Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Neighbouring Lives

I usually give a cursory nod to neighbours as I pass them in the street or working in their front gardens.  Today I was held in conversation as one neighbour in particular started to tell me of her dreadful show of bedding plants this year due to the wet weather.  On establishing that I wasn’t in a hurry she invited me to come and look in the back garden.  Her husband joined us on the tour.  In half hour I found out more about this couple than I had ascertained in the 19 years I have lived here.

  • The woman had lived in the same house all 83 years of her life.

  • Her father was a builder and bought the house in the 1920’s, another house and 2 cottages.

  • He used to have huge long greenhouses in the garden in which he grew and sold chemically free tomatoes and cucumbers.

  • She showed me a healthy and algae free pond full of various types of fish swimming among an abundant show of water lilies.

  • Her garden was vast and the lawn was maintained by the husband’s sit on mower.  They had 2 additional mowers for the much smaller front garden.

  • Huge mature trees were scattered throughout the garden and she advised me that many birds had taken up residency in the trees.

  • In the garage she showed me her husband’s work tools (he had been in the motor industry).

  • They once owned - and she used to drive - an e-type jaguar that used to be housed in the garage.

  • The husband has a large stomach not because he overeats but because he has to have an injection in his stomach every three months.

  • The husband has been living with prostate cancer for seven years.

  • The husband had a heart bypass operation a couple of years back because he kept passing out whilst in the town.

  • She told me that he felt the knife go in when he had the heart surgery (you are kept awake throughout) and he said that the nurse told him to let them know if he could feel anything and they would administer more pain relieving gel.

  • Occasionally the husband is found sitting among the tools and lawn mowers in the garage having a crafty beer and a packet of crisps.

  • The usually stern faced woman talked about her husband lovingly as he stood beside her.  Hand on his shoulder or stroking his face with the back of her hand.

  • She told me that he had fell backwards and cut his head open and the hospital glued the resulting cut together.  When combing his hair sometimes the comb got stuck in the glue.

  • Standing woman next to man she told me that every day she’s scared that she may wake up and find him dead.  He echoed how scared she was.

  • In the greenhouse I was shown some tiny begonias that the woman had been tending.

The tour ended and the husband asked me if I had liked it.  I thanked them very much for showing me around and said I had always wanted to see the garden but didn’t want to intrude.  ‘Don’t be silly. We’re off shopping now’.  ‘Enjoy yourselves’ I said and we all went on our merry way.

I returned home an hour later.  I had only popped out to buy a stamp!

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Inside the Old People's Home

I was compelled to write the following poem after visiting the residential care home last week.

Inside the Old People’s Home

Around the room they sit
Chairs forming a boundary
Around the sacred centre of the room

Around the room they sit and stare
Across the void they cannot see
Visions stay in their mind

Around the room they sit
Waiting around the room
Around the room

Around the room
Chairs are static to the walls
Bodies are static to the chairs

Around the room
Pushed to the walls
The sacred centre fills the space

Simone Whipp 15 June 2016 ©

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Baking in Not so Flaming June

I blew the sugar free diet out of the window a few weeks back.  I know I can lead a completely sugar free life if need be but I have chosen not to.  We all need a little sweetness in our lives right now without going overboard dipping into the cookie jar, but something sweet does help to satisfy a rather bitter feeling that has been present in the last week or so.

Today the sun popped by to say hello.  I went outside to greet him with the lawn mower and shortly after we parted ways the dark cloud brigade floated on in.  I got back inside the house before the rain troop and decided to bake a peanut butter chocolate brownie with white chocolate drizzle. Not a very seasonal dish but comforting none-the-less.

For many reasons this has been one of the strangest Junes I have ever encountered.  Let's hope the latter half of the month takes an upturn in fortune and the summer decides to pay us a visit.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

A Carer's Life for Me?

