Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Off my butt and off the blog

The morning has just about gone and I am still in pjs Juno is edging around the room with the sun for maximum warmth/snooze time. There are a million things to do, especially STUDY and housework. Celia B's bunny needs another ear and his legs stitched on.
I am not sure what to do about the blog. Been on a bit of a low for a while now, frustrating when I am getting to do what I want. Can't throw the mood for long and it hits at the most unsuitable times. Like when all is good and the sun is shining. Then a big stinky black cloud settles all around me and makes it hard to enjoy life. 
I am not prepared to up the meds, I think the answer is in health and well being. So, I am not drinking and loving it. I am getting loads of exercise. On the ward, zumba and walking. I am eating less, not always the best of things, but less all round. 
There are essays due and an exam in four weeks. I think I am going to have to accept that apart from not affording the time, there is not really enough going on to blog about for now. I am realistic enough to know that my readership is small, (but lovely....) and will be fine if there are no entries or fewer for a while.
So have a good festive season dear ones who read this that I know. And the same to anyone else that pops in. 
I'll be back xxx

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

CROCHET at last

Celia B asked me to make her this for Christmas. I have worked various body parts to see how it looks. The ears are not nice, so I will be adapting them as well as the feet.  Today the yarn arrived as did the eyes...mmmm so not my thing, BUT, I am hoping that the bunny that is born is beautiful because Celia B has been such an amazing friend over the years and I want her to be happy. 
It will be nice to have the old crochet hook going again......

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Another little cull

Another one for the Charity Shop
Today has been slow, but productive. Tough too. I parted with some ancient items of clothing, one a coat that I bought just after Em was born.....about 18 years ago. I loved it. An elegant swing coat, in wool with deep, deep patch pockets and I wore it until about 4 years ago. I still got comments then on how nice it is, but it drowns me a bit now and just does not fit in with my current needs. 
So it went. As did other clothes, even some I had earmarked for ebay....just not enough time and I am fed up with the guilt of seeing the bags of stuff lying around that have to be listed. One or two have been kept, but most have gone. 
Some forgotten items from a life and country long over, dust covered on top of a wardrobe have gone too.
One or two things that I thought would look nice in our new home - before we left Hong Kong - but that never made it out of the bag. All gone.
The load is lighter. 
Tomorrow we get new windows at the front of the house. The current ones have blown and this should insulate us better this winter. We have had the heating on about 4 times this season. Em and I rug up when we are here on our own. It seems a lot to heat a 4 bedroom house when there are two of us rattling around. (Big J is in I write).
Off to walk the dog...such a lovely afternoon. 

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Happy Twitcher

Juno and I did a four mile walk this morning, through mud and wet leaves and it was lovely.

The highlight was a little goldcrest in the hedgerow. The tiniest little bird, hopping cheerfully between the branches. It was great to be able to see it so close. It was a female, with a yellow strip on her head. 
I like to see birds and try hard to remember details to look them up when I get home, but unless you can see them in their entirety, it is easy (for me) to convince myself they are actually something else! 

Friday, 14 November 2014

Theatre, Scrubs and death

 Yesterday. I spent about 3 1/2 hours in theatres watching two operations, an ankle being pinned and a half hip replacement. Wowser, just loved it. The scrubs are a dark cranberry colour and I wore white plastic clogs that made my feet look like a duck's bill. I had to wear a different coloured hat to the team so they knew I was a student, but they were all so helpul. 

Is is odd that when I got home I watched '24 Hours in A&E'? Maybe I am the nursey equivalent of a train spotter!! But there is another side too. 

I helped perform the last service on a patient who died. It was so moving, so dignified and so very human. The lead nurse talked to him and told him what we were doing, we washed and wrapped him and at no point did it seem macabre, scary, odd or even, heaven forbid, awful. The nurses were so kind and caring. The porters too. When they came to take him from the ward, they asked that we close the curtains around the beds of all the patients. That way there was no distress and no staring and whispering. My very young colleague was equally moved and we were glad to have been able to share the experience. 

Sorry if this stuff offends folk, but I have always felt we need a much more honest approach to death in life. We are rather ignorant about what happens in the end. All I can say is that if my loved ones were treated that way, I would be really happy to know it. 


The pets are both snoring, it is such a foul day, but there are things to do and people to see.

Have a good one.. x

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

A Wet Wednesday morning with a Warm Dog on my lap

I have been reading all the blogs I follow and thinking of how mine has changed of late. It is still a record of life, but a different life.
Mainly because all yarn related activity has taken a mahoosive back seat and in one tiny way I am fretting. Not because I miss it (which I do) but because I have a deadline to make a bunny for Celia B for Christmas and it is looming. I keep looking for a block of time where I can JUST DO IT like the ad says. I have one pinpointed next, next week! 
I tend to spend free time on house things, dog things and when that is done, a quick flick through the anatomy and physiology stuff that I must know like the back of my hand. 
I do tend to procrastinate horribly on everything though and then feel bad and beat myself up. That must stop and I am working on it. (Blogging is not procrastinating...)
Today it is pouring. I have the lacrosse lot for dinner tonight, that makes me happy. 
I am going to pop out and get some new nursy shoes. My feet hurt. My current shoes are lovely and comfy, but my feet still hurt. I will use my student card to get a discount and when I have two pairs will alternate them. 
Once that is done I plan to put in some time swatting, to move slowly, to enjoy my solitude and then my mum job of driving folk around. 

Saturday, 8 November 2014

New Slow Cooker - wooohoooo

The last one did not last 3 years and it was very disappointing. I do love a slow cooked meal to come home to as well as the convenience of tossing everything in and then just twisting the knob. 

Today I splurged at Argos and bought a nice, modest, white one. 3.5 litres. There are only 3 of us here during the week, if that, so I went with a smaller one than before. 

