Monday, 29 June 2009


We really haven't been doing much cycling this year as we have had to concentrate on the house most weekends. In fact, until yesterday I hadn't ridden my mountain bike for a year or so. We had planned to ride at the weekend, initially on the road with some of Ian's friends, but they had dropped out. Ian would have been happy not to have cycled but I insisted so to make me suffer he suggested a mountain bike ride! All the routes from my house involve going uphill rather suddenly. I picked what I thought was the easiest one but even so I had to stop twice going up the 12% hill to get my breath back! I am not very fit at the moment! Once at the top and after my heart rate had calmed down I really enjoyed being outside although I think need to get fitter so that it doesn't hurt so much! I guess it didn't help that it was the hottest day of the year so far! We cycled out to Birling Gap, which was packed with visitors.

I was exhausted and Ian was a bit bored since he can cycle so much faster than me. We passed on tea and ice cream (although I did take some photos) and headed home. I did not find the journey back quite so difficult and Ian had cheered up a bit! Despite being neat the sea the air was sultry and the sea calm but hazy.

I had a follow up appointment with the rheumatologist today. Despite my lack of fitness I am feeling quite well although he was concerned about the fact that my hands are rather puffy and seem to be getting quite tight. The decision was made to try increasing my medication and try to stretch them to keep them flexible. I also have to go and have another load of blood tests since one test I had a few months ago had a dodgy result. The trouble with having regular tests is that sooner or later one of them will be a bit strange and that triggers off a whole round of investigations which usually turn out negative. Well, I hope that is the case this time.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

A sad tale

Chairman Bill writes that although he liked Michael Jackson's music none of his songs have any great meaning for him in relation to events in his life. I cannot say the same. Michael Jackson was the same age as me and so when he was singing 'Ben' and 'Got to be There' I was a teenager like him. I can remember calling down the stairs at the youth club disco for my friend to come back upstairs as they were playing our favourite Michael Jackson song. Over the years I have continued to listen to his music although have had some ambivalence about his reported lifestyle.

I will always remember where I was when I heard he had died (in bed and just about to drop off to sleep when Radio 4 news reported that it was believed that he had died) just as we can all remember where we were when Diana died and when we we heard about the 9/11 terrorist attack. (Psychologists call this flashbulb memory).

I have heard many opinions about him and his music over the last few days but this sums up my view. The whole situation was very tragic. Even as a young boy his talent was obvious but he was brought up in an abusive home and it seems never had a childhood himself. He then spent the rest of his life making amazing music but also trying to recreate the childhood he never had and getting himself into trouble as he went. After all, two boys sharing a bed together is fine when they are both children but when one is a child and one is a man with the psychology of a child then this becomes something else. He likened himself to Peter Pan, who never grew up. Although you can hide your age when you are 25, 30 and maybe for some at 40, I know for a fact that at 50 whatever you do, it shows! So, whether he died of natural causes, addiction to painkillers or some other more sinister hand, I don't know, but I would guess that he would never have coped with being a child in an old man's body.

Thursday, 25 June 2009


I am feeling quite tired after what feels like six months of socialising in the space of a few days! The day after the wedding I went to the 25th birthday party of the choir I used to sing with. In my day we were a community choir with no auditions and do-it-yourself performances but now they have moved onto bigger things. The party was in Kings Place, a new arts venue near Kings Cross station. The building was lovely and the evening was great but not nearly enough time to catch up with the 20 odd people that I hadn't seen for about 8 years! My voice was hoarse and I was getting a bit fed up with repeating the same information time and time again! I was also not very good at walking in my sandals with a heel and was disappointed to see that the venue had few seats and we were expected to stand all evening!

This week I have been at a the College of Occupational Therapists annual conference in Brighton. We are manning a stand in the exhibition with the aim of promoting our courses and the University. It has been successful but relatively hard work as we have been busy. I have also been delighted to catch up with colleagues I haven't seen for several years. A good bit of reminiscing about old times and our drunken exploits at previous conferences had ensued although this time I have been 'tee-total' as alcohol seems to make my hot flushes worse!

