Weekly PhotoChallenge, reflecting

I was walking through town yesterday, enjoying the crowds, and the great atmosphere. It was Exeter Pride, a vibrant, colourful event with a long parade of people wearing rainbow colours, flying the flag and bursting with excitement.

Everyone was happy, or so I thought. Then I saw this lady, she was leaning on a trolley shopper thingy and heading towards the bus stop.

Reflecting

It may be that she was just wondering when the buses would start running again. Perhaps she was reflecting on the loss of youth, a samba band were passing, so everyone was jiggling about. I really hope it was nothing worse.

 

 

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Cake and corsets

It’s strange isn’t it, how memories are triggered?

The other day I was talking to my friend at work, about our battles with weight. In the six or so years we’ve known each other, we’ve both dieted a few times, with some success and some failure. I’ve often said that our office makes us fat, because there are around 16 people, birthdays happen around 16 times a year – now that’s a surprise.  Each one of those means a cake day, and regular visits from outside agencies like auditors, also bring cake, chocolates, biscuits or all three. At Christmas, the quantity is obscene and it lives on a table at my end of the room! I can resist some of it, but home-made cake beats me. And there are occasional fund raising days where the more charitable slave away over a hot stove, so that we can indulge while feeling generous.

So, the lovely M was browsing the internet during her lunch break, looking rather pleased with herself. She’s a bit of a minx and I asked her what mischief she was making. ‘I’ve just ordered something’ she said, ‘to sort this out’ she rubbed her midriff, ‘I’ve got to do something about this bulge’.

I laughed and she went on to say that she’d ordered a corset. ‘Ooo-er, a saucy little number for Valentines? With laces?’I asked.

‘Na, here it is’, she took out her phone, ‘I’ll lose weight with this one’. The photo was a bizarre looking thing that seemed to be in two pieces, a tight bit underneath a vest shape bit.

‘What are you on about, lose weight, it’ll just squash up your insides, just like Spanx, really uncomfortable’ I said.

‘It’s supposed to make me sweat because it’s tight, and that will make me lose weight’. Now M is always hot, I’ll have a chunky jumper on top of a vest, with a scarf around my neck and shoulders, while I’m sat at my desk, and she’ll be in a thin sleeveless blouse. I reminded her that she suffers from the heat as it is.

And then the half-formed memory burst out.

When I was a little girl my grandmother was a bit plump, as ladies of a certain age often are. The best grandmothers are plumptious, but mine was quite short, so couldn’t get away with it as well as some. I remember her ordering herself a rather expensive corset, that was also supposed to help her lose weight, by making her sweat. Funny how things go around. It arrived from the Traffords mail order catalogue, and she was so excited when she opened it. Made of skin coloured rubber, rather like swimming caps were made from, and with hooks and eyes that I had to help her do up. It was incredibly tight, but she hoped for a miracle.

She had a few of these corsets

, they had a tendency to tear, and she would get very angry and curse the manufacturers for selling ‘a pig in a poke’.

She did lose weight sometimes, I remember her grapefruit diet, but invariably she regained it, as do I and my friend M.

It’s easy to lose, easier to regain and I hope my memory made you smile.

 

A bit of a week

WARNING, THIS IS A WORDY POST!

So, I’ve had a pretty good week, but full on, when did I last have one that wasn’t? As far as I can remember Monday was fairly easy, except that I had a query mountain to sort out because I’d had annual leave on the Thursday and Friday.

Tuesday I met Sue in town after work. It was bitterly cold so we dashed into a couple of shops and I was finally able to buy a replacement for part of her Christmas present that never arrived. Success, followed by dinner at Turtle Bay. The food was mostly nice except the fried plantain that I’d really, really been looking forward to. It came too blackened, so I sent it back. They brought another portion five minutes later and it wasn’t quite as burnt, but still not good enough. I felt quite sorry for the embarrassed waitress, she offered me sweet potato fries instead, they were okay and I wasn’t charged.

Wednesday began well enough, a full work day and my friend Jackie picked me up from home at 5.15. We went to town to meet Sonja, we’ve all been friends since school, fifty years, and have a meal together once a month. Jackie and I were ten minutes early, Sonja was coming in by train, so I suggested a browse in Marks and Spencer while we waited.

