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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

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

BarbaraG

 

To Go Or Not To Go; To Be Or Not To Be

Ever since I can remember I have been interested in the theatre   I saw my 1st opera aged 8. Saddler's Wells Touring doing Wagner's epic with the ghost ship. Flying Dutchman   It was at the Opera house Blackpool. a roll of drums a change of lighting and the ship appeared out of nowhere on stage. I was hooked with the possibilities of what you could achieve with gauzes and lighting back and front   I never really acted, but I did start backstage at the gaiety and of course in those halcyon days all the old staff was there, the rain machine the storm machine and the thunder board.   My main annual job was to assist with the stage management of the easter Festival promoted by the Manx Amateur drama federation. We were led by Tommy McEvoy who had stage managed professionally and who was then working for Corlett Sons & Cowley but with an understanding that theatre came first.   Those Easter weeks we ate worked and slept in the gaiety. Not the nice warm gaiety of today but the unrestored cold and damp gaiety of the mid 1970's, at least to start.   Some teams helped, some hindered. Unlike any other festival, and there a re dozens on the circuit we in the IOM provided and built the sets as visiting teams could not bring their own which is the norm   I remember setting up the first set over Good Friday and easter Saturday slowly, then the play, then stripping out as the adjudication went on and getting in the team for the next night and at t least setting a back wall. The flats were 50 yeas old, top heavy 18 footers with an inch of emulsion paint.   For some people we would do anything.   A four foot mittell European director, Gerda Reddlich had us set the back wall four times one year. No a bit forward, no a bit back and so on we were in her thrall   about 1979 I was also part of Arbory players. The MADF has a hosting team with a local team looking after a visiting team. I was helping host Group Theatre from the East End   I met them at the boat and showed them where they were staying.   The Play was the golden Pathway Annual. I still have assigned programme . What a team, what friends we made. The team was based around a large East End family dad, mum, two daughters and son and sons in law plus friends.   Over the years they dis some wonderful ul theatre won the cups for best play actor and actresses. Most of all they were f un.   Their patriarch, Bernard died earlier this month. Its his wake on 30th.   it will never be the same again. I have the memories, do I go or not?

John Wright

John Wright

 

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

BarbaraG

 

Friends, Acquaintances And Facebook Requests

First, I do not do face book   Second I tried to do Friends Reunited   Third I am fascinated by how many people expect to have dozens of friends   I have recently had a time of reflection. My partners drinking and bizarre behaviour worsens and I am often on my own or in contemplative mood.   Recently I visited family and friends in the UK, and as a result some other older friends have contacted me   I have had odd reactions from them and my own reactions have been strange to analyse   last night Pam, an Anglo, Ugandan Indian I was at university with rang me. We talked for a long time. First contact in nearly 25 years. Married, divorced and son just done A levels, place at Manchester to do law. She was always someone I had regretted falling out of contact with. We are going to meet.   A week ago Jonathon, a school friend from primary school called. Ist contact since I went to university. He lived about 6 doors away when we were kids. Jonathan would in modern parlance be diagnosed as Aspergers, I am sure. But he has coped, married and widowed brought up a daughter. Never worked much, but hey he sounded happy. He now lives in Morecambe on the route to the boat. I really want to see him again and catch up. Jon is 1/4 Manx his grandmother was a Looney! From peel no less   About a month ago I went over to have work done on the motor home. I spent four days going around family and friends. Mixed bag of results or what?   Geoffrey, 85, welcomed me with open arms and we spent a greasy morning under his MG VA getting the brakes to work as it had failed its MOT. He hasn't changed in 50 years. Now on his own, but remarkably fit and well. When my mother died we spent happy times at Christmas and bonfire night at Geoff's. He had three children same ages as myself and sister. two girls and a lad. I popped in to see the eldest daughter in Rossendale, no personality thirty years ago, none now, husband worse, moaning how her dad was going to give everything to her brother and not her.   Next a cousin. My father was at school with her father and they grew up together, best men at each others wedding. Her dad has just died aged 90, Soliciting regularly to the day he died. He was a diffident profoundly honest introspective man, married to a daughter of an Anglo Indian Raj family. The house was always uncomfortable auntie could not relax or show affection. Woe betide any one who moved a cushion in the lounge. My cousin is a teacher and married to a solicitor. Intelligent. She moaned about an Indian moving in to her nice 1970's estate and how they would have to move as there would be an invasion. She admitted never having been to IKEA (too down market) and whilst she warmly invited me to stay for tea i disappeared. I couldn't have stood that conversation any longer. But I still like her and will see her again, just in smaller pieces next time   The I went to see Lorraine in Norfolk. Long trip for a two hour visit. Now fully recovered from her bereavement and we had a lovely chat. She really is my only actual close living relation in my adoptive family, sister and niece and nephew apart. The other uncles and aunts are remote cousins or close friends of my adoptive parents   I then called on my natural mother, half sister and her kids. I do like them but the relationship is false. You cannot make up for 50 lost years.   Finally to see parents of kids I grew up with, neighbours who are still there in Hest Bank. Again a warm glow and some later contact by the old friends   I am not sure but I think I am coming to the conclusion that it is the friends you make in early life who are most significant

