Monday, 31 March 2014

Fisherman on My Pillow

I'm rather afraid the inevitable has happened and it's only to be expected given the amount of time in the last year that I've spent in Brixham, home to one of the UK's largest fishing fleets.  Temptation has overwhelmed me and I've given my heart to the burly trawlerman who's been vying for my affection from the very first time that I clapped eyes on him. Luckily I will not have to endure the whiffs of mackerel and damp innards of rigger boots.  For the gorgeous man that has been given unfettered access to the inner sanctum that is the boudoir of Lovelygrey is odour-free.  He's Cornish, about five inches high and made of clay.

Since first meeting 'Fisherman' by  Bernard Moss in someone else's home a few years back I was blown away by the joyful demeanour that he shares with his magnificent catch.  I love his colour palette, chunkiness and intricate design.  Bad thoughts about kidnapping him came to mind.  Surely his owner wouldn't notice that he'd eloped.

Fortunately I denied my inner thief the chance to make her grand entrance into the world.  I don't think my plea that this was a crime of passion would have been an adequate defence in court.  So I looked for legitimate means to secure a union.  This sibling of the original who is, of course, identical in every way was found on Ebay.  He was lonely and in need of the love of a good woman.  How could I have refused him?

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Crafts on Crutches

Cushions: Hugh Durnford Wood
Heartfelt thanks go to  friends and family whose good wishes and kindness are spurring me onto great things!  They've rallied round and fed me, brought me reading matter and flowers, nagged me to do my physiotherapy and made me laugh. Yesterday it was Crafty Kerry's turn to be nursemaid. She turned up with her kids to give Louis a lift to Gang Show rehearsal and I decided that it was high time to venture out with her in search of coffee and fresh air.

Jewellery: Sue Gregor
Crafty Kerry managed to damage her Achille's tendon in the week so we both set out, a little self consciously, on a jaunt around Bovey Tracey on crutches. It looked as if we were on a day care outing.  'Are you two after the sympathy vote?'  asked one guy whose lack of tact and diplomacy may been an indication that he was lacking half of the frontal lobes of his brain.

Three days ago, hobbling into the Flying Pig cafe and collapsing into that cosy armchair that I've bagsied as my own would have been a difficult feat. But now, I've come on leaps and bounds.  Before our coffee stop, we trawled around the charity shops, I stocked up with cheese and crackers from the deli and, of course, painkillers, so that I can keep up the good work from a rehabilitation perspective.

Cashmere Scarves: Genia Lorberg

It wouldn't have been a trip to Bovey without a saunter down the hill to the Devon Guild of Craftsmen for some inspiration.  And we made it!  The lovely exhibition space there is in transition at the moment so we just had to make do with feasting our eyes on what was available in the shop.  Oh if only occupational therapists had the same pay as merchant bankers or I had a trust fund.  Then I'd be able to support all these starving craftspeople!

Folded Metalwork:  Lizzie Sanders

Here's an extra special mention to the lady who taught me nearly everything that I know about jewellery making.   She makes extraordinary sculptures that are folded from single pieces of metal using a hush, hush, super secret technique. Lizzie, your display at the Guild is looking mighty fine at the moment.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Keeping Him Curious

You'd probably have difficulty believing this but I swear on my Girl Guide's honour, a very solemn promise indeed,  that I lost my 'Jeremy Kyle Show' cherry yesterday by total accident.  Maybe I could take one of those lie detector tests that the participants put themselves through.  You see, it didn't take me long  at all to get the gist of that format!  As I was doing a rather nifty manoeuvre to get something off the coffee table, I knocked a remote control.  Bamm!   the telly came on and there  was the show in its full blown, shouty glory. It seemed rude not to continue watching. The legendary Jezza, didn't look anything  like I'd imagined.  I think I was getting him muddled up with Jeremy Vine!  Anyhow he was confronting a bloke who'd slept with his wife's friend whilst the missus was in prison for the night. Don't people complicate their lives terribly?  What's wrong with staying out of trouble and cuddling up with a nice cup of cocoa I ask you!
And so it came to pass that, on just day four of my period of sick leave, I started to slide down that very slippery slope that is daytime TV watching. I'll try very hard not to let it happen again as there's other more productive and meaningful things  I'd rather be doing. Just before I went back to firming up the old resolve and denying myself screen time though, I snuck in a back episode of Frasier for old time's sake. I'd forgotten how much I love that programme.  

My real time television watching is pretty minimal these days so perhaps that's why I had never seen Brittany Ferry's latest advert  that came on during the commercial break. The backing song, Curiosity, by Ben Cocks stopped me dead in my tracks.  For it seemed to talk  about my own beautiful, highly inquisitive son who  changed my life forever eleven years ago  after he was coaxed out into the world following three days of labour.   That even makes getting him out of the door to school look like a breeze, and believe me, it's no mean feat!  Yes, it's Louis' birthday today so  I'll dedicate this to him. It comes with heaps of love, a pile of sweets, a collection of little presents and money towards that expensive GoPro helmet camera  to film his biking and skiing exploits that he's been nagging me for. Ye gods!   Being the apple of your Mamma's eye doesn't mean that she'll fork out £350 without a second thought. What Louis wants doesn't always equate to what Louis immediately  gets.

The words of the song  sum up a philosophy on life that will bring him joy and opportunity.  It's my sincere hope that the spirit of curiosity stays firmly put.  It's served him well through his first decade or so and will keep on doing so  as his independence inevitably and rightly increases.

....Oh my son, stay curious my boy 
Always ask where this road goes 
Oh my son, stay curious my boy 

You'll find love where you don't know 
Oh my son, stay curious my boy....

....The day you pick up all your bags and lay down your toys
Oh my son, stay curious my boy.

And here's a gift for anyone who is going through  a Jeremy Kyle-esqe stage in their lives.  Dear, dear. I hope that there aren't many out there in such a state of disharmony.  It's a link to another Ben Cocks track that I found while researching this post.  It's a lovely glimpse of  how relationships can be when no-one is weaving a tangled web and everything is kept nice,simple and straightforward.

Friday, 28 March 2014

Stingy Chocolate Ginger Fridge Cake

The super observant among you may have noticed that today's image isn't  a fridge cake even though I photographed my efforts. However, food stylist I ain't so I was a little concerned that brown and lumpen doesn't equate with temptation.  It's not likely to get you to try it yourself. And I really  want as many people as possible to experience exquisite yumminess by going ahead and rustling up this easy-peasy recipe.

It really wasn't so long ago that I posted a link to a Jamie Oliver version of a fridge cake laden with pecans and pistachios.  If you want a gnarly dessert shot I posted one there. Thinking back, I needed  a small mortgage to knock that up. Muggins here bought into the idea that you have to buy a whole load of expensive nuts and half a tonne of good quality dark chocolate to show your friends the love by giving them a sweet treat. Today's variant is arguably as delicious but way cheaper as befits the purse of a single mum with a serious travelling habit to maintain.

