we caught up on all sorts of projects which had been neglected, we sorted our homes and waited for the viral storm to pass.  

And while it hasn't exactly passed, we are now freer to do much more than we could a year ago.  We can meet friends in parks and gardens.  Clubs and groups are beginning to meet up in person.  And we are mixing far more.  

But life is feeling more complicated and, for some, it is feeling overwhelming.  The other people with whom we longed to mix are now feeling so demanding.  Things which eighteen months ago would have been so simple now feel so big.  Maybe this is an older person thing: we especially were urged to stay at home and given support to help us do so.

For myself, I am enjoying going out a little but I am saying no to quite a lot of suggestions for socialising, especially in groups.  I am refusing to put too many things on my to-do list.  I am safeguarding time on my own and trying to be gentle on myself.  In this last week I've been shopping, to church, for a family picnic, for a meet with a friend in a local beauty spot (we each took a flask of coffee), to visit family, to arrange a funeral and to arrange a re-affirmation of marriage vows.  But I've said no to other invitations and (for the most part) not felt guilty about it.

Please cut a bit of slack for people who need to take this re-entry fairly slowly.  



Saturday, 19 June 2021

Early to bed and early to rise . . .

 . . . can be pretty boring!

I'm an extreme lark.  I usually wake sometime around 4am and when I wake I really am totally awake.  In the summer I make myself stay in bed until at least 5am but in the summer I get up any time after 4am.  In some ways it's great.  I get loads done before most people are even conscious, but sometimes it feels as though I have to wait a very long time for the rest of the world to have its essential first cup of coffee.

This morning I was up at 4.05am, a time which many people think shouldn't exist.  I sorted my finances, did a few surveys, entered 189 competitions, answered my e mails and then thought about other things to do.  

I decided to go to Brigg.  In fact I was in Brigg by 7.30am.  A quick look around the fruit stall on the market and a visit to the hole-in-the-wall and I was ready for anything but the shops weren't open.  Hmm.  So I decided to go for a (trundle truck) ride along the tow path.

Even in the town centre bushes and wild flowers have been allowed to grow but the cut grass shows them to perfection. 


In the quiet morning I could see the beauty around me.  I felt this native elderflower was as gorgeous as any foreign rhododendron.




The wild roses are at their peak at the moment and this bush flowered generously.  


I thought this gentleman had a very good idea taking advantage of the picnic table as he enjoyed a flask of coffee,  

And I was still able to join the queue waiting for Lidl to open and eight.

And have a very nice snooze after my lunch.

Friday, 18 June 2021

Places


Gunby Hall

This morning I read a post by Sue at My Quiet Life in Suffolk which I thought was brilliant.  She wrote about tennis (not interested in that, I'm afraid) but then she gave a list of local places she hopes to visit in the near future.  Sue describes herself as proud of being Suffolk born and bred and she knows her county really well.  It will be interesting to see her reports of the places she visits and maybe if I plan a holiday in Suffolk, to re-read her many posts about local places of interest.
Clumber Park



Well, I'm proud of being a Yellow Belly, - in other words I'm proud of being Lincolnshire born and bred.  I know my county pretty well and earlier this year I made a list of local places of interest which I hope to visit before too long.  





Gunby Hall

Clumber Park

 Elsham Hall Gardens

Thornton Abbey

Normanby Hall

Gibraltar Point Nature Reserve

Whisby Nature Reserve

Cleethorpes, 

Baumber Walled Garden.

All these have areas which can be visited on my trundle truck but some have areas which will be inaccessible to me.  Some of these I have been to before, some will be new to me.  I wonder if I can visit them all before the end of the year?

Thursday, 17 June 2021

Somewhere for a picnic lunch

 Meet-ups with friends have been difficult until recently but I'd long been promising Katy that we could meet for lunch.  I'm still not happy going into cafes and restaurants so we decided on a picnic during her lunch break and we decided on the churchyard.  I don't think I've ever picnicked in a churchyard before but I shall certainly do so again. 

There are memorial benches along the pathway so Katy sat on one of these while I sat in my trundle truck.  



There are pretty flowers which have been allowed to grow wild


The trees are all very mature and they create lovely views,




All this and a lovely picnic and conversation with a friend.  Bliss!


Monday, 14 June 2021

The Kindness of Neighbours

 I realise I may be a cockeyed optimist but I am finding good things which have come as a result of this pandemic.   For me one of the best things has been increased opportunities to talk to my neighbours.  Our little close, was always friendly, but neighbourliness has increased many-fold this last year.

