Friday, 30 March 2007

TJX and TK Maxx UK

It's late. It's Friday night.I rememebr the days when Friday night meant all manner of 'good things'. The end of the working week. Two days of fun filled activities ahead. Now I no longer work, it's just another evening. Neither good nor bad - no different to any other evening. So, time to count my Blessings. Perhaps I should make this a monthly ritual?
  1. I don't have to worry about the Monday Morning Blues
  2. I've never shopped at TK Maxx
  3. I'm so tired I reckon I'll really sleep well tonight
  4. Financially better off at the end of March than at the beginning
  5. I'm still breathing
  6. Lent is coming to an end soon
  7. I'll soon feel less guilty eating sweets [I had given up sweets for Lent]
  8. I'm still able to think [and puzzle out 'what are my blessings'?]
  9. I have sent out e cards for Easter from Jacquie Lawson a bargain as the sign up fee is so modest.

For anyone who hasn't found these delightful cards the website is well worth look and to find out more about Jacquie and how she started.

Thursday, 29 March 2007

Beware of Fake Fur

There was an article in the Daily Mail this week that the 'faux fur' which is sold so cheaply is in fact often domestic cat/dog fur from China. In the USA there has been such an outcry over the inhumane killing methods following the release of a video [which sounds too horrifc to watch]. The US has clamped down on imports. But England and the EU do not have any laws banning imports of domestic cat/dog furs - so China will probably flood the European market with these distasteful items. If you are a cat or dog lover please do read the full article. Please consider passing on the information and ask that friends and family think carefully before buying any product that is supposedly of fake/faux fur. And if you are not an animal lover I assume you would not wish to perpetuate such a shocking and cruel trade.

The Daily Mail reported that:
"In America importing cat and dog furs into the country has been outlawed since 2000. But in the UK – a nation famed for its animal lovers – there is no law banning the import of cat and dog fur at all, making it even more likely that a similar scandal could emerge."

"Cat fur is soft and luxurious enabling it to be passed off as any number of more expensive furs. While German Shepherd is the most popular breed of dog because its long fur so closely resembles that of wild animals such as coyote or racoon. Labrador and Alsatian pelts have also been found."

As far as Im conmcerned I'm going to boycott all Chinese imports from apples, to underwear and will be writing to M&S , Sainsbury's and Tesco to name a few. I know that different cultures have different ways but surely all of humankind should show compassion and respect to all living creatures. I hear there are more shocking photos in today's Daily Mail - this time how the animals are caged and killed for the meat trade. But of course, in a country that holds human life cheap then they wouldn't consider the feelings of animals would they?

Moon Cycles

I've started to have problems sleeping - again. I blame it on the moon. Full moon is here in a few days - or nights. I think I may be a plant. I've been out in the sun today. I raised my face to the warmth as if I was a daisy. There are some gardeners who think all plants are affected by the cycle of the moon [lunar cycle]. The seas certainly are. Lunatics are too. Apparently police and the A&E departments in hospitals are busier on nights of the full moon.

Wednesday, 28 March 2007

Dog Free Beaches

I see from the local TV news that there is some thought being given to banning dogs from the beaches all year round. Some thoughtless and careless dog owners don't clear up after their animals. But this another instance of the few ruining things for the many. Why rather than banning dogs can't there be more dog wardens and larger fines for people who allow their dogs to make a mess in public places. Dogs can be trained to go to the toilet on command. Or only in certain places. You don't see the Guide Dogs messing and spending a penny all over the place. No - proper training will ensure the dog is well behaved and clean and tidy. Now any one who has owned a labrador will know - they are born swimmers - nothing gives them more pleasure than a dip in the sea. So it will be rather sad for all the other dogs that enjoy a dip in the sea to be banned from beaches.

A Moving Story

We think that we should consider leaving the rural life and make a move closer to town. We are beginning to feel our age and want to move closer to facilities while we 'young enough' to cope with the trauma of relocating. But which town, is the question that is exercising our brain cells. We can't afford to keep moving if we make a mistake.

I've explored Honiton. Pros: Not too hilly. A good mixture of residents - i.e. it's not just for 'oldies'. There is a station. Cons: The shops are a bit disappointing; more antique shops than anything. I've not found a really good place to enjoy coffee and/or afternoon tea. Tesco's.

I've rejected Seaton as it still has a bit of a dowdy 'passed it's best' and "Kiss Me Quick" image.

I'm drawn to Sidmouth. But it is rather full of 'oldies'. Property appears to be more expensive. From the few places I've had a quick peek at, Sidmouth in Bloom gardeners appear to plant masses of bedding plants and cut the lawn with scissors. They are invariably so neat and tidy. No wonder it keeps doing so well in the Britain in Bloom Competition. Pros. A good range of individual shops. Plenty of tearooms etc. Fields. [especially the coffee shop - where the Tea is best choice] Waitrose. Some stunning scenery. Numerous clubs and societies. I wouldn't need to update my wardrobe many locals seem to favour fashions from 15+ years ago. Cons. where are dogs allowed to run free during the summer months? Tesco has a toehold in the town. No station. Very hilly. Probably noisier than country living.

