Monday, July 31, 2006


Please look at these superb beans. Unfortunately, I put them on to cook, answered the phone and they died. As in black coal. They and the pot went into the bin, and I was distraught. But at least I took a photo of them! My beans. My OWN beans. Grown here at home in a pot. Oh the sense of accomplishment. Sigh. I think I am losing it. Beans.......

The house is changed around, and I took a car load of things to the tip today with David, and bags to the charity shop as well. I am just so sick of "stuff". Why on earth do we hoard so much? I found things in cupboards that I got as wedding presents over 30 years ago and have never touched. Everything plastic went. One shelf seemed to be a graveyard for old electrical things. They are gone too. Only 15 kitchen cupboards left to sift through now. Is it really necessary to have 7 measuring jugs, I wonder?

Saturday, July 29, 2006

She's on her way

Well, for those of you in New Zealand, Diana is on her way home. Thank you all for making it possible for her to be here with her family, and for being the reason she is excited to be going home, and throwing herself back into her life on the other side of the world. You get to be the lucky ones. We will miss her.

She is right. The last few weeks have a feeling of unreality. Now it is time to get on with a changed life. Different. But a life, none the less. There is a big gap at the moment. And it is made all the larger after seeing her disappear into the departures lounge. This time was even worse than the last.

Tomorrow is sort out the house day. Providing, of course, it is not too hot to do anything. And soon we will be off to Switzerland. So there is always something to look forward to.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Picnics and concerts

  1. Friends who can certify things
  2. Picnic at Althorp
  3. Nectarines
  4. Music you can sing along to
  5. Sons who can get birds out of the kitchen

Today was different. After a cloudy start, this evening was stunning, and hot. Pete, Glynis, Mr X (as he insists on being called to retain street cred) and I went to a Westlife concert in the grounds of Althorp. Yes. Westlife. I have to say they were very good, and polished and it was a great evening. Most of the time was spent having a picnic in the sun in lovely surroundings. We listened to Roxanne (never heard of her and not all that keen to hear her again) for 20 mins, then canned music for an hour before Westlife arived on stage. It is the whole package with the picnic that works though. Lots of laughter and fun. Meanwhile David was telling all who phoned that his mother was at a Westlife concert, with much amusement. I did ask if he wanted to go instead of me, and his response was "you have to be kidding". Oh well. I offered. And I had fun.

Middle of the night

It is 2.43 in the morning. I am wide awake after 3 hours of sleep. It is also Sunday, and that is the one day I can stay in bed a little longer in the morning. This is ridiculous. I came to see if there were any new posts to read. I have books piled next to the bed, but they don't appeal. Sigh. I am talking to myself.

Yesterday started off unbearably hot again, then we had a thunderstorm which wiped out the garden again. I looked at the 5 day forecast and the coolest temp is 28 and the hottest is 37 next Thursday. The heatwave continues then.

Cheryl, Robin and Callum popped in to see us on their way back north, and that was great. I must go to Scotland again soon. Jean also came for coffee later, and she IS off to Scotland on Monday. Tomorrow. Bekah has lost her first tooth, and they are off to see grandparents today. This is the time everyone scatters. Holidays are here. Liz and Jon are in Ireland. Annette and Andrew are in Canada. Louise and Peter are in Scotland. Nick and Helen are in Greece. Cathy and Tony are in France.

Right. I am either going to sleep now, or I will get dressed and go for a walk. Or start clearing cupboards. Or bake a cake. Or re-arrange the furniture.

Friday, July 21, 2006


  1. Nice people on help desks
  2. Mint cornetto
  3. Unexpected phone calls from distant friends
  4. Encouragement
  5. Weekends

I hate paperwork. Especially when it involves making calls to Singapore. Lots of phone calls. I have spent the last 2 days wading through paperwork with singular lack of enthusiasm. Some people I have had to speak to have been absolutely lovely, and extremely helpful. Others are beyond belief, like the woman at our satellite provider who insisted that unless I could provide a password, she could not help me. Password I screeched? What password????? She needed to deal with "the person named on the account". He's dead I yelled in an undignified fashion. That is why I am calling. Password please???? I wanted to crawl down the phone line and do some serious head bashing.

