New lifestyle - Feeling good - Moving on

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  • Slaps own wrist for teasing GC with tales of delightful food ... image

    I can only manage filo if I get everything else ready first .. then I whip the filo packet out of the fridge .. wait 5 minutes for it to warm up a little (or it breaks apart) .. then it's a mad scramble to get it all put together before the filo dries out and breaks apart ... which is fine as I probably only make pastry items 2-3 times a year .. !

    Bess is learning her new responsibilities very fast ... for the first few journeys she constantly tried to buck me out of the seat .. because I really wasn't used to having such a cushioned and springy seat .. but 'we' are getting the hang of it now .. and hopefully another few journeys will see my torso muscles getting a bit stronger and not hurting so much after going out on the scooter .. today I went on a much longer run to the nearby Tesco store in Teversham ... that's about 3 miles in all as I went the long way to the store and the shortest way home ..  I'm a bit stiff .. especially my gluteus maximus .. and the sides of my waist are a bit sore .. but I am in full training now for a ride to Cambridge trading estates ... that's a journey of 4 miles all round ... I've been bulding up slowly .. and today is the furthest I've managed so far .. !

    Have to confess to a slight glitch on the training and meetings front  ... one young man has been getting me more and more riled as the weeks and months have gone by ... he openly admits he just goes for the petrol expenses .. has no interest at all in the meetings and rarely says a word unles directly asked. But two weeks ago he 'did my head in' as they say ... he sat and stared at a blank wall, facing away from everyone for 2 HOURS !! In all that time he only made one comment which was very rascist to say the least ... sadly the 'chair' did nothing to stop him and I got 'enraged' .. I was offended by him ... felt let down that 'management' did nothing to chastise him .. and so after much thought have told my housing folk I won't be coming again for a while .. I am blowed if I am going to go and give my time freely when he is at every meeting I go to ... and anyway stress is no good for me !

    I think I might have read one of the OUP books some time ago .. borrowed from the library .. a huge tome of small print .. took me a couple of months to read it (and a lot of renewing my book loan at the library) .. but it was very good .. a history of the Crusades .. ! Just scratching the surface though and merely wetted my appetitie for more, more, more !  From the reviews of Sisters of Sinai it sounds like a cracking good read ... just haven't found a cheaper priced copy yet .. night have to resort to ordering from the library .. !

    It;s now time for me to make a nice cup of coffee ... put my feet up ... and do a few online mental challenge puzzles .. got to keep my brain working or it slows down too much. !

  • What a lovely day it's been .. mid November .. but blues skies .. and had my windows open wide all day .. image

    In a rather mad moment .. I decided I wanted to try and book a ticket to watch a cricket international next year .. (an ongoing part of my 'try to do all the things I've always wanted to do') I've often been to 'village green' cricket matches .. but never to a 'proper' international .. !

    But .. I couldn't believe my eyes when I looked at the prices .. £100+ for a one day cricket match seat .. up to £300 for a decent stand seat .. good grief I had no idea how dear cricket match tickets were .. maybe I need to rethink that little adventure .. or at least go to a match more with in my budget, And even more shocking Wimbledon tennis tickets are up to a staggering £3000 for a mens final centre court  ticket.

    No wonder Wimbledon has been able to have a new roof put on .. just a couple of rows of seats probably paid for it hahahah .. makes you think though doesn't it .. who are all these people who can dip their hands that deep in their pockets for just one tennis game.

  • Well, enjoy your good fortune, Patootie! Today has been rain, wind, hail and storm. I bless the wonderful Mr Gore, thanks to whom I get home on the bike dripping outwardly but inwardly dry!

    I have never been to anything like a cricket international, and by the sound if it I'm not going to be going any time soon, either!! If you like the game (I do!) you could very possibly find some quite decent matches in Cambridge itself, if you went to watch the university team play. At least it'd be free!!!

    Yes, a big tome with small print does indeed sound like the Oxford History of England! I've only read the two volumes that cover my period, but both are very detailed and well worth having on hand for reference. They contain a perfectly staggering amount of information, presented in as palatable a fashion as is possible for such densely factual material. Are you interested in the Crusades? Last year I read a really great revisionist biography of Richard the Lion Heart by John Gillingham who is one of THE historians of the period. He says that Richard has been under-rated for the last hundred years, and that he was not only a great military leader (that's incontestable) but also a shrewd and effective politician.

