Led Astray!

Well it was my intention to write my blog last weekend……. but I was led astray by bad men! 😉

Roger, being a freelance gardener, very kindly volunteered to prune the apple tree in our garden which hadn’t been done for a good couple (or more) years.

Tree in spring

By the time he’d finished, it looked like this:

Pruned!

Naturally, we wanted to thank him for his hard work so Billy proposed taking him for a drink and they asked me along. I regretfully declined as I had so much to get done over the weekend and planned to finish cooking then nip out before ironing all afternoon. I continued to resist and when I finished cooking said I was going down to Aldi to get a few bits and I left them clearing up the branches. I agreed they could drop me a text to let me know which pub they were in and I MIGHT pop in for a half on my way home. They then sent the text saying they were in Wetherspoons which I had to pass on the way home so I joined them for a quick drink. Before I knew it, Graham had joined us and I was on a second drink……. somehow the afternoon flew by as we moved to Studio to watch the rugby and by the time we went home, I’d had FIVE drinks! (Mopped up slightly by a hotdog from a van on the walk between pubs.) At first I fretted about not getting my chores done, about having scruffy clothing, no make-up or jewellry etc…… then I just relaxed and enjoyed a good afternoon in lovely company. If they were happy to take me as I was, then who was I to argue? 😀 You can’t buy impromptu sessions like this, nor good friends like ours.

So…… to catch up a bit……..

City: I watched these 3 games on TV
West Ham 1 – 3 City – Our first away win and well deserved I thought. It was also an enjoyable game to watch. MCFC’s 60-second highlights here MCFC’s Extended highlights here

CSKA Moscow 1 – 2 City – Dashed home from work just in time for kick off (Stephen had kindly turned on the TV and put it on the right channel for me) and I was pleasantly surprised to get this result. I was NOT amused at the racist monkey chants by home fans at Yaya. I’m also not convinced that the punishment issued by UEFA is much of a deterrent, though I suppose it is the 1st of the series of 3 punishments if they keep it up. Racism is not acceptable at any level, much less at Champions League level, and no-one should have to put up with it. MCFC’s highlights here.

Chelsea 2 – 1 City – good lineup, good tactics and good performance. One (stupid and frustrating) mistake cost us 2 points but that’s football. We take the many positives from it and move on. I was happy enough with this performance and that’s all I ask. I’m not happy with the media hysteria vilifying Hart and wish they’d get a grip! He’s still relatively young for a keeper, keepers’ mistakes are always very noticeable compared to those of outfield players, and jumping on his back isn’t constructive. MCFC’s 60-second highlights here MCFC’s Extended highlights here

Darts: Following on from my last report, we’re still doing well! We’ve won 5 of our 7 league games now and are STILL 3rd in the table! I’ve got a couple of singles wins under my belt too, including a satisfying one against a young lad who answered his phone during our game with “I’m in the pub playing darts. Against a BIRD!” 😀 (That was a very odd game in a pub with what looked like all those on pub-watch in our town having relocated to the next village. It was slightly intimidating when I was playing my singles with them all crowding round getting in my space a bit, but otherwise we actually had a fairly enjoyable evening as a tight-knit team.) Somewhere along the line, we I decided we should have a team theme tune to get us fired up for our games. Junior decided it would be the next song to come on the juke box. Flash! Hm, maybe not. OK, the NEXT song. Flash – the remix! 😀 Flash it must be then! Next to assign characters………. 😉 )

Work – well this is just truly crazy, it has to be said. I spend all my time in each of my two roles, desperately trying to get everything clear in the 2/3 days I have at it before doing my other role. Then when I go back to the other one, I have it all to do again. We’re also having a Trust wide new computer system very soon so everyone has to be trained in the new software and pass tests so full and half day training sessions have to be accommodated too. (It WILL be a better system I think but it’s a massive change – like switching from MSDOS to Windows.) I really do feel like I am permanently chasing my tail but in general I do love my work, it’s just that there are never enough hours to get it done as the workload is ever increasing.

