Things I’m doing slightly differently

For a start, I’m setting the alarm clock so I actually get up every morning. It’s for 9.30 a.m., so not exactly early, but fine for me. If I don’t set the alarm, I just sleep till mid-afternoon. Not great.

Going for a small walk every day. Hubby devised a shorter walk than the 10 minute one, which takes me 4 – 5 minutes. It’s for when I just can’t manage the 10 minute one, and it works a treat.

Noticing¬† what’s going on in people’s gardens. Particularly at this time of year (spring in the UK), there are lots of things bursting into leaf/flower.

Knitting with a slightly different technique, keeping my index and middle fingers together, which doesn’t hurt so much. My middle finger keeps trying to point nor’nor’east instead of due north (assuming my other fingers are pointing north, if you see what I mean). I have to make a real effort, and sometimes actually pull it back with my other hand! What on earth? Arthritis I guess.

Ordering stuff online. To date, a web cam for hubby and one for me, some plants which haven’t arrived yet, some compression gloves, various new tops (yay!) and a new hand- held electric mixer.

Trying to eke out the painkillers because they’re just so damn hard to get. My lovely friend brought me two packets yesterday and left them in our porch. It’s her birthday today. Happy Birthday you legend! you know who you are.

Attempting not to get too panicked about the pandemic. Harrumphing of course about Trump and his determination to make it clear that he really is the stupidest man on this planet. Glad Bojo is on the mend, though he must have been much worse than they let on.

Not beating myself up for the stuff I can’t do. Trying not to moan about, or even mention, the aches and pains of getting older. Not interesting to anybody except potentially the medics. And even then, they have more important things to worry about.

Looking forward to planting the double cosmos seeds I have. It’s supposed to rain tomorrow, which will make the earth easier to work, so maybe this weekend. Yeah!

And finally a picture of the lion I knitted for my great-nephew, whose name means “lion”. It was his birthday last week, so now he’s actually seen it. He loves it. It’s called Lucy, so a non-binary lion. Bit hairy for a lioness, but hey, what can you do. Apparently there was trouble when he discovered she’s not allowed in the bath, or to eat his Weetabix. Yeah.

 

I’m home!

Went to New Zealand for a month to stay with YD and family. It was absolutely excellent. Very hot. Swimming in the sea is normal (did that a LOT). So is factor 50 sunscreen and a sunhat and covering up in the sun (in fact strongly advised).

It’s very relaxed there, although it’s stuck in the 50s in some ways. I didn’t see one single homeless person or beggar, no litter or graffiti, and there seems to be huge awareness of and responsibility for the environment, and despite the racism and inequality, a sense of what social justice means.

Expensive though. It’s so far away from anywhere they have to grow, make, or import everything. The fruit and veg are enormous! and delicious.

It’s a bitch of a journey though. 30 hours door to door each way, and then there’s the jet lag to deal with. Feeling slightly more normal today – today is the sixth day since I arrived home.

Here are some photos. When my head has returned to its normal state I’ll write more.

Nearly September

Well. A busy summer. But fun.

A few days in London in July – went to see Shakespeare’s The Tempest at the Barbican Centre, by the RSC. Absolutely amazing. The special effects (holograms) were something to see. Really, really good. London is just so busy and fraught, but so wonderful at the same time. All sorts of different people, ways of dressing, living, everything. And the food was excellent.

Then mid August stayed a couple of nights in Brighton, saw almost the whole family in one go! actually got to swim in the sea, which is just one of my very favourite things to do, then off to Southampton, stayed in a different hotel there, and spent some time with ED and LCS. Lovely. Just lovely. I’d made a Bakewell Layer Cake and a carrot cake, both tray bakes, and they went down rather well, I will say. Mm.

All the grandchildren are just a joy. Oldest one will be 16 tomorrow – gasp! where did the time go? He’s No 7 in the UK for his age group for racing breast-stroke. Wonderful, just wonderful. Youngest one is now 5 months old. Bless.

Garden is looking great, although I’m doing battle with the pesky slugs, which are trying to kill my new asters. Bring it on.

Knitting going well, no pics because they’re all for Xmas gifts. New yarns in stock in local yarn shop, I have a bagful of beautiful stuff and am starting to get through it now.

