Friday, May 28, 2010

One year older......

Time flies, people, whether you are having fun or not. Another year has vanished into the hazy past and I am one year older. Yesterday was my birthday. I am no longer 34. Well, I haven't actually been 34 for 22 years to be accurate, but there are times when I think I am still 34. Then, of course there are others when I feel 478, but we will not dwell on those. It is all in the mind, they say.

NO, it is NOT.

It is also in the creaking of the bones, and the essential use of specs on the end of the nose to be able to decipher any form of lettering. And the fact that one needs to rush to the ladies room on arrival anywhere, instead of an hour or 2 later. AND the fact that one no longer resembles in any way, a super model. Not that one ever did, mind you, but one used to shop in the small size clothing departments once upon a time back before half of you were even born. Now one tends to favour the area which could pass for the tent department. Sigh. The glory days have definitely gone.

So the day before my birthday, I went and had my hair chopped off. 8 inches of it. And I LOVE it. I was due for a change in something. And as no-one has yet perfected the off the rail selection of stunning bodies, I settled for the hair. I may even have gone and had a manicure, if the shop hadn't suddenly ceased trading. Hmphf. I will have to reach for the specs (see above) and the nail varnish and do my own nails. Not quite what I had in mind. And quite pointless at the moment, when my hands are buried in soil more often than not.

I considerd for one very brief moment, doing a state of the nation assessment of moi. Then I tossed out that idea. All it took was a glance in the mirror and let me tell you, the best parts have to be the brain or the heart, which are hidden from view. Completely. There is a flaw in the design, I feel.

So I woke up, and Diana made chocolate croissants for breakfast, which has not helped in the tent department. Followed by lunch out with Diana, Glynis and Jean. Ditto. Followed by visits from friends, carrot cake made by Diana and more coffee than you can imagine, and then more cake at the twins party tea, followed by more friends popping in, and roast lamb for dinner at 10pm. Groan. I wonder if we should move on to the super tent division?? Probably.

I was thoroughly spoilt by everyone, and had a great day. And this morning I got up, looked at the lines on the face, and all I could think was how lucky I am for so many reasons. Lines mean I have lived. There has been an inordinate amount of good, which outweighs the bad. There has been an inordinate amount of stress, but nothing compared to some people. I know there has been more laughter than tears. I earned those lines.

I was overwhelmed by all the messages yesterday. The calls, cards, emails and visits, and facebook sort of exploded, and I loved it all. So I am here to say that I do not care that I creak, need glasses, am slower, head for the ladies room at speed and need larger clothes. I can tell you 56 years of stories. I have a treasure chest of memories. I have people who love me. I have a family who intrigue me. I have friends who challenge me.

The good outweighs the bad. Life itself is good.

Pity the best part is hidden from view though. Hmmm. Just as well I have a blog then, isn't it......

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Building memories.....

Diana flies home near the end of July, so we have a lovely long time with her around this year. She is going back via Vancouver, which will be great, as she has never been to Canada. Neither have I for that matter. One day. Crystal??? Hear that??? One day! But so exciting for her to see new places.

She is the adventurer in the family. The one who wants to explore the world, and actually does it too. She is a geographer, after all! When I think back to the year she finished school, and then, aged 18, set off around the world...... Wonderful. She went all round Europe, and then to New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa, then off to Europe again to see Prague. And then after many holidays in the Alps, she moved to New Zealand, and since then has done a lot of NZ exploring, been to Australia, and stopped in San Francisco for a few days too. And Hong Kong on the way back last year for a few days.

As I get older, my list of places I would love to visit is being refined slowly, and in most cases, it is the people I want to see, as well as the geographical and historical parts. And because my family and friends are scattered all round the globe, that factors in hugely. I should have encouraged my children to work for an airline. Memo to all you young Mums with a wanderlust.... get your children to think of any branch of aviation as a career!

When I go to different places to visit people, the first things I want to do is see where they live and the places they go to, like shops, and where they have coffee, or go for walks. Then I want to see the surrounding scenery etc. But I want to build a picture in my mind of their reality, so when I am home, I can conjure up pictures from my memories. Isn't that what memories are all about really?

