Tuesday 30th August 2011

Today is the oldest grandchild’s birthday. He’s 10 today. Gaaaaaagh! we saw him at the weekend in Brighton, so we were able to give him his present then (three Boden long-sleeved tops).

The weekend in Brighton was absolutely wonderful. The journey down was a nightmare – the M25 was crawling, then there was an accident on the A23 near Brighton, so altogether we were travelling for over 5 hours.

The weather was fabulous, sunny and breezy. All five grandchildren were there, and it was so lovely to see them all. I actually went swimming in the sea on Sunday morning. The sea was very rough indeed, and although it was very exciting and exhilarating, it was scary too. I had no problems getting into the water, but getting out again was another matter. I think the tide was on the turn, so the undercurrents were very strong. Hubby’s youngest son had to physically pull me out! but it was wonderful anyway.

We stayed in a little B&B which is about three minutes’ walk from hubby’s oldest son’s flat, and it’s lovely. We’ve stayed there before. Basic, but clean and everything you need really. In the old days, when I was a child, bed & breakfast meant you only had access to the room at tea-time and had to leave after breakfast! but nowadays it’s all different, and we were given a key to the house, and the room, so we could access it any time we wanted.In actual fact, we only did need it for sleeping and breakfast, and it’s very comfortable.
Parking is always an issue in Brighton, but ES (eldest son) had bought us three parking tickets ready, so it was only a question of finding a space. Considering it was Bank Holiday weekend, that was relatively easy too.The journey back was much easier. Just over 3 hours including a 35 minute break. Brilliant.

I have finally bought the fabric to make the salwar kameez, and am intending to start it off tomorrow. The party is on 17th September, so I have plenty of time. It’s lovely material. Black cotton with gold batik designs on it. Just the job. I could only get 5 metres though, and to make the tunic long enough I really needed 5.5 metres, so will see how I go, but it doesn’t really matter if the tunic is a bit shorter.The physio isn’t helping my hands or wrists, as expected. But will continue treatment. Osteopath next week.  I’m so tired I could sleep all day but it’s probably better not to.

Fetched the cat from the kennels (where she has been while we were away) this morning – she’s pottering round miaowing, not a happy cat at all. She’s very keen to go outside, but until she’s more settled inside the house, we’re just not letting her. Tomorrow I think, after she’s been through the usual routine of feeding and bedtime etc.

Well, I think that’s about it for now.

Wednesday 17th August 2011

Have been doing some dressmaking. Made another tunic top, more successful this time. Today made another bag, a better one, more like the one in the pattern, despite a couple of glitches on the way.

My sister’s home and managing well. Will phone her tonight and see how she’s getting on. Her family have been looking after her but they’re all back at work now I think.

Tomorrow I start a course of physio for my neck. The plan is that it should sort out my wrist/hand problem. It will be excellent if it does, but if not I will have to be referred back to the hospital. Hmm.

The old back is still a bit fragile, but just about ok if I’m careful. That means not doing anything like lifting full watering cans, or anything terribly energetic. But the weight is staying the same without any exercise (except for the stretches I do every morning for said back).

Have ordered some yarn – Sirdar Denim Chunky in cream – to knit a lovely, lovely short-sleeved cardigan. Pattern was in Let’s Knit magazine and even though I can’t knit at the moment, I’m still stock-piling the yarn. I have loads and loads of lovely yarn I can’t wait to get going with. Need of course to finish hubby’s sleeveless jumper first.

Next week am off to Stratford with hubby to see new theatre, have lunch, and book tickets with some vouchers we have to see a play. Sedate but thrilling at my age and state of health!

Tuesday am off to Birmingham Rag Market again to get material for the salwar kameez I’m still hoping to make. My friend Deb from school came to see me on Tuesday, and she’s been dressmaking all her life, so gave me some very helpful advice on how to ease sleeves, which I practised a bit this morning. It involved doing the ease stitching with the sewing machine instead of by hand . . . worked really well, but of course that wasn’t on an actual sleeve … will see how it goes with the next garment.