My office has a fair few foodies and we're always seem to be feeding each other.  After all, if you fatten up your friends then you don't notice your own weight gain quite so much!  So it was no surprise when Scary Secretary brought the remains of a suppertime pudding, this chocolate and ginger fridge cake, into work to stop her succombing to eating the whole bloody lot all by herself.  It disappeared like a shot and I wasted no time in gorging my face whilst scribbling down the recipe down. The result is literally on the back of an envelope next to me as I speak.  By committing the instructions to my blog though, I'll never have to worry about throwing it away by accident.  That's the fate of many a random, but important scrap of paper in a house where the occupier has a tendency to declutter rather than hoard.

Shove 2 tablespoons of golden syrup, 40g of bog standard butter (none of that unsalted, pricey nonsense) and 200g of chocolate gently in a saucepan. As mothers to primary school children Scary Secretary and I both used a milk variety.  Kids seem to whinge like hell if you give them plain chocolate and believe me, even though we appear feisty, we'd both do anything for a peaceful non confrontational life.  Anyway, melt the ingredients together over a low heat. If you're careful you don't need to rig up a makeshift bain-marie to stop them burning.  Just keep an eye out.

Let's talk about the chocolate again while we're at it. Scary Secretary used two of the bars in Lidl that cost twenty or thirty pence each. I've already made my own version which had a couple of Asda's similarly priced Smartprice bars in it. Please trust me that this is really and truly going to be fine.  I don't like cheap chocolate either. That bit of butter seems to compensate for the high percentage of cocoa mass and sugar that I normally wouldn't touch with a barge pole.

If, indeed, we did need anger management, the next stage would have done the trick. Crush 225g of ginger biscuits, again Smartprice or another supermarket's equivalent will suffice.  You do this by popping them in a plastic bag and hitting them really hard with a rolling pin whilst thinking violent, dark thoughts. I visualised  that tosser who pranged my car and drove off without stopping.  Cooking really can be quite cathartic. You'll be left with crumbs and some big lumps of biscuit rather than a bloke with a bashed in head.  Whizz 100g of hazelnuts in the food processor so that they're broken up a bit.  At £1.52 for 150g from Asda they come in far cheaper than those pistachios (£2.81) and pecans (£2.57) that I used last time.  I'm sure that if you're even more of a cheapskate then it would be fine to substitute peanuts.

Get a big bowl and mix everything together. Then squish the the gooey, chocolatey, biscuity, nutty gorgeousness into a  buttered dish and chill in the fridge. In spite of prior preparation of the container the first slice will be a devil to get out but no matter.  We're talking taste here and not cosmetic perfection.  I promise you that  it's super delicious and no-one, even the fussiest of your friends, will realise that the ingredients  are from the bargain basement end of the food chain.

On second thoughts, you can't have a recipe about pictures! Here's that ugly wugly fridge cake.  It insisted on putting in an appearance!

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Notes to Themselves: Dementia and Music

What a difference a day makes! Isn't that a song?  It most certainly is.  All and sundry, including Dinah Washington, Ben E King and Rod Stewart  have  come up with their own versions.

Anyway, I've found that today will be almost certainly be poles apart from yesterday as I have woken up with sensation  in my poorly leg. That means I can ditch the zimmer frame and use it to dry sheets until I'm able to undertake a small recycling act whe I return it to the hospital.  Already I've been upstairs to rouse Louis  AND made my first cuppa of the day independently. As every occupational therapist like myself knows, that's a firm sign that someone is on the road back to health. 'Yay!' was Lou's first word when he saw me and thrice yay I say!    I'm going to stop harping on about my knee now and blog about other stuff whilst I get better.  Self obsession isn't good for recovery and the minutiae of my rehabilitation progress will bore you lot senseless.  But thanks to everyone who has sent love and kind words.

I see that Ginger dropped by yesterday and that was especially appreciated.  So I thought that I'd do another post for those out there, who like her, look after someone with dementia and know what a powerful medium that music can be in their quest to do the right thing for their loved one.

As part of my job, one of the things that I do is review those on memory enhancing medication by talking to their relatives and see how things are going for them.  'Do you know anything about how you can use music to help people remember things?'  said one of the carers.  'My mum sings a little song now reminding her that she goes to day care on a Wednesday and it's reduced a whole host of repetition and anxiety.   Do you know anything about this?'  I have to confess that I didn't.  There's so much that I don't know about dementia and that's why I'll never get bored working in this field.

With a quick bit of research I found this article by an American neuroscientist, Brandon Ally, that describes a study that he carried out.  Whilst this only had a small number of participants it suggested, indeed, that music could be a tool for learning for the Alzheimer's brain.  I love the idea about making up little ditties to help people remember when to take their tablets!

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

X on the Back of the Knee

Late today.  I didn't take my laptop into hospital, just my tablet and phone. So, I sensibly left posting until a time I had a proper keyboard. Predictive text and me just don't get on.  See the example below that I included in a message yesterday if you're in any doubt about my ineptness with modern day communication.  I was also busy with the physiotherapist, radiographer and a whole bunch of nurses so that inevitably took precedence over blogging.

By hook and crook, I got myself discharged this afternoon even though I was offered another night's stay. This was despite the fact that I still have no feeling in my left leg as the local anaesthetic that knocked out my femoral nerve still hasn't worn off. I promise too that I was totally honest with the nurses and confessed that an eleven year old boy would be in charge of my care this evening. What was I thinking! I could have remained in a peaceful private room, waited on my attentive  staff who, amongst other things brought me dinky little pots of tea on doily clad trays  and fed me plates of  salad garnished sandwiches. Though not the prawn ones as they were reserved for non NHS patients that had paid for the care themselves. I bet that they got Ferrero Rocher  (predictive text:  Hetero Crochet!) with their late night hot chocolate as well, just to let them know that they were being spoiled. My nurse this morning confirmed my suspicion that there was bacon sarnies on offer for them rather than just toast and cereal on the Plebgate menu.

I have just realised that there is a great big problem with my 'Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm' attitude to life.  Sometimes  that big fat optimistic approach means that I can be wholly unrealistic.  Yep, I did a shop and stocked the fridge and store cupboard with healthy ingredients in preparation for coming home. There must have been some trumped up plan in my deluded bonce where I would waltz in,  hop around  the kitchen and knock up a loaf of soda bread and wholesome soup with the Puy lentils that I regarded as essential to my wellbeing the other day.   I need to eat so that I can  take my painkillers without getting poorly. There was not much ready to hand that doesn't need to be chopped, sauteed  or kneaded.

