Sunday, August 30, 2009


I remember writing a post a long time ago about friends and friendship, and I am reminded once again of how important true friendship is to me. I have just been out to coffee with a great friend of mine, and we talked a little about how, at times, there is almost an "audit" of friends in our lives.....

People change a great deal. I change. We are all constantly evolving. I am probably unrecognisable from the woman who started this blog. In fact, I am probably radically different from the woman who was writing here just a year ago. A month ago. Change is something some people fear, but it is part of the natural order of things, and if we don't change, we can wither and die. Or our relationships can. Friendships can. So I welcome the changes in my life and just pray that each one is a positive change and not a negative one.

But with the changes in my own life, come changes within my relationships with my friends too. In recent weeks I have seen how some friendships just don't go beneath the surface deep enough to withstand crises, and how some new friendships leap up automatically to prop up people when they are needed to do so. It is all dependant on the nature of our diverse characters, I think. Or maybe not. Maybe it is our culture, our upbringing, our education, our faith, our experiences, which have the most impact on our friendships. A reason, a season, or a lifetime is what I talked about before. Which ever way you look at it, friendship is an evolving force.

I have been particularly blessed to have the kind of friends around me who do not hesitate to step forward to fill the gaps. People who go with me to doctors' appointments, who fetch and carry me, who chide me, who laugh with me, and make me see the funny side of potential meltdown issues. People who bolster my spirits, take me out to coffee, understand when I am forgetful, when I am torn, when I am wallowing in quagmires of "stuff" they do not really understand, but see anyway. People who remember me, offer help without being asked, can be trusted to speak truthfully, and who see needs and address them in ways which can only be heaven sent. Whether I like it or not.

As a pig-headed, stubborn, independant woman who is not all that good at seeing reason at times, and who ploughs her way through her days with head down, intent on the goals, without thinking about consequences, it is good to know that there are those friends around who are not afraid to say "STOP" and make me slow down. A little. Who have my best interests at heart and who genuinely love me. Me. The pig-headed stubborn one.

And in return, I hope I am perceptive enough to know when they need me. When I can support them, when I can yell "STOP" if necessary, when I can stand in the gap for them.

Since I got home, I have been inundated with visits and calls from a group of really special friends. The ones who collected my mail and watered plants daily, and looked after my house. Those who took us to the airport and fetched us. Those who have decided to come and lay my patio. Those who have been away, and are checking in to see I am home and ok.

I matter to them, you see. I am a part of their lives. If someone matters to you, it means you take a special interest in them. People matter to me. I worry about them. I cheer them on too. So I get it. And can never take for granted the special blessings I have received with the group of people who encircle me with their love. Is encircle a word? Well, I just made it up, if not. It sounds exactly how I mean it to sound. Perfect.

When the Voortrekkers in South Africa headed north at the advent of the British centuries ago, they left on their wagons, and in the face of danger and attack, they formed a laager. A circle of wagons, and defended their position by "getting each other's backs". Covering each other. Much like the pioneers did in the States too, I imagine. The weakest and most vulnerable were in the centre, protected by those who were stronger.

And that is what being surrounded by people who care feels like. Which ever way I look, as I spin round in a circle, there is someone covering my back. I know this. And I can trust it.

Oh, how my soul weeps for those who do not have this kind of back-up. For those who thought they did, and when the time came to stand, found out that they were alone. It weeps too for the ones who place more importance on ephemeral things, and miss the point about the value of true friendship. The dawning realisation that what was thought to be a bankable friendship was one of worthless ashes is a hard thing for anyone to bear.

And so we come to the "audit" part. How to continue friendships which have been rocked. How to rekindle trust. How to try to continue a friendship when you are the only one who has realised there is a problem at all. Difficult. By audit, I do not mean judge. I mean assess whether something is good for you or bad. Positive or negative. Self absorbtion must be the scourge of our times.

