Still Here, another year since I wrote anything!

Well, what can I say? I had such good intentions last year, but life has been hard. I know it’s been hard for everyone, and we are lucky that we didn’t contract the dreaded Covid 19, but neither of us has been in the best of health and although I hoped that this year will be better, there are still serious issues.

In fact, since I care for my husband full time and have a lot of work to do, it’s hardly surprising that even the camera didn’t get a look-in last year. I managed to take it out only once, although I have taken some photos on my phone. Somehow that is not the same for me, and I have not mastered it at all.

Kingston Lacy is a National Trust property in Dorset and always beautiful, but especially so in the autumn. Nowadays my husband can’t walk much so we don’t get to see so many places, but he did manage a short walk to the restaurant and I left him there while I walked down to the Japanese Garden. The colours were gorgeous.

This year so far the camera has not been out and about, but I hope to take more pictures soon as I’m losing the ability to choose what to take and how to take it. Refresher needed! Last year saw me at the hospital far more than I liked with some pretty nasty tests. The results are not as clear as I would have liked so I don’t have as much energy and although I’ve been invited back for more tests I’ve declined the offer as I can’t leave my husband. We do have carers come in a couple of times a week to help but I do most of the work and wouldn’t have it any other way.

Watch this space when I do have time to post and something to say.

I’m Still Here

Well, last year left me no time to write at all, not for my blog or my other magazines. I’m hoping that I’ll manage my time better this year. In the meantime I’d just like to wish everyone a Happy New Year, better late than never!

Let’s hope that this year will be better for the whole world. It’s not starting too well I know but we all have to cling on to hope. The main thing is to be kind to everyone, give out love and peace and hope to receive the same yourselves.

A Trip away from Home

It’s been a while, but I’m still here! Time is very limited these days, plus my computer playing up on me. However, we did take a few days away on a cruise at the end of March.  This is the only way we can travel at all now, due to my husband’s increasing lack of mobility.

We travelled to Bordeaux. resized sunset in the Solent from our dining table

That was the view from our dining table as we left the Solent behind us. Gorgeous.

morning in Bordeaux

Bordeaux in the morning. We were very impressed by how clean the riverside was, and noticed the cleaners doing their jobs very well. This was a popular spot for walkers, with or without dogs, cyclists, joggers and people on their way to work.

Statue in Bordeaux
This statue, in the Place des Quinconces in Bordeaux, is mainly in honour of the Girondins, members of a political group at the time of the French Revolution. Many of them were guillotined.

Parque de Muelle, Aviles

This is the Parque de Muelle in Avilés, our next stop on the voyage. We have been to Avilés before, but there is always something new to see. It was very cold here, with a morning frost, but the sun was shining later in the day. 

morning in La Coruna

It was still early in the morning here at A Coruña and again very cold. Only the workers were around as they set off for their destination. 

We enjoyed the cruise, although it was not as warm as we’d hoped, but the ship was comfortable and offered everything we needed. Here’s to the next one (we hope!)

Christmas Alphabet : R for Roy Orbison (Pretty Paper)

I love this post about the song Pretty Paper. It has a wonderful story.

The Immortal Jukebox

London 1963.

Roy Orbison was far from his Texas Home and assailed by a raging fever.

He was in Britain following a successful tour supported by a new Beat Group, The Beatles, who really seemed to be tearing up the place.

They were nice guys.

Every night they stood on the side of the stage to watch Roy – open mouthed as he effortlessly hit operatic notes and held the crowd, frantic when they’d performed, spellbound without moving a muscle.

Though the thermometer showed 102 and rising Roy had a job to do.

His producer and mentor Fred Foster had found a Christmas song from a fellow Texan, Willie Nelson, called, ‘Pretty Paper’ that might just give Roy another big fat hit.

No one could write a better heart tugging song than Willie and damn sure No One, absolutely No One, could sing such a song to rival The Big…

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Confession

Hello folks, I have a confession to make. My camera has not been out of the house for well over two months. Time has just flown and the past few months have passed in a blur of appointments, professional visitors like physiotherapists, occupational therapists and workmen. Simply no time for photography. I’m pinching a bit of me time to write this as I don’t want to lose touch entirely with my blogging world.