Nel: Nel’s apprenticeship is going brilliantly now that she’s switched to admin. She has picked it all up so fast and does such a lovely thorough job that the secretaries are over the moon with her. She has made such a huge difference to the department and for their part they’ve really taken her to their hearts. She has her very own desk – with the addition of her own computer and printer just this week – and has personalised it with photos of the pets and a couple of plants given to her by one of her colleagues. I’m absolutely delighted that it’s worked out so wonderfully, grateful to the team for making Nel so welcome and appreciated and naturally am, as ever, very proud of my clever daughter. 🙂

Two dramas in one week: Drama 1

Last week I had the heavy cold that was doing the rounds, and by midweek had raging sinusitis and sniffles – which I hate! Happily the herbs pushed this through quite fast but it meant that I had 3 days of feeling sorry for myself. On Thursday night I thankfully sank into bed at the end of the day and was relaxing with a DVD when Nel popped out to Tesco.

I heard a strange noise and paused my DVD to listen for it. It was a sort of high pitched sound but although I stopped to listen for a good 5 minutes it didn’t come again. Timmy was on my chair and had his ears pricked up so I knew I hadn’t imagined it. It seemed to come from above me. Just as I was about to give in, I heard it again, very briefly. OH MY GOD!

Tiny Squishy


Somehow, my brain managed to put 2+2 together and realised that was a hamster squeaking in distress and as I bolted out of my sick bed and up the stairs, I heard a cat jump down from somewhere! I crashed in to Nel’s room and sure enough, there was Zara with little Squishy, the tiny Roborowski hamster, in her mouth! I yelled at her and thankfully she dropped him and I chased Zara and Zeb out of the room and slammed the door shut and then ran to where I’d seen Squishy. There he was and without thinking I tried to catch him – Roborovskis are very fast and don’t like being handled so of course, as I scooped him up, he scrabbled off the edge of my hand and was off behind the bed. Stupid me! (Stupid as well for handling him when I had a cold – human colds are dangerous to hamsters.)

Zara


I went to the other side of the bed and happily I spotted him huddled in the corner behind Nel’s desk so I sat myself down and didn’t take my eyes off him. The cats were meowing pitifully at the door, my phone was in my own room so I couldn’t call Nel and no-one knew I was in her room to come looking. I hoped she wouldn’t be long – especially as Squishy appeared to be recovering from his fright and might be on the move again soon! Then Billy called me and I eventually managed to tell him to come in the room without letting the cats in. When I explained, I asked him to try calling Nel – but there was no answer. He and Raji decided to go hunting for her and I just prayed Squishy would stay put until she got home.

Alas, he was now starting to scamper around the area and though I was relieved to see that he was apparently unhurt, I was worried he’d disappear – he is such a tiny little thing and the bare floorboards probably had a few little holes which he could fall down! There were certainly plenty of corners and cupboards he could get into! Finally, Nel came home though hadn’t seen the men, but she let Zeb in the room as she entered so I had to try and yell what had happened and get her to catch Zeb. He came straight over to the hamster – who promptly shot off behind the bed – before I grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and got him back outside.

Argh! Squishy was nowhere in sight! We hunted with a torch and couldn’t find him anywhere so we had to put the two bits of his cage on the floor, leaving him the means to get inside, and hope he could make his way home and want the safety of his own bed. Poor Nel didn’t get a wink of sleep listening out for him, but alas, he didn’t appear over night.

By the time I left to go away for the weekend on the Friday night, there was no sign still and Nel was sure he was under the floor boards or in one of the many cubby-cupboards dotted around that top floor and we weren’t certain he’d be able to get back even if he had been a clever boy and worked out how to retrace his steps. (In the wild they roam for miles each night and they leave a trail of wee to follow home. Would he even have thought of this?) I felt he’d be able to snack on the odd spider or beastie but I did think water would be a problem so I could only hope his need for fluid would drive him back.

Bizarrely, we’re not sure quite how Zara got him out of his cage in the first place. The cage (see picture below) was neatly on the shelf where it lives. The only thing out of place was the tube that joined the two parts – this was disconnected. How did the cat do that? How did she get him out of it? Or did he come out of his own accord? The distressed squeaking I’d heard (loud for such a tiny creature) was BEFORE the cat thudded to the floor – so did he jump out in fright? We’ll never know. We could only pray he’d come back.

Two-bit cage


I woke up on Saturday morning to a text from Nel that she’d sent at 12.54am: “I got Squishy! 🙂

Apparently she’d heard him – on the opposite side of the room to where we THOUGHT he was – and he was trying to drag one of his treats (left out to tempt him) back under a cubby-cupboard door! Nel quickly used videos to block his path and was then able to catch him with an upside down (empty) tissue box. His fur and his paws were black, but he was safely home.