With my early starts and late finishes having something warm to eat for Em and Big J when they get home, then me later, will be brilliant.  I do worry about Em especially coming home to a cold empty house and having to cook for herself. The guilt of a mother. 

It is doing its thing now and the best part is that all manner of bendy veg can be popped into it and used up without wasting them.
Tonight we are having bendy celariac and bendy carrots with beef, shallots and garlic....

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Sad and mad

Communication: talking, emailing, asking questions, LISTENING, not projecting what one thinks someone is thinking. It is all so very important.

Today I got an email from someone who was obviously displeased and maybe felt a bit unsure so they went ahead and did something that scuppered a plan long talked about and worked on. The rationale was that they were WAITING to hear from me and one other on the details and as they had heard nothing, felt they should take things into their own hands. It hurt, because we are all struggling to juggle dates, people, and countries even and it hurt because they never once tried to find out the latest. The honest answer was that I still do not know, but we are narrowing things down. They did not communicate with a significant party either but somehow the message was that it was my failure to communicate that brought all of this about. 

I thought about it for about 15 minutes and for the first time in a very, very long time, I responded as I felt and thought, not as I felt I should....Time to be honest, time to be adult, time to say that the decision made was theirs, the decision not to talk to us was theirs, the outcome is a result of their decision and not because of me or anyone else. 

I spent the day with Celia B. I had promised her a trip to Greenwich to see the Queen's House among other things. It was lovely, but all day I felt sad and mad and really bad. 

One little email could have prevented all of this. How awful. 

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Forgiving Paul Hollywood

My Granny McC was a great baker and would literally toss together cakes, scone and soda farles without anything more calculated than flinging the ingredients into a bowl with her finger tips. 

Remember the days of high tea? A slice of ham, tomato and some lettuce, always the bland bit to me. Followed by wheaten bread, cakes, biscuits and other delights. 

Over the years I have had many scones and even have (had?) a signed copy of Lady Flo Bjelke-Petersen's cook book with her world Queensland famous pumpkin scones, so that I could make my own. 

But all attempts to make the blighters have been awful. Little compressed pellet like things. No fluffy rise, no sheen on the surface.

The most recent attempt was a Paul Hollywood recipe for wholemeal cheese scones when some Aussies came to visit. That was about as appropriate as serving chicken tikka masala to Indian friends...Cringe....and they were like bullets. I endured a long walk with the lovely visitors fretting about the things...and then decided not to show or share them when we got back and fed them cake instead. I was not impressed with Mr Hollywood at all.....

Then today I thought I would have another go. Not for private pleasure foolishly, but because Em's lacrosse lot are coming here after school and I had visions of welcoming them with warming scones.

Back to Paul and this time a bit more of a rise...quick squizz through the web gave me guidance on how long to knead the things...I know not to overwork my dough, but I think it wasn't worked at all so the sloppy, lazy things that went into the oven just lay about and hardened.

Batch two is in there, batch one is a little lacking but this skill is worth working at. 
Nothing nicer than when folk show up and one can produce warm scones in about half an hour and what a good way to use up the MANY jars of jam we have been given. 
I forgive Paul, this time. 

Friday, 31 October 2014

A little more light

This week the roof on the conservatory was replaced. It went from a striped glass moss covered thing to something of wonder and light. Blue glass apparently. Keeps things warm in winter and cooler in summer. 

Note plane trail. We are near Gatwick...
We piled all the things back into it today and it was such a quick and easy task because NON of the cluttery bits have made their way back in and it still - weeks later looks serene and welcoming. How I love it. 

This week has been a crash course on life, living and dying and on humility and compassion. Three long, long shifts (to me) showed me how much our NHS staff put into caring. The press does so many a rude injustice by highlighting the (few) really rotten people. They do need to stopped and dealth with, but it is easy to tar everyone with the same brush.

It took me the full three days to comprehend that those with advanced dementia and Alzheimer's cannot be reached most of the time. They can be very articulate and lucid, althought that ludicity applies in a space or time they once lived or experienced and not now. 

Most people want to be at home with familiar people and families, if they remember them, but many have no idea where they are or who we are. However, they all need to be cared for, treated, fed, bathed and toileted and it brought me almost to tears at one point to see how each person was responded to, no matter how many times they called for help, how many times they repeated themselves, refused to eat, got cross, shouted and even cried. 

Those who could not call out were watched and checked. No one was left uncomfortable. 

The colleagues who looked after me were amazing, hard mind! They worked me, physically and mentally. No excuses, I need to know it and know it all before qualifying and day one is the best place to start. 

When I got home last night I was shattered. One glass of wine in front of the TV with Big J and I was a gonner. Bed at 9:30.

There were moments when I felt completely out of my depth and thought it was all a big mistake and moments when I thought 'is this really me doing this work?' All the weeks of anatomy and physiology which have not sunk in yet are essential and what a motivation to get down to some swotting. 

Five more weeks on this placement and I plan to make the most of it. 

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

New addition to the blog list

I am a huge fan of Sarah Wilson and her food ideas. I find I eat a LOT less sugar since discovering her and am more aware of what I buy and cook. I am also a fan of cooking from scratch and really don't like ready bought meals, although do eat them when they are the easiest thing on hand sometimes. But I digress a bit. 

A few times since we started this nursing course we have been told by some of our very rather large teachers that we might notice our uniforms becoming tighter over the next 3 years and we may need to buy bigger ones. Quelle Horreur! WHY? Yes the hours are long and yes breaks can be erratic and one tends to go for fast pick me up food when feeling tired....but stacking on 2 or three stone is not really a good idea.  We are HEALTH professionals....'physician heal thyself' and all that. And is it ok just because we might feel a bit tired or run down or need a pick me up, to go mad with the donuts.....?
Some of my new nursy friends have pledged to be in the same tunics and pants in three years. Me too. I would like a smaller pair of pants in fact. I got a size bigger than I normally wear (on advice for movement) and they are baggy round the bum and have a seriously unattractive elasticated waist at the back with pleats at the front. A side glimpse of myself in a window yesterday was truly scary. 
But good old Sarah and some of her simple snacky ideas help and so do healthy packed lunches - mostly leftovers. Lots of water and the odd cup of strong tea. Watch this space.... and check out some of her food. 

