Spring at last.

What a dreadful few months this has been. Since before Christmas I have been back to fighting those darn demons again, but with spring on the horizon things are starting to look up a bit better once again. Through out these 3 months I just haven’t had it in me to write my blog, despite so much going on in my life.

The news that I was told in October that I would lose my new job, totally gutted, along with several other colleagues, it was a bolt out of the blue, and as the time is drawing ever so close to the finishing date (sometime during the first 2 to 3 weeks of April) it has become more and more difficult to comprehend what is going to happen job wise in the future. Already the job searching has begun, and last Thursday I had a job interview for what I do see as a perfect job and an added bonus it is very close to home. Just one thing, so many people have been interviewed for the position, I won’t know for a few more days yet but I doubt very much if I will get it, but at least I managed to get an interview and tried my best.

However, one thing is certain now in my mind, this current job I am in was not meant to be after all, and may be it’s for the best I am being made redundant. I wonder if anyone remembers the old saying, although we can’t see it at the time, things happen for a reason. I believe in this case it to be completely true. But it has given me several more months of very valid experience and knowledge in another specialized industry.

It was the first Christmas and New Year without my dad, and somehow we got through it, although it was very sad and strange not to see him Christmas morning, and then round the dinner table with my brother, sister-in-law and my nephews. It is also very strange to realize that next month, on my birthday, it will be the first anniversary of dads passing. I can’t believe where this past year has gone, it just does not seem real without him around.

The dark mornings and evenings with the dismal weekends throughout the winter months, travelling too and from work have taken its toll on my physical and mental well-being. In January I ended up with a virus that knocked me off my feet for a few days and then a severe bout of laryngitis in February. On top of all this I found out my diabetes has got worse and I am now on daily medication for this as well as new medication for a couple of other problems associated with the diabetes. Not really the best start to the year.

My daily routine starts when I get up between 5.45 to 6.00 am each morning and get ready for work to start a journey to work that takes about 1.1/2 hrs plus. This includes two bus journeys as well as waiting around time for connecting to the 2nd bus services and then a 15 to 20 mins walk down what has to be one of the dirtiest, and most dangerous roads in Birmingham which is a route to a major freight company in an industrial area. On the good side they say a brisk 20 min walk is good for you every day.  The road and footpaths are littered with rubbish that has been deliberately dumped, including large truck tyres, as well as the rubbish thrown out of the windows of speeding cars. The footpaths are blocked by trailer lorries which one has to walk into the road into oncoming, and sometimes speeding traffic in order to get around these parked vehicles. Normally I would be able to avoid this long walk and take a short cut, but unfortunately there is major bridge repair work going on which means the short cut is cordoned off until further notice. I’m guessing it will re-open the week after I’ve finished this job!

On arriving at work each day for an 8.30 am start I then have to deal with one particular male colleague who has to be the most arrogant, big-headed, loud mouthed and disrespectful person I have ever had the misfortune to meet in my entire working career. This has lowered my mood considerably over the past few months, but now I won’t have to work with him much longer which is a huge sigh of relief.  The rest of the team I work with are a fantastic bunch, and it is down to them that I have managed to survive and get through each day in this job, and the fact I have been able to learn so much about the concrete industry. Then, on finishing work between 5.30 to 6.00 pm I have to repeat the same journey back home, this time through a crowded city centre and finally manage to get home around 7.00 to 7.15 pm. feeling exhausted, but not able to get ready and go to bed because of having to have a light meal in order to have my evening medication and allowing the meal to digest before I can go to bed. If only life was so much more simpler.

This is a very long day with travelling and working in any ones book, and to do it through the winter months and through the dark mornings and nights has taken its toll on my health. Thankfully the past couple of weeks has been a big improvement, lighter in the morning when I leave home and of an evening when I leave work, which has made it more bearable and also a few warm mornings with some bright sunshine and blue skies.

The Saturday mornings I have had to work, which is one in every third Saturday, have usually been the better Saturdays regarding the weather, but because of having to be up at 5.00 am to be in work for 7.00 am by the time I finish around 10.30/11.00 am I am too exhausted to do anything, including going out with my camera. On my free Saturdays the weather has been dismal and so this has kept me indoors.

With all this going on I can understand why so many British love to go to warmer, sunnier climates during our winter months.

The last couple of Saturdays I did finally manage to get out and about with my camera, a trip to my nearest local zoo in Dudley and then last week-end to the Birmingham Nature Centre. Just pushing and willing myself to get out on both those days has helped me to start fighting back those demons. There is something about being around animals that does help to lift ones spirits. It means that with the better weather comes the chance to get out and about more, go on walks which in turn should help the diabetes and my blood pressure. I even have a couple of day trips planned. I also want to find time to relax and do some fishing in the summer months. I always used to find sitting on a river bank watching the fish rising to the surface and splashing, hearing the birds singing and the water rats and voles diving in and out, always made me smile and even gives me inspiration. In all honesty I think they all look forward to the spring as much as we humans do.