We pootled around, trying hard, but failing, to see anything worth buying from their new seasons stock. Jackie was ahead of me looking at heels. Just as I was wondering how she manages to wear them, my own sensible flat Marks and Spencer ankle boots decided they no longer wanted to be between me and th floor, they much preferred to detach themselves with some kind of backwards gliding kick, as if they were ice skates. You know that moment when you think you’ve rescued yourself and wouldn’t fall flat on your face? Well I was right, I fell on both hands, my left knee and left hip instead. I yelped, Jackie turned as I scrambled up, hoping no one would see me. Luckily it as nearly closing time and not a soul to be seen. I was licking my wounds for several minutes before a member of staff noticed there was a problem. A first aider was called, she asked if she could do anything, took notes and promised to enter it in the accident book. There didn’t appear to be anything on the floor to make it slippery, but with hindsight, any damp patch was probably absorbed by my coat. We left for the restaurant, me stumbling along feeling like I’d been beaten up. Jackie and Sonja teased me, saying how once you start falling it’s the beginning of old age, but I’m the youngest of the three of us. We had a nice meal in The Stable, a pizza, pie and cider place, my pie was called Squishy Squashy, no prizes for guessing the ingredients.

This is the view from The Stable, lots of reflections, but you can see what a damp old night it was. I was home and in bed by 9pm, feeling decidedly sore all over and a bit tearful.

On Thursday I left the office at 3.45 for an appointment over in the hospital’s main building. My appointment was 4pm but they were running late, so I was called for my ultrasound at 4.30. The good news was that nothing abnormal was detected with my kidney. I arrived home to find another appointment waiting for me!

Thursday was supposed to be my writing group evening, but a third night out in a row, with bruises emerging just wasn’t a good idea.

By Friday I was feeling more myself, after work I put a coat of paint on the wall of the new conservatory and watched a bit of tv. The weekend, hooray!

Time for dog walking in the park, food shopping, two more coats of paint, and all the usual hodgepodge of jobs to do. I’ve even found time to blog, and in the space between, I’ve been crocheting again. Issy, you asked if I’d found a new project, because I was lost once I’d finished the last one. So this is what I began three weeks ago.

img_5117It’s about four feet square now, I’m getting faster but there’s a way to go yet!

So that was my week, how was yours?

 

 

Missing, me?

We don’t always notice someone’s missing until they return do we? Well, I’m back after an unexpected two week hiatus, courtesy of our National Health Service. It was rather strange being an in-patient at the hospital where I work, I stayed close to my ward to avoid being seen, looking so dreadful. Of course that didn’t work and I was spotted several times. The care I received was faultless, I can’t thank the team enough, the Trust really do deserve the good Care Quality Commission reports it’s received.

I’ve been going a little stir crazy, with little energy to go out, and lacking concentration to read, never mind blogging. I’ve watched a little bit of TV and had lots of visitors, including my daughter and granddaughters to stay, the cutest distractions, so I’m in good spirits, even if I’m far from 100% yet.

Here’s a little glimpse of my recent world.

autumn-park-copy

deer2

some-of-my-favourite-people

I’m going to start visiting you and catching up on what you’ve been up to in my absence soon, i feel I’ve missed so much!

 

 

 

Awards, poetry and Blogging Addiction

Yesterday I received a nomination for the Leibster Award, from my dear blogging sister Meg. It’s my first award for some time, and I remember in Lucid Gypsy’s early days, seeing awards flying back and forth and wondering if I’d ever receive one. One they began, they came thick and fast. Flattered, I accepted and shared the love, until I realised that I was spending way too much time on them and decided I wouldn’t take part anymore. Awards seemed to peter out a little anyway.

The Leibster was one of the first that I received, but when I saw Meg’s post I decided that I would take part, simply because it was Meg! Then, I remembered that I haven’t posted for three days, have lots of photos and things I want to share as it is, how on earth could I fit anything else in?