A couple of nights ago I was out watering my back garden when I heard the neighbour behind me doing the same thing so I asked if he could use a few spring onions.  He assured me that he could always use a few spring onions and asked if I could use three kitchen chairs.  It seemed like a very good swap from my point of view!  I accepted and he brought them around for me and they are now in my back garden.  At the moment they are around my cast iron table but I have heard a whisper that a new wooden table may be on the way.  (Yet more kindness!  You'll hear more about that in due course.  )  

I wanted some new wooden chairs to go with the table but can't really afford exactly what I want so these will be in use for at least a couple of years.  How's that for the kindness of neighbours?!

Friday, 11 June 2021

So far

 I have to confess I am struggling!  On 27th May I committed myself to writing twenty posts by the end of June.  Since then I have written ten so I am just about on track.  It's important to me to do this as I think it may be the best way of reviving my blogging mojo but that mojo seems distinctly moribund.  Today is St Barnabas Day and he is the great encourager so I shall take heart from him!  

So, what has been happening here at Frugal Follies?  I haven't yet got a date for surgery and, truth to tell, I am quite happy to wait.  The pain isn't bad at the moment and I am very aware that there are many who are suffering more than me.  I am continuing to lose weight and have shed just three pounds since 28th May.  I'm not walking much though.  

Jack has been twice and my garden is looking good.  It's a very small garden but I love it.  Jack built me a little patio and I delight in having meals or just coffees out there.  Jack has now toddled off to the family caravan on the coast but his daughter won't let him idle his time away: his job this weekend is to wash the exterior of the van.  Just to encourage him, here are pictures of the veg plot on 30th May and another today, less than two weeks later.  

I have one small worry: he has threatened to bring me a present back from the seaside.  He is also worried: I've got a present for him and he doesn't know what it is.  

But that's my eleventh post written!


Wednesday, 9 June 2021

Old friends

 There's an extra person in my bedroom these days and she's called Alexa.  Each morning she says, "Good Morning!" and gives me a special fact for the day.  This morning she told me that it's Donald Duck's birthday.  He's 87, in case you wondered.  


I've never been a Donald Duck fan but there were other special people who lived in my childhood books.  I loved Milly Molly Mandy, (or Millicent Margaret Amanda if you're feeling formal) who did nice ordinary things.  I remember especially that she liked to take a hard boiled egg if she was going on a picnic.  She had a dog, Toby, and a cat, Topsy.   The stories were safe, maybe even dull by today's standards, but I loved them.


Like so many others my childhood was enriched by Alison Uttley and her Little Grey Rabbit stories.  I don't think I knew about Beatrix Potter but Little Grey Rabbit and her washday quietened many a bedtime.  


My all-time favourite though was Winnie the Pooh with the wonderful E H Shepard illustrations.  And when I say "all-time" I really mean it.  I have "Winnie The Pooh" and "The House at Pooh Corner" as audiobooks, both read by the wonderful Alan Bennet with the help of Alexa.  I doubt if I will ever be grown-up enough to leave Pooh Bear behind.  

Tuesday, 8 June 2021

Smiles

 
 I woke up this morning to a sound which I have never heard in the eleven years I have lived in this house.  It was a cuckoo!  Their numbers are in decline so that was very special.  Are they the only birds which are better known for their song than their appearance?  It was good to wake with a smile on my face!

It is a beautiful morning so I decided to go to Brigg to do my shopping.  In Lidl a schoolgirl, aged maybe 13, was ahead of me in the queue at the till.  She gave me a shy smile and "Good morning" and she helped me put my stuff on the conveyor belt.  I don't really need help but I wanted to encourage this bright young lady who wanted to make her bit of the world a better place by offering help when she could.  She renewed my smile.

Then I went along the tow path to get to the market place and I met a gorgeous golden cockerpoo.  I love spaniels of any description but this one really won my heart when, to his owners intense embarrassment, he tried to climb on the platform of my trundle truck.  A lot of dogs do this if they have other human friends who use mobility scooters but I love it!  This dog not only made me smile, he made me laugh!  

A happy morning - and I was home by 10am!

Sunday, 6 June 2021

Clem(atis)

I didn't save many plants which were already in this garden when I moved in.  The previous occupants had been a young family for whom the football posts had been more important than the flowers.  But near the back door there was a clematis and I'm happy to say that it is still there.
In my garden today

The garden when I was a child had lots of clematis, especially after 7th September 1965.  That was the date of my parents' Silver Wedding Anniversary and many of their friends gave clematis plants "for Clem and his mate".