Thankfully, a Pukka pie that  lurked in the back of the freezer has emerged and there's some chicken in the fridge that I defrosted a couple of days ago and forgot to eat that'll do for Louis.  A tummy upset in my current state wouldn't be fun.   I am suffering the indignity of having to use a zimmer frame  for Pete's sake, so am avoiding moving about if at all possible.  What was that Japanese programme where people undertook extreme acts?  It's like I'm participating in that and one of the stunts involves drinking loads of fluid whilst maintaining bladder control. Only joking about feeding out of date food to my son  My bad parenting, even when incapacitated, doesn't extend to passive acceptance of poisoning him. He'll be fine.  It was well in date and it helps that he has a stomach lining made of lead

But it's not all bad. I've got my boy back and he's putting on his best charge nurse act.  I'm camped on the living room sofa with lots of pillows, my favourite fluffy blankie and a cuddly toy or two as they're supposed to aid healing!  We're watching back episodes of 'The Simpsons', a programme that we both like and now the analgesia is kicking in.   And there's a tub of Mackie's that emerged at the same time as that pie which could  do nicely for pudding.

Today's glamorous images show the  bird's eye view of my leg which, as you see, has had several different makeovers in the last few days.  There was  a convict garb stage and then one created by the surgeon where it looked like there was an explosion at the Windowlene factory.  Then it went through its badly wrapped mummy phase and finally has emerged sporting an impressive leg brace from thigh to calf that makes my old one look tiddly. When I can feel my leg again there's a quite a gruelling exercise regime to start.  I'm really excited this as it has the knock on effect of getting me generally fit again. With my cruciate repair done and dusted I've finally got the X at the back of my knee back. In spite of today's setbacks, I'll retain my perky stance as I'm now so hopeful for the future.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Going Under

Yay, today's the one I've been waiting for!  In a couple of hours I'm going to have a great big thwack of anaesthesia and then a nice surgeon is going to fix my knee.  The fridge is filled, my in-tray has been emptied and the house is clean and tidy in preparation.

'Are you scared?' someone asked.  'Not in the least' was my reply.   I'm not a cowardy custard but a seasoned, brave soul who's been under the knife a few times in the years since Louis was reluctantly forced into the big wide world by way of a Caesarian section.  I've got plenty of the medical equivalent of battle scars now.  No,  I'm just relieved that the end of being restricted from a mobility point of view is in sight.  Sure, there's a difficult couple of months ahead whilst I recuperate but I reckon that enough mates will be around to help keep my spirits up.

I thought that this should be a hopeful post so to spur me on to greater things.  So here's a list of some of the things that I'd like to do before the year is out.
  • I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride my bike!  It's something that I've loved since childhood and I want to be able to bring out my inner ten year old by whizzing down the hill from the next village again.
  • What I'd also really like to do is step up the number of miles that I can hike.  I hope it's not too optimistic to think a night under the stars in the middle of nowhere in a backpacking tent could be on the cards
  • Parking the motorhome on the Exmouth seafront car park and taking the water taxi to the River Exe Cafe for a fishy supper would be a brilliant treat.
  • Further afield I'm imagining a trip across the Channel to get a few days of isolation at my favourite beachside  aire at Ster Greich  is entirely feasible.
  • Or how about a minibreak and actually getting into the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona this time?
  • Surely a festival or two is on the cards as well.  Chagstock is a given but surely there might be others? Glas-Denbury is cheap and local so could be one that's up our street.
  • I'm looking forward to runs out in my new. mean, green  Czech built machine.
  • After school swims on the River Dart beckon.
  • And  I just wonder if my newly reconstructed knee could cope with being knelt on once again if I plan another meditation retreat.
Keep your body parts crossed for me!

Monday, 24 March 2014

My Own Little Radio Star

Here's Louis at the wonderfully authentic Maritimo tapas restaurant on Plymouth Hoe last weekend.  It was a glorious day and  whilst I scoffed calamari and sardines, downed a glass of vino verde, practised a bit of Spanish and admired the view that is, quite frankly, my dear to die for, I rather stupidly got sunburn.  In early March for goodness sake It's unheard of. Anyway do you see what Lou's got to next to his plate?  Yes, a book, the current offering being from the Percy Jackson series.  He now carries one with him everywhere when we're out.  I take it as a measure that I must be getting something right when it comes to parenting.  At least that there's one thing that keeps him quiet occasionally.

My friend gave Louis' name to Matt, the breakfast time presenter at Palm FM, a local radio station.  He needs outgoing children to interview for his School Run feature so if  you know any who live in Torbay or South Devon, then send an email to and he'll be in touch.  Now 'outgoing' is my son's middle name.  In fact it's really Charles but I reckon it's due for a change.  Matt contacted me first to get some background information on Louis.  It seems this is necessary as apparently some children are less forthcoming with information.  'Oh don't you worry' I said.  'He'll talk for England!'.  I have no idea where he gets it from.

Now Matt's ten minute phone interview where Louis didn't draw breath had to be condensed into a three minute slot.   But rather cleverly he did it.   If you listen, you'll maybe get an idea of just how funny my son is, both intentionally and without realising. It's why he's excellent company.  I have to say though that his recollection of my skiing accident doesn't match my own. Treacherous  ice and sheer fear come more to mind than showing off!

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Made Up Selfie

Those make up  free selfies in aid of Cancer Research UK are gracing Facebook as we speak.  So here's mine. Off you pop and donate a couple of hundred quid  for the privilege of me looking, well, exactly the same as I do all day, every day.

Seemingly I appear to be in a minority group. As I've mentioned before, I haven't worn a stitch of warpaint in years, not even to weddings or job interviews where it could be viewed by many as essential.  In fact I own none.  I've become a bit militant about my barefacedness too.  I'm not keen on the illusion that it creates and want others to see what I really look like.  I'm promoting the idea that it's not at all necessary to wear a mask. And I like to be clean. Putting a load of gunk on my face just after showering makes me feel dirty and not in a good way!

To have any hope in hell of raising money for charity, I needed to do something different.  So, with some trepidation, I thought I'd join some of the blokes out there and, as women say, 'put me face on' for my last night of revelry in Brixham before the knee op.  I ignored Mr Metrosexual's comment about how I'd probably look like a man in drag.  Well okay, I didn't let it pass without uttering a few well deserved expletives.  Scary Secretary was then let loose with her fine cosmetic collection and she set to the task with gusto.

Here's the result.  Lippie, mascara, eyeliner, shadow, blusher and bronzing powder, whatever that is.  I think you'll agree that, in spite of Mr Metrosexual's doubts, and my own efforts to dumb down the whole Barbie thing by giving myself a fresh grade 6 haircut, I still look like a girl and not one that's too dolled up either.  Scary Secretary was kind.  She wiped away the Harpo Marx eyebrows that Ruff Stu originally drew on and went for the 'natural' look rather than a Pantomine Dame. But here's the rub.  The whole thing took an age to apply and, as expected, my face felt claggy and itchy.