Thing is, when there’s lots of things going on (see above) I get all fraught and panicky. It’s like there’s too much input, and I can’t cope with it all. I can sort of deal with the planning and booking and stuff, but then I’m done in. Luckily I was able to sleep when I needed to all summer, so it’s all ok, but it would be just great if I could handle it all better than I do.

They’re taking my Disability Living Allowance away. I knew they would, but what a bummer. Also I had paid enough National Insurance Contributions to be entitled (eventually, in another 4 years) to my full state pension, but now they’ve changed the rules and it includes people like me (how does that work then? they’re allowed to change the rules retrospectively?) , so I have to pay in more, but I need to check whether it’s going to be worth it.

Been watching some excellent tv. A four-part series called The State, which told the story of four Brits travelling to Syria to join the so-called ISIS. Harrowing, of course. But interesting too. Thoroughly researched, the story told of how the main characters became disillusioned, to say the least, with the regime, the strict rules, the savage punishment for even minor infractions, and the injustice and stupidity of it all. But what it didn’t explain is why these people went all that way, and why they didn’t know it would be like that. There must have been an excellent marketing policy, full of half-truths, in place, is all I can think.

Then something called “No More Boys and Girls?” which was fascinating. A class of 7 year olds in a school on the Isle of Wight were followed through a half term of changes instigated by their teacher with the help of a doctor. To start with, all the girls seriously underestimated themselves, and the boys seriously overestimated themselves. Girls were identified by both genders as “pretty, mothers, nurses” and boys as “strong, brave”. By the end of the term, girls were “strong, clever, kind” and so were the boys. Clothing with slogans on came in for particular criticism, as well as the distinction between “girl” and “boy” toys. One of the most intransigent boys turned out to be kind, empathetic, and understanding. One of the least confident girls actually wept when she did really well at something! Very interesting. They brought in people who bucked the stereotype of their job, for example a female car mechanic, a male make-up artist, a male dancer, and the children were amazed, and loved it! It changed all their perceptions of what girls can do, and how boys can behave. I wonder if the pressure for boys to be strong and win at stuff has the same effect as the pressure for girls to be pretty? whether or not it does, it’s important to strive for equality. The school is expanding the programme to all the classes, and the teacher of the class, who is lovely, has done a presentation to the Institute of Education. Excellent.

The cat had a small adventure a few weeks ago – a gash on her leg which needed 3 stitches, which when you know she only weighs 3 kilos, is quite a lot for a small cat. We don’t know how she did it, but it was quite deep, and involved the (expensive) emergency vet, anaesthesia, wearing The Cone of Shame or baby pyjamas cut off at the waist to stop her gnawing at the sutures. Luckily we’re insured so got most of the money back. And she’s fine now.

That’s about it for now.¬† If I think of anything else I’ll blog again.

 

 

 

 

Sunday 4 June 2017

Well, not sure what to say about last night’s terrorist attack in London. It’s just so depressing. What do you do when a van full of angry men speeds into pedestrians, then they jump out and start stabbing people? you couldn’t make it up. But, like Manchester, London rallied round with offers of help, free taxi rides, and in true British fashion just got on with helping.

Trouble is that the attackers and their ilk would like us all to hate each other. Clearly democracy is not what they want, or they wouldn’t be upping their atrocities during an election. It’s hard to imagine what goes on in somebody’s head when they plan and execute such a thing.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Meanwhile, on a purely selfish, personal note, I’m feeling really horrible today. Not physically, just in my head. Two projects went wrong – nothing terrible, but I’d planned to do some gardening today and it rained, and a knitting project I had been quite pleased with went spectacularly wrong. Also, I had a difficult conversation with Mother the other day and was left feeling really sad and angry. I must remember she’s old and fragile, and she’s cross because she can’t do what she used to do.

So I thought I’d have a little blog-rant and let the poison out a bit, if you see what I mean.

The grandchildren are, as ever, a delight. The cat is becoming very slightly more affectionate. Well, less aloof. Still no lap-sitting or anything as daring as that, but she does let me pick her up with slightly less fuss. Although she always purrs like billy-o when I do cuddle her.

And here are a few photos of stuff which actually worked!

So my next knitting project is for grandson in Southampton. I foolishly suggested that I could knit something for his baby doll Laura, and asked what he’d like. Superman, he said. Oh, what! So I’m knitting some Superman stuff for a 20″ baby doll. Don’t ask. Photos when he’s received it. Even if he doesn’t like it!

