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Tom and living without him

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BarbaraG

The Revival

After pondering what to call my blog, the revival seemed to be the most apt. I thought of "Bursting with Joy" but that would have seemed a little OTT even if it would appear appropriate to those who have been through the dark days of my life. "Risen from the ashes" was another thought but that reminded me of the Phoenix. The Revival is pretty apt for what is happening to me now; a revival as in the definition "A restoration to use, acceptance, activity, or vigour after a period of obscurity or quiescence."

I didn't want to continue blogging telling everyone how good I was, followed by how down I was and boring people with the endless rollercoaster that my life became since Tom died. Strange things happen sometimes when people suffer loss and allsorts of unbelievable things can happen. Unpleasant things from early years, suppressed and forgotten, can come back and have to be dealt with. This has been the case with me. It isn't necessarily something you want to share with the whole world. So I withdrew from almost everyone and everything. Someone once asked Tom did he write everything there was to know when he wrote his autobiography. His reply was "When you invite someone into your house, you don't show them your bedroom." With that in mind, I also didn't want to share my struggle over the past 8 months or so. What I can say without doubt is that I am now having a revival.

Tom wrote about his journey with cancer and did so with such courage, humour, honesty and optimism. My journey since he has gone has been one of grieving but also of the most awful depression. The thing about depression is that you are anything but optimistic. Negative and pessimistic if the two can be separated. Who want to read about that? But now my journey has taken me another step further. I have been through grief. I have been through irrational behaviour. I have even revisited the darkest days of my past and I am now coming out of the tunnel.

The numbness gradually went which I didn't even know was with me. I only knew when I felt anger and love again. Love came first when I felt it for my family, friends, birds and dogs. I went through the motions of looking after my animals and birds, but I was ashamed and bemused by my total lack of love or feelings for them. I didn't understand it. Anyway, the love is very much back. Anger came but not at Tom which people said may happen. Apparently the person who dies can come in for some anger for leaving. No, my anger seems to be with everything that I seem to have suppressed in the past or present for that matter. So where am I now?

I have come off the antidepressants and am doing well. I have been doing some bookwork for Tom’s brother and Sister-in-law at Pooilvaaish which has given me a purpose and self esteem. I started back with Castletown Band but have been absent without leave for a few months whilst I come through this last tunnel. Painting has been a struggle but one is complete which I have put on this blog. It is too dark for my liking and I cannot brighten it no matter how I try and so I will leave it. It represents a period in my life and reflects the mind of the artist at the time. It is of Langness Lighthouse and my first attempt at acrylic. Most of the painting was done in the early hours of sleepless mornings from around 2 a.m. That is what depression is like. You can lie there tossing and turning or you can get up and try and make use of the wakefulness.

My baby heron survived and the strangest thing is that he must have been the runt and thrown out of the nest. I am only 4ft 11 and some would probably agree I was of a muscular build. My young 'Odin' seems for all the world, a heron equivalent of me. He's a titch. His legs only come up to the knees on the other herons & he can be identified at a glance. As small as he/she is, when it comes to the sardines in a morning, Odin will defend his territory. He knows his name as well, but so funny to look at. In the summer I watched him catch an eel in Castletown harbour and even as a large heron tried to rob him, he wasn't out done. He will always be looked after by me and he's very special.

I have also had the pleasure of watching a family of moorhens raise 2 sets of young in the summer. I think my little moorhen did survive last year because as shy as moorhens normally are, there is one which is fearless when it comes to humans and I think it may be my little fella.

Last week I had an overwhelming desire to go back to programming. Now if that isn't a sign that the depression is lifting, then nothing is. I never thought I would ever feel confident to go back into that sort of environment or that anyone would be even slightly interested in a 59 year old. Well I made a phone call to one of my old firms just to test the water. What can I say? I went to Central Software today already knowing that they would like me to join them on an adhoc basis at the moment. I was nervous for two reasons. Firstly I can feel emotional meeting people who I haven't seen since Tom was a fit and healthy husband. Secondly I haven't programmed or been into that sort of workplace for nearly 3 years. I didn't even know if I could pick it up again, but I had this strange confidence about me that it would all be fine. John the CEO treated me like I hadn't been away from the place for nigh on 14 years. I left at the end of January 1996. Most of the people that were there when I left are still there and they were all pleased to welcome as one of their number again. I only worked there for 3 years but in all my years of employment, I have never loved a place like it. Everyone who works there does so because they love programming. There isn't any politics as there is nothing to be gained. There aren't any bosses as such. No positions to aspire too or projects to you want that much you would denigrate your co-workers to achieve your goals. It is heaven for me especially at my age. I can do a bit of programming which I have to say I absolutely love. There won't be politics, just a team of people all enjoying what they do and encouraging each other. I am sooo excited.

I was craving a can of coke tonight and there was none to be found. The garage was closed as it was 9.30 so I decided I would creep into the Sidings (pub), buy a can and leg it home. I'm from the old fashioned brigade that feels like dying at the thoughts going in a pub on my own. I sidled up to the bar feeling very conspicuous when I lady shouted "Hello Barbara" and then half the bar joined in. That was when I decided "to hell with it"; I got my coke and joined her and her husband for an hour. I mention it only as another way of letting you know how the revival is going. On the way home which is only about 200 yards, I decided it was time to blog. Also today I have seen the doctor and let it be known that I am now off the antidepressants and want to now get on with my life. I needed them when Tom was ill. I was so badly affected when Tom was being treated; I used to go into the park to sob my heart out. I couldn't remember things or think straight. I couldn't get the thoughts out of my head that I was going to lose him soon and at the same time I kept Tom’s optimism alive. Whilst he slept beside me I would exhaust myself on the internet looking to see if there had been a breakthrough in his cancer. It was relentless and I drove myself. When he died my nightmare became reality. The worst had happened. I had lost half of myself and it was the best half. I fluctuated from being unable to function to racing thoughts and basically I was a mess. Then as I have said, I gave away quite a bit of my finances and followed that up with reliving every trauma of my childhood and so on. Now it is finished. I have been warned that the antidepressants will have suppressed some of the grieving and I may still have to go though some stuff which is only what everyone else has to cope with. I'm up for that. I am going to be the Barbara that met and loved Tom 20 years ago. I'm not going to finish my life in a permanent depressive state. I'm having a revival.

Before I end this blog I would like to apologise to all the people I have neglected over the past months/year. Pauline, Joyce, Cheryl, Dorothy, Barry and Linda to name but a few. Wendy and Sean, thank you for the flowers. Thanks to everyone who has encouraged me to blog again when I thought it was passed its sell by date.

This is Barbara Glassey on the banks of the Silverburn River looking forward to Christmas and the New Year.

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BarbaraG

Well, it's been a long journey for me so far and it isn't over yet, but I am truly beginning to find my way to enjoying my life and not just making the most of it.

 

I have found it hard to write these past few months as it has been a time of trying to understand my emotions and behaviour of the last year. If anyone had told me that I was behaving irrationally at the time, I would have thought they had lost the plot. I knew that I had done some pretty strange and erratic things like going on spending spree’s and parting with money far too easily, but only when it was too late and then I didn’t know why. It has been explained to me now and whilst it is embarrassing, I understand it now and feel I can share it with you in case you ever go through anything similar.

 

Apparently the last year has been spent with me trying to cope with the loss of Tom which one would expect, but sometimes people who are grieving do things totally out of character in an effort to try to stop the pain. Some turn to alcohol when they have never drunk before, others work like mad to forget and in my case, I spent money on new clothes, taking to people to dinner every day, looking after others financial problems and on it went until it wasn’t possible to do it anymore. I felt happy when I made others happy. When it stopped I had to face reality and try to get a normal life back on track. I did pay off my mortgage and any other debts I may have had, so some good was done, but I also made it so I have to be extremely careful now with what I have to live on. What’s done is done and it was my way of getting through the pain.

 

I also learned that when I felt that I had no interest in my birds and animals, it wasn’t that I’d ceased to love them. That was a numbness that enveloped me and I felt nothing. I went through the motions of looking after them, but it was just that. No feelings, nothing.

There is a lot more to grieving than what I’ve mentioned and everyone is different. All I can say now is that I have gone through those periods and now I am accepting.

 

Today I woke at 5.45 a.m. which is early for me of late. It was a beautiful morning and I thought I would motivate myself and go out to Langness with the dogs. What a wonderful reward I received for doing just that. Lapwings were soaring as 3 herons stood in the stillness of a large pool left behind by the sea. Wheatears and Meadow Pipits danced across the small road, from bush to bush. Flocks of oystercatchers reflected the sun from their under parts as they flew across the rocks. A small baby seal sat basking in the sunshine on a rock. Skipper and Suzie rolled in the lush green grass and then galloped ahead. As I walked towards the point I saw two porpoises making their way round Langness and out to sea, one slightly ahead of the other with fin and body rising out of the water with each thrust. My heart swelled and I wish I could have shared all what I could see with others. I didn’t feel lonely though. I had my thoughts and my memories of Tom and how we did that walk so often together. My mind would think of how he would have loved it today and then as an aircraft took off, I could hear him saying “Flipping planes.” They were such an intrusion when he was trying to listen to nature. I would have been giving him a running commentary of what I could see and to which bird the sound belonged to that he could hear.

 

Last Sunday my friend Anne and I went to the wildlife park at 5 a.m. It was to listen to the dawn chorus and have it explained to us by Chris Sharpe who knows just about everything there is to know about birds on the Island. It was something Anne and I wanted to do last year but it wasn’t a good time for it. We weren’t disappointed. The first thing we encountered were bats flying rapidly about. I’d have thought they were swifts or something in the dusk. I didn’t realise they were so small and flew so rapidly. From then on it was the start of the dawn chorus and as we made our way through the wildlife park and into the Curraghs, Chris explained each song, bird, nuances etc. There were lots of tracks from the wallabies but no sign. Then there was one sitting in the middle of a path. It didn’t bolt. It just sat there at a distance of about 60 metres, letting us view it with our binoculars. By 7 a.m. we were in the café having a full breakfast and by 8.45 I was home ready to uncover Orry and start my day feeding the birds and the dogs,

 

On the wildlife front I have some interesting news about Gertie the goose. If you remember I brought her into the garden last summer it became apparent she was going blind. She spent the winter with me and was very settled in the garden with the hens. In the winter the hens all got colds and coughs. I know it sounds nuts but it’s true. They were sneezing like mad and some were pretty bad. It went through the flock pretty quickly and so I put them all on antibiotics. They all got better and then I treated them all for worms and mites in their drinking water. Whatever did it I don’t know, but Gerties opaque pupils cleared and she was able to see again. I put her back on the river and she has been enjoying the last few months back in her own environment with her husband and sister. Last week I had to go and rescue a baby heron that couldn’t fly and it was unable to fend for itself. It has been living outside on the wall and surrounding area and being fed by me. Although it is a baby, it is still quite big even if it is half the size of a full grown heron. I felt so privileged to be able to hold such a bird after years of just looking at them. I was able to feel the long beak, stroke the long soft neck and also feel the toes and long legs. Once I got him in a place I could keep my eye on him, it was then time to shower and make sure I had to mites etc. I’ll include some photos in the near future.

 

On the pet front, Skipper is still rounding up the hens, Suzie is still rolling in every cowpat she can find and Orry!!! Hmmm, Orry! He now has added to his already large vocabulary, ‘Oy’, ‘sod it’, ‘stop it’, ‘come ‘ere’’, ’get off’, ‘good boy’, ‘come on’, ‘hey boy’, police sirens, heron calls etc etc. His intelligence is improving and he is starting to answer back sometimes. His cognitive speech is improving as he will shout ‘come on, come ‘ere’’ when he see’s me in the morning and wants out of his cage. Suzie got a sharp rebuke when she stood too close to Orrys cage when he was just sitting in his doorway eating a morsel. A bash on the back followed by ‘Oy’ sent her scurrying to her basket. Take something off him which he shouldn’t have and he also yells ‘oy’ at me. He’s great company. The hens are laying well and they have also started their own party trick when I take the tray of food out to the aviary. The all jump up and try to mug me for the tray which when up ended, scatters egg, sprouted seeds and sweetcorn all over the floor.

 

The other day I went to my first band concert for quite a few years. After starting back with Castletown band and since my last blog, I had virus after virus and didn’t have any continuity with regards practices etc. I am over all that now and I love playing again. I don’t seem to be any worse for my time away and the bandmaster has asked me if I will play some solo’s again. I haven’t done it for years, but I’m up for it. It is all therapy and another interest.

 

I didn’t really think many people read my blog anymore and wasn’t sure if it was worth me doing it, but I have met people in various places that have mentioned I haven’t written for ages. People I never dreamed in a million years would read what I blather on about. I will try and keep you up to date with things. Motivation is the problem and has been with lots of other things, like emailing people and I still haven’t yet started to paint!!!! One day perhaps. After my little (under statement) spending spree I may have to start pretty soon to keep the wolf from the door.

 

Toms Mum has not been in the best of health and has been in and out of hospital. She had a particularly bad do last week when she was sent home before they had sorted out her blood sugar levels and last Monday we were pretty close to losing her with a hypo incident. She is doing better now. Orry the parrot is knocking on the window, strutting up and down the window ledge and shouting ‘Barbara’. Oh, I forgot to mention his other new word ‘wor ever’.

 

I’m off to see the Priests tonight with Anne. For those who don’t know, they are 3 Priests with the most fantastic classical voices. I just hope they get over with all the volcanic ash clouds.

 

I’d better sort out my aviary birds now. It is nice to be talking to you again and I hope my motivation continues.

 

From a much more settled Barbara on the banks of the beautiful Silverburn River.

BarbaraG

I'm Back

It has been the longest I have been without blogging or editing Toms Blog but now I will give a catch up.

 

First of all, who wants to read about how someone is struggling over Christmas, the New Year and Birthdays with depression. That was where I was at leading up to Christmas and after, continually dipping. It isn't something people want to read on a blog or perhaps that I want to write in too much detail. One of the effects is a lack of motivation and the blog fell into that category as did lots of other things.

 

Anyway, before Christmas I took on a task which has gone some way to keeping me going and a reason to get out of bed besides looking after my animals. The Vicar who buried Tom has become a friend of mine, along with her husband. She has been very supportive to me since Tom’s death and we share some interests. Her father fell and broke his hip at the latter end of last year and he has come over to the Island to be with his daughter and also to be looked after by her. I volunteered to help and since the day he arrived a week before Christmas, I have been going to her home each day to wash and dress him. He is a lovely elderly gent who will be 94 in March. It gave me someone to focus on and help. His face beams when he see's me arrive and that makes all the difference. He didn't come over here to recuperate, rather to be nursed, but he has come on leaps and bounds and is playing the piano each day and doing exercises to try and improve his painful hip. In the first instance he did well to survive the operation on his hip at his age, but to find a zest for life and a motivation to improve is pretty cool. I could do with a bit of that zest and motivation myself. I have only been going for around 2 hours a day and I sometimes take him out in the car so he can watch the sea whilst I walk my dogs. I printed off every one of Tom’s blogs for him which he has read, including Tom’s book. His eyesight is better than mine and he has a sense of humour that is noticeably quick in which he never misses a trick.

For the moment I have had to have a rest from looking after him as I did too much at the beginning and didn’t pace myself. I am at the moment having some time away so I can concentrate on myself for a while. I tended to put all of myself into the task and haven’t allowed myself time to rest and be quiet. I went each day to the vicarage since the middle of December and in all I only missed around 2 days up until last Saturday. Now I am resting and taking time to be with me.

 

My mother came over to be with me just before Christmas and stayed for nearly two weeks. I continued to look after my menagerie, my patient and each day I took my mother to dinner with a different friend. Christmas day I went to the flying club with my mother, Tom’s mother and his Aunty Trudy who also lost her husband last year as documented in Toms Blog. It was a lovely dinner and it was a change to everything we would normally have done on Christmas Day. We were out of the house and supporting each other, being waited on with a lovely meal at the Flying Club. No shopping, cooking, stressing or washing up to do. We just sat down and enjoyed being spoiled. I didn't allow my mind to wander over past Christmases with Tom and to be honest; I did try my best to ignore the festive part of it all. It has been very hard not to think of the previous Decembers and January's with cancer, scans, specialists and worries dominating our lives. That has probably been at the root of my dip in spirits and the fact that I still find it almost inconceivable that Tom and I have been parted. I felt sad for all the people who would be going through those same emotions that we had been through the previous years and knowing how they will have felt isolated and sad, whilst everyone celebrated. A young friend of ours lost his mother the week before Christmas and he came to me for advice on everything he should do about the funeral etc. He was devastated and had looked after his mum for a few years. He is 25 and had to bury his mum on Christmas Eve. We cried together as I tried to guide him through his grief and also tell him the practical things that had t be dealt with. He likes to look in on me and check I'm ok and he is coping with his loss. Christmas will never be the same for him again; even when he has children of his own there will always be a tinge of sadness.

 

I did start back in Castletown Band and I’m aware I do tend to work on whims at the moment. I still have a lot of practicing to do to get back to not exactly my best which isn't that terrific. I'm enjoying playing with the band and there are quite a lot of new and also young faces which is encouraging. Again, I am incorporating this in my break whilst I just slow down a while.

 

This weekend I am going on a direct flight to Paris with Eileen. It is only for 3 nights and is just over £200 including flights and hotel. I’ve never been and I’m excited. Eileen is the friend that can make me laugh and this is what I need at the moment. Neither of us speaks a word of French and we have decided to just go with no plans for what we want to see and we will just take in the atmosphere and see where we end up. I will report on that next week when I get back. I’m not sure if I’m nervous of the flight or not. It is 2 hours and whilst I appear to have got over my fear of flying, I have only done half hour flights.

 

When I return I am determined to paint again. I am going to set aside some days which I am going to use for just painting. Once I start I know that I won’t want to stop and that is the place I want to be at. The last time I attempted it was when I was ill with pneumonia but I was so ill I hadn’t the strength to hold the brush for long.