I probably say this every year, but I do love spring. It’s a new beginning, a fresh start, a colourful time of year, to see the carpets of  daffodils and crocuses rising from the ground, it warms the heart, and also allows our souls to breathe again. I realise I have a few  busy and uncertain months ahead of me, the stress of job searching, then starting a new job, working with new people, adapting to a different environment all over again, improving my diabetes, but I also intend to give myself some me time whilst out exploring with my camera, this is something I haven’t done properly for a few months.

 

Approaching Spring

Spring soon will be here
Away from the winter’s snow
Drying up every frosty tear
And causing the landscape to glow

But the shine of spring I need right now
I need all the help I can get
To wave goodbye to this past winter
In hopes that I can forget

I’ve lost all my real friends
And almost ever other friendship too
Right now I am just amazed
That I haven’t yet lost you

The approaching spring will hit restart
It’s something that we all need
The approaching spring will fix our hearts
And allow our souls to breathe

by Matt Burgett

 

Many thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

Walking with Alpacas.

Hands up if you have ever walked an animal, other than a domesticated pet such as a dog? What! None of you!

Oh dear, then you’re missing a real treat!

As my readers know I am a bit of an animal and nature lover, and I do love to explore places where there are different animals. All the better if the place I am visiting is somewhere other than a zoo or nature centre.

I love to do something a little different every now and then, and recently decided to try to tick another to do off my bucket list.

One of the most unusual creatures I have read about over more recent years, and only seen in zoos is the Alpaca. This is an animal related to the Camel and Llama family. I have always been fascinated by its lovely characteristics facial features and its temperament.

A couple of years ago I started to read articles and see advertisements about being able to ‘go for walks’ with these beautiful creatures. Earlier this year I came across a website and a particular story about a young lady called Sarah Booth.

In Sarah’s own words….

”I went on an alpaca walk and it turned out to be a life-changing experience…..
I’d just been diagnosed with a serious illness and my partner, Stuart took me on an alpaca walk as a treat to cheer me up. It was amazing, and I decided that I wanted to live and work with alpacas.”

I thought to myself, that sounds just like the sort of day out I would enjoy….an Alpaca walk, and this particular place it was not that very far away from where I live.

With a session booked online for mid morning  Sat 21st Nov, a couple of train and bus journeys planned, I found myself there, looking across this big 6 acre field and farm watching all these beautiful animals grazing and enjoying the November morning sunshine.

Prior to my walk with my chosen Alpaca, I was able to take a little walk around the farm, where there were free range chickens, ducks and turkeys all happily running around in a great big open space. Obviously  this was agreat photo opportunity for me. Camera….free roaming animals, what could be better. Oh, and I must not forget Stella!!

The other visitors arrived between 10.30 to 11.00 am and we all spent a bit of time listening to Sarah explain a bit about Alpacas in general, as well as about her own herd. Then we were all led out in to the yard where a group of male Alpacas were ready to be chosen and taken for a walk around the farms field.

One by one we were introduced to ‘her boys’ as Sarah affectionately called them. We were told their names, and a little bit about their characters and temperaments. If I had the choice I would have loved to have taken each and every one of them for a walk….alas, I was only allowed one. The little guy I chose was Dodge.

I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed the next 40 plus minutes. It was an absolute joy to be able to take this little guy for a walk around the field, along with my other co walkers and their chosen Alpacas. We were also allowed to walk in the next field where all the girls were.

What is also wonderful about this experience is that because these are such gentle creatures, they love to be stroked and they allow you to cuddle them, and their fleeces are so soft and delicate. My whole experience with these animals left me feeling  soothed and relaxed, and wanting to go back there again very soon.

This is an experience that I really do highly recommend to any animal lover, especially if you want to try something different, and especially so to any one who wants to get up close and learn a bit more about these adorable animals.

 

Let me introduce to The Lucky Tails Alpaca Farm

Lucky Tails Alpacas is a small and friendly farm run by Sarah and Stuart. Its situated in the beautiful Warwickshire countryside on the borders of Birmingham, Staffordshire and Leicestershire. It is home to some of the very best alpacas in the country. We have genetics from all around the world including an award-winning stud imported from New Zealand-SILVERSTREAM FORERUNNER OF ANZAC. We invite you to come and see for yourself.

info@luckytailsalpacafarm.co.uk

Dexter lane
Hurley
Atherstone

CV9 2JQ

 

Let me introduce you to some of the Alpacas and other animals on the farm.alpacas-4 alpacas-12 alpacas-36 alpacas-63 alpacas-88 alpacas-102 alpacas-104 alpacas-117 alpacas-177 alpacas-183 alpacas-187 alpacas-195 alpacas-197 alpacas-204 alpacas-206 alpacas-209 alpacas-214 alpacas-220 alpacas-229 alpacas-237 alpacas-255 alpacas-262 alpacas-281

My companion for the walk 'Dodge'. Delightful little fella

My companion for the walk ‘Dodge’. Delightful little fella.

alpacas-315 alpacas-325

 

Some of the other charming little animals on the farm. all left to roam around free…. what a wonderful life they have.

chickens-11 chickens-16 chickens-25

 

Not forgetting Stella……

dog-1

Stella...part of Sarah and Stuarts family.

