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Wednesday, 30 December 2009

More of the same.....

We are still battling the bugs. Mum seemed to improve but then had a bad night on Monday - I asked for a house call yesterday - she now has new antibiotics. I can tell she is not so well because she has stopped telling me how to do everything!!  It's peaceful but worrying.
It rained today, but there is still a lot of ice around, and our drive is potentially lethal.
The birds are keeping us entertained as they come for food.  I saw the first siskin of the season today. They usually don't come until January.
Sorry it's mainly a miserable post.

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Boxing Day

Thick freezing fog here this morning.  It may be fairly local because our village is near to the river North Tyne.  I don't think I'll go far to check.  Mum and I both had bad nights (separately). She was coughing for 2 hours while I was asleep and I was awake for 2 hours from 0400 - sore throat and ear and still coughing a bit.  Here's hoping that we are both well by 2010!!
Yesterday was very quiet. We managed a game of Scrabble  (I won) and watched a bit of TV, but retired by 9pm.  I played a few carols and Christmas music on the piano.  Mum worked hard to eat a small portion of the meal, but complained I had done 4 veg.  Mine didn't taste wonderful.  Still, "in the greater scheme of things", we can't complain. We are warm, well fed and we didn't have to cope with a large tribe of argumentative relatives.......!!!

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Snow, snow, snow

Here are some photos from Sunday's walk from Kirkharle.

These boys are the tired tups who have been busy serving the ewes since early November.  The lambs are due in April.

Some of the suckler herd who were very interested in our presence.

The ambulance car stuck near Kirkwhelpingon.

Ailsa with one of her magnificent Zwarble sheep.

Our happy and select band of walkers who braved the snow and ice to be on the walk.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Walks, snow and the bugs

Sunday was a beautiful white day.  I was due on a Shepherd's Walk from Kirkharle and thought it would be cancelled due to the poor road conditions.  Most walkers cancelled but Jon still held the walk. The drive on the back roads across country for fairly hairy, but no one else was around so that made it easier than it might have been.  The walk was super - lovely views in the snow. 
I'm actually in one of my photos this time - that's me with the red jacket and navy fleece hat.
Today I was due in Haltwhistle at 0930, but at 0830 there was a white-out here.  I decided not to go, but then the snow stopped and the sun came out, so I sallied forth.  The Military Road was treacherous and I nearly turned back a couple of times.  All went well until I caught up with a very nervous driver who was going too slowly and using his brakes all the time. I wasn't sure he would get up the hills because he had so little momentum, and I had to hang back and stop a couple of times to let him get ahead.  I think we need a Public Service broadcast to explain how to drive safely in the snow and ice.
Arrive Haltwhistle for committee.  More frustrating delays in the system to mean we can't get our programmes out on time.  Keep smiling.
Home again where Mum is still quite poorly with pleurisy. Now I'm snuffling and coughing again.  You can't win.  Keep smiling!

Saturday, 19 December 2009

North Tyne and Redewater Choral Society Christmas concert

Went to hear the North Tyne and Redewater concert in Humshaugh tonight. The weather had been good until the afternoon when there was heavy snow.  I wonder how they will all get home tonight.  The concert was poorly attended but I think that regulars from further up the North Tyne would think twice before turning out to drive on treacherous roads.  It had frozen over by the time the concert finished so extra jeopardy.
They sang an interesting cycle of songs by Geoffrey Bush in the first half. The new deputy organist at the Abbey accompanied beautifully. I was less impressed by his improvisation on Little Donkey. Eric hated the organ and they were played on the organ, and Eric didn't really like Little Donkey (although it paid the bills for years). Also Eric had campaigned to have a piano in the church to no avail, but for the concert a piano was hired and in situ - just one week after Eric's funeral. Some irony there.
Overall I think the choir did well with the odd little blip.  It was a very enjoyable concert.
Then to D and P's Christmas party. Lovely food and good company.
Now to bed......

