Some cards.

When I’m not miniaturising, doll making, gardening or online shopping (which you should not do late at night, when tired with a credit card), (as my grandmother used to say: Don’t do what I do, do what I tell you) I make cards.

I send them to a number of friends, for many reasons.  Number one is that a handmade card is love in paper.  It really shows that someone cares.  It is not a problem for the recipient to deal with, once you have enjoyed it you just stick it in the paper recycling.  This is such a benefit.  For some reason people keep giving the OH and I candles.  I have no idea what to do with all the candles.  We have electricity and live in a house with combustible artefacts, why would I use a candle?  And, as for the scented ones – sickbag.

Also, the enjoyment of making the card means that I benefit from a nice pastime, though, to be fair, what I need is more time, not ways to pass it.  If it goes wrong, you can recycle it, it’s a piece of paper.  I enjoy watching craft TV and online demonstrations of techniques.  I like purchasing inexpensive bits to make things and I have loved visiting craft shops since the mid nineteen fifties.

Altogether nice and, if you practise, you can get quite good at it.  A card is a modest piece of art that doesn’t demand a wall, or much of an audience.

Recently I discovered the Craft Consortium Essential 12inch paper pads.  These are marbly paper in numerous arty colours that make a good foundation for any sort of pictorial effort.  I’m buying mine at  and you can buy direct from and various other places near you.  They also do paper kits with images and embellishments to match.


I began by using the papers with Tim Holtz landscape dies, they make lovely mountains.


Here the papers are everything: the mountains, the fields, the deer and the tree.  The sun is a stencil and I have added shadows to the deer to make them solid.  The deer are Tim Holtz dies too.


I used them as background to these vellum flowers, which are from Memory Box dies. When the Tim Holtz texture fades acorn embossing folder arrived in the post I did these, to start with.


In reality they look a little like an old tapestry.  Tim Holtz is so clever, he has such an interesting way of thinking, you can find him online and get endless inspiration. 

I have five paper pads to get through, each one has 30 double sided sheets, so that’s how many ideas I have, at least.

It’s one thing to make items yourself, I’ve been doing that all my life, but to make items that inspire art in other people is quite something.  I enjoy so much using lovely bits of paper to send ephemeral joy through the post.

Pictures made in this way can say more than words, to the people who most need to hear them.


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A bit off.

Me. I am.  A bit off. Pains in the guts and just a bit off.  I should not be surprised.  Like everyone who does regularly not enjoy good health, I dread being poorly again.

I haven’t been well ever since I finished caring for my mother.  I was occasionally checked up while I was doing that, in hospital.  I had checks for cancer and didn’t have it, until I did and I had a camera down my throat regularly until it was apparent after the surgery that I’d had blocked intestines all along, probably for more than a decade, at least.

I’ve been emailing a friend who had surgery for a blockage and the surgery that caused it had been twenty years ago.  It’s amazing what you can have and limp along with.  Good health is wasted on robust people who just leap out of bed every morning, expecting to feel wonderful; weedy sickly specimens like me would love a few days of that.

I don’t know if it helps to compare myself with how I was in the four and a half years prior to the surgery, I am definitely better than that, I’m not vomiting for a start, food is going down in the regular way.  I just feel off and in pain.

Are the adhesions adhering again?  It is what they do and no one knows why some people produce strings of elastic inside and others don’t.  Perhaps it’s some sort of evolutionary thing that would have been handy in some other timeline where you might get slightly nibbled by a dinosaur but survive with massive scarring.  Am I trying to produce those eight percent elastomer fibre jeans but on the inside as a last ditch effort at a flat stomach?  Are my intestines red carpet ambitious?

Like everyone with Internet access I have been symptom searching, including all the anecdotal websites where somebody’s husband had his gall bladder removed two years ago and still can’t climb up a ladder to clear the blocked gutter. (That poor woman has had overflow rain down her cloakroom window all this time, no wonder she won’t let the neighbours come round to see how well her rhubarb is doing this year.)

Or I could just be expecting the old ‘with one bound she was free of pain, a stone lighter and looking wonderful for someone her age wearing trainer socks.’

I don’t know.  I’m hoping it’s just a blip.  I’m still reporting to the hospital on two counts, so they’re not expecting me to be free with one bound.

It could be worse.  I am related to, or friends with, three people much worse off currently, you know one of them, it’s SMIL.

