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Saturday, 4 January 2020

Belated Happy New Year.

As we begin another decade the word which seems to me to be the one that is most needed is HOPE

I hope that this new year will prove a happy one for us all after the turmoil of 2019 and with the world in the state it is I feel the word HOPE is so important.
(This lovely little felt decoration was a gift from my American friend of over 60 years!)

So this post is all about hope and some of the many guises it comes in.

Back in November we went to London for a few days - I wanted to attend the Resurgence Festival of Wellbeing to hear some of the interesting speakers lined up see here for a list of them two of whom were authors - one being Raynor Winn whose book The Salt Path I'd found inspiring telling as it did about how sometimes when the worst things happen it turns out to be something to be grateful for in the end a real story of triumph over adversity and the other Isabella Tree whose book Wilding was the most hopeful tale I'd heard and showed how Nature can and will repair the damage intensive farming has done to the land and how wildlife will return if given a chance.  If you haven't read them I can recommend them highly.

On Christmas day as we were on our own, The Wanderer not being able to come and join us due to train strikes, and as lunch was not going to be the traditional Christmas Day meal of turkey and all the trimmings I decided to go for a walk in the morning (waiting till after lunch usually means it is getting dark before I get back) and so off I went up through the woods.  The sky was blue and the sun was shining and I noticed the first primrose along the path just the one but a note of HOPE,

I continued my walk along this lane and came to a field gate with a huge puddle in front of it reflecting the blue sky and after all the rain we'd had it too seemed to be a note of HOPE for better drier weather to come perhaps.

I returned home in time to get some lunch for us feeling much more HOPEful than when I'd set off. I had been feeling a bit low as is usual for me at this time of year.

Today 10 days later I did the same walk in different weather - it was cloudy but with occasional sunny intervals and the ground underfoot was much drier and noticed that there were now more primroses on the little plant 

and many more daffodils in bloom too.

That's what gives me HOPE - Nature will continue doing what she does best and the wildlife - the birds were everywhere singing - and plants give me inspiration and HOPE that 2020 will be a better year for us all both in terms of health and happiness as well as on the world stage and politically.  Maybe we are not meant to live peaceful lives but to do what we can to remain HOPEful.  

(Do any of the other bloggers who have returned to blogging after being away for a long time find stringing together a few words much harder than it used to be?  My muse seems to have left me as when I blogged regularly I found it easy?)

Tuesday, 10 December 2019


Image result for election

Tumultuous times here in the UK just now and I feel as if we are drowning in the negative emotions which seem to fill the atmosphere.  The very air we breathe these days is polluted by accusation and acrimony, recrimination and fear, scandal and division, argument and anger until it seems that there is nothing good to be found anywhere. 

Not only do we have an election coming up but there is Brexit to be dealt with one way or another and whatever the outcome there half the population will not be pleased and there will be more anger and division.  

These lines from the carol "It came upon the midnight clear" seem appropriate just now:  

And man, at war with man, hears not
The love-song which they bring;
O  hush the noise, ye men of strife,
And hear the angels sing.


I came across this Poem yesterday and it sums up the situation nicely and hopefully brings a touch of humour to counteract all that negativity!
On a more hopeful note I walked up through the woods yesterday to the post box with a birthday card to post and noticed that there are daffodil shoots poking through the grass and even a tight bud or two so just as Spring will come again so hope spings eternal.

Not sure if the link is working as it should so maybe I will need to copy and paste it if it does!

Monday, 14 October 2019

Age related m'dear!!

Getting old comes to us all if we are lucky but it is nothing like I imagined it might be.  If I thought about it at all it was to see myself as a wise and serene old lady maybe with grey hair in a bun and wearing a flowered pinny who would be making cakes and bread and pottering in my garden, knitting and sewing and generally being a kind and gentle soul.  Pah! Not so!

I guess I knew I wouldn't be able to do some of the things my younger self might have done but what I didn't realise is that inside an old person is that younger self who cannot quite accept this.  I see young people running up, or even more scarily down, steps and stairs without holding the bannister and wish that I could do that too and I am jealous.  Yes really!