Time. My nemesis and many other peoples. Of the 168 hours in a week, I spend 43 walking to work, being there and walking home again. I spend 56 attempting to sleep (and usually achieving about 42). Probably 26 hours are taken up with cooking, housework, grocery shopping, and self-care. I might watch TV for 3 hours a week, 5 hours a week might be social times, 10 if I have a day out! That still seems to leave 4 hours a day to be too exhausted to move uh, have fun, be creative, walk the dogs.

Write. That’s the one. That’s the reason I began blogging, at the end of a three-year period of study, that was undertaken to improve my creative writing skills.  Twice a month I go to my writing group and sometimes share some work, but I actually write very little these days. I’m one of those people who is too interested in too many things. I want to learn everything, read everything, experience everything, from block printing to training ants, and talk to everyone I encounter.

My writing blog isn’t, it’s a photography blog.  Lured in by the Weekly Photo Challenge and similar, I get to indulge another of my passions. Sharing photos is far quicker and easier than writing and I’m kind of cataloguing some of my life, that’s how I justify it to myself. But the reality is, like Meg, I’m addicted to blogging, both posting and visiting my blogging friends around the world. Some of you are very special, you know who you are and you’re the other half of what fuels my addiction.

I’d like to be able to say I’m going to change, that this will become a writing blog, but I’d be kidding myself. So dear Meg, thank you for choosing me for the award, but I’m declining. Instead I’m going to schedule my weekly events and of course I’m going to write, perhaps, maybe, sometime. Meanwhile, I went hunting for my Leibster Award and instead I found this poem from 2011, and thought I’d share again.

By Train Through Somerset

Country gulls flushed by the 10.53

arrow  from fields with frosty periphery

like yuletide tinsel under threadbare trees

 

lamb filled ewes  felted and jacketed

join blanketed ponies to nibble on nothing

awaiting a ride or a jar of mint sauce

 

depart the Levels undulating uphill

where railway huts stand derelict lonesome

the sizzle of pylons shoot towards ozone

 

old man’s beard helplessly clings to dense hide

of hedge where Roe stags lurk in dank

acres furrowed and ready  for spring

 

spires crack the  mist near burst  banks

where Saturday shoals of angling young men

stand fishing

and wishing

 

Encounters with youth

Recently I was walking home from work and gang of young lads were coming towards me, rowdy and fooling around. They were daft, squawking and pushing each other, but I knew there was nothing bad happening because they were wearing the uniforms of the public school over the road. Interestingly, I made a spot judgement based on their appearance that there was no risk to either the puniest one of them, or to myself. Rather sad really, but if a gang of lads from the Academy half a mile away were heading towards me I’d feel rather different, possibly a tiny bit anxious if I had to pass them. They would probably be pushing at the uniform boundaries with hoodies and trainers, this bunch had polished black shoes and crisply pressed shirts.

All these thoughts passed through my mind as they got closer. They were giggling and jeering and I had the distinct feeling that some of it was at my expense, I sucked my cheeks in to stop myself laughing. Next, the tallest and probably sweet sixteen year old, detached himself from the rest and followed with his hands behind his back. The giggles of four pre-pubertal boys, with unbroken voices, got louder as they drew level with me, and then I was eye to eye with Mr Sixteenish.

‘Excuse me’, he said ‘would you like a flower?’ He held out his hand to offer me a freshly picked sprig of blossom. I took it with a smile and a thank you. Meanwhile, of course, he’d trotted to catch up with the younger boys, who were convulsed with laughter, at his accepting what was so obviously a dare. I called after them that they should ‘learn from their handsome friend, he will be a success with the ladies.’ More laughter.

A young boy was brought into my office for a work experience day. He spent some time with someone in the opposite team and then was given to me for the afternoon. I welcomed him and asked him why he had chosen this particular experience, in a busy finance department, he muttered something that sounded like ‘It’s what I want to do’, ‘really?’ I said ‘what school year are you in, have you chosen your GCSE subjects?’  Another mutter.

He didn’t listen, so he made small mistakes, the same one several times, so to help his learning, I got him to correct them. I found out later that he had been in another finance department for four days, somewhere a lot more sober and serious than mine, with rather more senior staff. I have no idea how he survived. I was gentle and kind to him the whole time, trying my best to bring him out, and I rarely fail, but oh he was hard work. It turns out he was just 14, imagine knowing that you want to be an accountant at that age, I didn’t know what I wanted to do until I was middle aged! I hope he succeeds in his chosen path, but I can’t help feeling that he was just too young for the situation, he was cocky, bright, but not as clever as he thought.

