Monthly Archives: February 2014

The sixth day

Exactly as predicted, Wink felt much better today, much more mobile.  So she really is on the up from now on.

Lunch for two extra today, one of whom was Bod (see the sidebar).  He looks after his elderly and chair-bound mum, so hadn’t been able to visit until his brother came to take over for a few days.  I’m going over to see them tomorrow because Bod (Wink being unable to go, of course) has invited me out tomorrow, for a charity curry lunch cooked by Gurkhas.  I’m rather looking forward to it.

I’m way behind on emails and sorry if I owe you one – I’ll try to catch up over the weekend.  By the evening, I just want to have an early night, whether I sleep much or not.  I had an hour’s kip on the sofa this afternoon, which was much needed but probably will ensure I don’t sleep until at least midnight.  Still, never mind.  Lots of books and the radio and a comfortable bed.


Sunshine and showers

I’ve been looking up my blog from four years ago and was able to tell Wink that it was the sixth day on from my operation that I really felt things were healing, particularly from the bruising.  So we have hopes of that for tomorrow.

She stayed in bed after her sleep yesterday and I took her supper in bed.  More visitors today, for coffee, lunch and after lunch, and more are due this evening around 6 and 6.30.  So she’s asleep now and I’ve been clearing up the kitchen and will get things ready for the guests soon, so that it isn’t a rush.  I’ll also get supper prepared for after they leave (unless Wink invites them to stay, which wouldn’t surprise me.  She’s always very hospitable and knows I never mind cooking for a few extra).  Tomorrow, friends in the morning, then an appointment with the nurse, then friends for lunch. I don’t know about the rest of the day yet, but I expect it’ll be sociable.

I’m sure you think I fuss about Russell, but it’s not that.  He does have mini-strokes sometimes, for no apparent reason – each is not diagnosed as such, I only know to suspect it by him having extra little naps during the day or a change in behaviour or his speech being less distinct for a few days.  And that happened the week before I came away, I’m quite sure.  There’s nothing that can be done and no treatment – that is, he takes the normal range of medication that most men of his age take and he won’t necessarily ever have a major stroke.  He doesn’t know when he’s had one and wouldn’t mention any symptoms anyway, he hates anything that shows a sign of ageing.  But I’m sure you can see that I’m constantly anxious, even if most of the time it’s without need.  He’s fine now anyway, we all have spoken to him in the past few days and his speech is very clear and, from all that he tells me, he’s busy and active, so that means he’s well.

Wink has forty winks

I had expected to be busy, because Wink has lots of friends.  And I’ve certainly been scuttling around today looking after a number of them.

She’s doing very well, but didn’t have a chance to rest this afternoon, so I suggested she lie down on her bed for an hour before dinner.  And I’m very pleased that she’s gone to sleep.  I’ve washed up rather a lot of mugs, teapots, coffee pots, made a casserole, prepared vegetables, laid the table and poured a glass of wine.  Which I drank, so I had to pour another.  I also had to go to the village shop for some more milk, because there was just enough left for her coffee this evening and none for breakfast, and the milkman doesn’t call until Friday.

I resisted the temptation to phone Russell this morning to check he’d remembered to put on the tortoises’ heating and lighting.  They’re his pets and of course he will have.  It’s up to him to ring me, I’m not going to look sad and desperate, even for Edweena and the Tots.  Russell himself will be fine of course and so will Ben, it’s the out of sight, potentially out of mind members of the family I’m concerned about.

I slept less than ever last night, so still have some relaxing to do.  Surely I’m due a good night’s sleep soon?  Three episodes of Brideshead Revisited listened to, I did nod off twice but only for a few minutes.  Still, there’s Ripley to come.  And a PD James.  Ooh, and I see they’re doing Lorna Doone.  Haven’t read that for years.

Now, The Times crossword until Wink wakes up.

Z the responsible adult, chiz chiz

I’ve slept very badly indeed since arriving here, but Wink is home from hospital now, so if I’ve been worrying about her – well, now she’s my responsibility, so maybe it’ll be worse.  H’m.  I’m bound to catch up sooner or later.

Too long a day to tell you about darlings, I’m quite exhausted.  I must phone Russell next, I can’t help being anxious about him too.

I’ve temporarily (I hope) lost the ability to relax and I’m going to have a bath and an early night – again, that’s done nothing to help recently, I’ve just had four wakeful hours in bed before dozing off.  Still, good reading and listening time, which is a distraction.