He is now in only half his cage for the moment until Nel sorts out a cat-proof larger home for him. She says he seems bored now and it looks like he rather enjoyed his freedom. He is slowly getting cleaner though his paws are still grubby. What an adventure for a little scrap of fur and what a clever little boy to get home. Nel is very pleased of course, and having saved him from the cat, so am I. What a drama, but a happy outcome. Welcome home Squishy 🙂

Squishy

The Apprentice

Once upon a time there was a little girl who struggled to make sense of the world around her. She knew she wasn’t quite like everyone else but she didn’t really know why. As she grew up she learned to mimic the social behaviour of those around her and somehow get through though she always felt like an outsider; someone who didn’t get the joke or pick up on subtext and therefore never quite feeling confident of her place in the world. Even mum called her “my little odd-bod” though this was naturally with affection and the unreserved love of a mother who accepts and loves her child just as she is. She hated school but could never quite manage to make anyone understand just how difficult school was for her and how every day was a battle. Against her difficulty taking in all the information. Against an inability to put her thoughts and ideas in to words on paper. Against her absolute loathing of all sports and PE. Against her peers who seemed as alien to her as she apparently did to them – and some of whom bullied her. It was a relief to finally leave this hell and yet she had somehow managed to do so with six GCSE’s including English and Maths and after a brief fling with college she even returned to 6th Form for a while. But still she didn’t know why she seemed to find life so hard when others looked to actually be enjoying it! Finally, at 18-and-a-half she found out; she had high functioning autism. This was an absolutely stunning revelation and served to highlight just how well she had done to get by and her achievements thus far.

Naturally, you realise that little girl is Nel. And you may know that she’s unfortunately been out of work most of her adult life. Art has been her life-long outlet for her thoughts and ideas and she has largely been busy with that at home, but she’s WANTED to work. Unfortunately, with the difficulties she has plus the current high unemployment and economic situation, this has not proved easy.

Then in March, she received a call from the job centre asking if she’d be prepared to consider an apprenticeship, and if so, to hot-foot down there that afternoon to register. She did this and was initially put off on seeing a small group of other candidates but gritted her teeth and got through the session. She said that the others were mainly of the view that it wasn’t worth bothering with, working full time but only getting £40 a week more than they got already on the dole. She didn’t agree and wholeheartedly embraced the idea of getting some training and experience and a foot on a career path. Good for her, that’s my girl! 🙂

Since then, in a very slow process, she’s filled in forms, attended interviews and continued to pursue her application. She had to go to North Shields (45 minutes away) on a Saturday afternoon for “an interview” (wearing borrowed clothes of mine, yet with her own style and she looked stunning.) However, when she got there it was to a room full of other candidates which was somewhat alarming for someone who doesn’t cope with large groups of people! Again, she pushed herself to get through and get through she did. The organisers apologised that the letter had said it was an interview when in fact it was an assessment! Agh! Again, she overcame her fears and she passed the assessment. Interestingly, they were told that of 4,000 applicants, 300 were invited to attend the day and yet only 48 turned up! Proud of my daughter? You bet! At the end of the session she decided she wanted to sign up for a Healthcare Apprenticeship and asked if her one-to-one interview could possibly be nearer home.

She had her interview here at our hospital and was provisionally accepted. She then attended an Occupational Health assessment and an appointment for her documentation to be checked. She got her criminal record clearance and she was asked to attend a one day induction at 2 days’ notice last week which she thoroughly enjoyed.

After a long journey, she finally starts her NHS Apprenticeship on Monday, with 2 weeks induction training first and then working on the wards at the same hospital where I work. She has to go to North Shields for training 2 days a month but Raji has kindly said he will chauffeur her (as he did for her one day induction and will do for her 2-week initial training) as he can then go on to work (in South Shields) from there. What a star, thanks Raji.

So my amazing daughter (and she truly IS amazing) will at last be able to take her first steps on the road to working and independence and I am both very proud of her and delighted FOR her. Since she’ll be my colleague, we’re going to try and have a girls’ lunch in the canteen once a month which will be pretty special despite its humble location 🙂

A change is as good as a rest

After getting increasingly frustrated with the way everything in our house was being left to me or not getting done, I finally got very angry when yet again there were arguments over the washing up. So I called a family meeting after working out I was doing over 15 hours a week of chores on top of working compared to 1-2 hours a week for everyone else and deciding I wasn’t putting up with it anymore.