Enjoying the garden over 65 years ago.
My Father was indeed Clem, so the pun (which had occurred to quite a lot of their friends at the same time) was appropriate.  Daddy erected trellises all over the garden and each year there was an abundance of colour.  

The first bloom the year is now full open.  Each day I am reminded of my lovely Father who played with me so often in the garden.  Thanks, Daddy.


Thursday, 3 June 2021

The whirlwind. .

Jack said he'd be with me between 8.30 and 9am so he was here by 7.10, as I expected.  So we settled down with a cuppa and checked my list.  My lists have a degree of notoriety as far as Jack is concerned.  This one had ten items on it so maybe the notoriety is justified.  I couldn't possibly comment.  

The first thing was to mend the sitting room blind.  One of the frustrations of disability is that there are so many tiny jobs that I can't do because I can't use a step ladder so the first job was definitely a quickie.  The second one was too - the sitting room door was sticking and it isn't any more.  The loft light isn't working so two jobs couldn't be done.  The list was down to six.

The balance pulley wasn't working for one of my hanging baskets but that was dealt with quickly.  Next I wanted a kitchen cupboard wiped out: I'd emptied it but again I can't climb steps to see what I'm doing when I wipe down.  The list was halved!

Then there were scabious to be planted and also leeks so they were soon in the ground.  The beans need support so he unpacked and assembled a couple of obelisks which were near a tap which needs fixing.  Job done.  The tomatoes were tied in,

By that time it was about 9am, the time he was due to arrive.  So we had a cuppa so he could start his day properly a hundred and ten minutes after he had arrived.

Some time I'll tell you what he did with the rest of the day.  


TWMTIJ

 TWMTIJ?  That was May, this is June!


As I've already said, one of my hopes for June is to get blogging again and to write twenty posts on one or other of my two blogs.  This will, no doubt, result in some very strange posts as I scrabble around in my mind for ideas for posts!  

My big hope for May was to get out more!  I wasn't too bothered where I went but I wanted to start leaving the house more before I became so set in my "pandemic ways" that getting out became too scary to try.  I went shopping, to visit friends' gardens, to church, to Clumber Park, and anywhere else I could think of and I shot past my target of twenty days outside my own house and garden.  None of this would have been important most years: after all I need to shop, visit etc. but shifting my personal boundaries is important in 2021.

I call these things "hopes" rather than "goals" as this seems gentler on myself. Calling them hopes keeps me hopeful rather than feeling that I am a failure when I don't score goals.  

I've got a few other ideas of things to do in June and all will (eventually) be revealed

And now I need to get a wiggle on.  Jack is coming today.  At the moment I have a few Brownie points as I wrote a very polite post about him but if I want to hang on to them I need to get moving.  

It will mean, however, that I won't need to scrabble in my brain for the subject of my next post!

Wednesday, 2 June 2021

Adjusting 10 Knit and Natter

 I've been amazed at how well many older people have adapted to using technology in the last year.  Obviously that's been the people who already had the technology in their homes and have learnt to do more with it.   I know that some older people have felt excluded because they can't use in-home video technology, but so many people have pushed themselves to learn more.  They've learnt to zoom with their tech savvy grandchildren and great grandchildren, they've mastered on-line grocery shopping, and they've even ventured into on-line banking.

The group which amazes me the most is our knit and natter.  I'm definitely (at 69) one of the younger members of the group!  Once a fortnight we have an hour-long zoom chatting whilst indulging in that that very old-style hobby - knitting.  

The group I belong always has some sort of charity project on hand, like knitting hats for sailors or twiddle muffs for dementia patients but it's OK just to bringany project along to occupy one's fingers while everyone natters.  At the moment we are knitting a Christmas tree.  We've seen them and we want to have a go!  (Ang at Tracing Rainbows was involved in one a few years ago.) 
Tree knitted by United Church, Ferndown in 2017

We're going to be part of a Christmas tree festival which has nursey rhymes as its theme and we've chosen "Round and round the garden like a teddy bear".  After we have exhibited our tree the squares will be made into blankets, the teddies will be sent to a children's charity and the garden flowers will be sewn onto twiddle muffs.

Monday, 31 May 2021

My sister

 One of the most important things I have done during these months of isolation has been to scan all my old photographs.  It wasn't a quick job: apart from my own pictures I had collections which had belonged to my Grandmother, my Mother, and my only sister, Gillian.