Stella…part of Sarah and Stuarts family.

ducks-3 goats-6 lucky-tails-alpaca-farm-347

 

 

turkeys-12

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Overall, this was an amazing couple of hours, and is something I do highly recommend doing if you get the opportunity. I do however also recommend wellies and old jeans.

Stella is adorable, as are the little goats they are all very friendly, they do however like a bit of fuss and the chance to leave some muddy footprints on you.

I’m looking forward to my next visit in a couple of months time.

 

Thanks for stopping by

 

 

 

Full circle.

As I have mentioned on several occasions before, I love the spring. In spite of everything that has been going on in my personal life these last few weeks, I have tried to continue to live my life as normal as possible. Despite my recent diagnosis of diabetes, and also the surgery a couple of weeks ago,  I have tried to maintain a healthy walking/exercise regime. Although I haven’t been able to get out at the weekends with my camera, I have managed to maintain my daily routine as best as possible to and from my current job by visiting the nature reserve at the back of where I work and taking a few photos.

At the end of June last year I took up a 12 month temp work contract, at a place that is situated close by  the nature reserve. When I first stepped foot into the reserve I have to admit that at first I thought it didn’t look like much and I thought I was going to be disappointed. But I have to say the place has continued to amaze me week in and week out, throughout last summer, autumn, winter and now the spring and as we are now heading towards summer I have now almost come full circle.

I have watched it grow and develop on a daily basis. At the end of last summer I felt very annoyed when the council gardeners went in and mowed down all the waist deep grass in the meadows, I was no longer able to watch the wrens diving in and out looking for insects, or watch the variety of butterflies chasing each other over the tall grass. I have watched as many of the trees have been cut down and disappearing throughout the autumn months along the pathways and down by the river walk.  The pathway I followed at the side of the river became muddy and icy during the winter months, and the trees bare of all but a few leaves hanging on to their branches. All along the pathway the flowers and plants gave the appearance they had withered and died. I have seen so many different species of birds, some I have heard but not seen. I have continued to hand feed my little robin Buddy……and I have met his little lady. Each time I have gone into the reserve to feed him, he has as usual come to my hand taken some food then briefly flown off with the food before coming back and taking some more from me, he has continued to repeat this on a daily basis. By watching him carefully it has become obvious he has a nest where he is feeding youngsters, and I am hoping very soon he will be showing them off to me. At other times his little lady friend (who I have called Freckles) comes close by to me, but still unable to take food from my hand, so he comes to my hand and flies to her with the food, opening her mouth wide he pops the food in to her. He will do all of this several times before he finally will take some food for himself. To have made a little friend like this because of my love of nature and the trust we share between us has been an absolute joy. People walking the path have stopped to talk to me, hardly believing what they have just witnessed, the sight of a wild bird flying onto my hand and contentedly sitting their eating his food and singing to me. Then of course there are the regulars who stop and chat with me, whilst taking a short cut through the reserve, or taking their dogs for a walk, knowing why I am there each morning before and of an evening after work.

As I have walked through the reserve these past couple of weeks, Yet again I have been amazed at the new life that has sprung up, it has been growing back into its former beauty of last summer when I first started going there. Already the grass in the meadow has grown several inches high.  I have seen butterflies around on the bright warm sunny days we have so far had this month, an abundance of young birds especially great tits, blue tits and blackbirds. The sides of the pathways along the river.  in the space of just a few weeks overgrown with wild garlic, their thick carpet of wide green leaves and stark white flowers.

This place has been a huge part of my life this past 10/11 months, but unfortunately because my job contract is soon due to be come to an end, it looks like I may well have to leave all this behind, but hope that I will have the opportunity in the future to re visit the reserve  when I get the chance.  I am so going to miss my Buddy and his friendship, I only hope I get to see Buddy and Freckles babies before I have to go. In one way its sad to have come the full circle, but in another it has been wonderful to see the circle of life at my favourite nature reserve.

I know that the chances  of ever finding a job like this again that I have enjoyed so immensely and found so  challenging are so remote, and I have so enjoyed working with such a great small, but very friendly team of people and I know also the future chance of  being this close to a place of such natural beauty will all be extremely remote. For the first time in several years I also have regained some lost confidence in myself and my abilities…..just how long that will last I don’t yet know. At my age I know only too well how difficult it will be to get another job, and once again feel secure. I can only wish and hope that the lady whose job I have been covering would have made the decision  not to return to work, but instead to take the opportunity of making the very most of seeing her beautiful twin boys grow up, and like nature has her own way of nurturing, that she too could nurture her boys and see them day after day continue to grow, develop and change. I have heard so many friends in the past say, I wish I hadn’t had to go back to work so soon, I wanted to see my babies grow up a bit more, they are at the age when so many interesting and wonderful changes take place and I missed so many of them changes, I wasn’t there when my baby said mommy or daddy for the first time.