Sometimes, friends sort of fade gently out of our lives, and we wake up one morning and realise that we have not spoken to or heard from them for a long time. Our lives are busy, and there are so many reasons we can come up with to justify the lack of time to keep up connections, but believe me, it is worth that time. If ever you come to a time in your life when the world sort of caves in on you, you will need every one of those special friends around you. I did. I do. This in no way negates the value and importance of family. That goes without saying. But there is another role which it is vital to fill, and that is the friendship one. Never ever take it for granted. It could well be your lifeline one of these days.

I do believe I have started to ramble. There is so much I wanted to say, but my mind is now whizzing up, down and round the bend, so that will have to do for now. Have a great weekend, everyone.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Bits and pieces.......

The sun was shining, so I threw on a t-shirt and jeans and went out into the garden. Then I flew back in, and put on the rest of the clothes piled up in the sewing room. All of them. It was COLD. Just because the sun was shining..... oh you know what I am talking about. The weather is crazy. Cold and wet the day before yesterday, hot yesterday, freezing today.....

Sigh. I have lost the ability to multi-task. You know how we women can answer the phone, continue writing a post, and compose a shopping list at the same time? Usually? Hmmmm. My family now yell - stop it now! You are trying to do other things while you talk to me. They know. I have to concentrate on one thing at a time, and girls, let me tell you, it takes FOREVER to get things done. The things I used to do at the same time.

I have had a slowish day after the manic one yesterday. The greatest achievement of the day has been the creation of a folder of photos to get printed. I discovered that the only real actual photos I have of Missy were taken when she was about 2 months old. I am a bad granny. So I selected 144 and trotted off to the shop to order them. Then discovered that their new machine could not download from a hard drive AND if I had over 150 photos, the price was half what it would be for 144. So I went and bought a new USB stick, as I have no idea where my old one is, came home, rejigged the folder to 155 photos, and went back to order them. We will not discuss how much petrol I used and the cost thereof.

My new USB stick is pink. You needed to know that. My friend, Jean, has orderd her new laptop - it is purple. I will have to get a pink one, won't I...... I am all about making statements.

I have also hauled out the quilt I started before we went away, as the weather is so dire. I anticipated a snuggly evening quilting while watching tv. However, my trusty phone beeped at me at 9am to remind me that I am out to dinner with friends tonight. I do believe this was arranged somewhere round the beginning of June, so I hope they have remembered!

This post is closely resembling my mind. I am leaping all over the place. This weekend, is a Bank Holiday weekend, so Monday is a holiday in England. There is one more week left of the school holidays, and David has another 3 weeks before he needs to be back at uni. And the summer will be history. How fast the months are going by this year.

(There is now torrential rain and a howling gale outside.) Oh yes, another sign of the ending of the summer is that the shops all have tulip and daffodil bulbs on sale now. Spring bulbs. How can it be time to think of spring flowers? What happened to the bbqs? I have hardly had any yet.

Right. If the weather behaves, that is what we will do this weekend. Have a bbq. In between the harvesting and cooking of the mega crop of tomatoes. The beans too are out of control. It is all good. The garden is sorted for now, and we have plenty of homegrown food. The stuff which was looming has been dealt with, and now I can look forward to the weekend.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Back home again.........

I do know how to spell "goodbye", my friends. I just fixed it.

I am home. It is wet, cold and decidedly un-summery, and now I have forgotten how to use an English keyboard. It has been a long day. A very long day indeed. We got to the airport early, and then heard that the plane we were due to catch had developed technical problems en route, had to return to Luton, and would be delayed as they sorted out a new plane instead. Just as well they didn't just patch up the other one, thank you very much.

However, a 3 hour delay is not the best when there is limited seating available, but we survived. They even provided food vouchers. The entire planeload of people slept most of the way home though. Me included.

Our friend was there to meet us, and as we drove home through the greyness and wetness, I wondered what had happened to summer, and why I was here. Tomorrow is supposed to be worse. Gee, thanks. I am avoiding glancing at the thermostat, because I could very easily turn on the heating. It is that sort of weather.

So the mail is sorted, and I have lists for tomorrow. I have to organise some essential stuff like road tax and renewing licences, and that means new photos............ I loathe official photos where you are not allowed to smile at all, and look mean and dour. Then there is the washing and the hair, and the garden.