I'll be exploring Budleigh Salterton next.

Early Start in Brophy's Coffee Shop

I was in town early this morning as i had to call in for an urgent prescription collection. So I called into Brophy's for a coffee and some breakfast. I had toast and marmalade. Huge thick chunks of locally made bread. The journey to town was a bit hair raising. So many of the mum's drop the kids off at school and set off again with a mobile glued to their ear. I saw at least 3 people driving one-handed within 10 minutes. Then on my way back home I was almost carved up by a young man in a black Honda as he swerved across the white line on the A3052 driving towards Exeter. As we passed I saw he was on the mobile phone. Next time I'll have the wit to take his number and blog about him and the mothers' on their return from the school run. So beware - if you drive and use a handheld mobile phone and live in East Devon watch this space. You may be named and shamed. Well, your car registration numbers could well be. Will have to check out the legal implications if I do this. Would it be libel or slander?

updated: Unfortunately since a change of ownership at the end of last year Brophy's doesn't have the stamp of approval from those that like good food and fine coffee. see:

Tuesday, 27 March 2007

Am I Invisible? I hope so!

My niece - who suggested I start a blog - now knows I blog. She's going to hunt for me. I just hope she doesn't know my grandmother's maiden name. I don't want her to know what I write about her uncle. I don't want her to know how I think of myself like a widow. She thinks we are loving and fun. I don't want to destroy that image for her - even though she approaches 40 - she's too young for the unvarnished truth [I'm thinking here of the plot to murder]. I hope I have obscured my tracks enough.

Perfect Timing - The Etiquette of Dog Walking

Have you noticed that when dog walking you often pass the same people, with their dog[s], at the same time, in the same place, every day? Some people are naturally friendly and stop to chat for a few minutes and let the dogs have a gambol and lark around. Some folk just want to give a polite but short greeting. No stopping for them. It's the latter people I find difficult. You can see them coming down the track. How close before you smile and say "Good Morning" or "Fresh this morning" and at exactly which point do you go for eye contact? Where should you look in the meantime? What will be an appropriate comment today in the allowed time? If they're too far away they may not hear properly. Too close and we've passed each other before they've had chance to make their polite response. As soon as I see them I re-run through the last few days comments [ I don't like to be predictably boring]. Reviewing today's weather and/or forecast and start mentally to rehearse my chosen phrase. Just as he/she is approaching I try to measure their steps with my chosen greeting. "Beautiful morning" and a grin. "Yes, rain forecast for tomorrow" he replies and we have passed on our separate ways. The timing is everything - it's all very tricky.

Brophy's in Sidmouth town

I went to Sidmouth again. A really hot spring day and at 12.30 I needed a drink and a little light bite. I ended up in Brophy's coffee shop and restaurant which is next door to the greengrocers. They make particularly good coffee and many snacks and lunches. The portions are generous and good value for money. It's very popular with the locals. It's well worth trying if you visit Sidmouth and want a friendly place to relax a while.

updated 27th Feb 2008 I regret to say this is no longer the case - it has changed hands. I haven't tried the food but the coffee is only good if you like thin watery weak coffee.

The Old Ways Can be Faster

Now it was several days ago that I decided to open a Post Office Instant Savings Account - at the moment it's offering a good rate of interest. I applied on-line. I've been waiting days for the 'completed application form and information pack' to arrive so that I could then deposit my spare cash in the account. Well, in the end I went to the Post Office. Filled in the application form. Wrote a cheque to go with it and handed all over the counter. I should now have it up and running within a week to 10 days maximum. So the on-line application hasn't been particularly fast at all. But being S**'s law - I bet it arrives via the post tomorrow. I know i'm probably being impatient. But I didn't want the money sitting in a current account earning only 0.00000001% [you get the picture] interest for many more days.

