Wednesday, 8 July 2015

It's been an age

I rarely feel like writing of late. Not that life has reached a standstill or is particularly calm, far from it to be honest. It is just too much to shift through the days and put it out there. 
The first academic year is nearly over for me. Doing rewrites, updating a portfolio and going on some trips for the course. Hard to fathom that I have reached this stage and very, very happy.
The first academic year is over for Princess Hannah who had a hard time and struggled. It was enough to make her want to give it all up and go down a new and different path altogether. Some time at home, some reflection, some distance and some decisions have brought her round to going back for year two, with changes.
Em awaits her results. What can I say? Her heart lies clearly on one choice although she is positive about her other options. I hope she makes it.
Adam leaves with us for Australia in a few weeks and will not return for about two years. Big J is spending as much time with his son as he can. He will be sorely missed.
My dear old dad is ill again and we wait for news of op dates, results, plans and how he and mum are doing.
A lot of the time I am tired, sad and anxious. However, there are good things, always there are good things.
Running! Couch to 5k, now in week 5 and loving it.
No alcohol for five months except on rare occasions (a trip to Tuscany was rare enough to have a glass or two). Part time work, money in the bank. Needed as we all head for Australia and things keep breaking down!
The dog, best running partner ever. She trots along with me at my pace then when it is done we head into the field for her to sniff out rabbits and luck yet! 
A little crochet for a new baby on the way and a completed blanket for Em to take to uni. The blanket is done...the border is not, yet. 
That's my life for the moment. 

Monday, 8 June 2015


My latest placement is at a residential care home which has been great fun. The very elderly are a feisty, funny lot and wonderful to work with. It is a private home and has lovely touches like clean tablecloths and napkins in napkin rings at every meal. Fresh flowers on the tables. A tea trolley that seems to be in constant motion, cakes and bowls of fresh fruit. There are activities, outings, exercise and a very large beautiful garden. The carers CARE and the residents seem genuinely content.
Today while chatting with one of the men he told me about his war experiences and showed me some photos. He was among the first to land in one of these tanks. Fascinating and frightening too. I felt really privileged to hear his stories and frankly, a bit in awe.


Monday, 18 May 2015


I have just deleted 9 year's worth of emails. I was a digital hoarder of digital clutter....heard that on the radio today. Years of love, anger, funnies, photos, work, travel - all gone. It was very hard to do, but it was also hard having it all there. Time has passed, things said cannot be unsaid but feelings live on as do memories.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Poppies, parrots and blue finger nails

At the minute I am working with people with learning difficulties. Today some of us did photography in a local park. We found these, so like sea creatures up close:
and a few paces back:
I have not edited the colour on these photos in any way. Just love nature's colour scheme here. 
We looked for a tree full of parrots, but they were not at home...One day I will get a photo of the elusive green birds.
Then, in the afternoon, one of the young girls painted my finger nails turquoise. They look lovely!

Sunday, 12 April 2015

A Black Dog lives here

Depression is hard to explain. It happens. Of late there have been some wonderful moments, some great experiences, some travel and photos to boot. When we got back on Thursday night the plan was to show you all.
But a cloud settled in and stayed. With it a headache that caused nausea. Today, another glorious spring one, I made myself attempt some gardening, it was short lived, but something. Then Em asked if I would ride the bike alongside her while she ran. Reluctantly I pumped up the tires and we set off. She ran a good 5+ miles before stopping and turning round. I barely spoke, but loved being out with my girl in the sun, the wind, the smell of spring.
Someone close posted this today on Facebook and it struck a chord and I thought it really shows what depression can be like for some. It is a WHO video

I have a black dog and he was running the show this weekend. Tomorrow I start work on a stroke ward, where there will be some very ill people. I don't want the dog to come with me.

I am very lucky that those near and dear just ignore that black dog until he clears off. I am very grateful too.


Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Poldark and handsome

BBC iPlayer is great. I have been catching up on the Poldark series. He is a bit too pretty and sculpted to have been a man of his era, but it is nice to watch. Pretty fields of flowers, pristine seascapes as well as some of the best bad teeth on an actor I have seen in a while!! What made it good tonight was I crocheted all the way through it.
Tomorrow it is back to the books and essays, but what a lovely evening.


