Sunday, 23 September 2018

Well, That Made A Change.

You know those surprise weekend breaks that people have been rushing off for for the last couple of years? To Munchen or Bratislava ? Well, I had a variation this week ....  

Food-wise it couldn't be recommended, eight cheese rolls being rather too much of a good thing and I don't know about you, but I prefer to take my toothbrush and a nightie away with me , but everyone was terribly friendly and the coffee was very good. It was a couple of rather busy days, not recommended if you wanted a rest, but it did make a change.

Last Saturday I felt a little peculiar and I still felt strange on Sunday, so when Youngest Daughter phoned on Sunday evening I couldn't really talk to her. Then Friend 'phoned and I didn't do much better but had luckily already decided to talk to the doctor on Monday or Tuesday. It's all right. Next time I'll just call an ambulance straightaway  and put everyone's mind at rest. I'd had a TIA.
I now sound fine, have had every test known to man and seem to be condemned to taking another form of Statins but I've been told that I might not react so badly to these, they're milder.

Since it seemed that I wasn't going to get home till I did, I'm swallowing them and keeping my fingers crossed. These are quite gentle which might be easier for both me and my great-greatgrandmother to put up with … apparently even vaguely Keralan people can only tolerate them so well.

I definitely don't want to be difficult. (The young specialist looked about twenty but I feel she and her gang looked as though they'd be bossy and I was determined to get out before series 3 of The Good Place was going to begin.) Besides, I'd read all the magazines and I'd eaten two lots of salmon and broccolli… I felt I'd wrung the whole experience dry.

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

I Had No Idea ...

Until last weekend I had no idea that my life was missing something so fundamental. Other people had cats or canaries, Guinea pigs or ant farms. A mouse in the skirting board. Dandelions on the lawn or mushrooms in the cellar… But Gloria and I soldiered on without any of these things.

 And then I went down to Amsterdam on Saturday to have lunch and a wander round with YD. We went to Hortus, the Botanic Gardens, and mooned over endless beautiful ferns and palm trees of all shapes and sizes. We're not gardeners; between us we have five plants, one of which is the balding, albino Basil in my kitchen. But we loitered by the purple Velvet plants and the little signs inviting us to stroke them, and we crushed mint and verbena leaves. We stabbed ourselves with an armoury of needle sharp cactii and admired our reflections in lily pad filled ponds. We were enchanted by the Butterfly house and peered through the windows of the Caterpillar House ( No Entry, presumably in case one inadvertently treads on a few). And just as we were beginning to feel hungry and reckoned we'd seen our moneysworth of greenery, I saw what  my balcony's been missing , an Elephant's Foot Palm, otherwise known as a Ponytail Palm.

 I know that Gloria would love one as would the pansy that grew after I'd planted some paprika seeds and the pink daisy-things that seem to be growing  horizontally next door …

I think I'm getting the hang of gardening …….

Friday, 31 August 2018


A small girl came to Keep Fit yesterday with her grandmother and was telling me all about school.

She said  she's going to go into class Four she thinks but it might be class Ten but she's not going to learn to read because her brother already can so it would be a waste of time for her to learn too but she can skip with a rope already and there's a spider in her kitchen and did I want a go on the trampoline but I might break my leg because I'm a granny and ……

 I do hope she enjoys Year One.

Sunday, 5 August 2018

The Best Option

Husband had Alzheimer's for years before it was diagnosed, years before slight irrascibility became occasional rage, before getting lost became the norm.

When the small day care farm couldn't keep him safe anymore and there was no alternative to a fulltime care home, we found somewhere nearby, beautifully run by a team of charming nurses, where it didn't matter that he slept all day and wandered about all night, got hungry at four in the morning and liked playing the keyboard during breakfast.

They gave him plant pots which he overwatered,  let him make toast at midnight, wear his pyjamas all day,  push another old chap's wheelchair up and down the corridor for hours much to their joint delight.  I'd bring him the paper every day and chocolate biscuits, an old friend brought wine, he'd be sent magazines and sweets, his sister 'phoned … and he mostly tolerated it.

But two years later he could no longer taste anything, television frightened him, music irritated him, the sun was too bright and he didn't recognise the moon. He'd ask if he'd ever had a job or gone to school, ask what a fork was, who I was. Then he didn't talk anymore. Stopped eating and drinking, stopped breathing, stopped living.