Maybe I have been conditioned by optimistic horoscopes; this year starting this month, Dung Beetles with Milk Jug Rising are in for a windfall, apparently.  Though if I’m feeling off I won’t want to go on a spending spree, which, to be fair Milk Men with their moons in Windowpane are cautioned not to do, at least until Pandora turns retrograde in Bus Ticket.

Maybe I’m just overly optimistic myself, expecting not yet a year after major surgery to be plain sailing, the hospital are still taking the wait and see line of reasoning.

Meanwhile I’m doing a lot of assorted card making, drawing and crafty stuff, which is a nice distraction but not the gardening I ought to be doing.  Also, I was beginning to think of getting my passport renewed and maybe even go on holiday.  But you can only plan a holiday if you expect to be well enough to enjoy it.  I know cruise ships for the advanced in age and money come equipped with doctors but I don’t fancy that.  My mother loved cruising. I couldn’t imagine being trapped in a floating hotel for a fortnight with several hundred elderly ladies who only close their mouths to swallow.  You’d have to be really robust to survive that.

Well, I’ll see how I am tomorrow.  Early night and all that.  I might wake up full of the joys of spring and not just a bit off.

We shall see.  Well, I will.  I’ll let you know.


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Plan B for carers.

When the bombshell that is a dementia diagnosis hits, it can be difficult to access any kind of logical thinking.

From my own experience and the messages from many primary carers, after the initial shock there seems to be a determination that life will continue as it is for quite a long time.  Hopefully, with early diagnosis and the right medication, maybe, except for making provision for a failing memory and the frustrations that this brings, day to day will be much the same as it has been with, perhaps, the addition of professional carers, either provided by social services, or privately sourced, popping in occasionally to check all is well, and regular trips to the doctor.

After the initial panic a sort of resignation sets in and the will to make the most of difficult circumstances.  Perhaps trips and outings, even holidays, are planned and taken while such pleasures are possible.

However, a message from a friend who had recently become her husband’s carer, prompted me to remind you of the importance of plan B.  The friend had suddenly become very ill, was carted off into hospital for surgery, very unexpectedly, so that her demented husband found himself, with little preparation, in a care home.

As regular readers know, SMIL has reacted very badly to the care home.  At first she said she would forgive her daughter, who had moved her into the care home to be nearer geographically to where the daughter lived, as long as she could go home.  When this did not happen her illness and behaviour deteriorated significantly and she is now in the  high security area of the home and is frequently violent.

The leader of the private agency team that cared for my mother, who was very good at her job, described the situation of one of her charges.  When she first met this person, the demented person was in virtually a padded cell, not dressed and throwing her own faeces at anyone who came near.  Removed from this situation and returned to a domestic and familiar setting, with a plentiful array of carers, the behaviour changed and the demented person turned back into a person again.

This is an extreme example and a very good argument for keeping the demented person in familiar surroundings for as long as possible.  I was amazed when the money ran out for keeping my mother at home with 24 hour help, how well she adjusted to the care home.  It was a very posh care home.  She knew some of the residents already, one was her former doctor, one was a previous bank manager.  Confidence that this was the best possible option, given the people that had already chosen it, had a lot to do with her acceptance of the necessity of moving and the sherry afternoons, palm court orchestra and lift (I can still hear her delighted cry: ‘Oh Jane!  I will never have to do the bloody stairs ever again!’) immediately opposite the door to her flat, all helped.  As did the fact that it was a proper little flat, she had chosen the décor and had her own furniture.

But what helped most of all was the fact that she and I had had conversations from the very beginning.  This was not easy.  Her husband had just died, she had just had a shocking diagnosis and knew her life expectancy was limited, and she was a difficult person anyway.  She was the person who had me locked up and starved when I was a teenager and had just got 11 O levels.  (With hindsight I am fairly certain she was jealous.)

I could have used the opportunity of her illness to get my own back.  I could have avoided anything likely to annoy her, at which exercise I’d had a lifetime’s practise.

Instead I decided that this would be just the job to grow my soul.  I did research first of what was available locally in the way of help.  Then, because people with dementia are hard of thinking, I weeded out the no hopers myself.  Then we had several, small, not exhausting conversations, at the end of each I wrote down what we’d thought and any opinions expressed and I worked out all the finances of what was do able. I realised early on that my inheritance was going out of the window.  Resources available to any principle carer will be very variable, so you need to be totally practical from day one, know what your means are and include your own availability as a resource.

