Thursday, June 28, 2007

So we have a new Prime Minister. It will be interesting seeing the approach of a dour Scotsman as compared with the more populist approach we’ve had for the last 10 years or so. And hopefully we’ll have some more news now. There has been very little going on since Blair said that he would be going, it was as if everything was in suspended animation. TV news programmes have been short of real news for quite a while.

Off to Cambridge shortly. Apparently after the graduation ceremony there will be an English Garden Party. I’m glad to hear that Pembroke College has arranged for a marquee, so we will have somewhere to hide if any rains come a day or two earlier than predicted. And then we are off to a restaurant for a meal: the Stepson, the Husband, his ex-wife (after a bitter divorce) and myself. This will be interesting.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

How do you comment about the weather? Especially like a day like yesterday that saw flooding and disruption and even death to a few. I think we all knew that the rain we've had this June was exceptional, and we didn't really need the pundits to tell us that this is the wettest June since records begun - we could see that. But even so we weren't expecting what came last night. My heart goes out to all those thousands and thousand of households and businesses flooded so badly, to the cities towns and villages so badly disrupted and to the families suffering bereavement. Brace yourself, everyone. The experts say that by the weekend there will be much more rain.

Fortunately where we live we haven't been affected by the floods.... I hesitate over whether to say "yet" as there has been bad flooding to the North of East Anglia and that isn't too far away and it wouldn't take much for it to travel our way. As it is we've just been stuck indoors for days with wave after wave of rain. The Husband is totally stir crazy and getting quite grumpy as it has been too wet for him to do his daily 20 mile walk. So he went and spent a lot of money on a proper waterproof walking trosers and jacket. I suspect he won't let the weather defeat him in future. He can be quite single-minded that way.

Despite the weather I haven't spent much time on the computer - reading what is on the screen isn't very easy for me at the moment. I tried buying an over-the-counter pair of reading glasses and using them I can now read books and the newspaper with my right eye (but not, of course, my left). But I can't read the computer screen with the reading glasses though. Still I went back to St Thomas' Hospital on Friday and saw the consultant who is happy with the state of my right eye, it's healing nicely. For a couple of days before my visit to the hospital I rehearsed in my mind things to say say to try to pursuade them to get my left eye done too, preferably without being on a waiting list for another 4 months. However, when I saw the nurse at the start of my appointment she tested my vision in both eyes and said something like "your vision in each eye is now so different you must find things very difficult. Have you though of having your other eye done?" To cut a long story short I am now down to have cataract surgery on my left eye on 9th August. I'd have preferred sooner but at least it's not later. Hopefully I won't be as nervous next time.

We have been doing various things recently. The day after the op on my right eye it was the wedding of the Husband's niece down at Whitstable. The bride was a picture as was her mother. In fact everyone looked marvellous and it was good to meet up with members of the family again (why is it that families only meet up for weddings and funerals?).

Last Thursday the Husband and I drove down to Whitstable to see his mother as it was her 80th birthday. She didn't know we were coming and so it was a complete surprise to her when we walked in the door. She burst into tears, hopefully of joy. We went into town for a meal and then went back to their flat and just chatted for hours.

I'm just about talking to the Husband again. Last week, while watching UKTVFood channel I came across a wonderful soup recipe by Claire MacDonald that I decided to try. And so on Sunday I had a go. When it was finished I tasted it for seasoning and thought the mixture of sweet potatoes, ginger, limes and nutmeg delicious. So I put the stockpot in cold water in the sink to cool the soup down before putting it in the fridge. I was careful to make sure that the tap was no where near the stockpot. About 30 minutes later the Husband went out to the kitchen, fiddled about a bit and then came back to inform me that he had ruined the soup. Somehow, and I don't know how he managed to do it, he had poured a lot of cold water from the tap into the soup. We managed to ladle out some of the water and then we heated it up to try to condense the mixture somewhat. The soup still tastes nice, but not as good as before. I shall try it again - next time when he isn't around. The recipe, incidentally, can be found here and is well worth trying - just be aware that there's a printing error in it and it should mention limes, not lemons, that was clear from the actual programme.

We've got a few things coming up later this week. Thursday is the Stepson's graduation ceremony at Cambridge. Yes, he has his degree - a First. And although the usual allocation is two tickets per graduate he managed to get a third ticket, so I can go as well as his mother and father. I am really pleased about this as I am so glad that he is in the right place and enjoying his life now. After the graduation ceremony we shall all have lunch together - the Stepson, The Husband, his ex-wife and myself. That will be interesting. Afterwards we have to lug all ther Stepson's stuff home - he has said that it's a good thing there will be two cars to take everything of his back.

And on Friday the three of us are off to London for a concert which is part of the City of London festival. The concert is actually in Stationers' Hall and as the Husband went to Stationer's School as a youth he really wants to return to his old stamping gropund for a couple of ours. The concert is by the Schubert Ensemble and is pieces by Elgar and Saint-Saens (sorry, don't know how to add the accent to his name). I once went to Stationers' Hall for an event when I was at work and remember it as incredibly decorated and over-the-top. I am looking forward to seeing it again.