 

I have been listening to the dawn chorus each morning. The Thrush is the first bird singing and the rest follow some time later. There are stirrings in the bird world now and changes in their habits. The herons aren't as frequent and I know they are busy nest building. In a few months they will almost camp on my shed roof when they expect me to supply them with the food to try and feed the brood they will have hatched. I have been enjoying watching the Lapwings dipping and diving in the fields and by the shore. I love their aerobatics and the unusual calls they make. The weather wasn’t conducive to long walks early on Sunday mornings but for the last few weeks I have resumed my wanderings with Anne. For the first few weeks we walked from Hango Hill to Langness along the shore and marvelled at the flocks of birds feeding in the seaweed. Our walks started in freezing weather, but last Sunday was a much milder day. We decided to walk to the Silverdale Glen and back via Tom’s grave. I had some flowers to put there for Valentines Day. I was followed all the way to Ballasalla by one of my herons who hadn’t been fed and he decided I was going to pull a fish out of my pocket. On the way back there was a field of herons all stood absorbing the sunlight and my previous escort spotted me and resumed his duties all the way back to the house. He was duly rewarded and no doubt went back to his pals.

 

I have been reading Toms Blogs which a friend of ours in America has collated and sent to me in a word document. It is amazing how his words have an impact on me even now. When I read them it is with a different view than when he was alive and with me. The words speak to me, but in a different way. I feel ashamed of my low spirits when I read what Tom wrote with everything he was going through emotionally and physically. I have decided to have the entire Blog put into a book for those people who never had access to a computer as I feel he can still inspire even though he lost his fight for life. The profits of the book I will give to the Hospice on the Island as they are an unbelievable charity.

 

In my animal world, Orry is improving his vocabulary and also other sounds he has picked up along the way. He is the only parrot I know that only has to look at a bottle of Fentmans Dandelion & Burdock to do a rather loud burp. His territory has grown and I'm not sure if I have retained my position as head of the household. Suzie made a great recovery from her rather big operation before Christmas and is a little cutey. Skipper is about the same as he ever was but I am more able to cope with Skippers mad collie side. I was sad over the Christmas period when I lit a fire in Tom’s room, put the TV on and closed the door. Skipper went frantic at the door to get in as with the sound coming from the room, it was obvious he thought Tom was in there. When I opened the door he dashed in and stopped dead when he saw and empty settee. It was only at that point that I realised that he hadn't forgotten Tom and still lived in hope that he would return. I have to say that I am finding it increasingly more comforting to sit in that room surrounded by all the models with nothing changed. There is a peace which is felt by all who I invite in. That room is largely left shut and used to bring visitors into and as I say, it is lovely to light a fire and sit contemplative like Tom used to do.

 

It is a month ago since I attempted to put a blog on the internet, but there has been a little problem with the webpage that allows me to post my blog. Now that I am settling down again, I hope to blog more often and keep people up to date more. To everyone who has emailed me and I have not replied which includes Wendy who came over in January with her fiancé Sean, I can only apologise as it has been due to my total lethargy and depression. I now know the different levels that depression can take and I have actually been into the darkest of places. I don’t want to go there again as it is totally debilitating and no-one can really help. All I can say is that I now understand the hopelessness and I hope that in the future, I will be able to draw on my own experience to help others who are in that dark place.

 

As I look out of the bedroom window as I write this, birds are busy nest building. My aviary birds are singing their heads off. Orry is whistling, barking and chatting downstairs, I can hear the hens clucking away, the ducks seemingly laughing on the river, Gertie the Goose is shouting to her pals who will be waiting for me to feed them, there is cooing, rooks cawing and the whole world of nature is alive and happy. I have almost been a year without Tom which has been the longest year of my life. I now want to shed the misery I have allowed to engulf me and start to live my life like Tom. Taking time to think things through and seeing the positives instead of the negatives. Instead of dashing about trying to fill my life with things to take me away from memories, I want to be comfortable with those memories and in my own company. I have lots of friends that have tried to support me over the year despite my frenzied comings and goings. I have to include my family in that also, as I haven’t been the easiest person to deal with. To those I apologize and also thank for still being there for me.

 

Now it is time for me to feed all the ducks, birds, hens, geese, swans, herons, dogs and parrot that are willing me to move my backside.

 

This is a contemplative Barbara on the banks of the Silverburn River, with a heart that is full of joy at the beauty that is all around me.

BarbaraG

Catch Up

You will be able to tell by the time of my writing that I'm still having difficulty motivating myself in some areas. But my life has continued with enough activity to warrant a blog. I should really do one more often, but there is still no real organisation in my life despite the fact that I am packing into it as many things as I can. A pattern will become apparent as I near the end of this blog and you will understand perhaps what is really going on in the mind of Barbara Glassey. I hope you do, as I have an awful job understanding myself.

When I finished my last entry I mentioned I was having a an early retirement get together. I did have one and it was held in the Viking Garden room. There was a great buffet and I had a good time with my mates from work both past and present. A few of my old workmates turned up who had moved on from Zurich and it turned out to be a reunion of sorts as well for everyone. Some of my friends and family came as well and it was a successful evening with still quite a few having to be ushered out at kicking out time which I'm told is the ultimate barometer for measuring an event.

On the following Monday Toms Mum Nel, my friend Eileen and I set off for Dublin for Nels 82nd birthday. Nel looked like the Queen as my sister in law Rosie took us all to the airport. Luckily Nel didn't forget her Id and we were on our way quite quickly. We flew out of Ronaldsway at 10.25 and we were in the Gresham Hotel in the centre of Dublin for just after 12 and that included picking Nels sister Kathleen up on the way. Although Kathleen lives in Dublin, I thought it would be nice for both sisters to stay in the hotel together and enjoy each other's company and be waited on. I booked Nels and Kathleen's room for early occupancy so they could settle down and we all had somewhere for our cases. I'd arranged for a bottle of wine, chocolates and flowers for the birthday girl which finished off our arrival at the hotel nicely. The Gresham is a beautiful hotel of a type I have never stayed in before. Marble, wood and crystal chandeliers greeted us as we entered the massive reception area. The staff all seemed handpicked for having wonderful Irish hospitality and in the few days we stayed there, I never saw a glum face amongst any of them. That in itself was worth the stay. The rooms were massive with Double and single beds, easy chairs, coffee table, desk, TV with a keyboard and free internet and wifi. I loved it. Eileen and I hit the shops as soon as we could and kept that pace up whilst we were there. Eileen has the ability to make me laugh until I cry. We seem to bounce off one and other somehow and we got on great as it was our first time sharing a room and being in each other's company for longer than a shopping trip or a pudding night. She was a bit unwell on the Tuesday but I maintain it was because of the amount she ate at breakfast when she saw the unbelievable selection of everything spread before her in the dining room. If she could answer, she would argue and might even mention my snoring and other noises that I made whilst asleep which she kindly said reminded her of her late husband Derek whom she misses so much, and with her eyes closed could imagine he was in the next bed. I soothed her to sleep. I've never been told that before. It was normally a gentle push to turn me on my side and a gale force wind blowing in through the window to keep the air flowing. Apparently that stopped me! Anyway, we had a great time and I burst the seams of my case bringing back my wares.

The Saturday after we got back, I decided to do another first. Castletown Band were playing in Castletown Square for the switching on the lights. I decided I would take my cornet along and make that first step to playing with the band again. Every time I thought about going to the band room for a practice, I felt anxiety at being there after these years and breaking down. I thought turning up casually in the dark and just playing along would be much better and so I did. I felt very emotional to be honest and every time anyone spoke to me, my throat tightened and tears filled my eyes. Quite why I felt like that I can only reason as to the last time I played with them, Tom was very much alive and well. All my other activities that I do now seem to be new in my life since he died with a large part of me being involved with the church. Anyway once the playing started I was ok. It was an awful night with the rain coming down in buckets and members of the band making jokes about the blue flash that would make its way towards us when the lights were switched on. Thankfully it didn't. The band were lucky enough to have a temporary cover, but the unfortunate public got a drubbing. One thing that gave me a lift in my spirits at the end of the evening was the sight of a couple who had been waving to me. Norma the Vicar who buried Tom and her husband David had come along to support me on the night. They stood there dripping and smiling at me and it didn't half give me a lift to think that someone would come and do that for me.

The next week was taken up with me worrying about Suzie the cocker spaniel and her impending operation. I had spoken to the vet after the results had become known to them and we agreed that an operation would take place, sooner rather than later. With lumps in both mammary, I had it explained to me that it was a very large operation and I could phase it or do it in one go. If I phased it, the spaying would be first and the mammary's later. The vet had already said he needed and x-ray to check if her lungs were ok as there would be no point operating otherwise. That left me in no doubt about the seriousness and haste was what was needed. I had to go for the full operation. She had an chest x-ray when she had her heart scan and so there was no need for another one and the results showed she was clear. The operation was going to be adlib due to her heart condition with spaying being the 1st. If she appeared strong enough the left mammary and then dependent on her state, her right mammary. I took her to the vets on the Thursday morning and she clung onto me for dear life. My heart went out to her but it had to be done. I left her and went to do a grocery shop to take my mind off it. Karron had offered to do my birds for me and so I was in no rush to get home. After I did the shopping I called at a garage on the way home. I have decided I can't just manage with a motor home as an only vehicle. Nice idea, but not practical and I wondered how on earth I was going to carry Suzie up the steps when it was time to get her. I've always been impulsive and so was Tom, but when we were together we discussed things before we did it and quite often we'd suddenly realise the cons in our scheme and laugh at what we'd nearly done. We could just as quickly talk ourselves back into it again and we were intent, but that has gone now. I don't think things through and even if I did, I would listen to Tom, I don't listen to me. Enough waffling, I bought a car on the way home for the Nissan garage. I wanted it to be less than £3000, low mileage and it was to be for the dogs and shopping. I bought a 2004 Kia Rio with 23,000 miles on the clock and got it down from £3500 to £2900. I gave up the £300 warranty for that and reasoned that it had a full service and had only done 3000 miles since its last service. It's a smart car and does the job. Suzie came through all her ops and stayed at the vets for a few days so they could monitor her, give her morphine and she had drain tubes in her.

From the day of the op my spirits have gone down quite dramatically. I think it was the stress of putting Suzie through all the op that was the trigger. Who knows. All I do know is that this is the month that for the previous 2 years has been the most anxious and unbelievably stressful of Tom and my married life. Waiting for scans and results the 1st year. 6 weeks of waiting through Christmas and the new year to find out what the problem was if it wasn't pneumonia and all the time trying to banish the ultimate word out of our minds. Hoping that a life wasn't going to be lost through negligence or endless waiting. Do you know that if you are an animal it is lightening fast getting an animal sorted. Someone said that's because we pay vets privately. Tom would have reasoned it all out to me. Now I just spout what I think without putting too much thought into the process. Last year we had the result that Toms cancer was back before Christmas. We saw the specialist on the Thursday, got a CT Scan on the Friday and then hoped chemo would start straight away, but another long seasonal holiday ensued. Why wasn't there haste my mind screamed. Let's get it started and Tom just waited again. Of course there was no haste as they knew that the cancer was bad and although chemo did start again in January, the cancer had already gone out of control. At least we had hope for a short while. So now I cry, but not for me but for all the people who are going through it at this time. Those who are waiting for results, those who are waiting for treatment to start and basically for anyone who feels that they are on their own in a dire position. I have been there and my heart aches for them all. So yes, my tears fall and I say it's not for me, but perhaps there is a touch of transference here and that my own loss now is what is really behind it all. I don't know myself. I don't know if you have experienced depression, but when the low comes like this it is very hard to function normally. Everything takes so much longer to do. It is easy to forget to eat and drink. Sleep is either to much or not enough. Well enough of that for now. That is just where I am at this moment and like Tom used to do, I have to be honest in what I am experiencing. I have seen the doctor and she amongst others have suggested I paint. I can't as the motivation is just not there. I have been put on steroids due to my eczema being so bad and my hands so cracked and painful, so that is why I'm blogging in the middle of the night again. They stop me sleeping. Now back to more cheerful things.

I brought Suzie home from the vets last Saturday and although she was very sore at first and needed lots of TLC she has bounced back like a little trooper. She's raring to go now, but she is full of stitches and so I have to be very careful. At least it is over and hopefully she will be well. Another lump was found in her uterus and I have asked for it all analysed so I will know whether I have to be vigilant.

Yesterday I had to go to the dentist again as I have an chronic abscess. I know, there's no end to it is there sometimes, except when its chronic it isn't painful but they can turn acute. I thought with Christmas coming up and on steroids which lowers resistance, I'd better get it sorted so I took my chief cheerer upper Eileen with me and went and had a root canal. The dentist was convinced that I was in for a few torrid days after the treatment he has done but said it should settle down. Anyway all is well, so it's not all bad.

Today I am having my Marks and Spencer's furniture delivered that I bought a couple of months back and tomorrow I am having new carpet laid on the stairs and spare bedroom. My mum is coming to stay with me a week today and so I want it all nice for her.

I haven't been able to motivate myself to send out Christmas cards and have put a greeting in the local newspapers for 2 weeks from both Nel and I wishing everyone every blessing for Christmas and the New Year. We will make a donation to the hospice. I never did say how much was raised when Tom died in lieu of flowers. It was just over £1400 and that was without the retiring collection at the church. So thank you everybody that made a donation.

For those living off Island that I haven't been in touch with I will give you a ring if I know your number.

It must be long this as I started at 5 this morning and its gone 7 now.

This is Barbara on the Silverburn River wishing you all every blessing for Christmas and the New year if I don't blog again beforehand. God Bless.

 

Photos below - ist 2 are me at my retirement do minus glasses.

Nel raising a glass. Nel and Kathleen her sister. Under the Christmas tree with Nel, Kathleen, Eileen and Kathleens son and daughter in law.

Kathleen posing under a chandelier

BarbaraG

Thursday 26th November

I can't think of a suitable title so yes, I have used Toms naming convention. I have had to try and make time for myself to do this blog again. I still seem to be running around quite a lot and not spending much quiet time at home, except in the evening and by then I am quite tired and its Orry time. That isn't a good time to be bashing away on a computer keyboard as I could lose most of the keys in seconds. He is very quick to nick a key and it sometimes takes an age to clip it back on. My return key is hanging on by a thread at the moment as I gave up trying to put it back properly.

The family get togethers have found another lovely Sunday lunch venue at the Old Courthouse in Douglas. We went a week last Sunday and everyone loved their extremely generous and beautifully cooked dinners. When I say generous, that isn't an exaggeration. The chicken dinner had a full half of chicken. We didn't realise that actual meals were served and thought there were just bar snacks, but there is a lovely restaurant and the staff were attentive and charming. So if you fancy a bit of a change on a Sunday, it is well worth the £12.95 that we paid.

Last Sunday I decided to cook dinner myself and so I cooked a joint of pork the night before and was going to take my time preparing it all on Sunday morning. My friend Anne phoned to see if we should go walking on the Sunday morning and as we hadn't been for a while with the bad weather, we decided we would give it a try even if it was a gale force wind. After all, the dogs would still need walking. It was blowing an absolute hooly so we thought we'd walk to the end of Castletown beach and back, being blown into each other as we went. By the time we made it to the end of the beach we thought we'd walk a little further and the more we walked, the more we wanted to walk. Our eyes watered, ears stung and we forced our way through the gale, imagining the calories we would be burning with the sheer effort of forcing ourselves through the weather. The sea was mountainous, the dogs loved it and we felt totally exhilarated. There weren't many birds about for obvious reasons and we couldn't hear anything but the wind. We walked around Langness and eventually back to the beach. If we felt exhilarated, the couple of guys who were kite sailing (if that is the right terminology) must have felt on cloud 9. The wind blew them from one end of the beach to the other at an unbelievable speed, with massive waves smashing into them as they went. Sometimes they appeared to be tossed in the air and somersaulted back down into the foaming sea. It was a great sight to watch and that is as far as I would like to go with that one. Anyway, by the time I got home, I hadn't left myself enough time to do lunch and was stressing. Then I thought, "Why put yourself though this" and I promptly phoned the Flying Club and booked is in for dinner there. I didn't know if we would manage to get through Shore Road to Derbyhaven as the tide was coming in, but we managed it and by the time we'd had lunch and relaxed in the nice friendly atmosphere in front of the coal fire, the tide was on its way out again.

This week has been pretty stressful with animals and people. It started on Monday morning with me catching a hen that had looked depressed for a few days but resisted all attempts to examine her. Yes, hens do get depressed and when you know hens, you can spot a depressed one. Basically it is when a hen is not well but like all birds they do everything they can not to show they are ill as the other birds will pick on them. If they appear very ill, it is often the case that the flock will turn on them and kill them if they can. So by the time you notice a bird sick, it is often very sick. In the case of the hen, it was crop bound and so the food it had eaten for a few days had stuck in its crop. It will starve to death if it isn’t cleared and it can be difficult to shift. I have had to put Liquid paraffin and hot water with a syringe into the crop and keep massaging it to try and clear whatever is blocking it. I'm still not sure if I've one the battle yet and it has been some days. I am also having my carport roof lifted to accommodate the motor home. Graham, who is doing it, nearly took his thumb off on Monday afternoon and we spent from 1.30 until 6.30 in A & E. It was thought at first that he's cut through the tendon, but luckily it was just the muscle. It was a very serious cut and my home looked like there'd been a massacre.

Tuesday morning I took Suzie to the Onchan vet who it the heart specialist over here. I had to leave her whilst she had a heart scan and x-rays. Toms mum Nell also wanted me to take her to A & E as her hand looked inflamed where she had stitches the previous week to remove a suspect growth on the skin. She is diabetic and I was concerned that the wound was getting infected. I Picked Suzie up at 2.30 pm and then took Nell to A & E. We arrived just after 3 and she was seen at 3.30. The male nurse confirmed that her hand was infected and he said it was because the stitches were in too long. He informed Nell that a doctor would have to take the stitches out but she'd have to wait a couple of hours. It was 6.45 by the time she was seen and she was told it was all fine and to be expected. I couldn't believe I'd spent another afternoon in A & E and in this case, it was all for naught. I felt I'd seen enough of Nobles and vowed it would be some time before I offered to go there again for quite some time.

The vet phoned me over Suzie and she is close to congestive heart failure. Apparently its common in Cocker Spaniels and for the moment we don't do anything. With animals they treat the symptoms as they happen. Anyway, we will meet each thing as it comes along and for now she is having a wonderful time and appears to be as fit as a butchers dog as long as its daylight. She is totally blind in the dark and so at this time of the year I have to make sure she is walked before nightfall.

Wednesday morning I received a phone call from my friend Eileen. Eileen is coming to Dublin with us next week when we go over for Nels (Toms Mum) 82nd birthday. She chatted for a bit about Euros and then she said "You haven't forgotten bout Friday morning have you?" A deathly silence ensued as I hadn't a clue what on earth I'd promised. There was no point in trying fib, as she sussed me straight away. "Errm, to be honest, yes." "You said you'd take me to the hospital for my checkup." I stood there stunned at just how quick my vow was broken and my mind flicked to the other people I'd also promised coffee with. "You're busy aren't you?" she asked. "Don't be daft, of course not. I'll have you there on time, don't worry." So that’s that. My memory is rubbish and I have to check my iphone diary everyday. Obviously I forgot to put that one in!