So, the experience won't have me rushing into Boots for essential kit to fill my toiletries bag. My alter ego isn't someone that I want to see back in any hurry.  I washed her away at the end of the evening.  When I say wash, I don't mean my usual dousing with tap water. Industrial strength make up remover is the order of the day.  What a pallaver when all I wanted to do was brush my teeth and go to sleep. So now, after I've been to all that effort, go to that website and press the 'Donate' button!

Saturday, 22 March 2014

If the Pizza Man Calls.....

In the spirit of getting things into the open, and avoiding a mental mess, I'll confess to a minor act of lawbreaking!  Counter to the 2014 spending rules, there's been a flurry of online book acquisitions here at Lovelygrey Cottage.   Oops!   Not only did I buy Don Miguel Ruiz's 'The Four Agreements', as I already said that I would, but I also decided that my reading on Toltec Wisdom would benefit from being extended further. There's five books altogether including this one here,  The Mastery of Love, billed as 'The Practical Guide to the Art of Relationship'.  Given that I'm going through a divorce, a situation that I never want to be in again,  it's probably a good idea to hone my skills in this area.

Let me illustrate the wisdom contained in this book by paraphrasing the thirteen pages of the sixth chapter into four short paragraphs. I urge you to read the book as it's expressed in way more beautiful language than I can come up with.   If you can't be bothered though, you're just going to have to make do with my down to earth Essex take.  It's  pretty much describes something that I'd already worked out for myself anyway but a bit of metaphor is always a good thing.

Imagine you lived in a house where you had a magic kitchen where you could have any food that you liked in any quantity.  I'm loving the idea of unlimited ice cream!  As a generous person you share this food freely and your house is always full of others eating there.

One day, a bloke with a dirty T-shirt and a builder's bum hanging out of back of his jeans comes round with a scabby home delivery pizza and says ''Ere darling! You can have this if you let me control your life'.  Of course, you laugh in his face. 'Why would I want that plastic pepperoni and floppy fake mozzarella on a soggy thick crust base when I can have an artisan wood fired creation topped with the finest Italian ingredients.....and Rossi's award winning lemon sorbet for pud as well?  Now sling your hook!'  The situation would be entirely different if you were really starving.  Then you might consider agreeing to the deal.

Of course we aren't really talking about food here. Duh!   If you have an abundance of love rather than food you have enough for yourself and for others that can be shared freely. Anyone knocking on the door offering more but with conditions gets short shrift,  but again the situation might be very different if you were starving for love. 

So in summary, sort yourself out, love yourself and create happiness within and  for those  around you.  And then when Diamond Geezer comes along you can just get on with sharing, having fun and walking off into the sunset down Southend Pier without all that neediness shite!

Friday, 21 March 2014

A Great Big Arty Curtain

We're going back in time now, just a little way, in the Tardis that I keep in the back garden.  Of course, this is complete claptrap.  I haven't really got one.  Think of the disruption that I could cause to the space-time continuum and that would never do.  Instead I'm just reminiscing about my trip  to that beloved city, Barcelona at the start of this year  and specifically, to the Before the Horizon exhibition that I was so lucky to catch at  Fundacio Joan Miro.

Photo: Smithsonian Art Museum
While we were there I really miffed Louis off as I insisted on watching the entire film 'Running Fence' which was about three quarters of an hour long.  Hell, it was my holiday too. There's been plenty of times when I've sat around in playgrounds whilst he communed with other kids or where I've accompanied him to tortuous kiddie flicks starring cuddly creatures like hamsters.  G-Force springs to mind.  So  it was payback time.  I put my foot down and made him wait around whilst I did something that I wanted for a change. It seemed like a fair deal.

Image: Smithsonian American Art Museum
Back in the  mid 1970s, when I was a mere nipper trawling around the streets of Southend-on-Sea on my bike,  the artists Christo and Jeanne Claude were up to much grander things. They courted controversy and spent a couple of million dollars on erecting an 18 foot high fence made out of gleaming white nylon curtains hung on a steel frame which snaked for 24.5 miles across the Californian hills.  Eventually it just seemed to fall into the sea.  The installation stood for just 14 days.  Wow!

Needless to say it prompted a lot of the locals to voice strong opinions on what constitutes art and they weren't shy in making their opposition to the project known.  Of course, it goes without saying that I  absolutely 100 per cent love it!  It just screams audacity like no other artwork that I've ever seen.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Not Spooked by Maggie

The ghost of this woman seems to have been with me over the  the last few months.  Scarily, I even thought that I might be turning into the Iron Lady with her four hour sleep pattern at one time.  It seems though that I'm not the only one that she's haunting.  A very rough and ready survey of my menopausal friends suggest that disturbed nights are very common.

For a pinko leftie, sleep disturbance caused by Margaret Thatcher could constitute my worst nightmare but I'm standing up to her.  Rather than tossing, turning and fretting I accept my current lot.  I'm treating my wakefulness as a gift, a time to be productive.  My university application was completed at 3am the other night, the Guardian crossword and a few online competitions invariably get done. The wee small hours have seen me hew many a blog post too. Follow this link to find out about other people what others with strange nocturnal sleep-wake patterns are up to.  I have to say that cooking into the early hours isn't one of my usual activities but I did make pate once.

What prompted me to write today was that, for the first time in living memory, I slept right through! Okay I exaggerate but it's been a long time. And the reason?  Well, the Ray Winstone of Reiki paid a visit last night to give me another treatment and top up my energy levels before my impending operation.  At one time he seemed to remove something that appeared to be a brick out of the back of my head.  He said that it looked like a tornado though.  Anyway, this is not the time for splitting hairs.   Whatever it was, the process was uncomfortable. 'Why are you engaging in all this psychobabble?' the rational scientific side of my personality asks my inner hippy.  'You slept, didn't you?' she replies 'So stop moaning!'

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

She Shall Have Music........

If you have a sweet tooth, you might think of music as one of those things that forms the icing on the cake of life. If not, go ahead and feel free to choose your own more savoury metaphor - the cheese on top of the pizza or the Marmite on the buttered toast perhaps?

For today's post I'm going to be sharing some of the tunes that have been my accompaniment  as I whizz around the Devon countryside lately.   It amazes me that, as driving is a big part of my working day, I actually get paid to hold my own mini festival in the car.  My nineteen year old self, who'd favoured indie bands would probably be horrified with my current penchant for blues, country and folk but hey ho!  I'm less image conscious these days, like what I like without giving a damn about what other people think. I reckon that I'm a far happier bunny as a consequence.

