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Friday 3 June 2022

It's taken a Platinum Jubilee to propt a post from me



It's been almost 2 years since my last post and although I have missed blogging and even drafted a couple of posts it's taken the Queen's Platinum Jubilee to actually get me here!  All because a cousin e-mailed me today and mentioned the King's death 16 months before the coronation and asked if I remembered where I was at that time.  So yes I wrote telling him what I remembered about that sad day and said that the 16 months between then and the happy occasion of the coronation had been a time of change for me as my mother had suffered a slipped disc which necessitated surgery and she was in hospital for weeks and was told she wouldn't be able to work again which meant a move to a new way of life in the Forest of Dean living with her father.  

It then occurred to me that the 16 months prior to this Platinum Jubilee has been yet another time of change for me including a death and a new way of life as back in February 2021 the Wanderer was living with us prior to flying off to Saudi Arabia to a new job there so a new life for her.  Her flights were cancelled several times due to Covid but eventually she was due to fly on 8 April.  However on 5 April, Easter Monday, I woke to discover Mr M had died next to me in bed during the night!  What a shock that was I can tell you as he hadn't been ill and on Easter Sunday had been happily gardening much of the day.  I called the Wanderer who leapt out of bed and came to see and called 999 and within minutes we had a paramedic at the door closely followed by an ambulance with two crew and shortly after that a police car with two policemen!!  What a pantomime and ironic that you can't get an ambulance when you need one but when it was too late they all appeared at once immediately!  

The Wanderer said she couldn't go to Saudi as arranged and leave me but I persuaded her she should as she might not get another opportunity and I was obviously going to have to learn to live on my own and the sooner the better so off she went on the Thursday.  Yes it was difficult but one positive thing was that I hadn't had to watch Mr M getting more and more sick nor to have had to do things for him which I know we both would have hated and I had no memories of him being ill.  

You might imagine just how difficult the following weeks were and having no family to help me and being in the middle of a pandemic didn't help.  But gradually I coped.  Then later in the year I had a routine blood test and it was discovered that I had iron deficiency anaemia which required looking into and colon cancer was diagnosed so following numerous appointments at the hospital when I wondered if I might get a Blue Peter badge for visiting so many different departments I had surgery on 30 November.  I was discharged after a few days and was able to cope alone luckily as the Wanderer couldn't get home again even though she had booked a flight due to flights being cancelled etc due to Covid.  I had an appointment at the hospital on 21st December when I was given the best Christmas present possible - I was all clear and no chemo or other treatment would be required.

I learned a lot during this time, such as I was not on my own at all as I feared and as well as the support I was given by the hospital staff there were also so many good fairies who appeared from nowhere to help me, friends called to see me or telephoned and kept in touch with offers of help.  I had several invitations to spend Christmas Day with friends which I declined as I was not yet able to eat normally, was going to bed after lunch for a nap, and not up for crackers and paper hats just then!  So I had a quiet Christmas by myself and even made myself a ginger cake on Christmas day as I just fancied that!  

I went back for a nurse led end of treatment appointment in March when I spent an hour with a lovely nurse who explained everything and answered all my questions and I had another blood test, I have lost track of how many of those I have had.  I will need an appointment for a further scan and the ubiquitous blood test in October so fingers crossed all continues well.  It's all been a real life change and many lessons have been learned.  I am stronger and braver than I realised, I have lots of wonderful friends, I have made some new friends too, life is still good in spite of things that happen and I am indeed learning to live on my own and the Wanderer is finally coming here in less than 2 weeks' time and I can't wait to see for myself how she is.  I have a long list of things she can help me with too!!  

So you can see why I haven't been posting!  I haven't been reading any blogs either but often think of those blogging friends I had especially as I have so many things that had been given to me in the blogging years.

I have just discovered how to access my blog on Mr M's computer rather than my old laptop which takes forever to do anything but not yet how to add photos from camera or phone so  I will try to do better next time!

Monday 6 July 2020

Are we nearly there.

  I received a newsletter from Real Food store in Exeter recently and this photo was shown above one of the articles.  I loved it as a beautiful photograph but then realised that it was also a metaphor for the Covid 19 pandemic.

