Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Goodbye 2008.

What a year!
Financial meltdown, wars, famine, terrorism, housing market collapse, record petrol prices, insane hikes in gas, electricity and food prices. On a high note - Barrack Hussein Obama being elected president of the USA! Back to the low-notes - the wettest summer ever recorded, health scares, expanding dole queues, factory closures, reduced production, redundancies, interest rate cuts, taxpayer bailouts of bust banks, VAT cut by a MASSIVE 2.5% to stop the rot in the high street (he (Darling) was obviously having a laugh)
And we said goodbye (or will be any time soon) to Woolworths, Adams, MFI, Zavvi, Whittard of Chelsea, USC and The Officers Club - all huge retail chains who were allowed by the greedy banks to borrow more than the companies were actually worth = and (after HM Treasury) who gets first bite at the Administration cherry, who is repaid ahead of staff, suppliers and all other creditors? - that's right, the greedy banks. (Makes my blood boil somewhat!)
On a personal note I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease, put on steroids which destroyed my immune system and led to infection after infection, these were treated with antibiotics which undid all the good the steroids had done. I end the year as I began it - steroid free and still with dodgy guts.
So, that was 2008 - much turbulence on the Sea of Life. Bring on 2009, I'm setting sail for another challenging journey!!

Monday, 29 December 2008


Ah well, that's that for another twelve months - though it'll no doubt begin again in August 2009!
Christmas at the McArthurs was a wonderful affair as expected - dinner (cooked by yours truly) went down a storm and led to bloated bellies in front of Her Majesty at 3pm but the highlight of the day for everyone was watching Emily as she discovered Santa's footprints from the front door (The chimney was impractical as it would be "too hot" Emily informed us a few days before!!) through the lounge to a pile of presents resembling a delivery of stock to Toys R Us. The look of pure joy on her face as she found Rudolf's half eaten carrot and a note from the Big Man himself, thanking her for the glass of milk!! Priceless. Needless to say the entire morning was filled with the ripping off of wrapping paper and squeals of delight as the contents were discovered, "This wasn't on my list, how did he know I wanted it??"
Clever man that Santa!! Now all we have to do is build an extension to the house to store it all - thanks Santa!!
A great day was had by all.
(I am saving a post regarding the ridiculous amount of selotape, cable-ties, wires and string used to secure children's toys into their packaging until after the festivities, so as to renew my Victor Meldrew image for 2009!!)
Here's wishing you all a peaceful and prosperous 2009.

Friday, 12 December 2008

Vultures Circling - but just who are they?

Are me and the missus the only ones to cry (quite literally) at the demise of Woolies?
We must be the softest of soft people, but we feel for the staff - long term and Christmas recruits - who have suffered at the hands of senior 'Management'(?) yet again. Senior Management(?) who, no doubt awarded themselves enormous bonuses on the back of the Group's enormous 2.7billion profit for last year, whilst all along knowing that the retail element of their group was in a state of financial meltdown.
It's not the flocks of customers looking for a closing down sale price who should be criticised for grabbing the bargains,  but the Senior Management who made it possible.
Shame on them.

Monday, 8 December 2008

Book Finally Published!!

In a roundabout way we have finally managed to get our book published.

Total Fiction - the publishing firm we were signed up to has folded as a result of the credit crunch so we were forced to take drastic measures and self publish via, but what the heck! PLUS by doing so, we have drastically reduced our overheads.

So, we're finally in print and up for sale. If you like a juvenile, raucous cat and mouse chase, thrilling comedy adventure with undertones of Jacobs' The Monkey's Paw, if you've ever visited Hartlepool, Mold or London, encountered a Pearly Queen or been accosted by a Welsh Zombie then our book is for you - Mills & Boon it is not.

The Baboon's Left Testicle (Part One of Two) is now available in paperback and download from

Follow the link below to buy, read and review.

Support independent publishing: buy this book on Lulu.

You can read a bit more about The Baboon's Left Testicle at our website -

I have been a busy bee of late - so apologies for not getting round too many people - that will hopefully change from now on!

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Fuel be Sorry!

If the price of unleaded petrol is linked to the cost of a barrel of crude oil - as we know it is - why does the following ring my alarm bells...