First up, is Greg Brown, an  artist that Spotify suggested that  I might get on with, maybe because of my penchant for gravelly voiced male vocalists whose musical content can be slightly suggestive.  And what do you know? They were right! 'Just by Myself' is a favourite from 'Dream Cafe but the entire collection is all good stuff. After all what is there not to like about someone whose lyrics are spattered with references to good old outdoor activities like camping and fishing, a  pastime I'd like to try myself.  A sport where you can read at the same time as catching your tea sounds mightily attractive.  It seems that Greg Brown is a seasoned artist with plenty of other albums under his belt. Happily there's plenty more to discover in the weeks ahead.

Although he's been around for yonks and I've always admired his outspoken brand of activism, I didn't 'discover' Billy Bragg properly until last year  when I heard a Radio 4 programme where he talked about covering Woody Guthrie's work in collaboration with Wilco. I wish I could have been able to provide a link as it was fascinating stuff but alas, I am a crap researcher.  The album 'Mermaid Avenue' has been a firm favourite ever since.   To ring the changes I've tried his most recent collection 'Tooth and Nail'. Think what might happen if Essex man ended up in the Deep South and you'd be getting there.  It's rather blooming excellent and my current drivetime favourite.   This sad but liltingly beautiful track which brings back memories of  Chagstock 2013 sometimes gets played on a repeat cycle.

Okay it's time to get away from those roughie toughie men. I am a sixties child and as such '80s music is the soundtrack of my youth.  Revisiting the anarchic pop of the  B52s is such fun.  'Rock Lobster' brings back memories of dancing at naff student parties but 'Wig' was the one that made me giggle the most as I drove across Dartmoor last week.

It's nice when the musical preferences of me and my son converge.  Sometimes Louis can surprise me with his good taste but his favourites include a fair bit of boy band nonsense.  Here's one where we enjoy singing along together.  My grubby little son particularly likes the notion of never having to change his socks!

And finally,  do you remember that bloke, Keith James, that I talked about the other day after seeing him play in Plymouth.  Here's one of  the poems by the Spanish poet Lorca that  he's set to music on his collaboration with Rick Foot.  A friend of mine recently urged me to stretch myself a bit more musically.  I think that I might have now achieved a little more elasticity!

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Academia Revisited

Yippee!  With about an hour's work under my belt in completing an application form, I have effectively 'won'  over three months take home salary, £7,335 to be exact. As an antidote to feeling like I was stuck in a rut as far as my work life went,  I applied for funding  to do a Masters degree in Advanced Occupational Therapy. These days, outside help to do this is as rare as rocking horse droppings. But  Fandabidozi, as those Krankies would say, I got it!  The course that I'm applying for starts in April so it means that I have something really worthwhile to get my teeth into during my extended period of sick leave which starts next week.  That's aside from making sure that a poorly knee gets totally and utterly better of course.

The award was on the back of coming up with a project to benefit the elderly that will form the research  part of the course.  I've been playing with an idea that I've wanted to explore further for some time now.  Until this came up I didn't quite know how I was going to do that.

In the main, medication isn't really effective in reducing agitation, aggression and distress in people with advanced dementia without causing more problems than it solves. What does the trick is getting the physical and social environment just right for the particular individual involved.  I want to see if it's possible to assess how a person with dementia is under or over stimulated by sensory input from the world around them and explore ways in which balance might be restored.   My hunch is that if you can achieve this there could be a significant increase in  overall well-being for this group of people who no longer have the wherewithal to take control themselves.  I would love it if I could come up with something truly groundbreaking that has the potential to make a real difference.  Not a bad dream eh?

So, this means  my  move out of  NHS employment  in 2015 will now be delayed for at least a year.  But hey! Sometimes in any area of our lives, unexpected opportunities come up that are just too good to miss. What seem like the best laid plans of mice or men (squeak!) then have to be brushed aside.   This is one of those cases where it would be churlish not to change tack for at least a while.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Food Waste Challenge Update

When I set myself the week long food waste challenge last week I thought that it would be pretty easy-peasy.  And it was!   Aside from buying six pints of milk not a single grocery item crossed my threshold that I'd bought myself. Oh, there was a beautiful artisan loaf of onion bread from Totnes market.  Do impulse purchases of bread count against me?  I suppose that they might do!

Well, okay  I should also 'fess up to more stuff that might be construed by some as cheating.  A harsh word I think you'll agree.   Louis had an extra rehearsal for the Scout Gang Show.  There really was no time to cook,  a perfect excuse to get fish and chips from the excellent Bovey Fish Bar,  that proves that a perfectly cooked version of a British staple isn't just the preserve of Rick Stein. I thrice cooked leftover chips for Louis' tea the next day though,  That has to count in my favour.

I might score even more brownie points if I tell you that I made meals for friends twice, just from what I had in the fridge and the cupboards. Salty Dog arrived for an impromptu visit on Friday and I baked her a vegetarian version of a butternut squash recipe that I've previously featured, replacing bacon with chopped nuts.  She in return gave me a lemon.  But this is not just any lemon for she had picked it from a tree in Spain earlier in the week with the express intention of giving it to me.  Isn't that lovely?  It was used on pancakes that Louis made for Saturday's breakfast.

The other dishes at the top of the page were rustled up for Red Mel and Louis on Saturday.  Under that lush topping of chorizo, chunks of cheese, tomatoes and olives there's a puff pastry base that was coated with my own version of tomato puree, made of food processed sun dried tomatoes.  It adds an intensity of flavour that the shop bought stuff can't compete with.  It went in the oven for a little over 30 minutes at Gas Mark 6.  That's 200 degrees Celsius to anyone who has an electric oven.

And for pudding there was crumble of course, made with some Granny Smiths that have been hanging around in the fridge for a while.  I've previously given the instructions for what has to be my favourite dessert.  I didn't have any cream or ice cream though so a bit more resourceful rule bending was called for.  I asked Red Mel to bring some with her.  Sorted!

Sunday, 16 March 2014

No-Body Really Here!

Photo:  The Poke

There's a little inner devil who's daring me to get out that string so that I too can present my rubbish like this  for when the bin men call next Wednesday.  It would certainly give them a laugh - or a fright!

Saturday, 15 March 2014

RIP: Tony Benn - From Someone Who Used to Complete Your Tax Return

Photo: Isujosh
I try to ring the changes with my blog and realise that this is the second time I've made special reference to an octogenerian this week. But I just had to mark the passing of Tony Benn as he was such a great and principled man and one of my heroes.  Isn't this a lovely photo of him?  It just demonstrates that good looks aren't just the reserve of youthful girlies.