    I'm in my last week at work. I had my 30th anniversary a month or two ago, and I really think that's long enough with any one institution. Everyone keeps telling me I will feel very nostalgic and regretful, but I don't think I will. I'm simply slobbering to get into the academic work I want to do, and while I've enjoyed most of the last 30 years, at this point I'm feeling rather bored. So this time next week I shall have gone back to being a humble scholar again image)))))))

    It hadn't occurred to me that it would be such a muscular challenge to get out on Bess, but I can entirely see why, if you're having to do a lot of balancing. I know you said that with the fibro muscle tone is a constant struggle, and in some ways riding Bess must have the same effect as the wobble-board, in the sense of requiring you to keep your balance all the time. Tiring at first, but ultimately good for you. Well done, Toots!

    I'm sorry you've given up the residents' work, at least for the moment, but when there are prats like that bloke who just came to sneer and make other people uncomfortable, you're quite right to just walk out and let them stew by themselves. Bravo!

    I don't suppose you have any experience of moving cats, have you? When we move down to France next summer we need to move Rossie (dawg) and Truffles and Heineken (cats). It seems that we need to get the pussies used to wearing a harnass (yeah, right!!!) so that we can stop at intervals during the drive and let them out of their baskets to take them for a walk on the lead and let them answer the calls of nature. I am finding it extremely hare to imagine Heineken walking on a lead..... any idea how you really DO this???

  • image ohhh loorrrs ... lost my post ... it was too long ... aaarrrggghhh !! will try again tomorrow .. can't type all that again tonight ... dratted page lengths ... sorry !
  • Right ..I'll try again .. but this will be shorter .. image

    Cats .. yes both my cats were used to walking with a harness .. which they wore for trips to vets .. and in post recovery from various illnesses where they couldn't go outside on their own.  Make sure you get a proper cat harness, not a small dog one .. don't use just a neck collar as cats will wriggle out of it if angry or scared.

    This pretty much says it all .. http://cats.about.com/cs/behavioralissues/ht/leashtrain.htm

    This is the style of 'H' harness I used .. you can make this one a more 'snug' fit than those that just have straps .. and it is a lot easier to get off too .. (for the human that is) ..  http://www.ultimateanimals.co.uk/acatalog/cat_collars_cat_leads_cat_harness_cat_ID_tags.html

    Cricket .. yes next summer I hope I shall be able to 'scooter' to some cricket matches .. sunny days .. leather on willow .. picnic .. aahhh sounds lovely.

    Bess ... getting less aches now after a ride .. if you hold you hands to your sides and wiggle around a bit .. that's the muscles I mean .. the big 'hold you up' ones .. and those across the top of your 'buttocks' and I am doing some gentle 'warm up' stretches before I get on too ..

    John Gillingham .. sounds interesting .. I will check him out .. I love all things Crusades, Priory of Scion, Rennes-le-Chateau, early Freemasons, Merovingian bloodline theories, Illuminati, Bilderberg and other 'secret' societies .. it all fascinates me .. so many red herrings, so many lies .. yet so much truth too ..

  • Right .. second part of post .. not getting 'caught' by it being too long this morning ..

    Incidentally .. until about half an hour ago I thought it was Saturday .. very unsettling to suddenly discover it was Tuesday hahahaha

    How wonderful to be in your last week of work .. that's great .. no more petty office squabbles .. no more pointless minutiae of detail to be bothered with .. how exciting .. and yet I dare say you will be working even harder at your studies .. I nearly choked on my coffee yesterday when I read you were practically 'slobbering' to get started .. ohhh myyy ... champing at the bit .. straining at the leash .. all come to mind too ... image

    BUT ... please take a week off to get your self ready for the new venture .. you do need time to revel in being a free woman once again .. time to just 'do nothing' ... time to lear your head from being a working woman to being a scholar .. you deserve that breathing space .. image

    Have a lovely last week .. enjoy it .. and savour the moment when you will walk away from it all for good ... wooohooooooo image

  • Are you a FREE woman now ??

    http://www.fotosearch.com/bthumb/IMZ/IMZ104/vga0041.jpg

  • Awwww, Patootie, how nice of you to remember! Today is my last day, but it's a VERY last day: I spent Friday afternoon throwing away papers, and yesterday C3 nobly came in to the office with me for 3 hours to take out all my personal stuff---pictures, little things on my desk, you know.

    Today I have a 'cake moment' with my department, for which I have made 2 whiskey cakes (boiled fruitcakes), 2 honey and ginger cakes, 2 dozen blueberry muffins adn 2 dozen marlamade and apricot muffins. That will have to be enough for them, greedy blighters! Then lunch with a friend, a few last phone calls, and hopefully I'll be done (though I'm still in the system for another 6 weeks, reading emails etc). Maybe it will feel funny, but I've just outgrown this particular incarnation so I'm not too worried about it. And being brought up by a staunchly patrioritic Sccots father, I shall stride out of the office with a march tune playing in my mind!

