31 July 2013

Busy as a bee, busy as can be

I'm up to my eyes at the moment and a little bit miffed that I cannot enjoy all the hot weather we have been having. I shouldn't grumble really, because despite being on a treadmill, I am rather enjoying it!  I think I must naturally thrive on being busy.

For those that asked, my mother is now over the cracked rib pain. It took her 12 weeks in all to recover (double the normal healing time for fractures) but given her age and the fact she has osteoarthritis and osteoporosis, it is not surprising. She is still staying with me and luxuriating in the TLC and three good meals a day which often come complete with room service! Running up and down the stairs is good for me and gives me that excuse to have another chocolate bar to keep up my energy levels. (Ahem)

Fourteen-year-old Snoopy continues to wag his tail and slowly mince along the path on his daily walks. He is happy to stop frequently and sniff at every blade of grass on the way, even if it does take ten times as long to do the walk as it used to and even though I annoyingly tap my watch at him, it brings no quickening of his pace. He is still weeing for England (mainly on his bedding and on the sofa covers which I wash on a daily basis), but otherwise he is in reasonable health. I can't really put him down just for that reason alone, so we soldier on together, with him mainly sleeping through the day to gather enough strength to eat a meal or climb the stairs to bed at night! It's a dog's life!

Kay is currently in Borneo and, as I write, communing with orang-utans. She apparently came within a few feet of a 19-stone alpha male yesterday (and I am not talking about a fellow-student at the hostel!) She is doing a combination of trekking and sightseeing. I shan't rest until she is back home again, although she assures me it is all very civilised. She tells me via Skype that the locals are fascinated by the whiteness of her skin and colour of her red hair and complete strangers wave at her. Not sure whether that is a good sign or a bad one.

To distract me, I am knee-deep in solicitors' letters and questionnaires connected with my mother's house move. Am I taking the bath? As if! Am I taking the taps?  Errr, well I'm no plumber! Am I taking the curtains? The garden furniture? The list goes on and on and on. Does a neighbour's drain cross our land? How the *%*^£@ do I know? So far, in the space of 4 weeks, I have accumulated about 4 inches of paperwork with detailed searches, questionnaires and the like just from our solicitor, let alone theirs. It is such a long time since I bought or sold a house, I had not realised how intricate it has become. I am sure solicitors mention every little stone or twig lying around in case we should trip over them and say we never got told they were there and sue them, however it means they flag up just about every little thing of no importance. Current projections are that the move will happen some time in September, so it is full steam ahead to prepare and pack up or dispose of 6 decades of home-making, as we condense a spacious 4-bedroom house into a miniscule 1-bedroom retirement flat.

My mother celebrates her 90th birthday in two weeks' time and I am wracking my brain what to give her.  Bear in mind she is elderly (hence the 90th birthday!), disabled ,housebound, can't see very well and is down-sizing to a small flat, it does narrow things down a bit. I'm working on a photo album - a sort of "This is Your Life" theme to it and have been busy scanning old black and white photos of when she was a toddler or a wee young girl in Land Army Uniform right through to the present day. Apart from that, I haven't a clue. Any suggestions gratefully received.

Meanwhile the sun shines its head off and helps to slow me down a bit, but not enough to go outside and sit in it. Maybe by December I'll get some free time..... but, oh, wait a minute, it'll be Christmas and there'll be presents  and food to get in. There's never a dull moment.

22 July 2013

Dying for a drink

It was so sad to read that Paul Gascoigne is back on the drink again so soon after his recent rehab in the USA. With rehab, there is always the hope that this is going to be the one miracle cure that works to stop the alcoholic drinking ever again. I'm not entirely sure what the exact statistics are, but I read somewhere that only one in ten alcoholics ever kick the habit completely. It looks like Paul is going to be one of those other statistics - the number of liver failure deaths - along with the likes of George Best, my Greg and countless others.