I saw it as the path we have been travelling these past months - climbing slowly towards some sort of resolution of the problem.  Hemmed in by fencing on both sides and only one possible way to go there being no going back.  Step by step we have made our way  and an uphill sruggle it has been for so many of us but now maybe the end is in sight and I wonder what the view from the summit might be.  Will there be more hills that we can't yet see for us to climb? Or will there be a vista of green meadows filled with wild flowers, a cool clear river flowing through it and with birdsong accompanying the sound of the clean fresh water as it flows gently towards the sea or might it be a distopian scene with many people homeless and jobless searching for food amongst the empty buildings, shops shuttered and signs flapping in the cold wind. With diggers and machinery, the green meadow reduced to a building site with banging and drillling, shouting and crashing as another road or high speed railway takes shape and yet more homes that the jobless will not be able to afford are built on what might have been countryside?

I really hope that we might have learned something important on our way to the top of this hill and perhaps it might be possible to fashion a new normal which takes account of the planet and its people, somewhere the community spirit we have seen these past months might be part of the solution not yet more building more money making and less care for the Earth, and its people and the future.  That green meadow view is what is keeping me plodding onward and upward.

Friday 12 June 2020

More from the bunker

I went for a walk in the woods this morning as the sun was shining  but we were forecast to have rain this afternoon.  I waited for a man with a dog to pass me at the junction of the paths and we spoke a few words as you do.  He was carrying some sticks of rhubarb and I jokingly said that I was sure he hadn't foraged those in the wood to which he replied that there was a house nearby which often put the stuff outside with an honesty box for a local charity.  I said I would have to go and have a look sometime but not this morning as I had no money with me and a moment of two later as he departed he turned back and gave me a couple of sticks.  I refused but he was adamant and said he'd feel guilty if he kept it all for himself and so I continued my walk carrying not only my old stick (a piece of branch I found some years ago and got Mr M to cut to the correct length for me even though I do have a proper walking ploe) in one hand but the rhubarb in the other. We get to recognise each other in our little wood and all say hello or good morning and some of us stop for a chat too but we don't know each other's names.  I can imagine people referring to me as that eccentric old woman with the stick who wears tattered jeans and an old coat but now they'll think me even weirder as they can tell each other she was carrying two sticks of rhubarb the other morning!  I wonder if the man would have given them to me if I had been 40 and well dressed or did he think "poor old dear on her own" as he said "If you are on your own it might be enough for something".

Free Rhubarb Cliparts, Download Free Clip Art, Free Clip Art on ...

So I returned home with my bounty and the knowledge of where I might be able to get some more if I remembered my purse next time.  I cooked the rhubarb in the oven and it was plenty for me with some fresh yoghurt and Mr M had the remains of the Eve's pudding I'd made yesterday and there is enough rhubarb to make us both a rhubarb puff pastry tartlet tomorrow.  We get our foodstuff where we can these days!!  

I did wonder later what one of my friends who thinks I am not careful enough about sanitising things like the post or my shopping or books swapped with neighbours would have to say about my accepting the gift handled by someone I don't know who might not have washed his hands before collecting the rhubarb and then carrying it in my hand and bringing it into the house and cooking it with a just desultory wipe with a damp cloth beforehand. 

Not only did I not have a purse with me this morning but I didn't take my camera either so the photo at the top of this post is an old one of the spot where I was given the rhubarb and the other image is a clip art one and not the 2 sticks I was given!!

Monday 1 June 2020


Where does the time go?  It has been 2 weeks since my last post and that time has flown by even though every day is much like the last here in the bunker.
So nothing much to report not having been far nor done anything much.  We continue well I am pleased to say although I must admit to being somewhat up and down mentally whilst I get to grips with this changed lifestyle.
Every day is like every other day and although one might think there'd be so much more time to do all the things one didn't have time to do before that certainly hasn't been the case here.  We spend time on the "painting of the Forth Bridge" which is our garden here and yet it never looks any different or cared for in spite of Mr M having taken 10 or 12 plastic bags filled with garden weeds and so on to the tip this weekend and yet there are already 3 or 4 more waiting to go.  I really can see the allure of a small yard with some pots in it!  Speaking of pots we have been finding our cuttings and seedlings which have been outside the back door to harden off a bit being scratched about by blackbirds and robins and left on the stones to dry out and die in the sun - why are they doing this is it the compost that interests them I wonder?  I had about 15 geraniums each in a small pot and then there were 10 and soon after just 5!  Mr. M's cosmos were tossed aside and some of them didn't recover either.  Then there's the squirrel who likes to come and munch on a half ripe strawberry now and again.  Ungrateful little beggars all of them as we make wildlife welcome and know that the Earth is to be shared with them and does not belong to us alone but this is getting too much!