Sunday, 25 March 2007

Mobile phones Nokia 6280

Well, I've had a couple of enjoyable days. A new mobile phone on a 'pay as you go' contract arrived by courier on Friday. A Nokia 6280. I had it set up and running within a couple of hours. A bit of confusion as I re-adjusted to the Nokia version of predictive text. A pity that mobile phone maunufacturers don't get together and have set keys for set functions. The first mobile I had was a brick sized phone from Alcatel. It was for 'emergency use' only. But when I did have a car break down miles from civilisation - there was no signal. Then I moved on to a Nokia when they used to be half-brick size, about 7 years ago. That's when I started to text. Became so familiar with the keys and being able to type messages with just a thumb that sometimes I found it difficult to re-adjust to QWERTY keyboard. Two years ago I progressed to a Samsung clam shell and had to learn a whole new set of keys for various functions. The down side was that the clam shell style had to be held in both hands - at least it gave my thumb a rest. As it was a camera phone I was able to add photos and music files to text messages. However, if folk on the receivng end don't have state of the art phones then wasn't much use to me. Finally I've reverted once again to Nokia, a slider phone. I think it looks quite stylish and have enjoyed exploring its applications and settings. As I'm on PAYG I wont have to worry if I connect up to the web on it and start browsing when stuck in a coach in a traffic jam. So have spent the last 2 days giving my right thumb a workout. All good fun and goes some way to keeping the brain active. I offered to buy my sister one of the same models so we could video call but she doesn't feel able to cope and wants to stay with her trusty mobile that's several years old.

Thursday, 22 March 2007

Have Book Will Travel

I found an old copy of 'The Fancy' by Monica Dickens on my bookshelf the other day. It is a lovely old Penguin paperback. It cost 4/6 [that is 4 shillings and 6 pence - this info is for the younger readers - that is if there are any young people who read this blog ?] Or 4 an 6 as we would say pre 14th Feb 1971. If I remember my conversion tables properly that would work out at about 22.5 new pence.
I thought it would be interesting to set this book 'free'. I intend to leave it in a coffee shop in East Devon, UK with my email address and some information on Monica Dickens with it. And a note to ask someone to pick it up - read it and then leave it again in another public place. I'm hoping they will email me with where the book was found, where they left it and whether they enjoyed it. I'm intending to set up another blog page and will then post the information as it comes in. I hope I do get some feedback on its journey out in the wider world. I hope it doesn't just get binned. I hope some people enjoy discovering Monica Dickens. It could make for an interesting adventure to find out who picks it up, when where and so on. I will link with this blog when its released from captivity. I may call the blog 'Have book will travel' - I haven't fully thought it through yet. I see that some 27% of people think that Monica Dickens is one of the Icons of England. Having started work in the NHS in the 60s I found her book 'One Pair of Feet' very funny and true to life.

Wednesday, 21 March 2007

Age Concern and Mobile Phone Tarriffs

I worry about how difficult it will be to keep up with all the techno changes. I have visions when I'm 80 [ I hope to live that long] of having to order the basic necessities of life over the Internet. By basic I mean everything from from groceries and meals on wheels to help to getting off the toilet. By then it may be that the whole house will be wired with little cameras monitoring whether or not I'm still on my feet and breathing. I expect keyboards and mouse controls will be old hat - we will probably control computers by voice commands alone. A version of C3PO will probably gather me up in its arms and deposit me in bed all clean and tidy when I'm 90. Our own personal robots could be cheaper than having home help or carers calling. That's if we don't have euthanasia by neglect. Whichever the authorities decide will be the cheapest: a personal carer or a robot.

I've been struggling with mobile phone tariffs today. my phone is nearly 2 years old and not standing up that well - it keep malfunctioning. Texts getting lost and other minor mishaps. My dropping it a lot recently probably not helped it. I'm currently on a monthly contract and have decided to go over to Pay and Go. The choice is bewildering. But I've now made the decision and await a spanking new phone by post. Will try PAYG system and see if it is to my advantage. Will soon have a new toy to master. It set me wondering how old you have to get before you throw in the towel and decide all the bother of keeping up with the latest gadgets is not worth the bother. I rather enjoy it all - so long as I have the time to sort it out. I enjoy mastering new equipment.

Monday, 19 March 2007

C & G's New Improved Direct Transfer service

Well, C & G may think their new and improved telephone service is better. Other people may think it is. But as far as I'm concerned it is not. I've found it very confusing. I was only trying to transfer some money into my savings account. I had 4 attempts. By which time I thought I had given over 4 too many of my 6 secret ID numbers. So I chickened out. I've opened a Post Office Instant Saver Account [which I think is going to be easier to use and a better interest rate]. The new C&G service has too many variable options and choices. Rather than dialling and punching in numbers for account and password via telephone keyboard this new system gives you the choice of voice or keyboard. It didn't hear or recognise my voice commands - "yes" " Yes" " YES I was yelling in the end - maybe because I was on speakerphone - but you need to be hands free to hold the account number and secret ID number - don't you? So then tried I the keyboard. 1 or 2 for Yes or No is easy - but *2 or *3 for go back or cancel [whichever way round it's supposed to be] started to tie me in knots. Every attempt I made I started to get closer to the desired menu layer - nearly there - but in my excitement I started to punch in the wrong amount - so confused I retreated once more and gave up. I used to find it such a fast, efficient and easy way to move money back and forwards to the bank. But after nearly 20 mins and all these phone calls it is no longer a short, quick exercise - so I'm sorry C&G - I will be emailing my opinion but my spare cash will now go to the PO account.