    As to taking a week off----HA HA HA HA HA HA!!! Tomorrow I have pencilled in Cleaning Out The Larder. MEGA job. It's one of those rooms where you can stash ANYTHING,. and when we moved in heree 13 years ago, that's where we put everything we couldn't find a place for. And have continued to do so. But even though we've decided to keep our house here as our family base (even while we're living in France), we are still going to go ahead with the cleanout we started when we were going to rent it out, so the larger must be tackled..... I'll feel good when its over image)))

    And then of course there's the rest of the house.... and a friend with a local farm is having a Living Nativity in 2 weeks time. They have a sort fo project on the farm where they give employment and occupation to people with mild physical and mental disabilities, so the open day is partly to raise money for that, and I'm going to make a bundle of fruitcakes for her to sell with coffee. 

    Nope, don't think sitting with the feet up is on the cards. But then, it's not me either!

    By the way, thank you VERY much for the websites about the cats. They were really useful. We've never moved the cats (except the short distance to the farm where they stay when we're away) and I don't want it to be any more difficult for them than it has to be. 

    And since you are clearly a fount of wisdom re animals: what's the best way to travel with Rossie? She's a medium sized dog. Should we put her in the back seat and just thread the seatbelt through her harnass (which is designed for that)? Or should we put her in a travelling crate? Any thoughts??

  • New post coming shortly ... nothing wrong .. just brain fade .. can't think what to put lol 
  • Awww. patootie, don't worry. Brain fade is a nice description for my mental state at the moment. In the end it took three solid days to clear out the larder. I threw out loads of out of date food (felt guilty, especially as a lot of people now say those 'best before' dates are actually not an indication of food safety; but with the family i won't take risks), found loads of junk, some to give away, some to keep, some to put elsewhere, a lot to just throw out!! The staff at our local dump now know me on site.

    Luckily Christmas cakes are easy to make, so i've made four for the friend with the farm, will make two more tomorrow. We leave for France at 6 am on Tuesday, have to get down in one day (1050 km) to be there on Wed and Thurs when some stuff is delivered for the kitchen (and built in : which is why I HAVE to be there, if I weren't there and they did it wrong, it would be too late!!), then drive back on Friday. 

    Chuglets 1 and 2 will both be arriving home Friday night, and C1 and I are supposed to be going to a choir rehearsal cos we have Lessons & Carols on Sunday night. And in the midst of all this I have somehow to read and mark 25 papers by my young Dutch company lawyers, cos I have to teach a half day course next Monday. 

    What are you doing for Christmas? Will they be arranging something for residents in your block of flats? Or will you be with friends? I guess with your energy a bit unreliable you must need to leave things a bit flexible, but I hope you have some nice plans to enjoy! 

  • Got a lot to say really .. just finding a place to start escaped me ... !

    Firstly .. have a new 'friend' .. I do a lot of competitions online and coming up to Christmas there are always heaps of really nice prizes .. on a childrens web site I saw a comp to win an interactive kitty cat .. I really miss my cats .. just having 'someone' else in the house when you come home or get up in the morning .. so I thought .. I'll enter that .. unlikely to win .. but it would be nice ... blow me if I didn't go and win it .. http://video.google.co.uk/videosearch?hl=en&q=LuLu%20interactive%20pet&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wv#hl=en&q=LuLu+interactive+pet&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wv&qvid=LuLu+interactive+pet&vid=7518167885701027946 this web site shows a video of the cat in action .. it is really lifelike .. the meows are taped from real cats so sounds real .. it's nice to have the cat ... we can't have real pets so this is purrfect for me .. image

    Recently I found I had accumulated about £15 worth of FREE money (a free £1 here, a free £2 there over and so on over about 6 months) on a gambling site .. so I thought may as well use it up .. I wasn't even taking any notice of the game .. just 'using up' the money .. and blow me down if I didn't go and win .. £25.74 .. very nice .. I could only withdraw £15 of the money ... got my cheque on Saturday .. still had some money left to use up ... played again yesterday to finish off the money ... and blow me down I won again .. £27.92 this time .. so I have requested £30 .. that's £45 in all ... and I still have money left in the account .. !

  • Getting ready for Christmas .. got my 'special' cheeses ordered ... ordered from a company called 'Pong Cheese' of all names hahaha ... and I've got my 'big' shopping order coming on Tuesday ... all I will have left to do is get some fresh fruit and veggies .. and whatever 'bits and pieces' I decide I might want .. I'm putting my Christmas tree up next Friday .. 2 weeks before Christmas is plenty early enough .. it's easy enough to put up .. it's artificial of course .. and it's on a spiral wire .. so you shove the pole up the middle and hey presto in 2 minutes you have a really nice 5 foot tree .. and all the lights and baubly things are all ready in place .. so nothing to do other than just  pull the lights round a bit and dust it hahaha .. tales only a minute to put down too ... that's my kind of tree .. instant up .. instant down .. !