Today - October 2008

Crude oil = $50.67 per barrel - equating to a pump price of £0.91.9p per litre? (average)

When, in August of last year (2007)

Crude oil = $78.77 per barrel - which equated to an average pump price of £0.91.9p per litre?

Someone, somewhere is getting very rich very quickly.

And it's not us drivers.

The First Blast of Winter

Its been a long time coming - I think Emily was three when we last had the opportunity to build a snowman (sadly, at that age, the snow frightened her a little so she watched from inside whilst I built the snowman!) - alas this is not the stuff of snowmen and even as I took these pictures this morning I could feel the patter of rain rushing to wash it all away.
Reminder to self - unhook the hosereel and turn off the water!

Monday, 10 November 2008

New Beginnings and an Old Nemesis

My lovely wife starts a new job today. I can't tell you where she's working, except to say that the wage will come in handy as Every Little Helps!

Suffering as she does from anxiety, this morning was naturally frought with panic and stress. Add into the equation the fact that her taxi didn't turn up and you can imagine the air was as blue as it can get in front of a five year old child!! (Where's the bloomin' taxi? These bleedin' taxi drivers must turn up late on purpose the nasty devils!! - that sort of thing.)

So for a 9am start at a location seven miles away, through rush hour traffic, the taxi tuns up at 8:49!! Obviously my wife's reaction scared the living hell out of the driver and he managed to get her there for 8:58 - I'm very impressed! (With my Wife!)

As for me - well I've had a bad chest and sinus infection for the past three weeks - two courses of antibiotics seem to have finally done the trick BUT having murdered all of the infectious bacteria they have also, in the process, killed off all of the good bacteria lining my gut - this at a time when my specialist has decided to get me off steroids reducing the dose to just 5mg a day - so my old friend Mr Crohn's has decided to step up a gear and lay me low again.

More time off work - just what I (and they) need. Oh the joys of Crohn's!!

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Remembrance Sunday - Verse.

Another reflective poem always bound to bring me to tears (despite its asking me not to!!)
Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.

When you awaken in the mornings hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
of quiet birds in circled flight,
I am the soft stars that shine at night.

Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there, I did not die.
(Author Unknown, but attributed to many)
It really does say it all - we never die,  we live on in  memories.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

How Much Change?

Oh the joy of election night - I stayed up as late as I could but missed the point at which Obama was finally declared the winner - congratulations to him and the American people on a courageous step.

I remember feeling this way in May 1997 when 18 years of Conservative 'rule' were ended by Tony Blair and a revitalised Labour party - apparently whoops of joy were also heard from Princess Diana's rooms within Kensington Palace that night.

A wave of optimism had swept a crestfallen and stagnant country, and Blair's landslide was as inevitable as Obama's victory last night. The hopes of a nation hungry for change rested on his shoulders. For me, Blair offered the hope that he might tackle political corruption at its highest levels, injustice in society and provide more open and honest government.

I am sorry to say that, after eleven years, I am still hopeful that political corruption will be halted and injustice and a more honest government will, one day, be delivered.

I hope President Elect Obama is allowed to live up to the expectations of all those who voted for him yesterday - if he is then change definitely has come to America - and the world will benefit as a result.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

For the Fallen

Putting my own woes into perspective. They are nothing. I am blessed.
They shall grow not old
As we that are left grow old
Age shall not weary them
Nor the years condemn
At the going down of the sun
And in the morning
We will remember them

Laurence Binyon (1869-1943)

To find out more about the work of the Royal British Legion
It's a long time since I last read Binyon's full tribute - so here it is:
For The Fallen

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres,
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England's foam.

But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.

Friday, 31 October 2008


Emily plumped for her usual witches costume for Halloween tonight. Here she is preparing to go out into the cold, wet and windy evening - needless to say she and Mummy didn't venture far and were soon warming themselves with milk and cookies by the fireside, counting their treats!

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Spam Fritters

I'm over the worst of my chest and sinus infection now - all that remains is a really raw chest when I cough. The antibiotics did their trick of killing every bit of bacteria in my system - which for a 'normal' person would be great, but for me killing all of the bacteria in my guts has a really bad effect on my Crohn's symptoms (The antibiotics wipe out all of the good bacteria too!) so I'm frantically trying to replace the good guys with Yakult and Bimuno powder!! So far though things seem to be okay (touch wood!)