Don't get me wrong.  I can't agree with everything he stood for.  After all I am a pinko leftie whose political stance is far more to the left of centre. I've just, with a guilty conscience, secured my son a grammar school place after all.   This chap, though, had oodles of integrity, that character trait that I strive to emulate  and look for in the other people that I choose to spend my time with.

In a past life I was a tax consultant and, in order to fund my studies when I was changing career to be an occupational therapist, I worked as many hours as I could in the 'tax return factory' of one of the big accountancy firms.  Between June and the submission deadline date at the end of January, as soon as lectures were over in term time,  I'd get on my bike. cycle to the office and do as many hours as I could.  It would have made  Norman Tebbit, another politician of a different persuasion proud. After all, I believe in paying my  own way in life.  That's not just a Tory thing I'll have you know.

How it worked was, as tax return information came in, it was put in a box at the end of group of cubicles in which I had a desk.  Us minions picked it up, inputted it into the computer and wrote the covering letter. Tony Benn was one of the firm's clients.  I actively waited for his information to come in and as soon as it did I nabbed it.   I regarded it as a privilege to do a small anonymous service for a man that I truly admired so much!

Friday, 14 March 2014

My Best Under The Circumstances

Image: Vlado
It's nearly a month since I rewarded myself for reaching a weight loss target.  Those iconic blue and white  Cornishware mugs that hold a swimming pool full of tea are an absolute pleasure.  Okay, I might be a little kooky but one of the things that I like about them is that the stripes are slightly raised and it's nice to run my lower lip over the ridges between sips.  Each to their own, as they say!

Anyway, let's move on from disclosing my weird drinking habits  and  set something straight.  My 5:2 diet is not being followed to get me to looking like Twiggy.   As far as body shape goes, I prefer being curvy,  a sentiment that I hope would make Gok Wan proud!  Given that I've never been a stick insect, it would be unrealistic to wish for anything different.

No,  my desire is just to get rid of a little more of that excess padding, look toned and set myself up for a healthy active lifestyle well beyond my forties. Another stone and a half should do nicely.  I'd like to report that the pounds are positively falling off me but they're not. Even though I'm pretty religious with sticking to my 5:2 diet, progress is  slow.  Those fastidiously planned weigh-ins indicate that I'm shedding on average just half a pound a week. If I carry on at this rate it would take nearly a year to get down to my target weight.

So what's holding back progress? The answer is pretty straightforward.  Calorie burning exercise, in all the forms that I enjoy, has become an absolute no-no.  Those allegedly gentle arts of cycling, walking and even swimming, as my leg seems to float off in odd directions, put too much strain on that poor damaged knee.  Of course, skiing, jogging and childlike sneaky gos on Louis' trampoline have been completely out for some time.  But now, even small amounts of additional activity over and above being a couch potato, like driving more than usual for heaven's sake, cause pain and instability,. The joint is now wibbly, even when encased in its brace. Short strolls up Saddle Tor and through Falmouth has made the problem worse.  It's enough to make my inner wilderness hiker weep and to be honest, I have had a little cry.  I've kept my virtual pecker up for the last few months but it's beyond boring now.

What I'm having to tell myself is that the end  really is in sight!  My operation is scheduled for the week after next and fingers crossed, after that I will finally put the health problems that I've had over the last few years to bed.  And I'm turning to my new favourite book for advice.  What do you know?  The Four Agreements has come up trumps again.  Do your best, it counsels, but what this means changes from moment to moment.  It is totally different according to whether you're sick or healthy.  Progress in the right direction, even if it isn't as fast as it would be if I could exercise as much as I'd like, demonstrates that I am still striving to be as good as I can at the current time. For that I need to give myself a pat on the back rather than a virtual beating!

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Now That's What I Can Do With All That Sea Glass

I was quite taken by this picture that was hanging in a Falmouth coffee shop that displays beautiful sea washed glass so effectively.   Could this be the ideal souvenir from a lovely weekend away?

Yikes!  I think not.  Blooming heck!

Now beachcombing has a bit of a lure for me and beats shopping hands down. One of my favourtie pastimes is  scouring a shoreline humming happy tunes to myself and finding treasure  or litter for that matter.    I like to create a clean beach. Here's some my rich picking  that didn't go straight in a nearby bin.  I've also got a picture mount, some wood and some white paint going spare.  And there's glue of course, that sticky stuff that as a klutz, I tend to get everywher apart from the place that I intended.  Despite this, could I actually start and finish a project within a reasonable amount of time and end up with something similar at a fraction of the price?

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Clouds and Gratefulness

I love Brother David Steindl Rast but not, in a phwoah! kind of way, I'll hastily add.  That would be oh so wrong for he's eighty seven years old and a Benedictine monk for goodness sake.  No, those warm fuzzy feelings of affection are winging their way to him because of the eloquence and wisdom of his teaching.  There you go, I told you my intentions were pure!

 His website is a rich plethora of treasure that counters those desires for acquisition  that overtake all of us.  It demonstrates how we may see ourselves as blessed by focusing on what we have rather than what we perceive as missing from our lives.  It's all jolly good stuff and there's so much of it to work through.  As an introduction  I've included the video 'A Good Day' at the bottom of this post just in case you aren't convinced.  It's a bit schmaltzy in its presentation but there you go that's Americans for you! The concept though can't be faulted.

I'm particularly captivated by the idea of being appreciative of the sky what with the formation of clouds never being the same in different moments.  Hence, today's picture which I stopped the car to take last week as I was coming home from work in Tavistock.  I've done the same journey since and what greeted me at the same spot was a much different angrier sky that changed the whole vista.  It's an ever changing landscape that's so beautiful it isn't hard for those feelings of gratitude to come bubbling up to the surface!

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

The Mad Pigeon Lady

In the absence of a soulmate, one from the Guardian or anywhere else for that matter, I am forced to re-evaluate my lot in life. Of course, my colleagues are positively gagging to help.  'You could be one of those women with lots of cats!' suggested Svelte Support. 'No, she's much madder than that'  said Barbie Nurse. In view of this vote of confidence I came up with a suggestion of my own.   Unless I am rescued by a knight in shining armour, who no doubt, will have been described in similar terms himself to be able to cope with me,  I'll transform myself into a pigeon lady like the one played by Brenda Fricker in Home Alone 2. My version will be a bit more raggedy and carry loads of carrier bags of white sliced.  I'd have to get over the fact that I'm really not at all partial to manky birds or having their poo splattered all over me.  I like this picture though.  It seems that being a pigeon lady doesn't necessarily mean instant rejection by small boys so Lou might stick around despite the stench of guano.

As I elaborated on my new life plan there was general agreement that I was indeed as mad as a box of frogs, an affirmation that I am used to hearing several times a week from friends all over the place. Heck,  I even  talk about myself in those terms now as the concept is so ingrained.  On this occasion I stepped back and paused for thought.  I don't really think I'm that far off sane.  After all I look after a house, hold down a responsible job and make a reasonable attempt at being a mother.  'Hey guys', I said 'When you describe me like that what do you mean?'  A perfectly sensible question to put to a band of psychiatric nursing staff don't you think?

