Monday, December 30, 2013

Happy New Year!

Year's end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us.
~ Hal Borland ~

Thank you for helping me to get through a difficult year.  I am so grateful for all your empathy and support and so glad my son persuaded me to start blogging eight years ago come January.
I wish you peace, good health and love.
Back soon.  Keep the faith.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Boxing Day 3

Why I prefer to be behind the camera:)
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Boxing Day in Minehead

This one escaped.  See below.
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Boxing Day in Minehead

North Hill

There's Wales

Watery Lane with St Michael's Church

Two of the neighbours
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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Medical Emergency

There is some confusion regarding dialling 111 or 999.

If you need medical advice dial 111.  If you need an ambulance dial 999; speed is of the essence and can make the difference between life and death.

In the latter circumstance when there is more than one person present, try to make sure the person on the phone has good hearing and that another person stays with the patient calmly reassuring  them and ready to follow any instructions dictated to the person on the phone.  All other persons should remain calm and silent so that the advice can be heard and passed on to the person with the patient.  Then someone should stand by the road to guide the ambulance.

 When medical help arrives just one person should relay to them what has happened and everybody else should retreat and allow them to do their job.

Yesterday was the Christmas lunch of our Bereavement Group.  There were 13 of us and we held it at The Bistro where Kym and Robin served us either turkey or one of the four alternatives we had ordered.  All the regulars had made way for our long table – I think some of them even shared a table with each other which was a happy sight to see.  It was all very relaxed and pleasant – Veronica gave us all delicious handmade edible goodies and cards were exchanged but not from me.  After my little card fiasco I had used every Christmas card in the house and resolved not to do any more local Christmas cards- which I think is a bit daft.  As Veronica said - that allowed the ones who had done them to feel smug

In recompense I invited them back for coffee, chocolate cake and mince pies.  Only seven could make it – such gadabouts!

I set off up the hill the second time that day to make sure the house was toasty and the kettle on the hob.  To my surprise cars were left at the bottom of the hill and everybody walked.  Soon we were all sitting comfortably – relaxed and idly chatting when we noticed Joy seemed to be dozing.  I asked her if she felt like nodding off – as one often does after lunch but then we noticed her pallor and expression and all became concerned.  We rang the emergency services explained what had happened and then – as best we could followed their instructions.

They told us to lie her down on her side - in the recovery position, and slowly she came to.  By the time the medics arrived she was fully conscious and asking to go to the bathroom.  They stayed with her for about 20 minutes - asking questions and explaining what had happened.

She had had a Vasovagal experience – what we used to call a faint and the old remedy of ‘put your head between your knees’ is not far from good advice.
In these circumstances, after exertion or a hearty meal the blood goes to the stomach from the head and the patient can lose consciousness.  If Joy had been too heavy for us to manoeuvre onto the floor we could have held her head down.  The important thing is to prevent them from falling and injuring themselves.

We were relieved to hear this as at one time we weren’t sure if she was breathing and Chris and I (her husband died in the street in Spain within a few days of MTL’s death)
were reliving painful memories.

When the medics were finished they pronounced Joy fit to walk home - quite a bit further up the hill but we decided otherwise and James went to get his car and then he and Chris took her home and waited until she was settled in and comfortable.

If one is going to have an episode it does help to have it amongst good caring folk like my new friends.

I spoke to Joy’s daughter and son – as I had promised to do if ever I was worried and the consensus of opinion is that she should inform her doctor and see him when things settle down.  She phoned me this morning and is feeling back to normal.

My car has been collected – no tears no fuss – as Chef kindly pointed out 'Many lives have been saved.' I’ve only once cried over a car when my beautiful little white Spitfire  was stolen and then dumped in a field – topless - rendering it useless. 
Onwards and upwards!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Farewell to the Albatross

They say don't make a big decision in the first year but the year is almost up,
I have thought long and hard, talked it over with seers and this morning was the final
Up early to take it for a run to stop it dying, miss the Sunday traffic and post more cards the engine
was as flat as a pancake and the decision was made.  Tomorrow I phone the garage and ask then to take it away.  A great weight has been lifted form my shoulders.
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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Do you know what day it is?

One of the countless things I miss since I lost my love is having a daily reminder of what day it is.  We did it for each other.  In retirement the days tend to merge - distinguished only by the days the gardener and home help come and our various appointments.  Diaries and calendars are religiously kept updated yet even with two moderately intelligent people errors still occurred.

 We had a jolly evening last night at the Wellington,  the two love birds seem happy and marriage has been mentioned; James kindly escorted me home, had a cuppa and I was in bed well before midnight.  This morning it was clearly Friday so I stripped the odd bed and changed my pyjamas.  Once showered and dressed I opened the sun room, unlocked the side gate and set Karen’s tray complete with her Christmas present.  She is due at 9am so when it got to 10am I felt a little concerned and checked this was her week – she comes alternate weeks – it was.