Becky has just come home from a trip to Europe with her husband's choir. I am absolutely sure that her wonderful memories of this trip will be coloured by the experiences of the kids she travelled with, and the people they met, the homes they visited, and the places they ate, and the music they made. She will look at photos of the magnificent castles, cathedrals and scenery, and remember them all AND the things people said or did there. The sounds, the laughter, the fun. The people make it unique.

Of course you can travel alone and have the most amazing times, but you will talk to people you meet, and you will remember them. Small things. Keeping your eyes open, using your imagination, watching how things are done in different places. Learning all the time, and building up layers of memories you can peel back later, slowly, and savour them.

That is why, as we grow older, the memories become so much clearer, I suppose. We take them out over and over again, and relive moments from our experiences. Moments we tucked away, never to be forgotten. So if you happen to see someone gazing off into the distance, they may just be seeking out those memories, perhaps to enable them to get through the day. The memories could be of their childhood or just about anything, but I am sure that they will be coloured by the people who played a starring role. Not just the places.

I have NO idea how I drifted off into memories. Maybe I need to go and sit in the garden and gaze off into the distance, and dredge up some of the beautiful gems tucked away in my mind. I may just come back and share a couple with you later........

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The garden is growing...

The blazing heat of the past few days has gone, and it is actually wonderful not to be dripping. It sounds so elegant, doesn't it - dripping. Sigh. I still have dreams of elegance, but if you had seen Jean and me trying to put the new compost bin in the place it had to go, and then fill it with the old compost and old growbags, you would have been convinced you had come across a chain gang hard at work in a desert. Add the dirty hands, which then wiped the sweaty face, and you get the idea. Thank heavens Diana was out searching for a suitable outfit for a friend's wedding, and not around here with her camera. But the compost bin is where it should be, and is not going anywhere.

The garden is planted for summer, except for a few more seedlings which are still in the greenhouse. I can't tell you how fast the courgettes (zucchini) are growing.....amazing. The rodent population and I are at war, and I am watching what is left of the peas like a hawk. I popped another dead fieldmouse into the bin yesterday. Hopefully I am winning the battle.

Being in the garden is just wonderful. I can do a little at a time, and the rewards are spectacular. Things grow. It is excellent therapy, you know, and I just love being out there. I read about someone who has battled with pain for years, and she said that her garden has been a life and sanity saver. I know what she is talking about. She is absolutely right.

Diana also has a vegetable patch back in NZ and she loves growing her own veg as well. And Andrew and Ann are growing their own vegetables in their garden. They add more varieties every year. It is something more and more people are doing here. There is no such thing as "too small"!! My garden is minute, but I have pots and growbags all over the place, and I manage to grow a great deal. So funny - I had a text message from a friend last night, who has just planted veg seeds for the first time, and he was SO excited when his courgettes popped through the soil. He said he felt like an expectant father, which made us all grin. I gave Peter and Glynis the seeds you see, so I am expecting regular updates.

Right. Time for another rodent patrol. I may just be a little obsessed at the moment.........

Monday, May 24, 2010

A Scottish Adventure......

Well hello, all...... here I am back in the rocking chair once again. Having my daughter home has meant that life has become a little unpredictable. She, together with my friend, Cheryl (more about her later...) decided that I needed to be kidnapped and taken on a Scottish Adventure. So last Monday, Diana, her friend, Sarah, and I set off north. Nothing like spur of the moment excitement here, let me tell you. I am sure that there were many reasons I should have stayed here and sulked, but in the end, I couldn't think of a single plausible reason not to go. And I tossed a bag in the car, and off we went.

We stopped at York for lunch with Glynis's daughter, Katherine, who works at the university, and is about to have her PhD graduation ceremony! Kate and Diana have been the greatest of friends since birth, so that was a really lovely reunion for them, although it was just for lunch. There will be more time later, of course.
Crossing over North Yorkshire, we discovered this little castle. Sarah and Diana lived in Brougham Street in NZ, and they decided this castle was meant for them.