Being irresponsible is my aim in life, but I’ve got some way to go yet.  Oh dear.  Sorry I sound so distracted tonight.  I’m fine really.

Z in Wiltshire

I said ‘tomorrow’ so here I am, but not too much to tell you – except that Wink may well come home tomorrow (that is, the day after today, not the day that was tomorrow yesterday) or possibly on Wednesday.

Today, I trotted down to the village shops, unpacked, phoned people who’d left kind messages on Wink’s phone and so on before visiting her this afternoon.  She looks very well and is cheerful and glad the worst is behind her – now it’s just a matter of recovery and it’s all better from now on, as I was glad to assure her.  When I arrived back here, I spent an hour or so washing cashmere jumpers.  Yes, I brought my laundry with me.  It’s been building up for a few weeks – I suppose the obvious thing is to wash each one as it becomes grubby, but I’ve been stacking them up and I’m running out of things to wear.  So now several – half a dozen or so – are wrapped in towels to squeeze out some of the wet before I leave them on the airer to dry overnight.  Can one machine-wash cashmere?  I’ve never dared, but it would save a lot of bother.  It’s not the washing that takes the time of course, but the rinsing, which takes forever. I remember my mother used to do handwashing in the bathroom basin and chuck everything in the bath to rinse it, which at least has the benefit of holding a lot of rinsing water.  She was very much against washing clothes in the kitchen, mind you, even in a washing machine, for no logical reason at all that I could ever see.  She was convinced it was thoroughly unhygienic.

I’m going to have a bath and another early night, so that I can lie in bed listening to the radio.  I listen to book adaptations on Radio 4 Extra mostly.  I used to read in bed for hours, but my eyes get tired nowadays – all the same, I seem to be able to cope with reading one book and listening to another.  I’ve never found it that interesting to do just one thing at a time.



Arrived safely, all’s ok with Wink, all is well at home.  I’m tired out and am having an early night.  I’m so tired that I could only manage two small glasses of wine (having brought a nearly half-full bottle with me) and have had to leave the rest, about an inch and a half’s worth.  Now drinking tea and eating a 15g bar of chocolate.

Tomorrow, darlings.

Update before Z heads West

As Liz says, the baby tortoises are really cute.  They’re attractive too, lovely shells with perfect markings.  And they’re quite happy to be handled, too.

Those of you who met Edweena last year will be pleased to know that her bladder is still in working order.  I’ve been giving her a daily bath, which is very good for tortoises and is supposed to relax them and help them recover from hibernation.  After eliminating some rather mucousy residue, she ate some leaves quite readily, which was a relief.  I’d really wanted to know she’d started to feed before I leave for Wiltshire.

I’ve been trying to catch up with everything before I leave, but I’ve several more items to do.  I reckon I’ll simply take my computer with me and a pile of papers – at least I’ll be quiet for the first day or two and can concentrate on the task in hand.

I haven’t spoken to Wink yet, she was still quite dozy when I rang, but her neighbour visited later and said she’s feeling pretty good.  I will call in at the hospital on my way down tomorrow – it’s about three-quarters of an hour away from her house.  Her nice neighbour has promised to leave some supper for me.

Rupert will go home tomorrow.  Ben will miss him very much.  So will we – I’ll miss everyone, of course.  Ro came over this morning, which was lovely.  I made some very good spinach soup for lunch – really simple, onions slowly cooked in butter and olive oil, the spinach added with a pint of vegetable stock and a good grating of nutmeg, cooked just long enough to wilt, then whizzed fairly smooth and some milk and a little cream, salt and pepper added.  It looked a fabulous bright sludge and tasted fresh and good.  We had it with crumpets.

A few pictures –

They say that waking up is hard to do

…but not in Edweena’s case.

I’ve been a bit anxious about Russell’s tortoise, because it has been such a mild winter that she hasn’t been able to hibernate very deeply and so would have been using more of her stored reserves than if she was in a very sound sleep.  But Russell has been hankering after more tortoises and negotiated to buy a couple of babies.  It was Tortoise Club last night, so he returned with them, warm lights, vitamin and mineral supplements and bags of chalk.  Only trouble was, from my point of view, that he’d said he was bringing back something for them to live in too – he reminds me of being in India.  If you ask a driver if he knows the way somewhere, he’ll always say yes because he thinks it’s more polite and helpful, even though getting lost isn’t helpful at all.  Anyway, they’re only little, so it was no problem to find a large plastic box for the time being.