Saturday, 20 June 2009

The big day

Yesterday was my sister's wedding so I am quite tired today (read a little hung over)... We spent the night in the guest room at my mother's apartment block, which was extremely comfortable and good value at £15.00 per night for Windsor during Ascot. Getting ourselves and my mother ready proved to be no easy task! My mother is not one to enjoy dressing up and even at her own wedding insisted on removing her headdress and washing out her set hair an hour beforehand. She was happy enough in the trousers but insistent that the hat had to go! We were under strict instructions from my sister to make sure she wore it so there was a bit of a battle with the hat coming on and off several times. In the end she wore it for some photos and to go into and out of the Guildhall and then managed to abandon it for the rest of the evening!

My sister looked very happy and my new brother-in-law's parting words were "and don't put this on your blog". So I won't.. just a few unrelated pictures and stories! (The picture is of Ian, me and my mother in the communal room at her place. Several of the ladies had come out to see the rare sight of my mother dressed up!)

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

My sister's big day

I seem to be a bit busy at the moment with work and other things. My sister's wedding is on Friday (it seems to have come around rather quickly) so I am rushing around trying to get myself organised to finish work tomorrow and drive over to Ian's in the evening. I was hoping to learn my reading off by heart, but I don't think it is going to happen ass there is not enough space left in my brain! This is what I have to read:

Captain Corelli's Mandolin
Louis de Bernieres
Love is a temporary madness,it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides.
And when it subsides you have to make a decision.
You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part.
Because this is what love is.
Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of eternal passion.
That is just being "in love" which any fool can do.
Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.
Those that truly love, have roots that grow towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossom have fallen from their branches, they find that they are one tree and not two.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Initial discomfort

Ian and I are quite different in some ways. I like to clearly see where I am going and like to know how things will work. If the situation changes as I go on then I am quite good at adapting but I like to see the plan. Ian on the other hand is happy to visualise the end product and what is happening today but doesn't need to have all the details filled out in between. I think you need that kind of approach to build a house as I would never have got off of base if it was up to me. However, the down side is that at times, when things seem to get stuck, Ian gets fed up. Fortunately I am quite good at seeing the positives at these times so, unless we both happen to be low at the same time, we generally keep each other going.

For the past week Ian has been a little demotivated and I have been trying to look for positives. We were discussing these issues at the weekend and both agreed that things are quite hard in that we have our houses 60 miles apart, both houses are in need of some work before we can sell/rent them, we both have busy and demanding jobs and we are trying to co-ordinate and work on a home that is a 12 hour drive away (and we do not have enough money to just give it all up and go now). We agreed that this really was too much for anyone, although we still have a clear view of where we want to be in the end that keeps us going. The problem is we both want to be there now and our respective houses no longer feel like home. 'Home' has become a building site in France. This is in a way a great feeling as it means that our spiritual selves have shifted in the right direction but unfortunately our physical selves cannot join them just yet (causing a little bit of discomfort).

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Grand designs

This weekend was spent doing a long promised job for Ian's mother. She has a large garden and six water butts and Ian had promised to connect them all up to collect all the rain water from the roof and thus make sure she had enough rain water to water her plants. The first stage involved making a plinth along the side of the house to stand the water butts on. This was relatively straightforward. The next job however, assembling something Ian called a 'manifold' out of various bits of copper pipe, brass taps and hose seemed rather more complex and the finished product looked like something found in a engine room. Various lengths of plastic hose were connected up between the taps, the water butts and the downpipes from the gutter. A test-run was commenced and unfortunately the connections seemed to leak due, according to Ian, to the inadequacy of the hose clips. Hence I was dispatched forthwith to Toolstation to purchase some more of a different size.

Toolstation is a warehouse outlet for all building, electrical and DIY materials. Ian discovered it recently and we are now regular customers as they are quite good value. The staff are usually helpful and unlike their rival Screwfix they usually keep most things in stock. However, today as I entered the store the young woman near the counter disappeared in the other direction. From the rows of supplies I could here someone talking to a mobile phone. The conversation continued a few minutes more before, exasperated, the woman said "You have a customer. Can't you call back later?!" After a little while the man on the phone appeared, still talking on the phone.