Friday evening I am having a sort of belated goodbye get together for my friends at Zurich. I've also invited quite a few friends around and am calling it my early retirement do. I think there are about 40 or so coming to the garden room at the Viking and I have a hot and cold buffet for everyone. It will be nice to meet up with everyone and say goodbye to them after my years of working with them and introduce workmates to friends and Tom’s family. I wouldn't mind, but I'm already browsing the jobs column in the newspaper in case anything interesting comes up. I like people and animals and would love to look after either. My programming days are over. I want to do something to help and make a difference somewhere.

Today is the calmest day we've had for a while. Its only strong wind today and that’s great. I will have to go and look after my menagerie now and I will leave you some pictures of Sundays walk.

This is Barbara on the wind and rain swept banks of the Silverburn River.

BarbaraG

Still Off On One

Life still continues to be one of continual challenges, albeit brought on by myself. Just after my last blog I decided to have a gathering. Toms friend Tony has sisters living in Manchester and every time they came on holiday to the Island, we always put on a buffet and invited friends around. I did this a week last Saturday for Tony's sister Joyce and her partner. I was very nervous to be honest and I wasn't sure how I would stand up to having friends around without Tom here. I was determined that I wanted to do it as I wanted to bring everyone together for the first time since Toms funeral and try to carry on as I would if Tom was with me. The morning of the buffet I had a strange happening in the house in the morning. I had been feeding the ducks and geese on the river and when I came into the house, it became apparent that a bird had been in the house. I cleaned up a few spots here and there and as I went upstairs I had another little deposit left on the window on the landing. I began to wonder if the bird had actually left the house or had it gone further up the stairs and if so, where was it. It didn't take me long to find out but it was a shock to pop my head into Toms Office only to find a male blackbird sitting in a cage I use to take Orry camping. It sat there as still as anything and we just eyeballed each other. It didn't stress or anything. Eventually he went out when I opened the bedroom window and at some point in the day, it flew off. I'm finding amazing the amount of wild birds I have encountered over the past few months that have entered my life and just seem to have been quite chilled about our encounter. Don't get me wrong, I don't think for one moment any of them are Tom reincarnated, but it does sometimes seem as though he sends me comforting little visitors to let me know he's with me in spirit. Possibly its wishful thinking and Tom said before he died that if ever I ever wondered if something happened and wondered if it was him, that I would know for sure if it was him. For now my mind just knows what he would say in certain situations and they pop into my head. Anyway, back to the buffet. It turned out very well and at one point there was over 25 people in the house. I laughed and I cried. How could I not? I asked his friends as they were going if they felt it hard when they sat in the same room as they did when Tom was here and they reminisced. All said that they didn't feel that Tom wasn't there and it felt like he was with them. They were all very happy and said that Toms presence was felt keenly and he was close to me even if I didn't feel it now. That made me cry good style.

I picked the new motor home up on Friday night and it's lovely. I haven't had time to kit it out or go anywhere in it at the moment as I have been very busy with all sorts. Toms mum was taken to hospital on Tuesday evening and she's had another bad do with a chest infection. I have had her at the doctors for the past few weeks due to a chest infection and I've tried so hard to keep her well, even so she still got very ill. I want her fit for the end of this month for our trip to Dublin. I know she'll love staying in the Gresham and seeing her sister.

If that wasn't enough I also offered my services to the Church in Port Erin to play the Last Post for them today. As I haven't played a cornet for over 3 years and hadn't felt emotionally able to join a band again, I certainly put myself in a challenging position. So it was agreed that I played at St.Catherines morning service today. I also had another request for me to play at Malew Church this afternoon. I didn't know how I would feel with that as I have only been in the church twice. Once for Toms father's funeral and then for Toms funeral. Anyway I practiced quite a bit yesterday on a cornet I bought 2 years ago when my chest was very bad and I thought it was because I wasn't playing in a brass band anymore and I thought my lungs may have needed the exercise. It turned out that I had chronic asthma which went eventually and I hardly touched the cornet. As I was adjusting my poppy and was about to leave this morning, I could hear Toms voice reassuring me that it would be fine. I always got nervous when I was playing solo's and Tom would always give me a little hug and reassure me. He was really proud of my cornet playing. Anyway I did the Last Post this morning and it was ok. It gave me the confidence to tackle my next task of playing at Malew Church. I sat in the gallery and had to wait until almost the end of the service before I played. I didn't hang around afterwards when everyone else stayed for refreshments. I had held my nerve and I wasn't going to tempt fate any longer. As I went outside, instead of heading for the motor home, I walked across the road and stood at Toms grave. The tears flowed and I couldn't tell you whether it was because I had been quite worked up and it was now over, or because Tom wasn't with me. Probably it was a combination of the two. As I stood there sobbing with my cornet under my arm, a line of a eulogy that Tom wrote sprung into my mind, "Tis only bones before you lie." That pulled me together and I headed home.

I had been out all day and I needed to have a walk to wind down and I decided it was time to introduce Suzie and Skipper to our new vehicle. I drove to Langness and it was a cold, but absolutely beautiful evening. The sun was going down and as I drove through past the golf links, the reflections in the water pools, contrasting with the sky was impossible to ignore. I stopped to take a couple of pictures and a male pheasant flew across the front of the vehicle, his silhouette standing out against the evening sky. The dogs and I were on our own for the walk, apart from the wildlife in the area. The birds were looking for nesting places, evident by the agitated territorial cries coming from them. A curlews mellow call carried on the night air along with a herons aggressive kraarck. I could hear the sea lazily lapping onto the rocks below and even a snort from a seal cut through the peaceful night. Again, my thoughts turned to Tom and how he would have loved the sounds and smells this evening. The Chickens Rock lighthouse seemed to wink off the coast of the Island and all around the lights of Castletown and across the bays to Port St.Mary, the lights shone like tiny fairy lights. Even the airport looks pretty at night time. Suzie kept close to my legs on the way back as the light had gone altogether and she is blind in the dark. I did daydream about getting her one of those lamps that joggers can buy which they put on their heads and can see where they are going without having to hold a torch. I thought I would get one and put it round her neck when it goes day and we walk. It might be a totally nutty idea which may not work and then again it could be just the job.

On the animal front, Gerty the goose is doing ok in the garden and rules the hens. of the new hens I got, the 3 light Sussex that were a year old are fine, but the 3 pullets who are 30 weeks old have suffered badly with the very wet weather. They started sneezing last week and 1 in particular became very poorly coughing. I have her and another on antibiotics and she does seem to be responding. It hasn't spread to the older ones and so it must be that the young ones have a very low immune system. I have to be very careful and change my clothes and shower when I've had contact with them so I don't pass it on to Orry or the aviary birds.

I have added a couple of pictures. There is the blackbird on Toms braille keyboard and Tony's sister Joyce with a very happy Orry on her shoulder.

This is Barbara on the banks of the Silverburn, wondering what my next challenge will be.

BarbaraG

Trying To Slow Down

To everyone who keeps uptodate with my blog I have to apologise for the erratic entries you have been getting of late. I'm afraid it is still down to the same old thing - the grieving process and how I am handling it. Just when I feel I have weathered the worst and feel I am starting to get on with things, back it comes to slap me down. In my last blog I told how October was the month Tom and I started going out together. It was also a month we came to love. A lot of people feel depressed when the clocks go back and the bad weather comes. Tom and I loved all the seasons and the clocks going back spelled a time of cosying up and feeling secure with each other, loving the fact that we were safe, warm and together whatever the weather threw at us. It was a magic feeling and this has caused me some anguish this year. The mist that lies on the fields in the Autumn brought back my first memory of Tom taking me up the Silverburn River. The mist was low on the field and it was beautiful. I took a picture of him which I still have and it was so atmospheric. All these memories are lovely but also agony when I no longer have Tom with me. October was also the month I eventually persuaded Tom to go to the doctors when he was getting short of breath. He insisted on stopping smoking before he went and all that caused a delay, I don't think with hindsight that the outcome would have been any different with the type of cancer he had. So there you have it, I have been having and I still am, a bit of a weepy time and have been busy trying to lift myself with alsorts of impulsive things which work in the short term and along comes the tears again.

Not long after my last blog I felt I was getting more depressed as the week went by and on the Friday I decided I would try and nip over to Blackpool to see my brother John and his wife Helen who were in Blackpool on business. They live in Germany and I hadn't seen them since my Step Fathers funeral 2 1/2 years ago. They are both in the army and John is now a Major. Anyway he said he could see me on the Friday night and Saturday and then he would be travelling back to Germany. In half an hour I had booked a plane, a hotel room, arranged for Karron to look after my animals and cancelled any appointments I had for the next 2 days. I flew out on the tiniest plane I have ever been on and returned the next evening. Everyone knows my fear of flying but a strange thing has happened since I have lost Tom. I seem to have lost my fear of most things, flying, wasps etc. I don't know whether thats because it all pales into insignificance or that I'm not bothered about things without Tom. Actually I'm not being totally honest on that score. On the flight out I prayed all the way up and kept my eyes tightly closed. I relaxed for a little and then the same praying and eyes tightly closed scenario followed the descent and landing. I felt quite pleased with myself that I had done it. I had a good time whilst I was with John and Helen and we spent Saturday at an outlet centre in Fleetwood and had lunch sitting beside the marina. The trip back was little bit different than the flight out. For one thing, Blackpool airport was all but shut down with everything closed and notices up saying the Check-in desks would open at 7. Sure enough they did and whilst I had no opportunity to have a cuppa whilst I was waiting, that was rectified after check-in when I was told to go into the executivr lounge. There before me was every drink under the sun but my eyes looked no further than the vodka on an optic. Once I had checked that it was ok to help myself I got myself a vodka. A happy chap leaned over me and said "Have a double love, yer not paying!" I didn't need telling twice. A double it was and a can of coke. I knocked it back in time to get onboard the plane and I have to say my return trip was much more relaxed as I watched the Blackpool illuminations, the little boats at sea and eventually the lights of the different towns on the Island. So hopefully I have truley got over my flying fear and I am sorry it hasn't happened whilst Tom was alive.

I have more or less bought another camper which I pick up a week on Friday. I decided on upgrading the camper when I realised I would be sleeping out and my present camper wasn't bought with sleeping out in mind. It was purely for Tom and I to spend days out with the Skipper and have a little relaxation at the same time. Now I have 2 dogs and also like to take Orry with me and so a bigger camper was needed for the sake of comfort. Its gorgeous and I have put pictures on to show you it. It is 3 years older than my existing one and its only costing a few thousand to upgrade.

I have also booked a few days in Dublin at the end of November for Toms mothers birthday. She will be 82 and is Irish. I thought it would be nice to take her to Ireland so she could spend some time with her sister and I have booked the Gresham hotel. My friend Eileen is coming as well so we can have a mooch around the shops whilst Nel and Kathleen spend a more sedentry time together. Eileen has never been to Ireland, Nel wouldn't be able to travel alone and I will be going to Ireland for the first time without Tom and need to do things for the first time. Needless to say, we are all excited and looking forward to it, though I don't think Eileen will be too chuffed after spending a couple on nights in a twin room with my snoring.

Yesterday I went to Marksies to buy some new furniture for the conservatory. I still use it as my relaxing room and the front room still remains Toms room complete with models and bar. I find Toms room the most peaceful in the house and I couldnt change anything about it. Pauline has just called and we are going to have a bit lunch and then look for some new stair carpet.

If you're wondering why I'm spending so much at the moment, it's a case of getting everything done, paying off the mortgage and any outstanding loans etc before deciding where to invest what is left from my pension payout.

5 hours Later

Well, we only got as far as having a bit of lunch and doing a bit of shopping in Castletown. I felt more like enjoying the Autumn sunshine with the dogs than picking carpet. Even that was delayed as I realised that Quilliam the cockerel needed his dressing changing on his footwhich he has due to bumble foot. I try to keep it clean and it is notoriously difficult to cure, but I have managed it before with a hen although it took 6 months. The good thing is that once the cockerel is caught, if he is laid on his back you can do whatever you want as long as you don't hurt him. He lies as good as gold and very still. Once Quilliam was sorted the dogs and I walked up the river whilst I collected grass for Gertie the goose off the river and seed heads for the aviary. Gertie is coming along fine and knows where everything is in the garden. The Gander of the same breed which is still on the river is having a bit of a problem with balance on land. I mentioned it to a friend at the vets today just in passing and she told me that lead from the fishermen can cause it in the river birds. Unfortunately once has bird has been affected, the damage is permanent. For the moment he is managing very well and comes to the fence and has a chat to his girlfriend each day. He does have another mate on the river, so he is still very happy.

Last Saturday about 6 of us went to a pudding tasting night at the Ballasalla Church hall which was held to raise funds for work in the Catholic church in Castletown. The hall was packed and we had 45 puddings to try and taste. I only managed 8 as I have a hiatus hernia and I daren't really eat late. I wish the tastings were held at midday and I could really get stuck in. I was impressed how the Ballasalla Church went out of their way to help another church of a different persuasion in a different town. I loved the Churches working together like that with nothing but Christian charity being meted out in good measure.

The Ballasalla Church often have something going on like the French night the other week. I think the pantomime Character night in December will be good, but I don't know if I have the bottle to dress up like one. I'm sure Eileen will badger me to do something mad.

I was asked to become a commitee member of the Friends of the MSPCA who are presently busy raising funds for an indoor exercise building at the MSPCA. It will also be used for dog training with the the animal behaviourist and it is envisaged that it may be used and opened up for other things. Some of the committee members have a permanent stall at the Milan Vetinary Clinic in Castletown. I have just managed to get a whole load of £1 coin token keyrings with different designs for them to sell towards the fund raising and I have also handed over some Cd's of Tom reading his monologue "Home" with the background tune of Ellan Vannin. It is special for those who love the Island and Tom captures his love of the Island and why in the words that he wrote. Unfortunately I am also on the CD and Tom would kill me for saying that, but I dont't think I do the song justice. I felt that the one I sung which again Tom wrote the words of, should have been sung by a man. Anyway it was something we did together and we had fun doing it as we did wwith everything we undertook.

Anyway, it is time to call a halt to this blog for now. This is Barbara on the most beautiful banks of the Silverburn River, busy, sad, happy, fundraising and missing Tom oh so much.

BarbaraG

Retirement

Yes, it has actually come to me earlier than I had Originally intended, but I have now taken early retirement. People ask me how do I feel and I would have to say that I'm not sorry to be saying goodbye to that area of my life. I'm actually trying hard to stop smiling like a Cheshire cat. I started work at 15 and until Tom became sick, I have been employed in all that time. The sad part of retirement is that Tom and I spoke about it almost on a daily basis. When we retire we will go to America on the Mississippi, we will do what we want when we want etc etc. Now I have no Tom to share it with and it’s sad. We did however try to treat his period of illness as a sort of retirement period and acted as if it had actually happened, except we couldn't go away due to his illness and treatment. He always said 'next year when I'm free of cancer' and my heart would ache as I knew there wouldn't be another year and had to keep him positive. Anyway, I now don't have to worry about leaving the animals to go off to work and getting Karron in to see to things I may not have time for. I don't have to worry whether I will manage to cope with programming and the stresses that ensue when a problem has to be fixed ASAP. Now I just have to live without Tom.

It hasn't been a lonely time for me, in fact if anything it is unbelievably busy. I have so many friends I am having a job to accommodate everyone, but I'm managing. It is better to be like that though than lonely. I have started to take an interest in things about me again and I have been spending time with my aviary birds. Yesterday I had them clambering all over me yesterday for attention. My new 6 hens have settled in and there wasn't any fighting between my old girls and the new. One of the new hens follows me everywhere and I have named her TillyMint after my favourite that I got in my very first batch of hens that were originally battery hens. They are laying well and all who have called in the past fortnight have been promised eggs, so they better not let up for a while.

Yesterday I went to the cemetery with Toms mum and we took flowers. It was the anniversary of the death of her first son Kevin, which also means today is the anniversary of Tom and my first walk together. It was 19 years ago that I called at Toms house when he lived with his mum for their TV rental. I knew Tom for years due to this extra job that I had collecting TV rentals on a weekend. Tom was always waiting to say hello and most times he had a problem he wanted me to solve. Sometimes the paper was stuck in his printer, sometimes a ribbon needed changing and I'd even had to try and fix things I hadn't a clue about but always obliged. But on this particular day 19 years ago he was shaking like a leaf. I asked him how he was and he said he'd had too much to drink the night before, ended up at a party, fell asleep and unknowingly woke up and thought he was at his own home such was the extent of his inebriation. He walked outside with his guide dog and took a route he would have taken if he was at home, only as he was in Port St.Mary he ended up on the breakwater in the middle of the night with a guide dog with no harness. At that point he didn't actually know where he was and he walked off the breakwater and was saved from the sea with a bag he had on his back catching on the thing a boat is tied too. He got back up realising that he was in trouble and spent the rest of the night crawling around trying to get off the breakwater, but not daring to walk in case he went over the edge again. He did eventually get off and was found wandering up the street by a lady Tom’s mum cleaned for. She gave him a lift back to Castletown. That was one of the occasions that Tom always referred to as coming to terms with death. As a result of all that, I offered to run Tom to Port St.Mary to find his guide dog harness which I did. On the way home Tom asked me if I would like to go for a walk the next day which was Sunday, with his dog and my 2 dogs. I thought I would do my Christian act and take him out and that is how we first went out.