I'm nearly nine years younger than Gillian and we were never particularly close.  She went away to college when I was only nine and although she came home for holidays and for her first year of teaching, things were never the same.  She married and had a son.  Sadly she was later divorced and had to make her own independent life again.

Back in 2000 she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and was very ill,.  She spent a week on life support, a further week in intensive care and then a week in hospital before coming to stay with me to give her chance to recover.  For the next six months she lived with me part-time while she had chemotherapy but she managed to get better.   As she realised that she might have less years ahead of her than she had hoped, she decided to fulfil a few ambitions.

The first of these was to see whales in their natural habitat!  Our Mother was very generous and paid for me to go with my sister on a cruise from Vancouver up the coast of Alaska as Gillian could not have managed alone. (She was very disabled due to various other conditions.)   We saw whales!  We also had a whale of a time!
Gillian and I aboard Independence of the Seas, 2000

Gillian had cancer twice more.  The first was breast cancer which was caught very early and the problem was resolved by surgery alone.  The second, sadly, was a secondary from the original ovarian cancer and was incurable so I moved in with her for nearly a year to care for her.   It was a year when we were closer than ever we had been in our lives.

Gillian did one very important, but very sad, thing for me.  Because she got ovarian cancer (as did two of my cousins), I had genetic screening.  It was discovered that I have a faulty BRCA2 gene so I had surgery to minimise my cancer risk.  I will never know if cancer would have killed me, but I do know that I have far greater peace of mind than I would otherwise have had.  I am two years older than she was when she died.

Thank you, Big Sister

Sunday, 30 May 2021

This one's for Jack

 Jack is back in full force this year.  The garden is about to look magnificent and it looks pretty good now.

What I like best about my garden is the food we grow.  Here's a few of this year's crops.


These brassicas have been growing quite a while and will soon be ready to be munched.  




The potatoes are grown in pots so that I can harvest them when Jack isn't here.  They've really appreciated the wet weather we've been having.  We've grown Charlotte, Javelin, Maris Bard and Maris Peer. 


Tomatoes are also grown in pots.  Some are upright and some trailing.  My cousin gives me a huge variety and he doesn't know when to stop!  This group is a tiny part of this year's planting.



Most of the vegetables are grown in this raised bed.  We've got carrots beetroot, salad leaves, radishes, courgettes, beetroot, lettuce, and cucumber and probably quite a few more!


Herbs are grown in pots between the clematis and the back door so that they are handy for cooking.  It's also a handy place to leave the mop to dry!

Jack is definitely back!  My garden will be truly magnificent in a few weeks and it looks pretty good now.  We tease and bait each other but I am truly grateful for all that he does for me.  

Thanks, Jack

Saturday, 29 May 2021

Why do you wear that thing?


 That’s a question children used to ask a lot when I was in the regular vicars.  I don’t wear it so much these days, but before I retired I wore it every working day.

It meant I never needed to introduce myself.  People recognised it as a badge no matter what faith they were or even if they had no faith at all.  Not all clergy wear them and what I write here is my own practice as not even all Anglican vicars have the same views as mine. There are no regulations saying we must wear it: the rules just say we must wear clothing suitable to our office: (Plenty of scope there, then!)  Many clergy never wear a collar and many are careful not to wear it in places where they may at risk.  

Actually the collars I wear have to be worn with a special shirt, a shirt with a tunnel collar so that the collar can be slipped in.   There are other styles of collar and each demands a particular type of shirt The collar isn’t  the most comfortable thing to wear as it’s plastic and condensation collects under it in hot weather.  However, as it is plastic I can stick it in the dishwasher occasionally!



Mention of the dishwasher reminds me that it is far from unknown for clergy to make collars out of washing up liquid bottles, with or without “Fairy” printed on. 

Thursday, 27 May 2021

I know! I know! I know!

 I've been a very naughty blogger.  Or to be more accurate, I haven't been a blogger at all for thirty five days.  Thank you to everyone who has emailed me to check.  And I think thank you to Jack who has been nagging at me but I'm not so sure about thanking him for that.  

I have no reason, not even an excuse so, if you don't mind, I'll stop grovelling and get on with a post.  

I'll start with a couple of updates concerning my health.  First of all, I've had my second vaccination but as yet I haven't a blood test for antibodies.  I am still being very careful where I go.  I shop only early morning or very late evening, I won't go into cafes etc.  I am, however, making myself go out.  The infection rate around here is very low so the risk will be correspondingly low and I need to face the world again.