So how have things changed now that I am an old lady?  Well for a start although there are still 7 days in each week (I usually know what day it is too) and 24 hours in each day somehow the hours are much shorter than they were and so the weeks fly past - ask any old person who will tell you that this is so.  I dare say if/when one reaches the stage of having to be in a home and spending all one's days in a room full of other old people staring at the television and being taken to the toilet possibly even being hauled up out of one's chair with one's knickers showing and into a wheelchair for the trip there (I have seen this at first hand when I used to visit as a volunteer an old lady who ended up in a nursing home) then perhaps the hours seem longer than they were but for those of us who haven't yet reached this stage time has definitely changed and rushes past ever faster.

Then there are other changes like the increased number of appointments of a medical nature and wonderful though the NHS is in spite of all the criticisms made about it, I personally cannot fault the service, it is just that I would rather it wasn't necessary! So that might be where some of the time goes!  As my lovely young opthalmologist a few years back when I was seeing him for various eye operations used to say in answer to any of my questions about why this or that or the other had happened "I'm afraid it's age related m'dear"!  And it hasn't only been eyes since then.

Weymouth earlier this year
 I can no longer run for a bus nor get the lids off jars, lift a heavy pan in one hand whilst scooping the contents into a dish with the other, go upstairs (or downstairs) with my arms full as I now have to ensure that I have a hand free to hold the bannister.  I haven't had a bath for ages in case I can't get out and now use the shower instead, I have to think before bending down or turning round and do nothing suddenly and I try not to look in a mirror without thinking or I wonder who that old woman in the mirror might be with all those winkles!

Weymouth earlier this year

I have found that as I got older I have become more cautious and my sense of self preservation has increased - not that I am afraid of going for a walk in the wood on my own or going anywhere else on my own, I am not fearful when the doorbell rings and usually fling the door wide before wondering who it might be but it's just that I am less dare devil and take more care not to trip or fall these days and I am fearful too for those younger people doing things like leaping over a gate when they could so easily catch their foot and fall flat on their faces, riding bicycles in London (the Wanderer did this for a time and my imagination ran riot) or any other perfectly normal things which I might well have done myself without a care once upon a time.

Forde Abbey Gardens earlier this year
BUT there are some pluses to being old the most important plus is that I am still here when many of my friends and family no longer are.  I live by the mantra that "To live at all is miracle enough" these days.  Although time is shorter than it used to be I can spend it as I choose now I don't have to go to work.  Friends are more precious than ever before and we keep each other going always finding things to laugh about, I have a free bus pass so am able to go where I want on the bus for free as long as it is not before 9.30 but these days getting out of the house by 9.30 is too much of a rush anyway!  I have a Senior Rail card which entitles me to a third off rail fares again as long as I don't want to arrive in London before 9.30 but that would mean leaving home before 6.00am an unearthly hour that I would be unlikely to be doing anyway.  We rarely use the car if there is a bus or train route to where we want to go and so we are able to sit and enjoy the scenery and the ride instead of keeping our eyes on the road.  Oh and since all that time spent with the opthalmologist I no longer need to wear distance glasses and am legal to drive without them and for the cataract op the lens he put in enables me to read enough to do the shopping and look for a library book without needing to get my reading glasses out. Can't be bad!

Not quite true I made this one recently!
So although I am no more serene than I ever was, am not sure how much wiser I am if at all, I don't have grey hair let alone a bun and nor do I wear a pinny,  I rarely bake cakes or bread these days nor have I done much crochet or knitting and can see the day is nearly here when we will have to employ someone to do the garden for us I am still the younger woman I once was but with a few extra perks which I put down to getting older.  All is not lost after all!  Let's hear it for old age!

Thank you for your comments on my last post I can't promise I will be posting regularly but am enjoying putting my thoughts and a few photos together so I will be back occasionally.

Sunday, 22 September 2019

An outing with a difference

Can it really be more than 18 months since I last posted on here?  I have missed you all and several times I have thought of returning to blogging but always I felt that I had nothing different to say.  Those months I have been away have been filled with the minutiae of daily life as a pensioner when everthing takes longer than it used to and there have been hospital appointments, visits to A&E and follow on appointments, X-rays, physiotherapy, dermatology I began to wonder if I might get a Blue Peter badge for visiting the most number of NHS departments in a given time ....... none of it life threatening but as my eye consultant used to say "age related m'dear"!!

However that is not why I am here now but because I wanted to tell you about an outing last week that was a bit different to my usual.