PS. It is Book Club at my house tonight and I am making a pumpkin pie!!!!! LOL.

Thursday, 23 October 2014


I have been tinkering with photos today and changed a few around on this blog and on FB. Loving Juno's bright little face in this pic for the blog, wearing the bandana Han made for her. 
Love my dog!

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Reccie to the ward

The staff on the ward let me visit today to get a sense of the place, as well as to find out where to put my bag and lunch box and where to park. My heart was pounding a bit when I finally found it. The hospital is big and very busy. They couldn't have been nicer and more encouraging, but wow, talk about work load. The Sister gave me some reading tips and an idea of what their typical cases are so that I can prepare a little before MONDAY......So excited.

And excited too that Artist Sister and Mr B changed their plans and are staying overnight before heading back to Australia. Yippeee. I have made that ricotta cheesecake again for them to try.
Got a ton of work to do, making beds, vacuuming and STEAMING...before they arrive. 

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

The Old Bailey

Today I was at the Old Bailey as an observer. I went with two of my classmates. We learned a great deal about how the legal system works. It was moving, shocking, sad and despite that, respresentation seemed fair and balanced. The case continues, but it was a privilege to be able to see a little of how the process works.
We walked back after the session through one of London's oldest areas and enjoyed the atmosphere. I do love this city. 

Monday, 20 October 2014

Letting go

Recently I wrote about the steam cleaner and how it helped me create a pristine, spacious conservatory. I also admitted that in fact, all clutter had just been moved into the garage....well guess what? It is not coming back!!
Yay and yippeee. It only took a few days for me to realise and accept that my life is not better for having 50 or so craft magazines and numerous balls of wool in colours that I frankly do not like. Not to mention the 'bargains' picked up in charity shops that have a yucky texture and I hate working with. 
So last night, after the weekend in London, instead of lazing around after the trip to the city, I went into the garage and carefully dusted down the mags and loaded them into the car. Lots of wool was bagged up to go too. I am off to have a routine blood test this morning and before leaving will put as much stuff in there to donate as possible. 
It literally feels like a weight has been lifted. There is a long way to go, but none of this stuff makes life better, happier or more purposeful. 
Let's see if I can carry on.....

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Poppies and a party

This weekend, we went to London to celebrate a friend's birthday.  A lovely, lovley girl. Before joining the throng, we had some time to see more of this amazing city. We visited the Tower of London and saw the poppies. 

I took so many photos, there were so many people, it was hot and slow moving and so hard to comprehend that all of these red flowers represent someone who died in conflict. In one war. 

We walked across London Bridge and the tide was out. I love that the river is tidal. We walked miles and our feet hurt. I had a bath and massaged mine. 
We met new people and invited them to visit us in our part of the world. We ate hot dogs...great party food. We slept in a king sized bed and for me it was heaven. Big J is like Winston Churchill, he sleeps little. 
This morning we found a patisserie in Chelsea where everyone speaks French and had coffee and a little snack. London is some city. So sad though that it is so expensive.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Putting in the hours

My first placement is 6 weeks on a surgical ward in a university hospital and I am both thrilled and terrified. They agreed that I could go in one day next week and meet the team and get the lay of the land before it starts. My shifts are 7am to 7:30pm.....what fun!

Saturday, 11 October 2014

A natural sloth

As a natural sloth, I am fascinated by such television gems as 'hoarders anonymous' and fastidious cleaning shows where someone with an obsessive cleaning streak gets to meet a natural sloth and clean their house.....and to declutter it and streamline it and make it all lovely and that person will live happily ever after!

And for some reason that end bit, which is nothing to do with the show, is how it works in my head!!  If my house was clean, tidy, clutter free, I would be HAPPY and so would my family and life would be smooth and efficient and productive. 

So I bought a steam cleaner, to help acheive this blissful state, and do you know, it is quite the thing.
I have steamed loos, bathrooms, carpets, floors, furnishings, windows and even the wrinkly bits on one of Big J's suits. The most fantastic acheivement with the thing is a sparkling oven, I mean there is not a dot of grease in there....The dog loves it but keeps trying to bite the steam which makes operating it risky near a hyperactive Jack Russell. 
It is brilliant not to have to use loads of chemicals, although I cannot part with my bucket of hot water and bleach...that's my Irish, former nurse, mother in me....
Today the conservatory fell victim to it and right now that room is a zone of zen like serenity. 

The cushion covers are in the wash, the hydrangeas in the basket are from the garden. Where the flowers have been exposed to light they are purple and the underside is green, lovely. In the corner you might be able to see a fish bowl. This contains my growing collection of seaglass from around the world. Any beach I go to, I try to find a piece to bring home. The whole room smells of lavender, from the garden. 
I am HAPPY. But must confess, that two years' copies of Mollie Makes, my yarn basket(s) and one or two other items have been banished to the garage.....yes, not really dealing with the situation, but at least I feel good. They will be restored to their place in due course, but right now it is about enjoying the clutter free moment. x

Tuesday, 7 October 2014


We got our uniforms today. Pale grey, white trim and the uni logo on the left upper chest. Very proud. Now I need to work even harder. x

Monday, 6 October 2014

I'm still here....

The blogging bit is flagging, much to my annoyance but let's face it, I was in the car for more than 10 hours over the Manchester and back, as well as the rest, you know, life!

I keep looking at the lovely photos of creative work, walks, food, and reading the tips, plans, and ta dahs and wishing I had a bit more time.  BUT at the same time, I am learning, learning, learning. Today it was urinalysis, recording fluid intake and output and emptying a catheter and a vomit bowl and it was all brilliant. 

