Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Aha! Here is a photo for you of R and H out on Southampton Water for their first sail. So far their only sail, as it has been raining ever since, or so it seems, and R needs to go down to the club and sort out the leaking boat before they go again. We have plans to travel to the Isle of Wight, but will be sticking to the ferry.

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Had the slice taken out of my neck, bandages all off now and it looks fabulous, you would hardly know, whereas with the bandages on I looked like I had a last minute reprieve from the gilotine ( I know you don't spell it like that, sorry all you French speakers out there).

Managed to wangle a night in hospital by going on the stepper just before they took my pulse, it was obviously so high they wanted to keep me in and check I was ok. I had a couple of cups of tea with added sugar, such a hospital treat! And lime jelly, apricot yogurt, mashed swede, and 2 types of soup. All very satisfactory. Not all in the same bowl, btw. Having not been to Bitterne for nearly a fortnight, the gods looked kindly on me and sent one of the lifeguards from the pool to be in the bed next door, so I immediately felt at home, and safe if there were a sudden flood. Although as she had just had an op herself, maybe I shouldn't have been relying on her to rescue me.

General anaesthetic lived up to expectations, lovely anaesthetist, who said: 'See you at 11.30' like we were going out for coffee. I dressed up for the date, with a rather fetching gown with 'property of Southampton NHS Trust' in a detailed motif all over it.

I came home on Saturday tea time, and spent Sunday and Monday being very tired and pathetic and weak, and then since then have been increasingly a. mobile b. bored. Read Hello magazine from cover to cover, so am now totally up to date with all the celebs. None of them wearing the 'Southampton NHS Trust gown though. Can't really do a great deal of anything exciting but am not really rough, just getting tired easily, and trying to take things slow. Watched Countdown yesterday, and Bargain Hunt the day before. But they have changed the presenters and its not the same without Richard and David. Weird, the timing of this op and enforced slowness in my life, as of Sunday we will not have any church meetings or kids work to run on Sunday mornings, my kids work leading job is finishing, and I don't have any teaching booked in for this term. I guess I am as unemployed as I have ever been. Should I claim job seekers allowance? Maybe? The last time I was properly unemployed was in Sheffield in 1995, and I went to a job club 4 mornings a week and got paid a bike allowance for cycling there. I got income support of 8p a week awarded, but never received a penny of it. I applied for some ridiculous jobs, and then got a ridiculous job working in Worksop. I am seeking a job, so I am a job seeker, but not that worried if I don't find one, as I think God has a plan and this slowness in my life is for learning some important things about myself and about God and about the world. And I have plans to redecorate the hall, stairs and landing and am desperate to get my veggies going in the garden.

And clearly Bitterne needs me in this time of change. A went yesteday with AJ, and I am relieved to hear that the Bakers Oven is still going strong. R took the girls to their swimming lessons, BOTH AT 5 PM!!!! and was impressed particularly with H swimming lengths of front crawl. I can't do that! R and H had their first sail last Friday, it was really windy, and two seasoned sailors sucked their lips in when they saw them going out. They only went out about 20 m from the shore, and were checking for leaks - of which there were some. H was fearless, and I was able to watch after a bit! Really proud of her, but had that 'its my baby out there in a titchy boat' moment, but glad I trust R's sailing ability.

Did I tell you about our ghastly Furzey Gardens experience? We went in the holidays, and it was packed with children hunting for the little fairy houses that have been popping up in the gardens. Its lovely, and the girls love it, but it was noisy, with people shouting across the pond, which is just not in the spirit of the place. And, to top it all, a dad playing baseball with his girl up on the main lawn, hitting the ball towards the terrace. Surely he could have taken her to the park to do that? I was feeling very intolerant of these people encroaching on my special sacred retreat place. Still my own bloody fault for telling too many people about it. Probably all read it on my blog and bounded off down there. Next time I find a nice secret place I will keep it a secret and not even tell my closest friends. Yeah right. I just can't help sharing good news with you all! Maybe I will do some false leads in here and get everyone somewhere else, that's horrid, and I never go to. Ha! That's the trick!

Monday, 14 April 2008

As I am being examined and catergorised by the NHS for my impending slice under the butchers knife, I have been spending longer than usual on buses and at hospitals. Which leads me to some thoughts.

First, I had a camera on a tube poked up my nose by a junior doctor who assured me she had had it done herself and it didn't hurt. Don't ever believe a doctor, I say. Interesting piece of humanity was the interaction I had with the nurse, who had been busy peeling bits of the last patient off the floor when I came in, but when it was my turn to be 'done' came over and offered her hand for me to hold. Isn't that amazing, how we need human skin to skin contact in times of stress (or when someone in authority has blatantly lied to us). And a stranger will do. Aren't we a weird bunch?