Friday, 18 December 2009

Pleurisy hits

So just when I thought it was safe to pop my head above the parapet - feeling so much better by today - but Mum has gone down with pleurisy. She's not at all well, having been fine while I was ill.  So I called our GP out today. Mum has started on antibiotics and we'll just have to see how she gets on over the next few hours. I can see another hospital admission looming if things don't improve quickly.
The snow and ice today have been pretty unpleasant, so we are holed up in a toasty warm house.

Monday, 14 December 2009


Trying to write the cards, and get ready for Singing for Pleasure tomorrow, and write up my walks for the Walking Festival brochure for the Spring. I have too many walks to write up - make a note not to volunteer to prepare as many next time!!  Glad to be feeling a bit better, and resisting the temptation to go back to bed again.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

"Swan 'flu"

Just surfacing after a miserable week with swine 'flu.  Mum, who is prone to Malopropisms, called it swan flu one day this week, so the name has stuck.  Much nicer than swine.  Of course I can't be sure it was swine flu - it was proper flu, and I'd had my ordinary flu jab last month, so I had to assume the porcine variety.  The real challenge was negotiating the Swine flu online advice and trying to find out where to get the Tamiflu from.  I thought it was the fever that prevented me from finding Northumberland in the list, but no, there was nowhere to go for Tamiflu. The nearest place is Byker in Newcastle, not the easiest place to find for my "flu friend" who is 88 years old. I decided in the end to send her to Brampton - easy journey from here - and then did not see that she needed to be able to prove who we both are.  Thankfully the pharmacist was kind and helped to sort out this glitch, but she contacted the GMC to prove who I am.  Do the powers that be think there is big business in getting one script of Tamiflu illegally???
Won't go on, but it is a very debilitating illness and I'll be glad to get going normally again.  Missed Bellingham Christmas play last night, Farmers' Market and Abbey Fete in Hexham today.
End of moan.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Is it swine flu?

I hope not.  I started with a sore throat on Sunday evening, yesterday the temperature and aches and cough arrived. Feeling very miserable - had to get up to do an essential printing job for my Singing for Pleasure Group this afternoon.  Thankfully our concert is next week not this week.
Back to bed!

Monday, 7 December 2009

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Funny old day

Good intentions - if only I had managed to follow my good intentions this morning. I intended to set out early and call in at Hexham for petrol and to deposit all the bottles in the boot of the car into the bottle bank at the Wentworth. Didn't manage that. Set out for Rothbury - definitely enough petrol to get there, but would need to fill up at the Rothbury service station. This turned out to be a figment of my imagination! No petrol in Rothbury. I was in good time so started to drive along the Morpeth road, but no petrol station and both time and petrol were getting low. Asked someone in Rothbury who said there was petrol at Thropton - just 2 miles - so set off there. "To take immediate effect, this petrol station and shop are closed on Sundays in the winter months" Had to go to start of walk. Seemed the nearest place for petrol later would be north on the A697, about 10 miles away.

Lovely walk. Took lots of photos. Gathered a few mosses and lichens for tomorrow's class. Learnt a lot about clouds and weather.

Then set off north. Gauge now reading 0 miles before filling up. Drove carefully. Following fire engine. Wondering if it would have been better to head for Otterburn - or was the petrol station there also a figment of my imagination? Fire engine was going to car crash - followed my 3 ambulances, police cars....... Most cars in the queue turned around and headed south. I could not risk it. Listened to Tinker Tailor on Radio 4. Alison came and chatted and said she would stay to make sure I was OK. Delayed by about half and hour. Then to petrol station - no credit card in purse (on desk), but had £20 to buy petrol.
Have you ever felt that you were in one of those dreams where you cannot achieve your goal??
And so to bed.......

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Weather Walk

I'm going on a Shepherd's Walk from Rothbury led by Richard Holmes today. He get's the opportunity to talk about clouds and weather and suchlike. At the moment it is pitch black outside and the forecast is for rain, clearing at lunchtime. We'll see. Full wet weather gear definitely.
Maybe some photos to share later.
I'll be glad to go walking today. Yesterday I stayed at home and cleared the garage to make space for my car to be housed for the winter nights.  No more ice scraping in the mornings! I was busy all day and then caught up on some of the tutorials on Photoshop from This is an excellent resource, but not free and I've paid for a month so I need to pack in as much as I can.