My friend Sylvia, who used to teach me machine knitting, has been having some health problems lately, one of which has been going on for several years. The hospital put it down to her tablets, but it turns out it’s peripheral neuropathy, and they’ve finally given her tablets for that and for the vertigo. Frustrating for her, let’s hope it all works.

Am currently listening, on headphones, to the bonus CD on Back to Black by Amy Winehouse. Loved her, she was fab. Sad to lose somebody so gifted so young, and her family seemed so lovely and supportive.

Received the new Land’s End catalogue – their jeans look very interesting. Am planning to order two different styles and see which suits me better, also a nice pin-tucked top in a coral colour. Exciting.

So life is currently good and not too complicated, as long as I get a good sleep !

Friday 12th August 2011

Yesterday hubby took me to see my sister, who has just had major surgery. She was looking remarkably well, and in very good spirits. Her younger daughter was there, who is just wonderful, with an excellent sense of humour. It was very reassuring to see my sister looking so well.

And today she’s home! had the op on Tuesday, home Friday. That seems very quick to me. I was in for a whole seven days after my op, and even that wasn’t long enough. But she’s fine. And it’s great to be home.

perennial lobelia

rudbeckia with ladybird

roses – Tickled Pink

The garden’s looking good – just as well it doesn’t need too much doing to it, because my back is still clearly not quite the ticket. But we’re getting there.

Today I sorted out the tunic I’d made with the back neck lower than the front neck – all sorted now. And put slits in the side seams of the cream one I’ve done. Tomorrow it’s ironing day, and possibly Sunday will start on a new tunic top – cream broderie anglaise.

I cleaned the ensuite bathroom and the downstairs loo today. I had to be careful because of the old back, but it’s done now and very clean and satisfying. Very therapeutic. I used to clean the bathroom every week when I was young, foolish and energetic. Now it’s lucky if it gets a cursory wipe and some bleach down the loo, so to do a proper clean feels good.

Then of course I was absolutely knackered, so had to have a sleep this afternoon. But that’s ok.

Wednesday 10th August 2011

Did the back in again on Sunday. I was showered and dressed, and had even done my stretching exercises specifically for the back, and turned awkwardly, and ping! it went again. Staggered around on a stick all day Sunday, not much better on Monday, but today it’s actually eased significantly. Poor old thing.
Meanwhile have heard from the physio that there are various things going on  in my neck according to the MRI scan, but none of those things would be causing the pain in my wrists and hands. So she’s going to arrange four sessions of physio specifically for my neck, and if my hands and wrists don’t improve as a result, refer me again, only to a different chap this time. It’s all taking ages and ages.
My sister is currently in hospital having had (planned) major surgery and we’re going to see her tomorrow. I had the same operation many years ago and nearly died of peritonitis afterwards, so I’m worrying, probably unnecessarily, but will be much happier when we’ve visited. Sent some flowers, which she says are lovely. Thank goodness for mobile phones, it’s so much easier to contact people now.
Made myself a tunic top today. It’s a practice one, because it’s the pattern I’m thinking of using for the salwar kameez. I’m going to iron it tomorrow and try it on again, and see what I think. It went ok, no problems at all really, except that the back neck is a bit lower than the front neck. The front neck is sort of scooped, not very low at all, but it’s a little strange. I expect I’ll get used to it, but the illustration on the front of the pattern doesn’t have the back lower than the front. Hmm. Must check it out.
I have enough material to make another three tunic tops and two different patterns to choose from. But the next thing I want to make is the salwar kameez – that is if it’s safe to go into Birmingham next week, say.
It’s unbelievable, all this rioting. When the press have interviewed some of the people actually rioting, they come across as not very bright, and have no idea why they’re actually doing it. One group of youths said that they could afford to buy the stuff they were stealing, it was just “the government, innit”. So how does that work then? Well, apparently, it’s not the government, “it’s the police, innit.” so how does that work then? Turns out it’s just because “everybody else is doin’ it, innit.” For goodness’ sake. What are their parents thinking? how come these kids just think of it as “free stuff”, and not stealing, or ruining peoples’ businesses and livelihoods? 
And that poor chap in Birmingham who tried to resuscitate his son, who had been killed in a hit and run. Three young men died trying to protect their property and business, and a car mounted the pavement, killed them all, and drove off. But somebody has been arrested, and they’re treating it as murder.  That doesn’t bring back this poor bloke’s son, though. It’s all so pointless.