The garden. Oh. My. Word. It has gone crazy. I have masses to hack back, masses to pull out, and who on earth told me to plant nasturtiums??????? They are like an alien invasion. They were regarded as weeds in South Africa, and now I remember why. Groan. I need to deadhead everything, and then there are the beans in abundance, and the world's biggest tomato crop. Not to mention the stuff which has expired. But I have cucumber and gem squash! And tomatoes. Did I mention tomatoes????

Home again.......

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Goodbye to the mountains.....

Well, I have just packed everything I can think of. Of which I can think. You know what I mean. But to be quite honest, as long as I have the passports and tickets and the wallet, I am not bothered too much. Mind you, as long as DAVID has HIS wallet, we will be just fine. I have a son who never spends any money. How did I manage that??!

It is cooler today, and that is really welcome. A friend is fetching us from the airport tomorrow, so that is even better. My friends are wonderful. I have NO idea where I put the house key. Now may be a really good time to check! Hang on a sec.....

I am back. 2 hours later. I found the key with the case locks. Why I didn't check there first I have no idea. So now I am in that in between time. Here but half there, and packed yet not on my way. Wanting to go and yet equally wanting to stay.

Apparently my garden is a jungle. I sort of expected that to happen, as it is totally inevitable when you are not there to keep things under control. But I will knock it back into shape, with a rope tied round the waist in case I get lost.

Home seems very far away at the moment. And of course I am sad to be leaving. It is never easy for me.

Almost as though they know what I am feeling, I have had a marked increase in text messages from home today from my friends. They know me well. So l am going to sign off for now, and go and look at the mountains one last time because we are leaving here at 5am tomorrow. I will be reporting in from home in a day or so.

Be good, and enjoy the last days of the summer!

Monday, August 24, 2009

More mountains.....

My sister works for the mountain. This means that everyone who works on the mountain knows my sister. And now they all think she has a certifiable sister. Moi. Why? Because the Adventures of Bog Dog continue.......

Yesterday was still a bit foggy, but Marge had to go to the top of the mountain for work, and the weather up there was superb, so she took David and me with her. And BD. I don't think there has been a more hysterical ascent in the 3 kinds of cable cars in the history of the mountain, and bless them, the staff entered into the fun of things. On the way down, the driver of the Rotair grabbed BD and said he could drive the cablecar. The laughter..... oh my word!

So our hero got to experience snow for the first time.

The mountains are spectacular, in summer or in winter...

Somewhere over there are the Jungfrau, the Eiger etc.... We had a great time. because we went up early with Marge, we got to the top before any tourists arrived, and it was quiet and absolutely beautiful. After walking about outside, we met Marge for coffee and then went to the glacier grotto - inside the glacier.

This is part of the glacier from above, as we were coming down in the cable car. A week or so ago, I had a really interesting chat to the head of the ski patrol/mountain rescue squad, and he explained crevass rescue to me. Some people who fall down them survive, but some don't. In the photo you can see some of the crevasses in the glacier.

Look at who was enjoying the view with me!

There are 3 stages up the mountain, or 4 really. Four. Three different modes of aerial transport though. The fog was below Trubsee, so we got out there, and enjoyed the sunshine and scenery, together with half of Switzerland, it seemed. Such a glorious day up in the mountains.

The lake is totally frozen in winter, of course, and the whole mountain becomes a winter sports paradise. But in summer, people were hiking, biking, bbq-ing, fishing, punting, playing...... There is so much to see and do. There is a mountain flower trail, and a science trail for children too. Bungee jumping from Angel Eyes (the very large extra cable car) over the valley, devil biking down the mountian, trotti bikes, the snow park open at the top all year round......
Hmmm. I am sounding like a one woman tourist board here.

Cowbells were ringing.....

It is all so green and rich.......

There were cows in abundance, as you can see.....

And I really can't express just how beautiful it is in reality. It is a thousand times better than any photo.