There is one scurge of the modern world that can't be knocked out with antibiotics unfortunately - I'm talking about Spam, or more importantly Spammers. What goes through a spammers head when he joins a blogging service like Blogger and then wastes hour after hour writing non-sensical responses that bear no relation to the post he is responding to?

I had one from "John" recently - who on checking his profile seems to have joined Blogger in August 2008 - John had responded to a recent ABC post with a long list of website addresses where I might find items such as Viagra and sex toys - completely useless to me, so naturally I deleted his comment (After printing off the list for a colleague)

So, I have been forced to enable word verification on comments to this blog - apparently this will put off any self respecting spammer. My apologies to all genuine commenters.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Post # 100 = The Last Bloom of Summer

As British Summertime officially ends next week here's the last bloom from our garden which is already looking like it's settled down for the winter.

Autumnal Art

I'm suffering from a severe bout of bronchitis and infected sinusitis at the moment. My face feels like it's going to implode and my chest feels as rough as the proverbial badger's behind so what better way to avoid the disappointment of not being able to go out than to spend the day crafting leaf pictures from all of the autumn leaves currently littering our lawns.
Emily loves to craft! And it passed a good few hours whilst waiting for the painkillers to kick in!

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

ABC Wednesday 'M' is for...

(It might be a dump, but it's my dump!!)
The Town Hall from Centre North East
An unusual view of our Transporter Bridge - one of only two in the UK (The other is in Newport, Wales)
The once mighty Dorman Long Steel Works - whose crowning glory must surely have been the construction of this...
Have you guessed what it is yet?? Click here to reveal all
And here's the plaque to reveal all..
And finally, a little known fact about Middlesbrough Football Club..
The Legendary - Wilf Mannion
Do you see the red circle Middlesbrough Crest in the background? There were two (now replaced with Middlesbrough's new Shield logo) and I helped make them!!
Originally this crest contained the year of the club's rescue by chairman Steve Gibson (1986). I was responsible (in a previous employment) for cutting and laying out the enormous crests (about 3metres in diameter) prior to them being sent for spraying - I excluded the 1-9-8 and 6 from the process as rumour had it that Steve Gibson was trying to get the club to look forward rather than back and wanted the year of Middlesbrough's bankruptcy removed. I still have the unpainted aluminium numerals - God knows why!!
Oh, and one other thing - the famous Wembley Arch - constructed by local firm Cleveland Bridge - has hundred's of Middlesbrough FC items stuffed in its girders and tubing - scarves, gloves, footie tops, programs etc - the workers' way of saying that Middlesbrough will always be at the heart of Wembley!!
(And probably the only way Middlesbrough will ever get back to Wembley!!)
For more magical M's visit the ABC Wednesday Blog

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Happy Girthday to Me!!

Yesterday was my 43rd birthday and, as my Crohn's seems to have been settled for a few weeks, the lovely Lesley decided it was time for a treat. My favourite! Chocolate Cake with all the buttercream and chocolate flakes you could wish for. Just a small one ("enough to serve 8" the box said - though these must surely have been tested on very small people with even smaller appetites, or perhaps eight people who didn't much care for scrummy chocolate cake!) Needless to say I dived straight in immediately after Lesley took the following picture........
Obviously nothing to do with overeating and more to do with steroids, but me thinks it's time I lost a bit of weight!!! (I never, EVER thought I'd hear myself saying that!) Fitness regime begins....
............just as soon as the rest of the cake is consumed!
Happy Birthday to me....happy birthday to me....

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

ABC Wednesday 'L' is for...

After a bit of a break I'm very pleased to be back with some considerable measure of....
Love. Pure and simple love.
(Something I've been missing of late.)
For more ABC posts on the letter J please visit The ABC Blog.

Sunday, 5 October 2008


My apologies to anyone viewing the last three or four posts, and my thanks for the replies.

Pure self indulgent self pity I'm afraid - but it needed to be said and I feel better for having said it. I countered every one of the 'down' points with a positive one last night and realised just how lucky I am. Now all I have to do is get this positivity across to Lesley - that should be no mean feat!!

I can see now how very easy it would be for me to slip into a state of total despair and depression. Dwelling on the down points of my life for the past few weeks has been very easy. Finding the good took a lot longer - I really had to search hard for them, but they are there and although I have to say the good 'list' is much shorter than the down 'list' it's quality, rather than quantity that counts in these things.