Well, on that rather sombre note, that’s about it for today.

Saturday 6th August 2011

Well, the back is much better. Only three days this time, two walking-sticks for one day, one walking-stick for one day, and on day four didn’t have to think about every movement. Hurrah!
That’s the good news. Bad news – have had a nasty, but short-lived virus. No vomiting or anything, thank the lord, but felt as if my very bones ached, couldn’t think or talk, or read, or anything but lie in bed feeling miserable and sorry for myself for two whole days. Couldn’t go to knitting group even – that’s four weeks now. But am hoping to go next week.
Yesterday felt much much better and was able to finish off a little tunic top I’ve made. Just needs ironing today. Am also in the throes of planning the salwar kameez outfit. Finally, finally found a pattern. It’s Burda 7701, and here’s a photo. It’s taken me a few days to work out that the pattern is actually instructions on how to make a sari into a salwar kameez. So it doesn’t tell you how much fabric to buy. I couldn’t understand why that was, until a light bulb went on in my head. I had wondered why there were pictures of a model wearing a sari. I was taught to wind a sari many years ago, and it’s just a very long piece of material with a border that you wind and fold in particular ways, so no sewing is needed.
However, the tunic pattern has a zip, and that opens a whole other can of worms. It’s so easy to make a pig’s ear of a zip, and this outfit is intended for evenings, parties, theatre, etc. So I’m going to use the pattern to make the trousers, and this New Look pattern (no. 6086 – the one with the rounded neck) for the tunic (because there’s no zip involved), although I’m going to make it much longer, like in the salwar kameez pattern.

I’m very excited about it. Next step is to make the New Look tunic in the shorter length in some fabric I already have to see how it turns out, and if it’s ok, then go to Fancy Silks in Birmingham, next to the Rag Market, and get some suitable material. I may line the tunic, particularly in view of the slit sides, so that it looks nice from both sides. But shan’t with the trousers. I’m thinking light or medium weight cotton, and then I’ll have to buy the border to sew on, as I’m really not into embroidery, particularly with the wonky hands.

Had a lovely email from my French friend, really lovely. She’s so kind and thoughtful – she reads this blog and had read about my back. Bless her heart.
I originally did my back in when I was 22 or 23. I slipped a disc when I was putting on tights. Ended up in hospital on traction, and for the next 17 years struggled with steel-boned corsets, physio, osteopathy, chiropractic, and every year, without fail, I would be bed-bound for at least 2 weeks, sometimes more, the worst was 6 weeks (not all in bed, but off work), fainting if I tried to get up, unable to shower or bathe by myself. It was a nightmare when the children were little and my first husband just couldn’t cope with it all.
Eventually, in 1994, they surgically removed the disc, and it was like having a new life. That feeling lasted about 12 years, but for the last 5 years or so it’s gradually got worse. I think this episode was caused by having to rest with my feet higher than my hips after my steroid injections in the old feet, because I hadn’t done anything stupid, like gardening. Anyway, immediately after the operation any episodes would only last a day maximum, and I’d be up and about within that day. This one lasted a good three days. But Tramadol painkillers help a lot, and usually after 48 hours on those I’m a bit woozy, yes, but able to move about at least.

I have various aids. Two walking sticks, one upstairs, one downstairs. A collapsible seat for the shower. A sort of bench thing for over the bath (though the shower is better). Two wheat and lavender bags which I keep in the freezer, ready to use as ice packs. I’ve had six injections in the facet joints, about two years ago. Not fun, but helped a bit. A heroic husband who lifts me onto the loo and fetches me drinks etc. An osteopath who sorts me out on a regular basis. And I try not to get too upset about it because I know it will pass.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The new cat bedding is a roaring success. She absolutely loves it.  Luxuriates, in fact.
night time bedding
radiator bed newly covered
So that was well worth doing.
Two of the grandchildren came to stay on Monday, and went home on Wednesday. Delightful. They are so lovely. One is nearly 10, the other 7, and we had a wonderful time. Just wonderful.
Well, I think that’s about all for now.