Tom directed me firstly to the Flying Club and then we walked to Santon Gorge. I felt self conscious holding his hand, but he didn't seem to mind and so I thought no more of it. I thought that is how everyone took him for a walk. After Santon Gorge he directed me to Fort Island and explained everything that was there. He was so knowledgeable and such great company to be in that I felt I would like to become his friend and perhaps take him out again sometime if he wanted. It had been a lovely day and I really couldn't get over how much I enjoyed his company. He had me enthralled as to how he could tell we were walking past objects like large rocks, hedges, trees etc and know they were there without being able to see. He explained that he got an echo back from the object and he could determine the size. The air dispersed around it differently as well and he was very much like the bat, able to hear them. It did not apply to humans as they were not solid enough, but most objects outside could be determined if there wasn't a strong wind blowing which would interfere with his very sensitive hearing. The next day at work I was full of it, telling everyone about how intelligent, fascinating and funny he was. I thought it might be nice to invite him to tea if he'd like to come and so I phoned his home but his mother answered. I didn't have the nerve to ask for Tom, so I just passed the time of day and went. The next day I thought about it again and again I phoned hoping he would answer. Once more his mother answered the phone and this time I asked could I speak to Tom. Tom came to the phone and I asked if he would like to come for tea to which he answered "yes." I asked him when and he answered "whenever." "Tonight" I asked and he said he'd like to and so I arranged to pick him up in Castletown at 6.30 when I finished work in Ramsey. Now all I had to do was work out what to give him as I knew I had nothing in. These days it would be easy to put a smart meal together with all the ready foods on sale, but then it was a little trickier. I had decided it would have to be something quick and with chips and as I look back now, I can't believe what I expected him to chose from and I'm even more amazed he came back for more. I bought a chicken leg and a breast, a tin or corned beef and a tin of salmon. That covered chicken, meat and fish. I picked Tom up and drove him back to St.Johns to the cottage where I lived and then gave him the options for tea. There was a long pause as he considered and then he plumped for salmon and chips. When we got to know each other better I learned that he couldn't stand chicken, only liked salmon on a sandwich and wasn't keen on tinned and as for corned beef and chips! Corned beef hash, but never with chips. We just chatted all evening and all too quickly came time for me to take him back to Castletown. We met often over the next 3 weeks until one Saturday after I had finished my television round; we went for a walk up South Barrule in a howling gale and freezing cold. When we got back to the cottage we decided he should stay the night and I would take him home the next day. This went on for a week and he only returned home to collect his clothes. It was quite a speedy courtship and then living together as neither of us had been married or lived with anyone before. All we knew was that we couldn't bear to be apart and that remained the case until the day Tom died. It was some time after we got together that I learned that all the jobs Tom lined up for me when I visited his house were mostly engineered. He said he used to try and work out how he could keep me there a little longer and all that time I hadn't a clue. All I know is that from the day we got together, my life began.

This is Barbara on the banks of the Silverburn River living with the memory of a lifetime of love.

BarbaraG

Found Some Time

You wouldn't believe how many times in the last 2 weeks that I have been going to write a blog and just haven't seemed to find the time or too tired to do it. I have been doing a little sailing, socialising, walking etc and will attempt to remember the main things that have occupied me.

I have discovered yachting as opposed to motor boat sailing and have found it an entirely different experience altogether. Toms friend Michael has taken me out on his yacht the Raven which is a gaff rigged boat for those who know. I personally haven't a clue, but he told me it was to do with the type of sails/rigging. Anyway, I have to say that I have found it totally exhilarating and exciting. We were even out in a force 5 and instead of being nervous, I loved every minute of it. I wasn't nauseous as the boat dipped and rose with the waves. I felt so much a part of the sea and so natural. I did look at the empty seat beside me and felt such a longing for Tom to be next to me. Tom wasn't very fond of yachting and I puzzled over it for a short while and then decided it was because it is a much more unpredictable sail. The boat can be leaning right over and he would have to shift his body weight to the other side of the boat and along with that, the mainsail is also swung from one side to the other at times and that would be very scary for someone who couldn't see. It wouldn't be as pleasant a sail as sitting in a motor boat chugging along. In my case I am small enough for the sails to pass over my head and was able to see what was happening with the sea, sails and boat. I was on the tiller for each sail and loved the feel of moving the boat about and keeping her steady. I'll never have a yacht of my own as I am not confident enough and I am just happy to sail with experienced people. I have even given up trying to keep on top of Toms boat the Silverburn. All summer I have been relying on different people to bail it out etc and it has been a weight on my mind. This week I have handed it over to Toms brother Lenny who loves sailing and fishing and only discovered his love for the sea when Tom took him a couple of years ago. I wanted to keep the boat in the family and so it is fitting that Lenny should continue to enjoy the sea from his brothers boat.

I have been increasing my walking each week and last Sunday got up to 4 miles. It still isn't a patch on what I was doing before the Pneumonia, but I am slowly getting there. Last week Anne and I walked from King Williams college to Langness and back. It was a lovely morning and there were so many birds out. The Curlew was in full chorus and when I pointed out his call to Anne, she recognised it although she wasn't aware that it was the Curlew. I also managed to positively identify the Egret as the Little Egret. A heron challenged it and seeing the two birds together enabled me to see the Egret was so much smaller. I love to see it flying with its pure white body and wings lazily flapping overhead. Yesterday I walked a little up the Silverburn and saw a large flock of Goldfinches flying and playfully landing in and around the river. The blackberries are still on the bushes and I have to confess to not having the patience to pick them much this year. I had every intention of, but without Tom it seemed so boring and lonely. We used to go each year and take a flask with us. It's just not the same.

I've organised Christmas very early for us this year. I didn't want to be in the house cooking for just Toms mum and myself whilst we thought of our missing loved ones, so I decided we would eat out. Toms Aunty Trudi has also decided to join us as her husband Norman died in January this year. So the three of us have booked with the Flying Club for a 7 course lunch on Christmas Day. It won't totally take our minds off Tom, Dennis and Norman, but it will be an enjoyable outing for the time we are together and we will enjoy being waited on. It is a nice cosy, friendly place and so we should have a good time. We went there last Sunday for our weekly family gathering and we all agreed that we hadn't enjoyed a Sunday lunch like that for a while.

I went out last Saturday evening with my friend Eileen. She bought tickets for a French Themed evening at the Abbey Church hall. We decided to go with onions around our necks and Eileen went one better and wore the beret as well. It was a great evening and you wouldn't believe how well a church hall could be made to look like an authentic French restaurant with the vicar in evening dress showing each group to their candle lit tables. We had a starter followed by beef bourguignon which was delicious. Then came a choice of sweets followed by different French cheeses, coffee and then chocolates. People took their bottle of wine but we just had Dandelion and Burdock due to me driving and Eileen not trusting herself. It was just as well really as we laughed that much that I thought I wouldn't be able to take a breath and Eileen thought she'd popped a healing broken rib. God help us if we'd got drunk. There was entertainment on in the for of the Harmony singers. This is a mother and daughter singing duo with the most beautiful voices with which they sang all the familiar French songs, finishing with a rousing and entertaining rendition of the can, can. Our next 'do' is a pudding evening on the 24th October. So far Eileen, Elaine, Pauline and I are down to go in our group. I'll have to starve myself for a month so I can go and enjoy tasting the puddings laid out on the night.

I really should do these blogs more often as I find it hard to remember all that I was going to say when its left so long. Fluffy the moorhen never returned and I have come to the conclusion that he has need taken by a sparrow hawk or something. I have deliberately not dwelt on it as I can do nothing about it and so I can only remember the positives that came out of our little time together. He focused my mind at a very bad time for me and I learned so much about the shy little birds. He in turn lived longer than he would have done and lived like a king for that very short time, ruling all beneath him which included Orry, the dogs and anything else he felt he could boss. lady came to the house last Sunday morning and I brought her through to the conservatory to say hello to Orry. She was fascinated with all the birds I had in the aviary, the hens, Gerty the blind goose and then she spied the heron which sits on the shed roof waiting for me to feed it in the morning and at night. "Oh Barbara!" she shouted excitedly "aren't you worried at leaving him outside? Shouldn't you have him in?" I tried my best to explain that whilst he appears to be tame, he is a wild bird and no, I don't worry one bit about a 3ft 6'' heron being left outside. Having a little moorhen in the house was one thing, but a flamin' great heron is another! :rolleyes:

Suzy is on heat again and she has driven poor Skipper mad. He is castrated and has tried his best to keep her happy but she is just too demanding and he has started to lose his rag with her now. She even started howling last night and the quicker she has a heart scan to check whether she is fit enough to be spade, the better for all of us. She managed to take off on Sunday morning on the beach and straight away found a willing dog. Anne ran the length of the beach to catch her but the deed was done. Suzy now has to have an injection to make sure she doesn't have any more pups. It's a nightmare at the moment. Hopefully she should be lessening off soon.

I'm picking up some hens tomorrow. If I mentioned them a while back, it never happened as the lady lost my telephone number and I hers. Now she has advertised again we have regained contact and my flock of 6 will be 12 tomorrow. That will mean eggs through the winter for me and my friends.

I am due to return to work next week but a plan hasn't been put into place yet. As I haven't been to work since a year last March, the firm do a gradual return to work plan. I meet with HR on Thursday for a chat and pretty soon it will happen. I haven't a clue how it will work out and I am just going to give it a try. A lot of water has gone under the bridge and I just have to see whether this is the right thing to do or not. I also see the chest specialist tomorrow and will get the results of my chest x-ray I had last week. This is to determine if I have fully recovered from the Pneumonia. I feel fine but boy can I sleep.

I am going to put a few photos on of the dogs at Langness and also the boat trip I had.

This is Barbara on the banks of the Silverburn River busy as hell but missing her soul mate so much.

BarbaraG

Never A Dull Moment

We are enjoying some lovely weather here at the moment and I for one have been making the most of it. I have spent the last week trying gradually to regain my strength and walking is one of the area's I have had to work on. On Toms Birthday I never got to the cemetery as that was the last of our very bad days which was wet and very windy. I was a little tearful that day and played a little recorder he used for messages to himself. Some people wouldn't cope with the sound of a loved ones voice who has passed on, but I find it brings him alive in a way. Although he has gone, I have something that makes me smile and warm inside, far more than a photo. Anyway, on his birthday Manx Tails came through the letter box and I was thrilled to see the piece I had written beautifully laid out with a black background, white writing, a beautiful white rose at the start of the article and a red one on next page at the end of the article. It seemed apt for it to arrive that day and I have had some lovely feedback, a plant delivered to me from someone who wanted to remember Tom that way and a card from a very old friend we used to socialise with in Ramsey that we lost touch with when we left and whose husband also died of cancer 2 years ago. The article was more or less where I was up to when I wrote it and it's amazing how things have changed in that short time. I focused a little on my long hill walks and I am barely able to walk a mile on the flat at the moment, but I am working at it. I am not able to put the article on my blog, but if anyone would like a copy I will happily email it in its raw form or if you send me your details, I could get some Manx Tails and send one to you. Obviously this is for the off Island readers who don't get Manx Tails. On Wednesday I picked Toms Mum up and we went to the cemetery with the wreath I bought. It was a beautiful day and I think it has been ever since. I took a photo of the grave which has just had grass seed sprinkled over it. I am not allowed to put a surround on the grave as they are not allowed on new graves now due to some of them falling in disarray and grass over graves are simply mowed.

As I said previously, I have been trying to improve my fitness and it is a very slow job, but I am doing more walks each day. I'm not doing longer at the moment, just a few 1 mile walks through the day. I found that I could hardly walk for the pain in my legs when I was getting to the end of a mile and it shocked me at just how much the pneumonia has played havoc with my body. I even tried to play a little on my cornet and after 3 minutes I was totally out of breath and my stomach muscles behaved like my leg muscles after a mile. I didn't even realise I used my stomach muscles to play. It just goes to show. I am oil painting and again, one hour at a time is enough due to fatigue, but the picture is gradually taking shape and I do love oils.

On the pet front it has been an interesting week. Fluffy the moorhen continued to go down to the river daily, coming back throughout the day for a nap or to torment Orry which he seemed to love to do, to such an extent that when I was getting Orry out of his cage the other day, Fluffy was on top of the cage and bending over the door attempting to give Orry a peck on the head as he came out. It has been like watching siblings trying to get the better of the other with neither attempting to hurt the other. It was all very amusing. Fluffy always went to bed upstairs in Toms office on a top shelf and stayed there until the morning when he would come into me for a little stoke and to let me know, along with the dogs, that it was breakfast time and I was to get up. When the animals decide I've slept long enough, there is no ignoring them. They use team work to keep the onslaught going.

Autumn is with us now and the leaves are dropping from the trees. It is a time when the countryside takes on different shades of yellow, gold and brown and can look beautiful. As I walked along the river yesterday, blackberries were everywhere and I've decided I'm going to have a bash at winemaking this year. My heart isn't into jam which I normally make lots of, but I'm not feeling very homely in that way. It was for Tom, even if I did give loads away, but I'm not up for it now. There are lots of butterflies and I noticed a few swifts still about. Yesterday I walked through the fields and gathered late dandelions for the aviary and some lush chickweed. I feed freshly picked greens and seeds to the birds as often as I can and Gerty the goose wanders around the garden everyday with her beak to the ground looking for grass and such which I also gather for her. Michael took me and a couple of friends down to the Sugarloaf Rock one afternoon and although I'd been warned, I didn't half get a shock when that beautiful big rock normally covered in birds, had one lonely gull standing on it and it was so quiet. All the babies have fledged and gone. Sean and Wendy will be interested to hear that, especially as they got so many wonderful pictures when they were over last.

I can't think of anything else that has happened in the last week as my mind is taken up at the moment with the disappearance of Fluffy the moorhen on Sunday afternoon. I had been out to lunch with the family as usual on a Sunday and arrived home around 2.45. Fluffy was in the house asleep and when I came in everyone was happy to see me including Fluffy who proceeded to compete with the dogs for my affection and followed me upstairs whilst I got changed. After that he went out to the river as normal and I fell asleep in a chair. I never saw Fluffy again. He didn't come back that night and that is when I knew for sure things where not right. He always came home at dusk no matter what as he had his own little habits. All suggestions that he has met up with another moorhen or just gone wandering are quickly dismissed as he wasn't ready and was top of the pecking order in the house and liked his own routine. As a consequence I have been doing the 1 mile walks often in a day and I have covered the river to the waterfall, down to the harbour, to the west and east and no sign. I've checked the sparrow hawks plucking trees which only have pigeon feathers, neighbours gardens and there is no sign. I like to think as Karron suggested, that he has somehow got in someone’s car and was carried off and eventually when the stowaway was found, released. He's a canny bird and knows how to look after himself, though he has no fear of humans like normal moorhens and will engage in play fighting if they take him on. He doesn't hurt though as the moorhen beak has no power as such and he is just very amusing. Obviously I am still wondering what happened to him and will for some time. I am though looking at the positives as I really don't want to dwell on the negatives at all. It’s been too bad a year for that and there are lots of positives out of my time with the little moorhen. He came to me as a tiny day old having been snatched by a seagull and then dropped. My neighbour Tom brought him to me at a time when I was grieving badly for my Tom and I had to make a decision whether I was going to continue trying to look after a baby bird or pass it on to the MSPCA. In looking after Fluffy, my mind had to focus on the needs of the baby which required feeding every hour with a small artist’s paintbrush. I had something else to look after and I have so enjoyed watching the little thing develop and also get to know the instincts of a moorhen. Although Fluffy was domesticated in a way, he was wild at heart with a lot of character. It was great to see the character develop and have a relationship like that. He gave me joy and also to everyone who came into contact with him. In return he lived like a king and a lot longer than he would have done if the seagull had recovered his dropped meal. If in the meantime anyone comes across a cocky little moorhen with a bald patch on his head, do let me know as I would love to know he was safe.

Anyway, this is yet another middle of the night blog and once more an apology for not emailing people. I haven't had my laptop switched on since I blogged last week, taken up as I have been with other things. I have found reading to be therapeutic and have been doing more of it. It relaxes me and my mind does not dwell on things the same. I will close now folks.

This is Barbara on the Silverburn River looking for a little moorhen that answers to the name of Fluffy.

 

p.s. My nieghbours Tom & Dee reported seeing a lone moorhen in the quarry water at Scarlett. I asked him did it have a bald head and he said he didn't know as it was too far away. He added that it got a little awkward as there were people about and he was stood t the edge of the water shouting Fluffy. :lol:

I still can't help laughing at the thought of it. I did go to Scarlett with Karron and the dogs this afternoon but the moorhen is an adult and not Fluffy. Having said that, the moorhen got there so they must have a decent range of flight. You never know, he could be out there somewhere!

BarbaraG

Toms Birthday

Well I seem to be making a recovery at last. It was slightly delayed on Saturday when I woke up feeling grand, fed the ducks and was about to have some cornflakes when I suddenly became extremely dizzy and nauseous. I had Orry out of his cage at the time & I had to stagger to the cage and get him in quickly before mounting the stairs and throwing myself on my bed. I was dripping in perspiration and to be honest I was quite upset. It was the 1st time in weeks I felt I'd shook off the pneumonia and was pole axed by something else. I phoned the emergency doctor as I wasn't sure if it was still connected to the pneumonia and I'd only finished the last of the antibiotics on Friday. They suggested I went in to be checked over and my sister-in-law Rosie, took me in. I passed all the tests of temperature, blood pressure etc and was given an injection to stop the dizziness and nausea. That quietened me for the next day or so as I slept 12 hours that night and 4 hours on the Sunday afternoon. It was a little glitch and it's all over now. Yesterday I really did feel on the up and started to get my act together again.

I started by feeding the ducks and then decided I would take the dogs for a walk. It has been nearly a month since I managed that and so a walk along the Silverburn to what Tom and I called 'mushroom field', was enough for the moment. I have to try and get Skippers obedience back on track again as he is pulling like a trooper again. I just need to gain some control over him. I picked some grass seeds and dandelions for my aviary and the blind goose and ambled home. It wasn't so much ambling as semi dragged. I'd had enough walking with that and was feeling a little laboured in my legs, but happy to have managed it. It seems strange to feel like that when I'm used to walking the hills for miles. Everyone says it takes time to get over pneumonia and now I know why.

I gave Fluffy the moorhen a little play on the river and kept close so he/she would be ok. It looked strange to a dog walker seeing me walking to the river edge with a moorhen perched on my shoulder. "You've not tamed a bloody moorhen now have you?" he asked. "Well sort of!" I replied and Fluffy decided it was time to show off his flying skills and flew onto the railway bridge above us. When he went Fluffy flew down and messed about in the river. He obviously liked it as he found his way to it later in the day when I went to rescue him for the neighbourhood cat. He is quite a character now and is top of the pecking order in the house, except me of course, but Orry and he have had some tussles with Orry backing off every time. It's amazing to see how Fluffy manages to intimidate an African Grey whose beak would do a heck of a lot more damage than Fluffy's. Fluffly growls really deeply and jumps in the air much like a cockerel fighting and Orry doesn't hang around. Occasionally Orry fights back with his bomber plane impression, flying at Fluffy at great speed, but the moorhen is too agile to be caught.