The household jobs have now been divided up differently with me doing the washing up so that it gets done every day, twice a day with cat bowls included and all the sides washed down. The daily task of laundry is now Billy’s job as this is fairly time consuming each day and I don’t have time to do both. Billy and Raji have taken on the weekly shopping as they’re happy to do it in the evening and will have the car. In fact this led to Billy expanding this to most jobs having another person assigned to share or act as back-up which I thought was a brilliant idea 🙂

Raji is my back-up/buddy for washing up and ironing which means that when I go away one weekend or so a month, these jobs will still get done instead of a backlog waiting for me to catch up over the next week. He’s also been helping Billy out with the washing this weekend so suspect he may end up buddying on this too. I think it works well for Raji to buddy as he has long working days thanks to the long journey. I will continue to do cooking but Billy and Nel have both expressed a wish to do some of it so this means I should get some weekends where I don’t have to spend hours cooking, and when I’m away, they will be able to ensure there are meals for the coming week. The other jobs have all been shared out according to who wanted to do them and who was best suited, all with a buddy/partner as back-up.

It wasn’t just the doing of all the chores that needed dividing up, but the mental taking over of them so that everyone now takes on the responsibility for ensuring their jobs get done. It won’t be perfect initially as everyone gets used to the tasks and what’s involved, but that’s fine, as long as everyone is fully on board with taking their responsibilities to heart and learning as they go.

This first weekend of it, whilst admittedly a bank holiday, I’ve had time to do some of the extra little things I haven’t had a chance to do before such as pottering outside in the garden and sorting out my room a bit more. Billy and I managed a tip to the trip to clear some of the bulky stuff from the garden and Raji got the grass cut which was brilliant as it was so overdue for a cut.

We’ve had one week of the new scheme and already I think there is a new appreciation for how time consuming the household tasks are, and how much thought and planning is required. Also how jobs still need to be fitted in before and after you go out of an evening or day at the weekend, and with time they’ll find out how relentless it all is with the same things needing to be done week in, week out. Hopefully this is the start of better team-working generally and more equal leisure time for us all. It certainly will stand everyone in good stead to know how to manage a household – something none of them have really taken on board before.

Our new plan will either bring us closer as a family or fall by the wayside and divide us, but naturally I hope it’s the former as I think we all stand to gain considerably. Watch this space….

Girls’ afternoon tea

All summer, Nel and I have been wanting to go out for a nice walk together but despite the beautiful weather hadn’t managed it because the men kept using the car for cricket (I hadn’t bargained on this when I said Raji could use my car for work, I must admit!) One evening she said to me that she really wanted to go up to Hadrian’s Wall and take some photos so I “booked” my car for last Sunday afternoon and decided to combine our walk with afternoon tea at Langley Castle as I had a voucher for this 🙂

We had a really nice afternoon up near Hadrian’s Wall with a few laughs and some beautiful photos taken by Nel. I really enjoyed stretching my legs and even managed, on slipping in the mud, to turn my unexpected descent into a graceful slide 😀 What with that and my excellent navigating which didn’t get us lost once, I was feeling very pleased with myself. A fact that did not go unnoticed by my darling daughter 😉

Finishing off with afternoon tea was lovely and we relaxed over our delicious food and tea for an hour and a half – again just chatting and enjoying a bit of a break. We had dainty sandwiches of salmon, cucumber, ham & pease pudding, and egg mayonnaise, followed by individual cakes of lemon meringue pie, raspberry and white chocolate, bakewell tart and chocolate tart, finished off with scones, cream, jam and strawberries. Mmmmmm 🙂 Nel had green tea but I had a pot of good old fashioned strong tea (I’d asked for Assam but they’d run out) Unfortunately when I got into bed that night, I was wide awake! Schoolgirl error forgetting that that much strong tea will have a fair bit of caffeine in it! Ooops! (A glug of sleep herbs soon knocked me out though, happily.)

Click here for Nel’s slideshow of photos

It shouldn’t happen to a Herbalist

As you know, I am a qualified Medical Herbalist, having studied 1995-2001 and then practising for over 10 years, with my own clinic for 3 of them. You may recall that various governments have been blowing hot-and-cold over our Statutory Regulation which would protect our title and ensure we work to high standards.

If not, you can read my posts on the subject here:

Doubts and Dilemmas
Learning to meet requirements
Herbal balance

Well here we are, well past Spring 2012 – and 2013 for that matter! – and STILL no Statutory Regulation! So once again I had the dilemma of what to do about my professional membership. This year, even finding the money to register as a non-practising member was a tall order and to be honest, I didn’t feel I gained anything from this last year.