This morning we went to the garden centre in Sherborne I wanted more geraniums and we decided to try some different compost.  The Castle Garden Centre is usually really good and the cafe excellent for a cup of tea and a slice of home made cake after a wander round but were a little disappointed with it today.  Cafe is closed of course and there were only a reduced number of staff who were not able to give face to face advice as usual and I couldn't get the gloves I wanted nor any parsley plants and nothing seemed to have any prices on due to the closure and reduced staff etc and so have no geraniums  no parsley and no gloves.   I do understand but it was quite frustrating although we did come home with a bag of seed compost, a couple of tomato plants, some kale and cabbage plants and some seeds. 
Interestingly though we parked face on to the wall of the car park which is an high old stone wall thickly covered with ivy and I could hear the cheep cheep of birds in the thick ivy covering and then a little sparrow appeared and stayed still long enough for me to recognise it as a sparrow - something I haven't seen for years here in the garden so a real treat.  A little further along there was a notice saying something along the lines of "Is this the largest sparrow hotel in the area?" and it was true that there must have been hundreds of them flitting back and forth to their nests - penthouse suites, doubles, singles with en suite and so on!!!  So that made up for the lack of things to buy!!
From there we drove a few hundred yards to Hunts Food Store which we discovered fairly recently.  I like it as there is free parking right outside, there are never that many people inside so it feels safe, the staff know their business and are helpful and friendly, they sell lots of different things and brands as well as the usual and it is the only store where I have found flour of all kinds when supermarkets had none, pasta when that too was not easily available and also toilet rolls when there were none to be had.

We had earlier walked down the main street as I had a package to post and so wanted to go to the post office.  I had stopped at the local post office en route for Sherborne but there was a queue of about a dozen or 15 people and I gave up on that idea - I don't do queues!!  Cheap Street in Sherborne was like a ghost town with hardly any shops open - I half expected a cowboy with a gun to appear for a shoot out on the street as if everyone was hiding out of harm's way like they do in films - although we were able to buy fresh bread at the bakers not going inside but over a table pulled across the doorway.  This is great in the summer sunshine but not sure how this kind of shopping will work in the rain or winter weather!  The Post Office was open and 3 counters were manned and only 2 customers inside including me!

It is very odd to find shopping streets closed and quiet like this and I wonder how it will eventually work out and whether people will in fact come back one day and whether there will be anything to come back to if they do.  So sorry for the traders who are all doing their best to provide their customers with what they want without even being able to open their doors!!

Anyway shopping all done we headed for home - I must say I love driving along quiet roads and not getting caught up in traffic as usual.  We do take our pleasures differently now and I felt much refreshed for having left home and gone somewhere even if it was for a bit of shopping which is not something I would normally think of as an outing! 

The photos are more my idea of an outing and somewhere I long to be able to go again.  But I think I will have to keep that idea till November as I really don't want to risk going at the mement and I like it better when the beaches are empty as shown here!  I can wait!

Sunday 17 May 2020


Beware Low Flying Robins!

Here at the bunker life goes on each day seeming the same as another but of course it isn't as the unfurling stories that take place in the garden here make sure of that.  It's as good as going to the cinema here at times.

We are always being advised to encourage wildlife to our gardens but here at the bunker we don't need to encourage them they just come as of right as they don't recognise the boundary of a fence between us and the wood adjoining us in which there is plenty of wildlife including badgers, foxes, squirrels and all sorts of different birds too not to mention all the small creatures that live in the trees and the earth surrounding them.

Since lockdown we have noticed that the birds which come to the bird table and the water dish seem to be much bolder than before and I sometimes wonder if they might be planning a take over of the world and us - would that be such a bad thing?  Might they make a better job of it all than we humans seem to?

As we sit either in the conservatory or in the garden with our cups of tea or coffee we have noticed a robin (or maybe there are more) flying at breakneck speed - literally if they don't notice the back door of the garage is open and hit the glass as has happened - across the garden and over time we realised he was going to a nest in the evergreen hedge which runs along behind our house.  Now every time we step outside the back door or go to and from the compost bins we are on his flight path as he hurtles from the wood the otherside of our fence to the nest taking in a short stop at the apple tree before going on to the trellis and the bush against that (name escapes me) and thus into his nest.  A couple of seconds later he does the same route in reverse and this is kept up all day long - he must be exhausted by evening!