    I am not going anywhere .. haven't been away at Christmas for years .. I really like Christmas on my own .. special cheeses and crackers for lunch with a nice bottle of wine .. a nice leisurely lunch over an hour or so while watching a movie on TV no doubt .. image

    That might not sound very festive .. but I truly enjoy being on my own .. I always have .. I am one of those people who can be happy on their own and with just their own company .. I may miss my pets .. but i rarely miss 'human' company .. image

    'Best before' dates generally mean just that .. the foods are at their best before that date .. 'use by' dates mean you should not eat or use the food after that date .. although dried, canned and bottled goods will often keep for a long time after that 'use by' date .. my ex husband use to work in a canning and bottling factory as the maintenance electrician .. we used to buy loads of 'out of date' items from the factory shop .. never had anything inedible .. and I worked at a meat processing factory for a while when I was married .. back in the 80's foods were often given new labelling if the 'sell by' dates went out of date .. it was never a problem as long as the food had been stored correctly .. of course these days things are very different .. they'd rather throw food out and waste it than let it go a few pennies cheaper for a quick sale .. image

  • See .. I said I had a lot to say ... now you can't stop me .. hahaha

    Sprouts: ...

    No ... not the Brussels kind of sprouts .. the macrobiotic type .. I've bought a sprouter and have eaten my first ever 'grow my own' sprouts .. yummy ! I'd always fancied having a go at growing my own sprouts .. but it looked so messy and fiddly ... but with a 'proper' sprouter it becomes easy peasy. Just wash and soak the seeds overnight .. place in sprouter and rinse twice daily for 4-5 days .. that was all I had to do .. easy with the sprouter though as you pour water in the top .. it floods down through the layers of the sprouter and you tip it away from the bottom .. This was my first meal using my own sprouts .. and I made .."Bruschetta with fresh shoots
    Ingredients and preparation:
    Makes 10 slices

    1-1/2 tablespoons each of Mung beans and Little radish seeds (allow to grow for 4-5 days).

    10 baguette slices, placed on an oven tray, sprinkled with olive oil and baked in the oven for a few minutes at 200°C (400°F) until crisp.

    In the meantime, wash, core and dice 3 tomatoes.

    Chop one garlic clove and combine with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, the diced tomatoes and sprouts.

    Season with sea salt (I used special rock salt from the foothills of the Himalayas) and chopped basil. Spread the mixture over the still-warm baguette slices. I did half the amount and I added in some crumbed Feta cheese (for protein)."It was really tasty ... the sprouts were tender, crunchy and sweet .. unlike those big tough and bitter things you get in supermarkets ...  I will definitely be making that again .. got some good quality cold pressed virgin olive oil on my next shopping list .. and now I know how much sprouts I get from just a few seeds I shall know how to sow in batches .. the little radish sprouts are quite like cress .. so I can see lots of uses for them .. the sprouts I have are .. alfalfa, gourmet mix, little radish, mild aromatic, mung beans and strong aromatic mix ... so lots of experimenting to do .. one of the recipes is for some scrumptious sounding stuffed mushrooms ... yummy ..It's a lot of fun watching the sprouts grow too .. one day they are just seeds rolling around the sprouter tray .. and then next day they suddenly grow a little shoot ... when you get up the next day there is quite a dense growth happening .. heheheh I am going to try the alfalfa next I think ... 100's of recipes on the Internet ... so plenty of choice ..
  • How's things going ?? New kitchen looking good ?? Did you have good journeys ?

    Hope you put your feet up a few times and had some 'me' time .. always seems to make things go smoother .. image

  • Ohh yes ... and would those folks who come to read this little 'toots saga's" care to type a few words .. image

    You know who you are ... hehehe ... think I don't see you sneakin' in for a bit of a gossipy read ... then tip toeing back out without so much as saying ... hello ... image

  • Put the Christmas tree up this afternoon ... a few years ago I discovered an ingenious spirally Christmas tree thing .. by putting a pole up it's middle .. it goes from being a large floppy spiral into being a magnificent fully dressed, lights, bows, baubles etc etc Christmas tree in roughly 2 minutes .. perfect for disabled folks like me who find this sort of task really hard to do on their own ...

    .. I dare say I'd never bother if it wasn't for this brill tree .. twinkling lights perfectly spaced .. baubles gleaming in the lights .. gold and silver bows aplenty .. and mysterious little gold sacks with scarlet ties ..