'Well, where do we start!' Barbie Nurse was keen to elaborate.  'When you speak seemingly disconnected things all come out at once.  It's like an explosion!  But then, everything gets joined up even though it's totally random.  All these ideas comes out too fast for the rest of us. There's loads of good stuff there but so much of it!' It was a sentiment that Mr Anonymous from Guyana  confirmed later in the day. He'd attended a planning meeting with me at a local cafe where I'd felt particularly inspired. Consequently he came back to the office looking  rather shell shocked and it wasn't all down to excessive caffeine intake.

My colleagues have since gone on to describe my madness in terms my heightened sense of the ridiculous, the myriad of projects that are going on at any one time and my slightly kooky clothing style which, on the day in question involved more than one Nordic patterned fabric being worn at once.  I still maintain that my dress and leggings were well matched and looked pretty together.   Happily, in spite of our differences in opinion over style Barbie Nurse and Svelte Support have concluded that I am not suffering from mental illness.  It seems that I am just prematurely eccentric.  And what do you know? I'm quite happy with this diagnosis. Now where's that Sunblest?

Monday, 10 March 2014

Moorland Jaunts and Nice Surprises

Here's the proof that I did what I said that I was going to do this weekend and got up on Dartmoor.  Yeah, yeah, yeah I know that selfie could have been taken ages ago when I could move around like a gazelle on heat. You're just going to believe that it was taken on Saturday. In fact it was so lovely to sit on a rock in the sunshine, gaze out into the distance and contemplate my navel that I hobbled up twice to my new favourite outcrop that's just to the side of Saddle Tor.  The ascent is pretty easy.  It's coming down any gradient at all that's getting trickier and trickier.

Anyway, when I got back home yesterday here's what awaited me in the hallway of the house.  Aren't they lovely and springlike!  Getting flowers reminds me that there is a girlie girl hidden under that cropped noggin. Apparently,, as I found out later, they cost the princely sum of £5.95!

And there was more!  A new piece of pleasingly shaped retro bubble glass to add to my collection.  It would be rude not to accept this. Could someone, somewhere have had a reccie around a car boot sale and picked up a bargain that they knew that I'd like for just a couple of quid?

Item three that awaited me.  A note from my son that's quite priceless given the steps that he'll normally take to avoid writing anything.  Loving the dyslexic take on my name that has just got to rhyme with those French almondy biscuits.  He came round later to give me a hug, tell me what he'd spent and confirm that I'd followed his instructions.  And yes, the flowers greeted him outside the front door just as he'd stipulated!

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Thinking: Not Just About The Money!

The illustration today  is just part of  the rather excellent 'Watch Your Waste' infographic which has been included on the Live Better Challenge pages of the Guardian's website.  Go there!  It's is a brilliant resource that's aims to spark individual activism in key areas over the next seven months. The topic for the  first month is food waste and  a week long challenge of not throwing away any leftovers or edible food has been set. I'm particularly taken with the lady called the Dinner Doctor who has a live blog giving people tips on how to use their own particular bits and pieces that they've found lurking in their fridges and store cupboards.

Now I've talked about this subject before but it's worth banging on about. I've even contributed my own mouldy cheese and sour milk scone recipe before to help the cause.  The facts are truly appalling. The equivalent of 4600 calories of food per person are harvested on the planet each day yet only 2000 of those are eaten.  The rest, which is enough to feed all the starving people in the world, is wasted.

I'll hold my hand up and say that I'm still not 100% perfect with regard to not binning stuff but I'm getting really near to my personal zero waste target.  Call me a smug bastard but that week long food waste challenge, I'll be starting on Monday, doesn't seem very onerous at all. I've already taken steps to  use stuff up habitually.   Ditching the weekly shop and buying just what I need as I go along has been key here.  It forces me to focus on the ingredients that I already have and then prepare meals based around those. Regarding my freezer as my friend and popping leftovers in there for another day has been another cunning ploy that has been effective too.

We are urged here to 'Think about the Money' and I've included this particular picture because it sums up my own philosophy that goes beyond thinking about the grocery shop.  If you are careful with money and use it in a considered way then there's a greater chance for there to be pennies over to spend on the things that bring more meaning into the lives of yourself and others around you.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Homely Home

The weekend stretches ahead of me and, for a change, I have nothing planned. That's a good state of affairs indeed. Between Thursday and Tuesday last week I had stuff scheduled in for five of those six evenings, something that hasn't happened for, I don't know, it must be well over a decade.  Of course, I won't be doing nothing over the next couple of days but let's see what crops up spontaneously rather than getting all diaried out.

One of the things that I'm hoping to have time to do, as well as a little crutch assisted ramble up on the moor in the forecasted sunshine, is to give the house a thorough going over. Yes, a spring clean by any other name.  It's absolutely necessary as I equate an ordered living space with peace of mind.  Seeing that my knee operation is just over two weeks away I want to get my home to a state where I can rest tranquilly without fretting about clutter,dirt and those cobwebs that those productive country bumpkin spiders who live round here hang up for decoration.

Two years ago when I first moved I had my misgivings about whether Lovelygrey Cottage could ever be viewed as home.  As it's  a privately rented property, the  tenancy has be revoked with a couple of months  notice  at any time.  Thankfully I've been able to put that to the back of my mind.  In fact I don't know if it's a worry anymore.  Que sera, sera.  This place  has become a secure happy retreat for me and Louis and a welcoming place for friends and family to visit.

I brought relatively very little with me from my former marital home.  After all Louis and Mr X still had to live there.  My beloved bargain Stressless recliner, desk and shelves from my office and a few bits of furniture that have followed me around from childhood were exceptions to the rule.  The house could have ended up looking very swanky and trendy indeed if I'd kitted it out with new stuff.  It might have even started to date by now because there are fashions in homestyle as well as clothing I'll have you know. What I like though is that with a mixture of recycled and secondhand finds and crafty makes by myself and others, I've created an timeless atmosphere, somewhere cosy that looks as if it has been lived in for years.

Friday, 7 March 2014

Cohen Copycats

Remember that video of Christian Sleep that I posted hastily the other day. Well I'll 'fess up and say that I didn't listen to the track before sharing it with you.  Now I have and have found that it's not representative of what I heard him play. It's much more polished than one bloke and his guitar on a stage at a holiday park could come up with.  So I thought I'd give it another shot and find a song that I actually heard this guy perform  I nearly embedded his experimental version of Ave Maria but you'll have to follow the link to marvel at a incredible vocal range because how could I resist a bit of Leonard?  By the way, cosmic ordering didn't work out for me. The great man never came to tea.