One thing I do have now is a smartphone. Yes, I’m being dragged into the modern age, but mainly I don’t use it as a smartphone but simply as my old mobile phone, but with one difference. It has a camera, and quite a decent one at that. Not exactly sure what I’m doing so far, but have taken one or two. 

This is Tarka wondering what she should eat from the garden next!

One of the reasons I bought this phone is that our photography group has closed for now, but our leader has said he may start up a new course later using smartphones, and since I needed a new model, it seemed the ideal time to invest.

I hope to catch up a little with reading your various posts, but it will be slow progress. In the meantime, keep up the good work you all do with your blogs when life allows.

A Belated Happy New Year

snowdrop-time-wp

This is a little late, but I wish you all a Happy New Year. Let’s hope this year will see more peace on the earth, and less suffering.

A new year, and a new laptop for me. The old one had been misbehaving for some time; it was sometimes taking over 20 minutes just to open one email, so it has been frustrating. Just before Christmas it crash-dumped on me. I’m not sure what that means, but it looked serious, and I had great difficulty restarting it. The time had come, I decided, to buy a new one. It’s not a very expensive state-of-the-art model, but it works for me, and the difference in speed is amazing. It seems that the more you pay, the faster the model, but this is not too bad at all.

I’ve been encouraged now to start writing again, and even do more research into small articles which I’ve been wanting to write. I know I can use a library, but it’s not always convenient and when time is short, the computer at home is a great asset.

Time has been short so far this year anyway, with many appointments for us both, mainly medical but not entirely. January is passing in a flash.

Tarka continues to be very adorable at home, and I think she is a little better with other dogs when she’s out walking on the lead, but not to be trusted with them when she’s off the lead. We’ve had a couple of incidents, which shook me up at the time, as I know what it’s like if there is confrontation. My last dog, poor Gizmo, was half-killed by a dog attack on our nearby recreation ground, and I dread that Tarka would cause real damage to another animal. I just need to be vigilant and continue with her training.

Due to a lack of time, I’ve not been taking any photos recently, so have inserted a couple from a year or so ago, to cheer up the weather at this time of year. The snowdrop always offers hope for a good spring.

snowdrops

Alleys, blind or not.

3 Exmouth boats at rest

11 Spain cruise Aviles

Whether you write fact or fiction, there is invariably some research to do. I find it much too easy to be side-tracked. When researching, there are many alleys to tempt me. Some of them are a complete waste of time – blind alleys – others can lead to new work. In most cases they are interesting.

For example, while delving into facts about a small town in Devon, I came across a list of notable figures who had a connection with the town, however slight.Some were born there, others educated in the town, while some had died there. A link led me to a modern-day author who lives in the town, among other people of interest. That was as far as I went that day.

However, the very next day I was in our local library and my eye was caught by a book which had recently been returned. It was by that very same author, a man I’d not heard of before my interest in the town. Naturally I had to borrow that book. As I’ve only just started reading it, I’ve yet to discover if this will lead me to further points of interest. What I will say though is that, having read only six pages so far, the story opens in an area of Hampshire where I once lived. I just love these coincidences.

As for the original article I’d wanted to write, it has yet to be started. There are just too many alleys to explore.11 Spain cruise Aviles

 

 

 

 

Starting the Year Again

28 Exmouth wooden seat outside A La Ronde 2
This wooden seat outside A La Ronde does not look too comfortable.

When I learn of the problems other people have or have had in their lives, I’m humbled. I realise how lucky I am. My worries are as nothing compared to many unfortunates.

Nevertheless, we did not have a good start to 2016, so we’re starting again!

The letter which arrived for me from the hospital at the end of December did make my blood run cold. I have to admit I was scared, more so because it was unexpected. I’d had a CT scan for my ongoing thyroid problems and thought no more of it as I have a follow-up with the consultant in April. The news on that was fairly good, but the scan had shown a change in my pancreas – a lesion. While the doctors thought it may not be significant, I was concerned as a cousin of mine had died from pancreatic cancer when she was younger than I am now. That disease is hard to diagnose too.

Trying to sort this out was impossible until the surgery opened in the New Year, but I have to say our local surgery acted promptly in referring me and taking blood tests. The radiologists had suggested a special scan, an endoscopic ultrasound.