"Sorry mate, just got to serve a customer.. what did you want?" (to me but still talking on the phone). I told him, he typed a few things on his computer, continued his conversation, typed a few things more, asked me again what I wanted, continued on the phone, asked me my address and postcode, continued on the phone, went and got my order, took my money and was still talking away on the phone (arranging his night out) when I left the store. Who says men can't multi-task!

Postscript: even with the new hose clips the 'manifold' still leaks. Back to the drawing board!

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Job Interview from hell

It's the interview season at work and we have been busily recruiting new fodder for next year! Here are a few things I would recommend that you don't say at your interview....

I think I can be a good therapist because I had to deal with some serious shit with my friends at Uni and so I think I can do it

I find alcohol helps me when I am stressed.

I want to come here because you are all so nice.

God wants me to be a therapist.

I wanted to be a doctor but I don't think I am clever enough so I thought I would be a therapist.

I wouldn't have to work with really sick people would I?

I went out with a therapist once and he/she said I would be good at it.

I want to do a job where I can really help people (far too unrealistic).

Monday, 8 June 2009

House naming 2

We finally got round to erecting the house sign when we were in France; or at least we found a temporary home for it hopefully far enough away from anywhere where a buldozer could knock it over! I must admit I think it looks rather like a grave!

Friday, 5 June 2009

Natural beauty

I have been spending a couple of days working in Limerick and so last night I watched a documentary about 'The Calender Girls' 10 years on from my hotel room. We were commenting this morning on how beautiful these women are. Despite their age, lack of make-up and far from perfect bodies their naturalness and contentment really shine through. Another thing I did last night was write this blog entry although technical difficulties (lack of drivers for the dongle!) prevented me from accessing the wireless network at the hotel.

The most amazing thing for me about our trip to France this time was the wildlife and flowers. We were awoken the first morning at daybreak by the sound of tweeting. This was not the internet variety but real tweets from birds. Closer investigation revealed a bird's nest in the roof. The mother bird did not seem to be particularly bothered by our noise and continued to go in and out for food tirelessly from day break to sunset. Looking up into the nest we saw three little chicks poking their heads out. Even the sound of Ian firing his nail gun into a wall did not deter them and they continued feeding throughout. After a few days the noise got less and less frequent and the baby birds seemed to have moved around in the roof. By the end of the week they had flown the nest but were not far away as we saw them learning to fly from the safety of the llama house. Our neighbours had also had a nest in their outhouse and from discussions and subsequent internet research it looks like they were black redstarts. We were also woken the first morning by another strange noise that I had never heard before. It was a kind of low grunting noise and I sent Ian out to investigate! It turned out to be a rather randy male pheasant trying to attract the two girls that live in Herman’s farm. We didn’t hear him for the rest of the week so I assume he got lucky!

The rain and sun had caused the plants to grow. The dock was 4 foot high!

Ian and I walked around the land. Herman had told us that the end meadow was full of wild flowers in May but we had never been there before and couldn’t see much from the house but thought we should wander over to look. Well, we were not disappointed. Coming over the slope in the field we were got our first view of a sea of pyramid orchids and daisies. I would say that there was about two acres altogether of totally untouched meadow.

The pictures really do not do it justice. Within that we also found some of these which I think are bee orchids and probably a whole lot of other things that I don’t know about.

Unfortunately the field was also full of ragwort, which is toxic to horses and llamas so will have to go!

Monday, 1 June 2009

Girl with power tool

While Ian was plaster boarding I had a go with the power tools. I quite enjoyed strimming (well Ian calls it a brush cutter and says that strimmers are smaller and what you use in garden but it looked like a strimmer to me!). Health and Safety man would have been proud of me in my Kevlar gloves, hard hat, ear protectors, face guard, steel capped boots, heavy duty trousers and dust mask (I am allergic to grass pollen!) The only problem was that it was 30 degrees and after 20 minutes I was in danger of collapsing with heat exhaustion!
(PS. Lets see how many accidental hits I get with this title. I am sure they will not be looking for a picture of me with a strimmer!)