And if the truth be told, I cannot sit still and so when I settle to watch any TV with Big J, out come the knitting needles....not a crochet hook, and I make another little charity cardi. I have cast off five of them so far and am working on another. Want to put their little buttons on and get them sent off, it is getting cold and so many have so little to keep them warm this winter. 

I will post a picture before they go. 

Ciao for now x

Monday, 22 September 2014

Storms are clearing

This amazing photo was taken by my youngest sister, who lives in Australia's Northern Territory near Darwin. A huge storm over the sea.
It is beautiful and powerful. It also reflects a little of what life has been like here over the last few weeks. 
We have had some really rocky times, as the last post indicates. Things got worse before there seemed (seems?) to be a little light on the horizon.
No one is unaffected, it is hard for Big J, he is a step dad for one, and has a son, and girls can be baffling at the best of times and step daughters a much more complex issue to deal with. 
I am pretty exhausted but have a lot of hope. We are taking things slowly, we are learning to communicate without shutting down. 

This week she is 18 and to celebrate will attend a life drawing class in London with some friends! I like that it is not run of the mill...

Artist Sister is in London too this week, YAY!! and we are trying to arrange a short meeting before the weekend when we are going to hang out and shop and talk. 

Lastly, a big fat thank you to Jay, the lovely blogger who not only writes such a funny blog, but who had loads of words of encouragement. x. I would love to meet you one day. 

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Dropping balls

It has been a teary morning. I cannot reach my youngest. She told me before school that she hates her main A level subject but that she has no other options and then she just fell apart. There are always options I said, and suggested a call to the school, who are very supportive. Under no circumstances were the school to be contacted and she no longer wished to discuss it with me. She has taken the day off and is in her room. I feel helpless, worried, profoundly sad and even a little scared. Like most mums I want her to be ok, not deliriously happy, not have a perfect life, but to be content and feel safe and confident and to know that so many people want to help if she wants it. Or just to listen. She tells me I am crap at listening, fair point, but I have taken that on board. I do not tell my children what to do, I have always encouraged them to talk about and do what they want (we are talking academic choices, hobbies, faith etc here, I do tell them to do jobs around the house.) and that having a go at something, even if it does not work out or is not for them is better than not trying. They cannot FAIL they can only learn from the effort. 
I am not sure where we go from here, but all I want is a happy girl. 

Friday, 12 September 2014

Bondi Harvest

Rose introduced me to this site when she was here from Sydney and I love it: BONDI HARVEST 
Such a low key, fuss free approach to cooking great meals. At the moment the apple custard cake in the link above is in the oven....Really happy that I got to use up all the apples Celia B gave me from her garden before they went brown and mushy.

Tomorrow, we take Hannah north. We are both a bit odd and weepy. I will miss her so much as will her little sister, Big J and the pets....

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Anatomy and Physiology

Our first lecture in the above subject today and we were encouraged to start considering bodily secretions, yes ALL types, in a new light, as any changes may indicate signs of illness.....
In an odd way it was absolutley gripping. Jokes about the menopausal members of the group, (not me, way past that) and other jokes were used to teach important points and lots of hand actions had us in fits. Interactive lectures are great, no one falls asleep, people become less shy about asking questions and more of it STICKS. 
So loving this experience. Feel truly blessed. 

Sunday, 7 September 2014

July seems so long ago

As you know, I went home to Oz to see family. I love hanging out with Artist Sister and miss her so much. I made these for her to use while she is working in the studio on cold days:

My estranged sister phoned me. First conversation in years. It was nice, funny, sometimes a bit awkward, but I was so, so glad that there had been contact.
The hard part was talking to my parents about the concerns we all have about Mum and her memory.
They live in a lovely place, but it is isolated,
and she put it all down to lack of stimulus, but it seems more than that.
Things went so far that they even talked about moving and went to see a house in a town nearby. It was not until I was back in Sydney that they decided it was a lovely house but not right for them. They have decided not to move, yet. However, the exercise opened up the topic of the future, and again that was hard, but it has to be done. With none of us near at all, Dad does do a lot. Mum is far from incapable physically, but things have changed and they are moving into a new stage of life.

While there I caught up with a great friend and with her went to watch the KING OF THE 
MOUNTAIN race in Pomona. Very fit people of dubious sanity run up this....I have climbed it, scrabbling, sweating, gasping for breath, but this lot run up and literally jump down it.

The whole day is like a carnival and there is a great atmosphere. Some of the runners are a colourful lot too..

Back in NSW, we drove to Caves Beach to see our lovely sis in law and the beautiful Ava and Tom.
They liked their little crochet things. They (crochet beasts) even came to the beach with us and have been sleeping in Ava's bed since.
Caves Beach is quiet and peaceful and our long walk on the beach was beautiful:

Then it was time for last minute things and talking more and planning the next visit which we hope will be in August 2015 to celebrate Dad's 80th....

From Oz we went to the South of France.....will write about that soon. x

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Little bake off

Day four of uni life and loving it. There are some awesome people in my year and it is a blast getting to know them.

 The first three days were exhausting. I am in the car for more than two hours a day and there is so much to take in. We have our student cards, are all registered and have been fitted for uniforms. In my tutor group there are 25 people and more than 9 different nationalities, so exciting! 
Today however, I walked to the supermarket when I got home, it is close enough not to use the car and the stroll there and schlep back did me the world of good. 
I bought ingredients to make the Pasticceria Papa ricotta cheesecake , the recipe for which is a carefully guarded secret. But thanks to this very clever lady a version is available. Mine is cooling now as we speak. It was a challenge and there are many things that I would do differently, if it was to be made again. 
Tomorrow a friend from Australia is coming to stay the night. We ate the original version at her place last month...I am hoping she likes it, but hey, if not, we will eat it any way. 
I know that I planned to put up some photos of the lovely times had over the summer and it will happen, but right now it is all about adapting to new lives, me at uni, Em doing A levels, Hannah off next week to her uni and Big J with a new very exciting bit of work across the pond. 