Mr M and I went to Exeter on Friday, by train as usual, and the scenery en route was as always stunning in the sunshine and although there were signs of autumn, rosehips and hawthorn berries and a few coloured leaves, it still looked and felt like summer.  The train was full by the time we got to Exeter with standing room only as at each stop more people going to the Climate Strike got on with their placards.  We had planned to spend some time wandering about and I wanted to go to a wool shop I'd heard about and to have Mr M's postponed birthday lunch (after the restauant in Weymouth that we had planned to visit on his birthday a couple of weeks ago had been closed at lunchtime and the place we went to instead not up to much) but when I had discovered earlier in the week that there was to be a Climate strike on Friday I said I'd like to join in even if only for a short while and to stand and be counted which Mr M wasn't up for so we split up and arranged to meet later and go for lunch.

It was amazing to be part of the 2000 or so protestors and the atmosphere was great with people of all ages including a few children, babies in arms and pushchairs, teens, dogs (a few) and  even some people in wheelchairs coming together with one thing in common - their love of the Earth.  I have always said that nothing would entice me to be part of a big crowd but the fate of our planet seemed worth it and I kept to the edges to start with!  I overheard several other protestors saying that this was the first time they'd ever done anything like joining a mass protest so I knew I wasn't the only newbie and I made a new friend when I stopped to speak with a lady about my age carrying a "placard" saying "You know you have to sort it out when Granny shouts about it"!  She too had been drawn to come to Exeter to join in and be counted.  We stood chatting for a while and we both left the gathering just before they all set off to march to the County Hall as neither of us was up to the walk. Does this mean we are now activists I wonder?

We went for a coffee together and I telephoned Mr M to say where we were and he joined us.  We have exchanged e-mail addresses and hope to keep in touch.  It was amazing yesterday morning when looking at the headlines in most of the papers to be able to say "I was there and part of it"!!

I had been to a coffee morning the previous Saturday to find out more about Extinction Rebellion thinking that if Greta Thunberg a 16 year old was prepared to travel across the Atlantic in a small racing yacht to speak at the UN then the least I could do was to find out more about Extinction Rebellion and maybe do something instead of talking about it.  It all seemed so very well organised that I felt drawn to join up attracted by the Non Violent aspect of it and the fact that so many people of every stripe and persuasion can come together and there be no outbreaks of damage or destruction but now I am wondering.  Why do I feel I don't want to admit to being part of it all when speaking to friends, will the gilets jaunes  or other violent groups infiltrate the peaceful non violent marches as happened here in Paris and is this the way to achieve the aim of getting governments around the world to do something about the things that are making climate change worse?  I have no intention of joining the protest they plan in London 7 - 19 October as I wouldn't be able to get there and if I sat down in the road I might not be able to get up these days but I know now that for every marcher or protestor glued to the road there are dozens more back home acting as support in one way and another and maybe I can do my bit in this way from home.  But life is very difficult at times when it comes to knowing what is the right thing to do.

Mr M got his birthday lunch and very good it was too but there wasn't time to go and find the wool shop this time never mind that can be another day.  The train home was pretty full again with people still clutching their placareds some now a little the worse for wear!!  But I'd had a lovely day and felt really invigorated by it all.


Monday, 25 December 2017

Good News

It's not all bad news nor bah humbug but for one day only there was a good news item....

This surely is what Christmas should be all about?!   Click on the link below to see why

Christmas Day Rail Meal

 No leaves on the line nor signal failures can delay, disrupt or stop this can they?


Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Are we nearly there yet? A trip to the seaside.

Who remembers the excitement of a trip to the seaside when a child?  Let me tell you that even in my 70s I still get a feeling of excitement at the first glimpse of the sea and am likely to ask Are we nearly there yet?  Though with Mr M being somewhat deaf he doesn't always answer!

Anyway a fine sunny day unusually coincided with there being nothing in the diary today so we took ourselves off to the seaside.  It was very cold but the sun was bright, the sky was blue and our chosen destination was once again Weymouth.  The last time I was here was the week before the school holidays and I felt the need for another breath of sea air and Mr M was happy to come with me this time.

We got the bus from the Park and Ride car park on the outskirts of the town and soon arrived at the sea front - just look at that blue!  From here we walked along the almost deserted beach to the harbour end.