I love being up in the mountains. As Marge says, while I can't do the things I used to do in the mountains, I can still get up there, and enjoy them in a different way. Yes, I tend to push myself way too hard, and pay the consequences, but it is worth it sometimes. How could anyone ever tire of this sort of scenery? How could I contemplate being in the valley below and not being able to go up? Thank heavens for cablecars.
So we go home on Wednesday. I am very torn about it. Pulled in so many directions. I want to be here. I need to be here. I want to be there. I need to be there. My family needs me there. And my family needs me here. You get the idea.
David has just a few weeks before he goes back to uni again, and he has things he needs to do back home too, and so do I. Life is complicated. But I have friends there, and friends here, and hey, I can always come back, can't I??????? Soon.......

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Fun with a toy dog.....

Today is foggy and damp, and I have just baked 2 cakes in view of the fact that I can't see anything outside, so I may as well stay indoors for a change! Carrot cake and cinnamon cake, so the house smells wonderful, and my son is totally delighted as he loves cinnamon cake. I am the Good Mum today.

You know, I always straighten my hair, because it is really wild if I don't, and I always wear make-up. But here???? I have resorted to wearing the hair tied up and out of the way, and no makeup except waterproof mascra, and a little lipstick if I am going out, because all I seem to do is wipe the lot off all day. Or it drips off by itself, and I can't tell you how many times I have come home and seen the racoon eyes in the mirror. Humidity does that.

Normally, I would have put on a jacket with a hood to go to the local supermarket in the fog, but today I didn't bother, and the hair is rising as I speak. Just as well I don't know many people! But it is such a change not to bother too much about what the hair does etc etc. In a sense, that is what holidays are all about. However, the miracle cream moisturiser is always in place. I live in hope of miracles.

Yesterday was a quiet day, and I played about with the camera and the computer. Marge has a little turquoise toy dog as part of the decor in her bathroom, and while we have been here, he has been moved, posed, and discovered a life of his own, so yesterday, amid much hilarity, David and I took him On an Adventure, and he went bungee jumping off the nearest bridge. He has been christened Bog Dog. It was hysterically funny, as people stopped to look over the bridge and see what we were doing, and must have thought we had lost our minds.

Anyway, we then came home, and I made a book of his adventures, and one thing lead to another, and he now has 3 books with a fourth ready to print. He has been for a drive, been to visit Marge at work, and been to the park. Forget the new hair look.....the people in the village probably think I am totally loopy.

If nothing else, it has made us all laugh, and the books will be great fun for Missy too. So here you go - meet Bog Dog! He has "special ropes" (elastic) for his adventures.

He is about to make his bungee jump!

Look at him go!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Cable-cars are great.....

There is a new cable car ride here. It goes to the same place the old one used to go to, but from a different place, so David and I poddled along to try it out. The heat...... you have NO idea.
And off we wooshed silently above the village, through the trees to Brunni.

After mopping the brow - why is it that heads sweat so much? - having some lunch and chatting to some friendly Swiss cows, we got on the chairlift and went up to Brunnihutte, and the "tickle path".

This is one really wonderful experience. It is a small lake, and all around the edge, there is a pathway which goes in and out of the water, which is icy.
The texture of the path constantly changes from gravel to moss to wood bark to pine cones, to stones, to logs to wooden slats and many more. In and out of the water, tadpoles zapping about your feet. Then the mud pool, followed by warmish water, followed by aerated water......

This is me in the mud pool. I nearly gave it a miss but David said it was wonderful, so in I went.

So you roll up your jeans and in you go. I can't tell you how wonderful your feet feel afterwards! It is a really good big version of "de-sensitisation", which I am well acquainted with, of course. David loves going up there, and with the heat, the sun, the cows, the paragliders floating all around us, and the views, it was a great way to spend the afternoon. The schools here are closed on Thursday, so we had 100s of little kids up there too.
One of the great things is that it is so accessible to everyone. There were people on crutches up there, prams, wheelchairs. Ramps everywhere, and rails. Benches everywhere you walk too, so that means plenty of places to sit and rest before moving on. Believe me, I use them all. So here at least, I can get out and try stuff. And, of course, just about everyone walks with leki poles or their equivalent. Children, teens and adults. So having leki poles with you means you blend with the crowd, and don't stand out.
There is also a free bus service through the village, so at the end of a very hot and super afternoon, we descended back to the valley, and hopped on the bus, which dropped us near the house. Perfect. As David said when we were flopping, "That was a great afternoon, Mum!" He was right. It was. Now if I could just get him to take decent photos of me on his camera.....the recycling bin is full of the ones I decided were not vital to the human race. Or this computer. Groan.
Today it is slightly cooler, but the sun is still shining through the clouds, but there is supposed to be rain later. Eureka. (I never thought I would be saying that!)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Two posts in two days....... you may pick yourselves up off the floor now!

