Wednesday 7th December 2011
Time flies by and my feet don’t seem to touch the ground. Bob and I drove all the way to Bicester, near Oxford, to look at a Coachman Pastiche 545/4 2011 caravan. It was beautiful. The layout precisely meets my husbands exacting requirements and I can’t wait to pick it up after Christmas. This did, however, set us a new dilemma, well two actually. Our caravan shelter is not long, high or wide enough to accommodate the new caravan, and even if it were, our car is not heavy enough to tow it!
I know what you are thinking – how extravagant can this woman be? Well, as it turns out … very. This is our retirement investment you understand, and I am not going to apologize. We have worked hard all our lives and now we have the funds, we feel we deserve a bit of indulgence. And yes, you are right, this leads to another confession – we have bought another car. I don’t mean an additional car, we are not quite that mad, but we have replaced our current car with a heavier vehicle after much painstaking research into CO2 emissions and fuel consumption. So our ‘rig’ will be ready to go in the new year, and I really can’t wait.
Looking forwards to Christmas now. As an ex-primary school teacher I am kind of hardwired for Christmas. My friend Paula and I made our Christmas cakes some weeks ago now, and we have been unashamedly feeding them with alcohol every since. I have made one lot of pickle (which Bob has nearly demolished already) and some pickled shallots. I still have some apple and red pepper chutney to make. I love it!
Monday 7th November 2011
Well, I have paid for all the excitement of holiday, followed by Bob’s birthday, followed by visit to Motorhome and Caravan Show at the NEC, followed by long walk down to our favourite beach. I have been ‘flaring’ ever since and every time I think I’m better it hits me again. Still, seem to be stringing a few good days together now, so I may be over it.
Yesterday was glorious here in Cornwall and so Bob and I took the dogs over to Widemouth Bay and walked along the beach. The sky was a piercing blue and the sun was low and golden. This really is my favourite time of the year. We followed the walk up with coffee at Crackington Haven and then home to eat all the leftovers from this weekend’s other main event: the bonfire. Well it wasn’t so much a bonfire as a paper burning exercise, but even so it was a clear, crisp evening and it was shared with excellent company in the form of our close friends Paula and Ian, two of their sons, Malcolm and Sam, and my sister in law and close friend, Lesley. The dogs stayed indoors to try and offer reassurance and security to Lesley’s dog, Stella. She is terrified of fireworks and other random noises, so spent the evening shivering in our hall, although we live out in the sticks and there were no fireworks in the immediate vicinity. Our two are so used to gunfire from the adjoining farm land, they don’t bat an eyelid, but that didn’t help Stella much. Ate and drank far too much!
Sunday 2nd October 2011
Glorious weekend. Bob was 60 today. We visited our dear friend Roger on Friday and had a wonderful day in Whitsand, having lunch at Cremyll, walking in Mount Edgcumb and generally chilling.
Saturday entailed much chopping, mixing, putting in bowls and creeping around in a state of heightened subtefuge. Secret party, secret mission, misdirection, dare I say, lies and deceit. Not my natural bedfellow you understand, but it had to be done. 7 p.m. and a ‘ta dah’ moment. Bob gobsmacked and bemused with many smiling and gently amused faces. Old friends reincarnated. Deeply pleasurable – even though as taxi I didn’t get a drop to drink and had to wait til 4.30 a.m. to finally hit my pit.
Sunday, big breakfast at Louis on Kit Hill with family and friends wafted in from distant locations. Lots of coffee and very unseasonably hot trek with dogs later, we now recline on sofas, glass of wine in hand, contemplating the satisfaction and comfort drawn from close friends and family. Just have to get over my boys leaving again and life will trundle along very nicely.