I bet I couldn't have captured that bird in the centre of my photo if I had tried, truth is I didn't even realise it was there as I looked back the way we had come!

 The walk along the beach was certainly bracing and the wind was whipping up the sand  here and there and it was good to reach the end of the beach and cross over to the harbour.

Although I know nothing about boats and sailing I love to look at them and notice all the different types - this one with its white sails appealed to me.  Where will it be going and what would it be like to be on board I wondered. 

We decided to stop and have a fish and chip lunch here as by now it was just after mid-day. The wind chill factor had given us an appetite and we enjoyed our lunch inside out of the cold before setting off again along the harbour heading for the Nothe.

We climbed the steps and followed the path to the other side of the promontory and suddenly we were in another world - sheltered now from the wind and in the sun it was warm enough to sit on a bench and luxuriate in the sun's rays enjoying the view.

 This naval ship seemed to be on manoeuvers going round and through some yellow buoys in a figure of eight and we watched it for a while as we sat in the sun, back and forth it went round and round till we tired of watching it and continued on our way.

It all seemed so tranquil if you disregarded what seemed to my untutored eye to be some sort of battleship, the occasional crump sound from the firing ranges in the distance at the military ranges at Lulworth and at one moment a helicopter flying overhead!  But scenes as peaceful as these  would need more than some military practices going on to spoil them.

We walked on along the coast path looking back now and again and marvelling at the beauty of it all and enjoying the shelter on this particular path.

 The sounds of the gentle lapping waves against the stones, the smell of seaweed on the fresh air and the colour of it all added to the taste of the delicious fish and chips we had eaten and the chilly feel of my ungloved hand and all my senses had been employed in making this memory snapshot which I can return to whenever it is raining and grey.

I think that is my shadow you can see in the bottom left hand corner of this one taken just before we
turned off the coastal path and back to the harbour and the chilly winds.

 Back now at the harbour and over the town bridge into town where we got the bus back to the car park and home - I didn't want to leave it all but the sun was already getting lower in the sky and it would soon be really cold and home and a cup of tea called.  When can we go again I wonder.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Bus pass holiday- Part II

To continue the saga I posted earlier about our few days in London:

Day 3

Sunday dawned bright and sunny and we set off by bus for Tower Bridge where we were to meet the Wanderer for lunch at a restaurant near there.  We had chosen this venue as it tied in well with another garden I hoped to see and was also somewhere not too far for her to come - she cycles this way to work most days.  (I know this isn't Tower Bridge but it is the Tower and I just liked the juxtaposition of the old and the new with the Shard in the background along with a red tour bus).

 This is of course Tower Bridge!

 What I wanted to see was the Floating Gardens which had been featured on BBC Gardeners' World back in June but which are only open to the public once or twice a year under the national Gardens Scheme and that was also in June however I did wonder if it might be possible to see them from the roadway.

 It wasn't really possible to see much naturally as they are the private gardens of the residents who are moored here.

I did manage to see one garden though through the railings of some flats opposite!

We met with the Wanderer and had a lovely catch up chat over lunch in an Italian restaurant in Shad Thames just back from the river.  We sat talking for nearly 4 hours - well it had been the end of May last time we saw her!  Then we parted company and she went on her way as we made our way back over the Bridge to get our bus back to our hotel.

Day 4

Monday dawned dull and damp - not exactly raining but not exactly dry either - such a shock after the blue sky and sunshine of the day before!  We wandered along to Marylebone High Street where we whiled away an hour or so in the lovely Daunt Books if there had been more seating we'd probably be there still!  But time was passing and so we went to Paul Bakery again for a coffee before setting off for Battersea Park.  We walked along the Chelsea Embankment to the Albert Bridge seen here - as you can see it was still somewhat murky although the rain had stopped.

As we crossed the Albert Bridge I noticed this sign but there were no marching troops at the time!  Once over the bridge we were at the gate into Battersea Park.  I can't think why we'd never been here before as it is a lovely place - green, peaceful and with lots to see and do.  Our first stop was the Peace Pagoda  if you check out this web site there are plenty of photos of it.

Along side was an information board and I couldn't help thinking that this quote from the Most Ven, Nichidatsu Fujii was particularly apt just now with the state that the world seems to be in!