Saturday, 17 March 2007


I went to the local dump on my way out this afternoon. The car was full of bags of composting garden waste. Smelled very ripe. I shared the journey with 3 slugs, 1 spider and a host of small flies. The slugs and spider returned home with me. The flies were obviously just hitching a ride. I didn't see them again once I'd dumped the green stuff. The slugs I put out on the bird table. The spider returned to its nest in the rear view mirror. Itsy Bitsy spider only comes out when the car is on the move. She hangs there looking forward through the windscreen rocking along to the ELO soundtrack on the CD player "Mr Blue Sky".

A TRIP on Sunny Saturday in Sidmouth

A lovely sunny afternoon so I got in the car and went to Sidmouth town for a walk along the seafront before the forecast cold snap sets in. Now if you are in any way less able - do not expect to be able to stride out safely and securely in Sidmouth town. It is lethal. The pavements are narrow and congested. Children's buggies barely fit on the pavements. The cobbles, tarmac and kerb edgings are a trap for the less nimble. You need a goat like ability to nip from one uneven bit of pavement to another. I tripped and slithered my way around. Came home with one wrenched shoulder blade, pulled thigh muscles and wrenched ankles. There are numerous raised (or rocking) paving blocks - all ready to catch out the less agile. It would be interesting to know how many are the cause of broken legs/hips/shoulders. How many folk fall over them and end up in hospital? how many people after a trip/fall sue the local council? how much of local taxes are lost due to paying out for compensation for poorly maintained footpaths? Surely the streets should be kept better than these? How do people in wheelchairs manage? The pavements all but slope as if attempting to tip you into the the road. I nipped sideways to dodge a mother with a child in pushchair. My ankle went over on a dip in the pavement - almost tipped me over into the path of a car. I wont return in a hurry. It's a shame as Sidmouth has some interesting shops. Devon Blogs

Thursday, 15 March 2007

The Devon coast is beautiful. On a sunny day the blue sky, blue sea and the red sandstone cliffs are breathtaking. I have had my fill of the country side and the sea scapes. When I go on holiday now I crave city life. I am poring over city breaks brochures and planning to make my escape for a few nights away. I'm not sure whether to visit a much loved city or to explore an unknown area. Maybe I can find time to fit in a bit of each. British Blog Directory.

coping strategies

Like a widow I am going to have to learn to be more resourceful. But unlike a widow I don't have the luxury of a home to return to - to curl up alone in a safe place and 'lick my wounds'. When I'm out and about I have to put on a 'brave face' otherwise people will avoid me. Friends understand and are quietly supportive if I'm not on top form. When I'm home I have to put on a brave face again.Otherwise my depressive gets even more anxious and upset at the distress he is causing me and how it is upsetting my life. It's a roller coaster ride. Sometimes the negativity is soul destroying. The petty nit picking is demoralising. I've lost my best friend and I'm sad. I examine the website on how to cope with self esteem problems when living with a depressed person and know that although I often feel that life is a sickening roller coaster ride and feel as if i am trying to balance on a very wobbly fence - it is not surprising that I feel burnt out and stressed. To quote Anne Sheffield "Interactions with depression sufferers range from difficult to unbearable. When you offer love and affection, they are not returned. When you offer sympathy, you are told you don't understand what is wrong. When you offer support, you receive complaints that it is not enough, or not the right kind. Those who remind us of the depressive's need for sympathy, support, and love are correct, but they leave out the other half of the equation: it is hard to give all those things when you're not receiving them."

Depression widow

I really must get out more. But trouble is I'm a bit like a widow. But without the dead spouse. I'm not a golfing widow, I'm a depression widow. It's a bit awkward to fit me into the social sphere. I'm not a widow and unattached. I'm married but my husband rarely goes out or socialises. He is only happy at home and he's rarely happy there. Everyone asks after him and I'm now at a loss as to what to answer. He is seen out and about on occasions. After all there are medical appointments he has to attend. Otherwise I think people would think that I'd murdered him; buried his body in the garden and just carry on claiming his disability pension. I don't murder him as I worry I wouldn't get away with it. In which case I still wouldn't be free. In some ways widowhood would be easier. The end product - if I can call it that - would mean that I'd have to get used to it and move on. As it is we are both trapped and unhappy. One way or another Depression has us both in its grip. Like a widow I am going through the gamut of emotions [I did denial first] now I'm working through loss, anger, grief etc.

Wednesday, 14 March 2007


I sneaked back to look at my page on Yahoo 360 again to day and see that I've had 299 people peer at the pages. 299 - WOW . Now it would be very nice to know how many just had a quick look and left - not for them. How many come back to look and see if I am showing any signs of improving [not yet - my excuse is I am still very tired!] and - a lovely thought this - possible regular readers [giving me the benefit of the doubt for a bit longer]. Now why isn't it possible to log that in some way? Is there a way?? If so perhaps someone would drop me a hint. But a gentle one please. remember, I'm a silver surfer and still new to this .... Thanks for looking anyway. Goodnight - sleep tight.