Monday, 30 March 2015

Hooking holidays

This is Em's blanket that I made a couple of years ago, in my earlier crochet days. It has a narrow bottom end and a wide top! For some time there has been a desire to rectify it and this weekend I started. It is slowly becoming a neat ripple blanket...the frogging is a nightmare. Washes have lead to fibres becoming matted and catching. But it will be worth the effort in the end. Having something to crochet after so long is wonderful. I am changing the colours slightly, but attempting to use only yarn in the original and my stash. I will post a picture of the progress soon.

Other happy news is a new tiny laptop in ocean blue to do my uni work on. Loving it.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Dementia Friends

I became one today, you can too. Have a look at the link.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Happy Friday - the red velvet hand of friendship

In a recent workshop we were tasked with planning a dinner party with entertainment afterwards. It was an exercise in 
communication. We have so many nationalities and faiths in our group that we needed to negotiate and more importantly learn about what our colleagues could and would not eat and do.
One group ended up with red velvet cake for dessert... there were oohs and aahs until a Zimbabwean guy asked what it was. Horror! 'You don't KNOW?' was the common reaction. Interesting. So, I offered to make him one and I took it in for him. It was a little thing to do, and a red velvet cake is not a reflection of British culture, but it is yummy and is gives me joy to do something for someone else. 

Happy Friday.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Bitter truth

Boy is this one is hard to write, but here goes. I failed my first two essays. I was shocked the first time, and numb the second. I don't think it is because I am thick, I just didn't know how to write to an acceptable academic level.
It is better not to pretend to myself that all is well. Nor to anyone who reads this and might be interested.
What did I do when I found out? The first time, I cried a little. I then wrote to the tutor asking for a meeting. She told me she was unavailable. That hurt! I have written to another one. Still waiting to hear.
When it happened the next time I just felt sad and worried that maybe I am not up to scratch. I love it so much but is my head in the clouds? It seemed I did not 'get it' at all. So I have asked that tutor for a meeting. As tough and embarrassing as this is for me, it is more important that I learn how to write well and to do better next time around.
There are those around me who miss class, who talk through lessons, who even watch TV shows on their ipads. They have all passed. There are those who say they did REALLY badly and go on about how they are so worried that they will fail, when in fact they are way up there. Why pretend? It makes it even harder for us stragglers. It is hard to be sympathetic when they actually don't need it, not for failing anyway.
So, this week, I have been reading, writing, doing an online academic skills module and have booked myself onto a referencing course. This is my dream and I don't want to blow it.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

The OK

Big J drove me to Brighton for the appointment with the breast surgeon....and it went well. Nothing sinister, very painful, but nothing to worry about. 

We met up with Adam in the pub where he works in Kemp Town, had a potter, some chips on the beach and came home.

Relief is a funny thing. It is not always a euphoric thing. I actually feel as flat as a pancake. However, I suspect some sleep will help no end. Not much of that going on around here. 

And, I failed my first ever essay. Frankly I was shocked. The comments were blunt to say the least and I think I have been taken down a peg or two. It was hard to read them, especially as I had worked very hard.  After some wallowing, I booked myself onto a writing workshop because I have loads of essays due in the next two months.  I just hope I am up to becoming a nurse. 

Friday, 20 February 2015

A good life ends

For many this may not seem like a happy post and in fact it is not really. This week, the girls lost their beloved grandad in Japan. He was tiny, fiesty, had had a hard childhood and was very traditional. He also adored the girls and took great interest in them, their interests and lives. He frequently sent them books, Chinese characters for Hannah and science for Em. Despite the tears and sorrow, they will remember him for his spirit and quirky sense of humour. Everyone always laughed a lot and the memories will be very happy.

On the Happy Friday thing, my total lack of technical skills meant that I did not realise that the idea was to use linky to link to the group, although I did manage to get the button onto the blog. So, today I am linking back to Planet Penny to see if that works. I can be a real dill at times!