So, I have made the decision to discontinue practising as a Herbalist and therefore to quit my membership and I feel very let down by the government over the whole business of Statutory Regulation both financially and practically.

When I first qualified in 2001 the profession was putting everything in place in preparation for SR and as such, since that time, I have been paying an extra sum of money in my annual membership fee to help this process. Well here I am in 2013 having paid my money but still we have no SR! If and when the profession DOES finally get it, I’ll have paid for it all these years,but not had the benefit. I have also spent a lot of valuable time and energy doing my part in the campaigning, as have friends, family and patients.

I expect I was not alone in feeling, once I qualified after many years hard work, that the world was just waiting for me to wow it with the miracle of herbal remedies. However, the years have ground me down and though I still believe in the power of the herbs and have confidence in my own abilities as a good practitioner I simply cannot live on pipe-dreams and am having to work full time in paid employment to keep a roof over my family’s heads. I am disgusted with the governments and their bad handling of the SR process and have no faith that we’ll ever achieve it. So as well as my clinic, I’ve let my herbal web domain go too.

During my time practising I have worked very hard to cultivate good relations with the local medical profession and in an ironic twist, I recently gave a presentation to them at the post-grad education meeting at the hospital which seemed well received. At the end I was asked how they could refer patients to me! Do I laugh or cry I wonder…. ?

Nel’s Snowy Birthday

Nel’s birthday was on a Saturday this year and since she hates football so much, I forfeited my match to devote the day to her. She wanted to visit the Hancock Museum followed by a Chinese meal for lunch at a restaurant in Newcastle that we’ve enjoyed in the past. However, snow started falling heavily on the Friday and we decided to revise our plans in the interests of safety and having a stress-free day. (We have agreed, however, to go to the museum at a later date so that she doesn’t miss out, but the restaurant appears to now be closed.)

As usual, I was the first up and as Nel had requested a birthday cheesecake, I got on with making her one (and one for the rest of the family!) as well as a big pan of leek and potato soup. When she woke up, she sent me a text requesting a chopped apple and a cat to be take to her in bed! After obliging, I also gave her her presents and cards (DVD’s from us) and Billy trudged through a blizzard in the (now fairly deep) snow to collect Mum’s birthday parcel from the sorting office.

Just before noon, Billy, Raji, and I took the birthday girl out for her Chinese lunch to one of our favourite restaurants, The Golden Dragon, just in town. We had a lovely meal whilst watching the snow falling outside. We had the lunchtime menu but added crispy duck pancakes too as it was a treat. Although I ordered my usual favourite (chicken in lemon sauce) we all shared our dishes so we also had chicken and mushrooms, beef in black bean sauce and broccoli in garlic sauce. The latter was gorgeous and a new (2nd) favourite of mine. Billy left to go to his football match which was still on, and transport running, and the rest of lingered over coffee and Chinese tea before leaving. On the way home, we rented a DVD for later, and then when we got home, Nel went for a nap!

Since I had written off any hope of following my match, it was an unexpected bonus being able to do so, and Raji and I settled in the living room with the fire on, TV flicking between the rugby and Soccer Saturday and I followed MCFC’s text commentary of the game, a comfortable sounding 2-0 win for City. 🙂

We had an evening meal of homemade soup, bacon sandwiches and cheesecake and once Nel appeared, she, Raji and I watched The Amazing Spiderman whilst drinking mulled wine – a cosy way to spend a snowy evening 🙂 The film was very good and much better than previous Spiderman ones; it is very much in keeping with the Avengers series and I look forward to the next film.

Although it was not quite how we’d planned to spend Nel’s birthday, it was a very pleasant and relaxing day in the end and we all rather enjoyed it. I can’t believe my youngest baby is 20 now, but am very proud of her and how she’s grown into such a lovely young woman 🙂

Protected: End of the road stresses! (Blanket password)

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Microsoft MASTER!


Photobucket

Guess who has passed her last Microsoft Office exam!?! Yep! Outlook was my last one. I am now officially a Master 🙂

My journey began in November 2010 when I passed Excel core
Then I passed Word core
Then Word Expert and Excel Expert.
Then Power Point core and finally Outlook core.

I wonder what I will get up to next…..

Protected: Just pipped (usual, non-blanket password)

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below: