Monday, 8 February 2016


Have you ever marvelled what's inside a lightbulb?   That's why one features as the picture for today's post. It's quite intricate. Perhaps it's just me that finds them beautiful.  I'll admit to being well geeky at times.

I'm travelling back to Devon this morning.  I have appointments to attend and Louis is back with me after school tonight.  There's no rest for the wicked even if they have a sick note.  My short trip to Southend-on-Sea involved a visit to my favourite seafront cafe to mainline coffee with my old schoolfriend Calamity Jane.  It's right on the beach, the tide was in and the waves were HUGE!!!! I also wandered into town with Mum with a shopping list.  Yep, lightbulbs were on it.  I'm managed to knock over both my bedside lamps in the last week.  Being accident prone is expensive.

It's rare that I venture into a proper town centre. My usual shopping haunts are the small towns of the South Hams and the relative metropolis of  Newton Abbot.    I like Mutley Plain in Plymouth too as that's stuffed to the gunnels with charity shops that have been very fruitful hunting grounds in the past.

Remember my resolution not to buy clothes in 2016? Well,  surprise, surprise, with that wealth of retail opportunity,  it's gone out of the window.  But let me hastily explain. Black leggings are a staple of my wardrobe.  I wear them with boots instead of tights.  Given that I am Frank Spencer's female alter ego  I managed to cover several of them with paint during recent decorating endeavours.  Now most of the remaining pairs have started to get indecently holey.   So after browsing in several clothes shops as I am fussy about length, texture and thickness I bought four new pairs.   They were planned purchases. Believe me I resisted lots of gorgeousness including dresses in TKMaxx and H&M that were right up my street.  I reminded myself I have a house to decorate and travel plans to fulfil.  It did the trick.

So I have revised my wardrobe replenishment plans from zero for 2016.   I've shown myself that I can resist the frou-frou.   For  comfort and decency I'll allow myself replace the basics if they wear out.  That should still keep me well below that figure for the  annual number of clothes purchased by women of sixty seven.  If I can sustain the willpower I'll be well pleased.   Watch for a future post where I make excuses and change the rules again!

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Real Retro

For reasons beyond the realms of the blogosphere I'm spending the weekend in Essex. In 1968,  my family moved into a solid brick built terrace on one of the big council estates that went up after the war. Mum and Dad have remained here ever since. When they arrived the house still had its original kitchen.  Nearly fifty years on and it's still going strong.  The quality of all that joinery is a cut above those flat packed chipboard units available today.   Aside from a lick of paint and different tiling and floor covering, little has changed since my childhood.  My toy cupboard was in that space below the curtain you can see.  Each morning I used to empty everything out and then sit on the floor and chat to Mum.  I only went quiet when 'Listen With Mother' came on the radio just before Woman's Hour.

Mum, for always the kitchen has definitely been her domain, still has this very capacious old fashioned larder behind that door on the left.  The other cupboard that you can see contains cleaning materials. Latter day housebuilders could learn lots about built-in storage space.  It's in abundance around the entire home.  However a modern day wannabe chef would find the space for food preparation intolerable. That work surface shown in the picture above is the only one.  Yet somehow Mum has managed to rustle up incredible meals and baked goods in this tiny spot.  Even after my experience of living in the restricted space in my motorhome, I'm not sure how's she's done it for the last half a century.   There must be something Tardis-like about it that kicks in when the dining room door closes.  There is always homemade cake stored in Tupperware boxes when I arrive home.  The current offering of coconut muffins are so reminiscent of my childhood. Lush!

There's only two appliances, the cooker and the fridge.  Oh, there is a microwave tucked away but I haven't seen it used very often.  Yes, there is a washing machine but that's in the lean-to outside the back door.  It's an old fashioned top loading type.  In marketing terms my parents definitely aren't early adopters!

This is a very different beast from the kitchen in my own home that meets the modern requirement for being a hangout for friends and family.  I have to say that I prefer my own house's open plan feel and the sense of belonging that I have whilst I'm slaving away over a hot stove to feed the masses.  It's very  likely that the next owners of my childhood home will make some very big changes.  I wouldn't blame them for the different way of living of younger generations demands a different environment. However it would be great if some of that retroness, which really must be rather rare, could be preserved.

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Down To Earth And Up In The Clouds

Time for some bollocks or spiritual reflection.  It all depends on your perspective. In recent years I've learnt to be very accepting of  the different ways that others make sense of the world.  My way of doing, thinking and believing is very personal to me.  Everyone else can work what suits them best. Anyway I've bought myself a new pack of angel cards.  It's one that features in the free readings on Angel Messenger that I sometimes use.  This was the first that I drew.  Spooky!

Yes, I'm heeding this.  For instance,  I'm swimming most days. For the moment it's in a pool but I find it such a sterile environment.  I'd prefer to be outside.  For a time now, I've been a passive member of an wild swimming group on Facebook. Someone actively involved has been gauging other people's interest before she organised a talk about swimming safely with seals. It seems that my mammalian Brixham chums are keen to be friendly.  I made contact and asked if attendance at this event might be an good introduction to the group.  There was a swift response inviting me for a sea swim.  'What's the temperature at this time of year? I asked, for I am a namby-pamby when it comes to being cold.  'Eight degrees'  Yikes!  I'm going to have to psyche myself up.  Apparently you can acclimatise quite easily.  I'll have to sleep on that one.