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Marie Kondo - declutter Queen

Impressionable me has found another heroine in Marie Kondo the diminuitive Japanese tidying of this best seller. I am not going to buy it as there is a lot about her and her methods on the web. But I do like her approach, not the 'wake up the items' before deciding whether they 'spark joy' parts necessarily, but the rather blunt way she speaks in interviews about THINGS. One can be a dainty, wee Japanese girl with a feminine turn of phrase and still call the kettle black. The other thing she advocates is the letting go of items one has been given... and never use, never will and honestly are not to ones taste (that means you don't like it or them!)....
Coincidentally I found out about this lady when I was assembling my new study area.  Serendipity indeed. For about a week, anything not in or on the new desk was on a bed, in piles. But today more steps were taken to sort and cull much of the older paperwork. It is neatly filed, it is also visible, so I know what I have held onto so do not need to keep similar items, and, it is tidy.
I move slowly and have grand plans and many of them don't get off the ground, but somehow I feel more positive and confident about this method. 
I have also rather daringly purchased a large picture frame to paint and turn into a bulletin this space. Deffo a weekend job and maybe not until next weekend. This Saturday I am off to the Breast Clinic. There is not much space in my head right now to be creative! 

Friday, 13 February 2015

Happy Friday - Flat pack success!

 A good morning's work.

Now to tidy up the room and add things to the desk.....

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Breasts and women of a certain age

After regaling you all with the bra fitting story I am now back with another booby tale.

I have an achy boob and have had one for some time. I am a big believer in self examination and know that there are no lumps there, that I can feel. My lovely GP said the same, but there is no denying it is a painful mammory, very sore indeed. So, she has referred me to the local Breast Clinic for some tests. My last mammogram was clear, so here's hoping it is nothing.

Having worked with Breast Consultants I know what the worst case scenario is and strangely I am not worried. That might change - but all I can do now is wait for the next appointment, look after myself and not torture myself with horror stories. 

Yay again for the NHS.....

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Happy Friday - on a Sunday

As I reversed out of the driveway on Friday morning to head up to London, the sky was light and for the first time all winter, the Sat Nav was on daylight mode. I even left a few minutes earlier...more light is so good.

My eyes have been opened to the prospect of nursing in the community, at some point. However, I still want my hands on ward experience first.

On Saturday I went to IKEA and bought this. For months I have struggled with Hannah's child-sized desk and chair to work on and was determined not to buy another piece of furniture. But I need more work space. I have scoured charity shops, local sales, ebay etc and the most cost efficient/time efficient solution, this time, was just to buy the blasted thing. Delivery was horrendously expensive, so I went and got it myself. Ikea is a trap. I feel trapped in there having to follow the arrows ever forwards.... Mistakenly I headed off down the Market Hall not the Showroom Hall and discovering my error and feeling rather agitated walked back, against the flow of shoppers to where I wanted to be. It felt pretty rebellious and it wasn't easy. People meander and when I am on a mission I find meanderers annoying!

The plan this week is to sugar soap the walls in Han's room and paint it. She has given me permission and I think she will like the result. When she comes home, she will have a serene, more grown-up space to relax in and while she is away, I will have a nice study!

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Bye bye Baby, Baby goodbye...

Two weeks with an amazing Health Visitor mentor and her team comes to an end tomorrow and I thought I would make them a little something to thank them. velvet cupcakes no less, but they look nothing like the picture. In fact they are quite scary looking:

The icing bag defeated me again. Nozzle in place, icing in bag, hands nice and cool and squeeze, only to have the thing explode, THREE times. So the back of a teaspoon had to do.

Em tells me they are nice...she is testing one for me. 

Still not sure they should be let out in public! 

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Results are in

The results are in for the first anatomy and physiology exam and I passed. I worked hard but realised that I have a lot to learn about the learning process and in fact have to relearn how to learn!

I will take that forward and try and do better next time round. Very happy today. 