Today, I set it up for them with earth (actually compost, and I need to get sand too), several lumps of chalk and a dish of water, I started them with a nice warm bath and then Russell fetched Edweena the Incontinent Tortoise.  The instructions said you should take the lid off the box so that she could start to warm up slowly, she might move in her sleep but when she opened her eyes, after about an hour, she was awake.  She was looking about in ten minutes.  So I gave her a nice warm bath too and went to empty another box.


Here she is in her temporary home.


Here are the tots –DSCF7970 IMG_2767

Back to the present

– because I do use this blog as a diary, so that I have some record of when things happened.  The day-to-day can get a bit uninteresting though, as I’m sure you’ve noticed.

I’m sitting on the sofa, bowl of strawberry ice cream in front of me and hopeful dog by my side.  I’ll give him a spoonful before I finish.  And the phone rang at that point and a friend asked me if I’m going to the lunch in Norwich tomorrow – eek! I’d forgotten it, and I’m supposed to be taking the information sheets for everyone, which I’ve yet to print out. Thank goodness she rang.  And Ben has had his ice cream, though I did remove the pieces of strawberry and eat them first.

Another visit to London yesterday, this time by car, to pick up the china from our Hampstead friend.  I can’t say I really enjoy the journey, but it went smoothly enough.  I’ve promised I’ll photograph her china, which I’ll have to fit in somehow, before I leave for Wiltshire.  I’ve already realised I’ll have to take my computer – I thought the iPad would be fine, but I don’t know what documents I might want and it’ll be simpler to take the lot.  A Mac is just a screen and keyboard, it’s no trouble to load into the car.  I’ve got to the stage of making lists, though I’ve a feeling that I’ll be writing the emails on that particular list on the night I arrive.  I’ll be with her for a couple of weeks at least and have a list (of course) of things to take for her, starting with a suitably high armchair.  For anyone who doesn’t know, my sister is having a new hip this weekend and I had the same operation four years ago, so I know what she’ll want.

I was really tired last night.  On the way home, we’d called in on a friend near Saffron Walden, so were pleasantly delayed by a couple of hours.  I woke up around 8 and spent a while reading the online newspaper, playing online Scrabble, checking Facebook, while I woke up enough to get out of bed.  Then I heard a car, then a knock at the door.  I got up and looked and it was someone delivering some papers for me to sign.  So I put on a dressing gown and hurried downstairs, let him in and chatted for a few minutes, while really hoping he would go before I fell over.

In my young and thinner days, this was a problem of mine – when I got up too quickly, my blood pressure dropped and I was ready to faint.  I managed to get back to bed today, head swimming and ears buzzing, and Russell got up to let Ben out.  I had to lie there for a good half hour – but no longer, because I had a haircut booked for 9.15.

Darlings, this was quite embarrassing.  I arrived, only a minute late, which was remarkable in the circumstances, and the very young girl at reception assured me I wasn’t booked in.  Who was going to cut my hair?  I still wasn’t on top form and I’m sure I looked it, and my mind blanked.  Was it Sian?  I wasn’t sure.  I knew it wasn’t Ally or Ginny or Jo.  How can a woman forget her hairdresser’s name?  I showed her my phone, so that at least she knew I may have had the day down wrong, but I was here the day I thought I should be, and we looked for my appointment.  She found it first.  Yesterday.  I wasn’t just a minute late but 24 hours and a minute.  Oh bum.  I was very apologetic.  The girl was worryingly kind, I must have looked too confused and stricken for anything else.

Later, I went off to visit a friend.  I headed for the main road and was confused again when there was a solid line of lorries going in the direction I wanted to, all stationary.  I wondered if it was  truckers’ convention or maybe a blockade, since the ones in front of me had no one at the  driver’s seat.  But, looking to the right, in the distance there were people in high-vis jackets, so probably there had been an accident.  I turned the car and went back through the village and back on the bypass via the town.  A stream of traffic was coming off the main road, which was shut, and I could see that there had been an accident.  I was the right side of it though, so headed off.

I hope no one was badly injured, but if an accident had to happen, better today than tomorrow.  The only way through the town centre is Trinity Street from north to south or St Mary’s Street from south to north.  However, there’s a big roadworks planned in St Mary’s Street, which will be closed for several weeks.  Accordingly, Trinity Street, which is one-way, will be altered to one-way-at-a-time, with traffic lights controlling it, for the duration.  I suspect it’ll take ages to get anywhere at all.  I’ve recommended to Russell that he park our side of the bottleneck and walk, but I suppose everyone will do that so he’ll be lucky to find a space.  Once I’m home on Sunday fortnight I’m going to use my bike around town, whatever the weather. But can you imagine the traffic chaos if all those redirected cars had been caught by the lights, even though they weren’t going down the affected road?  Blimey.