It did, however, need a little work on the roof.

And then we got to Scotland, the home of one of my oldest friends. Probably THE oldest. We were trying to work that out. We met when we were 6. On a beach in Cape Town. Then later we were in the same class at school, at the same uni, and she was a bridesmaid etc etc etc.
Anyway, Cheryl and Robin live in a village north of Edinburgh, and it is one of my most favourite places on earth. We have spent so many wonderful family holidays with them, and if you remember, the first Christmas after Geoff died, David and I went to Scotland to spend Christmas with them. It is a place to go to relax. And, to be thoroughly spoilt too, may I add. A haven. Refuge. Peace.

The girls went off on their adventures every day, and I stayed with Cheryl. There was a great deal of talking, napping, enjoying the sun and scenery from their garden, eating - oh the eating....I cannot tell you what wonderful meals Cheryl created. I am still waddling.

We did manage to trip to the supermarket, and stopped for lunch at a nearby farm shop too. This "Heeland Coo" was in residence.
And this is a bench outside their home, where you can sit and just drink in the serenity of the view over Loch Leven. Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned on the island. Beautiful. Diana just loves being there, and this is one of her favourite places to sit.

Not the most stunning of photos, but it is the only one I have of everyone. Robin was doing a bbq, with a great many "helpful" suggestions from the women. The weather was great and we spent a great deal of time out in the garden. In the evening, the fire was lit, and we all curled up on couches indoors. Bliss, I tell you.

And this is what I did. I put my feet up and relaxed. It was absolutely just what I needed to be doing. I have many photos of my feet on different stools, benches or chairs.

And just in case you are wondering, whenever I tried to help, I was told to sit down and stop interfering. Sigh. I tried.
And that is where I disappeared to last week. It was wonderful. Peaceful. And I had time to relax with a special friend, and have my daughter around too.

Sunday, May 16, 2010


Today, my son celebrated his birthday.
Today, I played with my granddaughter.
Today, my daughter came home for a holiday.

Today has been a lovely day.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

I can't think of any snappy titles.......

Let me just say that having to switch the heating on in the middle of May does not thrill me at all. But last night it was below 0C and even the water in the trough froze. So on went the heating. And it is on again now.

I am ready for the sun. Warm days. More than ready.

Today has been a busy day. My doctor and I had a long chat this morning, catching up on what has been going on. She is great. And is a great listener as well. I told her that it was her duty to keep Glynis, Jean and me, or a working combination of the 3 of us, in order. We need at least one driver functioning at all times. And I asked why she couldn't wind back the clock or wave a wand and get us back to the way we were 5 years ago. For goodness sake, we didn't even mind being 50. It was what happened after that that we need to delete. She tried not to laugh and failed miserably. She also thinks that my attempts to pace myself are a disaster, but we all knew that anyway.

And then this afternoon, we all went to the funeral of a friend's Dad. It was absolutly astonishing how similar as a man he seems to have been to Geoff. Quiet, loved fixing things, (especially vacuum cleaners), didn't retire till he was 70, time at sea, loved growing vegetables, loved football. I mentioned this afterwards to my friends, and they all said that the same thing had flashed through their minds. And one of the hymns was "For those in peril on the sea", which always brings a lump to my throat.

Did you know that a great many sailors from a few decades ago refused to learn how to swim? I asked Geoff about that when he told me, and he said that if a ship goes down in the middle of the ocean, it is better to drown quickly. He said sailors had no intention of paddling about for days waiting for things with large teeth to arrive, or the remote chance of a passing ship. I suspect that is now a thing of the past. Fascinating, though. When I first met him, he couldn't swim, you see. But we had a pool, and he learnt very fast. That was then. Now I have a bucket. It is, however, easier to clean.

Diana has been having a wonderful time playing with Missy. Swings, slides, and ducks have been part of the fun. And she is now in London with her friends for a few days, so I am sure she is loving catching up with everyone. Thank heavens everyone in this family has a camera permanently attached to their bodies at all times. As my daughter-in-law said, she is a catcher and custodian of memories.