Today would have been Toms 56th Birthday and I find it sad. Reading back to last year's blog at this time, he was so thrilled to make 55 and so was I. I new 56 was very doubtful, but in my heart I hoped we'd see it together. This time of the year he always remarked on how he would be going back to school and hoping the weather would be bad and the boat wouldn't go. He said it every year and it saddened me that he never ever forgot the date and relived the situation for 40 years after leaving school. There were lots of things like that which Tom would talk about that had scarred him in a way and I was allowed a glimpse of the little boy that longed for his Island home and was so lonely without his parents and brothers. In another way it was the making of him as he was well educated and had learned the skills necessary to cope with his blindness. It is often the trials in life that develop our characters and make us what we are. In Toms case he developed into a remarkable man who was almost entirely happy and optimistic. Roger Waterworth the physiotherapist who is blind himself says in all is life he has never met a more positive blind person than Tom and Roger is well into his 70's. I have ordered a wreath in the shape of a heart and I will go to Toms grave with Toms mum later today and then we'll have lunch. If anyone see's me and I am a little fragile, then forgive me.

Yesterday I also went to meet Pauline and Ray at Langness in the camper. It was lovely to have some fresh air and it was so quiet and peaceful out there. The sound of the curlew echoed around the coast and the screeching of the herons and other sea birds where the only sounds to be heard. It felt great to be out again and to see the sun shining silver on the sea through the clouds in the distance. Miriam and her children had taken Skipper and Suzie to Scarlett earlier in the day and then they had the added bonus a walk on Langness with Ray and a little ball throwing. By the time I came home at 6 o'clock, I really did feel like I was on the up. On the way home I had a lovely surprise as one who loves to watch the birds. As I was driving through Derbyhaven I saw what appeared to be a while heron flying over and heading in the direction of Fort Island. I knew straight away it was an egret and can only assume it was a Great Egret due to it appearing to be heron sized. Of course with distance, it could be a Little Egret, but whatever, it was lovely to see a not so common bird. The first and last time I saw an Egret was when I was across with Tom staying at Meols whilst he had his radiotherapy at Clatterbridge. I saw one whilst out walking with my sister and we were as excited to see one then as I was yesterday.

Charlie and Dorothy Lambert came out to see me a couple of times last week whilst they were over. On the Friday we all had a bit of lunch in the Viking as I was taking Toms mum out after not being out with her for weeks. The Viking is about a 100 yards up the road and within my capabilities at that time. Charlie especially wanted to see the moorhen as it was just a tiny thing with big massive feet when he was over in June. You should have seen his face when he came in the house and Toms mum Nel was sitting with a moorhen perched on the back of her neck with its head peeing over her shock of white hair. She sat there with a wry smile on her face, looking like it was the most natural thing in the world to have a moorhen sitting on you. Charlie and Dorothy came back to Castletown on the Saturday when I wasn't able to see them due to not being well. They went for a walk along the Silverburn and came across the field that has around a dozen herons that all sunbathe along the edges. They all spread out and to see so many in a field is quite a sight. Besides fish, a herons diet consists of mice, spiders and things. Standing still in a nice warm field will probably yield them a good snack.

Well it is early morning as I write this blog as I was feeling a little sleepless. I have had a few enquiries from distant friends as to how things are, especially as I have been absent from blogging and not emailing either. Orry the parrot bit through my laptop charger cable last week and I had to wait for a new one to come before I could get online. By the time it did come I was knocked out with vertigo and the injection. So Cheryl, Elizabeth, Wendy and Dorothy, I'm sorry I have been lax and will be in touch soon.

Now I must get some sleep so I can visit my husband's grave with a fresh mind and spirit. I have added some pictures of the moorhen and also of myself so you can see how well I am looking.

This is Barbara on the banks of the Silverburn River about to nod off.

BarbaraG

More Of The Same.

I have waited until today to do a blog as I wanted to be able to give an update on how things are. I had a little walk to the garage on Tuesday and then yesterday I walked to the vets whilst stopping off at Eileens for a surprise cuppa on the way. I've helped a little with my aviary and still have Karron coming everyday to look after me and my menagerie. My friend Pauline who has been walking the dogs with her husband Ray, broke her foot on Tuesday and that has been an awful blow for her. I'm saddened, as it will keep her off her feet for a while. She wasn't walking the dogs at the time or I would have felt really guilty. I was hoping to recover quickly so I could now return the favour and help her, but a visit to the doctor this morning has quashed any thoughts there. I thought I would have a check up before I tried to step up my rehabilitation, but I have a temperature and have been given more antibiotics. He advised me that I have to be very careful and not try to do anything until I have had an xray and seen the specialist on the 30th September. I thought I was weary due to lack of exercise. Sometimes the less we do, the more tired we are and I thought that was the case with me and if I just motivated myself and did a little extra each day, then I would soon improve. I have been reading for the last 2 weeks which I've found more relaxing than anything, but I will have to make more of my time than that in the next month. Karron continues to come each day and look after my menagerie and me. Today she sat in the car whilst I drove to the doctors in Port Erin in case I couldn't manage it and she could take over. I didn't know if my stength would hold out with the steering etc, but its a lot easier than walking. I'm looking physically well to be honest and I'm a lot better than I was when I came out of hospital. I suppose I just have to be sensible.

I was reading some of Toms blogs in the week and its amazing how inspired I felt reading my own husbands writing at this time. There has been a sort of lethargy in me that has made me shrug at the thoughts that the pneumonia could have seen me off. A "who cares" attitude, which is still because I miss Tom so much and death holds no fear for me after talking to Tom and holding him as he left this world. Reading his words in which he says each day he is alive is to be cherished, made me feel ashamed. We both had the same love of nature and life and mine is just dulled at the moment because I'm not sharing it with Tom anymore, but the same beauty is still here, the same life and so many people around me show me so much love. Tom would be so proud to see how friends have supported and looked after his wife.

This time last year a lady knocked at our front door just as we'd got in from a very wet walk with the dogs. She was absolutely dripping and she wanted to know was this Tom Glassey's house. Anyway Dorothy and her husband Charlie became good friends although we only saw them a few times. They are over again as Charlie commentates at the TT and MGP. Dorothy emails and tries to give me sound advice as do many of my other friends around the world. Last night I was emailing her at 4 in the morning and woke to more pearls of wisdom. Cheryl in America is another lady who manages to help me sort out my innermost thoughts and make sense of them or put them into some prospective. I've just resumed this blog after a few hours as Dorothy actually knocked on the door as I was writing it. How coincidental is that! I was gagging for some mint imperials last night and the garage near here had none. Dorothy turned up with enough mints to keep me going for quite some time. she had left Charlie at the practices and kept me company for a few hours. The world has now been put to rights and I have had a laugh.

Someone left a half bag of mushrooms on my door handle this afternoon. I've tried to find out who the kind person is but have failed so far. Tom and I used to love to go mushrooming. When we lived in Ramsey we used to go to Jurby Airfields and they would be covered in big field mushrooms. There were so many that Tom could also pick them if he wanted. We used to pick carrier bags of them, weigh them and distribute them at work. We would always try to beat the previous years record if we could. Here in Castletown we found a field quite close and we would always try to be the first ones out picking. It would amuse us at how secretive people would be over where the mushroom were and one year we seemed always to get to a field just before one particular person who was also determined to get some good pickings. What was amusing was the way we were eyed by the other picker as if we were competition and instead of a friendly "good morning" we would be completely ignored but with an odd sneaky look in our direction to see how we were doing.

My new hens haven't arrived yet but they will soon. I will post more pictures of the moorhen who has dropped his attitude to me. I think I was being cold shouldered for being away from home. Orry has also settled down and has stopped being bitey. Skipper and Suzie still haven't had me to take them out and although I have to take it easy and don't want to be pulled by Skipper I think I will find a nice quiet place where I can let them both have a wander without needing to be on the lead and where I don't need to walk far.

Anyway I will bring this to an end.

This is Barbara on the banks of the Silverburn doing very little.

BarbaraG

Back Home

I came out of hospital on Wednesday afternoon. I still have pneumonia and pleurisy and have to be careful for a couple of weeks before gradually returning to a routine. The support network of friends around me has been phenomenal, to say that my immediate family live across and I am now alone. Karron has looked after the aviary, moorhen and Orry, not forgetting the river birds and a sick goose I took in before I flaked out. Pauline and Ray have been my doggy walkers and looking after them during the day and again, they still walk them now until I am fit again. On Thursday my friend Eileen arrived with 'meals on legs' as she calls it and brought me a lovely homemade lasagne and fruit crumble that lasted 2 days. She came back later to put away a Tesco order which was delivered. Along with that, Michael, Toms lifelong friend has been at my beck and call putting washing in for me and then the dryer. He has also taken Skipper for walks as he has looked for the odd mushroom with his lovely 5 year old grandson Tom. All I have had to do is rest and cope with my illness. I have been too drained to bother with the computer and a little down as well if I'm honest. With the illness, along came all thoughts of Tom. In hospital it all came back to me and I dwelled on things too much. When I came home I missed that comforting gentle man that made me feel cherished and I felt so lonely despite everyone around me. Antibiotics don't help and the pneumonia has been a serious one by all accounts. As I say, I', picking up a bit now in mind and spirit and the body will follow in time. I have received some lovely cards and well wishes from people and Sean and Wendy, I did get your special card thank you very much.

In hospital I did start to paint again, but haven't resumed yet since coming home as I have been more wiped out than when I just lay in a room. Thats my galivanting now for this year. My menagerie has been unsettled by my comings and goings and the one that appears to be most affected was my lovely Skipper. Probably with losing Tom this year and then me going AWOL, it has unsettled him a bit. He has lain at the side of the bed since I came home and has treated me as he did Tom when he was sick. Skipper is much better these days when going out. I have been having the dog behaviourist every 2 weeks and it is all starting to show. Everyone that takes him out now is asked to continue with the commands so we have continuity and we have a much calmer dog. I don't know if I mentioned that the goose was almost blind that I took off the river. It was suggested that he may be better put to sleep, but after having been married to Tom and listening to him say that a blind animal is fine as long as it can find its food and drink, there was no way I was going to end its life. Its happy in the garden with the hens milling about and it can find shelter when the weather is bad.

Fluffy the moorhen is now a juvenile and gets stroppy when you try to hold him. He will let you stroke him to a degree, but is definitely a teenager with attitude. In a week or so I am going to get onto the wildlife park to see if they will take him in as he will get protection there, be fed and can interact with humans if he wants. It seems to be the best thing to do. He's very independant like a cat. He goes out all day in the garden if its fine, and comes back in the evening, has something to eat and goes to bed in the bathroom. He even takes himself off to bed.

Next week I am getting a few more hens to join my exiting old ones, 3 Black Rock and 3 White Sussex. I have 5 hens at the moment but the youngest will be four with 3 of them being 7 years old. My rooster is also getting on and not really interested much in waht roosters do. He's always been a gentle boy and whereas most roosters make sure they are outside the coop waiting for the females to emerge so he can jump on them, Quilliam seem to stand in the shed and say 'after you' to all the hens. He looks after them and keeps order, but I'm never going to get any chicks from him.

It is a lovely sunny day and I'm sorry Cheryl that you can't see it on the webcam. It appears to give up the ghost and I will replace it soon. I just hadn't worked out what to replace it with.

I will go now and rest a little. Best wishes to you all from Barbara on the sunny banks of the Silverburn River, glad to be home.

BarbaraG

In Hospital

You'll have to forgive this very small blog & any mistakes I make as I try my best on my iPhone. Don't things change ever so quickly where I'm concerned. One minute I'm saying how well and refreshed I am after my trip across & now I am being looked after in Nobles Hospital. It certainly surprises me that's for sure. I was a bit shivery last week & thought nothing of it. Even a bit of stiffness in my legs I put down to reduced walking through my knee problem. Then Thursday i went from having dinner with Toms mum, to a temperature of 38.2 and aching head to foot. I didn't go to the doctors as I was worried I'd picked up swine flu from my trip across. I phoned the doctors & relayed my symptoms & the doctor told me it was probably a virus which was similar to swine flu & was doing the rounds at the moment. Never-the-less she did inform public health who phoned me the next day & they also decided it was the virus. I must say that at this point my temperature was still rising, I couldn't get out of bed & my pains were increasing. I never moved all day. I shivered & sweated & tried to ride the storm. I'd been told the temperature stays high for 48 hours & then subsides but if my breathing should become bad, I should seek help. Karron came & saw to my birds, Pauline took my dogs & I just slept & moaned. I wouldn't let anyone near me as I didn't want to pass it on & I was in agony before the end if the day. When my breathing became shallow due to the pain, I decided to phone the out of hours doctors. I was to go straight there so Pauline & Ray helped me into their car & took me to the Hospital. I was admitted & through the night xrays were taken, I was put on a drip & given intravenous antibiotics & fluids. I was pleased to find I hadn't got anything I could pass on but was shocked to find a had a massive area of infection in my lung, along with pneumonia & pleurisy. All my symptoms were from that alone & nothing else. With the powerful drugs, my temperature came down from 39.2 to normal. The muscle spasms have stopped & although my breathing is still shallow due to pain, I can still smile. I thought I would continue to read the Paul O'Grady book yesterday but it made me laugh, which caused agony & I had to close the book. I will use the book as my marker to how I'm improving.

Anyway, I don't think it ended up too short & you know why I haven't blogged. I have to say I'm in the very next bed on the ward that Tom was in on his last stay at Nobles. I found it upsetting when I first arrived, but I'm fine now.

Love from Barbara

BarbaraG

Just What I Needed

I have returned home after four days across with my Mum and I have to say that I feel it has probably been what I have needed. I was worried about how I would react to being on the boat and sailing into Liverpool without Tom by my side as he has been for the previous 20 years. I didn't cry and was even able to look across the river to the Meols lighthouse without filling up. Meols is where we stayed last year whilst Tom had Radiotherapy at Clatterbridge. We stayed in a caravan that we hired for a month and it allowed us to have different people staying, including Skipper our dog. I didn't spend the whole four weeks there as I had to balance it with looking after my menagerie, but I did spend around 2 1/2 weeks and we came home each weekend. It was probably the best place to stay for us as it was right by the sea and we had lovely walks each day, including a lovely walk to Meols Lighthouse. Now back to my break.

I arrived at my mother's at 10.30 a.m. on Monday and wasn't there long before we went into St.Helens town for some lunch with my sister Janet and niece Beth. Of course I had to update myself with all the changes and the usual questions arose when one wanders around their home town which they left nearly 40 years ago. The roads are one way, the picture houses have either gone or are something else with big new picture houses built somewhere else. The building I started my first job in has gone, but the memories remain. I worked for the co-operative in the divi office sorting out the little slips and calculating the divi. As an office junior, I along with another junior were given the task of telling people what there divi was when they queued each year. It didn't take us long to realise why when the customers started arguing that they should have more and we would have to go off and recalculate the slips that had been sorted into the little trays throughout the year. There was some pretty aggressive customers I can tell you and not a time that we looked forward too. I also remembered meeting my first serious boyfriend, our meeting place, his family and jaunts we'd had. We stayed friends on and off for years and he came to see me just after I married Tom and I never saw or heard from him again. I think he has also died before his three score and ten according to information I have heard.

Tuesday I was taken to the Trafford centre which I have never been to and it was worth the visit. There was so much to see and buy but a day wasn't long enough. All the time I was with my Mum and sister Janet and we have laughed until I couldn't breathe. We get on so well together and obviously have the same humour. My poor old Mum has been walked all over the place but has also enjoyed herself. Tuesday evening my other sister Jacqueline, with husband Lawrence and my other niece Fi called at my Mums. I returned the favour on Wednesday evening and called to see them and see the lovely changes they have done to their home. In the morning I called on my Aunty May and we went into Warrington for a bit of lunch and a catch up. She lives near some woods and I had a little walk with her before I went back to St.Helens and was rewarded with a squirrel quite close and observing me as I did him. As we have no squirrels on the Island, I am chuffed when I get to see one. My sister Janet lives at Billinge or Orrel near Wigan. I'm never quite sure of the exact area, other than to say it is lovely. She has a Senegal parrot and in the course of a visit there I managed to sex it for her once and for all. It is definitely a boy as his courtship display to me made it very apparent. Janet had never witnessed his courtship behavior before and was fascinated. Janet's husband Carl is not given to saying much, but the hug he gave me when I saw him said it all. He wasn't able to come to Toms funeral and so I haven't seen him, but that one hug and no words expressed more than any words could. I took a few gulps but still managed to contain myself. My nephew Matthew is forging a career in filming and I managed a rare meeting with him as well. He is at university and doing an evening job as well, but at the moment he is making a film which is going he and his friends are hoping to sell in America. I don't know the ins and outs properly, but that's the gist of it. As you can see it was a busy four days with lots of catch ups, retail therapy and laughter. Along with what I bought, my mother and Janet also gave me lots of things to bring back home. There was so much that my mother couldn't stop laughing in case my camper got searched on the boat. She reckoned they'd think I'd been on the rob. I had a toaster, a flat screen TV, 2 12volt TV's, an Oreck vacuum and bags & bags of shopping. It lightened the mood when it was time to leave. Tom wasn't one for visiting people and preferred for them to visit us instead. It has worked fine since we have been married, but now I am alone it did me good to get away.

Coming back on the boat I had a book with me that my Mother had read and said she couldn't stop laughing whilst she read it. I decided that it would be good to have a read of it on the boat and it would take all sad thoughts away. It certainly did that and I had to keep checking if anyone was watching as I chuckled away. The book is by Paul O'Grady and it is northern humour about his childhood which was from the same era as mine and his experiences bring back memories long since gone, but so funny told by him.

Driving off the boat gave me the thrill I always have when I come home, but it was dark and all I wanted was to see Skipper, Suzie and Orry. As I drove along suddenly became aware of the sweet air. Tom spoke of the sweet air coming from the silverburn and that is something we live with all the time. As I drove home it was beautiful to smell it like that in the dark and I just wanted to inhale as much as I could into my lungs and savor it.

Karron and Pauline have looked after my menagerie and they have done a brilliant job. It isn't easy dealing with an African Grey that is missing his mum and jealous of a moorhen. Skipper is in love with Pauline and I knew he would be fine. Karron knows my birds nearly as well as me and treats Orry in the same way as I do and so there is total continuity. He has been stood on my head singing the cuckoo waltz since I started this blog and now he is happy to groom himself and my hair whilst he is on my shoulder. I am sitting in my bedroom watching and hearing the birds in the fir tree, my cockatiels are whistling in the aviary below, baby sparrows are being fed by their parents, doves are cooing, rooks are calling in their grating voices and a jackdaw is trying to help himself to some seed through the aviary wires. It was very misty when I first work at 6.30, but now it is beautiful, just like the place I live.

