Sunday, 20 July 2008

Not a good night

Didn't sleep too well last night - for a variety of reasons. Decided it was past my bedtime at about 10 pm - couldn't even wait to see end of "Foyle's War" (love Michael Kitchen and Honeysuckle Weeks). Too tired to read I settled straight down and was asleep before my head hit the pillow. All was well until about 1.30 am when husband woke me asking "did you say something"? "NO" I said and then he said "how's the itching"? (I'll explain later) "Shhhh" was my reply, with as much force as I could gather. Now he either thought I meant that it had gone and not to speak too soon or he got the real message because he just got straight back to sleep. HOW DO THEY DO THAT? I have mentioned to my dear one, on many occasions, that I'm a word of one syllable person in the middle of the night and only then if conversation is absolutely necessary, because any more than that and I'm awake! However, I did manage to get back to sleep, only to be woken by seagulls (of the herring variety - we live near the coast) at about 4 am. Well that was that! Did try to sleep again but was only tossing and turning so called it a night and was up well before 5 am. It doesn't really bother me - I quite enjoy getting up early - feel that it is my time of the day - before everyone else gets going.

But to explain the itching - sorry - I think I have an allergic reaction to something consumed over the last few days but its all a matter of trial and error. Apart from penicillin the only other thing I have had a reaction to was oranges when I over-consumed a few years ago. I can still eat oranges just take care not to be too greedy about them.

It began with a rash on the top of both arms and yesterday evening my heels started to itch!! Then I discovered it had started on the tops of my legs, so feel that it must be an allergy. So what could it be this time - possibly yoghurt or beans - I do have a varied diet - or (ghastly thought) even red wine, but certainly not oranges. So I shall have to give up on all three for the next few days and go on from there - hopefully I shan't have to try and contact my GP (never an easy task these days). And with any luck I'll be back to normal in a few days - hopefully before next weekend as we have a "do" to go to and I was planning on wearing a sleeveless dress (weather permitting).

Last night we had a wonderful sunset and this morning a beautiful sunrise - and the sun is beaming down as I write so I'm hoping to get some work done in the garden today.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Ladies who Lunch occasionally

Today I had lunch with two of my closest friends (emotionally, not geographically). We are all 60 something and have known each other for more than 30 years. We have, over time, had many lunches, suppers, days out etc, laughed a lot and lent shoulders and cried on more than one occasion. I believe today was the first time we have all been together socially for at least 2 years. I have seen them both separately and two of us visited our mutual friend when she was in hospital for several weeks last summer. In spite of the infrequent meetings, we find, as with all good friendships, that we just pick up where we left off. Just natter away and catch up on family and mutual friends' news.

I waved cheerio to OH and went off to pick up friend D who lives just down the road and drove the 10 miles to the next town to collect friend H and then on to our chosen venue. And 3 hours later did it all in reverse and came back home to OH. All very simple but very pleasant and enjoyable. We should do it more often.

Before I retired I worked with a "girl" (she is 20 years my junior) who has also become a very close friend, we have said on many occasions that we feel more like sisters. We have known each other for 26 years and we too have had our share of laughter and tears. At work it was mostly laughter and she was probably the reason why I didn't retire sooner. She was the first person I told of my decision to finish work and I wept with her on my last day. I didn't have to promise to "keep in touch" with her, (nor with any of my close ex-colleagues as we had such fun together - a great privilege for me) we both knew that we would, and now, about once a fortnight, I contact her and we "do lunch". It is only for 45 minutes as that is her lunch break but it gives us some time to share some laughs once again. Once in a while I join the "pay day Friday curry night" which has been going for the last 4 or 5 years, and sometimes now it falls on a Wednesday or Thursday!

Another friend - also an ex-colleague - I have known for 20 years and when I first got to know her, she worked part time as she had two small daughters. She is a lovely girl with a beautiful face and smile and in all the time I have known her I have never heard her say anything against anyone. She also is a friend with whom I have laughed lots and shed tears.