And sleep I have, right through the night! It's almost unheard of.  The Zzzzzz-drug that the doctor prescribed has worked a treat but I took my final one last night.   I'm hoping that the short medication course has kickstarted a habit where I won't find myself lying awake in the wee hours anymore.

I've organised appointments next week for counselling and physiotherapy to nurture my head and leg. The GP is also investigating where to refer me for a dyspraxia assessment.    I'd been putting this off fearing that others would see it as an irrelevance given that I've lived and learnt to cope over the last fifty years.  It's lovely to know that someone with medical knowledge doesn't think that I'm being over indulgent.

So I hope Teresa With The Wings thinks that I am heeding her,advice.  I'll end today with a link to the current meditation I'm using regularly.  Steer clear if angels aren't your bag but I've found this helpful for reflecting on healing in its widest sense. Even though I'm supposed to be focusing on myself, it feels good from a wellbeing perspective to keep others in mind.

Friday, 5 February 2016

Love It!

Photo:  BBC
Noooooo!  I'd run out.  Marmite was on my shopping list this week.  A big £4.50 jar as those poxy little ones don't last five minutes in this house. That's even though Louis views the stuff as devil spawn.  I have expressed the view before that he could be a changeling based solely on this fact.  What's there not to love about a salty something on buttered toast.  Funnily enough I don't pile it on thick.  My spreading action is just a gesture.  A little goes a long way.

I love the fact that there is this sculptural homage to Marmite in Burton on Trent, the town where the product is made.  If you click on the link below the photo you'll find out some facts about my favourite savoury spread.  I was particularly taken by the idea that prisoners use it as a constituent of illicitly made hooch.  Allegedly the Dartmoor lot were making one called Marmite Mule.  It can't be true.  If it were, the story would have definitely been told in that kooky prison museum!

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Bathroom or Building Site?

Like it?  My bathroom is hardcore shabby chic at the moment. The only operational toilet is in that teeny tiny room downstairs. Scope for maintaining personal hygiene is very limited indeed.Louis is delighted as that aversion to water seen in most well-rounded small boys can be nurtured.  Me?  When walking the Appalachian Trail I was seen as OCD for my capacious use of wet wipes.  Most others were happy to smell as nature intended between stops in towns.  Believe me after four days the stench of an unwashed human body isn't an odour I'd like to be associated with.  I can't bear being dirty.   My brother says that girlie nadders become self cleaning after two months. He then said that he was joking.  Even if he wasn't I wouldn't be embarking on a trial to find out.  Anyway the bathroom will be finished in a week.  There may even be an operational bath, albeit in stark surroundings by this weekend.

In the meantime  an act of killing two birds with one stone has ensued. I've taken to the local pool.  Non weight bearing but aerobic exercise combined with the ability to shower.  Perfect! I'm a real water babe and can swim until I get bored.  I might even keep it up after I've got a finished bathroom to show you. Watch this space for that rather impressive makeover.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

One For Me

Move over 'So Long Marianne' for  'My Oh My'.  'I've mentioned before that I'm much keener on the newer work of my mucker Leonard Cohen.  Ditto Billy Bragg whose musical style has mellowed with time even though he still packs a poetic punch message-wise.  This one, not of the olde-worlde protest song variety, is a favourite that speaks to my inner eternal optimist who remains in spite of the stressy head. Even though she's taken a bit of a knock lately, she's still there holding her half full glass  high.  It contains beer of the ginger variety rather than my preferred hoppy version.  I'm told by my GP that sleeping pills and alcohol should not be mixed.   I remained in the Land of Nod last night for the first time in yonks.  A decent kip does wonders for keeping all those hopes of a good tomorrow alive!

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Gone Quiet

People who know me well are au fait with the fact that, if I am not my usual chatterbox self, it is a bad sign. There's been a lot going on lately in a background that my blogging life seldom touches. So many friends and family in need of practical help and emotional support and a work life that quickly threatened to take over more  time than is healthy because of events that are well and truly outside my control.

A straw suddenly broke the camel's back.  I'm not sure which one.  It could have been that it seemed impossible to fit in a trip to the physio for knee advice around all the pressing appointments at work.  My sleep hasn't been great for a while but over the last few days it's gone completely tits up.  I awake in the early hours panicking about what I have to do.  This needs nipping in the bud so I've been to the GP and been signed off many of my work duties for a couple of weeks.  I'm also armed with a short course of sleeping pills  to restore those ZZZZs.  And yes there's time to fit in that rehab appointment so I might be able to walk again without pain.  'I thought you were quiet.' said Salty Dog when I told her news that I felt might come as a surprise.  You see. They notice.

I pride myself on being resilient and strong and it's hard to share news about the toll that cumulative stressors have taken.  Yet I do so  as there will be others out there who need to stop the hamster treadmill that they too are on and take stock.  You know who you are.   Don't worry that acknowledging your own frailty is a sign of failure.  Far from it, taking action in a world so geared for success takes guts.