Very, very sad news from Rejane. Her daughter Olivia, barely 30, died last night. Meningitis. Unbelievable. She has a three year old son. The whole family is distraught. I can’t stop thinking about it. Olivia was absolutely beautiful, full of life, had an excellent sense of humour, and so much to live for. Way too young.
I think the worst thing that can happen to any parent is for their child, whatever age they might be, to die before the parent. I can’t imagine how awful they must be feeling. I have cried and cried and cried, and that’s just me. How must her actual mum and dad be feeling? her siblings? her nieces? her sweet husband? and her grandmother? It just doesn’t bear thinking about.

But her organs will be donated. Even though it’s against the natural order of things, that is the only positive I guess to come out of such a tragedy. Other people can live as a result. 

My thoughts are with them all.

28th March 2011

Lovely weekend. We went for lunch with my sister and her husband, at Cafe Rouge in Solihull, and had a wonderful time. We were half an hour late, which was totally my fault, and I felt awful about it, but had a good chat anyway.
The Killing (Saturday night viewing) has finished! Oh no! it was wonderful, gripping stuff, one of the most exciting things we’ve ever watched. Sad at the end though, and I got a bit confused and had to think about it hard afterwards to work out what had happened.
Have been in the garden today – planted some new thyme, replanted the rhubarb in a much bigger pot, and replanted a pot which was looking tatty. During the process, which hubby had to help me with, I managed to fall off my kneeler backwards. How does anyone manage that? well, I did. Landed, luckily, on my bum, which is well padded, but very disorientated and a bit shaken up. And of course now my bum hurts. Arnica cream, ice pack, paracetamol. But the garden looks great. Have also pruned the hydrangeas – possibly a bit early for that, but never mind, they were driving me barmy.
Still two hebes to plant, and must get some mint, sage and basil, also coriander.

Little sleep this afternoon, about to make a nice cup of tea.

my birthday!

What a wonderful day I’ve had! lots of cards, lots of presents – all absolutely fabulous. I have a pile of nine books to read – which is my favourite situation to be in. I have some Body Shop Neroli Jasmin shower gel, moisturiser, spritz and perfume, (love that stuff), and the Coco before Chanel DVD to watch. Not to mention three boxes of Hotel Chocolat chocolates, one of which is dark chocolate hazelnut praline (my all time favourite chocolate). Excellent, just excellent.

The weather has been beautiful, our new solar powered pump for the little water feature is working perfectly, and a much better idea than the mains powered one which was noisy and inconvenient, I’ve done a bit of gardening (not much but enough), we’ve been out for a delicious lunch at The Farm (I had goat cheese in a hazelnut crust in beetroot and green been salad – yum), and had a little sleep this afternoon.

I can’t think of a better way to spend my 56th birthday. I opened all my presents in bed this morning, while drinking a cup of tea and eating one of the chocolates . . . it’s all been very relaxing and satisfying. Although it’s just after the spring solstice, it’s not always sunny and warm at the end of March . . . so it’s a real bonus to have such lovely weather. Always cheering.

18th March 2011

YD loves her birthday carrot cake – particularly as I iced it with glace icing. She came round this morning, and so did my mother. So we all had coffee/tea and chatted.
When YD went home, she took with her all her pots and plants and gardening stuff, so our garden looks a lot tidier. Excellent. She also moved some of my pots into a better place – they’re on wheelie things but I still can’t move them. 
Then I noticed that my hoya plant has actually flowered. Beautiful. I’m delighted. It was a present from Sylvia (machine knitting teacher) and she took it from a cutting. She has very green fingers (or thumbs, as they say in France), and it’s just such a pretty flower. It looks almost waxy, like icing on a cake. Lovely.
Tonight I’m going to start off the dairy-free trifle, and the bread rolls (in the breadmaker). Very domesticated. Not quite goddess status, but working towards.

Worried about Libya, and Japan. Not productive I know, but maybe empathy isn’t such a bad thing. What are we all going to do about nuclear power now? maybe we need to find something else that is just not so damn dangerous. Hmm.

17th March 2011

It’s St Patrick’s Day today – lots of Irish people drinking and laughing and having lots of fun. Green all over the place. Also my niece’s birthday. I have four nieces, all absolutely delightful. This one has three children and a menagerie of animals. Two rabbits, both males, so have to be kept in separate hutches. One shares with a guinea-pig and that works ok. Also a blind quail. Yes. A blind quail. Which she saved from a buzzard the other day. She’d got him out of his little cage thing because it was a sunny day and she thought he might like to feel grass under his feet and warmth on his head, when she became aware of something behind/above her. When she looked, it was a whacking great buzzard. Gaagh! so she grabbed Blind Quail and put him back in his home. Blimey.