Monday, June 18, 2007

A National Shortage

I'm not finding it at all easy to read at the moment but I do attempt to read The Times, the daily paper that is delivered to our house each morning. I am tending to skim over much of the paper at the moment, especially those subjects that are discussed fully on the tv news but sometimes items are included in the paper that I just have to read in full. This was true on Saturday when I discovered the dramatic news that the UK is currently suffering a national shortage.... of ukuleles!

The full article can be found here but here is part of the article:

Music shops are reporting a national shortage of ukuleles after being caught out by a surprise British love affair with the Hawaiian instrument.
The four-stringed, instrument, beloved of George Formby and George Harrison, has become so popular in recent months that Chinese manufacturers cannot keep up with demand.
A ship of ukuleles is currently on its way to Britain from Shanghai, Britain’s main importer told The Times, but shops from London to Sheffield are warning customers not to expect new stock until next month.

However can we wait?

Saturday, June 16, 2007

At 3.45 am, just 10 minutes ago, I was lying in bed, unable to sleep. So I listened and instead of the silence of the night or cars passing or a train in the distance I heard birds. The dawn chorus. In just 7 days it will be MidSummer's Day, the longest day of the year. And in England this means for a few short weks we have just a few hours each night of darkness after the twilight and before the dawn. And the birds sing. Many have come to England in the Spring after spending the Winter in foreign parts, like South Africa. They will stay until the Autumn when they will go again, to return next year.

Just another element of life and Nature that brings hope. Especially in the middle of the night when one can't sleep and your thoughts dwell on disasters that will probably never happen.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

It always astounds me that the hardy geranium in the front garden does so well. I've said before that the front garden is incredibly dry and open to the elements. Well, this geranium is actually up against the front wall of the house - and the experts always say that you should never plant anything directly against a wall as it will be too dry. But other than a couple of handfuls of pelletted chicken manure in the Spring, if I remember,
and the odd watering can of water when it's been very very dry for quite a while I totally neglect the plants. And you can see how well they are doing.

Monday, June 11, 2007

At least the last few days are over. I have to admit that I was scared by the mere idea of eye surgery, especially under local anaesthetic only and dreaded the way that the 7th June seemed to approach with such rapidity. Well, it finally arrived last Thursday and so I set off to St Thomas’ Hospital, accompanied by the husband (it was made very clear that if patients aren't accompanied by a companion then the operation would not take place). By the time we reached the hospital my fear had gone up enough notches to reach the state of being terrified. But we took the lift to the 8th floor and arrived at the Unit for ophthalmic day cases. I was given several eye drops almost immediately by nurses, before seeing the surgeon who painted a huge arrow on my forehead pointing to my right eye in black felt tip pen. I was glad to see the precautions taken to make sure they operated on the correct eye (although it took about 10 minutes enthusiastic rubbing with surgical spirit the next day to remove the marks). Then they took me to the operating theatre. Lots of strange noises, having my eye kept open but unable to see anything but vague colours, hearing the surgeon talking to the nurses and a strange warbling noise in the background were not conducive to a relaxing atmosphere. I was never more relieved to hear the surgeon say it was all over. Then they took me straight back to the waiting area and immediately asked if I’d like a sandwich. After the surgeon had finished his list for the day he had a quick look at my eye and told me not to remove the dressing until the next day and to come back and see him in a fortnight.

The next day, Friday, the Husband helped me remove the dressings, tidy up the area and scrub off the felt tip pen marks. I was astounded how well I could see. I have been very short sighted since I was a child and worn glasses all the time since I was about 5 years old, so I was amazed to discover I could see distances without glasses. And the colours are so clear, I had no idea how the cataracts distort the colours you see – I still have a cataract on my left eye and the difference in colours between the two eyes is amazing. What looks like dark cream or even yellow by my lefy eye is clearly white with my right eye. And the garden looks so much brighter in colour. The difference is amazing. There are a couple of downsides in the short term. I now have one very good eye and one very bad eye for distance work which is a bit disconcerting. And I can currently not read with my right eye at all - the only way I can read either papers or the computer is to wear my old glasses with a tissue covering the right lense. But both problems will be resolved with new glasses once I can have them, probably in 4 – 6 weeks. Well, that the story of my cataract surgery. The Husband is emphasising how good my sight would be if I had the left one done too. He’s right, of course, especially given the cataract on that one. But I’ll have to see what the doctors say about that.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

I'ver had a busy day today but stole a few minutes in the garden with my camera. The rock rose and the hardy geranium have both been in flower for a few weeks but this week has been the first time for a while that the weather has been good enough to take pictures. So, here they are.

I'm a bit busy and tied up with things at the moment but will be back as soon as possible.