When you have made plan A, which is What We Are Going To Do Now and had a little rest, you need to make Plan B, which is, How We Will Get Help For You If Something Happens To Me.

This is hard, hard to do, hard to think about, just generally not easy at all.  But if you wait until circumstances overtake you, your choices will be limited, the possibility of something happening to your demented person  by way of care that neither of you would wish, is increased and the resulting deterioration in the health of your cared-for person could be extreme.  Demented people do best in familiar situations, as their brain changes they cannot assimilate or cope with the unfamiliar.

Therefore you decide together on plan A and plan B as soon as possible after diagnosis and you write it down somewhere that can easily be found, or you tell a family member, or a neighbour who is a good friend where to find the details.  Then your job is to keep updating the choices.  Check that the care home, if it is privately run as a business, has not gone bust.  Keep in contact with the relief care providers.  Keep your demented person, lightly, on a good day, in the loop.

Knowing what the plans are will give you that air of confidence which demented people pick up on so easily.  You will find, as the disease progresses that demented people can be like small babies – they pick up on your moods.  If you are tired they will cry, if you are not confident they will act up, they will have a tantrum in the supermarket because you are in a rush.

I found time and time again whilst being a carer that the only person riding out to save me was me.  I confronted all the dreadful possibilities and, with the agreement of my demented person, knew what we would do if they happened.

The only utterly unplanned occurrence was when my mother’s cat brought a large mouse into the house and then lost it.  By then I was so good  at dealing with stuff that I found the mouse, caught it in a humane trap and let it out by the river with a complete absence of any drama at all.

This is the ideal mindset for you.  Calm and in control is good for you because you are pumping fewer stress chemicals into your own body.  Knowing you are calm and confident will calm your demented person and that in turn will make them more easy to deal with.


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The wrong one wins.

In defiance of my sitting watching television promotes brain fog ethos, I do make a point of watching two programmes.  They are:  The Wrong One Wins – People and The Wrong One Wins – Places.  You may know them as Portrait Artist of the Year and Landscape Artist of the Year.

Why do the judges persist in choosing the oeuvre which least resembles the subject?  Am I hopelessly out of date?  Is it true that if we’ve got cameras for that there’s no point in having a painted depiction?  Why do they keep talking about ‘mark making’ and do daubs qualify?

Then I have issue with all the artists who take several photographs and paint from their photographs.  Especially those who put a grid on the photo and a corresponding grid on the canvas and just copy the squares.  What’s clever about that?  Isn’t it just paint by numbers?

Is it just me?  Am I too old, thinking practised skill is a good and desirable achievement?

You can probably detect that I may have more questions than answers but I am not giving a critique from a point of total ignorance.  Partial ignorance, possibly, I have not been to art critic school or been steeped in knowledge of what made the greats, great.

I do like things that look like something.

I believe that some modern art is a load of hokum.  One or two very modern artists were freethinkers that brought something new to the party, the rest were just freeloaders, including some famous modern names, in my opinion.

What this opinion of how difficult it is or not is based on, is a few years at portraiture.

I was looking for more craft shops locally, searching with a search engine.  Thus I discovered an art supplies shop in the next town that was running weekly classes with no tuition.  What they did was hire a model to stay still while artists did their thing.  There was life drawing, which was a couple of hours of unclad model in a variety of short poses and portraiture in which a clad model sat still for a couple of hours.

I am interested in anything that is likely to improve the original sculptures from which I model my dolls.  So I went along to both for a while.  I soon became disenchanted with life drawing; the poses were usually about ten or fifteen minutes long, at the most half an hour, so I never got the chance to finish a piece of work well.  I did get familiar with proportions of the human body other than my own slightly stunted ones, and looking at a lot of joints was very helpful and culminated eventually in the articulated 24th scale dolls which I do now.

Portraiture took a lot longer to have an effect. As an artist, unlike some of the contestants in The Wrong One Wins, you are trying really hard to make the finished effort bear a really strong resemblance to the person seated for two hours, with a fifteen minute break, before you.

I had several breaks myself of months at a time for ill health of various sorts.  A lengthy one towards the end of being a carer for my mother, and a similar break when classes were closed in the pandemic.