Thursday 29th September 2011
So rubbish! Three weeks without posting. We have been away to the New Forest with the doods. Had really good weather after a wet weekend. Walked in the Forest, visited Poole and Bournemouth and Lymington and enjoyed exploring new places, but have come home to organize a surprise 60th birthday party for my husband, which has been really difficult. My lovely sister-in-law is allowing us to use her house, and she has been an enormous help with ideas for food, drink etc. and has also offered to help prepare. Lots of old friends are geared up to come, but I must confess I’m very anxious and that always makes me fatigued. We are out to lunch with a very old friend tomorrow and he is on pain of death not to give away the big secret. Once all this is over, I will post pictures of the holiday and the party and bring you all up to date.
Wednesday 7th September 2011
Oh dear … I am very out of date, so here we go trying to catch up on some events during August. On the 9th Paula and I took my Mum and Auntie Bet, along with Sam, to Eden. We had a lovely day and Sam had another face paint (something of a ritual when we visit the Eden Project).
I actually envied her the opportunity to sit on this magnificent vehicle …
However I just wasn’t dressed correctly – well that’s my excuse anyway.
Auntie and Mum had a really good time. Even though registered blind, Mum loves walking around the biomes, although the tropical one proved a bit too hot for Auntie who is 90 this coming Saturday (10th September). Mum is 82, so my genepool is pretty strong.
In mid August we went back to Wales to visit our friends Val and Malcolm. They have been living in an idyllic location near Carmarthen for about four years now, but we miss them like they only went last week. At the time we got our pups, Bertie and Banjo, they added two border terrier crosses to their family. They are called Mac ‘n Tosh and our two adore them. We always manage to pack a lot into our visits and that involves at least two fish and chip lunches at Florrie’s on Llansteffan beach and long walks on the coastal path and in local woodlands.
Finally, over the bank holiday, my Mum’s friend Margaret made her annual visit. We decided to have a day out on the North Cornish coast at some of our favourite places. We started with coffee at Crackington Haven and then a coastpath walk above the beach at Widemouth Bay. We finished off with lunch at Bude followed by a walk along the canal and through the nature reserve. The weather was very kind and we had a lovely day. Here are Mum and Margaret on the windswept cliff at Widemouth.
Today also marked a major milestone in Sam’s life – he started senior school! He was nervous (who wouldn’t be), but he had a really good first day where he made fire in chemistry! How’s this for a transformation in a few short years …
Wednesday 20th July 2011
Attended the service to say farewell to my ex-pupil today. He was a wonderful young man who will be sorely missed by everyone. His parents and brother created a wonderful send off that reflected perfectly his generous and kind personality. The eulogies were heartfelt and everyone could recognize the warm, happy and loving eighteen year old described by friends and work colleagues. Rock music played and dozens of motorbikes accompanied his coffin. It was the most moving and beautiful church service I have ever attended.
Yesterday was one of the saddest in my life. An ex-pupil, only just eighteen years old, died in a road accident. I don’t want to name him but those close to his family will know what a huge loss he is. Funny, big hearted, generous, loyal, honest and handsome, he will be sorely missed and for a long time we will all feel life can never be quite the same.
Tuesday 5th July 2011
Well, here I am! That’s not a profound or religious observation, it is just a fact. Here I am with my swollen ankle and foot propped up on the sofa with two dogs using my legs as a head rest. Oh, did I mention my ankle and foot? Picture this – an expanse of golden sand watched, over by a glowering cliff, sparkling rollers breaking emphatically on said golden sand, a romantic stroll hand in hand, and a snarling, catapulting, rolling, leaping mass of black hair and white teeth. No this is not an excerpt from a feeble attempt at a horror story, this is a description of the innocent, wreckless game indulged in by two labradoodles. The mass in itself was not offensive, although a little off-putting if you were not aware of their relationship and inseperable affection, however it all became grossly offensive when they pitched spine first into my unprepared shins. Down I went. I would like to say I fell in slow motion with the grace of a bird landing on water, however I would be lying. I plummeted like a beetle after hitting the nearside headlight of a passing car. Crumpled and loud (I squealed unashamedly like a stuck pig) I lay on the beach, threatening my husband with all kind of horrors if he touched my ankle, or tried to help me up. I eventually hauled myself into a seated position with one hand rather inaffectually grasping just below the knee of the offending (should that be offended?) leg. My husband reassured (yes I really mean reassured) the dogs that I was okay and they were not to worry – pointless really because the boiling mass of hair had barely checked its speed or ferocity as it took me out – and then I allowed him to assist me to my feet so that I could hobble into the freezing sea in the vain hope that the ensuing swelling would be controlled.