Thought I'd have lunch out today. The sun was very tempting and I do have £50 to spend courtesy of my Premium Bond win. But wasn't sure I was 'dressed' enough. Maybe tomorrow.

Elegant cat

Such an elegant cat. I'd like to say she's mine - but she isn't . Lady Lara's just a visitor who comes into our garden to bird watch. She has a stable mate - an all black, Plain Jane. Plain Jane is better able to chase birds and squirrels. She's faster - but as she has a collar and bell the element of surprise is missing. The birds have flown before she able to take more than a couple of paces. She has more chance of catching squirrels [or squeals as they're known in our family]. Plain Jane lies in wait below the sunflower seeds and as the squeal comes for the tree she pounces and they fly up the garden one after t'other at tremendous speed. Lady Lara is elegant and poised but she needs to keep to the roof top to avoid the dog. I think Velvet just wants to get close enough to sniff but Lara doesn't trust her.

Monday, 12 March 2007

Ghost or dreaming

I woke early this morning before 6 am - spring must be on its way and my long winter hibernation is coming to an end. As I lay in that dreamlike, half sleepy state I felt my favourite cat on to the bed with me. I could feel the bed move slightly - he was lazily and cosily washing himself - with the ocassional chew at the pads of his feet. Such a comforting feeling. But it wasn't him. It couldn't be. He died 18 months ago. Even though as I lay there and knew there was no cat on the bed - he was there. I could still feel him washing. I felt great feeling of love, comfort and then grief again.

Sunday, 11 March 2007

Counting My Blessings

  1. It's another sunny day
  2. South West Water - reservoirs are 100% full - shouldn't be a hosepipe ban this summer
  3. It feels warm and spring like - the buds are bursting and the weeds are a growing
  4. Hubby is feeling better today - health problems continue but mood is lighter
  5. I had a lovely long chat with sister in law - she is very supportive and understanding
  6. I had a glass of wine with lunch - Banrock Station, red blend, on offer from Sainsbury's
  7. I enjoyed Crufts on TV last night - terrier and hounds - my favourite classes
  8. I read "Walking Ollie" by Stephen Foster in 3 hours - amusing and moving - for dog lovers
  9. I have a whole shelf of unread books waiting for me - such riches
  10. I have good friends - far and wide
  11. I won £50 on the Premium Bonds - or did I mention that in an earlier blog?
  12. I have £50 that I can spend on yet more books

Friday, 9 March 2007


I wont be able to do much this evening as I've bookmarked to watch Crufts. I'll curl up on the sofa with black Velvet a hot drink and a cake. Did you see the scandanavian lady who won the class last night? The way she ran with her dog around the show ring. She ran as if on springs - BOING, BOING, BOING - Zebedee with a dog. In the stills you could clearly see - she had both feet off the ground. You see - I don't just watch the dogs!
Right - I am sorry but it looks as has a more interesting set up than the Yahoo 360. So I've decided to move over. I didn't want to lose all my previous entries - so have just cobbled together a few entries and copied and pasted them.

Life is made up of many sad memories [entered on 4/03/07]
It's such a wet windy grey day here is East Devon with many flood alerts. Even Black Velvet was straining at the leash to get back home - and I didn't disagree with her. It's a day to curl up in the warmth and enjoy a traditional, lazy Sunday. While the lunch was cooking - Pork Casserole with roast potatoes - I got in the car to go and get a couple of Sunday newspapers to while away the afternoon. I chose the Sunday Times and the Mail. Having just read the Mail I was sad to read of the death of such a pretty young girl - Josie Grove
"Any man's death diminishes me ..... Ask not, for whom the bell tolls ....."
We lost a young nephew to this illness. Anthony, like Josie was diagnosed with AMLeukaemia when he was 14. He enjoyed many years full of hope and laughter; fun filled years in between the gruelling periods of treatment but sadly he died a few weeks short of his 21st birthday. We all still miss him a great deal; he is still in our minds as a laughing, sparkly eyed, mischievous teenager with a sense of empathy and compassion beyond his years. 'They' say "the good die young" and so it seems. Josie started a charity before her death and if you can, do click on the link above so that you can read the heart warming article. Or you could click on this next link to be directed to the charity that is set up in Josie's name.
Although life is made up of sad memories and feelings of loss; we are all the richer for having had the love and affection of some really special people. How sad it would be to pass from this life with no one to miss us or regret our passing.
This is a beautiful short film if you click on this link it may give you pause for thought on the meaning of life and how you spend your time. Do spend it wisely. It is a precious asset - not to be wasted. Remember, this is not a rehearsal. Do not waste your time. Enjoy and savour as much as possible. Take time to stand and watch the daisies growing on the lawn [well not today may be, but in summer!] Remember to tell your family and friends how much you love and appreciate them. Live each day as if it will be your last. Becasue, one day - it will be .....
"What is this life if full of care, we have no time to stand and stare ...."