Then I was told that doctors sometimes take 7-10 months to return paperwork to the Coroner. More screeching of disbelief. Sigh. Do not assume I always screech. Just sometimes. The paperwork has to be done. I just don't want to be doing it.

It is hot and humid and I am wiped out. Margaret popped in for coffee and provided some much needed light relief, and I dropped in briefly at Bekah's 5th birthday party. Lots of little girls dressed in party dresses. Musical bumps. Pass the parcel. I felt old again. They were so sweet! And I had a call from my friend Gill in Zimbabwe, who offered to come over and stay for a while if I needed her to. I am so lucky to have so many friends there for me.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Crawling out of the tunnel

  1. Sisters
  2. Airconditioned cars
  3. Groaning tables full of food that magically appears
  4. Peter
  5. Louise

It is 7.15 am and I have been up since 4. I have just dropped Marge at Luton to fly back home to Switzerland. Saying goodbye seemed to mark the end of a phase in a way. I am so glad she came. Diana goes down to London today for the weekend. I had the radio on in the car on the way back, and realised that I have no idea what is going on in the world at all. This is a first for me. I don't think I have heard any news, or read a paper for the past 2 weeks. Time seems to have stopped. The numbness is more all-encompassing than I realised.

Yesterday the temperature reached 37 degrees, and the humidity level was appallingly high. Moving at all meant dripping. It was scorching on Tuesday as well.

Diana, Lilian, Ann, David, me, Andrew

The service was lovely...... informal and personal, and we were stunned by the number of people who came. It was just wonderful to see so many friends, and so many from Geoff's work as well. And getting to know his sister was great too. I cannot find the words to express our thanks for all the love and support and care we have been showered with. Term ends today, and the summer is officially here, and so we have to move on into a new phase. And I must not forget those beans.....

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Beans are growing

The beans are reviving. Diana and David went to water them, and also to look at the vast expanse of ground that is growing weeds at an alarming rate. So help me, we WILL get at least one bean from the allotment this year. I think miraclegro is needed for a boost. Then we will ceremoniously cook and eat it.

Meanwhile, the garden at home is full of roses blooming, just like it was when Dad died. His funeral was 6 years ago on this coming Wednesday, just a day after Geoff's. And Tuesday is going to be very hot. 33 degrees is the latest estimate. Forget teas..... it will be cooldrinks I think.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Flying dogs and other things

  1. Family
  2. Friends
  3. Help
  4. Advice
  5. Love

What an unreal week this is. Have you ever felt like you were a stranger in a foreign land that you do not want to be in, not able to read the signs, speak the language, and with no road map?? That is what it feels like.

But.... the house is full of cards and flowers. The phone rings all the time. Friends pop in and have been wonderfully supportive. Diana is home, and she and Katherine have been enjoying having the luxury of time to catch up, and there has been laughter, as well as tears. Seeing the babes again was great fun. Plans for Tuesday are coming together, and I am learning rather fast that accepting help and asking for advice is the only way to do things. We will muddle through. It is unbelievable how in the space of a few hours, everything in your life can change.

Today Morgan, K's dog (not the calmest dog in the universe) decided to leap out of a first floor bedroom window into the garden, and the first Katherine knew about it was when someone rang the doorbell and announced she had just jumped. She was running about in the garden, and after a visit to the vet, was pronounced healthy. No broken bones or internal damage. She is, however, a little stiff. Flying dogs. Give me strength. After watching her head-butt my display cabinet and do a twirl on my coffee table yesterday, nothing surprises me any more.

Monday, July 10, 2006


Yesterday David and I went to water the beans (henceforth to be referred to as the bbs) and in the midst of the allotment weeds, which are starting to grow, there was one poppy. Just one. I nearly trod on it. I asked if David knew the significance of a poppy, and he said remembrance. I picked it, and brought it home to press, and reached for the first suitable big book on the bookshelf. It happened to be the Children's Bible. I opened it at random, and the page heading was "Death is not the end".