Well of course it wasn’t, and despite sitting with my foot up for the remaining three hours of our beach visit, I struggled up the cliff with my makeshift, driftwood walking stick and eventually slumped into the passenger seat of the car with a balloon mysteriously emanating from my left ankle.
Now the more sensible among you will be saying, ‘and then you went to A & E’, hmmm no. Convinced that ice poltices would soon put my ankle to rights, I self medicated with some wine, a couple of toasted cheese and onion sandwiches and an evening of TV viewing. Next morning – ‘aah’ I hear you say, ‘now you were sensible and went to A & E’ – wrong again, I decided to ‘see how it went’ and did a little light watering in the garden, and then I sat in the garden, writing my book. By the evening (shock, horror) my foot was bigger than ever and throbbing – ‘right, so now …’ – oh do be quiet. No, I didn’t. But this morning – ‘oh at long last’ – I did. My sprained ankle is just that, although it does have a sliver of bone shaved off of it which gives it a smidgeon more glamour, and I now sit suitably chastened with two dogs looking very subdued. Nothing to do with my ankle you understand, they are just bored because they haven’t had walk for two days …
Wednesday 29th June 2011
It has seemed a bit empty without the boys since their visits. It made me wonder about that period, as a parent, when your children are not quite at the ‘building their own family’ stage, but are no longer foot-loose party animals. I think this is the period when they need us the least, and it is pretty hard to swallow. It is at this moment that you realize that no matter how hard you have tried to maintain hobbies and interests, build your career and nurture your marital relationship, you are suddenly without focus and it comes home to you emphatically, that despite all your best intentions, you have lived through them. How sad, and, seemingly, how unavoidable. All you can do is reassure them that, no matter what, you are there for them, and that when they want or need you again, you will be there, solid, reliable and loving.
Tuesday 21st June 2011
Had a lovely week last week. My younger son and his girlfriend came home to visit us for two days and we walked from Talland Bay to Polperro and on Kit Hill. Then my older son appeared at very short notice to visit for one day. His 29th birthday was on Friday and it was brilliant to see him. It is funny though how empty and pointless everything feels once they are gone.
I sent of my first three chapters to a literary agent on Friday. It is the first time I have tried to get any interest in it for two years. I have reworked the first chapters since sending it on the advice of my younger son Byron, who wrote a really helpful critique after reading it. He is now reading the rest of the manuscript and I will make amendments based on his advice. Really excited to get the book back out there, but a bit frustrated that each agent takes so long, as the form is that you send it to them one at a time. Still fingers crossed.
Monday 6th June 2011
Oh my – quite a while since I was last on. This has mostly been down to intense gardening, extensive dog walking, and the cottage being re-roofed. We visited Eden twice in the last couple of weeks and were treated to a peek at tree frogs hiding inside a sign – all that jungle and they choose a man-made object. Also went up on the sky platform with its long (and quite wobbly) staircase. The whole thing is suspended on wires from the frame of the tropical biome and it hangs 150 feet above the jungle floor. From below, it looks like the trees are almost touching the roof, but from above you can see just how far from the frame the treetops really are.
This is the waterfall crashing down to feed the stream and help keep the humidity levels high.
This a view across the canopy, and you can see
the balloon used to allow pruning at the highest levels.
And here is the series of staircases and the platform itself. You do need a head for heights, and the temperature is constantly monitored as it gets incredibly hot up there.
And of course his Mum doesn’t help – she takes her job of embarrassing
offspring way too seriously.