We trundled down the mountain at dawn o' clock this morning to See the Shops in Luzern. The dawn bit was because of the heat. In and out fast was the plan, and it worked. The last shop I was in had little or no air conditioning, and we began to drip in a most unattractive fashion. There has been a lot of dripping in the past few weeks. Sigh. All my efforts to look glamourous and chic are doomed. One can but dream. I never have quite managed that look, by the way. I usually look more like I have been pulled though a hedge backwards, or caught in a whirlwind.

However, I digress.

What I wanted to chat about was the cunning plan I have hatched to train myself to focus. Remember the CRPS? Well, one of the nightmarish consequences is that you lose the ability to focus. I forget what I am saying, and my mind wanders all over the place. I walk in my door and have NO recollection of how I got there. When I tell you that I thought for a while that I was showing all the signs of Alzheimers, I am not joking. It was a scary time. However, I was reassured to find out from the experts that it was part of the CRPS. Well, it is all relative, isn't it. Reassurance and relief.

Anyway, I can't concentrate. So reading, which I love, is difficult for me. All those books piled up and only a chapter or 2 read. I forget as soon as I read, you see, and have to start again, and the same thing happens and I just about lose the will to live. And as an avid reader and bookaholic, this is sheer purgatory for me. So I sat up straight and made myself read a book recommended by the specialist called something like the Brain that trains itself. ( I can't actually remember the proper title.....sigh.)

Then I drew up a list of words. Random words. And I chose the one to start with. Circle. I looked for circles wherever I went. I took photos. I made lists of circular things. I thought of circles I wanted to write about, like circles of friends, crop circles, the sun, etc etc. I involved my friends and their little kids too, and they were fascinated. Things like a manhole cover in the road reminded me of stuff, like when my father had his hand crushed under one he was inspecting when I was a child, and I wrote about my memories. Balloons = more memories. Stepping stones, rings.... you see how it goes?

One thing led to another, and memories grew, and I wrote and wrote, and took photo after photo, and then I moved on to a new word. I thought initially that I would focus on one word a week, but some take longer, and some a few days. So far there have been the circle, hope, five, purple, mountain. And I have enough words on the list to last a lifetime or two. Sometimes the last word spills over into the new word too, and that makes me write more, and triggers more memories. And the need to know. I look things up, try to learn more as I go.

I don't know if it is helping, but I don't forget the word of the week, so that is something. Trying to focus on something which opens my eyes and makes me see more clearly has got to be good. And I am going to put the whole thing into a scrapbook to remember how and why I am doing this.

This week's word is mountains, because this is the perfect time to write about them, surrounded as I am by mountains at the moment. What they mean to me, the ones I have been up, over or under, the memories of those times, the sermon on the mount, why Jesus went up the mountains, the words from the songs in the Sound of Music, growing up on the slopes of Table Mountain (which is the first line of my old school song)........ you get the idea. I may sketch something I think of, or make some kind of thing to represent the word of the week too. I still have a circular project in mind. That word could have gone on for months. So much came to mind, and one thing leads to another, and off I go.

So that is my own way of trying to rewire my brain to fire on all cylinders again. The brain is a wonderful thing, and so help me, I may even get one of those brain training game thingyamewhatsits. I am trying to override the damage to my sympathetic nervous system. Build new neural pathways. The brain is plastic, not hard set. It keeps changing, keeps adapting, keeps growing. It is not static. And in my own small way, I am trying to be proactive.

Whatever it takes. Whatever way I dream up. Who knows.....this project of mine may help someone else too.