We all are in a sense. And what fun that is!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


A new political era has dawned here in the UK, and we have a coalition government for the first time in about 70 years. Maybe now we will get to see grown up politics, with the art of compromise, co-operation and commitment to the best interests of the nation and its inhabitants being exercised with vigour. One lives in hope.

There is not a mother around who has not learned (probably the hard way) that compromise is the secret to living peacefully and harmoniously. Knowing when to pick one's battles. And knowing that conceding now and then is actually the fastest way to win respect and co-operation. Now we wait to see if the politicians will do the same in reality.

My simplistic view of the way things have crawled along over the past 5 days has been to sigh dramatically at the tv news, and mutter "Why can't you ALL just take the brightest and best from every party, sit down and work things out?" But that is apparently why I am not a politician. I am too grown up.

Anyway, moving on to lighter things......

Crystal tagged me to do the 5 things thingy, (5 answers to 5 questions) so here we go:

Question 1: Where were you 5 years ago?
  • David was writing his GCSE's, so I was pacing about hoping he had done enough work
  • It is 5 years since the dreadful floods destroyed the bottom floor of my sister's home and her garden, and the village was cut off completely from the outside world
  • We were working on the house - painting rooms, carpetting bedrooms, and re-doing fascias
  • Diana was getting ready to move to NZ
  • And me...well, I was living what seems now to be in a dream world.

Question 2: Where would you like to be 5 years from now?

  • Maybe living somewhere like Switzerland
  • Travelling to see my children, family and friends around the world
  • Enjoying being creative
  • Over all the hospital stress, court cases and inquests, and free to be living a normal life
  • Laughing a lot

Question 3: What was on your to-do list for today?

  • 5 things??? Maybe there should have been 5 things, but I can't think of them. Hmmmm. Vacuum the house (I just added that one)
  • Talk to my daughter
  • Cook supper. No idea what yet.
  • Correct transcript of the inquest. That has been on the list for a week and never gets done. A psychologist would have a field day with that one.
  • Fold and put away the laundry.
  • (It is 3pm - number of the above actually completed? Zero)

Question 4: What snacks do you enjoy?

  • Paprika crisps (Swiss ones)(chips)
  • Honey roasted cashew nuts
  • Cheese and sesame crackers
  • Garlic and herb dip
  • Clementines, or pears - fresh

Question 5: What 5 things would you do if you were a billionaire?

  • Obvious first one - pay all debts
  • Take care of family and friends
  • Set up a trust to disperse most of the money. In fact, get family and friends to work for the trust and meet to decide where to give the money every month. I can't think of anything more fun! Research the greatest needs, fill the gaps, make a difference.
  • Travel (to look for places to help and to spend time with family and friends)
  • Try to make some dreams come true for people.

Consider yourselves tagged if you would like to play along - just let me know if you do it, so I can come and read your answers too!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The plane arrived!

She has landed!

And as I am speaking, she will be collecting her case and heading out to meet her big brother and sister-in-law. They are fetching her and taking her back to their home for the rest of the week. She has plans with friends in London, and Louis Giglio to go and see and I will get to see her finally on Sunday, which just happens to be her brother's birthday too. And there is Missy to get to know, of course. She will be christened while her Auntie is here, and Diana is going to be one of her godmothers, so it will be extra special.

I can't tell you how wonderful it feels to know that all of my children are in the same country. See, I settle for little things, people. The same hemisphere is also good. However, I know how happy she is in NZ, and that is all that really matters. But it is lovely to know she will be home or close by for a while. And one of these days, I will need to go back to NZ to see her there too. I need a lotto ticket, I think. There is a lot of exploring to do, and adventures to be had. One day.

It is amazing, you know, I had no idea how tense I was until I got her text saying "Yay! England!" and then I relaxed. My back is knotted. And I did not sleep much, but tonight - that is a different matter. I am not a hovering type of mum at all. But I am a Mum. Enough said. I also happen to have an extremely well developed imagination, which reaches technicolour blockbuster levels at times. Like today. And I am absolutely certain that all of you who happen to be Mums too will know just what I mean. The good news for you young ones is that IT NEVER STOPS. Diana is 29 for goodness sake. It doesn't matter at all, and neither will it matter when she is 59. The small print in the "You are now a Mother" contract may have mentioned this, but I neglected to read it. It is part of the deal. It never said anything about ending at 18.