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

The pleasing effect of snow

There is something special about waking up to see snow falling if you don't see it often, which we don't in the South East. I just love it. I love the fact that it muffles sound and can make even a landfill site look beautiful. Yes, it has its critics and there are dangers, but a snowy winter's day is something to behold. 

I took this shot this morning on my way to London. 

Friday, 30 January 2015

Happy Friday 2 - Slippery babies

Today I was in a baby massage session. No photos were allowed, but it was great. Buck-naked babies on mats with mums gently oiling them. They use sunflower oil!! They were all slippery looking and shiny. The background music was the same as for an adult spa session, low, melodious and slow, but, it was things like Brahm's lullaby, Scarborough Fair and other songs that a mum might sing.  A happy way to spend some time. 

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Broken hearts and babies

One of the hardest things for me being a mum has been talking to Han - a very upset Han this week, about splitting up with her first real love. She is so far away and so sad, he is sad and it breaks my heart that no-one can do anything to reduce the hurt they both feel. 

I have enjoyed the clinics and visits so far this week and participated in a meeting about a Gypsy Traveller Project which was fascinating. 

The area I am in is so multicultural and it is a real priviledge to be invited into so many homes in my mere student capacity to talk about very personal issues. 

And I confess, all those tiny babies are just gorgeous!!!

Cluck, cluck. 

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Dragging my feet

You know that kid that dawdles on the way to school, that runs a stick along the fences and hedges, that get slower as school gets closer? That's me tonight. 
The essay is done, the references are done, spell-check done, grammar check, done. BUT I cannot bring myself to send it because I am still not convinced the Harvard referencing is correct. For some reason references have always bothered me. I think it is because I do not get the Volume, issue, thing and referencing a book is so much easier than referencing a government publication.
So - it is ready and I will send it in TOMORROW after I print out the reference page and pick over it with a fine tooth comb, again. 

Two weeks in Community Health begins tomorrow with a bump to baby clinic....eeek! Not sure how I will be with mums and offspring. 

Friday, 23 January 2015

Joining in with Happy Friday...

Great for starting and not finishing things, here I go again with Planet Penny's Happy Friday. This will not be weekly for me, but thought it might be good to summarise on the odd Friday, good things passed.

For me it has been being able to keep the house a little more clutter free, (Big J helps no end). Small thing to some but it is really important to me. As you all know I crave simplicity and balance and am just so not good at either. 
For every item that has come in of late at least 3 have gone out. I have culled my crochet books down from about 60 to about 6. I am working on ONE THING AT A TIME for now, and making time to walk, breathe, eat less and drink rarely. 
I am doing my best to meet deadlines and today will be an academic one to make the final tweaks to an essay.
My desk area is a tip, it is on the list. Watch this space. 
Have a serene Friday friends. 

Thursday, 22 January 2015


Inspired by the film 'Mr Turner' and the fact there is the Turner Contemporary Gallery there and a BEACH, Big J and I took a drive to Margate.

The Gallery was twixt exhibitions, so not much going on, although nice to poke around the shop. In the summer there is a Grayson Perry exhibition coming, would like to see that. 

We ate in a Caribbean themed place, Mullins Brasserie and the food was brilliant. Butternut and ginger soup! Must try that at home. 

We saw these lovely little sanderlings and some turnstones, (the brown ones) apparently all resting before they head off south. 

A walk along the beach was bitterly cold, runny nose sort of weather. Not much in the way of sea glass, but I did find a lovely piece of sea porcelain in blue and white. 

So good to get out, to walk, chat, read the paper over coffee. A nice day. 

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Breasts and bras

Years ago, when our relationship was still new, my stepson told me that 75% of British women don't wear properly fitted bras. Quite a brave subject for a 14 year old! I was proud to say that I am not in that per centage, for I always have a fitting done.  Every time, although the times can be many moons apart and that is why I turn up on the appointed day in a grey, stretchy looking thing that could not hold up a feather let alone a boob.....

Each time I vow I will return more frequently so as not to have to put myself trough the angony of revealing the shrivelled garment to the expert eye of the fitter. 