Enough for now.

 

August

The weather is changing. Suits me fine, but hubby’s finding it a bit chilly. Not quite cold enough for the central heating, but he’s pottering around in his me-knitted slipover. I’m still in t-shirts.

What a busy summer we’ve had. Absolutely wonderful, though.

ES plus his three delightful children came to stay for a few days at the end of July. Umberslade Farm Park was perfect for all six of us, really enjoyed it. Rocky rode on a pony! we all stroked various animals, and wondered at the humming noise the alpacas make.

Lincoln for a few days beginning of August. To the Cathedral, which despite our anti-religion stance, is a beautiful building. And a choir started singing as we went in! magical. A peregrine falcon was shrieking round the bell tower which was exciting. I nearly got locked in the toilet. So that was exciting too in a different way. We stayed at Stoke Rochford Hall, which if you are a member of the NUT (as is hubby) is discounted. Excellent, just excellent. A stately home in fabulous grounds. Very peaceful and relaxing.

20140806_173548

I’ve treated myself to two new pairs of shoes. Birkenstocks. Just discovered they do proper shoes as well as sandals and clogs. They are the only shoes I can wear without pain. The medics wanted to operate on my poor old feet but I cancelled the op when the date came through, in the hope and belief that these shoes will do me for wintertime. Very excited.

20140812_120848

Whilst in Lincoln, I developed a black eye. No injury, no impact, nothing. It just came up during the day. Went to the doctor, who arranged blood tests (4 vials – jeez!) and there is something up, but I don’t know what yet. Back to GP on Wednesday to find out. The black/purple has almost gone now, thank goodness. Ugly and embarrassing.

20140809_090345

Then YS’s two lovely children came to stay for a few days – and Umberslade Farm Park was wonderful for us all too! a falconry display, no less. A barn owl, an eagle owl (fabulous!) and a Harris Hawk. Amazing. So interesting.

20140809_114021

Today I’ve cut back dead poppies and dicentras, deadheaded buddleias and tidied up the wistaria and the golden hop. Much tidier and nicer to look at. Our garden isn’t very big, but it feels green, lush and peaceful.

Yesterday went to Martin & Jacky’s (two Labour party activist friends of ours) to watch Spirit of ’45 and have lunch. The film is an absolute must. Really, really interesting, and I found it quite emotional in places too. Took a choc-chip coffee cake and a carrot cake, which went down a storm!

And apropos of nothing, if you have time, please take a look at this. It’s my friend Ben’s blog. He’s talented, interesting, knowledgeable, very artistic, has had knitting designs published, and I do worry about him.

Family.

Today, for the very first time, I met my great-nephew George. He is absolutely delightful. His mum, my beautiful niece (I have lots of beautiful nieces, this is my sister’s younger daughter), is radiant with motherhood. Fabulous company, a really good laugh, very sensible, and I just love her to bits. I love babies. I love new-borns, right up to toddlerhood. I also love children. It was the best morning I’ve had for a while. Image

My mother came too, and started talking about how Sarah and I had delivered our babies “properly”. Mum had to have a C section with me, and forceps for my sister. Somehow she has felt bad and sad and guilty about this all her life, and I think that’s awful. So I told her about Prof Dr Alice Roberts, who did a documentary about evolution. One of the things she said, and demonstrated with a skeleton, is that the reason human babies aren’t able to walk and stuff immediately after birth, like, say, horses, is because our brain pans, our skulls, are just too big. If pregnancy went on any longer than nine months, the baby’s head would just not fit through the pelvis. Birth is difficult and risky as it is, so we are evolved to give birth before our babies’ skulls get any bigger. As it is, we have a “soft spot”, the fontanelle,¬† at birth, so that the baby’s skull can fold over itself a small amount.

So there is no such thing, I told Mum, as giving birth “properly”. There’s no such thing as “failing”. If your baby is born, then you’ve succeeded.

I don’t know whether she’ll take any notice, but she tends to think about these things for a while and then decide.Image

Anyway. Sarah is beautiful, radiant, and a fabulous mother. George is delightful. Smiley, happy, peaceful, a little chunk of loveliness. A little package of honey-coloured boyness.Image