And that is just fine.

Now I just need to know she is with her brother and I will probably keel over and have a snooze. Tap tap tap. That would be the fingernails on the desk. They are probably talking too much, and have not looked at their phones. Patience, Linds, patience........

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Where did the weekend go?

I have no idea where the days go, you know. Actually, I suspect that making best use of each 24 hour period is not one of my strong suits at the moment, but they disappear way too fast.
  • The election came and went, and as you probably know, we have a "hung parliament". No clear winner with an outright majority. So there is much speculation re the talks of coalition/compromise etc going on. And talk of another possible election later in the year. Seems simple to me - the electorate clearly demonstrated that they think all parties are as bad as each other, and could we move swiftly on to GROWN UP politics now, and exactly that - compromise. Or even better, sit down and discuss how best to get the country out of the mess it is in TOGETHER. And pigs may yet fly.
  • The volcanic ash cloud is back. And threatens to disrupt UK air travel. Could it please go somewhere else until after Tuesday afternoon when Diana flies in???? I do not fancy having to muster a rescue mission to Siberia or the like.
  • David is back at uni, and discovered new life forms growing in the fridge when he got to his house. His housemates neglected to empty the fridge when they left after he came home. He was less than enchanted at having to clean out the mess, and even less thrilled to find out that they had not put out the rubbish for collection either.
  • It has been like winter around here. But today the sun is actually out and I managed to open the greenhouses for a while. Everything is late this year. The seedlings need sun. So do I.
  • Did I happen to mention that Diana will be here soon???
  • Missy is growing like a weed. And she runs, dances, loves being outdoors, and is trying to talk.
  • I think I am going to go and invent some cinnamon buns with what I have in the cupboard now. I need cake.
  • Happy Mothers' Day to all my friends celebrating today!
  • There is a massive bumble bee in my house.
  • That is all.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Election Day in the UK......

Well, I have been to vote. I am not sure where the rest of the electorate was or is, but they most certainly were not lining up to cast their vote this morning. David and I were the only ones in the hall. But I have done my civic duty, and tomorrow will bring the results.

This election has been marked in this village by the singular lack of any visible canvassers or candidates. At the most, we have received a flyer or 2. And when I received my ballot paper, I was surprised to see how many candidates there were. At the very least, there should have been a few callers at the door. But no. Not a soul.

Facebook is really into the whole polling day thing - when you log on, the first thing you see is the reminder to vote, with a little box to click on when you have done so. Interesting.

Ironically, this is the first election where the social media mega-engine has been harnassed by all parties, but it has been specifically highlighting the leaders and their parties in general. A lot of focus on personality, but a common avoidance of the tough issues. And yet it is as if this particular farflung little outpost of our constituency is irrelevant. The constituency boundaries were changed after the last election, and instead of belonging to the nearest town 2 miles away as we have done for decades, we have been bundled into a town about 20 miles away. Ridiculous. And their candidates never bothered to visit.

They are extremely lucky we bothered to vote at all.

Oh well, we will know the results tomorrow.

Meranwhile, back at the "ranch"......

The extended family of that fieldmouse seem to be moving into my garden. I saw 2 this morning. I need a cat. I put down another tray of mouse dispatcher, and am happy to report that 35mins later, it was empty. I could be right re the family bit. A large extended family. This could explain the absence of any pea seedlings too, seeing that they have already polished off the sweetpeas. My replanted sweetpea basket is currently residing at Jean's place, where it can stay until the seedlings are big enough to thwart the fieldmice, or I have managed to execute the lot of them, or the cat has moved in.

David was supposed to be going back to uni today, but announced this morning that he is not feeling 100%, so that has been postponed, just as I loaded the bedlinen into the washing machine. His bags are piled up in the lounge, and he is ensconced on the couch. Plans, remember - plans are a waste of time! Stuff happens.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Come back, Spring.....