And now for the first time in years, he's free. As one of the daughters said, he's found a nineteenth century wilderness where he can live off the land, surrounded by trees and birds. And sad though it is, we're happy for him.

Friday, 22 June 2018


Max Liebermann's wonderful Parrot Man is only still in Den Haag's Gemeente Museum because I couldn't quite work out how to get it out of the exhibition without someone objecting. And they were selling an excellent poster of it in the shop downstairs which did look rather easier to bring home on the train. I would have lugged them all home given a chance … certainly the Anton Mauve one of the rather exasperated farmer's wife looking at the lamb … you can see her thinking, "There's not enough wool on that for a pair of socks and it's eating for three."

Having sat so long sitting staring at the paintings in the Summer Impressionist  exhibition that a passing attendant asked me if I was alright, I went down and ate an enormous Brie sandwich with sweet peanuts in it ( I don't know why they'd been added, they really weren't a good idea so I fished them out… but the coffee was good ). 
Then I went back upstairs to the Art Nouveau exhibition on the other side of the landing. And found more rooms full of things, every one of which I needed, really needed. 

I mean, if I needed one I could probably knit myself a tea cosy. I've certainly got enough odd bits of wool to knit ten tea cosies … but none would be quite as pretty as Berthe Bake's .

I took masses of photos which I seem to be working out how to load but it's still all a bit hit and miss so do look at the museum's website. There's masses of pretty things and quite a few that you wouldn't give house room to. It's rather like windowshopping.

 Meanwhile, there's an Escher exhibition to see, here. 
Next week.

Summer Exhibition

Friday, 15 June 2018


The Geranium, hereafter known as Gloria, went out onto the balcony and made it her own. She took over a little table, grew dozens of leaves and buds, and even attracted a compliment. ( Here geraniums are seen as old ladies plants and not really considered favourably so the compliment was rather along the lines of, "Gosh, she's a big one, isn't she!"  Still.)

She loved our early hot summer spell and flourished.
But on Thursday morning, while I was in the kitchen trying to  set a world record for eating a bowl of porridge at the same time as tying my shoelaces  I opened the curtains and …. I saw half of Gloria blowing next door. Fierce wind rushing down to the river had snapped a big chunk off!

All my fault, I know. I've so enjoyed seeing her run riot that I've been overwatering her. Oh well, I'll have to replant the broken bit and hope that she settles down again. You never know, I might end up with two Glorias.

***And if I can ever work out how to load photos onto this laptop, I might even show them to you.

Monday, 4 June 2018

And We Were All Useless ....

Just as I was wondering whether to go off to the library or not, two police cars and an ambulance shot round the corner, sirens blaring , closely followed by two more police cars and a police motor bike.  They all tore into the next street and stopped by the old ladies home's back door. Another ambulance and police car rushed round from the main road and  two police started wrapping red and white tape round everything, including our car park … a sixth police car and third ambulance followed and a yellow helicopter hovered at the end of the road . The noise and chaos started taking shape....

Everybody was out on their balconies, wondering what was going on. Some of the police crowded round the home's door, holding tarpaulins as a shield as paramedics ran around with stretchers and the helicopter finally managed to land . By this stage there were so many people milling about I assumed that it was a training exercise and felt rather sorry for them all on such a hot day. The staff from the home set up a table with coffee and cold drinks and the tarpaulin holders changed around, glad of a rest. A man with a blanket round his shoulders was helped into a car and a lorry was driven away. Everybody, about 30 assorted paramedics, police and a fire crew, all milled about, desperate to help ...

Oxygen tanks lined up. Medics ran in and out of the tarpaulined area. Urgent instructions. A saline drip and a trolley disappeared into the ever growing tarpaulined space. The six police cars and three ambulances sat , doors open .... We all waited.  Radios crackled and one after the other,  the spare ambulances left...

A priest arrived.

The helicopter crew picked up  their stretcher and huge red rucksacks and left and two motorbike police started to untangle the traffic by the park at the top and the river at the bottom. Boats sailed past. Students were being allowed to cycle up the river path again in a tidy, organised queue, supervised by another motor bike policeman . The tarpaulin holders all swopped round again. And a hearse arrived.

She'd just gone out to walk down to the river with her walking frame because it was such a nice morning and she hadn't heard the peep-peep-peep of a backing lorry. The driver hadn't seen her, tiny and dressed in grey, in his blind spot  She was 92.
An hour later, it was as though nothing had happened at all.