Friday, 27 April 2012



When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.

I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.

I shall go out in the slippers in the rain
And pick the flowers in other people's gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practise a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

- Jenny Joseph (1961)

This poem by Jenny Joseph has always made me feel that there is an element of truth in it. 
So alright, I am already fairly old but there's no way that I'd eat three pounds of sausages or indeed any sausages. I already wear a lot of purple and I sometimes get an overwhelming feeling to shock, though I never do. I hoard pencils and things in boxes and sometimes go out to the bin in my slippers on a rainy day.
I wonder how long it will be before I start to do the other things as well?
Maybe everyone had better watch out.

Is there an element of this poem in you?

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Random Acts Of Kindness

Photo Copyright: Maggie May

Most people in England will be touched by the random acts of kindness that have followed the sudden death of Claire Squires who  had almost completed The London Marathon when she fell dead. She was in her thirties and this was a completely unexpected happening as she was thought to be robust and healthy.

She was running in aid of The Samaritans, an organisation that helps people in despair talking through their problems on the phone.
She had chosne this charity because her younger brother had taken his life when he was only twenty five.
Claire had hoped to raise a few hundred pounds, but since her death, people have been donating to the cause, in memory and admiration of her and the sum in now running into thousands.

I was listening to our local radio station today and inspired by Claire, they were speaking about acts of  kindness by strangers and some of the people who were ringing in had wonderful stories to tell. One man had donated a kidney to a perfect stranger who he would never meet and that unselfish act had made him feel a part of the larger picture of humanity and he felt happier.
This was only one of many stories that touched my heart.
I thought of all the horrible things that we are forced to hear on the media daily and I really wish that there was some way of having more of these acts of selflessness on the media to counteract the bad things that we are being bombarded with every time we switch on.
Yes there is still much kindness in the world but its a pity that it is not publicised more and that mostly it all goes unnoticed.
One of the little things I did do recently, though not anything near as important as giving a kidney, was to thank the man who helped me to get my bin emptied via the council. You can see the post I wrote about my on going problem here. I eventually was able to email the Council to ask them to thank this young man by name for his empathy, for listening to me rant with great patience and for effectively getting my garden waste emptied on the actual collection day. They replied that they would be passing on my message.
We must give credit where its due. 

Friday, 20 April 2012

Steamy Day Out

Photos Copyright: Maggie May

You may have already learned through an earlier post that my daughter, Deb and grandsons Rick and Dean came to stay for a few days over the Easter Holidays. The weather could have been better but we did manage a really good day out on one of the drier days when we went by car to Bishops Lydeard station near Taunton.

From there, we boarded a steam train to Minehead, a forty mile journey that took one and a half hours. To me it was just like going back in time because that was they way trains were in my youth and I can remember just how long it took to go on what is now, a very simple journey.
Rick and Dean are very passionate about steam trains and spend much of their time studying them, reading journals, playing with models and visiting places with some kind of a steam train theme, such as museums or going on actual steam train journeys.
Such is their interest, that once the boys get talking about steam trains, then it is very difficult to get a word in about anything else.
So when Deb asked me if I'd like to come on this journey, then I was delighted, but knew I was in for an intensive steam train day!
I was looking forward to going to Minehead, a sea side town at the end of the journey but guess what happened?
As soon as we set foot onto the Minehead platform, the boys wanted to get straight back onto the same train and return to Bishops Lyeard, so we did another one and a half hour journey without actually seeing the sea. I did enjoy it though. It was especially good to get out of the house. Harry doesn't like to go far these days and I think the trip would have been too much for him to cope with. I do worry about him when I leave him for the day, though.

When we arrived back to the Bishops Lydeard platform, the train was uncoupled and in order to get it to face the right way round, off it went by itself to get onto the right track to pick up the coaches from the other end for the next journey back to Minehead.
We could have stayed on the train for the whole day on the ticket we bought, but we all felt we'd had enough by then.
It was a really good day out and I would recommend it even to non steam train enthusiasts.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Fuss About Nothing?

Photo Copyright: Maggie May

Although I'm not the most patient of people, I think I am reasonable and try and see things through others' point of view even if I do fail at times.
However, my patience is now running very thin.
There has been a bit of a saga going on here for the last month concerning our household and the City Council. Maybe it is not the City Council's fault but they gave a contract to a firm who deals with our garden waste and all the other things that we now have to recycle.
I'd like to add that I am a keen recycler and fully support all recycling.
So what is the fuss about?

I pay the Council a sum of money every year for a green bin and the chance to have this emptied every week, providing I put it out on the pavement by 7 am on collection day.
The green bin is for garden waste, leaves and plants, small branches, weeds and grass cuttings etc. Among the other things that are on the list for collection in this bin is small animal bedding, providing they are not meat eaters and this includes rabbits.
I have had the rabbits for two years and there has never been any problem with the Council picking up my green bin contents........ until now, that is.