Secondly I have now seen a surgeon about my very dodgy knee and I will be having surgery fairly soon.  He said within a couple of months but I'm not holding my breath on that one.  A lot of people have had surgery delayed over these last fifteen months and I'm no longer in agony.  I want it to be done but I really don't mind waiting.  I've stopped my walking around the block but I have started to make more effort to lose weight and this year I have lost two stones (28 pounds) so I am very happy with that.  If I have to wait I will lose more weight!

So, I have decided that it is time for a bloggy challenge to myself.  This is only my twentieth post this year so I have decided that by the end of June I will have doubled that number.  Nagging is allowed, other than by Jack


Wednesday, 21 April 2021

Adjusting 10 - a plea

 I've been rather secluded for over 400 days now so I've done all the adjusting I need to do to cope with seclusion!  I'm beginning to think more about adjusting to going out instead.

I've had a bit of a whammy on that front though.  Back in February I got very excited when I was vaccinated.  Whoopee, I thought.  I'll soon be immune to this wretched virus.

Wrong.

Back in July 2020 I wrote about being part of a survey for the Office for National Statistics and having swab and blood tests on a regular basis to see if I have (or have had) Covid.  I'm still having the tests and my blood should now show that I have developed antibodies as I have been vaccinated.  Unfortunately both the tests which have been done since I had my jab (Pfizer, if you're interested) do not show that antibodies have developed.  

So suddenly I feel vulnerable again.  

If you are wondering whether or not to have the vaccine, please have it.  There are others for whom vaccination will not work and we rely on as many people as possible to do their bit so the virus can be eliminated.

 

Sunday, 4 April 2021

Marbles

I’ve reached the age now where I can hear my friends saying that they reckon I’m starting to lose my marbles.  I’ve got news for them – I began to lose my marbles a long time ago but not long ago I read a story which made me feel that I wanted to go and get some more marbles, real ones, not metaphorical ones. Marbles might not seem to you to have much to do with Easter but Easter and marbles both tell us that there’s more to life than just life, if you see what I mean.

 It was a story of a man who worked long hours, who spent a lot of time away from home and never seemed to have time for his children.  He was sitting one Saturday and feeling a bit sorry for himself but to amuse himself and to try and keep his brain in trim he did a bit of arithmetic.  First of all he realised that the average person lives about seventy-five years.  Some live more, some less but seventy-five is the biblical three score years and ten with a bit extra for good luck. 

Then it being a Saturday, he decided to work out how many Saturdays there are in seventy-five years.  3900.  So the average person has 3900 Saturdays in their lifetime.  It so happened that the man was 55 when he decided to do his sums so he decided to think about how many Saturdays he’d had already.  2860.  So he had just about a thousand Saturdays still in the bank, so to speak
.

 Now a thousand Saturdays is not an easy thing to imagine and so he decided that he needed something to help him think about them so he went to a shop and bought a thousand marbles.  Actually he had to go to three toyshops before he managed to buy a thousand marbles but to the envy of the children he saw in each toyshop he managed to buy a thousand marbles.  Each marble would be a Saturday still to be spent. 

 He then went to a sweet shop and bought a big jar of sweets and he gave the sweets to the children of the village because he thought that might be fun and he kept the big empty jar for himself and he put his marbles into his jar.  And then each Saturday he took one marble out of the jar. 

 Slowly he watched his collection of marbles diminish but as he took each marble out of the jar it helped him to focus on the really important things of life.  It was as though he was watching his time on earth running away and he needed to get his priorities straight.  And so he found more time to play with his grandchildren than ever he’d had to play with his children.  He found time to make some fantastic hanging baskets.  He took up rambling.  He ran a couple of courses for U3A.

 Now the odd thing is that he worked out that sum about thirty years ago and so the really clever among you, who still have your metaphorical marbles, will know that he had gone through all his marbles.  So you might be thinking shame.  Poor old fellah.  But that’s not what the man thinks.  Because he got another jar and again gave the sweets to the local children but instead of taking one marble out each Saturday, he puts a marble in.  Each marble that goes into the new container is bonus time.  It is more time to notice the flowers, to appreciate his great grandchildren, to learn to cook a new dish.

