Wednesday, 31 March 2010


I know this may seem like a shameful confession but I find the tourist visitors to the Lakes damned hard work. I understand why they come here of course. I understand that the national park is a national treasure and is enjoyed by everyone, and indeed should be.
I know I am equally annoying when I myself visit other places around the globe as a tourist.
I appreciate that without tourists our local lakeland economy would be totally unstuck. I appreciate that I benefit ( indirectly as our business is not tourist related) from the money that flows into the area via our visitors.
Indeed, I am a grumpy old woman.
But when driving and parking within two or three miles of your house becomes a federal issue, when you can't even find an illegal parking space to nip into the post office, when the queues to find parking swirl round and round local roads, it is difficult not to snarl and rage under the breath. I have lived here nearly twenty years and I am starting to get territorial and possessive. It isn't attractive I know, but there you are.
I do feel mightly sorry for all the tourists at the moment especially those with kiddies. They have come seeking the majestic splendour of the daffodils. Said lovely flowers are still hiding largely. The weather is extraordinarily awful. Lashing rain, howling winds, freezing cold and dark. It is not happy holiday weather. It is 'driving round finding indoor places to hide' weather. Only the truly brave (mad?) would set out to walk in this. Anyone who goes walking is not only crazed but selfish. Conditions are dangerous. All in all. My advice is head for the airport..... oh no.... I forgot.... strikes.......

Sunday, 28 March 2010

An award- share your flair

Thanks so much to Hadriana for this award- much appreciated. She deserves an award herself- a great read. Why not pop over?

Getting on with living,,,

I have given myself a bit of time before I write this post. It's like writing difficult news to a good friend- finding a way of spitting out the message in a way which 'softens' its impact. I have come to the conclusion that there is no way of dressing it up. I just have to spit it out, as it were.

In 2007 I was diagnosed with cervical cancer, After surgery and treatment, and ten months of work I have managed to get back to good health ( with the little gall bladder blip last year!!). I found out recently that the sciatica I posted about is in fact a tumour pressing on my sciatic nerve. The cancer has come back. Almost certainly a secondary, a re-occurence. Damn.

So huge shock. Trauma. Upset. Life knocked over like a bowling ball getting a strike on skittles. It has been a tsunami in our world. And of the last few weeks we have been to sort it all out on an emotional, and physical level.

And it's the stuff between the ears which has needed the most work.

Without going into specific details, the way the news was handled was not good. It was a complete mess. Indefensible really. Over the phone, careless, negative, frightening. I am not easily daunted and being of a usefully irrepressible nature, I don't stay down for long. But this time it has taken a while.

I had an operation last week. The one I was scheduled to have last Thursday was cancelled because my consent form got lost. It was a day that the best fiction writer could not make up. It was burlesque really. But at the time it felt like something from a Stephen King novel. The bright side of it was that I had the operation the next day in another hospital ( Furness General in Barrow in Furness) which is a lovely place. I really liked it. They looked after me really well. I was supposed to be a day case, but ended up staying in for three nights ( look on it as a mini break) because my blood pressure reached stratospheric proportions ( probably stress related). Now all my treatment has been moved there. I am happy about it. I feel safe and comfortable there. It is easier for my friends and family to get to. All in all- it is so much better.

Next Wednesday I start six cycles of chemo over eighteen weeks. We have cancelled the much looked forward to trip to the States this year in July. It's all hands to the pump to get me well again. I will lose my hair this time, so today I am getting it all cut off. It's a bit of an adventure really. I am trying on wigs and scarves this weekend. I will experiment and have a laugh with it.

I have learnt a lot about myself in the last few weeks. It has been very difficult, but I have had the time to reflect and think, and take an increasingly long range view on my life. It is interesting. Very interesting. And damned tough.

I am blessed in being surrounded by a wonderful support network. I couldn't have a better one. I am surrounded with loving arms, kindness, wisdom and experience. I am surrounded by strength and compassion. I have time to just be me. To rest. To relax. To think and make sense of it all as best I can.