However, the first appointment to see the relevant consultant could not take place until March, so with the help of a mutual society in funding me, I decided to ‘go private’. Even this was not straightforward, as after several false starts, I discovered there is only one consultant in the whole are who can perform this test, whether on the NHS or private.

I managed to have an appointment with him quite quickly and he tried to reassure me that it quite possibly was not cancer, but he couldn’t be sure without the test. I went ahead with the request, but still had to wait several long weeks. If it was necessary and safe to do so, the consultant would perform a fine needle aspiration through the wall of the stomach to the pancreas, a procedure not without a few risks. If it looked like cancer, he would not be able to do it due to the position of the lesion; it could spread cancer cells, so he would not take that risk.

In the event, when I had the test, on the 25th February, he could tell without using the needle test, that in fact there are two cysts on the pancreas, which he believes will not trouble me. No cancer! What a relief, and since then I’m recovering from the stress of the wait. After all, I should realise that I’m no youngster and anything can happen at any age, but I love being here and hope to stay for a few more years yet. My guardian angel has taken care of me once more.

At the end of that week,  I had some good fortune with my writing as well, as if to say that life is on the up again. I received a small cheque from the Crystal Magazine as winner of the previous issue. Just what I needed to spur me on to try some more writing.

There’s nothing like a health scare to galvanise one into action. My office (cupboard under the stairs) has never been as clear as it is now. It’s not perfect even now, as I hoard so much, but boxes of magazines, which I had hoped would provide inspiration for writing, have now been thrown out. A lot of unfinished writing has been placed in a pile to be completed; some has been discarded as worthless. I’ve tried to organise my personal affairs so that in any sudden change of circumstances, my dear husband Mike would not have problems. He has several health problems anyway, and he’s not happy dealing with paperwork, so I’ve tried to simplify everything. Not a bad thing to do really and all because of a scare. I intend to continue with the task by clearing out unwanted clothes and other items. We don’t need as much as we seem to accumulate.

Now we’ve had a weekend break away in Exmouth, in sunny Devon, to clear the stress from our bodies, and make a fresh start. Photos are from that area. Happy New Year.

6 Exmouth calm waters 2
calm waters at Exmouth

35 Exmouth A La Ronde 2
A La Ronde, a National Trust property near Exmouth

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t be Foiled by Frustrations

Fireside Kingston Lacy

Christmas Fireside at Kingston Lacy

The road to publication is paved, not with gold, but with plenty of frustration and even more hard work.

The first magazine article for which I was paid, many years ago, was never actually published. The magazine folded, but paid me anyway. At least the fee was enough to pay my train fare to Germany to visit friends.

Along the road to now there have been some successes, and even more rejections. That’s the way it goes and part of the character we have to develop as writers is a thick skin. Rejection is not personal; what is written is not what the editor needs or wants at that time.

Then there are the editors who never let you know if they want your work. Even if you send the work by post and enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope, you hear nothing. The only thing to do is to send out more writing, so that you are not constantly watching for the postman. Eventually it may be a suitable period of time has elapsed and you are able to send a query to the first editor, but if you have plenty of submissions out there you won’t feel as anxious. (This would not apply if your submissions are full novel manuscripts, but does for articles, short stories and poems.)

Another frustration is when an editor replies to your submission, saying that he/she wants to retain the piece for further consideration. A year or so later, still nothing from them and you feel unable to send the same piece elsewhere. The only thing you can do with that is rewrite the piece if it’s an article, slanting it in a different manner aimed at another publication.

This last month I have had a poem published in a local publication – The Purbeck Gazette. (http://tinyurl.com/qfkxmvj) Unfortunately frustration has reared its head again as I’ve not seen it in print, only on the web. Normally we receive a copy delivered to our home, as does nearly every household. For the first time, nobody has seen one, and even the local library and tourist information office had so few copies that they were all gone before a lot of people were able to get to them. In the great scheme of things this is miniscule of course.

I have also had a short story published in the Crystal Magazine (www.christinecrystal.blogspot.com for details).

In spite of these frustrations, if we’re writers we carry on. For sure if you don’t write anything to send out, you will fail. Keep at it and your perseverance may pay off. Good luck and Merry Christmas to all. We wish for Peace and Harmony everywhere.

If you go down to the woods today CBJ