Friday, 22 August 2014

when admin becomes red tape

Today I am assembling the many documents I need for a bursary application. My birth certificate,  my Japanese family register, which includes all the details of my marriage, divorce and the births of the girls and its English translation. My passport. All sorts of bits from Big J about his earnings. These all need to be copied and sent off with a stamped addressed envelope and a letter of explanation. Both of us expect there to be questions asked. It is never straightforward with a family like ours.....I have a real dread of this sort of thing and probably do myself no favours by assuming that it will all go wrong!

The good news is that after one final dash to Hampshire yesterday to see old friends I am able to slob around in my old jeans, holey t-shirt and holey sneakers and just enjoy being at home.

At some point the photos will be added and some of the news from Oz.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Crochet in Belgium

Photo: ‎Do you like Amigurumi puppies?

This is a Chihuahua puppy, handcrafted with acrylic yarn~! 


A small chihuahua for a little girl who lives next door to Francoise......

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Off again

Finally got my head out of my navel after the last post/rant and realised that on my own I cannot change the world, but I can make a tiny bit of difference somewhere. This I intend to do.

The rest of the break in France was as awesome as the first part and I made sure I really appreciated how fortunate I am and took a zillion photos, swam a lot, walked miles, ate awesome food, cooked wholesome food and crocheted as well as just hung out with my Big J and for a few days Hannah.

We got back on results day and Hannah was accepted to the uni/course of her choice and she will be heading north in a few weeks to study Chinese.....wooohooo.

The following day I drove to Bedfordshire to spend a night with Colette my dear, dear friend home from Japan for a summer break. This is an annual event. In about 24 hours we talk ourselves hoarse. We also walked miles this time and even did a 3 k run in the morning....I managed to run/totter about half of it, but that was something to be proud of.

On the way home I swung by Heathrow to collect Japanese granny and Em who arrived yesterday and now I am booking our ferry for a road trip to Belgium to see a special friend there. A very kind lady who looked after me so well when I was newly married in Belgium and knew no one. We have remained friends for thirty years....Japanese Granny, the girls and I are going and I have been boning up on driving in France/Belgium. I have driven there before but not without Big J in the car to rely on!

When we get home in a few days time I just want to have quiet time here. I have been away for too long.

Sunday, 10 August 2014


In the last few weeks I have been blessed to be able to travel safely across the world to see family. I arrived a few hours before a plane on the same flight path was shot from the sky. There were no survivors. The Aussie press went wild. Pages of photos of those lost, those left behind, outraged comments from the PM and the Foreign Minister spoke out against the atrocity in the UN and lead a move against the purpetrators. But, as sad as it was, days later another flight went down in an impoverished African nation. There were also no survivors. There was only a minute or two of news coverage. Meanwhile in Gaza, Syria, Ukraine, Iraq, Afghanistan and countless other countries war rages. And now we hear of more truely abhorrent acts against people for what they believe and how they live. And deliberate acts against children.
We have limited internet access here and do not watch the TV. But when I do get the iPad I cannot help but read the news. I am just aghast. I want to do something, anything to help in any small way. Donate? Volunteer? Fund raise? My mind is racing and I just want to be of use to ANYONE be it a drink of water, a sanitary pad, bandages, clothing ANYTHING.
At home I have a pile of little knitted jumpers and some beanies to go off. If they can actually get there and where is there? So many places and so many people. I am crocheting like mad to make useful things although it seems a bit like Marie Antoinette indulgence. I get to do what I like before anyone else gets anything....
How can we from the comfort and safety of our lives really help?

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Côte d'Azur interlude

We are in Cannes now, cicadas buzzing and some dreadful techno music coming from the apartments across the way...both a little pink from the sun, despite my almost paranoid efforts to slip, slop and slap.
Today we took a day trip to Marseilles and went on a boat to the Calanques. As I am on the iPad I can't put a link up, but I have loads of photos to add later.... Lucky people, watch this space. We also ate bouillabaisse while there. Delicious. Big J has been able to tick something off his bucket list. 

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Photo edit

This morning I have been editing photos from the trip, mainly the bird photos and it is a big task. Most of the shots I got were of birds on the feeder in the neighbour's garden so that means the birds were quite far away, for my camera at least. Funny how that does not stop one from taking loads of pics, knowing the birds will look like a little blob of colour rather than a creature that can fly. We live in hope I expect!! 
Anyway it was fun, for me and here are one or two.
 A Kookaburra on an old (gum?) tree taken on a walk one morning.
 Galahs being interrupted by a magpie at breakfast

 A rainbow lorikeet on the verandah 

This little blue and yellow parrot is a pale headed rosella and it looks a bit like a big budgie. There were a few in the garden but they were very shy and hard to snap. Until I blew up the photo I had no idea a little dove was sitting there too. This is what the rosella really looks like: (Wiki photo not mine!).
Then there were king parrots, a pair: 
Wikipedia provided this photo too, I rarely saw them together. 
The noise of the birds is just amazing. Currawongs and magpies whistle and warble as well as caw. The parrots all screech and when a big flock comes in to roost, it is really noisy. The Kookaburras laugh and cackle, but they also do a very nice gurgling chuckle when they are just passing time. 
I saw bush turkeys, 
 white Ibis - what an ugly bird, 
the straw necked ibis 
and some beautiful little wrens as well. 