I phoned her mobile.


‘Hi Karen.  It is your week isn’t it?’

‘Yes Pat but its Wednesday today.’  Her day is Thursday.


You see what I mean?


To finish the sad story I have been bleating on about how my ordered Christmas cards haven’t turned up and as a consequence went and bought local ones.

Yesterday, in the post I received my original order plus cheque and a note from the card people requesting the charity to find my address and return the cheque to me.  Seems I filled everything in correctly but omitted to put my address.


And the name of the charity I hear you ask?



Monday, December 09, 2013

More Greece

We reflected

We walked

Museum Athens

Beware the ouzo.

We cycled

Turtle beach Zakynthos
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Saturday, December 07, 2013

In the Final Analysis

In the Final Analysis...


I know it doesn’t matter a dam but I’d like to get something off my chest.

One of a kind,” is a well used phrase which slightly ruffles my hackles.

Michael Buble has even written a song with the title and his interpretation – forgive me if I’m wrong Michael - is that the person he is singing about is a rare creature who stands alone - is unique, unparalleled.

Kind – one of the meanings - is a natural group of animals, plants etc.

Ergo one of a kind is one of a group so not unique not unparalleled.


Just thought I’d mention it and nothing to do with delaying doing the Christmas decorations etc.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Our House

An old aeriel photo taken in the eighties
Paul on the new leak-proof garage roof.  Mick is holding my ladder.
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Yesterday at The Valley of the Rocks

Rock climbers - not us - Andrew and Tom just scrambled.
Watched anxiously by Alice and Pat.
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Friday, November 29, 2013

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Alice and Tom

They are coming tonight with their Dad.  It's his birthday.
Alice will show me how to get a scanned photo of them onto Picasa
which is 20 years more relevant to their age now.  Twenties.
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Monday, November 25, 2013



"I do not approve of anything that tampers with natural ignorance. Ignorance is a delicate exotic fruit, touch it and the bloom is gone." 
~The Importance of Being Earnest, 
Oscar Wilde

Joey – the innocent, heroic young man presently providing much needed nourishment for the contestants in ‘I’m a celebrity …’ comes to mind when I hear this quote.

A favourite Joeyism:

I don’t confrontate.’ 

Noel Coward:

When asked why he would not "come out" in his final years and announce his sexual preference:
"Because there are still three old ladies in Brighton who don't know.”

Bea Lillie:
Noel and I were in Paris once. Adjoining rooms, of course. One night, I felt mischievous, so I knocked on Noel's door and he asked, "Who is it?" I lowered my voice and said, "Hotel detective. Have you got a gentleman in your room?" He answered, "Just a minute, I'll ask him."

John Lahr:
"We're talking about a style that became a way of being for a lot of people. English cultural history between the world wars is, in some extremely large part, Noël Coward. He put himself into the narrative the English tell themselves about their struggles, their suffering, their triumphs. In the first half of this century he wrote the songs that homogenized, as it were, English public sentiment; he wrote the great historical pageant of the time (Cavalcade) and the era's great romantic story (the film Brief Encounter, 1945)."

A favourite of mine was when Coward was watching with a friend the Queen’s Coronation procession and saw the quite large Queen of Tonga passing in a carriage.

Who’s that with her,’ asked the friend.

‘Lunch,’ said Noel.


Jane Austen:

‘I have been a selfish being all my life, in practice though, not in principle.’


Dodie Smith:

Contemplation seems to be about the only luxury that costs nothing.’


Noble deeds and hot baths are the best cures for depression.


Dorothy Parker


If all the girls who attended the Yale prom were laid end to end, I wouldn’t be surprised.


Have you got a favourite example of wit? I’d love to hear them.



Friday, November 22, 2013


NOW - can we finish the garage roof?
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Sunday, November 17, 2013

Where everybody knows your name.

Where everybody knows your name

Some time back we decided to give our nearest eating place Bistro 16 a try.  We liked the food, the ambience and especially Kym (with a Y) and Robin the husband and wife team who ran it.  During the last nine months since MTL left me I have really grown to  appreciate a place ‘where everybody knows your name’ and you are  made welcome – not just by Kym and the staff but by the other customers who react like flowers to the sunshine of Kym’s smile and banter.  Many of the clientele go every day and Kym knows all their little idiosyncrasies.  It amuses me how many of them sit at separate tables whilst joining in the general conversation.

The other day Kym said:

‘I hope you don’t mind my asking but didn’t you used to be a model.  I’d love to see your photos sometime.’
 Normally this makes me groan inwardly as I always think people expect Richard Avedon type shots whereas I was more ‘the girl next door’ type model.  However for a while I had been trying to pluck up courage to ask her for an interview as I had always felt a connection - so it was good to know she was happy about my doing a profile on her.