I believe I improved considerably when my cataracts were surgically corrected and I could actually see what I was looking at, which is almost cheating in my hitherto squinty life.

I have the proof because from the start I kept every effort categorised by date in 12 inch scrapbooks, so I could see myself improving.  I have done this systematically with few things in my life, but it has advantages in that it doesn’t matter where you start, what counts is getting better.  It’s one of them there journeys that are so popular currently.

And now it’s time to join the judges yourself.  Here are my two most recent efforts, returning a fortnight ago after my time off for surgery last summer.  These are the pictures from last week and the week before.  Feel free to mutter about mark making and the artist’s honesty with the canvas, you can even bang on about the width of the brush strokes if you like.

Both portraits are watercolours, from those little boxes of watercolour pans of paint.  I draw the subject first.  The pictures are on A4 watercolour paper pads. Here they are – got your screwed-up judgey face on?


Here’s Christina and



There are no aids, just me looking at the person, drawing what I see and water colouring the result.

What do you think?


If you like looking at the work of a lot of artists in miniature, tickets for Autumn Miniatura are now on sale with considerable reductions from pay-at-the-door entry.

As always


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It’s a terrible topic to write about but needs to be addressed.  Sooner or later your demented relative will have a fall.

I hear that SMIL has had yet another fall, this time she has a black eye and cuts to her face, her daughter is feeling guilty and cried when she visited her mother upon seeing the injuries.

If you are the carer, falls are not something to feel guilty about, it is practically impossible to prevent them.

My mother fell before she was diagnosed with dementia and it was certainly a straw in the wind.  She had numerous falls and, amazingly, never broke a bone.  I was living in dread of her doing so; she was a holy terror whole, in a cast she would have been utterly unmanageable.

My mother’s first fall was outside, on top of my father, on the doorstep of her home.  It was Christmas and cold.  They had just had a substantial lunch and decided to walk it off.  When you eat a big meal the blood in your body will rush to your stomach to aid digestion.  Unfortunately where it is rushing from, is your brain, because of gravity.  Add a sudden change from a centrally heated house to a cold doorstep and a drop in blood pressure will do the rest.  Many elderly men suffer from heart attacks going from warm houses onto snowy drives with a shovel.  In this instance my mother had not had a heart attack, it was my frail and thin father who suffered the damage; he looked as if he had been in a boxing match and lost.

Several of her subsequent falls happened after meals.  On one occasion she thoroughly smashed the arm of the dining chair and the leg.  As this was well into dementia, she was upset by the damage and didn’t know who had done it.  I tried to get it mended but could not do so, it was too smashed.  I rearranged the chairs instead.  The obvious practice to adopt here if you are the carer for a demented person is to institute a regime in which you sit for a little while after a meal and get up slowly, ideally holding on to something.

A walking stick, frame or other balance aid is a good idea, however, giving a stick to someone who is frequently aggressive is not.  SMIL’s stick has been taken from her because she threatened other residents with it.  My mother threatened to hit me with her stick on a few occasions.  Fortunately as she was cared for at home there was no need to remove the stick and I learned to get out of the way, or arrange matters so that the stick was not too near if she was aggressive.  In a residential home, with many elderly people to care for, keeping an eye on one dangerous lady armed with a stick is not so easy.

Another cause of falls is postural hypotension.  A sudden drop in blood pressure causing fainting or a fall can be due to a change in position, such as getting up from lying in a bed quickly or a fault with the pumping of the heart for example.  The S&H used to feel giddy if he got up too quickly at the stage where, as a teenager, he had outgrown his strength and was very thin.  Sitting on his bones in a firm chair compressed the blood vessels in his legs, as he stood the blood rushed back into the vessels, he had pins and needles and felt faint.  Demented people almost always lose weight at some stage and can become dangerously thin.  My mother-in-law did this and was positively skeletal by the time she died. My mother lost two stones in weight in three weeks when she forgot to eat.  I did manage to help her regain weight by becoming an expert in cake making, but in a home where lots of people are eating at once, who is able to observe which residents are eating and which are not, especially when some will need assistance with feeding anyway?

Another cause of falls is simply the degeneration of the working of the brain in dementia.  It is, after all the faulty working of the brain which is the most observable characteristic of the disease.  The centres for balance are just as likely to be affected as any other area of the brain.