Darlings, if you think that was complicated and boring, you should have lived here for the past few months.  Nothing in Bungay has ever caused more controversy.  A few people have even pressed for, and obtained, a referendum – on the grounds that proper consultation wasn’t carried out.  Actually, I think it was.  You’d have had to have your head buried in the sand for the past year not to know about it.

But there we go, that’s democracy in action, I suppose.  I’ve got to print out all these papers for tomorrow.  Cheery-pip, sweethearts xxx

Holidays in France

I suppose they went through France to get anywhere else, but it was certainly a country they loved.  I remember them bringing me a beautiful pair of shoes back from Paris – wouldn’t have been a bad idea to buy them to grow into, because they barely fitted from the start and actually were quite uncomfortable to walk in, but I didn’t say a word – partly because they were lovely shoes, partly because I really was so excessively polite and wouldn’t have wanted to complain, partly because I’ve always been absurdly frugal and didn’t want them wasted.

They loved driving through the mountains and they loved the Mediterranean coast.  As Mago said in the comments yesterday, in those days the Côte d’Azur was not all a holiday Mecca and there were many coastal villages to explore.  They also loved Nice and spent a few days there relaxing on each visit.

A couple of memories – at a seafront bar having a drink in the early evening, friends walked by. They all greeted each other, more drinks were ordered and they sat chatting together.  It wasn’t for at least half an hour that someone said “Hang on, we didn’t know you were coming to Nice? We usually meet like this in Lowestoft.”  Nothing will ever beat my Honeymoon Coincidence, but that wasn’t bad.

The daughter of friends married the son of the then director of a major London auction house.  They met for a drink by prior arrangement one evening.  The young wife was Bohemian by inclination and wore sandals, black leggings (not that they were called that then), a casual top and had slightly grubby feet and hair after a day on the beach.  After an hour or so, goodbyes were said with the explanation that they had a dinner engagement – *young wife* needed time to bath and change, said the bridegroom.  She looked surprised, reckoning she was fine just as she was.  H’m.  At that point my mother, at least, started to suspect it wouldn’t be a lifetime partnership.

My mother was always appropriately dressed, which sounds dull but wasn’t – she used to look lovely but – I don’t know quite how to say this without making them sound like crashing snobs, which they really were not.  The only people they were disdainful of were those who showed off their wealth.  It didn’t matter whether you had money or not, you should never let anyone feel awkward and you should treat them all the same.  Having loud, extravagant parties, flaunting a lot of flesh when anyone who might be embarrassed was nearby, giving any impression you thought you were better than anyone else whatever your circumstances, brought out feelings of contempt.  Wearing a ‘kiss me quick’ hat in Blackpool was fine, flashing more jewellery in Paris than anyone else was not.  At all times, courtesy and consideration to hotel, shop or any other staff was paramount.  By the early-sixties, they already felt the French Riviera was losing its shine by becoming a whole lot more glossy and fashionable, and they stopped going there.  I suspect it was the reason they loved using the sports cars on the Continent where no one knew them: they were anxious not to show off.

There were still many other lovely places though and, as I said, my father particularly enjoyed driving in the mountains.  They had crossed the Alps by a particularly hair-raising road full of hairpin bends and I’m not sure how my mother took it.  She had a tendency to carsickness at the best of times.  But they reached their destination in France safely and spent the night at their hotel.  I’m afraid I haven’t the faintest idea of the town.  My father always drove, by the way, because my mother never did master a clutch and always drove an automatic.  They had a new Daimler Dart, which they’d seen and ordered at the 1959 Motor Show (I have no idea what colour it was, nor if this was the model) and this was the first long run.  The next day after lunch, they got in the car to get on their way again.  At the first junction, the brakes failed.  There was nothing.  My father swung the wheel and turned the corner, tyres screeching.  Fortunately – wouldn’t you know it?  I may not have been there but my benediction held, I’ve always been lucky, even by proxy – there was a slight upward inclination, my father was able to run the wheels against the kerb and the car stopped.

It turned out that an urgent message had been received from Daimler at home, that there had been a fault in manufacture.  The pipe carrying brake fluid was slightly long and rubbed every time the wheel was turned. It lasted them through the mountains, but that was it.  Being hot and worn thin, it collapsed and the fluid drained out.

Still, no harm done, except possibly to my mother’s nerves.