The problem began a month ago when my bin was not collected. I do struggle with getting the bin out because of my hip and spinal problems not to mention my sore wrists that are arthritic.
Well it is worth the effort to get the bin emptied. I have a small garden and cannot now cope with compost bins because it is all too heavy for me.
If the bin isn't emptied, then I have to struggle to get it in and out of the garden several times until the next collection date, while the bin gets heavier with more things being added.

The first time I complained by phone, I was told that my bin hadn't been emptied because I'd not paid my yearly subscrition. I was a bit surprised by this and went to the bank to find out if there was a problem. They said everything was fine and that they'd rung the Council for me and the money was going through by Direct Debit as it always had done. I was told it was an Council administration error.
However, the Council insisted that I hadn't paid and when I pointed out that my next door neighbour's waste bin hadn't been collected either, the girl I was speaking to told me that whole streets were on the fiddle and that they were clamping down on all the people who had green bins but were not paying.
I thought this was a terrible thing to say to someone who had always paid and I guessed the neighbour hadn't got into arrears either. I think the street had been missed out by the collectors.
The woman said it was my word against hers but because I was making a fuss they would send someone round to empty my bin. I asked them to empty the neighbour's bin too as it was out on the street next to mine.

My husband was painting the front door when the lorry came round on a different day from normal, especially to empty my bin. They told him I was not on the list of people who had paid so they shouldn't really be doing it. They didn't empty my neighbour's bin although it was on the pavement by mine.
When I learned about this I rang to complain about my neighbour's bin and to give them the details of my payment from the Bank Statement that I had found.
I asked why they'd left my neighbour's bin when it was out on the street next door to mine?
They told me the neighbour hadn't actually complained. I asked if they thought this was a complete waste of public money to have to keep coming back to empty bins several times when it could be done in one visit.
I was assured that everything would be collected the next week.

I shouldn't have been surprised when I realised my bin had not been emptied on collection day the following week. I was told, when I rang to complain, that I hadn't paid, so the Council couldn't collect. I reminded them of my Direct Debit details, told them of my health problems and the fact that I found the bins difficult even when they were not so full and although they seemed empathetic about that, they still insisted that it was because I hadn't paid.
However, they would phone through to admin and try and get me taken off the *black list*.

The next week I put my green waste bin out with a sinking heart because I didn't have high hopes of it being emptied. I was rather shocked to hear from my husband that next door's bin had been emptied but mine hadn't. The lorry had come but not taken my bin contents. Instead they had slapped a note on it to say it contained things that they couldn't handle.
I rang up again.
"Oh...... you mean there are animal faeces in the green bin? Well no wonder they wouldn't pick up."
I explained that the rabbits' droppings in their bedding didn't exactly come under the heading of smelly faeces. (Though technically they were faeces). I asked if they would go and check if there were new rules that said they wouldn't take rabbit's bedding/droppings anymore. They came back and told me that no, rabbits' droppings and bedding were considered alright for recycling and that perhaps the collectors thought I'd put in cat faeces.
I think a two year old would be able to know the difference between rabbit droppings and cat faeces and I asked them how the drivers could be enlightened about it. After a long think, the rather polite man I was speaking to asked if I could put a note on my bin saying that it was rabbit bedding and nothing to do with cats. The man was very apologetic and said he was writing quite a severe complaint to the drivers.

I did tell them that every time the bin is not emptied on collection day, I was going to complain and ask them to come out and empty my bin on another day. This is what they are obliged to do if the bin gets over looked.

So if you are all wondering why your Council tax bills are so high, then maybe this has something to do with it.
I am not getting too excited about my bin getting emptied on collection day. Maybe I will never get it emptied again.
Would you be annoyed if you were paying for a service that was not being done?
Any suggestions, if they continue to miss out my bin?

Thursday, 12 April 2012

The Explorers

Photos Copyyright: Maggie May

When the bunnies come out to play, they start off a bit cautiously, but then they gain confidence and curiosity soon takes control as they start to explore.
My daughter, Deb sits on the floor to keep them company, but they don't hang around for long. Ash takes a furtive look at his surroundings, then bounds away.
Justify Full

Lily wonders what my coat, bag and scarf might taste like if she nibbled on them.

They've not taken long to pull down the curtain and find where their food is stored.

Then they find some forbidden food to eat, fallen from a child's plate.

The holidays went by too quickly and the weather was not too brilliant, especially Easter Monday when the rain came down like stair rods.
The house is now very quiet again and everyone has gone home.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Winter Again?