Wednesday 18th May 2011
So, an eventful week so far. My closest friend’s oldest son had an accident on his motor bike and she is now rushing back and forth to the hospital in Plymouth. My husband and our builder have started dismantling our roof and so far there does not appear to be much damage to slates which is excellent because we want to use original slate wherever possible.
I have not seen the long tailed tit again, but did manage to get a picture to show you all.
I do hope that this little soul got a bit more wary, or I suspect he might already be someone’s elevenses.
The nuthatch has been conspicuous in its absence (well, their absence actually, although I assume Mrs. nuthatch is sitting). I did catch sight of it a week ago with a mouth full of wrigglies going into its hole, but that is all. I occasionally witness sparrows hanging around carnivorously, and I do worry.
Thursday 12th May 2011
This week includes my Mum’s 82nd birthday. We went to visit her friend and tomorrow we are going out to lunch. This week I also feel increasingly helpless about my unemployment. There just doesn’t seem to be anything I can do about it. I check websites daily, I have emails of vacancies from various agencies sent to me daily, I buy the relevant local papers, and sadly, I have even taken to asking people whenever I go in shops etc. if they have any jobs going. Not very dignified for a retired teacher, but heyho needs must when the devil drives.
I have also discovered how difficult it is to justify writing (my real passion in life). I find that giving time to my blog or to my book is a luxury and that I have to make excuses for the time I would like to spend on both. If either could earn me some money I would be in seventh heaven, but that seems a long way in the future at present. Immediately I need work and income.
Someone suggested recently that I do volunteer work to get back into the workplace. I went to the Volunteer Cornwall website and found lots of things I am interested in and that I would love to be part of, but it did beg the question … if I am volunteering that is a commitment that I would feel bad about dropping if I got a job, and I can’t afford to ‘not be available’ for work. So – does volunteering help or hinder when trying to earn a living, or is it the preserve of those who don’t need to supplement their income?
Monday 25th April 2011
Meant to mention that last Tuesday we saw several orange bottomed bumble bees in our garden. I don’t remember seeing this particular one before, so that is very exciting.
The swallows are now back with a vengeance, but they are not selecting nesting sites yet, so do not know, at this point, whether they will use their old nest in our woodstore/dustbin area. The nuthatches seem to have prevailed in the war for the nestbox. We actually saw one chasing a blue tit away the other day and they are still very busy on the feeders, but I think the male is now feeding the female.
At the beach this weekend we saw a pair of oyster catchers, who we thought were looking for sand eels. They were alone so we assumed they were a mating pair. We heard the peregrine once, but we thought it likely that they have created their twiggy nest ledge and are keeping a bit quiet to protect their site.
The dogs had a great time, but I must admit, I am exhausted today and have just pottered about trying not to think about my back! So far so good, but still a bit cautious.
Tuesday 19th April 2011
Have been a bit immobile for the last three days as my back went on Saturday morning. I thought it was getting better today, but oh no, twinging all over the place and I really need to mow the lawn. I walked a long way yesterday with the dogs – was it the wrong move? I am actually better when I am up moving around.
Younger son home for a few days from university so I am very happy. The hard bit is when he goes back again and the nest is once again empty.
Talking of nests, we have nuthatches trying to set up home in the gable end of Bob’s workshop. We are very excited and I keep taking photos of them (will post some soon), but we have witnessed a really strange phenomenon. Every now and then when the nuthatches are away, two blue tits pop in and out of the nest hole pulling all the nesting material out. Most of it gets dropped outside, but they do physically steal some. Bob already has plans to include two more nesting holes in a stone ruin he is building behind our cottage bed – it is obviously prime real estate!