    .. it takes minimal tinkering to straighten and smooth the bows, pull the lights to point outwards and give the baubles a wee dusting so they shine like lustrous gold ..

      ... almost makes you feel like singing a Carol .. or two ... hahahaha

  • I've got my one Christmas present .. it's a 'from me' 'to me' once a year thing ... image

    This year I (Santa toots) have treated myself to the brilliant Morphy Richards Intellisteam .. image

    I have coveted one of these for ages ... it arrived this morning ... it's stupendous .. it really is simple to use .. it's preset with dozens of timed food settings that you can individualise if you wish ... you really can cooked heaps in it .. yet it has a surprisingly small footprint ..  image

    The recommended RRP is pretty ridiculous at around £100 ... but I got mine from Ebay for £39.99 ... you know me .. and it's Morphy Richards' Official Outlet Store .. image 

    http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=280431421727&ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT

    Ding dong merrily on high,
    I've got a posh new steamer.
    Ding dong verily my cooking
    will all be finished on time.
    Gloria, Hosanna in excelsis!

  • Just done my first meal ... well, I had to have a play didn't I .. image

    A poached chicken breast with lemon sauce ... selection of veggies ... and I purposely chose ones with different cooking times .. so that I could keep going to have a look and see if the different sections were turning on .. but I needn't have worried ... it was all perfect ... and just the way I like my veggies slightly al dente .. the potatoes were nice and fluffy .. the chicken was really juicy and tender .. and the sauce was piping hot .. it was SCRUMPTIOUS .. image

    I've used an electric steamer for years and years .. but this is definitely the bees knees image
  • You should see the snow ... it's really DEEP ...  and still coming down thickly .. powers been going crazy .. lights dipping then brief second off .. then on again .. that set the fire alarm off around about 9pm ... emergency lights were going on and off .. and rather bizarrely the lift doors started opening and shutting ... then the lift travelled up a floor all by itself .... image

    Thank goodness I hadn't had a drink otherwise I'd have thought I was seeing things hahahahaha !!!

    Looks beautiful outside ... all sparkling white ... the outside lights shining up into the snowladen boughs of the trees ... really pretty ... just glad I don't have to go out tomorrow ..

  • Hi, Patootie, sorry to have been away for so long!! Been a bit crazy for the last 10 days. Trip to France went well, tho 2 very long days driving (it's 1050 km each way). The work in the kitchen went really well, two nice English chaps who live down there. They were delightful people and VERY good craftsmen, a pleasure to have around and did a great job.

    Drove back on Friday, leaving at 6 am and got here about 6 pm,on schedule. The two older Chuglets (one working in London, one at uni in Chester) both arrived, and C1 and i dashed off to choir rehearsal, the last one before Lessons & Carols. Saturday was spent shopping and chatting, Sunday afternoon/evening was the rehearsal and L&C. It was a lovely service, the music went VERY well. We are the largest Anglican church this side of Paris, and our music is quiet well known, so lots of people come. 

    The rest of the week was just busy---shopping, cleaning, getting prezzies, you know the stuff. C1 had to go back to work in London but C2 is here for the Christmas break, hooray! I'm really enjoying not having to go to the office every day, so I'm being a bit lazy just because I can be! It's so nice not to have to do EVERYTHING as fast as I possibly can. 

    But this weekend has been taken up with snow. We got about 8 inches on Saturday, and another 6 inches or so yesterday morning. The roads are appalling: we made it to church yesterday, but after Mr C had wrestled the car into the garage, we decided not to go out again. The silly moo has just set off to cycle 5 miles to work.....! Although if they've gritted the cycle paths it won't be too bad. 

    I was wondering how you were getting on in the snow. It's beautiful, I know, but a bit alarming with the power going on and off! And I think you use the lift to get between floors, don't you? Well, as you've cleverly got your Christmas all organised, hopefully you can just stay snugly tucked up until things get a little more reliable!

    I loved the sound of your tree. I don't think it would be Christmas without one. We've often had a living, and therefore smallish, tree in the past, but this year the kids insisted on a BIG one, so we have one about 10 feet tall! It just fits in under the ceiling (Dutch ceilings are always high). The kids decorated it last weekend, and I have to say it looks really beautiful. 

    But what is this steamer thingy you've got?? I've never heard of it but from the link you gave me it looks VERY posh! You can set the different bits to steam at different times?? What a brilliant idea! I steam veggies a lot, though with the old fashioned basket in a pot. Will be really interested to hear how you go with this one. I guess you could even do things like steamed puddings in it, couldn't you? 

    I'm going to try to send you a couple of photos of the work in France, so check your email!!