It was lovely to go across and see the family. There was even the odd conversation as to whether I would ever think of going back to across. The answer is a firm no. I have lived on this Island for 36 years and I love it as much as Tom did. This is my home, this is where my friends and Toms family is and although Tom is not with me in person, I feel so close to him here and so much of him is a part of me. We thought the same, loved the same and became as one. He was a very profound person and would have a take on things that would leave me open mouthed. I have been going to a physiotherapist friend of ours who is also blind and he has said on more than one occasion that Tom was the most positive blind person he had ever known. I second that and I am trying to so much to be like that but I fail so often. I do feel now that I have a renewed strength after the break and I am going to try my best now to go forward. There will still be times when I am fragile and it is to be expected, but I now feel able to move my life forward.

Orry is now a telephone and standing on my head again. It is time to bring this blog to an end and empty that camper van of mine. My nice tidy house will soon look like a jumble sale and anyone calling will know for sure that Barbara is home.

Love from Barbara on the banks of the beautiful Silverburn River.

BarbaraG

It's been a strange week to say the least. On Tuesday I nipped into Douglas to change a skirt that I thought would fit me. I have dropped a size and a bit since Tom died and I attempted to drop 2 sizes in a skirt. Well I poured myself into one which was part of a suit that I bought from Dorothy Perkins. I could breathe and sit just about, but if I was going out for a meal or put on an ounce, I was going to be in trouble. Rather than doing shallow breathing, I thought I'd just change the skirt for the next size. I was invited to an old ladies 80th birthday dinner at what I thought was Rowany Golf Club and I was going to wear the suit. Anyway I couldn't change the skirt for a bigger size as they were out of stock, so I bought another skirt, top and clutch bag with the intention of ordering the suit skirt off the internet, which I duly did on Thursday. I got dolled up for the first time in a long time and headed for the golf club, only to receive a phone call when I was half way there telling me I had it wrong and it was Port St.Mary. That wasn't a problem and I soon arrived at the club. I parked the camper at my friend Pauline's and walked around the corner to the golf club. I was greeted by the lady whose birthday it was and then I ambled over to the bar and had a glass of orange. I knew the people who run the golf club restaurant and John came over to talk to me. John is the son of Captain Jack that Tom wrote so much about and his brother was Toms childhood mate. The tears started to well up and John was all embarrassed. I couldn't help it though and although I pulled myself together for a short while, they came again after John had gone to get on with his kitchen duties. I had no choice in the end, I didn't want to spoil the birthday party and I didn't want people wondering why I had a bright red nose and tearful eyes. I made my exit out of the fire door and went. So that was my night out in my new outfit.

For those who may be wondering, I GOT THE INSURANCE MONEY A WEEK LAST THURSDAY. I'm still in the process of paying all my outstanding debts. When my broker comes back off holiday I have to take it all a little further now that the company have eventually paid out.

Wednesday was a sad day for me as I attempted to access telephone banking and didn't know the pin. Tom used to do that side of things and my failure to manage the task caused me to be a bit down. Well that and events the night before. I suppose I was just fragile and I also wondered if my attempt to come off the tablets was a little premature which was confirmed by the doctor the day after. He also sent me for an x-ray on that dreaded knee of mine which has stopped my walking for the moment.

Thursday night went camping with Ray and Pauline to Glen Moar, near Kirk Michael. It's a lovely spot and although there is a field with mobile homes, it required the owner's permission to stay there, which we didn't have, so we stayed on the car park which had a loo and we didn't feel any worse off for it. I had trouble walking that night and so limited myself to short walks along the beach and I concentrated on getting different shots of Peel in the distance with the changing light. It was a really peaceful place to stay and there was a wonderful array of birds and wild rabbits to entertain us as we sat in our campers. I watched 2 ravens in flight, seemingly synchronizing their flight and they looked so graceful. It looked like it could be a courtship dance or two lovers gliding, dipping and soaring together in total unison. Black headed crows nested in the sandy cliff at the side of us and lots of rabbits also had their homes in the cliff which could be seen so clearly from our spot. There were fishermen on the beach, children playing and people walking their dogs. It was all such a happy scene with everyone enjoying the sound of the surf and the relative seclusion.

Yesterday was a day I would not want to repeat again. I was busy trying to do all the paperwork I had neglected for months, including tax returns and Orry the parrot was quietly mooching about. I suddenly became aware that he was up to something and found him eating a packet of my thyroxin tablets that I take for an underactive thyroid. I was mortified as he had eaten 4 and I know that they could cause heart problems if too much was taken. I was onto the vets in pure panic mode. Time goes so slowly whilst you are waiting for a phone call to say what to do next and after calling them back to check if they knew anything but was told they were working on it, I decided to try another vet. This was me at my worst in panic and that vet also had to go and investigate and would get back to me. Eventually the first vets called me to tell me that the dose Orry had eaten was within the range for parrots and that he would probably get hyper and eat a lot. She suggested I get him to drink plenty n case there was any powder still in his throat. That was easy as he loves tea and will gorge on it. Then the 2nd vet called and said that the dose was a bit high for a parrot but he should be ok but he would be hyper etc. If was worried about him I should get back in touch. She also advised that I give him charcoal to absorb some of the tablets, suggesting perhaps a charcoal dog biscuit. That wasn't a problem as I had some shapes in the cupboard and after emptying the cupboard contents on the kitchen floor, I found the shapes and a charcoal biscuit. The problem was that Orry didn't want a dog biscuit. I then remembered I had charcoal granules in the aviary, so I ran as fast as I could there and back with the charcoal only to find that in that short time, Orry had punctured 5 cans of coca cola and the kitchen was swimming and fizzing. Trying to get the cans into the sink with a manic parrot isn't easy, but I managed. I then dumped the cans in the bin, but Orry had other ideas and my hyper parrot banged on the bin until it opened. All the time I was trying to do some toast to put the charcoal granules on to entice him. I then had to put rubbish in the bin to stop Orry getting the cans out, but he again opened the bin and attempted to pull the rubbish out so he could get to the cans. He will be 2 in a fortnights time and I think he is pretty ahead for his age. He wouldn't touch the charcoal granules so I phoned my friend Pauline and asked her to go to the book/art store in Port Erin and buy me some charcoal sticks. You can imagine the man in the shops face when she asked for charcoal sticks and informed him that it wasn't for her as she wasn't an artist, but it was for her friends parrot. Orry may be clever, but he'd make me a fortune if he could produce some charcoal drawings. Anyway my ploy worked and he ate the charcoal stick because I let him think he couldn't have it. Orry survived the 24 hours I'm pleased to say and he has eventually calmed down.

Another little event took place that morning when I could hear an almighty racket coming from upstairs. The dogs and Orry were down and the only other possible culprit was the moorhen. I was shouting him and eventually went looking for him. As I shouted, he shouted back, but I could hear lots of splashing. He had somehow investigated the loo and fallen in and was flapping about like mad trying to get out. He was fine after his little ordeal, but now I have to make sure the bathroom door is closed. The moorhen is very domesticated now, even though I let him have his freedom outside. I walked him down to the river the other day and stood whilst he pecked about. From nowhere another moorhen flew at him and stopped dead when t saw me. I call my moorhen Fluffy due to how he/she looked when I first got him. It looks like he will be with me indefinitely unless he finds a partner in the future. He is a wonderful bird to have around and so clean, using a bowl of water in much the same way as a cat uses a cat litter tray.

I am going across to see my mother and the rest of the families tomorrow. I haven't stayed at my mum's since we got married, preferring to stay in a motel with Tom instead, so I am going to have a lot of firsts this next week. 'm not sure how I will be with it all but it has to be done. It is yet another step in getting on with life on my own. I'm taking the camper and I'll manage a bit of retail therapy.

So this is Barbara on the banks of the Silverburn River preparing for an early rising.

Love Barbara

BarbaraG

Out And About

Last week was the best week I have had for nearly 2 years. There is a normality coming back into my life that hasn't been there since Tom started to become breathless nearly 2 years ago. At first we only had a bit of a concern, but always at the back of a persons mind is the word cancer. Anyway, this week I have been as high as a kite with a change of tablets from the doctor, but even so I was compos mentis enough to know and act. Although its a really nice feeling to have, feeling tipsy and giggly which can only be compared t having a couple of drinks before a meal and almost feeling a little sad when the meal is eaten and the tipsy feeling is gone. Anyway, I had been tipsy for a week and was getting even tipsier. Now I've had abandoned the tablets and have reverted back to my originals only I have felt I can half the strength. If I am still feeling as good as I am after a couple of weeks, I fully intend the tablets will be confined to the annals of history. Anyway, as you know I have been in quite a reflective mood which was evident in my 'Just Be' blog. I also wrote another piece which has been accepted by Manx Tails for publication and if I was to say I was cockahoop, it would almost be an understatement. I don't want to write on the back of Tom, (so to speak), but I do love writing about him and I know there are people who like to read about him still. It was always on the agenda that I would write around Tom’s writings which would be called 'On the Rocks'. I now feel in a position to crack on with this, but I have asked Manx Tails if it could be a sort of serialization in their publication which would mean that it could be done gradually and would eventually for a complete book. This would be a much easier way for me than trying to write a whole book, get it published and distributed. Finding someone to publish is a task in itself and self publishing is expensive and then there is the distribution. Even Toms book 'Who's Afraid of the Dark' was a nightmare to publicise and get distributed and it also had a financial sponsor. Today we would be looking in excess of £6000 to publish, so this is why I feel a serialization would be good in the interim and I can write gradually. I am not a writer, but when I write about Tom my fingers can hardly keep up with everything flowing from me now. If ever there was a time when I felt Tom was with me in spirit, it is now.

Back to my week though, I have been out in my car/camper, sleeping out and absolutely loving it. I never thought I would be using the camper for sleeping in and saw it more as a day out, tea on tap vehicle, but what fun I have had last week. Of course Tom and I camped and loved it, but he never got chance to use this vehicle and when we bought it I knew I was going to be using it alone and this influenced my decision to persuade Tom to have just one vehicle and sell the car and motorhome we had. I used practicality, insurance, service, tax and garaging in my reasoning. We never argued about things like that. We just discussed and came to an agreement. We didn't argue about anything anyway, just maybe the odd minor disagreement very occasionally. Anyway the truth was that I knew I was going to be left alone and I needed to ensure I had something that would be practical and could be used for Tom as well. I have added a photo of my little vehicle on this blog. I don't think there is another of these vehicles on the Island, so if you see me, give me a wave. Anyway, the dogs and I have slept in the camper and I even came home on Thursday and returned to Peel with Orry the parrot. I haven't lost it! I never had it to lose in the first place. This unusual behavior on my part is not down to tablets or anything else, this is the closest I have been to being myself for quite some time. I've always been a tad mad or possibly eccentric. Orry loved it and was fascinated watching the comings and goings on Peel breakwater. The dogs and I have spent quite a lot of time walking Peel hill and I think it is lovely how it has been developed over the years from just a grassy hill. The little cafe on the breakwater is a great addition to someone like me that still hasn't got into the swing of cooking for themselves. In all honesty, I used to cook for myself all the time when Tom was with me as he was a fish person and I preferred more meat and veg. I suppose I just can't be bothered if I'm honest. I wasn't entirely alone on the breakwater as I had friends in a camper next to me who provided lovely breakfasts, company and allowed me to 'Just be'. As much as I feel safe on this beautiful Island, I would feel a little nervous sleeping entirely on my own without people I know close by. I came on Friday as I had felt a little under the weather with a mild bug which made me feel weak, nauseous and flushing. It went after a day or so and then I continued camping with a call at Sulby first of all which made me feel quite normal. As I pottered about in my camper, couples went past and were fascinated at my cage in the camper. I heard the lady say “What sort of parrot is it?” and her husband replied “An African Grey.” “Are you sure?” she asked him and I engaged them in conversation and confirmed that it was an African Grey and his name was Orry. Well if I thought I was going to shock them, it was me that had the greater shock when they told me they also had there parrot with them in their camper and he also was an African Grey! I actually went over to meet him but he wasn’t very impressed with me, but not to worry, I began to feel quite normal after all. From Sulby we went for dinner at the Chinese in Ramsey. It was a very enjoyable meal and whilst there I received a text Tony, from one of Toms friends, telling me that he was in the Mitre Hotel listening to Dickie Kelly. It was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. I had to nip over and say hello to both. Dickie is a friend from long ago and played at our reception when we got married. Throughout the years we have met up at various places and he always tried to get the best of Tom with his banter. I have never met a man that ever managed that and Tom would engage in the friendly repartee. Going over to the Mitre was probably not one of my best ideas as the first thing Dickie asked was hoe was I doing. Emotion took over and I could only give a squeaky reply and decided I would rejoin my friends in the Chinese. I was waylaid on the way out by another couple telling me they were sorry to hear about Tom and by the time I got outside I felt quite sad. It’s all part of the process and these things happen. I just have to cope with each situation and not allow myself to slip into too melancholy a mood. I spent the night at the Moragh Park and woke still a little sad as I have many happy memories of our time living in Ramsey. We both loved Ramsey and the people who took us into their hearts and treated us as though we’d lived there all our lives. Before me and my friends left Ramsey on Sunday, we called at Alan (Mousie) Christians to fill up with water and then we went for a dinner at the Harbour Lights. It was gorgeous and I had to abandon my usual Sunday walk with Anne because I would have had to rush dinner and by the time I had eaten dinner, I was more up for a snooze than a 7 mile ramble. We continued our camping at Laxey Glen where we stayed the night and returned home today. Orry did well to stay that long really and to be honest, he seemed to love it.

I will have to bring this blog to an end now, but I am adding some photos of the moorhen, some views from Peel hill and also a few great photo's from Sean and Wendy when we went to the Sugarloaf. Sean is a brilliant photographer and I could do with him on my walks to capture the images I want to recreate in oil. That has also reminded me of my walk with Anne a week last Sunday. We walked from Port St.Mary to Port Erin along the coastal path stopping off at the Sound Cafe for a cuppa and a lovely piece of well earned chocolate cake. At Port Erin we also felt we had earned the right to a lovely big ice cream and then we walked the road way back to Port St.Mary for our vehicles. It was great to see the Sugar Loaf rock from above and the birds could be heard in the distance below. How I long to be able to take Anne to the Sugarloaf in the boat and let her be amongst the birds from the sea. Sundays are the only day she can do it and the weather and the tides all have to be right. For some reason it hasn't quite happened, but someday soon maybe we will manage it.

This is Barbara on the sunny Silverburn River, wondering where my rambling spirit will take me, Orry, Skipper and Suzie next.

BarbaraG

Just Be

'Just be' are two words that I have been told to try and do many times in the past 5 months. It has never really meant much and probably aggravated me quite a bit because I have been unable to 'Just be.' I have sought out company whenever I can with new people, new things to do, old friends to see, new walks, up, out, in, write, busy, busy, busy. I've talked about things but have done it clinically if it has involved Tom and if possible I have tried so hard not to think or do anything that we have done togethe and so it goes on. Now I am at that place. Now I know and understand the words 'Just be.' Now I am slowing and thinking. I am crying, but it is now done out of grief and not of depression. Now, only now can I tell the difference. Now I am me! I hope that you don't think I have lost the plot, if you do, then maybe I have. :D What I do know is that I now want to talk about Tom. I want to remember his laughter, his singing, his whole being and the comfort and love I felt just lying in the crook of his arm or resting my head on his chest with my arms around his waist as he hugged me. I can now sit here in the quiet as I have done for months without the TV on or anything else. Before it was because I couldn't watch TV because I wasn't interested, couldn't be bothered, hadn't the patience and just didn't want the noise. Now it is because I am feeling peaceful and haven't even thought of the TV as I am busy trying to pick up on everything I have abandoned. Where to start is my biggest problem. I want to play my brass instrument again, I want to paint, I want to write the book for Tom, I want to camp out and see the beauty of the sunrise and sunset, I want to walk every beautiful walk there is on the Island, I want to 'Just Be'.

For the past few days I have been in this reflective mood and I pray it lasts. I have spent the last few months wishing desparately to have Tom back even though it is imposssible. Logic doesn't enter into it when you hurt so much. I still hurt but in some strange way I am managing to feel that love I have for Tom in a positive way. Instead of it being an all consuming pain because he is not with me, I am feeling the love I have had for all those years supporting me now. I told Toms friend Michael today that I have asked myself that question "Is it better to have loved and lost than never loved before?" The answer is a resounding yes. I have a love that many people never have in a whole lifetime. We had something very special and instead of crying now, I should be happy that he is out of pain and in peace waiting for me.

Don't for one minute think that this is how I should have been all the time or others the same. It isn't possib;e to think that way when your heart is torn in two and you are left as though you have had a heart and mind amputation. In truth I am still functioning with a very large part of me missing, but the part that is left is learning to compensate. Obviously there are limitations as a large part of the bit that was amputated from me was the wisest and the part that is left keeps making awful mistakes and wishes the wise part was around to help. Of course there was much more amputated than wisdom and of course a massive physical part as well, but even though so much has gone there is so much love, so many memories and a spirit that nothing can quell.

I will do another blog this week with my weekly updates on the clan, a report on my weekend walk and the dreaded insurance, but for now, I wanted to share this quiet, peaceful state that is with me now.

Love from Barbara on the tranquil banks of the Silverburn River.