Just like nature there are so many beautiful things to see and hear at certain times.

 

 

It's the Circle of Life
And it moves us all
Through despair and hope
Through faith and love
Till we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the Circle
The Circle of Life












Felt by my heart.

The past month has been really tough. In the space of a little over one week my father had gone from sitting with us at his bungalow merrily chatting away to each other about steam trains, birds & animals, his national service days and family and one of his favourite TV shows. We had even been making plans with my brother and sister-in-law to take him to Weston Super Mare for a day trip in June, and then in September to The Severn Valley to see the Flying Scotsman whilst it was on tour and stationed on display there, something we were all very much looking forward to. We were having our usual conversations that we have on a Sunday morning gathering, or on the phone of an evening, and then suddenly a week later my dad was gone.

Although it has been in my eyes more noticeable about how much frailer my dad had become over the last 6 months I had never thought we would lose him. It just seems that you feel that your parents have always been there for you in the past and I suppose you feel a sense that they will always be there for you for ever.  I can remember when I was a child I always though mom & dad will ALWAYS be here for me, they would never leave. As I got older and began to see the truth and the ‘negative’ side of life and existence I then realised my dream of them being alive and with me  for ever and a day was just so unreal. Life can be so cruel.

Part of my depression which started just a little over 15 years ago was caused by a really bad year prior to my moms death on 29th April 2001. I had been very unwell physically after having to deal with 2 lots of serious surgery, and then depressed for several months before hand, without really realising it, but as they say the straw that broke the camels back was when I had to face my moms death, and then a few weeks later I had to face major life saving and life changing surgery, and for the first time ever my mom was not there for me anymore, at least not in the real physical sense. Fortunately, my dad was there for me and has been there for me ever since.

They say lightning never strikes twice in the same place. Shortly after my mom passed away, I can remember thinking to myself I never want to go through all that again, I hoped and prayed I never would have to. The decision to stop all medication, agree to a DNR and no further intervention was something  my dad, myself, my brother and sister-in-law had to mutually agree to. All moms organs were failing, and to agree to resuscitate her was pointless. We had to agree the same reasoning  for the same nightmare with my dad. I know deep down the horror of all of this will never go away, and having to make that decision again brought back so many bad memories. Despite of all this, over the past couple of weeks it has been good to talk to family, friends and work colleagues about the good times, the good memories and some of the wonderful times we have shared over the years with both my parents.

After Dads funeral service, as we all came out of the church into the area where all the flowers were laid, people came up to us, family members as well as friends of the family, dads club friends, old friends and  neighbours  from many years ago when my brother and I were still kids,  My sister in-laws, sister and her husband  came up to me, we hugged as normal and then Mick said it all in one simple sentence which truly summed up my dad, he said  ”your dad was a really good man, a really great bloke, a proper gentleman”. And I knew how true this was. The same thing has been said by my family members as well as dads bungalow club friends and his neighbours.

Dad has never been a drinker, only on social occasions or the occasional can of stout or bitter at home. He gave up smoking in 1981/82. He never gambled, just the usual couple of quid on the Grand National each year. Over the last 12 or so years he enjoyed his games of bingo, which for him was more a case of having a bit of a social life with his friends and was a way of maintaining his level of independence. When mom passed away, despite the rest of the family being there for him it had left a huge emptiness in his life.  Being part of the ‘bungalow club’ helped him in some ways to rebuild his life without mom.  It  gave him the chance to take some holidays to Weston Super Mare and Weymouth, as well as odd days out for coach trips or meals out with friends from the club. It was his social life outside the family, but first and foremost he was a family man and with that he was a true gentleman.

I have so many wonderful memories of the times spent with my dad. His passion for coarse fishing was passed on to me and my brother. I can still remember the first time I went fishing with dad and the first fish I caught. I don’t know who was more excited,,,,dad or me. Another great passion was his gardening which I have continued to learn from him over the years, and still love doing when I get the chance (although I have to admit the last 16 months have been difficult to maintain it as I have been unable to do the work physically due to recovering from 3 lots of surgery in that time) I only have a small garden area in the yard behind my flat, but have learnt how to get the best from it thanks to my dads knowledge and expertise. There is a certain satisfaction in growing your own runner beans, tomatoes, rhubarb as well as growing several Fuschias from my own cuttings and nurturing 3 or 4 roses.