 We're all mortal, and some of us don't have too many marbles left! It's so important to get priorities straight while we have time. And real priorities in this life are to do with relationships and love.  Important things are watching your children or grandchildren playing football, listening to excruciating violin practice; making sure your old Mum is OK; telling your wife or husband that you love them, ringing up that friend who you've been thinking about but haven't got round to contacting.


 And there is another priority that we need to get around to and that is forgiveness.  If there's someone in your life who has damaged you in some way, do try to forgive them before it's too late. You see, if you don't forgive them it's no skin off their nose, but it does continue to damage you. Being unable to forgive is a real block inside you.  It’s a heavy block, like a building block and it’s an impenetrable block to God’s love reaching you. When you can't forgive, even if you push all memories of the incident or incidents to the back of your mind, hatred is still nurtured and nourished inside you. And hatred eats away at your soul.

 

When Jesus died he showed us just what it is to love.  Human beings did their worst to him.  He was betrayed by one of his best friends, he was flogged, he was nailed to a cross and passers-by were told that he was a criminal And he still went on loving them despite all that. He even prayed for them and for us, saying to God, "Father, forgive them for they don't know what they're doing." I say he prayed for us for that is what we human beings still don’t know what we are doing. 

 

In a way, we still nail him to the cross, because we human beings still betray other people, still damage and hurt other people, still gossip about and malign other people. And every time we do that, it's like hammering another nail into his hands and feet. Yet God forgives us. We have all been forgiven so much, and all God asks in return is that we love and forgive each other just as Jesus showed us.  And then we can receive God’s love and forgiveness as well.

 

How many marbles do you have left? There are 290 in my metaphorical sweetie jar.  How many bonus marbles have you collected?  How much time do you have for that act of forgiveness, for that demonstration of love?

 

The more we love and forgive in this life the more we will know of resurrection in this life.  But one day we will know life in a fantastic new way when we find ourselves in the presence of God. If you learn to love and forgive in this life, then you'll find yourself living and loving with God in your new life after death.

 

How many marbles do you have left? Life is too short to waste time on grudges and hatred and spite and resentment. Let it all go. Give it over into the hands of Jesus and open your heart to him so that you too can receive all he has waiting for you. And then it won't matter how many marbles have passed through that jar.

Friday, 2 April 2021

So much kindness - and a chocolate hen

 Last Sunday I thought I wasn't going to be able to get our of bed as the pain was so bad.  I've always got pain but this was something completely new.  Oral painkillers and gel and two walking sticks got me to the loo and my chair.  Monday and Tuesday were equally bad.  Wednesday I had a delivery from Sainsbury and had to ask the man to transfer everything into bags so that Annie-the-home-enhancer could deal with them.  He was so lovely that I burst into tears!  Annie arrived just as he was leaving and he told her he was sorry he couldn't give me a hug.  

Annie was wonderful and insisted I went to the doctor so I made an appointment.   Off we went (after she'd cleaned the house and sorted me out!) and I struggled into our local health centre,  I saw a lovely new doctor who was so concerned that he fetched a wheelchair and pushed me out to Annie's car after he had checked me over and decided that I needed to go to A & E.  Annie was way over the hours I pay her for but she insisted she would take me to the hospital and she came in with me as wheelchair pusher. (I was allowed an assistant even under covid regulations.)   It has been decided that I need a knee replacement urgently, (although urgent is problematic under present conditions) so I have now come home with lots of pain relief until this can be sorted.  

Annie has five children so someone had been caring for them while she was looking after me.  That someone was the wonderful Lizzie.

I was supposed to be leading a service on zoom but Revd Eileen sorted that,

A neighbour came around as soon as I got home and others have been (or phoned) since.  Jack is coming in the next few days and no doubt he will sort me out!

Various friends have come up with a wheelchair, a smaller walking frame for use indoors, two cushions to protect against pressure sores and a raised toilet seat.

And a chocolate hen.  

There is so much kindness in our world.  

And such a lot of it comes my way.


Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Moaning

Hi Everyone, Jack here.

Today I'd like to thank all who sent me birthday wishes.  Thank you!

When I last wrote I was very concerned about my vicar friend getting out of hand.  Many thanks for your suggestions but unfortunately they didn't work.  I told the vicar a few weeks back that I was having a haircut.  Back came the response, "You'd better take Sherlock Holmes with you to help the hairdresser find some hair to cut."  I know I'm going a bit thin on top but that nearly reduced me to tears but don't worry, revenge will be swift when she's not expecting it.  It will soon be planting time so I'm going to mix all her seeds together and hope for the best.  No, you all know me better than that - I wouldn't do such a thing.  