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Aussie adventure almost over

This is the last day before heading back tomorrow and it has been a good trip, a very good trip.
As we came in to land in Sydney with the city lights before us I was tempted to break into song...
the one that goes ...'and I still call Australia home'.... fortunately for my exhausted fellow passengers I held it in, but that is what I feel.
A few days in very windy Sydney with Artist Sister and the lovely Mr B were spent talking, eating, drinking, trawling the charity shops as well as a quick trip to Bondi to see friends and have afternoon tea. RICOTTA CHEESECAKE people, from PASTICERRIA PAPA's. Yum. This is one sugary treat I will definitely be attempting to make at home.
It was then off to Queensland to see mum and dad.
They live Cooran in the hinterland of the Sunshine Coast as mentioned before, and this is the view from their verandah.....
Early morning Mt Pinbarren - looks like a little Fuji.
and to the west (ish) Mt Cooran, which I have climbed....
The pink things on the telegraph wire are galahs. Pink and grey parrots. I did a whole series of bird photos so they will come later.
Time moves slowly in Cooran and much crochet was done and FINISHED.
Rosie the cat's brood turned out to be a sinister looking lot, somewhat like small baddies from Dr No...
Tom's sheep, blatantly inspired by the Herdy sheep looks a bit more approachable
Finally Tom's blanket on the verandah beside the water tank...
There was not enough yarn for a complete border, so I just did three rows of double crochet along each side and was ridiculously pleased with it.
It is now nearing lunch time in Sydney and we are off to Bondi again, so later I will continue with other tales of home; King of the Mountain, Noosa Beach, running in the bush, a potential big move and the delights of Caves Beach where some very special people live. Until then.....

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Up with the birds, the dog and the cat

At ridiculous o'clock I was up this morning. Always the same when I fly. The suitcase needs a bit of reorganising and I have been 'remembering' bits and pieces to add to it. Like a bit of soft toy stuffing. Why, do you wonder, would someone need to take this to Australia? Well, the lamb I made for Tom needs his legs stuffed to finish it off and there is no point in buying more filling there.
I passed the time hanging out washing, putting more on, and am waiting until a more decent hour to go back upstairs to finish the packing. 
Like many of us, I find that reading blogs is and EXCELLENT way to waste pass the time. And, Lucy from Attic24 has put up her new Bower Bird pattern. It is a dear thing, but what got me going was the one filled with dried lavender. There is lavender in the front garden, loads of it growing wildly and tall. The original one was Hidecote which is gorgeous but not all that fragrant, however, the latest one planted has the most incredible scent. No idea what it is, but this morning, in my pjs, with the dog and cat in tow, I cut a bunch to dry in the conservatory.  It is a bit 'over' its best but the smell isn't. I am thinking of stuffing a bird or two with it when I get back.
It is now a decent hour, and the suitcase is calling. 

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Departure Eve

Talk about pull. I feel so pulled. Yesterday Em came home very bouyant and wanted to go running on Ashdown Forest. There was no way I could do it with my sore finger (seriously folks - it hurts and all that blood pumping through the old body would not help). So off we went with the dog. She ran and I walked and the dog ran between us and it was great. 

Today the finger was dressed by yet another awesome nurse. I want to be an awesome nurse...and then the lovely Dawn cut my hair. I am naturally silver and we have over the years gone from boyish, dark hair to silver ash blonde jaw length. I said to Dawn today I am becoming a different version of older one! 

Then Big J and I took the dog out onto the farm track. It was hot, but really nice. We always used to talk about having a dog and being able to go for walks together with it. We always loved walking, but it is true what they say, the dog walks its owners. She needs the outings and we have to take her. 

But my lovely, lovely daughter is not herself and it makes me weep. If there was anything I could do I would. 

Monday, 14 July 2014

Home Sweet Home

They let me out at about 10:30 yesterday with the tiniest bandaid you can imagine on my finger..... Yay! One more dressing this week before the flight and lots of tablets to take.

Then it was straight over to Primarni to get some swimmers as my last Primarni pair collapsed after the swim in Brighton. The weirdest thing, the elastic fibres in the lycra must have deteriorated and the result was a very see through strip all the way down the back and through the crotch of the thing. The mind boggles, I just hope and pray that the collapse took place in the washing machine after the swim and not while I was frolicking about like a beach babe whale!! Oh lordy.

We had a barbie yesterday with the friends who own the garden where the squirrel attack took place. Juno came too and was not all that bothered about hunting anything really, word must have got out in the rodent world not to hang about in that tree, although she does like my little bandage for some reason! 

I am so not in the zone for packing for Australia and my heart is very heavy. Poor Em has been down and it just worries me to death. I KNOW there is nothing I can do or say, but my heart goes out to anyone who has depression. No matter how intelligently one can rationalise what is happening - one still has to experience the terrible lows and life can seem so very bleak.
On a positive note, she will be in the best hands with Big J who is wonderful with her at all times. He has been so supportive to both of us. 

I can't wait to start crocheting again but am being sensible for now.

Thank you to all for the comments and the derision on Facebook. 
Kept me laughing no end. 

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Squirrel bite saga - day three

They starved me this morning so I could go back to theatre under a general anaesthetic. It came as bit of a surprise, having thought all was well. Luckily when the consultant came round (one of my old team), he decided not to operate but to keep me in one more here I am. A quieter day, Big J and Celia B have been by.  The IV drip has been taken out and meds are now oral. And the tip of my finger can wiggle a bit.....very good progress. I may just crochet a stitch or two tomorrow, just to see how it feels!
If I can keep awake I might watch the World Cup!

Friday, 11 July 2014

Crucial Crochet finger update

More surgery today at lunch time. It seems that the important bits are intact although there will be scars and some sensitivity to cold. Worryingly it is a CRUCIAL CROCHET FINGER and it will be some time before work can recommence on Tom's blanket. I am pretty miserable about that, but would rather take the time to heal well and be able to crochet than to lose the gift.

The time off will give me a chance to focus on getting ready for the trip home.  It will mean less pressure to hit the target number of rows I had been setting myself every day and will probably result in me being less anxious all round.