Thanks again for your words of support - they did make me reassess things.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Is it any wonder...

Lesley and I sat down for a long chat last night about our current situation.

We married in 1993 and spent the first ten years working (both of us) to sustain a lifestyle that we wanted (at the time) and we became completely dependant upon each other emotionally, spiritually and financially. We never saved. We lived for the day and enjoyed a relatively comfortable lifestyle. We couldn't invest in a house on a newer estate as Lesley, who doesn't drive, needed to be close to her mother, so we bought the house we're living in now in 1997. Since then the area has become depressingly 'depressed'. We've never taken a holiday abroad, or anywhere else for that matter, in all our married life. Not because we couldn't afford to, it was just our choice to spend our time 'doing up' the house with the odd trip into the local countryside thrown in for variety.

When our Daughter arrived five years ago it seemed that the jigsaw was complete. But Lesley started showing signs of anxiety within hours of the birth. This escalated, untreated, to the situation described here. It became so bad that in the end Lesley could not return to work - she tried hard to do so, but the anxiety would win, or circumstance would. I became the sole bread-winner - luckily my job paid enough for us to do this - and Lesley stayed at home, something she did not adapt well to. Family situation is not good - I have no-one and Lesley only has her aged mother to help with childcare. We have no friends locally. So, from day one, it was down to us to do everything for our girl. Lesley didn't want to put her in a nursery - I disagreed. I thought it would help Lesley get to know people (other mums) and also give Emily the early care and social interraction she would need later, it would also give Lesley a break from home. We went, once, to a local mother and baby playgroup and were apalled at the state of the place and it's occupants. So snobbery won the day and we never took her back. The same happened when Emily began school. It was filthy, some mothers would drop their children off in their pyjama's (the mothers not the children) I've even witnessed one young mother (in pyjama's and an overcoat) smoking and coughing up phlegm onto the infant's playground - the area where my daughter would be expected to play later. I witnessed this from the car, so couldn't get to her to say anything, had I been there I would have done so - and probably got a mouthful of abuse - but some things have to be said. Emily too reacted badly to the environment. She became withdrawn and seemed to get illness after illness. She was not happy, and so we took her out of school to home educate.

And so we found ourselves, late last night, discussing where it had all gone wrong.

We're getting into a mindset of misery. We hate where we live but cannot move. Lesley misses a working life but cannot get a job. We all reacted badly to Emily's school and we can't find one that we feel would suit her sensitive nature. The credit crunch has had its effects too, where once my wage provided a comfortable living, we now find ourselves cutting back and back. With no family or friends in the area we are the sole providers of care for Emily - we also try our best, but realise our limitations, as far as her education is concerned.

With no 'us-time' or 'me-time' our relationship has suffered immensely and we find ourselves rowing more and more about petty little things. We want Emily to go back to school - but a decent, clean school where parents and teachers alike care for the children - we've looked but can't find one (perhaps we're too picky or snobby for our own good - or perhaps we just expect basic standards of hygiene and care which none of the schools local to us seem to offer.) We want Lesley to get a job, even for a few hours a week, just to get her out of the house and interracting with adults rather than focusing on a child. We want some 'us-time' back, where we can go out to a movie or for a meal once in a while.

So, is it any wonder we find ourselves in this rut of depression?

Well, yes frankly. Our lives have been enriched by Emily. We should be relishing this time surely?

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Blogged Out

It might be a useful tool to impart news and evidence our daily activities, but blogging can also turn into a realisation of just how empty your life is. Such has been the case with me over the past two weeks or so.
By 'empty' I certainly mean the exact opposite. By 'empty' I mean entirely crammed with completely and utterly mundane, every-day tasks - not worthy of a mention here. Things like - getting up, feeding self, feeding cat, feeding daughter, feeding wife, getting ready for work, going to meeting after meeting, writing up endless case notes, making endless referrals to external agencies, completing endless applications for funding, reading and reviewing other people's business plans and ideas (and thinking "Why didn't I think of that?") coming home, feeding self, daughter, wife, bathing, watching "Road Wars" or "Booze Britain", retiring. See? Not worthy of a mention here? Utterly mundane and every-day stuff which, for the past two weeks, has formed the bulk of my life.
I could always fall back on the weather - which for some reason has decided to revert back to 'spring-like' despite being almost October - but I did that all through the Summer-that-never-was. I'm sure you must be as bored with weather as I am. I could write about my other hobbies and interests, the bike project, gardening, swimming, writing. Or I could write about the more personal, emotional stuff - my wife's illness, my illness, but when you live with it all day sometimes it's nice to get a break away from it all, rather than sitting and writing about it. Dwelling on it.
So, what I'm saying, in my usual and very round-about way, is that I've been so busy lately, doing absolutely nothing worthy of note, that I haven't had chance to blog, though I've made the occasional visit.
Fear not, fine blogging friends - for I shall return! I just need to do something interesting enough to write about!