Driving home across the city, close to the University campus, dark apart from the street lights, I saw the silhouette of someone in the road twenty metres ahead. I instinctively slowed down and the car in front of me swerved sharply as the man reverse staggered back to the curb. I could tell it was a guy, late teens in jeans, tee-shirt and a beanie hat. Several vehicles came towards me but as I crept very slowly, they were leaving a 20 mph area and speeding up, unaware that he was about to dash and wobble on to the road again. Horns sounded, he nearly fell but just saved himself. My mind was flying through the options, stopping with hazard lights in the hope that he would cross safely and away from the traffic, shouting at him, I really thought he was going to be run over. Where are the police cars when you need one? This lad was desperately drunk, alone and vulnerable. Then there was a pause in the traffic and he reached the opposite path and sat down. With my eye on the rear view mirror I eased slowly away, and as I moved I saw him up and still swaying around. I still hoped to see a police car as I got closer to the city centre, and hoped even more that I wouldn’t hear anything nasty on the news in the morning.

Seven young boys, 36 hours.

A Golden Age

If you had to live forever, what age would you choose, childhood, adolescence or adulthood, and why? This is the question posed by the Daily Post today.

I’ll start by saying why I wouldn’t want to be an eternal child. I had plenty of fun as a child, simple fun, where I could play for hours sitting in a den under a table, covered in a chenille cloth or eating raw sausage meat when my grandmother made sausage rolls. A wooden box full of buttons was perfect to let my imagination run wild, as I conjured up the garments they had fallen from.

But I also had strange and difficult times as I struggled to know where I belonged. No, belonged is the wrong word, it was more that I was trying to work out how I fitted in, an answer that I didn’t get until I was middle aged.

My teenage years were worse, expected to and indeed wanting to go out and meet the world, I was often fearful and I most definitely did not fit.

But that’s the past. Now my skin fits. It won’t fit for many more years though, in stead it will become looser, as the subcutaneous fat redistributes itself, and I take on the guise of the crone.

So I want to stay where I am right now. I want to keep the strength I have, keep the ailments that come with age at bay. No arthritis, hypertension, high cholesterol, thyroid problems or dementia, because I need time.

I didn’t begin travelling until I was in my forties, I’d always wanted to but hardly dared to dream. I got my hit of exotic destinations watching Michael Palin, everywhere he went, I wanted to go. It wasn’t until I began to break free, that some of those places became reality.

But oh, there are so many places I need to see. Ethiopia, Mali, Uzbekistan, Namibia, Chile, Libya, Israel, Jordan, Greece. There are places that I couldn’t go to at the moment, even if I had the time and money. Pakistan, I’ve always wanted to visit, but I’ve just this evening watched a documentary, about it’s incredible history and culture.

I dream of being able to walk safely around the cities of Nigeria, to travel Ibgo country freely, meeting more of my family there and really understanding the culture. As things stand, it’s doubtful that this could happen in my lifetime. Who knows, give it fifty years and some miracles then, perhaps, it could be possible. So, I need to live forever as I am now, with the wisdom, confidence and experience that I have, and the brakes on the physical deterioration. This is my Golden Age!

I’m adding this comment I found on Facebook this morning. It’s from my lovely extra son, my daughter’s partner Steven, who has hidden talents that I hope he will use one day. Thanks Steve xx

This is a tough question. On first thought it seems easy, however who would truly want to live forever? The fact that we have such a brief sneeze of time to enjoy this crazy, heart aching, beautiful thing called life is what makes it so truly special. We live each day never truly knowing if it is our last, so we grab hold of it, squeeze it for every little drop and savour every morsel. If we live forever then surely part of that essence fades, knowing that we have forever to do the things we want. We lose the sense of urgency, the need, the desire to do today all the things we fear to delay until  tomorrow. The fear of tomorrow makes us live today.

But then I realise that I could spend forever with my beautiful family, watching my daughters play and grow. If only….