February 2021

A belated Happy New Year to you all.

I hope you and your families are all managing to keep busy and stay safe.

Like everyone, we have not been on any trips lately so I have had no interesting photographs to share with you. I have been trying to keep busy by getting creative. If you click on the ‘My Creations’ section of the blog you can see what I have been up to.

In December I created a lino cut of ‘Princess’, the cat of a friend of mine.

Since the beginning of the year I have written several short stories, some of which you can read here – ‘Weather the storm’, ‘The Visitor’, and ‘Gluttony – a cautionary tale’.

Looking forward to being able to add more holiday photos to my blog later this year, although there will be no foreign holidays this year!

Stay safe,

Carol

Christmas 2020

Christmas isn’t cancelled, although it may feel very different in these ‘unprecedented’ times. The magic of Christmas can still be found in the twinkling lights reflected in the children’s eyes, the joy of giving presents to loved ones and the sharing of lovingly prepared meals with our nearest and dearest.

However you are spending Christmas, may you feel a sense of hope that 2021 will see us returning to near normal where we can share good times again.

Local children were asked to draw characters from the Nativity story and these were enlarged and printed to decorate the churches in our town.

I haven’t posted very much in the last few months. Hopefully next year I will be able to share photos of several trips we are hoping to take.

Have a lovely Christmas, however you are spending it, and here’s to a happier, healthier, safer New Year.

Cheers!

Sharpness Dock

Today, on the 60th anniversary of the Severn Railway Bridge Disaster, Andy and I went down to the river. The disaster occurred in thick fog. Two barges hit one of the piers on the bridge causing two spans to collapse. Five men died.

While we were there we noticed a ship about to enter the lock and stayed to watch.

The red hull of the Feed Rogaland can be seen.
The lock gates opened lowering the water level in the basin.
You can see how far the water level dropped.
The Feed Rogaland, carrying cement, comes through,
into the Severn and off to sea.

The weather changed suddenly, and dramatically and we rushed through the rain to the car.

Until next time,

Carol

Two short stories

One of the few benefits of the situation we find ourselves in, is that I have more time to write stories.

Imagine finding something left behind by the previous owner, in a second hand book. This was the stimulus for ‘The Dead Letterbox’.

‘Major’s Army’ was inspired by a photograph of a dog standing on a chair, looking down at four kittens.

Hope you enjoy the stories,

Carol

Autumn in the New Forest

We travelled to the New Forest for the weekend to meet up with friends we made in India earlier this year.

On the way we visited Stonehenge, one of the world’s most famous prehistoric monuments. Erected in about 2500 BC it consists of a ring of standing stones.

We carried on to Old Sarum, the site of the earliest settlement of Salisbury.

I have vague memories of playing in the moat on family picnics nearly 60 years ago, when we lived in Salisbury for a few years.
The spire of Salisbury Cathedral can be seen in the distance.
The flint ruins are all that remain.
The royal latrines.

We carried on to the New Forest, a large area of unenclosed pasture, heath and forest. Rights of common pasture are still recognised today and ponies, donkeys and cattle are free to graze all year round.

The roaming cows reminded us of India.
Pigs are allowed to graze from September to November in order to eat the plentiful acorns, which can be poisonous to horses and cattle.
During the reign of William the Conqueror, the forest was used for hunting and there are many herds of deer.
Many types of fungi can be seen.

We enjoyed our visit to the New Forest.

Till next time,

Carol

Need a short read?

Thank you for the nice comments I have received about my blog during our holiday to Scotland. Are you now short of something to read?

Now I am back I have continued with my favourite hobbies of reading and writing. Yesterday I wrote ‘Lilian’s Last Protest’. I have added this and seven other stories I have written during Lockdown to my site. If you would like to read them click on ‘Create’ to access ‘My Creations’.

Lilian’s Final Protest

I realise that, at 88 years old, I was getting a bit long in the tooth to be protesting, especially by climbing up a ladder and spray painting the side wall of the corner shop. Fed up with the ‘black/white lives matter’ nonsense (obviously all lives matter) I was adding my own view by painting ‘Old Lives Matter’ on the wall.

Just as I was putting the finishing touches to the ‘r’ a car behind me honked its horn. I jumped, and turned round, the walker overbalanced, and here I am in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital with a broken hip and battered face. Talk about wearing gloves to stop leaving any DNA! I left plenty of blood and skin cells, and was still holding the spray can when the ambulance arrived.

It’s not all bad, though. No one is pressing charges, my hip needed replacing anyway – been on the list for months, and everyone is being very kind to me. I’m a bit of a local celebrity. Jordan, the young man who was in the car with his brother, managed to take a photo of me before Jackson hooted his horn. That photo, and one of me being stretchered into the ambulance, has been in the local paper, and on TV. I’m the ‘Old Lives Matter’ lady!

I’ve had loads of calls and gifts from well wishers. Not many visitors as it’s still ‘family only, one visitor per time slot’, but Keith drove down from Aberdeen to visit, so that was nice. Haven’t seen him in ages. I even got a card from Sir Captain Tom. Imagine that!