Wednesday 13th April 2011
Isn’t it strange the preconceptions people develop of you just by glancing you up and down? I had some birthday money left and I love to buy clothes in charity shops. My friend Paula and I went into Plymouth last week and we were hugely impressed by the new St. Luke’s Hospice Charity Shop, laid out as it was with the feel of an up market boutique. As the assistant commented, there is no need for charity shops to be a jumble of little more than junk with that horrible musty smell. Well on the basis of this visit I decided to go to my local St. Luke’s shop and see if they were of a similar ilk. As I drove by, I noticed a beautiful dress in the window. It called to me – now this is rare – and I fell in love with it. I walked up to the store and looked at the label on the dress. It was designer and a very good price, so I said to the volunteer that I hadn’t got time to try it on, but that I would be back. She looked me up and down rather disdainfully and then said, ‘that’s a designer dress’ and then, ‘you know it’s a size 10 don’t you?’ I replied that I did know that. ‘Are you size 10?’ she continued rather accusingly. ‘I can be anything from 10 to 14,’ I replied, ‘it depends on the cut of the clothes.’ Once again she looked rather sniffy, as if she wouldn’t let me try it on unless I was absolutely sure it would fit.
Two days ago I went back to see if the dress was still there. It was. A different volunteer welcomed me with a smile and I said, ‘could I try on that dress in the window please?’ Her smile faltered and she immediately replied, ‘you know it’s a size 10 don’t you?’
Now I was wearing my walking combats and a tweed jacket, but I don’t think I looked huge, and I really questioned what it was about my appearance that generated this response not just from one, but from two, separate ladies …
Anyway to cut a long story short, I tried the dress on and it fitted perfectly and looked great. The lady came to look and was flabbergasted. She kept muttering things like ‘…and it’s a size 10’ as if it was a miracle that I had got anywhere near it. She did finish with ‘it looks lovely though’, which I suppose was some consolation. I am still flummoxed though as to why both ladies felt they had the right to question my size, honesty, taste …?!
Thursday 24th March 2011
Bit of a restless night with Banjo. She cried intermittantly and will not drink anything. This morning I took her dressing off, because she was bothered by it, and revealed a beautifully neat, clean and dry wound. She is much happier without the dressing and is not crying quite so much. Painkillers on board and a full belly (nothing wrong with her appetite) but only licking water from our fingers or out of a little ladle. Never had a dog that cried quite this much, but the vet tells me it is the poodle in her – apparently they are real drama queens – sorry to all poodle owners, that is the vet’s analysis not mine (well it might be in a minutes …). Still she does look a bit brighter and I think we’re over the worst. Bertie is still completely foxed by the whole situation and keeps cuddling me because he doesn’t know what to do for his sister. Luckily it is another glorious day and he has been sunbathing on the terrace whilst eating my cotoneaster – bless!
Wednesday 23rd March 2011
Oh my – sitting here with little girl doodle crying her heart out. She was speyed today and is quite pathetic. She is worrying her brother to death – he really doesn’t know what to do. I think her painkiller is running out and I cannot give her another til the morning – it’s going to be a long night!
Monday 7th March 2011
Seem to have hit the doldrums at the moment. Cannot get an interview and few jobs I can apply for. It is frustrating to think I could be considered ‘past it’ at 57 (okay nearly 58) years old.
Saturday 12th February 2011
We went to see the Caravan and Motorhome show at Westpoint, Exeter (we know how to live …). Whilst there saw a really good dog walking bag that is being launched at Crufts this year. The one I particularly liked was dark green with reflective strips around the flaps. Really useful for those twilight or dark walks. Two black dogs, me in a dark green wax coat – not very visible at all.