  • It seemed such a good idea .. a nice little jaunt ... a Christmas treat ... ohhh yesss I thought .. a nice trip to Marks and Spencers to use up some of my vouchers will be a really nice idea ... 

    .... but ....

    Ohhhh lorrrs ... it was absolute bedlam .. the roads were chock a block .. the shops were jampacked ... the poor shelf fillers weren't even getting time to take the stuff of the trolleys .. hands were reaching across and just grab grab grab .. 

    ... I had prebooked a taxi for the trip in .. and they told me not to worry about booking to come home again .. we have plenty of taxis .. just ring up and we'll be along in 15-20 minutes .. 

    .. in M&S people were shoving, shouting, grabbing, knocking displays down .. barging along from one aisle to another .. shouting to each other over the displays .. grab two of those mum .. better get half a dozen .. Darren grab another trolley ... yes, YES, we DO need 4 crates of beer .. me and my little basket were like flotsam in a raging sea .. just bobbling about ... caught in the scrambling and heaving merry-go-round ... taken from one aisle to another .. even if I didn't want to go there because I couldn't get out of the tidal wave of folks .. 

    ... just before getting to the tills I made my call ... taxi please, M&S to home .. sorry love .. no taxis for the rest of the afternoon ...  ... but .. what ... bbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbb he'd hung up .. 

    ... so I tried again .. taxi please, M&S to home ... you'll be lucky ... maybe in a couple of hours .. so I did the only thing a 'girl in distress' can do .. I burst into tears 

  • .... amazing what a few waterworks can do .. now don't worry madam .. disabled you say .. well we will do our best .. give us an hour .. where will you be ..

    .. at which point a nice M&S lad took my phone and said 'she will be in the cafeteria' .. 'please come inside to collect her' .. we will look after her until then .. not only did he do that but he cleared the way to a till .. stand aside please .. this lady needs to get through now  ... put everything through and packed all my shopping for me .. then took me and the shopping over to the cafeteria .. settled me at a table and brought me a fantastic cup of coffee ... (yes of course I paid for it .. although I had to insist) 

    ... just 30 minutes later a very harrassed looking taxi driver came in .. took all my shopping .. held all the doors for me .. and drove me home .. he'd been just about to take the folks at the front of a long 15-20 deep queue of harrassed shoppers outside Sainsbury's .. when he was told to get to M&S .. emergency pick up .. 

    ... blimey I won't be doing that again in a hurry .. but what fantastic people .. in all that bedlam they went above and beyond the call of duty ... according to the M&S lad it seems many folks have abandoned plans to go away for Christmas because of the weather .. and of course they have no Christmas food in .. so EVERYONE was stressed .. all trying to do a weeks worth of grocery and gift shopping in one short afternoon ..

    Well done M&S Cambridge .. and well done Panther Taxi's .. my heroes ... image

  • Whew! That was a trip and a half, even at this season, Patootie! You do write SO well, I could just SEE you as the bit of flotsam on the heaving sea of M&S shoppers. It can be almost surreal when you see the quantities people buy, and the enormous energy and attention that they devote to it.

    But what a lovely experience it turned out to be in the end, didn't it? Hope you got the name of the M&S lad, sounds like a letter to the manager complementing him would be in order. (Maybe you don't do that sort of thing; but I was brought up by a father whose theory was that you were only entitled to complain if you also expressed thanks when warranted. He also believed that you should say thank you not only to the individual, but to his boss, because that way the person actually gets the credit for what he did. Dad used to call managers out of back rooms to complement them on their staff; he would write to airlines to commend helpful cabin crew; and so on. Guess I was just indoctrinated early!) 

    And it was good of the taxi people to give you priority---but appropriate too, especially as they had told you they would be able to collect you when you were ready. But I daresay they're right about the unexpected crowds: a lot of people have had to change plans at the last minute due to the weather, and everyone is slightly unprepared. C1 is flying in from London; she was due to take off at 6.45 but has only just got into the air now; but that's nothing compared to some poor people who have been stuck some of them in airports for DAYS. I guess the weather can still throw everything off!

    Anyway, I hope that exciting expedition means that you are all set up now for a lovely Christmas, with lots of nice little treats and pleasant things to read, watch, listen to etc! This year it seems to me that being tucked up safe and snug in your own home is a jolly good place to be for Christmas!