John Wright

John Wright

 

More Or Less

The work is done, the division of the land from seven years ago is finished digitally and mapped and the lawyer rang me to say she had the new catastral reference.   I do not believe anything so I asked her to scan and e-mail. The town hall have registered their half of the plot in my name and are charging me rates on their office, so no go for the completion certificate and boletin and permanent supply.   I complain and wait. A new plan with a different catastral number arrives, it is my plot but the name shown is the people i bought off, who bought off the town hall two years before that. MMM.   Anyway I have the copia simple deed and the new plan and I send off to the regional office myself asking them to note the new owner. This I did, filling out the form in Spanish. It worked, back it came all present and correct   I have now paid the rates for this year, no back rates. €100 plus €10 per month rubbish collection and €10 per month water. so I can get the completion certificate next.   So nearly there   The completion certificate is next.   I went out three weeks ago, stunning. All the carpet is laid, the place is spotless. Outside the fruit trees were laden, lots of potatoes and onions and soft fruit and grapes. The greenness of the grass around the pool had to be seen.   getting there was tough however   My partner is alcoholic and just at the moment drinking hard again.   We were booked on the boat to Liverpool to get the morning plane to Barcelona. Wouldn't get into car. I decide not to go. Two days later partner agrees silly not to go, we get into car and onto boat. Stay at Crowne Plaza in old terminal. Wake up partner not in room; gone. Leaving a bar bill. I deceide to go back to IOM as I will otherwise end up with two cars in UK. Need to find out what is going on, settle all night bar bill.   By Saturday I am conscious that if I do not get to Spain I will waste the fare for boat from Santander, bringing back old Citroen we keep in Spain for some TLC. Fly out via Luton, taxi to farm, stay 3 hours pack car and drive to Santander, then 24 hours on boat to Portsmouth and drive to Liverpool for evening boat back, gone just 80 hours. wanted a driver to share with, Will want one again when i take car back. Volunteers?   As I have written to the authorities from my IOM address they now write to me here   A week ago I got a denuncia, a sort of Fixed penalty notice pay up or else but you can appeal. It was in Catalan and alleged that on the 3rd February 2008 I had put vegetable material on the ground by the bin and not in it.   Quick look at diary. I was in Court in IOM on 3rd Feb 2008 and 2009. Lucky that. Speak to lawyer.It will cost €250 to appeal and €100 to pay, so I pay. My Catalan is not up to appealing myself!   I just hope they have not identified me as a source of new local income

John Wright

John Wright

 

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

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

BarbaraG

 

Still On A Big Dipper

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

BarbaraG

 

Was Feynman Wrong?

