not really spring yet!

The forsythia brought in on New Year’s day is now fully open, and cheering the place up a bit.


Much needed – I’ve had a really shitty time since getting home on 30th December: a cold, which has settled on my chest and in my sinuses. The result is almost no voice, blurred vision, headaches, and frequent dizzy spells. I had something similar a couple of years ago, which took around six weeks to shake off, and I’m desperately hoping that this resolves itself before then!

I’m due to go to London at the weekend, for a “wake” to celebrate the existence (and impending closure) of OUT – a gay social networking site I’ve been a member of since March 2005. I’ve met a number of good friends – known mainly on line with only the occasional meeting in person – through the site, and enjoyed a lot of stimulating debate on the forums there. I’ll be deeply sorry to see it go, though there’s promise of “an app” called Gmeet, to operate in a similar social space, for which I’ve contributed to the crowdfunder. Launch date is uncertain … possibly March?


I got back from Christmas at my Mum’s at lunchtime on Sunday 29th December with a mild sniffle. On the Monday, I was losing my voice and had a splitting headache. By the Tuesday, New Year’s Eve, it was clear I had a fierce cold, which was settling in my sinuses, and my vision had gone very blurry.

For (as far as I remember) the first time since 1961 I didn’t stay up to see the New Year in!

Still very unwell, and I’ve only bothered to get up and dressed to put the bin out  last night for emptying, and today to bring it in again. Tomorrow will have to see an expedition of 200 yards to the Co-Op, as I’m nearly out of blackcurrant lemsip and honey to put in it.

matters medical

I’m not sure that my GP surgery knows its arse from its elbow at the moment!

I had a DXA scan on Tuesday of last week (12th). The day after, the surgery rang me to arrange a phone consultation for Weds 20th (yesterday) between 0800 and 1000h, which I got up early for as I’m not coherent before the first mug of coffee of the day.

So, GP rang yesterday as arranged, says I have some bone density loss (osteopenia, not osteoporosis), not to worry, see NHS website for advice and I’ve been flagged for a re-scan in 3 three years. A bit casual, but there it goes.

Then this afternoon I get another call from the surgery. The GP wants to see me, about the results of the scan. I said we’d already had a phone consultation about it, but apparently things have changed! So now I’m booked in for an appointment on 4th December …

Oh well, I’m off to the “patients’ participation group” meeting there tomorrow (my first one), to give feedback from the patient perspective …

garden bits

Really dodgy wrists and hands – doctor on Monday said “splint and complete rest”, plus new painkillers. Splints arrive tomorrow (I hope), so lots of garden chores done today so that a complete rest for a couple of weeks will be possible!

Pond pump jammed solid this morning, for the 5th time this year. As usual, it was a horde of baby water snails that had got through the filter … maybe they squeeze in as eggs, as I can’t see how else they’d get in. Lovely damselflies flitting about me as I wrestled with the pump – this one’s on a mimulus leaf.

Then the pruning of the ceanothus. Over 60% (by bulk) of it cut off, now it’s finished flowering, and height down from 7 foot to about 5 foot. It’s allowed the acanthus (“Bear’s Breeches”) to show up, anyway: they’d been screened by ceanothus boughs (pruned ceanothus on the right).

The lawn – unmown for nearly a month due to dampness – is a decorative mix of red clover and daisies.

The very first sweet pea flowers are open, with a glorious scent. I very much like this colour, as well, so I’ll try to save seeds from this to see if it comes true.

health scare

Ironically, having attended a Healthwatch Worcestershire focus group last night, I experienced A&E at first hand today.

Stabbing pains in the left-hand side of my chest started just before 11. I took a couple of doses of GTN spray, but things only moderated slightly, so I rang NHS 111. After talking me through their script, they called an ambulance. The paramedics arrived, did an ECG (which they said was fairly normal) and suchlike, but decided I’d better go to A&E anyway. No blue lights, however!

A&E at Worcester Royal has marginally improved since my last trip there about three years ago. Patients are still stacked on trolleys in the corridor, but there’s now an official ambulance reception office with a counter on to the corridor, and a couple of curtained off areas  to examine patients in!

Fortunately, it turned out merely to be a rather atypical angina attack, and not the heart attack at first suspected. But a bit scary to start with, and then very tedious lying on a trolley for the best part of seven hours. However, I was fed jelly and ice cream at half past four (preceded by a cheese sandwich), before being discharged around six.

A cab home of course – no way could I face waiting for the bus, changing at Lowesmoor, and waiting for another bus (and #35’s get very scare after  6pm). I rang Mum just after nine, as I’d been due at Green Mount tomorrow, but have been advised to take it easy for a couple of days. Difficult not to worry her, but I’ve briefed Sim so hopefully he can be a calming influence if necessary. Visit to GM now due for Saturday.

part of the ECG trace
part of the ECG trace

dental stuff


The family curse of rotten teeth! £90 to the dentist a couple of weeks ago, £190 today, with a further £500-ish next Tuesday, and a further sum tbc next Thursday. Plus a couple of days of living on soup, while my top partial denture is sent away to have stuff added to it to compensate for the teeth (and therefore bridge) being extracted.

Hopefuly, back in working order for Christmas.


Having been at my Mum’s for a couple of days really brings home to me just how much difference the very small changes and adaptations I’ve done at my own home do actually make!

An adjustable chair to support my back. Eye-level grill. Fridge in top half of fridge/freezer, not bottom. Dryer for when carrying/pegging out wet washing to line dry is a bit much. Heavy furniture in arms reach to grab if I go a bit wobbly, so I don’t need a walking-stick indoors. vegetable waste on worktop not at floor level. And so on … All small things which turn out to add up to a really important difference.

Currently lying flat on my back on the bed, waiting for strong painkillers to take effect. At the moment, it feels as though I’m lying on a sack full of hamsters! Lots of muscles twitching and moving, which don’t seem part of me … Meds usually sort it out in an hour or so.

New Year Resolution

New Year resolution …

I don’t usually make one! But I’ve decided that instead of “vaguely trying” to cut down on added sugar, I’m going to set sensible targets. I’m heartened by last year successfully having cut down from 2 heaped teaspoons of sugar in tea/coffee to 1 level one.

I have just opened a new 2kg bag of sugar. The plan is to make this last until spring Solstice, for all my sugar use. That works out around 30g, 6 teaspoons, a day … roughly in line with current health recommendations. I generally cook from raw ingredients, and buy very few pies, biscuits etc, but will have to change to exclusively home baking.

I’ve always avoided artificial sweeteners, and that won’t change. Besides, there’s some evidence that they can trigger some of the same metabolic effects as sugar does, so the health benefits of using them look questionable.

bag of sugar

ugh !

The grey fog of seasonal depression swirled in on Wednesday, leaving me tearful and unable to cope with normal domestic stuff like cooking or cleaning. It’s still there (and will be, in the main, until after Christmas at least), and the aching damp has got into my bones, but today has been one of the rather better days.

The wood-burner is lit, for the first time this autumn, and through the window I can see that at the bottom of the garden there are raspberries ready to be picked for supper.

visitors, etc

A really good few days when my niece Phoebe and her fiancé Jake were staying. We drove over to my Mum’s yesterday: a route taking us past Pershore and the Vale of Evesham: the heart of plum country. I couldn’t resist buying a basket: three kilner jars done, and plenty left to make stewed plums.

But this afternoon has turned really damp and thundery. My back is not liking it: I’m effectively immobile, waiting impatiently for the time to come when I’m allowed another dose of painkillers. Things always get *really* shitty when the weather takes an abrupt change for the worse, though it settles down in longer spells of nasty weather.