  • First thing I did when I got home was send an email to M&S .. complimenting their staff in general and especially the lad who was so kind and courteous and took charge of me .. it's not exactly the way I was brought up ... but it is the way I would like to be treated if I were 'extra' helpful to folks .. and after all it costs nothing to thank people .. image

    The weather is simply atrocious ... but to be honest it has been worse .. and todays drivers don't seem to be able to cope so well with such adverse conditions .. or maybe it's just that modern cars don't give you the same 'seat of the pants' feel for what's going on outside .. and as for todays public transport .. well .. it just seems we aren't as prepared for rough weather as we used to be .. my dad used to drive buses some weekends .. he used to go out with a shovel, blankets and vacuum flasks of hot tea  ... and often needed to use the shovels too .. no gritting in those days .. yet he always made it home safely .. once he had to dig a way through a 6 foot snowdrift for his bus .. male passengers got out to help .... just part of the job in those days ... image

    I have to feel sorry for folks who had expected to be travelling in search of winter sun or to visit relatives .. it's all turned into a bit of a nightmare this year ... but again .. when I travelled with the kids I always took drinks, snacks and changes of clothing .. just in case .. people can expect to be 'babied' nowadays .. and have everything laid on for them .. but travel is exceptionally disrupted this year I do admit .. never hurts to be prepared though !

    I did manage to get a few 'niceties' from M&S .. not only were they marking a lot of foods down in price .. but I got £5 refund for spending over £30  ... so I got a lot for my money .. or at least it paid for the taxi ... !

  • Well .. here we are ... another year ... happy 2010 everyone .. hope it's prosperous, happy, satisfying and above all healthy for you all .. image .. Christmas and New Year came and went without any unexpected surprises ... the holiday TV scheduling was even more abyssmal than last year ... old movies, repeats and very little else .. some days I only turned the TV on to see the news channel .. !

    I've been busy ... doing 'end of year' finance checks .. moved a few 'bits and pieces' around .. paid off a neglected credit card balance (£25!) .. closed everything I'm not using anymore .. changed passwords etc etc

    Started to look at holiday info ... the UK is sooooo expensive ... sooooo unwelcoming to single disabled folks .. sooooo many grim cheap hotels, resort etc ... but to my total surprise I accidentally discovered that in Spain, mainland and Islands, most resorts have disability scooters as standard hire items these days .. now that opens up a lot of possibilities .. with the use of a disability scooter I could manage (perhaps, possibly) a week in the sun .. pick a nice 'sleepy' village ... trundle up and down to the shops and bars on my scooter .. certainly sounds just what I need .. so I am going to look into it ...try and get a bit more info .. sigh ... I could really do with a little holiday .. a change of pace .. change of scenery .. last time I went anywhere was in 1996 .. 4 days to Istanbul ... £63 'all in' hahahahah

    Weather is bitterly cold here .. been MINUS temps every night for ages .. and hardly above 5C in the daytime .. another thick frost overnight .. the cars are completely white frost coated ... it's 0C out there right now .. yet a little birdie is singing it's heart out .. a beautiful song .. but he does sound cold .. hope he finds some nice warm food and gets back into shelter as soon as possible ... lots of folk here leave out food for the birds ... I have some beef dripping that I am going to soak into some bread and put out .. cut the bread into tiny squares ... so even the smallest beaks can enjoy the extra calories ..  !

    Haven't been outside since Christmas Eve .. far too cold for me and my joints/muscles to feel comfortable ... but I am beginning to feel stir crazy now ... if the sun comes out this afternoon I am going to try and get out .. a quick trip to the post office .. polar fleece hood, ear muffs, ski mask, ski gloves, thermals, thick scarf, thick polar fleece coat, thermal boots ... only problem is the minute you go inside from the cold you start to overheat ... have to rip all your (outer) clothes off before you pass out hahaha ... so I hope there won't a queue at the post office ... image

  • Happy new year, Patootie, good to hear from you! I've been wondering how the hols went. Sounds like a rather quiet time, but I hope there were some nice moments too.

    Yes, everywhere seems to be getting this Arctic weather this winter! We had 10 days with a foot of snow lying in The Hague, which is most unusual, especially before Christmas. It was actually quite limiting because the first few days driving anywhere was difficult, with one lane of big roads open, and even after that the side roads (where everyone lives, obviously) were treacherous with sheet ice. It was rather nice to have a white Christmas, but meant a lot of extra driving as the older aunt who stayed with us didn't want to do the driving herself (and we were glad she didn't!). (Actually she's a fabulous lady: now 82, she goes on holidays with a backpack to Peru and Thailand and places like that; she is a professional painter and also an alternative healer whm people come from all over the country to visit; and she's just lovely. The kids see her as an additional grandparent, which is specially nice now that all of their 'real' grandparents have passed on, and she has no grandchildren of her own.)