Today have made two carrot cakes – one for YD’s birthday (late, I know), which I will deliver to her tomorrow, one is in our freezer. Yum. Also am planning a trifle this weekend. My trifles have a home-made broken up cake base (so it’s dairy free), a layer of frozen fruit on top, then I make custard with soya milk. Yum yum yum.
Yesterday we went to the municipal tip, emptied seven huge bags of garden rubbish and all the dead batteries into the respective receptacles. Replanted a very vigorous golden hop so will see how that does.

But despite all this activity, am feeling rather pathetic and low really. Maybe the doctor will change my tablets next time I go – not sure what to though. But that’s for him to decide I guess.

Sunday 13th March 2011

Well, the voice is back and I’m feeling much better, thank goodness.
ED and Paul came to stay over on Friday night – that was lovely. Also her friend Michelle arrived en route to Dover from Newcastle on  Tyne (a very long way) with her husband, his brother, and little Bethan. A lovely time was had by all – Bethan, aged 3, has the most delightful Geordie accent. Wonderful. 
Japan – OMG. How awful. I can’t imagine how dreadful it must be, and it’s not getting better either. All those people. Jeez. But that’s nature, and in Libya it’s not. Can’t imagine how awful it is there either.
Have done some gardening today – well, cut back the berberis, the eryngiums, and the ceanothus, which just looked ugly and horrible. Now we have seven black bin bags full in the shed, so a trip to the tip is definitely in order. The wheelie bin is also full to the brim, and not due to be collected for another two or three weeks.
Also did my ironing – so am feeing very virtuous indeed, although of course absolutely knackered. But it’s done.
Hairdo booked for tomorrow, visit to niece for Tuesday, and visit from Mother on Friday. Just need to phone the QE hospital re sleep test and osteopath re back/arms/shoulder appointment, hopefully this week.

Well, that’s it for now.

Wednesday 9th March 2011

No voice at all. Can barely whisper. Very frustrating. It’s a regular feature of my life, so I should be used to it by now. And of course I’ve had a cold, which is the reason. But I can’t answer the phone, except to my daughters or husband, can’t ask for anything in a shop, and I feel sort of lonely and sad when I can’t communicate.
To the physio today, hubby took me in case I had any more nasty injections. But I didn’t. She sent me off for an x-ray of both thumbs to see what’s going on. It could be arthritis, or carpal tunnel syndrome. Possibly surgery in either case, or maybe x-ray directed injections (that made hubby shudder!) Shoulder x-ray came back fine, so I just have to not lie on it at night and see if that helps.
Yesterday spent a fruitless two hours trying to make BBC Radio 3’s best quality broadcast (320 kbps or something) stream via hubby’s computer onto his Linn DS. Not successful. Felt very stupid, as one guy on the forum spent half an hour setting it up and it worked easily. Hmph. The thing is, although I’m quite geeky computer-wise, I have absolutely no idea what I was doing. I followed the instructions and did absolutely everything, in exactly the right order, but had no clue why or what I was doing. Normally when I fiddle about with computers I do learn something, but not this time. Ah well. Maybe some day soon the BBC will broadcast their Radio 3 stuff in the best quality anyway. Currently they just stream it over the internet, and you can’t get it directly onto the DS, even though you can get most internet radio stations direct. Hmph.
Hubby is currently making beefburgers. Why are they called hamburgers in the US? they’re not made of ham, they’re made of beef. But then there are a number of anomalies between the two sets of English. Pissed in England means drunk, in the US it means angry. Fanny means backside in the US, but something quite different in the UK. Nobody in the UK would ever, ever be called Randy except as an insult (though possibly an admiring sort of insult). Pronounciation is an issue too, I think. Schedule is pronounced “shedule” in the UK, but “skedule” in the US. And don’t get me started on the spelling differences. Why? why? evolution of the language(s) I guess.  Bill Bryson is very eloquent and interesting on the subject, and he should know, as an American who spends large amounts of his life living here.
Just ordering the shopping on line. I’ve done my very best, next stage is to get hubby to make sure everything we actually need is on order. After dinner, maybe, over coffee (or in my case, a cup of honey and lemon).
Can’t wait till the next episodes of “The Killing”. God, it’s good. It’s a Danish crime thriller and we are absolutely hooked. Also love The Tudors, despite the somewhat optimistic portrayal of Henry VIII as handsome, slim and debonair in his late forties! when he was actually grossly overweight, foul-tempered and had a smelly horrible bone infection in his leg which suppurated all the damn time (lucky Catherine Parr . . .), and of course Nurse Jackie (2nd series), with the fabulous Edie Falco. Saturday nights are currently jam-packed with good viewing. Thank goodness for the technology enabling us to record and watch it when we’re actually awake.
Have scattered hundreds of annual poppy seeds today, given to me by my friend Maggie with whom I worked at Coventry Council. It will be interesting to see if/how they grow. They’re all over the front and back gardens, and I’ve saved some for the daughters. I have lots of perennial poppies too, some white with a purple heart (Victoria Louise), some purple (Patty’s Plum), and one beautiful coral one which I think has sort of invented itself.
Patty’s Plum
Victoria Louise

the coral one
I grew several red ones from seed last year, so they haven’t flowered yet, but are looking strong and healthy. They’re supposed to be red. Love red poppies, they’re so cheerful. Fingers crossed. I thought today would be a good day to plant them because the sun has been trying to shine and it rained a bit too, ideal conditions for hardy annual seeds, in my head anyway.