I am a very lucky woman to have the brilliant care I have had, lots of cheery visitors and a very nice visit from Big J this evening. They have just delivered a sleeping pill, needed to help me through the night. This thing HURTS. Good night folks. May your dreams be squirrel free.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Squirrel attack

Tonight I am an inpatient in the hospital I left yesterday.
Hard to believe, but today at lunchtime while visiting my friend Celia B with Juno, I got badly bitten. Juno found a squirrel under the patio and did what came naturally, gave chase. The squirrel looked a bit weak and wobbly and I worried it was ill/diseased. It managed to get up a tree but kept falling off.  It eventually fell among some potted plants and rather than have Juno rip it to pieces, I grabbed it by the back of the neck planning to flick it away.... It turned and latched on to my finger. Those teeth went deep, very deep and I could not get it off. Celia B's hubby came to my aid with no luck. I could hear crunching sounds!!! Eventually B hit it, three times, and it let go. I bled all over the patio and felt a bit faint. Poor squirrel was indeed ill and B took care of it swiftly. He then brought me to QVH to Minor Injuries. I expected a quick wash out and maybe a jab. Four hours later after an X-ray, debridement and washout I was admitted for ONE to TWO days for IV antibiotics and to make sure there is no damage to the joint and tendons.
Not one person has managed to keep a straight face about this. I have had people bring me nuts! Em made story board on snap chat for her mates. It is all over Facebook....I will never live this down! But I was trying to save the little bugger.
So here I am in a side room and Big J's iPad - he has been with me most of the day, bless him, waiting for the next infusion....will keep you posted.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

An end and a beginning

Today I did my last secretary day at the hospital for the forseeable future. I was not sad about that, only sad to leave my mad and funny friends. An ending. 

I then went to an open evening at the still only took 54 minutes to get there, but that is mid afternoon, what about mornings?

I had questions but got no answers other than the advice to turn up on the day and take it from there. Part of me loved that. Part of me worried there was no list to check off, equipment to buy, etc. But that is the way it is for now. I met a fellow student, as young as she could be to as old as I am. I liked it. It was a beginning, of sorts. 

Over the next few days I need to think about my parents, my Artist Sister, my niece and nephew and their lovely mum, my estranged sister, who has written again. It is a bit like catching a bird....I am keen to write back straight away, but think that if I give a slower, more considered and less emotive response it will be received better. 
I love to travel but I hate to leave my girls. I suffer from separation anxiety, big time. They know it, Big J knows it, but it does not make it easier. I do understand in my head now, (although not my heart) that people come and go and sometimes they go and do not return. That is not what I am planning, but by accepting it, it might make my own departure less anxious. A less anxious mum does less damage to her loved ones. 
What anxieties do you have regarding your loved ones?

Sunday, 6 July 2014

The week that was

It has been quite a week. 

My sister, the one that does not contact me, emailed me about my upcoming trip home asking if I would like to see her. YES I WOULD. VERY MUCH. The dates did not work out, but she said she would probably see me next year - at Dad's 80th birthday event. There was no news exchanged, in fact it was a very economical communication, but it was contact and I was very happy. 

We have walked in Ashdown Forest twice. One walk was with the family (minus Han who is still in Japan) and a new friend on a sunny afternoon. It was lovely.

We did not see the much talked about bird visitor, the short toed eagle, which fortunately eats snakes and not little dogs!

A dear friend is troubled again with her addiction and I know that until someone in that position accepts that there is a problem then nothing can be done, but she risks losing so much. This time there was some tough love. 

I worked for one day and feel the pull less. One more shift before I go off to Australia. 

On Sunday after my last blog post I pulled out Tom's blanket, took a photo of it
and decided to start all over again. This one feels right, the colours are right, the yarn is right and the stitch is too. (I am reusing two of the colours of the first blanket and a heap of green from my stash).  
I did however have some real hiccups with the pattern this time but managed to come up with a way to reduce the tension in the foundation row that prevents a warped fabric later on. I had to do it three times, but I did the foundation row in a 5mm hook even though the rest of the blanket is being done on a four. It gave enough slackness to start off as I kept finding the tension of the actual blanket looser than the first row. 

It was volunteer week at school and Em and her friends had struggled to find work so ended up at lower school for four days. Friday was a day off and they went to Devil's Dyke to draw and walk. Big J and I headed for Brighton. 

We went swimimng at Brighton Beach, a first for me.
Talk about a day beside the sea! It was sunny, there were deck chairs and sea gulls, we had our towels and my hat, we went right in and it was lovely. The sky was bright, bright blue and there was something about it being a Friday in term time that made it feel almost like we were skiving off!  It was also Independence Day and we had a meal at an American restaurant and then found free table tennis tables - with bats and balls for all to use and worked up a sweat and worked off our lunch. 

Machine People launched their new video on 4th as well. Go guys. 

Another farewell for a friend heading to Indonesia on Friday night, but I was worn out by then. Too much fun in the sun! Today I could barely summon the energey to crochet let alone manage chores! But to be fair, after slobbing about most of the day, I did plant out some tomatoes (lots of babies already) and did some weeding and other planting. The grunt work of gardening is something I love. 

Saturday, 28 June 2014


I am finding being jobless really disconcerting. For so long now I have been run off my feet, on call all day to a huge number of people, both staff and patients and have had to make decisions and plans and negotiate and placate. I loved it, most of the time, but the thought of being at home for a while was just bliss. And now I find I am flat, down even. I have not 'done' much, which is a biggie for me. I have worked one day this week, been around for the plumber, dog walked, crocheted, washed and ironed, cleaned, been out for coffee and lunch and had a friend and her son over twice, once for dinner, complete with a fire and marshmallows afterwards in the garden. Em and I have done a nature ramble and today I cleared out my wardrobe and took a ton of things to the charity shop. I was ruthless, and am a wee bit scared to think that not much is left in there!
I ran it by my sister and another friend about how odd it feels and they both told me it takes time to adjust to a different pace and to establish a routine. A massage was suggested and that I will arrange as Big J bought me one a while ago which has yet to be used. 
In the meantime, the bedroom needs a last little tidy. At least there is something to show for all the time off. 
And while I sit and listen to the very welcome rain, Tom's blanket is calling from the corner of the room saying 'finish me, you've only got 2 weeks to go' ....