Today I'm visiting the vicar, and to show you all I don't bear grudges, I'm taking with me some porridge, a packet of stuffing, a movable notice board she's asked me to make for when she has a garden party, a tub of butter (which I know she loves), a dogwood (red stemmed shrub) and last but by no means least MYSELF.  All I get I return is aggro about my receding hair line.  Not once in all the 25 years I've known her have I ever said anything detrimental about her.

Oh, and by the way, last week I was just 86 steps short of 50,000 so I've called off the re-match as it wouldn't be fair on the vicar.

Mind you, she's knitted me two bobble hats in my favourite football team's colours.  She's not so bad after all.

Stay well clear of the virus.  Keep smiling.  Jack.

Thursday, 11 March 2021

What a difference a year makes!

On 11th March last year I decided to self isolate and I started a diary called, "Personal thoughts during a Pandemic" and I've made entries almost every day since.  When I looked back I was amused that I wrote "I reckon the “crisis” will last until at least Easter so my plan is for that period.  I need to keep myself active and happy. "  The Easter I was referring to was 2020!  By 14th March I had changed, "I’ve been listening to the news and I think this is going to be a very long haul."

England didn't go into lockdown until 23rd March.  We were very slow!  On 12th March the only concrete advice was not to go on a cruise and international school trips were banned.  The UK government was talking about herd immunity, conveniently forgetting that herd immunity happens when most of the herd has had the disease.  Residential homes were deemed to be low risk.  

Early on food supplies were a matter of concern with people buying an extra pack of loo rolls or tin of tuna "just in case".  My on-line food orders were missing frozen peas and broad beans, flour, UHT milk, bread, baked beans, sweetcorn, tonic water, tinned tomatoes and sanitiser.

Back in those early days there was a feeling of everyone pulling together.  We had a message from the Queen, Captain Tom was walking, engineering firms were making ventilators and anyone with a sewing machine was making masks and scrubs.  Each Thursday we went to our front doors and clapped, cheered or banged saucepan lids in support of carers.  It seemed as though everyone wanted to volunteer to do something.

And all the while the deaths in residential homes were rising, parents were having to learn how to teach their children and so many people, especially the young, feared for their jobs.  

We are living through significant times.  How will the world have changed?

Thursday, 4 March 2021

Slightly late

It was actually yesterday but a belated Happy Birthday, Jack.

He had a lovely time visiting his daughter who made his cake (and cooked his favourite dinner).

I think he had a good day!


Sunday, 21 February 2021

Scruples

Thinking about decimalisation (see my last post) has made me think about the much  wider change in British society when we moved away from the old imperial measurements to the metric system.  The first thing I can remember changing was the way temperatures were expressed.  The old measurement was Fahrenheit but about sixty years ago we changed to Centigrade or Celsius, like scientists had been using for years.  We use Celsius for all temperatures now whether it's how hot an oven is or how cold a January day.  

Distance used to be expressed in terms of inches, feet, yards, but there were other measurements too - as a child I learnt about barleycorns, chains, furlongs, fathoms and rods and doubtless many more which I have forgotten.  When I lived in Nigeria fabric was sold in fathoms and I still think of my feet as size 7, a size based on barleycorns.

Weights were another gem.  In everyday usage we had ounces, pounds and stones but there were also such wonderful units as scruples, hundredweights and quarters.  My Doctor now weighs me in kilos but I still think of my weight in terms of stones and pounds.

There is one very important exception to all this decimalisation - draught beer is still sold in pints.

And many Brits still think of things in feet, inches, pounds just as we have done for hundreds of years.  

But I know of no-one who could tell me the weight of a scruple!


It's 1.296 grams, or 20 grains.  (I had to check!)  3 scruples make one dram and eight drams make one ounce


Tuesday, 16 February 2021

D-Day

 

Yesterday marked the fiftieth anniversary of D-day, or Decimal Day for British coinage.  And today I found this souvenir wallet of "new money".  

15th January 1971 was a Monday morning and that day I decided to buy a sandwich on my way to work just so I could try out the new currency.  The idea was to pay with a higher value note or coin in "Old money" (£sd) and to receive change in new pence.  Initially prices were in "np" but as the new money came into wider use the "n" was dropped and labels were in £ and p as they are today.  

The changeover took about six months and was met with some resistance by older people but everyone had to use "new" money eventually.