The long weekend is over, and the weather is still stuck in winter mode, more's the pity. As David is not really 100% I want to stay around in case he needs me, and so I would like to pot on garden seedlings, but I would need a coat and hat and gloves, and really, that is not quite what gardening should be, now is it. The tulips will be over for the year in the next few days, but they have been so beautiful. And so tall. Some have reached above my waist height, and as I am 5ft 6", that is really tall!
The apple blossom is out and with the wind of the past few days, it is falling almost as soon as it opens up, so catching it with a blue sky on camera is not easy. The clouds are blowing across the sky at speed, and the sun comes and goes but the wind - it is icy.

But the blossom is lovely.......
Speaking of wind, I see that the air space over Ireland and the west coast of Scotland is closed again because of volcanic ash. That volcano just keeps blowing up there in Iceland, and the wind is blowing it our way. Mind you, given that the wind is coming from the north, is it any wonder I am freezing here and dressed in winter garb? (Just heard they are opeing the air space again this afternoon, but the situation "remains dynamic".)
I just hope it changes direction and disappears in time for Diana to take to the skies next Monday. She is due to arrive on tuesday, and this family can't WAIT to see her!
The lilac will be in complete bloom by then. I heard someone say that the lilac was going to be bad this year. Not here. My tree is covered with huge blossoms. I would love to have some indoors, but the rooms are not huge, and the scent is so powerful it can cause headaches, so I go outside and sniff it now and then - slightly diluted by The Wind, of course!

This has been a weekend of stark contrasts. Some of my friends have celebrated birthdays, and some have lost loved ones. Some have been busy and some have been ill. Plans change constantly, don't they. Some have had good news, and some have not had the news they expected. Life changes without warning.

But we know all about that.

6 hours later................

I got distracted. Washing in? Washing out. Washing in? Out? You get the idea. This is the new exercise plan. And when I took it out, I hovered, inspecting plants. When I brought it in, I made coffee. And spent a while browsing through the books at Amazon. Oh, I did wash the dishes, people. I did get David to eat some lunch. I may have had a chat or 2 on the phone.

And then I actually looked under this desk, and discovered my son's old school rucksack from 2005. Yes, you read it right. 2005. And it was full of "stuff" which is now in the bins, but not before I inspected some work he should have done back then. He seemed to think filling in only one of 27 pages of old exam papers was sufficient revision. His teacher disagreed. I would have disagreed too if I had known about it in 2005. So I called him downstairs and told him off while trying to keep a straight face.

A job done, and a smile and shake of the head at how long ago 2005 seems. And if I don't hit the publish button now this will sit here for another 6 hours.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

A weekend to forget...

Hello world, I am back.

I think I am. The house is a tip, but thankfully the mountain of washing is done, and that revolting "someone has been sick in the house" odour is gone, thanks to a surfeit of Dettol antiseptic cleaner, and my scrubbing. And I actually managed to cook something, though eating it was a little too far to venture for today. But I looked at the chicken, and didn't have to run a mile. Progress, see. And I am eternally grateful that Monday, tomorrow, is a public holiday. So if I want to crawl out of bed at 11am like I did this morning, I can. And I may stay in bed longer if I feel like it, because I CAN.

Mind you, spring has disappeared, and the temperature is back to 8 degrees C and very un-spring-like. Indoors is good. This is not the weather for gardening. And any walk would have to be brisk, and we don't do "brisk" any more.

So I have little to talk about as a consequence. My brain got left behind on Friday. Maybe by tomorrow it will have caught up. I will think of something. I may even make notes this evening as I retire to the couch with the remote control.

Saturday, May 01, 2010


I am slowly returning to the land of the living after 24 hours of stomach hell. I can't remember when last I was so sick, and in the end I just took up residence in the bathroom, and thanked the Lord for tiled floors.
So I am now as weak as a kitten and all I want to do is sleep. Great. Not what I planned. Back later when I feel more normal.