There are lots of posters and signs at the hospital, which is great for a environmental print junkie like me. This one I rather like: Duthie (Trust). I hope it means something to someone, cos it means nothing at all to me. It's like a cryptic crossword clue. Trust Duthie? Is it an imperative? Why should I? Who is she or he or it? Or is Duthie Greek for trust?

Another of my favourites goes something like this:

Want to Bleep 2282?

Want to know how?

Ring 2343, ext 554, then 9856.

Oh. Glad I asked. Will not bother next time and will just writhe in pain on the floor of the lift and hope someone notices eventually.

Anyhow, I found out that I may be a day surgery case, owing, I expect, to my amazing physical fitness, super low pulse (only just got one) and the fact that I will drive all the staff mad correcting typos on their signs if I stay in. Was looking forward to hospital food and cups of tea brought to me, will have to make the most of the opportunities I get, especially as have to fast from midnight the night before.

Buses, sadly, do not reap such picking for EPJ personality types ( Environmental print junkies). The same old adverts stay up for months at a time. I was on the number 10 for an hour getting there, and an hour back, resisting the temptation to hop off and on again in Shirley. Read the advert for Chlamydia so manytimes I know it off by heart.

I hear today a rumour that as well as knocking down Bitterne Bowl, Lord Bitterne is going to be putting a Woolworths and a New Look in its place. Its a poor swap, I know, for a bowling alley, but still, puts us on the map, retail wise, eh? What next? Waitrose? Gap? I wait expectantly for news of major retailers fighting to get a spot.

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Our train adventure went well. A had a bit of a hissy fit on way there and on way back, and considering it was 7 hours and the length of England, that's not bad, and a lot better than we would have had in the car. Plus no sick. Staying with the Shottons is always a delight, home cooked rustic fare, feather beds, milking cattle at dawn, that type of life up in Northumberland.

We had a fabulous sunny morning at the beach, with the girls in rock pools and the dog tearing around the place, I managed a quick wander up the sandy beach on my own and a sit and pray in the sunshine. We spent a rainy day in 'Seven Stories', a brill children's exhibition with Roald Dahl and Horrid Henry exhibitions, and a dressing up room, puppet making and an arts and crafts space, we spent all day there and could have stretched it further. It's in Newcastle, so bit of a long way to go just for the day.

On the train home yesterday we had a crowded carriage from Derby to Birmingham, when a load of Aston Villa fans got on. Had some engaging conversations with H on why people speak differently in different parts of the country. The Newcastle accent is delightful, and I know people say this, but the people are really friendly. If it wasn't for the rain and the cold I could live there. Can't say the same for the Aston Villa accent. They weren't particularly perky, a kind of well behaved if slightly drunk mish mash of masculinity, and on returning home R checked out the football scores - their team had won 6-0. Which made R wonder what it would take to get Aston Villa fans really happy. I mean, what we saw must have been the top notch on their celebration scale. Bless em.

Our cat survived our absence, and has been very cuddly with us since we got back, even heard purring, so clearly she loves us and missed us. Ha! I have been looking up recycled alternatives to cat litter as she doesn't seem too keen on jumping the fences and going on Hattie and Adam's lawn. One blog suggests shredding newspapers, but we only get the Advertiser and I don't know if that will contain all her wee. Still, will give it a go and report back. We have had a stream of Echos from the Clarks, so will ask them to keep them coming and let the cat wee all over them - after I have extracted the competitions, of course! Still a bit desperate for winnings. Entered one today to win a weekend stay in Essex. Bet I win that one, as no one else would enter it.

Rowed 2000 m today. Bejing, here I come! Or maybe I won't, as it is a bit further than that to row solo all the way to China. And I have an appointment with a surgeon this Friday, so couldn't get going on the row till a couple of weeks hence.

At the gym I did 41 minutes of CV work, then went to Pilates where I was irrited by having to do all the exercises on a stupid piece of foam tubing. I do get annoyed by some of the things she makes us use, although I am sure it is good for me to get stronger, more flexible and do all that with a hoop or the inside of a car tyre or whatever she brings along. H was doing some cat stretches and other exercises in the train yesterday, a girl after my own heart, not at all self conscious about stretching out in public, although the gangway is not very wide and the people at the table opposite were very forgiving.

Read a book called 'serve god, serve the planet' by Dr Steeth or Leech or some such name. Very very good book, makes you think about all aspects of life, not jut changing lightbulbs and the obvious things like that.