My knowledge and love of birds, animals, butterflies, fishing, gardening and the countryside have all been down to my dad. Back in the 1970’s and early 1980’s dad rented 2 allotments from the local council. Each weekend and in the school holidays my brother and I used to go there with him a lot. The allotments were adjacent to one of our local parks called Jubilee Park, and each time we went down there we always used to have a game of football or cricket in the field before starting to work on the allotment…just the three of us. Then we would cross over the little brook, and see who could get across without getting their feet wet…..being the smallest and youngest I always lost, but as I got a little older, I also got a little wiser and started  taking  my pair of wellies with me 🙂

I can still see dad now in my mind, at the height of each summer season when it was time to reap the benefits of his hard all year round work, pushing his wheelbarrow from home to the park…empty, and then filling it up with sacks of home-grown potatoes, onions, runner beans, carrots, broad beans, garden peas and beetroot.  Bunches of Sweet Williams and Chrysanthemums for mom as well as containers full of homegrown blackberries and raspberries ready for the pies and jam making.  But there was nothing better than eating a few fresh peas, broad beans or berries straight from the garden. At the bottom of the allotment he dug out a small pond and each year we used to watch the frog spawn waiting for them to become tadpoles, then frogs.

As dad got older, then so his health began to give him problems. Late in the 1980’s due to severe arthritis in his ankles and feet he had to give up first one and then the other allotment. But by then my brother and I were both growing up and those days of kicking a ball around down the park with dad had gone. Dad was now content to grow what he wanted to in the garden and greenhouse at home.

In the late 1980’s and early 90’s I became a Special Constable, and despite mom and dad being very proud of me for becoming one, I was always their little girl and I know how difficult it was for them to see me go out on a late night/early morning shift knowing I was on duty at the pubs & clubs emptying times, where even back then there was always an element of danger involved, and always the fear of being assaulted or hurt on duty. Ever the worrying, caring parents.

It’s always important to hold on to all those good memories, and they have helped me get through these past couple of weeks. I have been happy to share my memories with family and friends. I am so going to miss our little chats, and showing dad my photo’s of my latest find in the nature reserve, his stories of the days in national service, his childhood in Knowle, his grandma who bought him up, but I am so glad he has told me so many stories from his past. My father touched my heart like not other person could, and for that I am truly grateful.

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt by the heart. Helen Keller

 

Being Frank about Frank.

This has been one of the worst weeks of my life ever, and to write this particular post is extremely difficult. Trouble is where do I start!

The family tradition on a Sunday morning for over 25 yrs has been for my brother, sister-in-law and myself to meet up at my dads bungalow and spend a few hours with him chatting, laughing, drinking tea, coffee and just generally catching up on the week’s news and goings on.

Instead of going to the bungalow this Sunday for that tradition we have gone there for the first time without Dad being there today, or ever again.

Just a little over a week ago on the Friday, my father had to be rushed into hospital with severe chest pains. This was a similar episode to what he had experienced just prior to Christmas. Unfortunately, this time the problems were far more severe and far more complicated than any of us could imagine, including the teams of doctors who have been looking after my Dad this past week.

The most difficult thing to comprehend was that even up to a few days before he was admitted to hospital last week, he was still a very proud and very independent man, apart from recently having a cold which had gone to his chest, he was still going out on his mobility scooter, going down his local shops, attending the local club to see his many friends every Monday and so on. My father had experienced severe arthritis in his feet and ankles for many years, suffered a heart problem which caused very low blood pressure, was blind in his one eye due to Macular Degeneration and was starting to lose the sight in his other eye, he had other arthritic joints including in his hands, and over the last 5 to 6 years his hearing was not very good. But despite all this he was determined to remain independent for as long as he possibly could, and refused point-blank to have carers to look after him. For an 84-year-old man he had a lot of health problems and disabilities, but was very determined not to let it beat him.

When he was admitted to the hospital a little over a week ago, it was obvious he was quite poorly, but until 3 or 4 days later we were not sure how poorly. To begin with he had developed ‘borderline pneumonia’ which despite aggressive treatment with high doses of iv antibiotics to try to bring it under control, just didn’t work, it basically turned into full pneumonia, which in a matter of hours developed even more complications. I don’t want to go into all the details, but suffice to say one problem lead to another then another, and by Wednesday morning we received a phone call that required us to attend the hospital out of visiting times due to have having now been moved onto one of the High Dependency Unit (HDU) for Cardiac Care (CCU)

When my brother, sister-in-law and I arrived there we were shocked to see Dad all wired up to tubes, leads and connected to several different monitors and numerous drips. Following a meeting with the HDU team and the consultant we had a clearer picture of what was happening. The news was not good, but despite that they were hopeful that having identified yet another bug in his system, that by bombarding it with more antibiotics in the next 12 or so hours they could deal with the problem and hopefully bring it under control. However, we were also told that if this did not happen then it would be the worse case scenario, due to his main organs now starting to go into failure.

The three of us sat with dad at his bedside all through the afternoon, evening into the night, early hours of the morning hoping and praying for some improvement, some sign that the antibiotics were killing the bugs and sepsis in his now very old and frail body. Throughout all this time the HDU nurse constantly monitored him, took blood gas samples and made sure he was comfortable and never in any pain or distress. The HCA’s kept us going with copious amounts of tea, coffee, water, biscuits and toast. This was not the first time I had found myself in this position, I was there for my Mom, and a few months before that I was there for a very dear friend Pat, but even having been down this road before it does not make it any easier when it happens again.