BarbaraG

Today I and my friend Anne decided we would do another walk taken from our rambling book. Today's was to be Slieau Whallian at St.Johns to almost to the Rushen mines and then down to Barnell on the Patrick road. Had all gone according to plan we were also going to walk back down the railway line from the Raggart to St.Johns. I had to be up and about early as I'd arranged to meet Anne at 8 a.m. just on the Patrick Road, at the St.Johns end over the road from the lane and cottage that I owned when I met Tom. That in itself brought back memories of both before our relationship and afterwards. Anyway, I was raring to go as I had never actually done this walk before as I'd heard it was a bit bad underfoot. It wasn't somewhere I could take Tom and I feel that rambling walks into the countryside should be done by two people in case an ankle is turned or whatever. That is why I am enjoying our explorative walks more than ever because they are energetic in themselves without just walking. Well they are when you follow instructions like Anne and I. We started by walking up the road and going over a stile part way up the road and we were quickly into the forest. I knew this forest well from my time in St.Johns as I used to climb it twice a day and loved to test my fitness by running to the top. Time has moved on and even walking fast is not an option now, but we did climb to the top and couldn't find a gate that we were supposed to go through. Down we went and decided to take another route only to come across the stone wall that we should see, but no gate. Lots and lots of barbed wire though. So we, or perhaps I should say I, decided that instead of walking the paths, we should walk vertical up the forest by the stone wall until we came across a gate. Talk about steep! We made it though, well as far as another line of barbed wire which now ran through the forest and blocked our path. Going down would have been great if we had been kids with a flattened cardboard box to sit on and we'd have been able to navigate the trees of course. As it was we just went back down gripping branches for brakes until we got to the path. Anne suggested we actually do the walk in reverse and then hopefully we would find the elusive gate on the way back. As we wandered down the hill, we were almost at the entrance which we came in the forest, when I saw another path little used that possibly could be the one we needed. I told Anne that if we tried it and this failed then I was going to give in and we'd go to Tynwald Mills for a cuppa. We had messed about in the forest for an hour and we hadn't even started, but we hadn't half had a warm up. As we walked along there was quite a bit of fern and it brought back memories of when we lived in Ramsey and Tom found a tick under his armpit, fully ensconced and sucking his blood. Before I went to work that morning I soaked it with meth's and as a rule that would have been the end. He turned up at work a bit later in the day wondering if I could help as it was irritating and still hanging on. I then tried burning it with a cigarette as I'd heard that would surely kill it, but it still hung on. In the end I had a brain wave and decided I would gently burn it with a lighter that Tom had which just lit up a ringed part for his pipe which he smoked at this time. I never thought for a moment that with all the neat meth's, alcohol and everything else I had used to kill it, that his armpit would go up like a forest fire. I did manage to put it out without Tom being hurt and thankfully the tick met his maker. Anyway, back to our walk and we did come across another stile, not a gate as was mentioned in the book. We saw two cyclists walking up the path and discussing how steep it was for a while, but bingo, we'd found the elusive path. We hadn't been walking long before 4 trials bikes came passed us and we had to hold the dogs until all was clear. A little later as we continued on our upward climb another few bikes came passed and one biker said we would be ok once we got onto the Barnell path as they were all turning left. The views were stunning looking back towards Peel to Douglas valley and the St.Johns to Foxdale valley. We identified landmarks and the sun was now shining after a stuttering start. It was clear and beautiful. As we turned eventually onto the Barnell track, we could see trials bikes in a field and felt quite safe that they were going to have nothing to do with us. I don't think it was long after that the 1st trial bike came towards us from Patrick. It was a bit of a shock as they had been coming from behind on the other track and now they were meeting us on a much narrower lane that was rocky and hard to walk at the best of times. All the bikers were really polite and thanked us. We thought we'd enquire from one of the first bikers on this road as to whether there were anymore coming. "There's about 50." he said and we thanked him for telling us but it wasn't what we wanted to hear. The path got worse and each time a bike came, we flung ourselves into the nearest hedge. My worst experience was when I flung myself into a gorse bush. It was a nightmare and one of those were everything becomes extremely funny because it's so bad. I had to pull myself together lots of times as I was in danger of losing the plot. Anne lost her footing at one stage and went sprawling, such was the state of the lane with uneven rocks and massive big ruts. I can see why it would be brilliant for bikers. Trust us to pick that walk when there were bike trials going on. We eventually staggered to the road and all I can say is that the views were gorgeous, but the path itself would not tempt me back to do it again. The views are such that taking a photo would not be good enough for someone to appreciate. That can only happen by being there, turning 360 degrees and savouring everything your senses can see, hear and smell. I did take a photo on the way down as I loved the scene from Patrick to Peel and there is a 3 legs of man which can be seen in a field made up of different types of grasses to make the design stand out. I believe this was done by the prisoners of war in the WW2 that were at Knockaloe. If I'm wrong I will stand corrected. I got back to the car pretty shattered and have a painful knee again which has happened after great climbs and only hurts going downhill or as now, going down the stairs. Tomorrow it will be fine if last time was anything to go by, but I would love to hear from someone who may know what may be the cause of this and if there is something to help me stop it on my rambling days, besides not going up hills. I love these walks, but the pain going down is something else again.

This last week has not been the best for me as regards the grieving process and was triggered when I heard the insurance money was delayed yet again by PHEONIX. That is despite the bank having a fax 3 weeks ago saying the money would be put in a 48 hour transfer. The latest excuse is that they want a discharge letter from the bank that has been stamped the banks company stamp and signed through the middle. The bank have already sent 3 discharge letters and each one is not to PHEONIX satisfaction. The bank are furious, the broker is furious and I am finding it dragging me down. All I can think is that if Tom was here what he would do, it would never happen and he'd sort them out and then with each thought, I get lower. This week I have wished I could turn back the clock and have Tom back and my cosy, loving life. It has eaten away at me and I have cried buckets. Each day I have lost another pound in weight as I never get hungry and forget to eat. I always eat something at lunchtime, but if that is only a bap, I won't be hungry later and again I forget to eat. It's only the next day that I work out I haven't eaten for so long and I am still not hungry. Sleeping is a problem with me waking every night for probably 2 or 3 hours and maybe I go back to sleep and maybe I don't. So some nights it can be 3 hours sleep and others I may get 5. I went to the doctors on Thursday as I myself was worried that I was slipping back into depression. I'd been at my friends Pauline and Rays in the afternoon and couldn't stop crying and didn't want to talk either. I just wanted Tom, plainly and simply although it is impossible. Pauline came with me and helped to explain things to the doctor where I may have forgotten. I have picked up since and there will be more medical stuff this week, but anyone grieving out there may like to know that it was all still put down to the grieving process and is quite normal. Everyone's grief is different and each cope with it in their own way.

A week last Wednesday Sean and Wendy came back to the Island for the Viking festival. I managed to find a window in the weather and Toms friend Michael took us to the Sugarloaf Rock and round the Calf in Toms boat, the Silverburn. I'm waiting for some pictures from them to put on here for you all. They had a great time whilst they were over and I really do think they should do a blog, such are their exploits and two very, very interesting people.

Mr. Goosey was put to sleep on Thursday which as sad. His muscles in his left leg had collapsed and he was no longer able to get around which caused his chest to get the equivalent of bed sores and he was soiling himself. There was no quality of life left and he was in pain. The moorhen spends every day in the aviary and is keeping it all clean from worms etc and he comes into the house in the evening. He really does think I am his mum and he just acts like any of the other animals in the house. He goes to a bowl with water to bath and defecate and is a right little character. Any morning that I have found it hard to wake after a bad night, he is up the stairs with his little calling sound and eventually he will find a way on the bed and runs excited to sit on my chest and chatter away in moorhen. He is developing wings and feathers and still has a lot of colour changing to do before he is a fully grown up moorhen.

I think that is it for now folks. I will leave you with some pictures and will write again soon. I wonder which will come first, my next blog or the insurance money?

I've shown a good path on the way down the track. This deteriorated rapidly and I haven't taken any pics of that. I was too busy throwing myself in the hedges and trying to negotiate the track. I have also included the latest picture of the baby cockatiel which can now fly, but has some feathers to come. The moorhen makes an entry as well and there are more of him/her but I'll show them again.

Love from Barbara and her menagerie on the banks of the beautiful Silverburn.

BarbaraG

Quite a few people love me to do descriptive walks and none more than Elizabeth who lives in Milwaukee and has been and friend of Toms long before I married him. Elizabeth, like Tom, is blind and so to all who like those type of blogs, I have done one especially for you. I woke at 4 a.m. on Thursday and knowing I wasn't going to go back to sleep in a hurry, I decided that instead of lying there trying for hours, I would get up and take the dogs for an early morning walk along the Silverburn River. The first thing that greeted me as I opened the door that morning was the sweet smell of the meadow and newly cut grass. On the river bank the ducks were still sleeping and a moorhen took advantage on the peace. Doves and chaffinches sang as I urged my tired dog Suzie to come along on the walk. Skipper was in his element which was evident by running. As I went along I came across a part of the river that Tom used to decide how fierce it ran or lazily as it rippled across the pebbles and stones in the river. A little wren bobbed in and out of the bushes at the other side of the river. Apart from a far off aero plane, there was an absence of the traffic that can normally be heard in the distance. The cows all lay in the field across the river and I hoped that is where they would stay until returned from my jaunt. A fish jumped in the almost still water and the midges had breakfast on my blood. Suzie had woken by this time and was enjoying her walk. I looked back on my favourite scene of the Golden Meadow Mill with an elderflower tree growing at the side and the ivy climbing the mill. Blackberries budded and I pondered the jams I would be making later in the year. It was a still, beautiful day and although warm, it was great for walking and the dogs. A seagull cried in the distance and the breeze ruffled the leaves of the trees. As I walked across the field, 2 wood pigeons flew ahead and I was watched by the cows as they continued to lie across the field. I heard a cockerel in the distance. I stood and listened for a while and felt at one with everything around me. The field had quite a lot of thistle growing and that would be relished by the goldfinches which have been plentiful in my garden and the park this year. A hooded crow flew to the other side of the field with what looked to be a mouse in his beak. A few willow warblers called to each other from the thick bushes and a pheasant called in the distance. I saw a sparrow hawk fly into a tree and hide amongst the foliage. I hoped he wouldn't catch any of the sweet singing birds I had heard. The traffic could now be heard building up from 5.15. As I walked along it was like listening to a CD that has birdsong and rivers, only this was real and all mine. Skipper played in the river under a sycamore tree and I thanked my lucky stars that Suzie hadn't rolled in any cow pats. high in the sky a long tailed tit twittered past me and the swallows found a good source of food. As I approached the end of the field I remembered the herons that nested there earlier in year and had now fledged and how Tom and I were fascinated when we first heard them, shouting clack, clack, clack as they waited for their parents to return with food. I could hear the Castletown bellbouy ringing in the distance, the sound being carried on the breeze. As I walked through the gate leaving the field, there was lots of seeded grasses and dock. I forgot to bring a bag to carry the greens back with me. I always went up the river to pick dandelions, seeded grasses, sorrel, dock to name a few for my aviary birds. They adore everything I bring back. I could hear the waterfall not as roaring as can be when there has been rain, but still loud enough for me to know when I am approaching it. A couple of birds flew past with nesting material in their beaks and a heron flew to the fir trees that they nest in. I doubt they would having a second nest this year. Everything smelled so sweet and as I walked away from the river, the bird sound receded as there wasn't as many trees about. A great back black gull flew over and the swallows still dipped and dived as they fed on the wing. I stood for a while and listened to some more birdsong. I smelled the meadow sweet that came on the warm breeze and appeared to perfume the whole area I was in. Another sparrow hawk flew into a Rowan tree and I could hear the ducks in the distance. There was wild angelica, birds foot trefoil and lots of long grass swaying gently in the welcome breeze. I read that sparrow hawks only eat birds. I had presumed they would eat mice and such, but apparently not, therefore when I see a sparrow hawk looking for a meal, although its unpleasant to watch, he has to eat to survive. There was a beautiful pale buff butterfly with a touch of orange on his wings. Bales of hay lay in rolls across the river in the field. I neared the bridge that holds lot of memories for me with Tom. On mornings such as this one, Tom and I would rise early, make a flask and head up the river before I went to work. Tom would sit on the bridge drinking coffee and having a smoke of his pipe whilst I picked seeded grasses for my birds. At that time we thought the pipe was fine and would save Tom from lung cancer. We both gave up the cigarettes 17 years earlier. Tom took the pipe up and took up nicorette chewing gum. I became addicted to that and chewed it for 12 years. I think you could say I have an addictive personality. Anyway, after an early morning walk, I would go to work and I felt exhilarated after my walk and time with Tom, whilst everyone else would be sleepily trying to pull themselves together.

I could hear a magpie in the distance and that would sound the alarm calls by other little birds. Malew Church came into view which meant Toms grave was probably only around 250 yards away. A raven flew over and I continued wandering up the river amongst the foxglove and lots of other pretty wild flowers which I wish I knew the names of. Lots of poppies grew along with milk thistle and a little rabbit ran away in the distance. Skipper took this opportunity to eat some of his favourite grass. The fields I walked along didn't have the normal wheat and barley, but some vegetables. The sparrow hawk flew past me with its breakfast firmly in his beak. As the trees became more plentiful, the bird song became loud again. I approached the area where Tom and I would come blackberrying. Tom would hold the carrier bag whilst I got purple fingers. e would like to try the occasional big juicy one and I can remember the smile on his face when he nicked them. We had a guide dog called Escort that hated us going blackberrying. He was really impatient and would whine the whole time, that was until I introduced him to blackberries and he realised they were edible.

I decided it was time to turn round now and return home. It started to rain and the threat of thunder caused a little panic in me. if Tom had been with me he would have been able to hear if there was any thunder about long before me. I headed for home a lot quicker than I walked to Ballasalla. The 1st plane started its descent and I checked my watch to see it was 6.15. As I neared Poulson Park the rain became torrential and I was walking down the middle of the rugby field to avoid the trees. At the same time I felt good to be getting a bit of a wetting in the heat.

When I returned home, Orry was still asleep as was the little moorhen. The moorhen has certainly been coming on in the last week. He is losing his black colour and going brownish with buff stripes on his tummy. I know e as a lot of developing to do yet, but it's amazing to watch and monitor. He now spends his days in the aviary and lets me know when he feels it's time to come in the house. The dogs are fine with him and he knows his way around the house now as was evident the other morning when he came up the stairs to the bedroom to find me. Last night I looked everywhere for him as he had gone quiet. I couldn't find him and decided that he must have gone out and been snaffled by a gull or heron. My spirits plummeted and I decided there was nothing I could do now and I might as well go to bed. As I climbed the stairs I heard a distant mewing and yes, it was my moorhen. I followed the sound and he had ensconced himself in the bottom of my wardrobe in the bedroom as I hadn't shut the door properly. I was pleased to say the least.

Tonight the goose doesn't seem too well and I'm not sure if he will survive. I have given him food and water and tried to make him comfortable. If he does die I will be sad, but all I know is that he is a very, very old goose. Toms father used to say someone had put the goose on the river quite some years ago. He would have had an idea how old the goose is, but all I know is that the goose was old when Tom and I moved into this house 11 years ago.

Anyway, that it for now. I will add some photos of the canary and moorhen and you will be able to see the changes.

Just before I go you may be interested to know the manky insurance company called PHEONIX have still not settled the death policy. Their latest excuse is that the bank have to company stamp and sign a discharge form and until they do, no money. This is despite them saying the money would be in the bank at the latest last Tuesday. There appears to be nothing I can do about this and they just don't have a heart or any compassion. Tom has been gone over 4 months and they still haven't settled.

On that note I will close with love from Barbara on the lovely scented banks of the Silverburn River.

BarbaraG

30th June 2009

I'm snatching an opportunity to do a blog. So much has happened over the last two weeks that I have found it difficult to find the time. Even bedtime as found me hitting the pillow and crashing out immediately. At the moment it is 4.00 a.m. and I am having a wakeful period due partly to the sticky heat we have at the moment. The weather forecasters are giving it getting hotter in the UK this week. On the Island we won't reach the same temperatures thank goodness.

The last time I blogged I was going into work to meet my team leader and a friend. That went well and I went to see different teams that I had dealings within the past and talked happily with them all. I was really pleased that I'd made such an improvement and then as I went to bed that night, I felt such an overwhelming loneliness. The next day didn't improve and I cried most of the day. I don't know why it had such an effect on me whilst I am improving so much in other ways, but it did.

On the Sunday I went on one of my rambles with Anne my walking friend. We always try to do a different walk each time we go out and I have got all the books now that map the walks and distance. Anne left it to me to decide which we would do and only I could have picked not exactly the right walk for the weather we had at that time. We started our walk at 8 a.m. on the Sunday morning meeting in the car park out South Barrule plantation. It was a wet misty morning but still with some warmth. Before we even got started we were descended upon by a swarm of midges. So with walking shoes, our map, waterproof jackets and 2 dogs, we set off through the plantation. We left to the sound of the chaffinches and we were alone for the rest of the walk. It was raining as we left, but that wasn't going to deter us, and the forecast was for it stopping. There wasn't anything really significant that I can remember after such a few weeks to describe. Elizabeth from Milwaukee loves me to describe walks in my blog as like Tom, she is blind. I will try my best Elizabeth and I will certainly do better next time and do my blogs when it is fresh in my mind. That morning I remember the smells of the forest were strong in my memory. We followed the instructions in the book which were quite straightforward until it came to phrases like "continue on past a fire break". We had been steadily climbing and knew our ultimate aim was to walk through another forest and eventually we would be at the gate that leads us over South Barrule itself. I think this was when we had our first conundrum. We weren't sure what a firebreak was and thought it was some sort of contraption and then I realised it would be a clearing in the plantation. Whatever, two paths both seemed to have clearings, only one went downhill and the other maintained the height we had climbed. I plumped for staying high up and although the path became quite bad, at least I knew we would eventually come to the place where we would ascend South Barrule which was the case. When we found the gate I'd have to say that the mist was thick and we couldn't see very much ahead of us at all. This had made our ramble all the harder as after probably a few miles walking, we hadn't really been able to see very much at all and any references to "you will be able to see Langness from this point" were lost on us. Now we were climbing a 1565 foot hill that would have had magnificent views and we could only see a few feet ahead. The advantage was that neither could we see the peak and so we just kept going. Eventually we were at the top and what an achievement that felt. Yes I know it wasn't a mountain or anything but this was a 5 mile walk with a rather large hill thrown in and the terrain I brought us over, wasn't the best. All we had to do after that was descend the other side, but there wasn't an obvious path and so we ended up making the descent through the heather which was pretty thick in places. We did it though and after 3 hours we were back. Don't laugh! We did do a lot of discussion on which path, what was cuckoo spit, bird identification etc etc. As far as the paths were concerned, we'd decided early on that whatever happened, we were adopting a no blame culture. We sat in our cars at the end fully pleased with ourselves but also slightly embarrassed as that was the morning after a lot of hardy souls had done the parish walk. 86 miles of walking which took some nearly 24 hours. There is a joy and excitement in rambling like that though. Never knowing what you are going to meet next and feeling totally exhilarated afterwards. We didn't walk last Sunday as my mother was over and it was also my baptism day, but this Sunday we are going to do Slieau Whallian in St.Johns, down through Barnell, through Patrick to the Raggart and back down the old Railway track to St.Johns. There will be some climbing again, though nothing like the last walk and its 6.5 miles.