The Pagoda tells the story of Buddha in a series of 4 bronze sculptures one of which I show below.

We then wandered on taking photos as we went.

And came to an enclosed garden entitled the English Garden - well weren't they all?! but this one was lovely and tranquil.

 Leaving the tranquility of the English Garden we continued our walk and in the mist ahead could see the iconic chimneys of the Battersea Power Station.  Well not the original ones but replicas.  The once coal fired Grade II listed power station was decomissioned in 1983 and lay empty for years but is now being developed for more info see here.

Single Form by Barbara Hepworth overlooks the boating lake - it seems that Single Form was constructed as a memorial to Dag Hammarskjöld, secretary general of the United Nations from 1952 up until his death in 1961. Hammarskjöld, a good friend of the sculptor, had been speaking to Hepworth about a commission for the UN site just before his tragic death in an airplane crash. Single form was first exhibited in Battersea Park in 1963. Over the next year, Hepworth recast the sculpture in three parts for the UN site, scaling the sculpture up from 10 feet to a gigantic 21 feet high.

 We walked some more and discovered a tea room so had a sit down and a drink and then continued alongside the lake.  Such a lovely tranquil place and over all the sound of the green parakeets.  These birds are not native to the UK and are not always welcomed as although they are stunning in their iridescent emerald plumage with a rose-red neck ring, and a thrill the first time you see them, they are also aggressive, destructive, and extremely raucous in large flocks and in 2009 they were listed along with gulls, magpies and crows as pests.  However they were lovely to us that day.

 Leaving the park we crossed the Chelsea Bridge back to the other side of the river we'd crossed earlier by the bridge you can just see on the horizon in this photo - click on it to enlarge it.

With the camera on zoom you can see the Peace Pagoda we'd seen earlier.  Time to go back to the hotel now at the end of another lovely day out - our last full day in London.

Day 5

Time to go home - am I the only one who is always ready to go home even after a short break?  Longer holidays find me counting the days till I can be back where I belong even when I am enjoying myself.

Anyway we had our last breakfast in the hotel's breakfast room,exchanged e-mail addresses with the couple from California we had been speaking with each morning and then returned to our room to finish our packing before checking out.  We left the bags at the hotel and set off for a last look round in London this time walking to Regent's Park.

 The railings and gateways on so many of London's parks are so beautiful I always think - who paints them I wonder I certainly wouldn't want the job!

 Inside the gates we wandered round enjoying the peace of a mid-week morning when so many other people might have been at work.

 Look here is one of the gardeners!!

 More lovely decorative ironwork.

 Here is Mr M ahead of me and reminding me of that old ad for Startrite shoes!  Who remembers it?  For those who don't here it is:

Though in the ad the little boy has a companion!

 There was an exhibition of sculptures displayed in the park and this one caught my eye - it's called The Invisible Mother  as I have already said I am a bit of a Philistine when it comes to art and couldn't for the life of me see the connection between mothers and this although I seem to remember sometimes feeling a bit like this when the Wanderer was young!  To me it spoke more of the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle but then what would I know?  

Even this late in the season the beds were still colourful.


 These little topiary trees reminded me of cupcakes - not that I am a fan of cupcakes or topiary but they are clever aren't they?

 More wrought ironwork.

 It was a sunny morning so I don't know why the photos all look a bit dull on the camera they look much brighter.

 By now it was almost mid-day so we walked back towards the parish church of Marylebone behind which runs Marylebone High Street where we had lunch before continuing our walk back to the hotel to collect our cases.   We got the bus to Waterloo in good time for the 3.20 train and were home and indoors by 6.00 pm. 

By the way the name Marylebone apprently comes from the fact that the original parish church dedicated to St Mary was built alongside a small stream or "bourne" thus the name St Mary at the bourne now shortened to Marylebone.

In case you haven't had  sufficient reading I leave you with a book recommendation:

I had come across the fact that Mozart had kept a starling which could apparently sing one of his compositions in a perfectly ordinary novel whose title I now forget, just something one of the characters had mentioned and wondering if in fact this could be true I checked it out on the internet and came across this book and requested it from the library.  It is absolutely fascinating and to quote the blurb:  "is a tour de force that awakens a surprising new awareness of our place in the world"  Read it and you will see for yourself!