Just before 8.30 am Thursday morning the doctors did their ward rounds and came and took us aside to tell us that the blood tests throughout the night had shown no sign of improvement, and that his main organs were now in failure and the septicemia had gone past the point of being reversed. They were very sorry but there was nothing more they could do for Dad. It was the words every family never wants to hear.

We had to make the agonizing decision of agreeing to unhook him from the all the monitors and discontinue his medications except sedation and pain relief, all this however was to be held off until we had managed to have a think, then go home get freshened up and be back at the hospital by 11.00 am. Once we were back in the unit the much dreaded process of taking away dads medications and tubes was started. We knew all that was left for us to do was sit with Dad, talk to him and place him in Gods hands. He was very peaceful lying there, and we could see that his pain was well under control. We sat with him throughout the rest of Thursday, into the night and into the early hours of Friday morning. It was just before 6.30 am on Friday the 8th April, the day of my 51st birthday that whilst we were holding his hands, dad slipped peacefully away.

It is still very hard to believe he has left us, but knowing he is now at peace and with Mom is very important to me.

I cannot thank the NHS medical staff of Solihull Hospital Ward 17 and the brilliant team on CCU who did everything that was within their power to try to help save Dads life. They never gave up on him until they knew there was a point of no return, and that there was nothing else they could try to do to save him.

In one way we look at it as being a blessing, had he survived all of these complications of liver, kidney damage along with his other health problems we have come to realise this means he would have lost the one thing that had remained very important to him, his independence.

My Father was very kind, loving, considerate man. He had been a wonderful Father, Husband, Grandfather, Uncle and a friend to many who knew him.

Dad was born Francis Henry Westwood (known as Frank) on 6th November 1931, and in the early 1950s he was conscripted to do National Service. He trained as a Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineer or REME for short, and he was based out  in Egypt during the Suez Canal Zone Crisis. It was not until 2003 that our government finally recognized those in the National Service who were involved in that conflict, and agreed to finally allow them their rightly deserved medals, dad being one of those.

I have some wonderful memories of my Dad. My brother and I have a lot of stories that he has told us over the years. we owe our love of gardening, angling and knowledge of country life to Dad. His passions in life were his family, they always came first, his gardening and fishing.

 

Death Is Nothing At All – Henry Scott Holland

Death is nothing at all.
I have only slipped away to the next room.
I am I and you are you.
Whatever we were to each other,
That, we still are.

Call me by my old familiar name.
Speak to me in the easy way
which you always used.
Put no difference into your tone.
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.

Laugh as we always laughed
at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me. Pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word
that it always was.
Let it be spoken without effect.
Without the trace of a shadow on it.

Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same that it ever was.
There is absolute unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind
because I am out of sight?

I am but waiting for you.
For an interval.
Somewhere. Very near.
Just around the corner.

All is well.

Nothing is past; nothing is lost. One brief moment and all will be as it was before only better, infinitely happier and forever we will all be one together with Christ.

Rest in peace Dad, now reunited with Mom and all the other family members who had gone before you.

FAMILY STUFF (34)

Dad as a very young and handsome man.

FAMILY STUFF (21)

With my brother Alan and me. The days when Dad had wavy black hair

FAMILY STUFF (99)

With Mom.

FAMILY STUFF (122)

A wonderful granddad

Trust in nature…..meet my Buddy!

One of my ambitions for this year was to be able to become more involved  with nature and wildlife.

My readers may recall in my December posting that I wrote about a little Robin redbreast that had become friendly at the local nature reserve close by to where I am currently working. He had decided to come and settle near me to feed each day from a bench seat, and I believed that eventually I could entice him enough to have him feed out of my hand. I had to name him of course, and after a lot of thought because he has become my little buddy….I decided to call him just that ‘Buddy’

Since the beginning of this year with a little gentle encouragement, persuasion, perseverance and patience and building up that trust between us (and of course the correct choice of food) he has done just exactly that. I have to say that I feel very privileged that this little wild bird has grown up enough to trust me and feed directly out of my hand. When I was younger I had heard stories of such things happening with others, but never thought I could achieve the same thing. Making friends with nature this way is truly amazing. People walking past have been amazed and stop to chat with me and asking how I have managed this wonderful friendship with nature.

As I enter the reserve and approach ‘his territory’, I give a few little whistles and within a matter of 15 to 20 seconds he appears there on the one of the branches. Without fail, come wind, rain, snow or sunshine, in the morning before work and after work on my way home, he is there (as am I) I place a small amount of mixture of dried meal worms, suet pellets and seeds in my hand and before I have time to fully extend my arm out he flies onto my hand and pecks at the food. Sometimes he may sit on my hand for a while, other times he flies on grabs some food, flies back on to his branch, gobbles down the morsel of food, looks at me flies back on to my hand and repeats the process several times. Once he has had enough he will fly up to the top of  ‘his’ tree and sing his little heart out.