RSPB GARDEN WATCH
I took part in the RSPB garden watch the other Sunday. I discovered something very interesting … I probably feed the same birds every day and they visit lots of times in a day. Now this may seem obvious to you, but it did come as a surprise to me. Of course, there are visitors who are not regular, just quite frequent, like the pheasants, the lesser spotted woodpecker, the jays, the huge roost of itinerant starlings and the marsh tits – and naturally none of these turned up when I was doing my survey (typical!), however I still catalogued quite a good selection including dunnocks, house sparrows, blue tits, great tits, coal tits, nuthatches, song thrush, blackbird, jackdaws, wood pigeons, robins, chaffinch and willy wagtail (the pied variety). Strangely the magpies and rooks who are often in my lower garden also decided to boycott me that day. Incidentally one thing I have discovered about my dogs is that they like nothing better than to sit on the sofa with their heads flung over the back to watch the birds on the feeders out of the window. Very often they sit on the terrace and watch and the wagtail in particular is almost on nodding terms with them, pecking around on the paving on the level below their viewpoint. Oh and this has reminded me that on a recent walk on Cadsonbury hill, the dogs inadvertantly put up two large and very impressive (and noisy) lapwings – absolutely glorious.
DELIVERING YELLOW PAGES – DAYS THREE TO FIVE
I started this adventure with all the zeal of a Victorian plant hunter or a Wells Fargo agent, excited by the prospect of new horizons and the challenge of getting the delivery through … I have to say even at the end of the five days, I still felt that I had had a wonderful time exploring the Calstock region and poking my nose into places I had hitherto not discovered. Day three led me to the Okel Tor region. The unmade road was very unpromising and my poor little C3 Picasso struggled with the off-road terrain. It was also very wet and muddy, but undaunted I nosed my precious car along the mysterious, darkly overhung lane. Amazingly several properties nestled at the end and, after going to the very end of the lane in a steep downward wind to a cottage at river level, I climbed back up to a sign that informed me that Okel Tor mine was down a footpath. This wasn’t strictly true as you could have got a landrover down with care but a sign on the five bar gate announced it was a nature reserve or conservation area (cannot remember exactly which, but you get the gist) and I felt no vehicle was the ecological option. In truth, my Citroen couldn’t have made it. I walked down the track and below me some old buildings clustered against the retaining bank. A mine chimney soared above me and below that (a long, long way below) wound the River Tamar in a great sweeping arc clothed with reed beds. I had actually walked this stretch of river before as far as the lime kilns below. The buildings turned out to be a couple of little holiday lets and a workshop precipitously perched on a plateau looking to the south east. A gentleman sat (in the drizzle) outside of one building with a pair of binoculars, a notebook, and, on the table next to him, a large glass of red wine. My first instinct was to join him – it looked idyllic. He was obviously bird spotting and observing the river and opposite bank from his eyrie. He turned out to be from overseas on holiday and he directed me to the gentleman who lived there and worked building boats and doing carpentry. I marvelled that someone could be leading such a wonderful existence just down the road from where I lived.
From Okel Tor I wound my way down to the Harewood area of Calstock and jumped out to deliver more directories in my trusty shopping trolley. Sadly on my return I discovered I had a flat tyre! Typically I had no signal on my phone and I would probably still be there if it were not for a good samaritan in the form of the local postman. He kindly changed my wheel and as I drove home I pondered the fact that the tyre would cost more than I was earning for the week!
The final two days of my deliveries were confined to the main village area. I was enchanted by the tiny alleys with jostling cottages leaning precariously against each other, and the ingenious way larger buildings had been divided up into flats with entrances in all sorts of out of the way places. The views from many of the properties were stunning out to the viaduct, the river and the woods running from Cotehele down to Danescombe. Some of the roads were extremely steep and my fitness definitely benefitted from the daily workout.
I didn’t miss many properties and I ran out of Yellow Pages before I had finished (a precaution the distributors take to avoid wastage apparently), and I hope I can do it again. I really enjoyed it despite hazards, minor accidents, puncture and horrid weather. I must be a masochist because I have said I will do it again next year ….