Hah! Today was fitting day and I had to scrabble through my undies to find the least saggy, least discoloured bra. When the fitter asked me what size it was I panicked because I was sure that the tag had frayed away, but NO, we could just make out the number. Based on that and the fact that the one I had on was cutting into me, she gently suggested a larger size. A size that (a now defunct) Page Three Girl would be happy to up with the times I am!

But is it not the page three bits that are bigger it is those awful fleshy bits that you need to poke back into the bra....But to be honest I didn't give a toss. I was happy to be supported and held and have big wide straps at the back to reduce the gouged flesh look, so happy in fact, I refused to take it off and wore it home...
(I did pay for it and she did take the tag at the back off). If I had been run over by a bus however, the tag at the front of the bra would have let the world know my new size. LOL

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Waiting for news

Juno and I have been walking in the mornings before I head off up the motorway to the library. Today it was frosty and crisp. 

We were watched by this little fellow. Robins are getting bossy at this time of year and readying for the mating game. 
Juno is always hoping for a treat, or a ball......or both...
It is nice to commune with nature before commuting in traffic.

Tonight though, we are waiting to hear if Japanese Grandad is alright. He is very ill in hospital. The girls spoke to him on Sunday via Facetime when Granny was having her ukelele lesson with Em and he was his lively self. He took ill yesterday. All our thoughts are with him, Granny and Dada in Yokohma. 

Sunday, 18 January 2015

And breathe

The air has been cleared a little. Growing kids is hard and it is especially hard when they are literally on the branch about to take flight into their own lives. Will they be ok? Will they cope? Have I done enough? When the black clouds descend will they have enough reserves to see it through?  I like to think, yes to all the questions and if not, then they just have to call home. And if a nagging is in order, they might just get one!

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Blowing up

I am really cross and maybe this is not the place to rant, but rant I will so switch off if you don't like it.

The current stormy weather caused havoc on the roads today. It took 2 hours and 10 minutes to get to the hospital. Most of that time I was sitting on a narrow B road waiting my turn to ford a humungous flooded area. There was no room to turn around, and those who had tried to cross the water and failed had squeezed their vehicles onto the sliver of an embankment, hazard lights ablaze, and were standing in the dark on their mobile phones summoning help. Not sensible, they might have been hit by a car. Had I been in the Micra it would have been certain disaster, but I had the big car and it got to the point where there was only one way to go and that was forward. Jaw clenched, shoulders pinched and with bloody good timing I made it....only because two big trucks went through one after the other displacing some of the water. Still I was thrilled and just a bit proud of the driving....For those wondering why I did not avoid it in the first place the answer is simple. I thought of all the routes it was the one LEAST likely to be disrupted by debris, trees even, surface water etc and I even checked the BBC travel sight and not a mention of it.

So long start to the day, but work was buzzing and interesting and it only took 90 minutes to get home. But here is the rub. I am not the only one that lives in this house, currently only Em is here. But day after day I come home to a mess, (some of which I create, I admit) nothing to eat - unless I do it myself and I find I do what I can before falling into bed and repeating the same thing the next day. 

I get home to be told how tired everyone is, that there is hardly any loo roll left and am asked if the pets were fed in the morning. 

Today I blew at the only other person here, which is not entirely fair, but I feel so bloody undervalued. Yes, there is a ton of ironing, yes, the house could do with more of the blitzing that took place early this week, the bins need emptying regularly and all the rest. 

I seriously want to live alone at times. 

Big J is coming home tomorrow morning and every time he goes away before he arrives back I feel the need to plump cushions and clean and fuss as if he were a bloody visitor. (My Irish mother influences that.....she even cleaned out her cupboards before people came over...). I just want to yell. I am doing a DEGREE, I am working full time hours, running a home, dealing with kids who have issues/needs. I have bloody issues and needs. 

I am so cross and frustrated.

Something has to give. 

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Diversion and ramble

Yes, I am at the laptop with an essay to edit, but somehow found myself reading about crochet as tends to happen when one procrastinates...

And I found this and it is fabulous. A Bunting Blanket. Great idea and it could be made in a little version for little people and their prams and car seats etc. Clever lady.