This morning I was sitting on the bench with my coffee and noticed a robin sitting on top of the washing line post - he must have seen something as he then dropped onto the edge of the path beside the veggie patch and then onto the earth and reappeared with a big worm in his beak - it must have been 5 or 6 inches long and quite plump and he couldn't manage a vertical take off with it but did a rapid low level flight skimming the ground into the hydrangea where he disappeared.  I don't know if he butchered the worm into smaller portions or what happened.

Then whilst I was still sitting there a robin flew from the wood onto the apple tree but Mr M was just coming out for his coffee and he would pass too near so robin flew straight towards me but that wasn't wise either so he dipped and disappeared under the bench I was sitting on!!  

When I go to the compost bin with the kitchen vegetable scraps I am in danger of being knocked over by a low flying robin going to or from the nest - the space between the house wall and the hedge is quite narrow so no room to swerve either.    It happened yesterday but luckily the robin noticed me just in time and was able to do a U-turn and back onto the apple tree whilst I went by.  I could just imagine telling them in A&E that I had been knocked over by a robiin but it really did make me jump!!

Honestly we really need some kind of air traffic control here if we are not to be knocked over by flying robins!!

You will note that we are not striped lawns with clipped edges sort of gardeners and apart from vegetables most of the things in our garden are left to themselves.  I met a lady I sometimes speak to in the woods when walking yesterday and she asked me what the pink flowers in our front garden were (the entrance to the wood is right next to our driveway so front garden is on view to all the dog walkers) she is a gardner who opens her garden to the public in the NGS scheme and I had to say I had no idea nor did I know where they came from but as they are pretty the y can stay!

Thank you for your comments on my previous post and I am glad to find that I am not the only one who is ambivalent about the VE Day celebrations.  Thank you too for all your birthday wishes too.

Sunday 26 April 2020


Can another week have passed and we are still in the bunker?  Considering we are not allowed to go out other than for specified things such as shopping for food, exercise or medical reasons the time seems to fly by.  Helped of course by the lovely weather and the fact that we are lucky enough to have a garden and are not incarcerated indoors like so many.

So what have I been doing all week?  Well Monday I chatted with a French friend via Skype as usual and then spent the afternoon gardening - attempting to clear the area which runs along the boundary with the wood which didn't get done last year as I couldn't kneel nor crouch down having broken my ankle early in the year and followed that up with the removal of a skin cancer on my arm which then became infected after the stitches were removed so not ideal for grovelling in the hedgerow amongst the blackberry bushes and nettles so this year I have been trying to rid the area of two years' of overgrowth!!

 On Tuesday after spending the morning on the boundary weeds we set off to Sherborne for a month's shopping.  Having calculated that if we went once a month the 10 mile round trip would actually be less mileagewise than a once a week shop nearer home in supermarkets I don't usually shop in and in which I don't know where to find anything.  Also I would presumably come into contact with only a quarter of the customers I might have been close to if I shopped weekly so we went and it was lovely.  The A30 almost deserted in the sunshine reminding me of all those times I must have travelled this lovely route when I lived in Sherborne and worked in Yeovil back in the '60s.  Arriving at a near empty car park we found no queue and were both allowed to go in and in next to no time we had done our shopping and encountered at a safe distance about half a dozen other customers inside.  So now I have a store cupboard - well actually it is the spare bedroom but we aren't expecting guests any time soon and it is cool in there - full of groceries to last me a month if I have guessed correctly and together with our weekly organic veg box plus a fruit box and several litres of fresh milk each week we won't go hungry!! 

Then on Wednesday morning Mr M had a little outing on his own when he had to go to the doctor's for a routine Vit B12 injection.  Seems he parked and had to wait in the car till the nurse came out and took his temperature all togged up in her PPEs and as he didn't have a temperature he was allowed to go inside and within a few minutes he was all done and dusted and on his way home - we take our pleasures in quite different ways these days!!

Thursday morning dawned with no water supply!  You don't realise just how often you turn the tap on till nothing comes out of it!!  We washed in rainwater from the water butts and also used the washing water to flush the toilets but we had no drinking water and I wasn't sure if rainwater even if boiled was safe to drink.  Luckily our neighbours were happy to exchange a couple of bottles of spring water for the idea of using rain water to flush the loo.  And the supply was back by lunchtime.  Not the ideal time to be unable to wash our hands and rinse in running water as instructed though. It did all make for a late start on the gardening work though having to fetch pans of rain water and boil them and then collect more rainwater this time cold though come to think of it why didn't we just heat the water to required washing temperature I wonder - you live and learn!