Monday, 15 September 2008


I tend to be growing more and more impatient.  I don't know if it's an age thing, or if it's down to the medication I'm on for Crohn's. (It certainly WAS the medication when I first started to take it - the steroids made me aggressive and short tempered.)

I don't mean impatient with my wife's condition or my own - though these must surely be contributory factors - I mean an overall and very general impatience with everyday life.

Take automated telephone systems for example - I was always the one who had the patience of Job with these things - now I listen to the first message and if it doesn't have the phrase "Or to speak to an operator press the hash key." I hang up. A few years back I'd have gone for the option most closely associated with my query and then found myself lost in a telecommunications nightmare maze - but I'd have navigated my way out of it.  My doctor's surgery has recently decided that all calls into it have to be greeted by such an automated system -  with the only option being to speak to one of the receptionists!! I mean what is the point?? So now when I call the doctors for an appointment I'm greeted by a recorded message which must've been made by a drunk or heavily sedated receptionist who says:

"T h a n k   y o u  f o r  c a l l i n g   C*******  H e a l t h   C e n t r e. I ' m  s o r r y  b u t  a l l  o f 
t h e  r e c e p t i o n i s t s  a r e  b u s y.(No, they're not)  I f  y o u  w o u l d  l i k e  t o  h o l d, 
o n e  o f  t h e  r e c e p t i o n i s t s  w i l l  b e  w i t h  y o u  s h o r t l y.  I f  y o u  a r e 
c a l l i n g  b e t w e e n  6 p m   a n d  8 a m  p l e a s e  c a l l  t h e  o u t  o f  h o u r s  
s e r v i c e  o n ***********,  o r  i f  y o u r  c a l l  i s  m o r e  u r g e n t  d i a l  t h e 
e m e r g e n c y  o u t  o f  h o u r s  s e r v i c e  o n *********. I f  y o u  a r e  c a l l i n g 
b e t w e e n  8 a m  a n d  8.30 a m  a n d  y o u  r e q u i r e  a  h o m e  v i s i t  p l e a s e 
c a l l ********. O r,  i f  y o u r  c a l l  i s  u r g e n t  c a l l  t h e  e m e r g e n c y  o u t  o f 
h o u r s  s e r v i c e on ***********. I f  y o u  w o u l d  l i k e  t o  s p e a k  t o  a 
r e c e p t i o n i s t  p l e a s e  h o l d." 

At which point you are promptly cut off if you have called at 8.29 and 59 seconds, so you have to redial quickly in order to get an appointment and then you have to listen to it all again, so that by the time you get to speak to an operator at 8.53am all of the appointments have been taken.

Is it just me? Am I simply an impatient, grumpy old man (at 42) or has the world gone mad?

Saturday, 13 September 2008


My apologies for not posting over the past few days. A busy schedule at work, and an even busier one at home, has left little time for anything else. Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible!

I just want to say thank you to all who commented on my most recent post - your comments and offers of support are much appreciated. As for Lesley, well the busy schedule at work meant a few trips out for her this week - she accompanied me on a number of my client visits. Wednesday was a bad day as I had some training to attend in County Durham. I had to be there for 8.30 so it was an early set off and Lesley wasn't able to come along. She was really bad - panicky, tearful, and completely stressed about me driving the 28 miles to the training centre. My handsfree kit served me well that day, though compared to other trips Lesley did really well - only calling me four or five times to check on my progress during the 25 minute drive. Once I was there she could relax until lunchtime when I had to drive back. Only four calls on the way home too, so not such a bad day for me - Lesley put herself through the mill a couple of times though.

Thursday would've seen a repeat of the journey but luckily my gastro appointment overran and I didn't have to go.