Well, that’s it for today. If anything else interesting happens, either in reality or in my head, will let you all know.

4th March 2011

In Brighton, I was sitting on the sea front, cloud watching. The combined angles of the sun, the sea and the clouds meant that two clouds were turned into pearlescent rainbows. Absolutely beautiful, and I’ve never seen that happen before. I have seen double rainbows, one inside the other, but never a rainbow coloured cloud. Or two. Magical.
Had an ultrasound scan on both feet on Wednesday. I really didn’t expect that to be painful, as the last ultrasound scans I had were when I was pregnant, in nineteen hundred and frozen-to-death. However. The guy needed to squeeze, prod and poke my feet exactly where they hurt, so it was all a bit fraught really. But done now. Awaiting the next appointment with the foot guy to see what he thinks.
Then into Solihull, to the library, where I got six books to read. That should keep me going for a while anyway, particularly as I still can’t damn well knit. Also took a top back to M&S, got a refund, and bought myself 17 new pairs of socks. Extravagant? well, not really, as I didn’t buy new socks last winter, and they were all in a terrible state. All dumped now. 12 are ordinary socks, cotton-rich, and 5 are trainer socks, which I’ve never tried before, but I will need this summer when it’s wet, as I now have to wear these trainer things to help my feet.
Hubby is in Glasgow, at the Linn factory, being shown how they make an LP12 record deck. He’s very excited about it. (It’s a man thing – has to be.) Flew up yesterday from Birmingham, and is coming back tomorrow.
I have a stinking rotten cold and feel like five kinds of sh*t. Today, however, I have actually managed to get dressed after the shower. Yesterday I had a bath, didn’t dare risk a shower as I couldn’t stand up very well, too giddy and pathetic, but then put my pyjamas on and slobbed around all day like that. Not quite so bad today, but not great. Hmph. Have had to cancel hairdo and lunch with a friend. But it’s clearly passing, and as soon as I get my voice back (another delightful symptom every time I get a cold) I’ll phone the hairdresser and rebook it.

The weather is nice though, cold but sunny. The cat has been particularly affectionate. Normally you expect cats to be sort of “get up, stop moaning/bleeding, and get me some food”. But yesterday when I finally emerged from bed at 5.30 pm, way after her tea time, she was sitting patiently on the stairs. No yowling, no fuss, just scampered down and waited for me to feed her. Bless. And she’s been quite cuddly too. Today she’s playing around in the garden quite happily. Bless her little heart.

1st March 2011

Brighton at the weekend – fabulous. Long journey, though, takes 3 hours with a half hour stop. Saw Rocky for the first time in over a year. What a lovely, lovely little boy. He’s two and two months now, and chats away happily all the time. He has clearly only encountered kindness, and is very open and jolly. I was very touched that when, in the coffee shop, he realised I wasn’t going to have any cake, he got very insistent, and pointed at the table full of different types of cakes. “Cake, lots of cake” he pointed, and when I still didn’t eat any, he sweetly gave me some of his (crumbs)! Bless his little heart.
We also got to see the other two grandchildren, Toby and Lucy, at their mum’s fabulous flat. It’s at the very top of a huge, mostly empty, building, with views the whole length of Brighton bay, and is big, airy, light and beautiful. It was absolutely wonderful to see them all, healthy and happy and really enjoying their lives.
Sunday morning we went for a walk down past the conference centre to a wonderful cake/coffee shop called The Mock Turtle, where we had lunch. Absolutely delicious. Caught the bus back (my poor old legs were suffering and I was absolutely exhausted by this time) and dropped ES (eldest son), with Rocky, in Guildford, where his mother lives. Rocky’s mother, not ES’s mother.
Monday we popped in to see YD’s + Tom’s new house. They have worked really hard, and have stripped one complete room of wallpaper. They’ve made a bedroom into a temporary lounge, and their bedroom is lovely. They are clearly going to make a lovely job of it, and I’m really pleased for them.
Tuesday – ooh, that’s today. To doctor’s this morning for prescriptions for my various ailments. Sorted out portable TV in spare bedroom, organised freeview digibox (very basic one), new portable aerial and SCART switch box. Currently the tv is only connected to the dvd player, and that’s all. When all the stuff comes I’ll set it all up so that visitors can watch tv or a dvd.

Also have made a banana cake. Didn’t have all the right ingredients, so I’m not sure how it will taste, but it smells and looks good. We’ll see later, we’ll share a slice before it goes in the freezer.