Last Sunday was my sea Baptism. It was a beautiful day and couldn't have been better really. There was a service on the beach first and then I and a few others had to walk down to the sea. I'd have to say I hung back to the very last, such was my fear of water. I cannot remember being above my ankles in the sea since I was very young and so besides it being a very public Baptism, for me it really was walking out in faith with a smile on my face. The Bishop is a lovely man and so approachable. It was an honour to be baptised by two lovely people, Bishop Robert as he is known, and the Vicar Norma who has become a Spiritual Sister in a way. In the past I have mentioned that she did the burial service for both Tom and his Father. She has so much love for people and through her own experiences of pain and suffering, she has empathy and understanding. Rather than explain, I will put the pictures on and I can only apologise for showing a bit too much flesh when I came out of the water. I was gasping for breath in panic and was rather dazed. I had lots of people supporting me along with others who were also being baptised and members of the church. Lots of people feel that the churches are dying and there is no-one in them, but on the Island, I and many others feel there is a revival happening. I also thougt the churches were empty until I actually visited some of them. It was a shock to see how many people do worship and it is only when you see it that you realise how misguided are those that don't go to church. Not long ago there were a lot more people in the pubs than appeared to be in the churches. The balance has now been addressed and there are definately more in the Churches. Its amazing how many young people are involved as well. Increasingly more people are having a public show of faith by being baptised in the sea and as well as the people in Port Erin at the weekend, it was also happening in Peel again with the Living Hope Church. I have no intention of preaching on my blog, but I did want to let people know that The Boss as Tom called him, is at work on the Island and I find it quite exciting.

On the bird front, my little moorhen is really coming on now. In the days I put it in the aviary and in the evening I let it follow me in the house and it sits cuddled up to me until it is time to go to its own little bed which is still heated for comfort. It can jump quite big heights and its feet are still growing at the rate of its body, so it never catches its feet up.

That's it for now folks. It is nearly 6 a.m. and I may have another hour before getting up. Today is my mother's last day before going home tomorrow. She came to support me at the baptism and also escape the thunderstorms in the UK. :D I should have more time to blog now the Baptism is done.

This is a sleepy Barbara on the banks of the Silverburn River.

BarbaraG

What A Difference

I have to say that there has been a heck of an improvement in me in the last few days. Yesterday I make a start on the book that will be done between Tom and I. There is quite a bit of material written by Tom and I will do a sort of 'our story' wrapped around it. I am still keeping the title Tom initially thought of "On the Rocks." I feel pleased that I have made a start, albeit a small one.

Today I am going to meet my teamleader and another friend from work for coffee and then I want to go to work and see the teams there again. Last time it was emotionally sapping, but today I am hoping it will be much better for me. I have formulated my own back to work plan which I will discuss with HR and a representative of UNUM in July. UNUM are the insurance company that our firm pay into for each employee and in the case of long term sickness, UNUM take over paying part of the salary. This has been the position I have been in for over 12 months now as I struggled to cope with the stress and anxiety which came with the knowledge I was going to lose Tom. I won't be able to put any plan into action until the doctor has signed me off and that won't be until August at the earliest. I'm chomping at the bit, but it is sensible as I don't know if this level that I am on at the moment is temporary or not. Certainly the counsellor I have has said that I am loads better and the peaks and troughs are now leveling off instead of being like a giant big dipper. The fact that I can actually formulate a plan or commence a book is something that would have been beyond me a few months ago. Anyway, I am going in the right direction and getting a life as Tom would have wanted me too. It doesn't have the same joy as it did with Tom, but its a start. To be honest, when Tom and I first got together I was absolutely besotted but our relationship needed to be worked on. Like most women if I perceived an offhand remark or I felt a little jealous of something, I would use facial expressions and looks for Tom to pick up on. It gives a woman a get out if she has got it wrong. Take for instance a couple where the female feels neglected and has her arms folded and look of misery a husband asks "Is there anything wrong?" Female says grumpily "No." Husband says "Are you sure, you seem quiet?" Female "I'm fine." Bemused husband is not convinced and says "Are you sure I haven't upset you?" Female "No, I'm fine. " This can go on for some time until the female gets what she wants. In my case it had to be straight and to the point. Any quiet periods and looks went unnoticed, obviously with a blind person and I would be even more wound up that Tom didn't even notice that, mainly because quiet periods to Tom where just that, quiet periods. So it would have to be a straight "Have I upset you, only you haven't spoken much and basically I need a cuddle." Straight and too the point, but it took me sometime to get there and in the case of jealousy, I would end up apologising to Tom for even thinking such a thing.

Anyway, I can see a heron waiting for its breakfast off me, as will be the ducks on the river, my hens and Mr.Goose. Orry is singing away, fluffy has been fed and the aviary will be done before I head to Douglas.

Have a nice day everyone.

Love from Barbara on the busy banks of our beloved Silverburn River.

Just as an aside, Tom is buried in Malew Churchyard and it really is only a stones throw to the Silverburn River where he is facing.

BarbaraG

What a strange few days weather wise we have had down the south of the Island. I was looking forward to going to the Sugarloaf Rock today with my friend Ann and when she phoned this morning, all was well and the day was beautiful. I went to Church and then I met Toms Mum, brother Lenny, his wife Rosie and my niece Becky at the Sound and you couldn't see a hand in front of you for mist. I hoped it would lift as the same thing happened yesterday and the mist lifted later in the afternoon. By 3 p.m, the time we was to meet, the mist was still very thick and there was no way we could go to sea and so Ann and I decided we would give walking a miss today. Half an hour later I was walking the dogs at Langness and the mist lifted and out came the gorgeous sunshine. I have had a heavy week of dashing here, there and everywhere and my head is saying stop, slow down and just contemplate. I needed time to just collect my thoughts and realise I have been doing that manic dashing about stuff again. It hasn't helped that I have had nightmares for the last two nights and they have tended to stick in my mind. Last night I was being chased and I was hiding and running all over the place. Someone was chasing me to make me do something I didn't want to do and my night went on like that. The more I ran and hid, I was almost caught again and I would have to run and hide again. It is probably my subconcious living a dream which is probably reflecting what I have been doing for the past few weeks again. Running, keeping busy, no time to think, meet this person and that person and when night comes I am too tired to do anything but sleep. Now I have to let myself be caught as running is exhausting. Thinking is sad, but has to be done.

The Insurance still hasn't come for those that may still be wondering. Don't forget, Pheonix are rubbish when it comes to death policies and don't consider the distress they cause.

I have just had a look at the Picnic in the Park just behind our house. It is the busiest and best I have ever seen it. The cars were parked right up to Janets corner roundabout and the park is pretty full. I believe the chip van ran out of chips and had to go home for more. There were lots of stalls, including the farmers market stalls. Sumo wrestling, Go carts, bouncy castles, real horse rides, roundabouts, the Tootsie train and loads more. I queued for ages for a Mr Whippy. I don't queue as a rule, but I wasn't go to pass up a chance of my favourite Ice Cream. Everyone was having a great time and the Jazz Aces provided some music. Mr Tony Brown had a little chat with me and asked how I was doing. Sometimes it can't be answered as there beneath the surface the tears are just bubbling. Its funny how you can be surrounded by so many people having such a good time and feel so lonely. There was only one place for me to be and that was home. As soon as I got home I felt better. A baby dove sat in the garden, obviously unable to fly, but safe and I know it is being watched by its parents. Even if it isn't, I have my eye on it. I took another picture of the baby canary that had the stitches and an update of fluffy the baby moorhen. I have been feeding fluffy 1-2 hourly all week and it is now drinking on its own. Hopefully it will be eating on its own in the next few days. I thought it hadn't grown, but Tom and Dee from next door (who gave it to me) said it certainly had grown. Its a cheeky little thing and its feet are still growing with every tiny bit that its body does, so there is now way it is catching up yet. Goosey Gander is still in the garden as I'm not sure he is fit enough to survive on the river with his arthritic foot and seems happy at the moment

Today I was thinking about work again. I'm still not back at work and wonder if it little analysis would focus my mind. I may call in again this week and see my workmates. It is unbelievable that they still have my job open after over 12 months and continue to support me.

I had a modle arrive this week that Tom asked to be built last year. It has taken some time for the scratch built model to arrive and it is a shame that Tom isn't here to see it. It is the Kon Tiki raft in which the Norwegian scientist Thor Heyerdahl and five companions sailed in 1947 from the western coast of South America to the islands east of Tahiti. Heyerdahl was interested in demonstrating the possibility that ancient people from the Americas could have colonized Polynesia; to do so, he constructed Kon-Tiki (named for a legendary Inca god) from locally available balsa logs at Callao, Peru, and in three and a half months traversed some 4,300 miles (6,900 km) of ocean. The Kon-Tiki has been preserved in a museum in Oslo, Nor. Tom wanted to feel what the actual raft was like. I have added a picture of the model made by Phil Walker who has made most of Toms other models, along with update pictures of the birds and the todays baby dove.

I am now going to read my paper after I have fed fluffy, and let Orry the parrot out to terrorise me.

I hope you have all had a lovely week and are enjoying the weather we are if not better.

Love from Barbara on the banks of our beautiful Silverburn River

BarbaraG

Getting Along

There are certain times of the year when the sea looks to be bathed in gold and it is when the seaweed turns a lighter colour and as the tide comes in it shimmers beneath the surface, shimmering like pure gold. That is how the sea has been for a few weeks now and that is what I saw as I went to Langness last week in my camper with the dogs. I decided that for the first time since Tom died, I would go out and make a cup of tea for myself and feel the serenity whilst the dogs mooched about. On my way there I marveled at two lapwings whooping and diving as they perceived danger and as I looked closer, a heron stood on a rock close by. All the birds get distressed when they have young and a heron is in the vicinity. As I drove further I just missed a beautiful male pheasant as he flew in front of the car but landed safely in the hedgerow. On arriving at Langness, there was a large flock of starlings seemingly playing in the morning sun, chattering, whistling and rising as a unit, only to land again a hundred or so feet away. The sea was still and across Castletown Bay the houses and the Castle reflected in the water. The bellbouy rang in the distance and because of the lack of wind, it was so clear. It was so magical. It was a time when a person feels glad to be alive, but at the same time I felt sad I had no-one with which to share the moment and peace. I decided at that point that I could share it with you. A couple of Shelducks flew over and landed in the dub. Seagulls and Oystercatchers cried in the distance, some flying, some just sitting on the rocks. Skipper rolled in the grass and a pheasant called in the distance. A small orange tipped butterfly fluttered nearby and sat on a flower quite close to me. I did get upset and then I received a phone call on my mobile from my friend Pauline. We chatted, I sniffled and eventually I pulled myself together. I made that cup of tea, took lots of photos and had taken another step in my new life, not entirely on my own as I have friends and I am drawing on strength from my faith.

Another friend Eileen invited me for dinner last week, which I have always declined in the past. Eileen is very supportive and lost her husband just over 3 years ago. She also has an aviary and could be blamed for getting me started in that hobby. Eileen is the friend that makes me laugh until I ache. She also makes a mean lasagna.

I went walking with my friend Ann on Sunday. Ann was the specialist nurse that came weekly to see if Tom was OK and needed anything. She would sit and chat and support us both, giving us hope. She is responsible for Holistic care of patients, body, mind and spirit. She can define it much better than I, but all I can say is that she is a saint. Anyway, she is another friend I have and we walked quite some distance on Sunday morning. I love her company and we chat the whole way. We're supposed to be looking at birds and nature which we do when pause for breath occasionally. She is the only person I can do that sort of walking with and she doesn't mind my crazy dogs either. We are going to plan our walks better in future so we know where we will actually end up.

Another thing I have been up to recently is finding a Church and form of worship where I feel comfortable and settled. It is amazing how things have worked out for me on that score. Last year when Toms father died, the regular vicar of Malew was on holiday and a stand in vicar was found to do the service. The Reverend Norma Cole from Rushen came and she was wonderful. I was to sing The Old Rugged Cross as it was Toms Fathers favourite and he loved me to sing. It was always going to be difficult as I loved him dearly and he was more a father to me than was my own who died some years ago. Anyway, I didn't make it through without breaking down and the Reverend continued singing the song until I pulled myself together. I was going through a bad time myself at that time, as I knew that Toms improvement with the cancer was only temporary and I kept it to myself as I wanted him to enjoy what he had for as long as he could without that hanging over him. I felt his optimism may drive him forward for longer. I felt a strange affinity to the Reverend and would have loved to have spoken to her, but I didn't and neither did I attend her church. This year when Tom died, the same thing happened. The regular vicar was on holiday and the stand in vicar was none other than the Reverend Norma Cole. Once more she went beyond what is expect as a vicar and sang a chorus at the side of Toms coffin, without accompaniment, "Thou wilt keep him in Perfect Peace." That was because of how Tom felt before and as he was dying and she knew I would like that at the service, but it would be unknown to others. Once more I felt I would like to talk to her personally and I didn't. Then some weeks later she sent a message through my Sister in law Rosie, that if I would like to talk to her, to phone. I did so immediately and have built up quite a relationship with her. I started to go to Church and have never attended C of E in my life. I felt at home there and now I have made a decision to get baptised. Anyway, this is not a baptism for softies. It will be in the sea at Port Erin on the 28th June along with 2 other young people. I wouldn't mind but I have a fear of water. The Vicar says she will be gentle with me though.

Now a pet update. Stitch the canary is doing great and I will do an updated picture at some point. Goosey Gander went back to the vets and had more treatment. Katie the vet managed to cut some tissue away and put stitches in the gooses toe. He will be released this week if all goes well. At the moment he has built a nest at the bottom of the garden and so everyone that has had him down as a gander may get a shock. I will watch that one. Sunday evening I got home and was doing some bits in my aviary when my next door neighbour, also called Tom, came into the garden holding a suspicious bundle. He then produced what appears to be a day old Moorhen which a seagull dropped. Tom was going away and so he was smiling as he said it would be a shame if it died.

I know absolutely nothing about feeding wild babies, especially a tiny moorhen. I made a few phone calls hoping to find someone to do it for me, but alas, I am sitting here writing this with a baby moorhen calling from its box. I got advice on what to do and it is being fed on crushed dog food which I have mixed some egg into and also some bird food with insects in it. I was pretty stressed yesterday and tried to phone the MSPCA, but only got an answer phone which I am loathe to use. I decided to go with it and maybe I will use this experience to handle stress. It may seem a trivial thing, but I am being treated for stress, anxiety and depression and it only takes something small to slightly upset my routine that I am trying to have and I tend to walk round not completing tasks and taking longer to do anything. So here I am, feeding a baby bird with one of my artists paintbrushes and we seem to have formed an understanding now.

I have added a picture of a baby moorhen with the biggest feet I have ever seen on a baby. They must grow into their feet. The picture is real, it isn't a photographic illusion.

Bye for now from Barbara on the banks of beloved Silverburn River, paint brush in hand about to give a birdy its next feed.

BarbaraG

Well I've pondered a title long enough and have gone back to a date. My niece Beth and her boyfriend Lee went home on Friday. Lee now knows the Island is bigger than Langness, has buses and cars and even an airport which is lucky for him being as he came over by plane. :rolleyes: Sorry Lee, I just couldn't resist it. They had a good time and will be back again in the future.

The weather is gorgeous here at the moment. Not only the weather, but nature seems to be at its best. The hawthorn trees are in full blossom and their perfume fills the air as I walk along the river, especially early in the morning or in the evening. Baby birds are present everywhere, being fed by their exhausted parents. I've seen a few scruffy little robins moulting as well. Butterflies are also plentiful at the moment. The hot spell we are having seems to have brought out the best in nature. Today I waited until quite late before taking Skipper and Suzie out on their walks due to the heat. I went to Fort Island with them and it was absolutely gorgeous. The sea was like a millpond and every rock was reflected in the sea. There were a few people out fishing and I'm sure that the migratory fish must be aound our waters now. The wild flowers Thrift and Campion blend together on the sea rocks to make a pretty sight, especially with the nesting gulls and Oyster Catchers complimenting the vision. Looking down into the sea, the seaweed was lazily reaching up to the surface and it was al so clear, nothing was obscurred from view. It was all so very pretty, peaceful and serene.

Last week I had to take Mr Goose to the vets. I have tried long enough to nurse him better and we weren't making any headways. I wondered how I was going to get him there as I had nothing big enough, so I just stuck him in the back of the camper with a towel and went on my way. I sat in the vets with the big goose on my knee and a towel wrapped around him to save my clothes and catch any droppings. He was as good as gold and just sat whilst I stoked his neck. Other visitors were amused to say the least. Anyway, eventually our turn came and he was examined. The antibiotics I gave him wasn't the right one for bumble foot. To be honest its 99% always the one the vets use on birds, but trust me to have a 1% er. Anyway I have had to give him injections for 5 days and he's made a significant improvement. So much so that I stuck him in a baby bath in the garden and he has been relishing a good bath each day since. He has also started running off when he see's the needle and last week he would have just looked and hissed.

After the vet seeing the gander on Wednesday, Friday I had to take a baby canary with a gash on its head. Unfortunately when another bird see's blood, including its own parents, they can't help but pick at it. So my tiny baby canary also had the Katie the vet treatment. Along with Joanne the vet nurse who kindly held the baby, Katie put 3 micro stitches in the baby canaries head after numbing it first. Katie said she thought it was the smallest creature she had done that on, but it was on a par with a mouse she did a stomach operation on. Anyway the baby did well and is hopping around the place with its stitches in.

For those who are wonderinghow else I am getting on, I would have to say that I am now in my 3rd week of weepiness. Little triggers start it and its got to such a point now that I try to work out if I've managed a day without. I've also been worrying about my memory as its shocking. Obviously I have been under a lot of stress and anxiety for the whole of Toms illness and it did affect me. The worst has happened and now I just have to deal with the consequences, but I wouldn't have thought that my memory could be affected so badly and also my ability to complete tasks without flitting from one thing to another. It still takes me an age to complete a task because I am distracted so much. I can't remember when I said I was meeting someone, what time and where. I have to write everything down and if I don't I am snookered. It has been going on for a while, but now besides the grief I feel, I am worrying that I am going to be slow and forgetful forever. Is it my age, the stress, depression or grief? I haven't a clue. Time will tell I suppose. Anyway, for people who have gone through or are going through the same, at least you know you're not the only one.

I'd better go now as its now a day later than when I started this blog.

This is Barbara in the middle of the night on the banks of our beautiful Silverburn.