Still no sign of the NHS Counsellor - she was referred in May. The longer this goes untreated the more I worry about the physical effects it's having on her - her nerves must be shot to pieces, she is losing weight, and that much adrenalin pumping round her system day in day out means she's always in 'fight-or-flight' mode, never able to relax, even at night she's up two or three times pacing the floor or having a panic attack. I feel so helpless most of the time.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Depression and Anxiety.

My wife suffers from anxiety. Deep seated, long term anxiety, mixed with severe depression (probably associated with untreated post natal depression.)

The anxiety stems from a separation issue - she fears loss following the death of her father whilst he was working abroad and when she was just eleven years old - the fear of loss is fixated on me which makes life very difficult for both of us. For example - I have to work. I meet business owners on a day to day basis and often have to travel (drive) to their premises for these meetings. When Lesley knows I have a drive ahead of me she will do one of a number of things: 1)She will try to get me to rearrange the meeting. 2) She will ask me to feign illness. 3) She will feign illness herself. 4) She will decide to come with me to the meeting. Usually point number 4) above will win - despite my protestations - and she will sit in the car outside of my client's premises for as long as the meeting takes, or she will walk around the town I'm visiting until I collect her after my meeting. On the odd occasion where it is impossible for Lesley to come along, I will receive between ten and fifteen phone calls during a twenty minute journey. Sometimes in rural areas the phone signal isn't as strong and Lesley can't get through - she has been known to call my client, prior to my arrival, to ask if I've arrived or to get me to call her when I get there.

Lesley fears that I will die if she lets me go alone - this is heightened by the fact that we, as a family, are in exactly the same position as her family all those years ago. Mother, Father, one daughter - father goes out to work one day and returns in a box. She fears that history is about to repeat itself. The argument of "Well if you come with me and we both die in a crash, Emily will be an orphan!" holds no weight whatsoever. That scenario doesn't repeat her earlier life experience and so, in her mind, is unlikely to happen. Whereas she knows that the original scenario can happen - because it happened to her thirty years ago.

Her fears also extend to the weekends. She likes to go shopping in town with her Mother whilst I stay at home and look after Emily. Stay at home being the operative phrase. If I decide to take Emily to the park or any other venue all hell breaks loose. I have, in the past, ignored Lesley's pleas of "You will stay in, where it's safe, won't you?!" and taken Emily to the park anyway, for Emily's sake. I always take my phone and call Lesley to let her know - but it doesn't help her fears - it simply fuels them and in an hour long trip to the park she will call me four or five times to ask if I'm back home yet.

This illness puts an enormous strain on our relationship as you can imagine. It also affects Emily who picks up on the atmosphere and anxieties and tends to mirror certain fears.

Lesley has seen numerous doctors and been prescribed numerous courses of tablets - which she never takes because she also fears that she will be affected by the list of side effects on the infosheet. She was referred to the GP's Counselling service by her GP in May and is still waiting for her first appointment - she has been told recently that it may be as late as next year before she is seen.

I will write more on this subject in due course, and have been meaning to do so for some time, but for now I wanted to get the bare bones of the condition down on 'paper' for my own sake rather than as an interesting read for visitors.

Friday, 5 September 2008

In Summary - This Sums up Summer!

Even the cat doesn't want to venture outside!
For more Skywatchers visit the Skywatch Blog

Pure, Unadulterated GREED! - The Proof.

Further to my recent post (Pure, unadulterated GREED! 23rd Aug) The article below is proof that the energy companies are in it for the profits for their shareholders.

On the pretence that recent hikes in energy bills are "to remain competitive in a difficult market, whilst worldwide fuel costs are rising and to sustain investment in energy supply links and infrastructure." the following release kind of blows that theory out of the water:

"Research commissioned by the Local Government Association (LGA) revealed that altogether the six biggest (energy) companies paid £1.635 billion in dividends last year - a 19% increase on the 2006 total of £1.378 billion.

LGA acting chairman Sir Jeremy Beecham said the figures demolished claims by the companies that they needed to protect their profits in order to invest in new forms of energy for the future.

"This research torpedoes the energy companies' justification for their profits," he said.

You can read the full article here -
MSN - News/Energy

It almost makes you want to dig out your placard from the 1970's/80's and start a protest march. I would, if only the British Apathy Party hadn't taken over.