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Yarndale Mandala

This is my mandala for Yarndale....Australia, the red centre, the oranges and pinks of the desert, the yellows of the wheat crops, the pale greens of suburbia, the dark greens of the rain forest, the white of the surf, the deep blue of the sea and the light bright blue of the sky.
To be glued and stiffened in the morning before being sent off to Yorkshire. 

Man at work

We are having our leaky shower fixed and a new loo put in. The cistern on the old one is hanging by a thread and it is a dodgy old thing. I whizzed over to Homebase this morning and managed to get the loo for half price and tiles for the floor greatly reduced and doubled my nectar points as well - so felt good. 

The banging is a pain but it will be worth it.

Last night was Book Club where we drank talked a lot, even occasionally about the book, which was The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. Lovely story. 

Today I am in Limbo a bit. I want to blitz but the stairs and landing are covered in dust sheets and I am keeping away from upstairs completely. 

I have been looking at holidays for Big J and me, some blogs, been doing bursary applications and chasing HR about working some hours as a health care assistant, have planted up some of my lovely new geraniums at the front door, been blood pressured and pee tested (all good), and managed finally to get a photo of Hannah's blanket out on the patio....
Loving the border. This was another clever idea from Lucy at Attic24
The colours are still too pale for me but it feels awesome, soft but heavy at the same time. Should keep her warm up north! 
I think some crochet time is called for. I want to make a Mandala for Yarndale and mine is going to be AUSTRALIA inspired, I want it to be called The Red Centre. 

Monday, 23 June 2014

Pussy Cat Ta Dah, two departures and The Band

The post I wrote up last night has gone awol. Annoying because it took time and I was loving the moment of recapturing all that happened yesterday.

Still for any readers it is probably a blessing as this version is likely to be shorter!!

We had two departures yesterday. One in the morning from Heathrow which meant an early start. Hannah flew to Japan for a month. As I leave for Oz before she comes back we will not see each other until August. This is the longest time apart we have had, and they will just keep getting longer. It makes me so sad, but it is all about new steps in her life. 
Big J then flew to South Africa for a week on business. That leaves Em and I at home alone with Juno and Bosley. We plan a healthy eating week with some exercise and in fact I am having a detox tea for breaky instead of my usual fluffy coffee....mmmmm..not quite the same!

After a late gig on Saturday night two of the band camped here as logistics dictated it was more sensible than driving home to have to return for a local gig tomorrow. They did not go to bed all night and sat like two owls in the conservatory - wide eyed and unbeknownst to me, very drunk. They 'found' a bottle of something and drank it. Like you do....refusing all offers of food and coffee at breakfast they did eventually pass out only to be woken later with some loud death metal by the remaining sober band members who turned up to make sure all was well. Lovely. I could not let them leave home in that state so threw together a massive dish of vegetable pasta bake, garlic bread and some jalepeno and cheese ciabatta we had. It worked, they perked up no end. 
I get the band thing, I really do. I have seen them play many times and watched them morph from youths with passion to young men with passion about their music.  But when they are off the stage and at home, it means more to me. They hang out with the dog, talk to the girls and are great fun. One was telling me about a reccent to trip to Oz and I asked him what he was doing out there. He told me his uncle's band was playing in Sydney and Perth so he went along.....his uncle is in Simple Minds....I knew that!! 

In the midst of all this there was ironing done, a trip to a boot fair and some more crochet time.
This is Rosie - my take on the wonderful tutorial by Janette at The Green Dragonfly. The tutorial is excellent and most of Rosie took shape on the trip to Yorkshire. I love to crochet in the car when I it's not my turn to drive on the motorway! 

I do not have Janette's gift for embellishing and my embroidery skills are rubbish so after hacking off the insipid nose I first made, this is the new version which is pretty pleasing. I made a magic ring and did three double crochet into it before pulling it closed then using the starting and finishing yarns for her mouth. I have made (not finished)  three little kittens for Rosie to mother and they are all going with me to Australia for my niece, Ava. Pics to follow. 

A version of this has taken shape too. Herdy. It is a fat blue lamb for Thomas, my nephew. I do feel a bit like it is cheating to make something so similar, is it? You can judge for yourselves when he gets his legs....

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Le Tour, le road trip

We dropped Em off at Keele uni on Monday and headed to YORKSHIRE and guess what?  There's going to be a bike race in fact it is Le Tour....The whole place is streaming with yellow, green and red polka dot bunting, little knitted jersey bunting and yellow bicycles.

There was even a spotty pub and this pretty non Le Tour, but sweet anyway, bike in Haworth.

It was fantastic. The work and effort that has gone into preparing for this huge international race by local communities is wonderful. Our route took us along the planned Tour roads, unwittingly, but we were delighted.
We had two nights in York. A first for me. Loved it. The Minster, the Shambles, the Yarn Shop, the Cocoa House, so much to see and do. We walked miles. We also went on a ghost hunt...
We went to Scarborough too and had fish and chips and walked on the north beach. There are so many beach huts.
We then headed for the moors, and to Bolton Abbey where we stayed another night. The countryside is breathtaking, so much so we just stopped at the side of the road at one point to take it all in. No photo can capture the image the way we see it with the naked eye. It is more than sight, it is the wind, the sun, the sheep bleating all the senses really.

We chatted to the sheep, both trying out baaaas and bleats.....this one obviously understood! I think I speak sheep better than Big J does!
We stayed in a nice place. A very nice place. It had TWO helipads and this sign....LOL.

I usually don't eat anything with sugar in it (that I am aware of and I am selective) but we went here:

Bullets where I come from, but apparently Torpedoes here. Anyway, there are none left now!
It was great. And what ended it so perfectly was that Em loved her course and made new friends and came back exhausted.