I'm Worried about Tony [dated 22/02/07]

Well, maybe he has been blogging and checking up on any sites that mention him by name. It's not good to get so hooked on the computer into the early hours of the morning. And as I've still not had my personal email from him yet maybe he's still busy on the Outlook Express trying to get all the mail out - that can be a bit of a bugger. I know, when I was trying to send out 12 Christmas cards at once - those lovely ones with the little dancing santas - you know? Anyway - they were a job to get them all to go at once as the Virus Checker or the mail server or the whatever kept sending me a message "timed out". If he is like me [and he has 1.75 million to go] you get hooked on fiddling with the settings and convinced that they'll go this time - but no within a few minutes up pops the little error message - and so you have another go - on and on.
I know he was up early this morning to talk to John Humphrys on the Radio 4's 'Today' [or do you think it was pre-recorded?]. He also had a big day in the House yesterday and he was too busy to attend the unveiling of Mrs T's statue [that was probably when he got on with the emailing again] but when I saw him on Sky News [don't know what it was about as the sound was muted] I thought he looked poorly: haggard, grey and so old. Mrs Booth-Blair should take his PC away or put a parental lock on it and make him have an early night.
Anyway, going back to the radio interview, John Humphrys mentioned that he would no longer be PM in a few months. That's when I'm sure I heard a kind of swallowed gurgle. Now I'm not sure whether that was a choked back anguished sob or whether it was a cut off giggle. But it did set me wondering. I've often thought that I've not heard Tony Blair say that he will stand down as PM - has anyone else? I have heard him say that he would not address the Party Conference and the Unions etc etc as leader . Now, I don't know the rules of the Labour party but, is it possible he intends to step down as leader of the party but remain as Prime Minister "for the full term"? If anyone knows whether this could be done then I'd be interested to know. It wouldn't surprise me - nothing this prime minister says is all that it seems - he has a lawyers way with words. He also forgets what he says from one year to the next but some of us lowly public have V E R Y L O N G memories. Some of us think too. I may go to the bookies and place a bet on our having TB as PM in 2008. I wonder what the odds would be.
David Cameron doesn't strike me as much good either and I'm still considering the idea of whether he's entitled to say or not about his use of drugs - soft/hard or whatever. The only ones who seem to have any credibility in the Conservatives are William Hague and David Davies and don't get me started on the Libs. If there was a vote tomorrow I'd probably close my eyes and stab the ballot paper with a pin - or write rude words all over it.
I must get out more - need a trip out somewhere tomorrow - not healthy thinking all this politics stuff. But if it's wet then the next blog page I'll write about my dog and my spouse. I'm very attached to one of them and the other I tolerate,clean up after, feed and care for - but that's for another day.

Entry for 18 February 2007
Sidmouth - Heaven's waiting room- I cannot escape the place. I returned to the town again when I found out an old friend was recently discharged from hospital and is now resident in a nursing home. As I drive into town I hear an old pop tune on Radio Devon "we've gotta get outta this place - if it's the last thing we ever do; we gotta get out this place ..." I know the feeling .... .
I find a parking space in the Ham car park and go in search of a gift. But what do you take to someone now living in a home 'where all needs are met'. That's a puzzle. I head for the disabled shop and ask if they have any 'Independence' in stock - but the shop assistant doesn't appear to want to play along, she either has no sense of humour or I'm not as funny as I like to imagine. More's the pity. They don't seem to encourage 'browsing' in the shop so I find it hard to see if anything will suit as a gift. The shop has a large selection of motorised buggies outside on display. Prices range from as little as £200 to nearly £1800 - no wonder so many people seem to be whizzing around in them. More money than sense. Maybe the £200 models don't have brakes? I amuse myself by spending time inspecting and considering the pros and cons of 3 of the pricier models. I imply I'm considering buying one as a gift for my friend. After an hour I bore of this ploy and leave with the promise to 'think it over' - maybe next time I pop in the sales assistant may reward me with a little smile at my jokes?
There are so many OLD and infirm people in Sidmouth. Most of them seem rude and imperious - maybe it would be kinder to call them determined or independent. Perhaps when one is very old and it takes all your energy just to get from A to B [from the bakers, to the bank to the butchers] then maybe you just don't have time for old fashioned manners - shame. I've never felt so inclined as to just let a door fall shut on someone as the scowling person pushing their way into the shop with their shopping trolley cutting a swathe behind them - like Ben Hur's chariot. I was also lucky enough to leap out of the path of one of those aforementioned buggies. They really do move very swiftly; they're silent and deadly. I begin to dread being run over by one or hitting one when I'm driving. Some buggy drivers can't seem to make up their minds whether they are drivers [give way to the right and follow the rules of the highway code] or pedestrians. Some are a mad mixture of both. One minute terrorising everyone on the pavement and the next swooping down the curb and onto the road - round the roundabout - and then crawling up the road holding up car drivers.
As it was lunchtime I buy a bun, a bottle of water and picnic in the car while observing elderly drivers spend an inordinate amount of time shunting in or out of parking spaces. I buy a display of potted flowering plants to take with me and head off to the nursing home. Beryl's old - and doddery but she is a well mannered lady. She's 92 but doesn't need to be rude to people around her to enable her to retain her sense of independence. We enjoy a gossip and the visit with her restores my liking for older people. Maybe we wouldn't find old folk irritating if we knew them and I don't know many people in Sidmouth. But maybe, it's just that the people I happened to meet are just plain rude, selfish and ungracious.
Then again I'm not at my best at the moment - I'm tired, depressed and stressed. Maybe my tolerance levels are on the low side.