Seeing this little guy is a wonderful addition to my daily routine even if it is just for 10 or 15 minutes a day. In recent weeks however I noticed he started to act ‘a little differently’. He was taking a little longer than usual to come when I whistled him, I’ve also seen him chase other different birds from his territory if they dare show up. That is except for one other little Robin who has started to appear regularly. By watching  Buddy’s behaviour during the past 5 to 6  weeks my suspicions have been confirmed….Buddy has taken a wife!!

The other little robin appeared several  weeks ago, and I have watched Buddy take food from my hand, fly off to her and feed her. he is very attentive towards her, and is also very protective of her and will keep an eye on any other approaching birds and chase them off. Over the past 3 weeks she has started to come closer towards me, she is obviously very nervous of coming on to my hand yet, but like Buddy, given a little bit of time I’m sure that will change. To encourage her, I have made a small green cup feeder to hang off one of the branches of  Buddy’s favourite trees. Once I put a bit of the feed in there and take a couple of steps backwards, she will fly down to it, perch on the edge and take a few morsels. I’ve watched him grapple with long worms in the soil, and then with the worm in his beak fly down to his partner and give the worm to her. When I see this happen for some reason it  reminds me of the Disney film Lady and the Tramp

The two of them are never very far apart and he will come and perch on my hand to feed whilst she feeds from the cup. I have watched him from a distance perform the typical male mating ritual…. sitting in front of her, his chest all puffed out, fluttering together in mid-air, serenading her with his sweet little voice. Of course, now that spring is upon us, I guess it will be time for them to build their new nest and hopefully may be the chance of starting his own little family. It will be even more important now to feed him over the coming weeks, to ensure he is able to fly food into the nest for his little wife, and then hopefully his babies.

Spring is my favourite time of the year….new life, fresh beginnings.

 

 

Meet Buddy….

BUDDY - KNNR - FEB 2016 (16)

Buddy’s new wife

BUDDY - KNNR - FEB 2016 (69)

My little Buddy

BUDDY - KNNR - FEB 2016 (134)

Serenading his wife

 

 

Many thanks for stopping by. Have a great day.

Things always seem better when spring is coming!

 

February has not been the month I had hoped it to be!

 

So far this month apart from work, I have found myself having numerous doctors and hospital appointments, and with more screening and tests pending in the coming couple of months.

A couple of weeks ago I found out that after 16 weeks of very patient waiting, that surgery I had to have in October of last year, has not worked, and the surgeon has to do the operation all over again. What is worse is I have been told that this time it may not work either, and the probability is I may have to have the same surgery a third and possibly a fourth time over the next year or two, and if it still doesn’t work then the ‘contraption’ that I call it (which is a Seton cord being used to heal a fistula) may have to stay in place permanently. (All I can say is I now understand what a piece of cheese on a wire cutter feels like!!)  And all of this is preventative action to stop another abscess from forming.

For over 4 years now I have been having regular blood tests and monitoring to keep track of  a condition known as being a ‘pre diabetic’. In real terms this means one who is pre diabetic has a much higher risk of developing the disease diabetes at some point in their lives.  With changes in my diet and lifestyle over these last four years it means that I have been able to stave off the disease and keep it at arm’s length for as long as possible. One of  my hobbies, photography,  has helped me to benefit from this  because  it encourages me to do a lot of walking in parks and nature reserves with my camera, and in general it is good to get out in the fresh air, this is of course more difficult over the winter months because of the weather conditions and the lack of light especially in the early evening, but it has not prevented me from carrying on with it when I have been able to. A brisk 20 minute walk through the nature reserve or park of a morning and then again of an evening after work, is a great way to keep fit without over exerting yourself. Just one problem it can be a little muddy at this time of the year, and I have noticed some funny looks off other passengers of an evening when I get on the bus with muddy shoes. However, to get to see some of the birds that I enjoy watching it does mean having to go a little deeper into the woods, where all the soft mud is! If it’s good enough for the birds and wildlife, then it’s good enough for me.

Over these last 4 years I have watched a lot more closely what I eat and have tried very hard to eat a higher intake of such food as fruit and veg, more chicken and fish instead of red meat, more wholemeal and granary bread instead of white and so on. However due to other issues such as a severe acid reflux problem it actually complicates things more, this effectively means I am restricted to what fruits I can eat due to acid content, despite daily prescribed medication for this condition sometimes it doesn’t always work. It is a little awkward when you have to explain this to people, as some people tend to get the impression that one simply does not want to eat fruit and veg, or don’t like it and this is a way of not having to eat healthy. If only that was so simple and true. One thing I do have to openly admit, and am now feeling a bit guilty about, but lets face it we have all done it and that is to skip meals. For what ever reason, too busy at work, too busy a lifestyle, no time to prepare and cook food, too late in the evening and so it goes on. But I have now been told this is something I can no longer afford to do and take chances with. (note to self…must try much harder)

Over the past couple of months I have noticed I have been feeling a lot more tired and lethargic than usual, more headaches, more thirst, more trips to the loo, but I suppose like any one my age you do tend to put it down to just that…..one’s age! And in addition to that there was all the stress and upset with my father’s health just prior to Christmas which has spilled over into the new year. Thankfully he is a lot better now. But in addition to all that there were other symptoms that surfaced, and in all fairness I have to hold up my hand and say I ignored some of these symptoms, and realistically I suppose I was in denial, because I did not want to believe there was another health problem that I would have to deal with. Unfortunately following my last blood test, it appears that I have to face the fact that I am now a diabetic. Not the best start to the year I have to say. I am now having to learn about the condition and  understand how I have to live with it, and how it is going to affect my life now and in the future.