Christian Sleep's version isn't the only live version of Hallelujah that I've heard in recent days. It won't surprise you to find out that if a bloke decides to play a gig called 'The Songs of Leonard Cohen' I'm going to be very interested indeed.  And with a magicky rearrangement of childcare I was able to go to Keith James' concert at  Plymouth's tiny  B-bar.  Moral of the story?  It's always good to have a decent working relationship with your former spouse where kids are involved.  Thanks Mr X!

Right let's go into review mode here.  It was a great night.  Anyone who came though expecting someone doing an impression of Leonard complete with sharp suit and natty hat would have been disappointed.  This bloke was beardy and casual dressed.  Some of the musical arrangement diverged big time from the recording that I know and love but were no less enjoyable and thought provoking for that.  Keith James hoodwinked us a little for not all the songs that he played were by Leonard.  He apologised for playing one of his own compositions but hey, I liked it enough to include it in this post instead of a Cohen track. High praise indeed.

Since schooldays when I was taught  English by a heavily powdered Scotswoman with a facial twitch and a fondness for verse about death, I've been heard to say, in my more crass moments, that I don't like poetry.  Of course, with my love of wordplay and songs with clever and thought provoking lyrics this isn't strictly true. And I've been to a John Hegley gig so that counts doesn't it?  Keith James deflected away from Leonard Cohen's work and played songs inspired by  the Spanish poet, Frederico Garcia Lorcia who is said to have heavily influenced Leonard Cohen.  A tenuous link indeed Mr James! However, I think that you'll be pleased to know that after hearing these, I've been inspired to take a plunge, read and surprisingly enjoy poetry in its own right for the first time in thirty odd years!

Thursday, 6 March 2014

What Did The Mouse Do When His Friend Fell In the River?

He gave him mouse to mouse resuscitation. Boom! Boom!

There's nothing quite like a good old charity shop rummage and Louis and I got some a few of those on our trip to Falmouth at the weekend.   We meandered down the main street towards the National Maritime Museum popping into these secondhand treasure houses as we progressed.  I came up trumps finding two of the type of  sassy little skirts that I'm currently rather partial to. There's one with a bright silky retro-esque pattern.  It's lovely but I discovered when wearing it yesterday that you can be prone to impromptu Marilyn Monroe impressions when its windy! One for still, calm days I think. Then there's the monochrome number which caught my eye that the charity shop lady told me was topical. Black and white,  you see, are the colours of the Cornish Saint Piran whose feast day has taken place this week.  Such a shame that he's dead and buried and not around to celebrate it!

With the princely sum of twenty pence, Louis felt that he had come up trumps.  That's in spite of the fact that the raggeddy old copy of The Awful Joke Book he bought is so dilapidated that its first eight pages are missing.   True to its title it contains some monumental howlers which provided entertainment for people on the next table in a coffee shop as well as ourselves.  There's some rather bizarre line drawings too.  I don't know if it was the sea air getting to me or the louche look on that worm's face but this one made me giggle rather a lot.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Fred 2

You may remember Fred and Ginger, whom I wrote about on Valentine's Day.  Well, the other morning, a chilly one, I was having a little wander up Totnes' Fore Street gathering my thoughts after a visit. And I met Fred wrapped up toastie warm, out with one of his carers who was given Ginger some much needed time to herself.

Fred is a bit like a lot of us in that he needs to go out of the house everyday and feel the fresh air on his face.  So doing this is  built into his routine and stops his frustration levels rising sky high.   Because of his advanced dementia he doesn't remember me from Adam.  Heck,  he doesn't even know his own wife most days so recalling the face of some random occupational therapist who occasionally visits him at home would be a very long shot indeed.  Most of my visits to Fred's place are when he is at his day care centre after all.  It gives Ginger time to talk freely without having to worry about his immediate needs.

When I saw Fred my first thought was that there was no need to acknowledge him as he wouldn't know who I was.  Then I told myself off.  I wouldn't purposely ignore anyone else in the street though I'm told I it happens accidentally when I'm off  in my own little la-la daydream world.  So why would I be rude to Fred?   I'm so glad that I didn't go with my first impulse.

'Hello Fred' I took his hand and greeted him with a big smile.  'Well, hello!' he said heartily, beaming back at me with his lovely cheeky grin.    He returned the handshake  enthusiastically and then tried to convey something about my own cosy clothing, a felt coat that I'm rather partial to, touching the collar as he did so . Whilst I was with him, I also got to meet one of his favourite carers who Ginger had told me so much about too.  It was an encounter that I would have been silly to have missed.

Sometimes I've heard people who look after others with dementia talk in pretty hopeless terms about providing positive experiences for those that they care for.  'What's the point,' they said 'When they don't remember it afterwards'.  I'll grant that must be so hard to bear sometimes.  But what my chance meeting with Fred brought home to me is that sometimes a person doesn't have to be laying down memories for experiences to be special to them and the others around them.  Mindfulness applies to those with dementia too and enjoying the current moment can be plenty enough.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Cornish Kiddie Meal

I'm gathering together a willing band of volunteers for Operation Mobilisation Lovelygrey which will commence after my surgery. This kindly bunch have agreed to take me out and stop me going stir crazy. Even so, it looks like my movement may be severely curtailed what with a ban on driving. So I've decided to push the boat out while I still can. Our trip to the Maritime Museum at Falmouth was therefore in two parts with a lovely lunch in between at The Shack, a near  faultless and atmospheric seafood diner just a stone's throw from the door of the museum.

Now Louis loves a chicken nugget much as the next child but sometimes he'll surprise me.  He likes a Pizza Express dough ball as well but I steered him away from our favourite chain on this occasion as I fancied something a little different. I chose squid and  smoked haddock kedgeree from The Shack's £12 lunch menu. Am I beginning to sound a little like Michael Winner?  Probably not as he wouldn't have chosen something that cheap. He'd have been happy though as more expensive fayre such as oysters was on offer.  Louis spurned the kid's menu and took on this handsome beastie who was served hot with garlic butter. Yum!

In true kid style Louis rejected the green garnish so I polished that off.  It's a toughie but someone has to eat samphire that is going spare.

Here's my son completely absorbed in a task that rendered him speechless, a rare state of affairs for mother and son alike. Over the course of the meal he became increasingly adept in using the great big gnarly hammer, crab crackers and a pointy thing to perform a form of crustacean surgery.  The outcome though wasn't good for the poor crab.  He was crushed to pieces and  well and truly devoured. Fingers crossed that whoever operates on me is a little more careful.  Thanks to the very kindly staff in the restaurant who provided very patient instruction in messy crab deconstruction.  Let's hope we can visit again in the very near future.