SPEND, SPEND, SPEND - A Little Self Disclosure
Well, it's raining again and I didn't feel like going out - mainly due to a bit of a stomach upset - and the desire to stay within a short dash of a clean and comfortable toilet. i had felt a bit off yesterday with vague aches and during the night I was awake with a Devon version of Delhi belly. But enough of me - well maybe not - but so long as you don't pass on this to anyone else I'll tell you a bit about myself.
I'm crawling towards 60 when I'll become a state prisoner [sorry, -I mean pensioner]. But when that day dawns I'll only be entitled to 75% of the basic state pension. Also, as I've only worked in various low paid jobs in the caring profession [the NHS and Social Services Departments] in a variety of locations I have not built up a large pension pot. Now I don't know how you have managed but since I first met the 'Man of My Life' we have been saving for our retirement. He's like that my man is - save for a rainy day, save for our old age, as you don't know what the future will bring. Well, I now have some glimpse of the possible future and I'm not sure I like it much.
We moved south to East Devon to settle down, make a home in the area in readiness for our retirement in 2010 when we would start to relax, enjoy ourselves and have a few modest holidays - get out and see the world. Then my man unexpectedly lost his job. It was a great shock to him. He tried to get back into the professional market but at age 58 was told too old, too much experience, too qualified. He went into a decline and is being treated for depression. I'd not been working as I got the house renovation underway and was busy trying to suss out our new locality and making new friends. Once my man became ill all thoughts of returning to paid employment myself came to a halt.
The trouble is that with no income coming in we had to delve into capital to pay off the large mortgage and continue to draw on our savings to finance day to day living, utility bills and taxes. With savings we are not entitled to any benefits. So I now have regrets that for 30 years of married life we only had 4 holidays, 2 house moves, 4 cars, 1 fridge, 2 freezers, 2 cookers, 3 washing machines, 1 dishwasher and 3.5 TVs and 3 new beds. We only replaced things when equipment was too old to repair - not for us the latest gadgets and gizmo's. If we wanted something modern like an upgraded Hi-Fi or camera or computer then we often had them as a birthday/Xmas present. New carpets were weighed up against the cost of a holiday - invariably the carpet won as being the cheapest option and of more long term value.
But now I can imagine having to sell my home if we should need to go into residential care. I resent the thought that I could be paying for a room in a residential/nursing home - sitting next to a resident who has enjoyed her life to the full with holidays, seen the world, driven fast cars and had fun but ended up in her old age with no savings - beyond £16000. She who has 'lived' life without a care in the world is sitting comfortably in the same home being paid for by the authorities. Envy is the root of all evil.
The poor in today's Britain do not go without the necessities of life - the more you have and the more you have saved the more they take in taxes: taxes to fund the feckless, the thoughtless, the inadequates, the 'couldn't care less' citizens.
So what I say to all you youngsters out there now - earning and saving - forget what the Government tell you - don't save - SPEND, SPEND, SPEND and enjoy life to the full - save a bit for a 'damp day' but not so that you end up over the means test limit. Until the government change the rules so that the older generation are not penalised for being thrifty all their lives then WHAT REALLY IS THE POINT OF SAVING?