I recently found this talk by Richard Dawkins and was delighted to discover it contained a quote by Ricahrd Feynman who is one of the scientists who has most inspired me.  Feynman in his lecture QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter was discussing just how accurate quantum theory was. He said:     I had known that some scientist had used an analogy of great distance to get some idea of the amazing accuracy of a scientific prediction; I'd read about it years and years ago, but had forgotten the exact details (I thought the distance was between London and New York!). I'm really glad that I now know that the original source was Feynman!   I do think it is trully amazing - just think about that for a second - many hundreds of people have worked together and created simple mathematical abstractions which can be written down in a scientific paper or on a black board and argued about and which describe the real world to such an incredible amount of detail. What a feat!   But after reading this my fact-checking brain wanted to do the calculations to confirm what he'd written - and the results surprised me so I thought I'd post them here to check whether I've made a mistake!   The best guess of Dirac's Number produced from theory is 0.00000000025 units bigger than the best guess from actually measuring it. IE the theoretical number is bigger by about one part in 4,000,000,000.   Now the distance between New York and Los Angeles is about 3932.8 km.   Measuring it to that accuracy is to find the figure to a range of about 982.06 microns. Which is absolutely tiny - but it isn't as small as the thickness of a human hair. 982 microns is about a millimeter - a human hair is roughly one tenth of a millimeter.   It looks like Feynman was out by a factor of ten!!!   I think there is something hugely wonderfully ironic about all this.   Either I'm wrong - more than likely.   Or Feynman is wrong.   But sloppy, mistake making fallible humanity has been able to collaborate and measure a property of the universe (which most of us have no idea about) to a level of detail that is literally mind boggling. We have also been able to come up with a model which explains that part of the universe to a comparable level of detail and we've been able to show they agree to that mindbogglingly accurate extent.   Practically it really doesn't matter if the accuracy is one millimeter in the distance between New York and Los Angeles, or one hair - but science does care and wants to continue to ever refine it down.   There will definitely be mistakes as that refinement continues, but science mercilessly looks for mistakes and corrects them.   So am I correct to correct Feynman's mistake, or is the mistake mine?   I'm not sure - but I'll put my result out there to be queried. Trust but verify said Reagan.   That is what I did to Feynman's quote - can someone do the same for me?!

Chinahand

Chinahand

 

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

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. 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

BarbaraG

 

Words Of Belief And Scepticism

Jerry Coyne at Why Evolution is True had a competition to:     I missed the competition and didn't post an entry, but reading about it later I set my mind to the task of seeing if I could come up with a better word than the winner: faitheist.   Eventually I mangled my fascination with Chinese to produce 3 words which I hope express the issues reasonably well:   For someone who believes in believe how about using the word aixinian pronounced as ai-shin-ian(ai 爱 is the Chinese character for love, while xin 信 which is pronounced approximately as shin is the character for belief, or trust)   For someone who is a “knee jerk” atheist how about henxinian – pronounced hen-shin-ian. In this case hen 恨 is the Chinese character for hate, while xin is as before belief.   Following on again, for a person who is doubtful about the merits of belief you could use yixinian – pronounced yi-shin-ian. Where yi 疑 is the Chinese character for doubt, and xin is as before belief.   I fully admit these words look odd on the page and people may get confused over the pronounciation for xin.   There may be merit in abandoning the exact Chinese pinyin spelling and using aishinian, henshinian and yishinian, but that breaks the explicit link with the Mandarin characters and has an additional problem in people merging the sounds into a single syllable aish, yish and hensh rather than the two strong syllables ai-xin, hen-xin and yi-xin.   But even with these difficulties, I do think they are reasonably simple words which seem to encompass the debate and do not need too much explanation.   Anyway, when you try to coin a new word you just have to hope people will pick it up.   These words are a bit unwieldy in the spelling department, and have to be explained, but then again so does faitheist.   The major advantage, in my opinion, is that you gain three words which can encompass the debate while faitheist only sums up on one extreme.   Critique as you wish! More than likely my suggestion will die a death, but I thought I’d put these words out into the public domain to see what others think!   Are you an aixinian, a henxinian or a yixinian?   I'm to the middle of the spectrum - I'm definitely not an aixinian: theocratic belief is too ridgid and brittle. And I think most of what is good in it comes from the humanitarianism it contains independently of the dogma.   I think I'm at risk of being accused of being more henxinian, but that is I think over harsh - I'm doubtful of the advantages of belief. Definitely I do aspire to a more sceptical, less dogmatic world - but not to the extreme of hating belief. A quiet faith, as my granny had, did her and those around her little harm and added to her humanity, but belief and dogma go hand in hand which gives me my doubt over any of faith's purported advantages. So I am definitely yixinian!   Thoughts anyone?