In a healthy person movement assists blood to flow around the body and to the brain, it helps with digestion and regulating various bodily functions.  In a demented person, being seated immobile for many hours will hasten the disease process.  In Alzheimer’s disease, for example, the build-up of amyloid plaques disrupts the normal functioning of the brain and the systems that clear waste matter generated by the usual working of the brain.  Whether this disease process is hastened by immobility is currently being studied in various locations but the entire body works on the principle of use it or lose it.

Falls are frightening to the fallen. I speak as someone who has tripped twice, once over my fitness equipment, vacuuming the ceiling when I was trying to live in two houses at once, care for my recently widowed and obviously sick mother and keep fit and keep my house  like a new pin despite leaving two men unsupervised to live there during the week.  I broke my left forearm on that occasion.  The lesson to learn from my mistake if you are a new carer is only to do what is doable.  Sufficient unto the day is the vacuuming of the ceiling.

The second time I tripped over the cat, who was dashing for the cat door as I was walking the other way, laden with a pile of cat food dishes that I couldn’t see over.  This was the one that resulted in the second worst break the hospital had ever seen, and five big bits of metal still in my arm.

You do feel foolish after a fall, and you do hurt, quite a lot.  One of the rare advantages that demented people have after a fall, is loss of memory, after a day or two or less, they won’t be able to explain the bruises, and will not be living in fear of the recurrence of a episode they do not remember.  They will still be hurting, if you are the carer it is worth keeping on with the painkillers and obviously getting the demented person an Xray, unless you are absolutely certain there is no damage.  Some fractures are not instantly apparent.  I have two bent toes that testify to the truth of that.

If you are the carer at home all the obvious aids to staying upright such as uncluttered floor spaces, moving with assistance to keep muscles strong, moving slowly and carefully and so on will all help.  Instituting safety measures from the outset, such as grab rails in the shower, handrails by the staircase and really simple rules such as not dashing to answer the phone or the door, letting someone else carry the tray with the bowl of hot soup on it and just in general starting to move carefully, will all help.

If the worst happens don’t improve the shining hour if you are the carer by beating yourself up mentally.  Know how you can get your demented person to the hospital in a crisis and remain calm because it helps them.  (Though there is no need to do what the OH did when I broke my first arm and have a shower, wash your hair and have a cup of coffee before taking the broken to hospital, having inserted the broken arm into an elastic bandage, misaligning the bones, first.)

We are all subject to gravity.  If it adversely affects your demented person the most helpful attitude to take is practical and then assist them to continue to live their lives themselves.

Be glad it’s not you.  Be kind.  Be cheerful.


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Behaviour in dementia.

Things have not been going so well for my demented step-mother-in-law in a nursing home.  She has been biting the other residents.  The home itself has been suffering from notable changes in staff and new management, everything is in a state of flux and though there has been plenty to tell you about, I was waiting for circumstances to settle down before I could tell you anything you might relate to.

The current state of the care industry. like the health service, is a matter of great concern to anyone with a relative needing care, or a family member with a health issue.  The OH, sleeping alone and tracking his own snoring on an app on his mobile, was delighted, upon reporting his findings to his GP, to be told he would be offered a hospital appointment and time at a sleep clinic.  The letter from the hospital arrived, he went through the online booking procedure and booked himself a consultation at the earliest available time, eleven months hence.

Similar delays could be affecting the start of care or help, if a demented person is your responsibility.  Dementia of most forms is a long term illness but sometimes, as the disease advances, issues may become urgent.

When my mother did strange things, or became aggressive, the private agency carers referred to it as ‘behaviour’ and wrote exactly that in the notes that they made at the changeover of every carer.  ‘Mrs…… is exhibiting behaviour.’

If a sufferer is cared for at home, behaviour is less of an issue than if it occurs in a shared residential setting. Aggression is one of the most frequent behaviours and often seems to arise from the patient’s inability to express themselves as they lose their words.  If you cannot tell someone you are hot or cold, or in pain, how do you seek help to remedy the problem?

