Tuesday, 27 June 2017


As I watch my friends who are still 'at the chalk face' staggering towards the end of another academic year, I find it hard to believe that I'm actually almost two years into my life 'post teaching'.  There are elements of the job that I do miss.. especially the fun that I used to have when I was lucky enough to have time with super-motivated musicians... BUT I wouldn't go back for anything.
Nowadays I'm what can best be described as 'steadily busy'.  My days are always full of music, family, friends ..and keeping on top of house-related jobs.  I love the fact that I'm master of my own ship.  I rarely have that horrible, stress-inducing feeling of sinking under the weight of commitments.  I enjoy the fact that I can always re-schedule my day if some-one needs my time, or help in anyway.
I'm starting to enjoy myself as a musician too.  In the last three years of my teaching career I didn't touch my harp at all and I lost a lot of technique as a consequence.  Since I stopped work I've put HOURS of practice into my harp and I'm finally starting to sound confident and competent again.  On Sunday afternoon, Ness and I played a set in a concert in the local church.  For the first time I wasn't paralysed by nerves... Look, I'm even smiling in this photo!!!
I've got very little money but, as I'm time rich, I make things for people.  Last week I made this patchwork bag for my sister's birthday.  I love having the 'head space' to be creative.
It's funny... I read somewhere that it takes a month to recover from every year of stress that you've lived through.  I'd agree with this.  I worked for 26 years on adrenaline and it's taken the best part of 24 months to get it out of my system.  I felt better last summer - I feel immensely better this summer.  The only thing that suffered from this has been my waist-line... but that's the content of another post!!!!

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Pictures From a Heat Wave

We managed to get two complimentary tickets for Friday at the Three Counties Show this year.
Mark finishes work at 1.00 so we popped over to Malvern for a few hours in the afternoon.
It was lovely to see all the care and attention that went into the displays..
We were just in time to see the final stages of the first phase of judging.
(Although we missed the 'parade of champions', where the best of each breed walks round the ring)

There were dark clouds over the Malvern Hills and it had already started to turn incredibly hot and stuffy.  However we were lucky that the rain didn't come our way..

I always take lots of photos of the vintage caravans.  Secretly, I'd love to have one and use it for quirky holidays.  Sadly Mark doesn't share my romantic vision (He can see all of the limitations and none of the 'bygone luxury'!!!!)

We've pretty much moved outside for the last five days.  We even got a new (larger) umbrella to keep some of the sun off the patio.  I spotted it in the Sale at the local garden centre on Saturday.  It was perfect for our Father's Day lunch on Sunday...

In the evenings Mark and I just move the chairs and table from the conservatory to the patio.
While I love my new conservatory, it's thermal efficiencies make it WAY too hot for these temperatures...

I keep moving my hanging baskets around so that they don't get too burnt up and dried out.
I've made far more of an effort with the planters this year because I know that we're going to be around all summer to enjoy them.

On Monday I went up to Cannock to collect two new fuel tanks for Mark's projects. 
Here's Mark checking them out on the decking. 

...And everyone's been making the most of the calm evening weather.
These flew over last night..

Thomas is way too hot...but I can see that he's not in pain at the moment.
He likes to start the day on his favourite chair in the conservatory.
Eventually it becomes way too hot (for anyone - not just those with a fur coat!)

...Then he sprawls anywhere that he thinks he can feel a draught.

Much as I love this hot weather, I think I'm ready for the cooler, damper couple of days that are forecast for the end of the week.  Ness and I are doing some flute and harp stuff for the local church on Sunday.  My harp has been extremely irritable in all the heat and actually broke two strings this afternoon.  I need some less extreme weather to 'calm it down' before the performance!

Monday, 19 June 2017

My Brave Mum.. and a Thomas Update.

Over the last few years my Mum has taken part in several research studies aiming to improve future management and care of Huntington's.  She knows that she's unlikely to see the benefits of these herself.. but she's keen to do everything that she can.  Generally these have been talking or co-ordination tests, with some monitoring of brain patterns etc.  Nothing too invasive or painful, just time-consuming.

On Sunday she left some paperwork with me that outlines the latest research project.  This requires a completely different level of involvement from the patients.  Basically she will go through a screening programme - then donate some of her cerebrospinal fluid (which surrounds the brain and spinal chord) for this latest research programme.  The CSF will be used to identify and evaluate biomarkers and pathways for HD (and other conditions).  It will also allow the researchers to develop a greater understanding of the Huntington protein, which causes HD, and some chemicals produced by the brain that are also thought to be closely associated with HD.

I'm popping round to their house tomorrow morning to find out exactly how serious she is about taking part.  Knowing my brave and determined Mum, I expect that she's pretty set on doing it. 

I think I've said it before... but I'm always super-proud of my Mum!!!

There's better news on the Thomas front too.  He's responded well to the increased level of pain killer and has lost the 'distant' look in his eyes.  I think (hope and have EVERYTHING CROSSED) that his time on the planet may be counted in weeks again.. rather than days.  He wanders round the house, cursing the heat and generally shouting at me for non-specific failures.  That's Thomas 'back to his normal self' for the moment.  Thank you (and purrs) to everyone who left a comment on my last post.

Hope you are all enjoying the weather!

Tuesday, 13 June 2017


It seems that Thomas - my beloved elderly cat child - is coming to the end of his days.
We've had several other occasions over the last fourteen months when he's been very ill and we've been able to help him with tablets/pain medication but for the last week or so, he's just been restless and unsettled.  I know that. at 20 years old, we were on borrowed time with him... but you can't help hoping that you're going to squeeze another few months of time together.
I am SO upset....
For many reasons, it hasn't felt like the right thing to go on a two week holiday this year.
We had our long weekend at Spa circuit in May and there are no plans to travel until October.
However, we're very lucky to have a beautiful part of England on our doorstep....
On Friday afternoon we went for a walk on Hartlebury Common (near Stourport in Worcestershire).  It was a perfect 'early June afternoon'... warm but not roasting and gorgeous skies.

We made our way down from the common to the bank of the river Severn, then followed the tow paths into the canal basin/marina.  It's been restored over the last few years and is a fascinating place to explore.  The combination of locks and docks makes it feel a little like a Escher painting!!

Mark always has time for a Sundae!!!

We walked up the High Street and took a quick look in one or two of the shops.
I found a lovely cotton skirt for £2.95 in a Charity Shop. 
It's blue and cream and the label says that it was made in Italy.... perfect when the weather improves!
Then we retraced our steps back up to the car park on the common
(and came home to the challenges of elderly cat care....)