DELIVERING YELLOW PAGES – DAY TWO …
It was not raining! I was so excited as I set out for a long day of deliveries. On my way down from Albaston to Calstock, I decided to deliver to some of the cottages at the extreme edge of my area. They were clustered around a rail crossing that has no barrier. The Gunnislake to Calstock line is very picturesque and the trains buzz along more frequently than one might assume for this rural location, but it is the main branch into Plymouth. So it was with caution that I crossed the line on foot seeking out converted farm buildings and cottages. Moving on into Calstock I delivered to what must have been part of an estate with a manor house. The countryside was park-like and the views over the Tamar were fantastic. I marvelled again at the nature of hidden locations in this region and at the ingenuity of architects and builders alike. One bungalow had an electric gate that opened on a sensor. As I walked up the well manicured drive it felt like I was on the mediterranean or some other exotic location. The rest of the morning was taken up with terraces and some curious properties built backing onto their gardens. These were all individually designed houses with decks and balconies taking in the river views below. This was a private road though and very uneven. It was a hint of some of the difficulties I would encounter later in the week. However, right now ignorant and happy I trundled up and down the steep hills tugging my shopping trolley full of directories behind me.
In the afternoon I finished off the cottages on the river side of the road and then headed for a newish development above the railway station. I decided to do one last property before I stopped for the day and found myself walking up a long curving drive to a large porticoed house which looked very grand indeed. It had rolling grass and large trees and an arch leading into a courtyard which must have housed coaches and horses in the house’s heyday. Amazingly other properties were encroaching on all sides of what remained of this estate and yet they were invisible from the house except for the views over the village to the river below. What a gem, and you would genuinely never find it unless, like me, you had a legitimate reason to walk up its private drive. Wonderful.
DELIVERING YELLOW PAGES – DAY ONE …
The mizzle (Cornish word for combination of mist and drizzle) was beginning to become intrusive and as I struggled to latch the trailer onto my car, I wondered just how wet I was going to get. I was about to engage in a new adventure – delivering yellow pages around the Calstock area. The trailer rattled and bounced behind me as I drove to the Co-op car park and I considered what measures I would take if I could not fit all the books into it.
At the carpark I found a large container with a long open side stacked high with yellow pages all wrapped in cellophane and bundled in groups of 8. They fitted into the trailer perfectly (much to my relief) but I needed my son to help lift it off the tow bar when I got home. By now the mizzle had turned to heavy drizzle …
In the afternoon I decided to take the dogs for a walk through Danescombe Woods which stretch from the river Tamar at Calstock along the lower edge of the Cotehele estate. I thought this would be a good place to start giving out the yellow pages as there are a lot of properties on the Lower Ferry Road which I had to negotiate on my way to woods. As the pups and I walked the rain started to become more persistent, and by the time I started posting the books, it was pouring. Fortunately I had photocopied the delivery list and I was in full waterproofs, but even so I was drenched and my list was soggy and limp. Finding the addresses listed, even on this one lane, proved quite challenging and I felt that it was going to take a lot longer than I had anticipated to offload my 470 + books.
This was a peaceful start to my week of deliveries and, as it turned out, it was probably the easiest day despite the deluge. It took about an hour and a half to deliver 25 books, however my spirits were high after glimpses of beautiful little Cornish cottages with large fireplaces, slate flagged floors and steep, narrow staircases. Many of them had fantastic views over the river and their only drawback seemed to be a lack of gardens in some of the terraces. On the lower side of the lane some properties did have gardens with terraces or decks, and moorings, and, as I discovered during the rest of the week, this represented just one aspect of the variety of habitats I would find on my rounds.
16th December 2010
It occurs to me today that family is the most important thing in the world. Whether it be batty old Aunties, wonderful but trying elderly Mums, independent but still needy offspring, irritating and endearing siblings and in-laws or amazing but demanding spouse, they all contribute to making me who I am – and I certainly would not want to be anyone else.
15th December 2010
I went back to school today to the carol service and nativity (absolutely charming). It really came home to me how much pleasure I got from organizing the Christmas performance each year. Of course it was stressful and we never seemed to have enough time, but it was often the moment when a child, who might have tended to be in the background, suddenly shone and unknown talents were discovered. This got me to thinking once again about how much emphasis we put on academic learning and how little (despite the protestations of those in power) importance we place on wider life skills. The Christmas performance encouraged children to be patient, work co-operatively, improve memory skills, put themselves outside of their comfort zone, accept constructive criticism or praise and take the limelight, or graciously allow others to do so. But apart from all of this it was FUN … we just don’t seem to allow children to have fun anymore – it is all so depressingly earnest and serious. Yawn ….