The initial problem with SMIL was that she had had a pelvic prolapse, years before she became demented.  A prolapse is when some of the organs that should be inside your body make a bid for freedom through any available route.  In the case of SMIL, a doctor fitted a pessary, a supportive device which needed to be changed every six months.  SMIL had not been long at the nursing home when her behaviour deteriorated and I wondered about the interval since she had last had the device changed.  I alerted the nursing staff, who consulted the doctor’s records and found the change was overdue.  Once the device had been changed for a new one the behaviour magically disappeared.  Since then on one occasion the nursing home has been up to speed but on four occasions I’ve reminded them.  Today I spoke to SMIL for the first time in a few days.  She has been asleep every time I rang, or causing mayhem.  I explained to her what I thought might be making her poorly, asked if she was in pain and obtained her verbal agreement to see the doctor, who will be at the home on Wednesday, for the procedure.  I intend to telephone every day until Wednesday and remind the nursing staff and speak to SMIL and remind her, remembering that memory loss is one of the chief symptoms of dementia.

All of this is an argument for keeping your demented person at home in familiar surroundings with the people who know them best.  There are any number of physical conditions which can affect people and need regular maintenance which the immediate family will be aware of but strangers will not necessarily suspect are a problem until the situation worsens, causing behaviour.  Allergies to medication, joint problems, elderly organs, ingrowing toenails, food intolerances…the list of things that could be horribly wrong and causing pain or discomfort resulting in behaviour is almost endless.  That’s before we even get started on the fragility of elderly skin, the inefficiency of senior digestion and elimination and something as simple as needing different glasses for looking and reading and not knowing which ones you are wearing.

Long term readers will be well aware of me banging on about keeping your demented person with you at home as long as you possibly can.  However, you need to offset this against the wear and tear on you, the family member carer.  If you go for burnout and do everything 24/7 yourself and then crash and burn the demented person is stuffed.  If you can arrange for some form of  regular respite care from the very beginning you are saving yourself for when they most need you.  It could be as simple as a weekly visit to a local social group or a visit from local authority carers, or a family member, to let you get out for an hour.  If you put the demented person into residential care too soon you are saving yourself but at their expense. 

There’s no getting over the most delicate balancing act there can be when you are looking after another highly dependant human being.  Giving them as much independence and the chance to have a say in decisions affecting them will undoubtedly affect their attitude which in turn has an impact on behaviour.  Talking to the demented person as soon as possible after diagnosis is a good idea.  I chopped up the chats with my mother into bite sized pieces.  I wrote down anything helpful and any conclusions we had reached and simplified descriptions of what was wrong, what the doctor had said and so on.  I saved the chats for good days  but we did have them all.

If, as and when your demented person goes into residential care, apart from the longest sleep you’ve ever needed, establishing regular lines of communication is your priority.  When my mother eventually moved in, the staff suggested that I leave her fairly soon, so I did.  That evening she had a fight with another resident, who came into her room and tried to take her blanket, which fight, as she was quite large, she won.  I should with hindsight, have familiarised her with the way the door locked but I was in a state because I had just left my mother in a home and she was in a state because I had just left her in a home.

None of this is easy, which is why timing is everything.  If you wait to get some help or respite until you are utterly exhausted, your decisions may not be the best.

If you are a nice person, all your thought will be unsparingly for the demented person.  This is a mistake if they are depending on you, you need to consider your wellbeing too.

If you are selfish your first thought may be: how am I going to do this and why am I expected to do it anyway?  Unless you were a self raising baby, like the flour with the baking powder in it, you know the answer really.  I promise you if you take this challenge on board you will think more of yourself at the end of it than you did previously.

Whatever the cause of behaviour in demented people, some solution, even partial, may lie in communication.  Remember your person is still in there somewhere, lost in the disease, but still them.  Talking to SMIL today, I spoke slowly and clearly but didn’t shout or patronise, I asked if she was in pain and waited for the response.

In memory loss, establishing as early as possible that the demented person can communicate through you, making time to listen to them, so they know they are heard, increases confidence.  If they are more confident that their needs, which they have such difficulty expressing, can be heard, understood and acted upon, they can be calmer.

If it were you, if you had no memory of yesterday but found yourself abandoned in a strange and terrifying place with strangers, some of whom are obviously dangerous and you have no means of communicating, what would you do?

If it isn’t you, be glad of every happily sane moment.

And look after your pelvic floor.

And lift.

Count to ten.

And relax.

Nine more repetitions and we’re done for this morning.


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Changing landscapes part two.

Have you found me for part two?  The bloke was up the dodgy tree with what looked, from the bedroom window, like a bit of string to tie him on and a dinky little chainsaw, that didn’t look big enough to crack a nut.  On the ground were the rest of the team with a woodchipper.


As you can see they are all looking up at him, wondering if he will fall, or the tree will fall with him in it.  You can see how unsafe the big branches are, which is not surprising, the trees are over thirty five years old, at least.


He climbed right up to the most dangerous part of the damaged tree.  Now all the team are looking at him and so was I.  Amazingly the traffic behaved very well, drivers continued to drive slowly round the hazard.


Right up to the point at which it became so dangerous they had to stop the traffic.  You can see by the road, how wet it was.


Then a lorry arrived for the big branches and the tree surgeon, having demolished half of the second tree, started on the one from which the first branch had fallen.


He began chopping it down while he was standing on it.  Has this bloke not heard of gravity?


Apparently not.


Though he did hide round the side of the trunk while the branch he has just cut was falling.

What is left is a stump and half a tree.  I went and talked to the workers tidying up this morning.  An expert will come to advise on the safety of the remaining half tree.  I am hoping we don’t have another gale, as it is leaning right over the traffic looking very one sided.

In all this drama, no one was hurt and the area has been completely tidied up.  People everywhere are fond of complaining about the local council; on this occasion I thought they covered themselves with glory in the rain.

We now have a largely uninterrupted view of all the traffic; trees are on my wish list.


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Changing landscapes.

There are few occurrences as unsettling as the changing of the landscape by drastic natural means.

A few years ago residents of the seaside town in which I grew up, exchanged photographs across the world when the sea stack, which had had arches through which we paddled as children, collapsed.  The unsafe remains had to be blown up by the army.

Since we moved here, thirty six years ago, a feature of my very local landscape has been the pair of poplars on the green, over the road.  I have always liked the way they have stood between the traffic going round the round about and our house, hopefully absorbing unwanted gasses and definitely offering sound reduction.

In the gales of last week, glancing out of the spare bedroom window I was surprised to see a police car stopping traffic next to the roundabout slip road.


By the time I found my camera the council workers were already in attendance and continued to be there through driving rain (it was coming sideways), brilliant blinding sunshine, in daylight hours for a couple of days.  I thought the action they took was timely and absolutely heroic.  The huge branch that had fallen had damaged the tree it had fallen on to and itself.


Can you see the chap who has climbed up the tree from whence the branch fell, to assess it?


You can see how dangerous the situation is.  The traffic continued to flow, right next to the action, through most of the incident.


Having put the ladder up the second tree, which had been damaged by the falling branch and looks very dodgy, they then sent the brave tree surgeon up it, equipped with a rope to tie himself on (to the dodgy tree) and a little hand chainsaw.


And then – they took the ladder away!

This is a two part adventure, the blog does not like a lot of pictures at once, but part two will follow.


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One Third.

By the time we get to the end of this month, one third of the year will have gone.

One third!

Of 2023!

Where does the time go?

Now I am beginning to feel so much better, I realise how poorly I was, so much of my time in the last few years has been spent sitting around wondering why I don’t feel like getting up and doing something.  Or in and out of hospital.

But now I have the feeling of energy again, though sadly it wears off more rapidly than it used to do, which may be recovery, or may be age.  I cannot now imagine how I used to dance all night, or, indeed, why.  But I did do it.  I know.  I was there. Only a few years ago after a rest at tea time and a bit of food I was ready to go again and do something in the evening.  Now I am finding myself sitting around online window shopping in the evening, which is hardly up to my standards of being productive.  I’m not even reliably productive at sitting around window shopping; I tend to drop off.

It could be worse, I could be watching television through my eyelids.

Part of the problem is the fresh air.  Getting out in the garden is great, today I spent several half hours trying to clear the land drain under the outside tap, because it isn’t draining.  The OH said he would help because I had got to the limit of my short arm for digging out the mud and solid clay at the bottom that was preventing the water draining away.  The OH after a bit of ‘Now?  You mean now?’  having found an archery competition on You Tube, and thereby that the best archers are female and about fifty years younger than he is, eventually showed up with a crowbar.

Crowbar – mud?

It took him about three minutes to decide that the ground was waterlogged because of – rain and that the drain could not be cleared, before he flounced back indoors, leaving me to get on with scraping the mud out of the hole.

I did get covered in mud, which was satisfactory and then went back to sorting the dandelions.