Chinahand

Chinahand

 

Slieau Whallian, Laughs, Memories And What A Hike!

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

BarbaraG

 

A Walk Up The Silverburn River

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

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. 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

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

BarbaraG

 

Variations On A Theme

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

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

BarbaraG

 

Monday June 1st 2009

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. 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.

BarbaraG

BarbaraG

 

Just Daydreaming

The other day I came across another website that had mentioned Tom on it. http://scagainstlungcancer.blogspot.com/20...attle-with.html It is the South Carolina fight against lung cancer news letter. They had been using Tom as an inspiration to their patients and apparently doctors and nurses had advised their patients read Toms blog. I told a few friends about it and one asked if I felt sad reading it. I'd have to say I felt so proud and happy that he had reached people far and wide, probably giving them a lift in their fight with the deadly disease. I know a lot of cancer sites linked to the blog, but it was nice to read another persons comments on Tom when they had only followed his journey. There hasn't been much medical progress made with Toms particular type of cancer (SCLC) over the last 20 years and it still continues to take many lives. There is hope that a blood test will soon be able to identify patients with it earlier. When it is caught very early and an operation is possible, that is the best possible chance of beating it. When Tom first died I told the Hospice Nurse I would be gutted if a cure was found now and then I corrected myself. No, I wouldn't want other people to suffer. I would want a cure or a way of identifying the illness quicker. It is widely presumed that not as much research goes into Small Cell Lung Cancer due to the stigma surrounding it and smokers. There are people trying to change this around the world as there is now a percentage of non smokers affected. Let us hope that this happens soon. Clatterbridge and Liverpool University are at the leading edge and hopefully they and others around the world will come up with something soon. On Sunday I dropped my niece and her boyfriend at Tynwald Mills and I decided to take the dogs for a walk in one of my old walking patches in St.Johns, Slieau Whallian (not sure about the spelling). It is a very steep hill in St.Johns for the off Island readers, but also a very thick forest. I used to run up Slieau Whallian on a regular basis with my dogs and used it as a means of regaining my fitness after I had most of my thyroid removed. The most beautiful way is to walk and appreciate everything you can see both in the forest and the view from it. I spent 10 years living at the bottom of it in a little cottage down a lane on the Patrick Road. It was and still is a magnificent sight. Anyway, more of that later and back to my walk. I used to start my walk from the Patrick Road and through a gate that I think the foresters use. on Sunday I gave myself a lift and started my walk from halfway up the hill by driving up the road at the side, the name of which escapes me, and parking in a lay-by opposite the stile into the forest. I walked along the path that runs above the fields and stood for quite some time recalling memories, listening to the cockerels calling to each other around the village and looking at the changes that had taken place. I could see my bedroom window in the cottage I had and then shared with Tom for the first 18 months of us being together. I won't tell you my memories there, but continue to the bottom of the garden where we used to sit on the riverbank that was owned by the cottage. So peaceful and absolutely gorgeous with Slieau Whallian as the backdrop. The river is the Neb and full of trout and salmon. We never fished it, but I certainly had the fish trained and they would jump for their bread each day and turn the river into what looked a boiling cauldron. Tom