So I am at the beginning of a interesting leg in the journey of life. I will keep you up to date on how I am doing, and what I am noticing.

Best get ready for the hairdresser. A very short new style awaits me.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

I could have danced all night......

You all know by now that I need no excuse to publish pictures of my wonderful teenager. This was taken last weekend just before he went off to the Year ten and Year eleven 'prom' ( seems to be the new word for ball or party these days...).
He had a great time. Meal, band and lots of dancing. Everyone in their glad rags. Bless them. Mum and Dad playing the perfect role of the Saturday night taxi driver.
Sound familiar to anyone? Waiting for the 'come and get me text'. Other half and I stayed in and had chicken salad, watched tv, lit candles and relaxed. It was lovely. Mind you, I didnt make it for the return trip- I was too tired and went to bed leaving my hero to do the midnight collection. Middle aged? Me?

Friday, 19 March 2010

A letter to the Secretary of State

Subject: New money making scheme


Rt Hon David Miliband MP
Secretary of State.
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA),
Nobel House
17 Smith Square

16 July 2009

Dear Secretary of State,

My friend, who is in farming at the moment, recently received a cheque for £3,000 from the Rural Payments Agency for not rearing pigs. I would now like to join the "not rearing pigs" business.

In your opinion, what is the best kind of farm not to rear pigs on, and which is the best breed of pigs not to rear? I want to be sure I approach this endeavour in keeping with all government policies, as dictated by the EU under the Common Agricultural Policy.

I would prefer not to rear bacon pigs, but if this is not the type you want not rearing, I will just as gladly not rear porkers. Are there any advantages in not rearing rare breeds such as Saddlebacks or Gloucester Old Spots, or are there too many people already not rearing these?

As I see it, the hardest part of this programme will be keeping an accurate record of how many pigs I haven't reared. Are there any Government or Local Authority courses on this?

My friend is very satisfied with this business. He has been rearing pigs for forty years or so, and the best he ever made on them was £1,422 in 1968. That is - until this year, when he received a cheque for not rearing any.

If I get £3,000 for not rearing 50 pigs, will I get £6,000 for not rearing 100? I plan to operate on a small scale at first, holding myself down to about 4,000 pigs not raised, which will mean about £240,000 for the first year. As I become more expert in not rearing pigs, I plan to be more ambitious, perhaps increasing to, say, 40,000 pigs not reared in my second year, for which I should expect about £2.4 million from your department. Incidentally, I wonder if I would be eligible to receive tradeable carbon credits for all these pigs not producing harmful and polluting methane gases?

Another point: These pigs that I plan not to rear will not eat 2,000 tonnes of cereals. I understand that you also pay farmers for not growing crops. Will I qualify for payments for not growing cereals to not feed the pigs I don't rear?

I am also considering the "not milking cows" business, so please send any information you have on that too. Please could you also include the current DEFRA advice on set aside fields? Can this be done on an e-commerce basis with virtual fields (of which I seem to have several thousand hectares)?

In view of the above you will realise that I will be totally unemployed, and will therefore qualify for unemployment benefits. I shall of course be voting for your party at the next general election.

Yours faithfully,

Nigel Johnson-Hill

Thursday, 18 March 2010

What's a girl to do?

I went into the hairdresser today for the full works. Cut, colour and a french manicure to finish off.
While my hairdresser Harriet was putting on the foils ( a long and tedious process ending up with me looking like an electrocuted tin man), she mentioned that she is leaving the salon next week. She is off to Manchester to sample city life. Good for her. I applaud her. I wish her well. I praise her endeavour. I think it's a great decision.
But the thing is- who is going to do my hair now?
I get very attached to my hairdresser. At least the manicurist ( who is amazing!) has no plans to leave her Thursday slot. At least she hasn't said so...
Maybe I will have do what Jordan does, and fly to LA to get my hair sorted out. It's a thought?