I am learning to understand that  this disease is going to have a huge impact on my life…for the rest of my life in fact.  The disease can be controlled, but there is no cure. But with continued perseverance on my dietary needs and help from the doctors and diabetic nursing team I hope to keep it under control and try to ‘live as normal life as possible’ and prevent or at least minimize the problems that can occur with this disease.  My GP was explaining to me the other day that a simple cut for most people will heal in no time at all, but for a diabetic if it is not dealt with properly it can lead to other problems, that in turn can be life threatening. Another thing she pointed out is how more prone to sight problems diabetics are. As a result of this I have to have an annual eye scan. I know that I can’t allow  all of this to get me down mentally, if I do then I know the depression will have won, and the last few years of dealing with that illness will have all been for nothing. The one important factor I have learnt recently is that I have to be the one to control the progression of the disease, it is up to me to do everything possible, especially dietary wise to keep it under control. The strange thing is I don’t smoke, I very rarely drink alcohol, except when I socialize with family or friends and even then it is minimal, so an occasional Guinness or Cider, and more rarely an occasional drop of very respectable and fine Malt Whisky. And in recent years I have watched what I eat. I don’t drive or rely on a car and so I end up doing a lot of walking as regular exercise (knee pain due to arthritis allowing me to)  So the question is…..Why me? Why has my body stopped producing sufficient insulin?

Once February is out-of-the-way I do have something to look forward to next month, and Spring is just round the corner, so before my next bout of surgery in April, its time to enjoy March. Again it is about trying to live a normal a life as is possible, and to do the things I want to do.  One of the places  for  a few years I have been wanting to visit is Bristol Zoo & Gardens. Last year for my 50th birthday my family bought me a special ticket for an Animal Experience Day….the chance to meet and greet animals behind the scenes (something of course not every visitor can do) Having finally managed to get some time off work I have booked the Experience day with the Zoo for the 18th March and am very much looking forward to spending a little bit of time behind the scenes with their Lemurs, and the chance to visit a Zoo I have never been to before, or for that matter I have never been to Bristol, so that will be a new and interesting experience for me, getting lost between the coach station and the Zoo 😉

The following week, as a bird and nature lover, I also have the opportunity to visit the Wetlands Centre in London. Hopefully a relaxing coach trip, and a just as relaxing walk around the centre to see and photograph all the different bird species and some additional wildlife.

All of this has been planned for a while, and I am determined to not let my diabetes overshadow these two experiences. I have always believed in Spring being a new beginning. I love this particular time of the year, there is always something to look forward to. Over the last couple of weeks I have been noticing the snowdrops, daffodils and crocuses all starting to bloom. In many ways this is a reassuring sight, in the knowledge that better weather is on the way and therefore the chance to get out and about more often, enjoy the walks and fresh air…and any excuse to go out with my camera. 🙂

 

February will give way

First came the cold,
	a temperature drop so fast and low
	the body could not adapt.

Then came the snow followed by ice and rain
	flooding the yard, creating new ponds,
	as ice still lay in a thick sheet on the surface.

Gradually, the wind and rain passed
	and the sky revealed a glint of blue
	but the clouds  rolled in gray and dark.

It inched out the brief staggered light of the sun
	and once again,
	the world lay chilled and frozen in its wake.

Yet still, somehow in the clearing away
	the wind blown leaf debris
	revealed life pushing forward.

In the confines of the once bloom filled garden
	were tattered iris fronds bent low
	with light green shoots waiting to come forth.

In the protected leaf cover rose
	pointed glimmers of dark green
	barely two inches tinged with white, crocus.

Leaning toward the sunlight, brief as it was
	clinging to the short warmth provided
	with promise of more to come.

Taller still, off to the side, green clumps
	with yellow bases stretching four inches up 
	penetrating frozen, solid ground.

Through the ominous darkness of smoky clouds
	appears an opening edged in puffy white
	and blue sky beaming with the sun.

February will give way,
	allowing winter to take a bow and leave
	as spring anticipates with new life.

Now at last, the cold will pass
	and sunrise and sunset will breathe
	with the promise of hope and life
of a new generation.
	and God’s everlasting love.

                              Poem by D M Babbit

Bring on the Spring!

Many thanks for stopping by, and  have a great weekend everybody.