    But what a great idea to go to Spain or somewhere entirely different! I've never looked specifically, but my impression is that the possibilities available for disabled people have exploded over the last ten years, and there is MUCH more freedom and intelligent support available. I really hope you do it, Patootie, and that it turns out well, because you really must be desperate for a change of scene after so long. And going abroad for such a well-travelled lady as you would be a blast in itself. Just put plenty of patience in your hand luggage for the airports, which are going to be even worse with the heightened security.

    I hope you DO manage to get out today, because you must be stir-crazy indeed, but do be sensible and do all the wrapping up cos it's double cold by now: not just the immediate air temperature, but with its having been so cold, for so long, the earth and the stones are all really cold now too. It always seems to me that once the cold has seeped into the bones of the earth it has a penetrating quality that it doesn't when only the air is cold.

    I'm in France at the moment, where it's misty and chill. We are not as cold down here as it is up there---yet!  But tonight it's meant to be -5, and it's going to stay cold during the week, so our drive back up this weekend is going to be an exercise in patience and very careful driving, I think. It's been a great time, with all the kids home and a couple of boy/girlfriends as well. We had a nice dinner and the now-traditional treasure hunt around the house, and brought in the new year with champagne. Pretty quiet compared to the wild bashes some people have, but we enjoyed it!

    Hope the new year is a good one for you, Patootie, let me know once you're back from the trip on the scooter today, OK? I want to hear that you're back home safe!

  • Hey, Patootie, I just googled 'holiday disabled scooter' and got a vast list of sites! There seem to be a very wide range of options now available, certainly all over Europe. You've probably done that already, but if not, have a look because if you want to go away you've got a lot of possibilities! xx
  • <whispers>

    Pa-TOOO-TIEEEE, where AAAAAARE youuuuu?????

    Hope the long silence means you're having a great time planning your hols, and not that you're staring at the walls in total frustration at being snowbound!

    We got back from France, with quite a lot of luck. We'd been planning to leave on Saturday and do it in one day, but by nagging about the weather forecast I got Mr C to agree to leave on Friday and spend the night in Chartres. It was lucky we did! It was cold on the road, and there was a lot of snow in Chartres, but we had no real trouble getting here. But Dutch friends in the village told us that 8 hours after we left it started snowing and went on for 30 hours! Everyone was snowed in for about 5 days, you could only get around with 4 wheel drives (which naturally most people don't have, except for tractors). So we really were lucky!

    There's still a lot of snow lying here in The Hague. It's just starting to shaw now, but it's been so cold, for so long, with so much snow, that it's going to take some days to clear. It's been pretty, but I'm getting very frustrated. Even walking requires close attention because there's so much ice, and running is frankly foolhardly in this. 

    How are you surviving up there? Do give a sign of life! xx

  • Sorry .... had my week of not being able to sleep (comes round once every 3-4 times a year ) ... coupled with the snow .. and then rain rain and more rain ... I;ve just not been online as much as usual .. and not 'thinking clearly' hahahah

     Much better now .. last two nights were 10-12 hours of sleep ... so catching up nicely now .. winter is not such a good time for me .. I don't like these short dark days ... it's been dark before 4pm doesn't give you incentive to move about .. an then to make matters worse when I get 'less active' I don't eat as well either ... so I have some more shopping arriving tomorrow .. lots of fruits and veggies .. and n ice fresh things .. that'll kick start the system again ...

    And .. terrible listening to the devastation in Haiti ... sent my donation to Médecins Sans Frontières it wasn't a huge amount ... but from their website I think it might help one person ... and if we all did the same .. everyone could be helped .. it's just terrible though ... made me cry .. cry because I cannot help ... cry because it happened .. cry because .. well .. I'm a bit prone to having a sob in the winter when bad things happen .. Seasonal Affective Disorder ...

    Now I am rambling .. hahaha ... heads still not in it's 'right order' .. but there was a small piece of blue sky this afternoon .. only a tiny scrap .. but wooohooo ... made me feel 10 times better ... so I know I am on the way up again ... getting back to 'normal' ...

    Will read your posts properly tomorrow .. the words kept running together today .. by the time I got to the end of a sentence I had forgotten the beginning .. ohhh the joys of a fibro brain ... hahahaha

  • Oh Patootie, sounds like this weather has been tough in combination with the fibro. There really is something physical about the lack of full-spectrum light, and I know it affects a lot of people quite strongly; my mum in law used to really suffer from it. And obviously being basically shut-in for most of the last month has made most of us stir-crazy---a condition that makes some people (like me) irritable and snappish, and makes other people (like you) depressed and lethargic.

    HOWEVER, as you said, some blue sky is appearing now and then, we've got rain and so with any luck the snow will be away in another day or so and we can get outside again. 

    So hang on in there, girl, and take your time with everything! We'll all be feeling better soon, for sure. 

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