Doctors are now called the Obese Police
I see from my cartoon style image of myself that I look a bit of a tired slob - true - but this image is not as fat as I am. I am at my most relaxed when in my dressing gown [I have 3] cuddling up on the sofa with the dog and a mug of hot chocolate. All round comfort. But as I need to lose 3 stone [depressed carer syndrome and neglect of self] then I'm also hoping that typing this blog will stop me eating as much. I've given up sweets/cakes for Lent - so far so good but Easter feels a long way off. I expect you are beginning to get the impression that I have high hopes of blogging. You may well be right on that.
I have just acquired a digital camera [I'm on the spend, spend, spend route now] and once have mastered it and have a decent photo I will place a proper one - but only if I lose some of this excess fat. Generally I do eat a healthy diet of more than 5 portions of fruit and veg etc but when it is so relentlessly depressing at home and when walking on eggshells, unable to talk properly to my man then I get lonely and sad, and cheer myself up with unnecessary treats.
I sat and thought yesterday about how long this has been going on: over 5 years.
I suddenly remembered that the day of Queens' Jubilee celebrations were there first time my husband and I talked about his mood swings and how it was affecting me. He had become very noticeably withdrawn, uncommunicative and irritable, full of anxieties. It was a bit up and down from then on but at some point after that June day in 2005 it has been one long, gradual decline. I think my natural optimism started to run out of fuel towards the end of spring 2006. Now my 'optimism tank' has been running on empty for the last 10 months. I worry that this may be as good as it gets and I don't know how much longer I can keep living this way.
I find it difficult to confide in local friends as I've not known them very long; it feels disloyal to 'harp on' about my man. Long term friends live miles away and I only phone to chat when I feel able to be 'upbeat' also I have no privacy as he is always around when I start to talk to friends. Well, he's always around - I have to go out to get any privacy - that's not quite the same is it? I sometimes fantasise about living separately.
I'm now reading a book called "How You Can Survive When they're Depressed" by Anne Sheffield. I've only started it so will report back later. I also read the Caroline Carr book "Living with the Black Dog ......." [this title particularly amuses me] it was very simply written - I read it in a few hours - but has one or two good points which I'll try to put into practise.

Entry 31st January

I'm not sure that I can get used to this not working kind of life. Now that I'm not shooting out the door each day at 7.30 the day stretching ahead holds so much promise but of what?? It's quite a benign kind of day - fresh but still with a hint of sunlight. After an early morning dental appointment I decide on the spur of the moment to head over to Sidmouth again. Not so many wreck watchers today - does that mean it's not more than a 7 day wonder? I take a couple of photos of the cargo ship as it lists at a crazy angle with the cranes towering over it - not much sign of activity - no swinging containers being lifted from the ship. A passing gentleman informs me that 'they' only removed 3 containers yesterday - I try to do a little mental arithmetic and decide that at this rate the ship may be unloaded by this time next year - but will the work get faster as the uneven load is reduced - in which case it may be unloaded before the end of the year. Why have there been no more press conferences to tell everyone whether the rate of the work is going as expected? My new friend tells me that Sidmouth has been lucky not to have been affected. I hope he's not counting his chickens. We both agree that everyone should pray for calm seas for the next 12 months. Most of the folk I do see on the front have binoculars and seem to spend hours gazing out over the wreck but then some real excitement - the lifeboat is about to dock with its submersible tractor and we all decide to stand and watch this for a while as the binoculars swing from the east towards the west.
Why car drivers are unable to reverse into car parking spaces I have no idea but I now stand with mouth open in amazement as the lifeboat crew manoeuvre the dinghy in reverse mode [sorry I don't know nautical terms] into a kind of cage that is attached to the rear of the tractor - all this with the swell making everything rock and bounce around with every wave - it looks as if it is accomplished easily enough and the tractor then slowly hauls the lifeboat back to its station at the other end of the prom where everyone spends and inordinate amount of time washing and polishing it ready for its next outing. I hear some young men say the tyres are "filled with water" and wonder whether that's true or not? But beyond dropping a few coins into one of the buckets held by a plastic dummy - I can't be bothered to wonder whether I'm interested enough to find out the answer . I decide it's too cold to hang around any longer and head for town and a warm drink.

Entry in Yahoo 360 on 30th january 2007
Well - who would have believed that a possible environmental disaster would turn into a 'tourist attraction'?
You can almost hear Sidmouth/Beer hoteliers rubbing thier hands with glee at the unexpected influx of visitors so early in the season. But the Innkeepers in Branscombe probably fear that visitor numbers will fall. After all if you choose such a peaceful holiday venue as Branscombe [can anyone find it without a sat nav device?], then surely you are hoping for a break-away and want to sample the 'quiet life'. In which case will you want to risk meeting a rampaging mob rushing from the beach with ill gotten gains looted from the latest container that has been washed overboard?
Since the MSC Napoli beached off Branscombe beach just over a week ago, the locals don't know if they are coming or going. We are all wrecks watching a wreck fall apart and pondering on the "meaning of life, the universe and everything" and the answer I've found is that it's not 42 [sorry Mr Adams] - its 50+.
That basically is what this BLOG will be about ... the meaning of life etc .... and the authorities response[s] - or not - to emergency happenings!