We gained simplicity that day but we lost things as well.  I remember paying for stuff with bobs, tanners and dodgers.  That's one shilling, six penny and three penny coins (or pieces) to many of you.  I can also remember recognising the appearance of the Kings and Queens of the United Kingdom because I had seen them on our coinage.  
1971 coins above, 2021 coins below

Our coins have changed since 1971.  The half pence piece and two-and-a-half pence coins are no longer in use.  The 5p and 10p coins we use now are smaller than those first decimal coins.

How long will it be before we no longer have cash?  I don't look forward to that day.

Monday, 8 February 2021

Crowing!

As you may have gathered Jack and I compare notes on how many steps we walk each day. What he didn't say in his post is that it seemed that we each won on alternate days.  Anyway we decided to have a competition for a whole week.  I won't walk if it's slippery outside: he doesn't like the rain as his dog is rather low slung and gets messy.  As you can imagine there was a fair amount of goading going on both ways.

But today was the day to declare the results.


I WON!

Jack has decided that the return match will be in June when he is working and I won't have a chance.  
Not that he is a sore loser.
But he's a sore loser

Friday, 5 February 2021

Hi, Everyone!

 

Jack here!

I hope you’re all keeping clear of the corona virus.  
Well, I don’t know where to start!  First a big thank you for all the get well messages. It’s such a nice feeling to know that people all over the world are thinking of me.  Maybe we will meet up some time!  Maybe not in this life but somewhere else when I hope I can seek you out personally and thank you for your kind words.

I’m sorry to have to say this (because you all think my friend, the vicar is sweet and angelic) but she’s been getting out of hand recently.  She’s become competitive and outspoken and it just won’t do!  We each have one of those step counters and she takes great delight in telling me she’s done more steps than me most days.  That’s fair enough, but on the odd occasion I do more than her she stays up and walks around the house until she gets more than me!  What a poor loser she is!  I said couldn’t she just once accept defeat gracefully and let an old man (me) have a little pleasure now and again?  After all, I’m 78 and in the last quarter of my life on this planet.  I’ve told her I’m going to live to 103 years, 2 months and 3 days.  I’m living for two since my wife passed away.  But no, she has to win and to top it she rewards herself with chocolate.  The vicar has one of those Alexa things and it even reminds her to order chocolate.  Technology’s gone made these days.

I have two females in my life and both of them get an enormous amount of pleasure waking me and making me get out of bed in the morning.  One’s a human – I think!  That’s the vicar (she phones early).  The other is my little dog.

The other morning I asked the vicar if we could observe a minute’s silence which we did, but asked why?  I told her I’d just finished my 5th loo roll since the pandemic began.  Also, this year the vicar is keeping count of how many baths I have.  I allow myself 28 baths a year.  With the vicar’s help I’m doing quite well.  She suggested that if I had one on New Year’s Eve I could count it as both 2020 and 2021.  What a clever girl she is!  But I couldn’t manage without our phone calls each morning.  She’s pulled me through some rough times.  Thank you, Vicar!

 If things don’t improve step-wise with the vicar, I could do with some suggestions of how to sort her out.  I can’t let her have the upper hand all the time: she’s becoming uncontrollable.

I hope this post has brought a smile to you all as brining a smile does my heart good.  Please take care of yourselves and don’t take risks.  If the vicar lets me, I shall post again soon.

 Your friend

Jack

Tuesday, 2 February 2021

Adjusting 9 The Diary

 It's 327 days since I decided it might be prudent to withdraw into my little bungalow.  Soon after we had our first lockdown and we're now on lockdown three.  It feels different.   It no longer feels unfamiliar, just boring.  

One thing I noticed during 2020 was that I didn't know where my Filofax was.  I just never needed it!  Back in March I cancelled all my appointments and I hadn't made any more.  It was like the early days of retirement when time seemed to stretch to infinity and the only thing to be decided was whether to have my main meal in the evening or at midday.

Somehow, though, the "feel" of my seclusion is changing and my diary is again close by my side.  The days are becoming distinguishable now.  Mondays I have a zoom coffee with a friend.  Friday I do a Denman on line craft course.  (Denman is part of the Women's Institute.)  I have a fortnightly knit and natter.  A gas engineer is coming to do routine maintenance.  Somehow more structure is happening, appointments are being made, so the Filofax is needed.

And I am having to adjust again.  My seclusion isn't likely to end for quite a while but when it does I will again need to fit in my activities with other people.  The Filofax will be important and maybe it's good to get used to walking in step with others again.