Kym is in her early fifties with a vibrant personality. Robin - and yes he is her true love, is her second husband and like me, she waited until her children had left home before ending her marriage.  She met Robin through a dating agency which was a postal service.  Both of them were sent five possibilities and both their names were top of each other’s list as being most suitable.  Robin was the fifth candidate that Kym met and she said:

‘It was like coming home.’ 

 I recognised the deep contentment of a woman whose husband’s chief aim is to make his wife happy.

 Kym spent her first 43 years in Droitwich Spa – a town in northern Worcestershire situated on massive deposits of salt which have been extracted there since ancient times.  The water is ten times stronger in salt than sea water and is rivalled only by the Dead Sea.

An only child Kym used to love to visit her Bompits (grandfather) in Minehead and she remembers, aged 12 - buying a book on horses in a shop opposite to what is now Bistro 16.  Way back the Bistro was a bank – the basement has been concreted over and myth has it there is still money stored in the sealed up coffers.

Bompits was an amateur photographer and Kym used to sleep in his dark room which was painted black.  To take her mind off the resident spiders she would pretend to be a Dalek and recited the alphabet in a Dalek voice so – naturally - Granddad became Bompits.  I remembered she told me recently that she made up recipes when she couldn’t sleep and I enjoyed one of the results - a liquorice cheese cake.

She was trained in horsemanship by the Olympic champion John Lassiter, is still extremely fit and loves her golf.  She had three children and her first marriage lasted 23 years. She is trained in aerobics, has sold children’s clothes, jewellery and in her thirties started acting – which she loved – and gained an equity card.  She did some TV and photographic work and at one time had her own business selling overseas a fuel saving device for the poultry industry.

In her thirties there was a contest to choose the Carnival Queen - Miss Bromsgrove and she and a friend wrote a comedy skit on beauty contests.  Then one of the contestants had to withdraw and Kym was invited to take her place.  To everybody’s surprise Kym won it and there was muttering from the teenage contestants and their followers.  So much so that Kym was ignored and didn’t get any of the normal invitations that a Carnival Queen expects.  The unfairness of this was taken up by the Press and as a result Kym appeared on The David Frost show, That’s Life. ITV’s Today and all the papers.

During her year as Queen she earned a great deal of money for charity by organising a fashion show for Debenhams with a story line

Eventually her marriage failed because she and her husband had widely differing interests.

After Kym met Robin they visited Bruges where Kym had an Epiphany.
They were strolling down a boulevard of cafes with customers sitting outside when Kym was entranced by some beautiful music.  She persuaded Robin they should sit inside - the better to hear this fantastic musical trio. Not only did the beauty of the music bring tears to her eyes but she was fascinated by the Madame – a soignée woman who glided round the restaurant ensuring all was running smoothly and gracing the room with her presence. There and then Kym determined she was going to be that woman.

Meanwhile the musicians noticed they had moved a customer to tears and clustered round her whilst she tried to eat her steak and sob without slobbering too much.

Back in Minehead they bought a guesthouse with 8 bedrooms and Kim learned the importance of the green baize door.  She freely admits that she was going through the menopause at this time so on one side of the door side she was a monster blaming Robin for anything and everything whilst on the other side she was the adorable Madame.  Then they planned to buy The Rectory which required much renovation but were beaten to the post by someone else who then went bust.

So they bought Peppercorns which morphed into Bistro 16.  It hasn’t all been plain sailing.  They inherited a group of elderly ladies who believed they owned the restaurant.  They would come every day at coffee time and sit there till the afternoon demanding their quite grubby cushions which had been stored behind the bar.  Kym had to point out that behind the bar was out of bounds for customers. 

It was only a matter of time before Kym heard the ringleader bad mouthing the food to new customers and was forced to bar her.

Very different from today’s happy customers.

Sadly nothing lasts forever and tragedy struck when Robin’s son died.  Now they both want to be nearer to their extended family so they can see their grandchildren’s school concert and similar occasions – not too close to be constant baby sitters however.  Businesses are slow to move but sooner or later theirs will be sold – we shall be the losers and Kym and Robin will start their next big adventure.

See photos below.


Where everybody knows your name

Kym at Bistro 16

Kym with regular Vi - a Londoner who used to work on the buses
now aged 95.
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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

It’s being so cheerful…


Autumn hath all the summer’s fruitful treasure;

Gone is our sport, fled is our Corydon’s pleasure!

Short days, sharp days, long nights come on apace:

 Ah, who shall hide us from the winter’s face?

Cold doth increase, the sickness will not cease,

And here we lie, God knows, with little ease,

From winter, plague, and pestilence, good Lord, deliver us!


Thomas Nashe 1567-1601

See below photos

It's being so cheerful...

Autumn tints from the garden

And all these leaves will fall - on my lawn.

Mum's acer - which was meant to be shoulder height, is glowing.
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