Monday, 7 April 2008

H and I had a swim at The Quays today, very peaceful, we were in there for about an hour or so around tea time. The recent threat to the Under 7s free swimming, which was going to be 'axed' under Conservative council budget cuts, was actually turned around completely by Southampton's new Lib/Lab administration, which has increased it to all Southampton resident and educated children up to 12. I feel personally responsible for this U turn, as I wrote an email in protest at the cuts. So, please bother to vote at the start of May, and please vote for a Lib or a Lab, purely so my children can continue to get free and unlimited swimming at The Quays. Sorry to get so political and use this blog as blatant canvassing, but, surely the Bowens' swimming prowess is a campaign worth getting behind? H can do the 'caterpillar' stroke now - like the butterfly but without the arms.

We bought new school shoes today, and had the marvellous experience of sharing the John Lewis children's shoe department with the most fantastically plummy ladies with their offspring, who must live in another world to me, with their children dressed in jodphurs and with their fabulous 'Winchester set' country casual look. I really do find it harder and harder to realise that I share my world with people from such a different world, and we probably only live a few miles apart. Like Curdridge or Colden Common or somewhere out there. We only go to John Lewis for shoes because R started the tradition when H was small and he liked the fact that they page you to let you know when to come back to be served rather than waiting. We have been to the Clarks in Woolston a few times in my bid to 'buy local' but the girls see John Lewis as the only place to buy shoes worth a mention.

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Bitterne has not shut down. I have just been there so much lately I have not been sitting down to tell you about it. Just a bit concerned that all my readers will have been bothering to make their own pilgrimages to the precinct to check for themselves on the strength of the mighty centre of the East. Don't bother. Stay at home and read this instead.

Last time I was in Bitterne library I did notice that it was shutting (about now) for a re-fit. I will look forward to telling you more next time I find myself there. The most amazing thing may be happening for me at Bitterne Leisure Centre next term - for the first time in history, the girls' swimming lessons that I have asked for will be at exactly the same time! Meaning I get half an hour in the gym while they do their lessons, and then get out of there fast. I keep on meeting people and chatting and getting on well with them, and then H moves lessons and we don't see them anymore, so no more of that trouble either!

Last Friday it was raining a lot and I cycled home from Netley Abbey in suprisingly good spirits considering just how wet I was, and saw a man down the road with some plastering kit in his boot. So I asked him to do some plastering for us, and now, a week later, 'tis finished! The guy in charge was a 'Thornhill lad', as he put it, despite being 52 still sees himself as a lad, and more importantly, despite now living in Sholing, is proud of his birthplace. And quite proud of his plastering. Now I need to start on the decorating, and will be trying to keep up with the Jones's ( Steve and Elaine) - which shouldn't be too hard.

We adopted a cat recently, she is grey, pretty and shy, and can be friendly when she wants food. We have named her Emily, although she was called MC before that. The best thing about this cat is that she has been claimed as an official stand in for the rabbit and guinea pig that I was dreading getting this summer, but had promised. R has got to drill a hole through the house to make her a cat flap, so that is a down side of cat ownership. But then she can poo on our neighbours' lawn rather than in a litter tray. I will train her to go over 2 fences and poo at number 86. They are Christians and they won't mind at all.

Yesterday we took a look at 'Ariel' the boat, in position down at the sailing club, and on Friday H and R went down and rigged her to practise. H has all the kit now, including rubber shoes, which she wore in the sea yesterday while the other girls wore wellies. I really hope she likes sailing, after all the investment... The other boat which was in our garden for a week or two has gone to its temporary home with a boy from R's school, who is borrowing it for a couple of years. It was R's when he was a teenager, so as you can see, we like to deal in vintage maritime equipment.

This week's teaching day was really energising, in the morning I had Year 2 who were all dressed as aliens, astronauts etc as they have been studying space. One girl came as a rocket, but had to take it off as she couldn't sit down. In the afternoon I had Year 4 sewing. My heart sank initially, but I made loads of them unpick their stitches that I thought were not their best, and they concentrated and did brilliant work. It was a really good task, great for working on fine motor skills and I was really proud of them at the end. I noticed a full time job going at my old old school, the one I said I would go back to when the head left. Well, he left ages ago, and I have done a couple of days supply there over the years, and would love to go back - but not full time! I don't have any work booked at the moment, and my church paid job ends at the end of April, so I am in a transitional time right now, and coping with it better than I thought I would. Plus, Ihave the umpteen layers of PVA and emulsion to do on the hall, stairs and landing to keep me busy.

I have had a very lean month for winnings, with precisely none. Have stepped up my efforts this weekend and hope to win a home alarm system, a few trips to Paulton's and a mountain bike.