Photos Copyright: Maggie May

My son, Sam, often gets a run of school maintenance work in the holidays when there are no children around, so this is when I have my granddaughters for a day or two to help him out.
Last week, when they were at school, I was sitting in the sun in really warm summery conditions. However, this week, just because they are on school holiday, it turned out to be freezing cold, similar to early March conditions. It is a shock to the system of a human being to have such a contrast of weather, so Goodness only knows what it will do to all the flora and fauna that my garden sustains. There were bees buzzing about last week.

So what can you do with seven and nine year old granddaughters in such arctic conditions?
Well, apart from caging them with the bunnies, that is!

Most of our plans were ruined because it was just too cold to go on picnics or anything in the great outdoors.
The girls asked me to give them *points* for any good deeds that they did and that would go towards a Harry Potter game that their dad would buy if they really earned enough.
So a chart was drawn up by Amber and they had a *point* for making their beds because they'd stayed the night before. In actuality this just meant shaking their duvets out, so that was money for old rope. I told them they could have 2 points each if they collected dead twigs and branches from the garden and put them in the recycling bin in the front. This was met with wild enthusiasm at first and then shivering and chattering of teeth as well as some complaining about the cold. However, the job did get done and the points went onto the chart.
After lunch, we got on the bus to the city centre and visited the M Shed along our Waterfront. This is a small Museum about the history of Bristol that seemed to keep them occupied for a good while and I enjoyed it too, though I would have liked to look at things and not rush from one thing to another quite so quickly.
Amber and Millie were quite kind to each other throughout their visit and then they asked for points as a reward. I did tell them that I expected them to behave kindly without having to earn points, but this didn't go down too well.
By the time their dad picked them up to go for a communal meal with his girlfriend and Jessie and Ozzie, they were full of all the things we'd done and the points they'd earned.
"Points?" He exclaimed, "What points?" Apparently, he knew nothing about it.
Well I think its a good idea of Amber's and she obviously has her brain screwed on right.

My daughter is coming late on Saturday with the grandsons for a few days, so it will be a full house again. Sandy has invited us all over for a roast meal on Easter Sunday, so that is a very kind gesture, isn't it?
Plenty to look forward to. Lets hope the weather improves.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Should We Retreat From My Retreat?

Photos Copyright: Maggie May

This is one of the little nooks where I sit while reading a book on a sunny day. Sometimes I just sit and survey the garden and plan out in my head what I'm going to do with it. Not long ago, I couldn't have bothered with this as I felt so ill, so this renewed interest and vigour is definitely a step in the right direction, don't you think?

A few days ago, I was sitting on this bench reading a book. It was a really warm day and everything seemed good. Suddenly branches started falling all over me. My next door neighbour had started chopping again and although she had a perfect right to cut branches off my tall shrub that were overhanging her garden, I did think that it was a bit anti social to choose a time when I was actually sitting there. She muttered to me, "It is within the law." So I said,"Thats OK." and left it at that. I decided to stay seated and carried on reading my book, even though there were bits and pieces falling down on me. I just trusted that she wouldn't actually cut a large branch down that would bang my head. Eventually, Sam, my son, came out with a cup of tea and sat down beside me. He rolled his eyes when he saw what was happening. We have had this kind of thing happen spasmodically, over the past few years. These spells usually go on for a good few weeks and wreck our lives for a while.

Because of these occasional problems that we have with this neighbour, we have put up bamboo screening on trellis so that we might be more private as well as providing more shelter for my shrubs in case the cold had a bad effect on them.
I am slightly suspicious now that my trees that died might have had a helping hand. I was sure it was because of a cold snap that those trees died, however because the neighbour cornered Harry on the same day that she was in a chopping frenzy and asked him to climb up and chop the overhanging branches off, I now think theres more to it than meets the eye. Although Harry is physically much better now this new cancer drug is working, it would be very silly for him to go up ladders with loppers. I am pleased that he told her he couldn't do this because of ill health. She then snapped that Sam should do it.
This neighbour doesn't like to have much in her garden and has one tree and a stretch of lawn. She has asked me before if she could cut the heads off any flowers that popped over her side.
This reminded me of the Addams Family, when Morticia chopped the heads off flowers and just left the stalks and leaves in the vase, sighing with satisfaction and saying, "Ah....... that's better."
Does anyone remember the Addams Family?

We are lying low....... but I don't think we have heard the end of her annoyance and wait with bated breath wondering if she will react in some awful way.

You can see the tamarisk tree stump that died. I have left the trunk in so that the Clematis will not be disturbed and it is now budding and will hopefully cover up the eye sore.
The fencing is not that high but might prevent anything being thrown over the wall.

I decided to plant my potted bay tree in the devastated bare patch and hope it will spring to life quickly and not take years to grow.

I have been very guarded about what I write on my blog over the years, but as it is a kind of journal about real life events, I decided that this attitude is silly because I found myself in a situation where I couldn't write about anything in case it might be taken the wrong way.
So this is one of our trials at the moment and naturally, I wanted to write about it.