Another shocking story this weekend was of the Alsatian who had to be carried out of a car, having been left in the searing heat for an hour. When will the dumbhead owners finally understand? YOU CANNOT LEAVE AN ANIMAL OR CHILD IN A CAR IN THE SUN OR EVEN IN CLOUD IN HIGH TEMPEATURES FOR EVEN FIVE MINUTES LET ALONE AN HOUR. You know what it is like to return to a car that has been left in the sun for a while to know how hot it can get. To leave a child or dog in there for over an hour is unforgivable and totally beyond my comprehension.

16 July 2013

Always something there to remind me

Last week was our wedding anniversary. It would have been our 37th. We married in that other heatwave year of 1976. I often wonder how much longer I am going to be looking backwards rather than forwards every time there is an anniversary, birthday or other occasion. I do try to look forwards, but life sometimes has a very forceful way of reminding me of the past.

Kay is off shortly to the other side of the world for a 3-week holiday and when she gets back to the UK she is going to a music festival. She wanted me to dig out our 8-man tent, which has not been used for at least 5 years, so that she and her friends can all share one tent at the festival. Not sure where it was and where its components (poles, sleeping compartments, pegs) were, we decided yesterday to a) find it; b) put it up to see what, if anything, was missing; and c) waterproof it in preparation for when she would need it in a few weeks.

Greg and I were avid campers and we used to take Kay on many a camping holiday when she was growing up. Over the years we have accumulated 4 different-sized tents, so it was essential I find the right tent and the right poles and the right sleeping compartments. It meant digging deep into an old tea chest we keep in the garage with such things in.  I have not needed to go there since Greg died. To my horror,
is what I found
tucked in amongst the tent poles.....

10 bottles of whisky!

Just when I feel I am getting on top of things, something comes along to kick me in the sides and remind me!

08 July 2013

Senior Apprentice

What a week, and I'm not just talking about the marvellous news about Andy Murray's exhausting great win or the sight of Abu Qatada leaving English soil!

It started last weekend, when I drove down with Kay to my mother's house. My mother has not been surviving at all well on her own since I took her back home three weeks ago. She had been in too much pain to cook or even eat, so I was on a mission to bring her to London again for some more intensive care with me. (I had only taken her home in the first place because she needed to be at an appointment, but she had insisted she could cope alone, so I had left her there). While I was with her this week, in less than twelve hours I managed to sell her house on the coast (without the use of an agent), buy her a retirement flat close to me and buy Kay a first car. Each single transaction was loaded with research, paperwork and a great deal of talking. Not bad results for a day's work. So, move over, Lord Sugar. Here's one senior apprentice, who's apparently still got the business savvy in her!

In all fairness, I did involve an estate agent in the end, as I had two very keen people fighting over mum's house and I could see it was getting a bit difficult to untangle the web. If all goes smoothly (what house purchase ever does), fingers crossed, my mother could be permanently living near me within about 8 weeks. There are no chains either side of the deal, so fingers crossed.

Kay drove her newly acquired first car (a ten-year-old Corsa which was beautifully valeted and serviced to within an inch of its life) behind me and managed the 60-mile drive back to London effortlessly, including sheep wandering all over the road in the Ashdown Forest and a tramp wandering down the middle of the road somewhere in deepest Kent.  She had some good news to celebrate too. She got a First for her dissertation at the end of her intercalated year and a 2:1 for her science-degree-all-in-a-year. One very proud mum here!

On Saturday, we went to the New Designers exhibition at Islington to see my nephew (who has just graduated from uni with a Product Design degree). He was exhibiting his idea to adapt a car to take a wheelchair as the driving seat. It was very interesting to see so many varied designers of the future there with their prototypes on display.

I looked out for Lord Sugar to snap me up, but I didn't see him. Shame.... he doesn't know what he's missing.

02 July 2013

Wild at Heart (of London)

This mother and her cubs have been playing in my garden over the last few weeks. You would never guess you are in the heart of London. In fact, my niece who lives in the countryside of Lincolnshire saw her first fox ever when she visited me in London a few years ago.