Thursday, 3 December 2009


Pretty quiet day today. Went to Hexham to go through the Christmas music with P who plays for our group.  I think we have plenty of material now and it should be a good show.  Lots to do in the last rehearsal on Tuesday.  Messed around with homework photos this afternoon.  Have to have 2 holiday photos. Of course mine are mainly holiday snaps, but I've found a couple to work up. Here is one of them converted for the web.  I took it on holiday in Slovenia when we visited Lubjliana

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Christmas party for Rings Walkers

Today was a brilliant day for walking and 47 (yes 47) walkers set out from Sainsbury's car park in Haltwhistle for a short walk up the burn to Aesica and back via Cawfields Quarry. (NB Looks like a good route for the Singing walk in April.) It was a fine, sunny day and so much nicer than yesterday.
We had a short coffee stop at the penny altar and were back in town in good time for our Christmas "do" at the Comrades Club.  There was a lovely cold buffet as usual and a great buzz of conversation.  By now our numbers had risen to 62!
Maureen and I had made photo presentations which I showed on the computer as people queued for lunch - a great success to do it that way.  Then we had a poem from Lesley, a caption competition organised by Maureen and Brian, and then awards given by Brian W and Tony, leading up to the presentation to Colin and Audrey to celebrate their Golden Wedding.  We gave them vouchers for the Centre of Britain and an original painting commissioned for them. (Mum did the painting and people seemed genuinely to like it.)
It was a delightful day.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

1st December

Very frosty this morning with a glorious sunrise. I was still in bed - too late to use the camera to good effect. Busy rest of morning with website and with music for Singing for Pleasure. Needed to lift car bonnet to fill up water reservoir, but the release handle did not work. Delayed me for a while, but then I went to Haltwhistle to deliver the painting to M and B ready for the presentation tomorrow to C and A. They seemed pleased with the picture so that is great.
Just in time for U3A lecture on wild flowers in China. Arrived on 2pm, but the computer and projector were not talking to each other so spent 20 minutes sorting it out.  Finally got the speaker underway. He was not pleased. The images were overall very good, especially the close ups of the flowers. I'd love to go.
Came home but decided to go out to Wall Garage to see if the car could be sorted. The lovely man there looked at it immediately. It wasn't straightforward but he managed to get to the cable release which had come apart.  Now I can top up the water and put screen wash in ready for the next icy day.
Just in time to make the meal and get out to Photo Club where we had the annual auction. I love auctions and there was a lot of gear available for very low prices. A lot did not sell and we had to take all our goods away again. This was tricky because I'd bought lots of things to! C kindly helped me carry my booty to the car.  I started the bidding for a metal camera suitcase thinking that was all I was doing - but it was soon mine.  Also bought a set of goblets from the Isle of Mull brought in by HS. And so it went on.  Found a great monopod, brand new, and a small printer for Mum to use with the laptop.  Even bought a biography of Wainwright I'd been wanting - disappointed that it smells musty......
And so to bed.......


Funny old day.  Started with trip to Freeman with Mum to pick up her new hearing aid moulds. They are much more obvious than the last ones, but are hypoallergenic. Sadly they are not comfortable and she could hardly hear when they were in.  Back to square one. We were there for about 2 hours.
The to the Metro Centre and M & S. It took ages to find a parking space - everyone is Christmas shopping - and then the queue in Marks for lunch was very, very long. We ended up with a picnic on a bench outside Boots - sandwiches and drink from Boots. Even that took ages to buy due to queues.  It all reminds me of why I don't go the the Metro Centre in December!
Back to M & S where we found a pale blue twinset for Mum and I tried on loads of trousers with no luck. I'm just not the right shape for their trousers - but at least I'm a lot thinner than last year.
Then to picture framers' to choose mounts and frames for 2 embroideries. Mum's commission was taped into its frame.
Home very happy, and just had time to eat before going to the Hexham Art Club preview for the selling exhibition. It's a lovely exhibition with some very good prices.
And so to bed......