Sunday, 14 March 2010


My good friend Expat Mum has a blog called Pond Parleys. And guess what- I am interviewed on it this week. So why not take a look? It's a great blog anyway.
Thanks to Expat and Mike for featuring me.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Spring in Windermere

We went to the Linthwaite House Hotel for dinner last night with some friends. We had a great night. The food was lovely. Great company. Lovely wine. I had Goosnargh duck confit with tiny little fruits and brioche, turbot and fennel cooked in orange, and rhubard with baked egg custard. Divine eh? We have some great hotels here in the Lakes,and lots of them are within a couple of miles of our house. It is very tempting! If you like pottering, eating and relaxing the lakes is a great place to come. Never mind hiking up hill and dale, let's hear it for those of us who just love the scenery and the coffee shops.

We have been happily very busy in our business which is coming along from strength to strength. Never complacent, we keep working away on it steadily building the reputation and the range of services. It is very exciting.

Teenager is now fifteen. His birthday was on Wednesday. He got lots of lovely cards and gifts, and hopes to go paintballing with his friends and dads in the summer as his celebration. He is doing really well all round- we are so proud of him. He is becoming ever more independent. Out with friends as I write, and off to the cinema. He would like picking up after the event. He still needs us! And like so many mums and dads we find ourselves as a bed and breakast, laundrette and taxi service. We love it really though. Great to see him blooming.

I now have my orthotics- tailor made inserts in my shoes. I collected them today. They are very light and comfortable. I wear them about half an hour a day and increase gradually. I hope they will make a big difference to my back. It is much better and the sports therapy and exercise programme seems to be working well. One thing I have found out- my back hates driving. I always feel it the next day. Will have to keep an eye on that one!

I have started gym sessions again. Yesterday saw number two session. I did bike, cross trainer, boxing, steps, light weights and some abdominal work. It all sounds impressive doesn't it, but it was at the most basic level, and very slow paced. I am soooooooooooooooooooooooooo unfit. It will take a lot of time to build my core strength up again- once I do that- my back will get better and better I hope.

I hope you like my daffodil picture. It is from last year. They aren't quite here yet, but I am optimistic. The weather during the last week has been fabulous.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

A true story.........and truly brilliant


Phillip Hewitson, an elderly man, from Norwich UK, was going up to bed, when his wife told him that he'd left the light on in the garden shed, which she could see from the bedroom window. George opened the back door to go turn off the light, but saw that there were people in the shed stealing things.

He phoned the police, who asked "Is someone in your house?"

He said "No," but some people are breaking into my garden shed and stealing from me.

Then the police dispatcher said "All patrols are busy. You should lock your doors and an officer will be along when one is available."

George said, "Okay."

He hung up the phone and counted to 30.

Then he phoned the police again.

"Hello, I just called you a few seconds ago because there were people stealing things from my shed. Well you don't have to worry about them now because I just shot them." and he hung up.

Within five minutes, Six Police Cars, a SWAT Team, a Helicopter, two Fire Trucks, a Paramedic, and an Ambulance showed up at the Hewitson`s' residence, and caught the burglars red-handed.

One of the Policemen said to Phillip, "I thought you said that you'd shot them!"

Phillip said, "I thought you said there was nobody available!"

(True Story) I LOVE IT!
Don't mess with old people

Monday, 8 March 2010

A smart fisherman

A Smart Fisherman
A guy is 72 years old and he loves to fish.

He was sitting in his boat the other day when he heard a voice say, 'Pick me up.'

He looked around and couldn't see anyone.

He thought he was dreaming when he heard the voice say again,'Pick me up.'

He looked in the water and there, floating on the top, was a frog.

The man said, 'Are you talking to me?'

The frog said, 'Yes, I'm talking to you. Pick me up then, kiss me and I'll turn into the
most beautiful woman you have ever seen. I'll make sure that all your friends are envious and jealous because I will be your bride!'

The man looked at the frog for a short time, reached over, picked it up carefully and placed it in his front pocket.

The frog said, 'Hey, are you nuts? Didn't you hear what I said? I said kiss me and I
will be your beautiful bride.'

He opened his pocket, looked at the frog and said, 'Nah, at my age I'd rather have a talking frog.'

With age comes wisdom.