used to sit on the riverbank whilst I was at work and throw sticks in the river for the dogs to chase. He would have pop and cider tied with string to the bottle neck and to tent pegs on the river bank and he would have them floating in the river to keep them cool. He would torment me by phoning me whilst I was at work and tell me what a lovely day he was having. I would here the dogs splashing in the water and the glug, glug, glug of the bottle he had retreived from the river as he filled a glass, sipped and then give an appreciative, "haahh, thats nice." I loved him too much to feel peeved, though I did wish I was with him obviously. He didn't do much for my concentration at work. I saw the garage that used to house my old bangers and remembered the time I spent sleeping with my sister in the back of an old Austen Estate when both she and her boyfriend Carl (her husband now for 25 years), came over to stay at the same time as my brother John came over to stay on his honeymoon. It was all crazy as I had a one bedroomed cottage, but we would manage anyway we could in those days. We had an airbed in the back of the estate and it was a nightmare trying to sleep. Janet tossed and turned and the noise each time was like listening to velcro being ripped apart. "Will you keep still" I yelled at her. "If you stop snorning I will" came my young sisters retort. I walked along the ridge and remembered the devastation that took place with rain and wind which wiped out one of the paths that allowed me to walk up the hill very gradually. Rain that devastated most of the Island and caused so many properties to flood everywhere, including my own. My eyes wandered to the houses that had appeared or expanded since I first bought the house and that small area now has quite a lot of large houses. It will still be peaceful for my friends who still live there. I looked at the field beneath the forest and remembered the horses that grazed there and the first time my dog Bess saw a horse. I have a picture of her sitting and gazing intently, with her collie ears pricked up as she watched them. Having no wish to try and ascend the hill like a mountaineer, I walked back across the ridge to where the rhodedendrums flower in the summer and peered into the pine needles at the bottom of the trees. Hedgehogs are common everywhere, but I remembered a time when I came across a hedgehog family all playing. The young ones were play fighting and tumbing down the slope beneath the trees, watched by their parents. I stood just feet away watching for quite some time and they were oblivious to me. Many a time there are occassions when we wish we had our cameras with us to capture a scene, but on each occassion like that, the memory is still there and I can replay the joy or beauty at any time. It is only sad because we can't show our friends and family and describing doesn't seem to tell the whole tale or explain the sheer beauty. I hope this isn't too boring for the reader! I then went to ascend the next part of the hill. I have to expain that I wasn't in my normal jeans and trainers as we had been to the Marine in Peel for dinner with Toms family. I had given my legs an airing and was in gold. but thank goodness, flat sandles. Its certainly a good hike if you are wanting to improve your fitness and keep you heart and lungs in good fettle. My heart was thumping like anything and missing the occassional beat. Nothing to worry about, just more of the same required to get in condition. I was almost at the next flat walking section when my mobile rang which was Beth telling me they were ready to go home. I intend putting the right footwear on and doing the walk properly at sometime. It is possible to walk through to Barnell which is another lovely place. I believe it can be difficult in places, but I am up for it. Anyway, I have daydreamed long enough. Orry is shouting and I haven't uncovered him and I have a host of things to do. Lee and Beth have fed the hens and ducks and are now walking Skipper. Suzie will only go with me, so she will be walked later. Have a nice day everyone. Love from Barbara on the banks of the wonderful Silverburn. I can never write that without thinking of Tom. How I miss him!

BarbaraG

BarbaraG

 

Keeping Control

Today my neice Beth and her boyfriend Lee have arrived this morning for a weeks holiday from Wigan (or there abouts). Beth has been here many times, but for 17 year old Lee, this is a first. I'd have to say his geography isn't very good and he doesn't know much about the Isle of Man. He thought he was coming to somewhere the size of Langness and I won't embarrass him by telling you some of the questions he has asked about it. I could have a field day kidding him on, but I won't. Hopefully by the time he goes home next Friday, he will be more informed and will have enjoyed himself. Last week I received another email from Wendy with a few more photo's that her boyfriend Sean had taken of some of my aviary birds whilst he was over. I will attach the pictures. She also had some other news as well. Sean proposed to her in Peel Castle and so it turned out to be quite a weekend for them both. They are a lovely couple and have so many interests and hobbies. I think they should start their own blog as well, as they do so many interesting things and take part in re-enactments in England and abroad I think, though I may be wrong. He is also a keen sailor and Wendy does some ancient weaving/tapestry type thing that is little known. I can't remember what it is, but I hope she'll put me right. This week has been a not so good one for me emotionally. I have no-one to talk me out of things now or talk through schemes that may be in my head and give me the fors and againsts. I'm a bit of a loose cannon and I suppose in some ways I have managed to recognise I'm acting impulsively or throwing myself into too many things and have now got to think more. I decided last weekend that another African Grey parrot would be a good idea. I decided Orry would have someone to play with and if anything happened to me, he wouldn't feel it as bad as he'd have his new pal. I saw a 10 month old parrot and decided Yes, I will have it but not quite yet for financial reasons. Yes folks, the insurance money is still not through and I have been waiting a form for the past 2 weeks which I have to sign to release the money! I'm going off track but thought I'd give you a quick update. Don't ever get insured with PHEONIX. Heartless sods! Anyway, my sister Janet thought I'd lost the plot when I told her another parrot was coming. She asked me had I though of how it would affect Orry, the new parrot, me etc etc. What if they didn't get on? What if Orry got stressed? What if they bonded etc etc? I was adament and decided she didn't know what she was on about. Then just to make sure, I sent Birdi and email and she said I'd have to check this, that and the other and if they didn't get on I could take them out separately and so it went on. I then checked on the internet and quite frankly, by then I was mortified. It would be something I could do if I wasn't grieving, but at the moment I couldn't do with all the upheaval and the chance of upsetting the equalibrium. Orry could end up stressed and plucking and I just can't cope with any extra stress or anxiety. Then the thoughts of, "If Tom was here we would have talked about it before I did it. He would have pointed out the negatives as well as the positives." All those thoughts just make me so sad and its all so true. I have been impulsive and now that there is only me, I can do whatever I want, if I want. I also know that its also a reaction to the grief. Anyway, a close friend explained the situation and the new parrot is not coming. I just couldn't cope. Suzie the spaniel has seemed to have eyesight problems, but it only shows itself in dim light. She's petrified to walk around in the dark. I had her at a vetinary eye specialist yesterday and after a good bit of testing, I was told she her retinas are wearing and she will become blind. Absolutely nothing can be done about it and she may get cataracts which would be caused by the problem, but not to do anything about it as she will still be blind. The only thing we are testing for now is how slow the deterioration is. If it is slow she will adjust better. Anyway, I have plenty experience. In the past, whenever I saw a blind dog or a dog missing a leg, Tom would say "The dog is OK. It is only our perception of how it is, but the dog is absolutely fine." Hopefully Suzies condition will be slow and Skipper and I can make her life as pleasable as possible. There are lots of sounds and smells up the Silverburn and she'll get lots of love. I know people like to here some of the tales about Tom and at the moment it isn't easy to recall them although there have been so many. PollyParrot tried to get me to tell one some months ago and I didn't but I will now. Tom always wore a top under a jumper or fleece and whilst he was ill, I noticed he had a blue t'shirt that I couldn't identify under a jumper. It was just one of those things were I looked and asked myslef "I wonder which t'shirt that is?" as I didn't recognise it. Later that day he seemd to be a bit bad with his chest and I asked him would he like me to take him to Mandoc. He was on chemo at the time and we thought we'd be better safe than sorry and off we went. As we sat in the surgery the doctor asked him to take his jumper off so she could listen to his chest. He left his t'shirt on as it would be easy for the doctor to lift it up. His back was to me, but I was fairly sure I recognised it then. The doctor checked Tom out and then she went out of the room for something. I looked properly then and I was mortified. Tom sat there totally unmoved as I told him he had my nighty on. It had a little black cat, a teapot and a sheep I think. Even when we got home he sat the whole evening having a few drinks with his pals and he hadn't changed. I wondered what they would have thought if they'd known he was sat drinking and telling anecdotes with his wifes nighty on. We so many laughs throughout our lives I could probably continue for ages. My only problem at the moment is that I cannot recall very much. Again, its all part of the process. I do miss him so very much and I also know that there many more people whose lives he touched, feeling the same. I'd better go now and see to my visitors. I will do another blog soon and report on our day out last week at the wildlife park with the falcons. Love from Barbara on the banks of our beautiful Silverburn River.   Below is Cheeky the hen who Skipper particularly likes to round up, a canary having a shower, a turquoisine grass parakeet and a couple of canaries feeding each other.