About 15 years ago, at a time when my mother happened to be staying with us, one Tuesday when I arrived home from work my mother told me that "a very strange thing happened today"! She had been sitting quietly after lunch when she heard the front door bell. On the door step she was confronted by two small girls who asked for me. "I'm afraid she's still at work" said my mother, "can I help you"? "Please have you got any strawberry jam" enquired the girls and my mother, very perplexed, went immediately to look. Unfortunately the cupboard was bare of any jam that day, strawberry or otherwise, and she returned to report the same to them. And off they went.

"I've no idea who they were" said Mum, "but they did ask for you". Well I didn't exactly have a sleepless night over it as I had an inkling of who this pair might be. And on arriving at work next day all was revealed. My friend with the two daughters came in laughing and between us we relived the events of the previous afternoon. She had been making a sponge cake and realised too late that she had no jam for it. She dispatched her girls off to the local shop to buy some but as it was a Tuesday afternoon it was early closing. The elder of the girls remembered that I lived just up the road and knew that I made cakes so decided I was the next best bet. Sadly they were unlucky at mine but their mummy saved the day and drove to the supermarket, so all ended well. Ever since then, when my friend has mentioned the name "Anne" the girls ask "do you mean Strawberry Jam Anne"? (my friend has a sister Anne). I love it and decided on it for my blog name.

The two little girls are now grown up of course, one has a law degree and the other is a qualified midwife and they are both as lovely as their mother. Last year when the eldest graduated I sent a text via my friend which read "congratulations, well done, with love from Strawberry Jam Anne", which made them laugh and cry!

Weather today - bright warm sunshine but blowing a gale!! What has happened to summer! We need balmy breezes! In the garden, flowering shrubs include bottle brush, hypericum and buddleia. And early this morning, about 6 when I got up I saw a spotted woodpecker on the bird bath having a drink. Lovely!

Sunday, 13 July 2008


All through 2007, for the first time ever I believe, I kept a diary and missed very few days. It was mostly just a memo of the humdrum routines - work, home and bed interspersed with occasional details of "out with friends" or "off to visit daughter" and appointments etc. I also made an almost daily note of the weather although that did tail off a bit during the summer when it was mostly "rain again today"! The garden got almost daily mentions too noting what was coming into bud, leaf, flower etc.

When I finally made the decision in October to retire at Christmas, my walks to work were filled with thoughts of what might in future fill my days. One of those thoughts was that instead of writing a diary I would begin "blogging". So here I am in mid July writing my first "blog".

A bit late in the year maybe but I have been so busy I really don't know how I found the time to go to work! How many thousands of time has that been said? But it is a fact.

I retired on 20 December and of course Christmas was looming. As soon as New Year festivities were out of the way (thank goodness - love Christmas like a child but dislike new year) - I had plans to visit son and family in South Australia. My husband was already committed to various activities (although he is supposed to be retired also) so the plan was that I would fly to Adelaide mid January and return to UK a few days after son's 40th birthday in early March and be home in time for my mother's 86th birthday. That accomplished, once I had recovered from jetlag I had a wedding cake to ice and decorate for early May. As promised back inthe autumn I then visited daughter in Stratford upon Avon for a few days to help with some decorating.

As well as all of this we have decided to sell our house and "downsize" - but things are definitely very quiet as far as that goes!.

So here I am in mid July, with another trip to Australia planned - this time with my mother for three weeks. You see the good news at New Year was that son and his wife are expecting their third child - due in early September. OH and I are planning a trip together to stay with friends who are in India for a year and have asked us to visit before they have to return home in November. So I will be home from Australia just long enough to unpack, launder and repack clothes. And it will be lovely to have a holiday together.

So here I have covered the first part of 2008. Will attempt to keep writing, although not on a daily basis. At some point I will disclose why "Strawberry Jam Anne" which, I think, is quite a funny story.

Today the weather is warm and sunny, with a slight breeze. And in our garden wildlife pond I discovered a dragonfly, newly emerged from its larval case, which I was delighted to see.