13th December 2010
I was thinking today how difficult it is to separate yourself from your occupation. For some years I have dreamt about not having to jump through the burocratic hoops that make up teaching, and actually having a life with time when I didn’t think about teaching … and now I find myself defining myself as a RETIRED teacher … what’s that all about? Why can’t I just be me?
2nd December 2010
Had one interview and could have got the job, but the pay was appalling and I do need to earn a certain amount to cover bills etc. Nothing else in the offing at all … not sure what I will do in the New Year if something doesn’t come along soon.
Everyone else has had lots of snow, but not here. I am disappointed because I would love my puppies to play in the snow. I think they will love it. They are really enjoying watching the birds on the feeders hanging from our Tai Haku cherry tree. They jump up side by side on the sofa with their front legs on the windowsill behind and watch avidly as the blue tits, great tits, coal tits, nuthatches, wagtails and sparrows (and other lbj’s as Bill Oddie calls them) flutter and feed. They also seem fascinated that black birds and thrushes hide in the cotoneaster growing next to the window and eat the orange berries. The puppies stripped the berries as high as they could reach on their hind legs, and they seem bemused that birds could also like them.
3rd November 2010
Well, still no joy on the job front. I have lost track of what I have applied for and I am beginning to panic a little that I will not find anything. However, I am really busy. We have a cottage that we bought to try and protect ourselves in later years as our endowment was performing badly. Our son rented it for some years, but has recently moved away. So this summer we have spent weeks completely decorating inside and out and we tried to sell it …. yep I know what you are thinking – and you are right! It is not a good time to sell. We did get a buyer very quickly and we were excited, but (hmmm you’ve guessed) the sale fell through. Now we are getting ready to rent it through an agent and I am in a whirlwind of Period Inspection Certificates (electricity), smoke, heat and carbon monoxide sensors, and generally getting ready. I bet we won’t get tenants for ages (actually I did have a piece of paper with a prospective tenants telephone number on, but the dog ate it … honest!) and we are trying to support two mortgages on my reduced pension.
Still, Autumn is here and the colours are fantastic so spirits cannot be dulled for long. My daily walks are filled with sensory overload … but that’s on another page.
1st November 2010
So … here I am looking for employment. It’s funny, I just never thought that I would be in this position at 57 years old. I went into teaching late (I was 40 when I got my first teaching post). I had two small boys and had just completed four years at College to get my degree. I was in seventh heaven! My husband has long held the opinion that I am a frustrated academic, but I am not really that clever … just a clever talker.
It is cruel how life can switch about, flicking you from security to an unknown environment with all sorts of pitfalls and dangers. My current danger, of course, is financial disaster. If I don’t find a job, well who know’s what will happen? It is strange that an event that has left me feeling younger and fitter than ever should actually bring home to me that I am getting on … less attractive as an employee … on the shelf (of despond?)
There must be thousands of people in this situation and I am sure they range from despairing to enthused and energized. I think I am a mixture of them all!
8th November 2010
Well, I have an interview and … we have tenants for the cottage for December! I can’t quite believe it could happen so fast. The trouble is, I have started dreaming about school, and I know from experience that this happens when I am stressed. Why should that be? I have not worked since February, so perhaps it is just nerves.
The good news is that whilst out walking the dogs the other day, I adjusted and finalized the outline for my book. I came home and wrote it up and I feel ready to carry on. It means some amendments, but I feel much happier now that I know exactly where it is going. I am a writer who tends to let the characters take me on a journey and it can get complicated. I have about 25,000 words written, but have not added any more since I was poorly back in February. I have reread it a couple of times and feel that I can pick up the pen again now.