I’m amazed no one has yet bred a dandelion cultivar for sale with a huge flower and much smaller leaves and in colours other than yellow, though it is very cheerful.  I feel breeders are missing a trick, dandelions grow so willingly and prolifically anywhere, they almost root in concrete.  You could have rare varieties, growing competitions, cups for the biggest clock, the possibilities are endless, not to mention recipes for the roots and the leaves for the non-allergic.

If you don’t want them everywhere this is the time of year, early spring, to root them out, which is what I spent an hour or so in the morning doing.

Tomorrow I am going to tackle the Lords and Ladies, which are back in huge numbers round the flagstones under which I sieved the soil to get rid of the roots.  They are also under the beech hedge, which is their natural habitat.  Highly poisonous and irritant, they were used as a starch for ruffs in Elizabethan times, which accounts for the sniffy expressions of some of the aristocracy in Tudor portraits.  The OH was bought a pair of unlined Harris Tweed shorts as a small boy and bitterly recalls trying to stand with his tender thighs exactly in the air space in the middle of each leg.  I daresay his facial expression was thoroughly New Elizabethan and similarly far from relaxation and mirth.

The rain is due to start on Easter Monday, it being the traditional outdoor garden centre shopping day, which leaves tomorrow to bid farewell to the weeds and unwelcome plants and make some spaces for planting out lovely flowers in the middle of May, which is last frosts around here, and then it will be the end of May, then June, and then we’ll be half way through the year.

Where does the time go?


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Hours in the day.

Do you have enough hours in your day?

I find the days insufficient especially round Miniatura.  I suspend all other creative activities to get ready then to tidy up.  But I’ve suspended the tidying up to get back to the previously suspended creativity, although I know I’ll have to stop that to sort out the show boxes, make up the holes where things were sold and start on the new ideas.

It was Terry Curran who asked me: Now you’ve turned your hobby into a job, what are you going to do for a hobby?

Good question.  The answer seemed to be making cards, which had started at the same time as miniaturising and took a huge boost when I bought a die cutting machine to see if I would like it.

I did, then die cutting became a hobby in its own right that really takes over if you don’t watch it.  The first paper crafting to make 3D scenes that I remember, was a Yogi Bear cut out, fold, and stick book that made a cabin in the woods.  I may have been six or seven but I was hooked instantly.  Turning a flat piece of paper into 3D art is never ending fascination, as far as I’m concerned.  I was bought a lovely book called: One Piece of Paper which introduced me to paper sculpture from scratch.  I was about seven I think when I made a paper sculpture head of my friend and sent it to Tony Hart’s television programme.

I think my interest in 3D work had a lot to do with my short sight; I found flat drawing quite difficult and thought there must be tricks that other people knew but that stupid me did not. I had no idea I was short sighted but loved my father’s book of Impressionist paintings, which depicted the world accurately as far as I was concerned.  You don’t have to see 3D, you can feel it.  I was a cert for miniatures too, anything tiny an inch from my nose was also the world according to me.

I have, of course also, done dress making (quite a lot when we were young and poor and couldn’t afford new clothes), decorating (the house, for the same reason, including wallpapering and painting), gardening (if you can’t afford a lot to eat, seeds are very cheap), cookery of various sorts, including some very fancy fancies to get my mother to eat, and writing, which you may have noticed.

Then there were miniatures including everything: woodwork, electrics, furniture making, porcelain, of course and all the things that go to make a fully furnished inhabited house, including all the history, which I loved.

But the die cutting took me right back to Yogi Bear’s house.  The fascination of having intricately cut pieces of paper to play with simply by rolling it through a mangle is endless.  I have become quite good at it, so that friends feel utterly insulted if I buy them a birthday card from a stationer. 

It does, however take time.  I am currently making Easter cards to send to the family in a big box of chocolate, but, as it’s me, they are tending to be shops you can play with that fold flat.  There is a time limit; the post seems slow currently, so I reckon I need to get them in the post tomorrow at the latest. 

When I have finished the Easter cards I need to top up the birthday card box, which got very depleted during the run up to the show and once it’s Easter, it’s gardening.

And you do have to sleep.  You have to sleep to wake up in the morning with your head full of ideas for things to make and then you have to do your work out for an hour or two and then get busy.

24 hours in a day is utterly insufficient.  Long may it continue to be so.


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