Friday, July 07, 2006


Geoff, Andrew and David

Just to let you know that Geoff died peacefully at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford this morning. He survived the second attempt to replace his aortic valve, but never regained consciousness after the op. I was with him, as were Louise and James. Diana is coming home for a few weeks. Andrew and Ann and David are here now. Thank you for all your prayers.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Beds, Friends and all the rest

  1. A bed in the John Radcliffe
  2. Strangers' blogs which say what I need to hear
  3. The success of my young friends
  4. Skype
  5. Cheese on toast
Bone weary. That is what I am. But Geoff is now at the John Radcliffe in the hands of cardiac specialists. What a relief. I spent most of the day at the hospital here just waiting for a bed to be found for him. I didn't care where it was, just as long as they had the appropriate experts on hand. Now the operation is the next hurdle.
My friends are great. Val popped in today for coffee and brought me some home made jam because she knew I didn't know how to make it. Jackie popped in for coffee this evening with a bar of chocolate to share. Just what I needed. My mobile phone beeps all day with messages from family and friends, and the phone here rings all the time too. I am so lucky.
Tomorrow is the start of graduation season here. Matt graduates tomorrow, followed by Dan on the 11th, Jenny on the 12th, and Christopher on the 13th. Cause for much joy and celebration. Katherine is off to Washington in the new year too for 3 months as part of her PhD.
Roger is in the semi-finals at Wimbeldon, and the garden is attempting to recover from the storm yesterday which caused a power cut in the village. The rain was so heavy that it caused a flood at Nick and Helen's home. Just the sheer volume of the water. It also stripped all the flowers in the garden and flattened bushes, and broke branches on trees. The hail was so heavy I thought the skylights would break. Andrew passed the exam he wrote today, and France beat Portugal. That is the news from middle England for today.

Monday, July 03, 2006

I am thankful

  1. Medical science
  2. Surgeons' skill
  3. Supportive family and friends
  4. Every new day
  5. Strength

Prayers needed

Geoff's heart valve replacement is leaking, and he is about to go back to Oxford for a second attempt at fixing it, after a week in Northampton General hospital. Please pray for him, and the doctors as well. And for my children in London (Andrew and Ann), Wellington (Diana) and here at home (David).

Sunday, July 02, 2006

35 Degrees

  1. A cool breeze
  2. Fridges
  3. A shady tree
  4. Answered prayer
  5. A voice at the other end of the phone

Today I took Diana's shoes to Basil, who is heading back to Wellington. It was so nice to meet someone who knew her in her New Zealand life, and to hear him say such lovely things about her was a delight. I am biased, I admit, but it is great to hear! We sat in the garden with Meg and had a cool drink and chatted for a while.

Andrew and Ann have been and gone. Apart from seeing Geoff, they watched the football and went for a walk this morning as well. We had a BBQ last night.

Today was stiflingly hot. If you sat in the sun for a while, the heat dried the sweat as it poured. If you went inside you dripped. Yes, I know it sounds particularly fetching, but believe me, it was unbearable. I considered putting my head in the freezer.

There was a shared lunch at Jean's today and the kids were the only ones with the energy to move. Everything seems to slow down. It is too much effort to move, and even thought slows to what is almost a halt. You think about emptying the dish washer. Repeatedly for an hour or 2, but doing it is too much effort. I do not envy the tennis players at Wimbeldon tomorrow. Or for the rest of the week. Let me just check.... Yes, the 5 day forecast is all over 30. Thank heavens exams are over for David. Jeans garden is perfect for parties...... lots of flat grass to run around on for the kids, and places to sit in the shade for the older ones. What a happy place her cottage is for all of us.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Sport Saturday

  1. Electric fans
  2. Being a colonial
  3. Imagination
  4. Hayfever medicine
  5. Sons who make coffee for their mothers

For the next 5 days, the temperature looks like staying in the 30s. Summer is here!

Today is the day everyone stays home to watch either the football or tennis. England play Portugal, and Murray plays Roddick. Or Nadal plays Agassi. Then someone else plays someone else tonight at football. Whatever. Flags are flying everywhere....from cars, houses, poles. People are wearing England kit everywhere you look. I do not want to think what will happen to the nation if England lose. National mourning I suppose. Oh all right then..... COME ON ENGLAND!