The slugs and snails are beating me to reach the strawberries, with the seeming never ending rain for the last how ever many days beating them down to a pulp also. I managed to rescue a couple of punnets of ripe and undamaged strawberries.  I already have a couple of bowlfuls in the fridge so what to do with them?

Rather than share with the neighbours, I thought I would take them to a local residential care home for elderly people.  As I got nearer the home I realised that I didn't really have enough strawberries for 16 residents so I ended up buying a large pot of double cream and 16 meringue nests to bulk them out!

I had seen the home advertised on line and it seemed like a jolly place with a gallery of photos displaying various parties and events.  I rang the doorbell and was invited in as I handed over the strawberries.  I was so embarrassed when the manager took me to the residents lounge where she told them about my strawberry giving gift.  I nervously mumbled something about picking them from my garden that morning.

What struck me and saddened me about visiting this home was the sheer surprise from the manager at my 'good deed' and the sad picture of the empty faces sat in the chairs around the edge of the room.  Why do they sit  people in chairs around the edge of the room looking out into the abyss? 

I muttered if there were any volunteering opportunities (ideally I would like to engage with these people and teach them to make jewellery and do other grown up craft and not the paper hat making and child like crafts usually afforded to them, but I know this is an unrealistic expectation and I'd be more likely to help with feeding time).

Anyway, feeling elevated and depressed at the same time, I like to think that at least I made someone's day by being a new face that just wanted to bring them a bit of joy in an otherwise monotonous midweek day.

Monday, 13 June 2016

Gizmo on Film


Today is wet and miserable.  A bad news day.  I am reminded of a peaceful moment from a week ago when the sun was shining, birds were singing and all was right with my World.  Fancy joining me and Gizmo in the garden?

(Apologies for my extra high and squeeky voice!)

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

A Life Itinerary

Without intending to sound morose, I have spent the last few years wondering about my life's purpose often feeling that I have 'achieved' little.  When I started to write down my life itinerary so far it seems that I have experienced a very rich and fulfilling life contrary to the niggling doubt that I hadn't.   I have split my findings under the headings of travel, courses, work and interests.  This list isn't comprehensive, it is just what I am able to recall at the moment.

Countries visited: Wales, Belgium, Guernsey, Jersey, Mainland Spain, Majorca, Menorca, Ibiza, Yugoslavia, Italy, France, Corfu, Crete, Rhodes, Cyprus, Zante (Zakynthos), St Lucia, North America, Portugal and Lanzarote.

Courses taken: Reiki, *watercolour painting, soap making, writing for magazines, City and Guilds cookery, jewellery making for beginners, fabric flower making, willow weaving, Open University courses in physics, chemistry, earth sciences and biology, machine sewing, first aid, viticulture, gardening, yoga.

As a teenager I was a dresser for a day at London's Astoria theatre.
First job was in a florist's for just a few weeks then a long stretch of time doing administrative jobs for companies ranging from builder's merchants to market research to National Health Service (NHS).

My voluntary work has included a few hours serving in a Cats Protection shop and a sporadic 4 years at a London vineyard.

My interests and hobbies have dominated my life.   As a child I was always drawing or making things with Plasticine.  My creative hobbies have included painting (all mediums), drawing, modelling with clay, aromatherapy, Bach flower remedies, holistic medicine, keeping fit, yoga, collecting gemstones, growing things (I used to have an allotment), sewing by hand and machine, embroidery, cross-stitch, crochet, knitting, journalling, card making, writing poetry, reading, walking, philosophy, psychology, paganism, self improvement, writing blogs, mixed media, astrology, cats, herbs, cooking and eating food.

I hope to add many more things to the list over the coming years and go back and fill in those things I had forgotten about! 

*I did the above painting in 2008 and have never done a watercolour landscape since.

What about you?  Do you have an interesting life itinerary of the things you have done so far?

Sunday, 5 June 2016

My First Video

I have had my camera for a few years now and never tried out the video feature.  So here it is!  My first and rather shaky video of me talking in the garden.  Isn't it awful when you hear your voice for the first time how others hear it?