BarbaraG

BarbaraG

 

Keeping Busy

I'd have to say I'm much better this week than I was last. Sean and Wendy came over as planned and they had a hand in getting me out and about again. I had a bug last week that probably didn't help my mood, but that has now gone and I am much more focused and not taking ages to get things done with the lack of concentration I have had for quite some time now. It was a bit of a shock to realise how much knowledge Sean had of the bird world and apart from showing him the birding sites and Ravens nest on Langness, I hung on his every word as he trotted out the names of the birds. Wendy, Sean and I had a good time together and I m looking forward to their return later in the year. We may even get down to the Sugarloaf Rock on Toms boat the Silverburn if the weather is nice. They took loads of pictures and they sent me a couple. I will include a picture he took of one of my canaries nests and you never know, he may send some more of the 100's he took. Saturday I decided that on the Sunday, instead of eating out as we (Toms Mum, brother Lenny and his wife Rosie and my nieces Becky and Alice) had each Sunday since Tom died, I would cook dinner for us all. It was an ambitious task considering how dozy I have been for months, but I felt it may help me to concentrate my efforts. I have also become firm friends with Ann the Hospice nurse who supported Tom and I from the start of his cancer through until the end. We meet early each Sunday morning and go on a different walk lasting around 3 hours. I enjoy Ann's company and we view the birds, wild flowers and anything else that takes our interest on the way. This also means that Skipper and Suzie get to a different location as well. Anyway, last Sunday I had done the walk before I cooked the dinner and also had the aviary to do. It all came off for me and I was pleased I had managed it. It's only a simple thing, but with the way my mind has been, it was yet another milestone. It seems to have set me up for the rest of the week so far. Monday I got stuck into cleaning my aviary and got on top of that task. Yesterday the Vicar that did both Tom's and his Father's funeral came to see me. She is a lovely woman and she seemed quite at home with me and has been a great help. No doubt we will meet more in the future. This weekend I am going to the wildlife park to see the birds of prey. I went a few years ago with Rosie my sister in law and it was brilliant. I got to hold a Golden Eagle and Tawny Owl, the feathers of which were the softest I have ever felt. There are lots of different kinds of birds and we get to be pretty well hands on with them and then watch the display afterwards which is quite something. Last time we were also allowed to hold and stroke a python and were taken on a guided tour of the park. I don't think it will be quite the same this year, but there is a hot lunch and I am looking forward to it. This year I have persuaded a few more to accompany Rose and I and so there will be 7 of us altogether on the VIP tickets. A couple of my friends (Ray and Pauline) are camping at Sulby in their motorhome this week, getting used to it before they go away on holiday and it is also getting them away from the house and giving them a much needed rest. It still brings back my first memory of the Bambi Motorhome we had. We bought it when we moved to Ramsey and we used it all over the place, Ireland, Scotland, England etc but mostly on the Island. We would often go to Castletown for the weekend and stay in the camper. Tom also liked us to go to the Ayres and I was to ship spot for him. I became so proficient that I could spot ships like the Saga Moon and River Lune miles away by their shape. The first trip we ever did in the Bambi was to the Ayres just to suss it out and have a cuppa. I can remember it like yesterday. We made a cup of tea, took the dogs for a walk and had a sit for a while. The time came to leave and as I set off I learned the first rule of a motorhome; making sure everything was put away and shut up properly. AS I set off, the cupboard doors opened and everything flew out onto the floor. "Just a minute." I told Tom and I went to secure everything. Then I was ready to set off again. This time we were going nowhere as the wheels spun in the sand. "Oh no" I cried, "We're stuck in the sand" and I was about to get out of the Bambi to try and push it when Tom said he would push and I was just to accelerate. It didn't take hardly anything at all and the motorhome shot forward and was free. I sat there with the handbrake on waiting for Tom to come and he was taking his time. I presumed he was taking the opportunity to have a quick widdle as I sat working out the radio etc. Eventually Tom opened the door and he shouted quite out of breath, "What are you doing?" "I'm just waiting for you to get back in why?" I did think he looked a bit red in the face and breathless. He didn't realise the vehicle was free and he'd been pushing like mad the whole time I sat there with the handbrake on. I thought he would have felt it shift to be honest. My excuses didn't really appease him and he was quiet for the rest of the way home. I'm not sure if that because he was totally knackered or because he was annoyed. Either way it certainly stuck in my mind. :-) I'd better go and walk the dogs now and have a bit to eat. Have a nice day everyone. This is Barbara on the banks of the Silverburn, reminiscing.

BarbaraG

BarbaraG

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