Another thing, many of you read Frugal Queen's brilliant blog on how to live well and happily without spending heaps and with being creative. I wondered how many of you read the one about spring cleaning and did what I did....nip over to Aldi and get some kitchen cleaner? I found myself last night after a 90 minute drive home, being on my feet all day and awake at 5:30am, up on a chair thoroughly cleaning the range hood!! That woman weilds great influence I tell you. All night I had to go back and look at the streamlined bench top, the sparkling tiles and window no, too dark to see the smears but they are on the agenda....THEN I managed to fiddle about with academic work and it was such a productive evening. 

If only I could KEEP IT UP. I hate and despise clutter and know that it has a terrible effect on me, but boy do I struggle to streamline. Often it is not that I do not want to let go, but it is what to let go and the where to let it go to that is the problem. First thing is the notion that things could be/should be SOLD to generate some dosh. BUT with life as it is now the whole photographing, measuring, listing etc on ebay is too time consuming. The next thing is the charity shops. Happy to do this. In fact this is happening more and the bottom line is that some things are just tat and need to be tossed. My tat is not the same as another person's tat so this one is a delicate balance. I less than subtly hinted that Han could 'have a big clear out' when she was home for the hols!! There is still a stinky old girafe toy in the corner...

Anyhoo, enough for now. I plan to persevere with the whole streamlining thing. In my head I equate a clutter free life with serenity. At least if one is not surrounded by THINGS that need to be taken care of, then maybe there is more time just to live?

Monday, 12 January 2015

Bums, bits and a baby blanket

Into week two in the outpatients department and it has been quite a ride so far. Bum clinics (as the consultant calls them) and the wonders of the proctoscope, gynecology and vascular clinics, ENT, surgical, bariatric and elderly patients. It has been a whirlwind of learning, hand holding, asking questions and being shown the internal workings of the wonderful human body. I got to see a wound sutured as well. 

Still loving it, but am finding the drive to this placement a challenge. I LOVE driving. I only got my licence when I turned 40 and it changed my life. (When we moved to the UK I had two goals, one to drive in London - WHY you ask - it is a nightmare in most places for cars. But it was because it is a big difficult city and I just wanted the confidence to be able to do it and I am doing it now. The other goal was to drive in Europe and this has been done. In Spain, France, Northern Cyprus and last year the girls and I took Japanese granny to Belgium with only me behind the wheel.) 
However, this route to the hospital cuts through back waters, tiny narrow roads with room for one vehicle only, steep hills and sharp bends. It is the fastest route but to avoid the reversing to allow bigger boys to pass me I have learned to manipulate the sat nav better. Longer driving time, but a lot less intimidating. 

The study is still thrilling, we have just had our first exam. It was hard to develop a study method after all these years and maybe next time will be easier, but I hope I passed. 

As for the navel gazing and the moods. They continue. Flat as a pancake this weekend, but I still manage to DO things it is just takes a lot more effort and energy. Still wobbly about so many things, but am convinced that knowing there is something the matter and accepting it is a big step towards getting things sorted. 

On a really happy note, and there are always happy notes in a day, even a bleak, hard day...the knitting needles are out and I am making one of these...
in soft cream Aran weight yarn for a baby that may be on its way. The pattern is from this site. No rush to finish, this is just a wind down activity to be done at leisure. 

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Happy 2015

This is Clara, made for (and named by) Celia B for Christmas. She  kindly brought her back today just so that I could photograph her for my blog and Ravelry!! The pattern, as mentioned before is by Kate E Hancock and you will notice how Clara differs from the original in small ways, especially the ears.

The rest of this break has been full on. A lot of illness and some lows. However, we did a lovely Christmas meal and then used the leftovers for a turkey and leek pie, a turkey curry and turkey stock.

We also had a vegetarian celebration for more family....

The remains went off in a food parcel with Adam and into the freezer for more meals later on.

I have done a lot of thinking about the blog, health, money and life (among other things) of late. I will be writing more when academic work permits. But let me take the time to say to you all that I hope you have a good, healthy, happy 2015.