This area cleared - had forgotten there were stones along the edge!

Friday more gardening and did the washing and other domestic chores.

This is what I was up against!
Saturday more of the same - we need certain little pointers to remind us what day of the week it is now that most are the same as each other.

Little vase of Christmas roses rescued from beneath the weeds!

So we haven't left the "estate" at all other than our couple of outings early in the week and I have discovered that I am no longer so stressed as what I am doing in the garden has been calming - mindfully weeding the area in front of me and not looking to see how much more I have to do or how long it might take me and the feeling of achievement when I stopped for the day.  After all we have however long it takes and maybe the rest of our lives to do what we are doing now.  Mr M was busy doing his own thing elsewhere, the birds were singing and the sun on my back it was lovely and I was reminded of the days when we took over an allotment when we lived in Guildford all those years ago and we'd stop and wipe our brows having cleared another area of the bramble patch we had been allocated!  We dreamed of having a place where we could live the Good Life.  Well that didn't happen but we did do a lot of the things we dreamed of such as keeping a few hens in our back garden, growing lots of vegetables, making jams and preserves with some of the blackberries and other foraged items, baking bread, spinning and weaving and so on and I realised that every cloud has a silver lining and maybe Coronavirus has one too and maybe we can do a lot of those things which had fallen by the wayside along the years.

So as well as gardening I am back to making bread and hope that with practice I will soon be as good at it as I used to be.  To that end a new toy arrived on Friday - a new Kenwood Chef something I used to have for years after my mother gave up her bread making and handed it over to me.  Sadly it broke down and couldn't be repaired and so I have been considering for some time whether to get another and what better opportunity than now.  I also plan to make yoghurt and will be off to the woods this coming week for some nettles to make soup what could be nicer with a hunk of home made bread.  Unless it is that same hunk spread with some of my homemade hedgerow spread some of which I still have in the cupboard.

I plan to harvest some micro greens this evening to go with my salad for supper as my Radish Farm is ready for thinning out!!  This idea of planting in toilet roll inners was passed on by a friend although why not just plant in the carton without the toilt rolls?  As you can see we are readying ourselves for bean planting too.  Tom and Barbara here we come!!!

Last Sunday we enjoyed a lovely steam train journey - one that we would have actually done had we not been advised that a rail holiday in Scotland might not be a good idea on crutches!  If you fancy a calm couple of hours on the train through beautiful countryside do as we did and pack a sandwich and a cup of coffee and watch this

Or for something quite different listen to this or of course both.

Saturday 18 April 2020

Bunker news - woodland walk

Yesterday we had rain the first for some time as we have been basking in some early spring sunshine and warm days.  We woke to find that it had rained overnight and was by morning coming down heavily.  I opened the back door when I came downstairs and the perfume of parched English soil in the rain was wonderful!  It was something I missed when we lived in France as although we had rain on dry soil and it did smell it wasn't the same aroma as we get here.

 I remember sitting on the covered patio  you can see here when it was raining or had rained and noticing the different smell and feeling a little homesick!

After lunch I decided to go for a walk in the wood as I thought there might be fewer people up there if it was raining and I didn't might a bit of rain - I am English after all and we are used to it.

 It stopped raining as I set off and there were a few others in the wood enjoying the quiet like me and we passed with the requisite distance between us all very strange and like some kind of dance. I came upon this little den as I walked and wished I might crawl inside and sit quietly away from the world as it is just now  But of course I didn't and it would probably have been somewhat damp and I had nothing to sit on something which wouldn't have worried me as a child in the woods!

It was lovely in the wood, the trees had suddenly become clothed in green leaves that hadn't been there last time I went and there were wild flowers such as Lords and Ladies, yellow deadnettles, red campions and herb robbert and even a few bluebells although they weren't the traditional British blue bells but probably escapees from nearby gardens where people have grown blue and white and even pink bells.

 I did enjoy my walk and returned home feeling much refreshed and more positive about life and how it might be when eventually we are able to go where we like and to hug each other again and not do the dance of keeping 6 feet apart all the time. 

I am still puzzling out how best to get some shopping but for now we have what we need and since a neighbour came round with a letter she said had been delivered in error to them and asked if I wanted anything from the shops as she was going I now have a bag of potatoes and half a dozen eggs so we shan't starve just yet!  Oh and the water butts are all full to the top again so we shan't have to worry about watering the garden either.

What was bizarre though was that the letter was an election letter frm the Lib Dems and must have been sent last year so where had it been I wonder?