Now I am off to take more photos of mountains. I may try new settings on the camera for a change. Watch this space.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Reporting in at last!

Dawn in the Alps

Hello all. Well, that is if any of the "all" are still around. An extremely iffy internet connection coupled with a small granddaughter visiting has meant that I have been gone. You may just have noticed this, I suspect.

Missy and her parents are back home again, and in a week or so, we will be on our way too. Sigh. I love this place, but I am repeating myself yet again. One small girl's smiles and giggles had every adult here wound round her tiny finger. And Marge and I got to babysit for a couple of hours so Andrew and Ann could go out to dinner! The fact that they were just over the road helped. Missy was awake, and when she realised her Mum and Dad were nowhere to be seen, the little one tried so hard to be brave and swallow her sobs, but the wails now and then were heartbreaking. I rocked her to sleep after a while, and was convinced she would cry when she saw me the next morning, but the smiles were back in place. She is just too cute for words. And we all adore her.

Marge's beautiful garden....
A Swiss spider....
The weather has been absolutely amazing. Hot endless sunny days. There have been thunderstorms in the middle of the night, but each day dawns hotter then the previous one. Just wonderful. I am a perpetual puddle, though. Yesterday, in an effort to cool my face and head down, I tried to hold a chilled glass full of apple juice against my cheek. And managed to pour the lot over my head and down my front. Newly washed hair and all. Groan. I looked like a trainwreck. Now I am going to go and start reading the 397587292479320posts you have all written. I need to catch up in a BIG way. However, normal service will be resuming shortly, and there will be no mountains outside or granddaughters trying to stand to distract me. Nor will there be stunning weather I suppose. I can't believe how fast the summer has flown by. Beautiful, isn't it?
A Swiss Sunset.......

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Missy and her parents arrive......

The little red train arrived on Monday, bringing on it Andrew, Ann and Missy. We just need Diana to whizz back for us to be a complete family here right now. Sigh. Timing - it is all in the timing. Missy has now travelled by car, bus, trains and plane. Not bad to be visiting foreign places before she is 6mths old! She has taken it all in her stride, and is full of giggles. Sweet girl. Marge was absolutely thrilled to meet her little great niece, and I do believe the feeling is mutual. Missy loves her Grauntie and her Gruncle. (Great Auntie and Great Uncle!) She appears to have given the "let's sit up" stage a miss and instead, she stands. And dances. Clearly very advanced indeed.

As you can see, we were well prepared for her arrival. She will not be bored. We have had great fun playing with her toys. Oh - she seems to like them too!

See? I told you she likes to stand, and just look at those little shoes. Too cute!
It is wonderful to have them here for a couple of weeks, so we all get a real chance to get to know the wee girl, and for her to get to know us too. She is starting to grin at me instead of shriek, and that is progress.

Yesterday, I went for a walk round the lake as the weather was completely beautiful. It was lovely to sit on a bench in the sun (like a little old lady) and look at my mountains. I tried a little sketching yesterday for the first time. I will not be causing any panic in the art world, let me hasten to add, but it was fun to do.

The farmer was busy harvesting the green stuff. Grass, I think, for the animals in the winter.
This is where I walked. All around the lake. Lots of benches to rest on.

So the family is here. I have taken so many photos, but most have Missy in, and as I can't post her photo, I am limited as to what I put up today. The days are developing a sort of routine at the moment. David and I are out all morning, and then at lunch I go for a walk. I suddenly realised that being on my feet is not the same as exercising, and that I neded to do more walking, so I am trying to do that. My leg is not great, especially after the fall, but I am alive, if not kicking.
Afternoons are for babies, and cooking, and trying to help around here as much as possible, not to mention do some translations for people who do not speak English. Hmmmmm. My German is improving rapidly.
David and I need to go on a few more adventures. I think there may be some in the near future. I will plan some. My leki poles and I are ready to go.
Right. there is a little girl in the bath and I need to go and watch her swim. I will be back!
PS: With so many people here, it is not easy to get the time to visit, so I apologise for my lack of comments. I will get there, and catch up. I promise!