I’m getting out of here on Monday. They won’t let me go home as I will find it difficult to cope with the stairs until my hip is stronger. I’m going to ‘The Gables’ care home. It’s a lovely place according to the social worker. Couldn’t bear the thought of going to ‘Parklands’ where my Bill spent his last weeks.

*********************************

“Morning, Lilian. It’s another beautiful day. Did you sleep well, Lovie?”

“Not too bad, mustn’t grumble.”

“You never do, Lilian, but some of them others ….” Amy’s one of the senior carers in the home. She always has a smile on her face. So do the others. I don’t know how they do it. Caring for us old ‘uns all day long, for a pittance. The last few months have been hard for them, and I know they lost a few residents in the early days. They must have been worried sick about taking the virus back to their own families. Been Covid free for weeks now though, thank goodness. I’m quite enjoying my stay. It’s almost like staying in a very solicitous hotel, and I’m getting to know some of the others.

The hardest thing for most of the elderly people in here is that they can’t enjoy visits like they used to. Elizabeth’s husband used to visit every day and have morning coffee with her. Now he has to book a half hour slot once a week and that is cancelled if it rains as they have to meet outside. She’s worrying about the winter time. Will she ever get to see her Robert? Some of the dementia sufferers won’t remember their loved ones if they don’t see them regularly. Michael used to enjoy a daily walk with one of his family but now he’s not allowed out. I realise that it is not the fault of the managers here, but I wonder if people know what is happening in care homes around the country. Boris seems to have forgotten us.

Art and Craft class that morning gave me an idea. I asked if I could take a few sheets of paper and pens so that I could work on perfecting my still life drawing. After tea I sat with Elizabeth at a table in a quiet corner of the lounge. When I explained what I wanted to do she was delighted to lend a hand. By bedtime we had six signs ready –

Families Matter

We Need Visitors

Let us Meet

We are not prisoners

A visit a day keeps the Doctor away

Dying for a visit

Breakfast time tomorrow morning should be interesting! Hope someone has their camera/phone ready.

I fall asleep with a smile on my face. Bill would be so proud of me.

Day Seventeen

We set off back to England via the new Queensferry Crossing across the Firth of Forth, and alongside the route of the re opened Borders railway towards Carlisle. Then the A7 and M6 to Morecambe.

The Queensferry Crossing opened two years ago.
All 3 bridges
After 16 sunny days, as soon as we got to England it rained!
View from our bedroom window in Morecambe.

We stopped for the night in Morecambe to break up the long journey from Dundee to Dursley. Also it was nice to revisit a place I visited as a child.

My Grandma, Mum, Dad and siblings sitting on a bench on Marine Road, probably 1961/2. I’m on the left at the back.
Me sitting on a bench in the same place.
View from the bench over Morecambe Bay.
Andy and Eric Morecambe

Tomorrow we will be back in Dursley.

Thank you for following, I hope you enjoyed my posts.

Until next time,

Carol

Day Sixteen

View at breakfast in Invercarse Hotel, Dundee

Today we went to St Andrews to meet up with Ralph and Jean, who we first met on our way to India in February. We had a bracing walk on West Sands, followed by lunch at the famous St Andrews Golf Course.

It was a bit windy!

After lunch we followed the Fife Coastal route, visiting Anstruther,

Pittenween,

and St Monans.

Back in Dundee we went to the Tay Bridge Disaster Memorial. On 28th December, 1879, on a very stormy night, 13 spans in the centre of the bridge collapsed as a train was crossing. Everyone on board perished in the River Tay.

Tomorrow we leave Scotland. Our amazing road trip is nearly over.

Carol

Day Fifteen

After an ‘unusually rough’ crossing (according to one of the crew) we arrived safely in Aberdeen. That is not a journey I would want to undertake again!

Sunrise at Aberdeen
Entering Aberdeen Harbour
We stopped at the Ythan Estuary beach at Newburgh,
and at the Forvie Nature Reserve,
and had lunch at Ellon.
Then we drove through the Cairngorms.
Ballater Station was used by Queen Victoria when she visited Balmoral.
We followed the course of the River Dee to its source.

Now in Dundee for two nights.

More tomorrow

Carol

Day Fourteen

Early post today as we are leaving the Shetlands and taking the ferry back to Aberdeen, a 13 hour crossing, including a stop on the Orkneys.

Unfortunately the weather has deteriorated and it is very windy!

The skies were still blue and the sun came out while we visited Jarlshof, a prehistoric and Norse settlement, with evidence of buildings from Iron Ages to the Middle Ages. Very interesting, and we nearly got blown off the cliff!

We drove back across the runway and had to wait at the red lights for the plane to cross.

We went back past the Bay of Scousburgh where we saw basking seals earlier in the week, and there they were again

We saw this rig further out but today it was inshore.

Dundee here we come. Fingers crossed for a not too rough crossing.

Carol