So I, like the rest of the ripped off consumers of the UK, will just sit back and watch in the hope that someone else starts a protest I can sign up to (perhaps online - so as I don't have to leave the house!)

Well? What are you waiting for? (Yes, but I'm waiting for YOU!)

Monday, 1 September 2008

A Pinch and a Punch...

...for the first of the Month!

Welcome to September - let's hope it's a bit brighter than August was (in terms of the weather!)

And speaking of pinches, we're all feeling the pinch at the moment through rising fuel, household and food prices so I thought I'd let you in on a new discovery - Love Food Hate Waste (click on the link) is a site dedicated to reducing the amount of food we waste. It provides hints and tips for saving money, recipe and menu planners, it even suggests weekly menus and provides a shopping list specific to each menu.

Check out the site when you get chance - you might eat better AND save some dosh along the way!!

Happy hunting!

Sunday, 31 August 2008


Diana Princess of Wales
1961 - 1997
For all that has been written about her I still think she deserves to be remembered for the good she did and the way she gave the Royal Family a human face for the first time in decades - albeit far too briefly.

Saturday, 30 August 2008

Saturday Snaps

Just faffing with my camera in the garden - after posting about how foul the weather's been recently we had a nice warm day yesterday. Perhaps I should moan about it more often...!

Friday, 29 August 2008

Help Needed.

Can anyone identify this plant? We were given a cutting when we moved into our house eleven years ago. It flowers mid-to-late August and is obviously hardy perrennial.

The lady who gave it to us said that she had got a cutting from a friend in Canada - so do any of you Canadian Bloggers know what it's called?  We've never seen it anywhere else on our travels in the UK.
Any suggestions, names, natural habitat etc. greatly appreciated.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Beauty in the Beast

This is Pepper. Affectionately known as 'Pepper-lou' (don't ask why!)

She could charm the birds off the trees, and frequently does!
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So Endeth The Month

Firstly my apologies for not being around in Skywatch Friday for a couple of weeks - I've been trying to avoid looking skyward all month!! Here is the reason:

August. Ever since I can remember August has generated some of the hottest days of the summer months in Britain. It is the month for record temperatures and blazing, burning sunshine. The month when rainfall stops and the daily task of watering the flowerbeds and lawns begins. The month when most factories have two-week closedowns to allow workers to enjoy the best part of the summer. The month when water companies start to highlight the need to conserve water by threatening hose-pipe bans.

August, a hot, dry month. Ever since I can remember.

Not anymore. This August has been the wettest, most miserable month of the year so far. We haven't come anywhere near our average hours of sunshine figure - in fact I can remember only three occasions where the (weak) sun has shone for more than an hour.

August has lived up to it's reputation as being the month for records - not only by being the month in which Team GB did so well at the Olympics, but also by being the wettest August since records began!! Oh, how I love the British weather. Happy(?) Skywatching.

To join in with Skywatch Friday visit The Skywatch Blog and sign in on Mister Linky.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

ABC Wednesday - F is for...


Fluffy and Fearsome.

It being the school holidays, and the weather being so foul we have struggled to find suitable places to take Emily. She is of an age where discovery is everything and counts a lot towards education and personal development. She seems to have an endless capacity for soaking up facts - if the weather's bad (which it seems to have been constantly) these facts will be absorbed from indoor activities or the television - I have caught her using advertising slogans in the past, she'll come out with "Every little helps!" (Tesco) or start singing "Let it shine!" (Morrisons.)

So, in order to cram her brain with as much non-TV knowledge as possible we try to take her out to places of interest. One such place is Kirkleatham Owl Centre near Redcar. Emily loved it. (I'll keep my thoughts about it to a later post.)

The centre houses all manner of birds in addition to owls - as you can see from the first picture Vultures are there too as well as a pair of Ravens who absolutely refused to stand still long enough for me to photo them (they knew what I was up to and danced around, singing and 'laughing!!' - at me?)

Emily had a great time and came away with a fluffy feathered friend of her own (to add to the four million fluffy friends at home!!) So the day was a success for her and she learnt a lot. Afterwards we paid a visit to the Kirkleatham Hall Museum - subject of a future post.
For more fantastic 'F's' visit the ABC Wednesday Blog and sign in on Mr Linky or to view an anthology of all of the posts visit The ABC Wednesday Anthology.