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Death Cleaning

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  It's almost a month now since I made a trip to Bath to meet up with the youngest. I opted to travel by train which took 5 hours but as I would easily have spent that long driving there, it seemed the more sensible option. Normally I would have loaded myself down with paperbacks for the journey there and back but in this instance opted for an iPad with downloads from the library including an audio book. Although I do tend to borrow any number of books digitally from the library, I confess that an e-audio book was a first for me. That said, it was the perfect option. I popped my earphones in and not only was the content delivered up directly but I also got to watch the passing scenery through the window at the same time. My choice of listening was a little strange but it was a book that I've been meaning to look at for some time: The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning by Margareta Magnusson read perfectly by Juliet Stevenson. The book is sub-titled "How to Free Yourself

Family Intrigue and Promotion

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  Dilly's Mum has just had her first book, The Secret of Elephants, published. It was released yesterday and I completed reading it earlier this evening. Now I am not one to include book reviews in my blog but on this occasion, let me just say that the intrigue of the plot held my attention sufficiently that I was compelled to read it from start to finish as quickly as possible, allowing only for my other commitments. The story gives an insight into a multi-generational family divided between India and Zimbabwe but united by their joint heritage. Whilst we are given a true flavour of Indian culture it is tinged too with the impact of global westernisation and for the reader a subtle insight that humankind whether it be in Asia, Africa or Europe shares so much in common.  I know that the author is in the process of completing her second novel and also that to do so has required hardwork, time and diligence in order to meet deadlines set by her publisher. All that whilst still perfor

The Heat

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  Oh my goodness, it has been warm. 39 degrees last Tuesday afternoon was simply outrageous. It felt like a foreign vacation minus the swimming pool and waiter, which I now realise are vital in that kind of heat. Worse still the humidity gave birth to zillions of tiny sciarid flies, almost as irritating as mosquitoes which fortunately still haven't made an appearance in this part of the world. That said, at least retirement meant we could just give ourselves up to the heat and do nothing unless swilling the rear patio shaded from the morning sun counts, after all the water round my feet was the nearest I was getting to a paddle that day. I can't begin to imagine working in those temperatures although an air-conditioned office could appeal. In my case I have resorted to the car and the fitness studio for cool air to be piped in, well it's either that or shopping in the freezer aisle. Normally an exceptionally warm summer's day here might reach 27 degrees after which a 10

Head Over Heels

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  I took this photo  on a visit to Carlisle a few years ago. Had it a little more red and blue on the face, it would share a remarkable resemblance to how I look, at the moment! Yes, on Friday I continued this year's predilection for hospital visits and found myself back in the hospital waiting room nursing a litany of cuts, grazes, bruises and friction blisters. I think it counts as a sports injury sustained, as it was, on returning home from the gym when I decided to try a nose-dive from my front doorstep. The varifocal glasses I was wearing (and the undoubted cause for this latest attempt at self-destruction) dug hard into my face as I planed across the drive, swallowing grit and ultimately, as I lay recovering my breath and shivering with shock, dripping in blood. Three days later, I look as though I've only just survived a couple of rounds in a boxing ring with swelling above the left eye and a blister beneath reducing my vision and giving me a very definite street fighte

Robbed

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  So there I was in the sunshine, eating a lunchtime sandwich whilst sitting on the grass in a park adjoining the river in Bath. Suddenly I felt a whoosh of air and next thing the bread, butter and prawn mayo filling were flying through the sky in the beak of a gigantic seagull. I realise that seabirds like their shellfish; I even know that getting up snug and close to nature is good for you, but being mugged in broad daylight by a winged predator wasn't quite what I was expecting! Who even knew that gulls would be such pests so far inland? Let's just say the incident was traumatising and in addition to the involuntary squeal, left me shaking. That bird was enormous! Unfortunately it wasn't the only transgression I suffered during my time away. Indeed somebody clearly took a fancy to a decorative scarf I had with me and it disappeared. To be honest its value was negligible but the pedant in me that clearly sees right from wrong, still finds it difficult to cope with the ide

Travel with One L

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 Just when travelling again becomes a realistic prospect, outside forces gather to make it potentially more difficult.  Stories abound of long delays at the passport office, so imagine Mister E’s delight when he got his new one back within 4 weeks. This time, however, he made sure to check it carefully as he had his old one for 6 years before noticing that his middle name had been misspelt. Shame on the Passport Office, it had done it again (adding insult to injury by returning the old one with a slip showing the correct spelling). Reluctantly concluding retaining a passport with an erroneous middle name (two Ls instead of one) could cause all manner of problems, he returned it for re-issue. There were the inevitable hiccups in endeavouring to communicate by telephone or email with what appeared to be an unstaffed office. Indeed the only responses were received on a Bank Holiday, two within twenty minutes and their contents in direct conflict with each other. In the end it sorted itsel

Living the Dream

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  It is 8 years ago today that I left my office desk and took my first steps into retirement.  Fittingly, this afternoon I was reminded of some of the associated emotions whilst chatting to our next door neighbour who retired too a few weeks ago. Whilst he's clearly throwing himself into all those tasks that you let slip whilst you are busy working down to your final day, he also divulged that he is experiencing those horrendous nightmares where you wake up, palms sweating, realising that you were imagining yourself back in the workplace. At least I was able to reassure him that, 8 years on, not only would I be incapable of doing the job that kept me occupied and fulfilled for so long, but also I honestly would be unable to recall what used to be required of me, at least not sufficient to dream about it. Who would have thought it would be possible to get to that stage, but when life is filled in other ways, memories of the task of earning a living by pursuing a career do actually