more from the birthday year…

…and what of the birthday challenge? When I was 50 – was I ever that young? – I learnt to play the saxophone – it proved to be a challenge and an interest and it gave me a great deal of pleasure, playing in the school band, doing concerts in Greece, Dublin and France with the same bunch of music loving, very talented children and young people. Far more musical than I’ll ever be – ok,  that may not seem a great deal when you consider I am tone deaf – I even have to hear the words of ‘God save the Queen’ to recognise that tune.

‘Name that tune in three’  doesn’t exist for me – ‘name that tune in any number you choose,  if it hasn’t got words isn’t possible for yours truly. And as for a sense of rhythm – well put it this way  – you wouldn’t want me as the drummer in your band.

So my 70th birthday challenge is to learn to play the accordion…

accordion 1

and let me tell you its not easy. The french seem to  teach only the Button accordion – I wasn’t given a choice. Not that I think the piano accordion would be any easier.

The lady who teaches me is small and rotund with twinkling eyes – she has not a word of English and my pronunciation of french is so poor that conversation between us is at a minimum. The lessons are however, a laugh a minute. She is forever having to tap my left wrist – it’s not curved enough in the correct position, or she taps my right thumb often with her pencil because its not sliding up or down the side of the accordion… and all the time she is beating time with her other hand on her knee…

She is really a one man band.

And as for what she thinks of a seventy year old with little or no sense of rhythm  trying to learn to play the accordion I suppose I’ll never know.

How can I explain that all I want to be able to do, is play some simple waltz tunes and ‘After the ball is over.’

I’m giving it a year – a year of a lesson nearly every week and a year of renting the accordion. And if I can play a waltz here in the privacy of the loft by next February, I shall be ecstatic!

accordion Music

Ah, if only I knew a little more what all these squiggles meant, and if only I could do a different thing with each hand, and read the music and pull and push the bellows at the same time…


moths and a pet calf…


This is the Jersey Tiger moth. Isn’t he or she beautiful? The sexes look the same. It was on the Buddleia and its the only time I’ve seen one. It is a moth, but a daytime feeder.

I am amazed that my phone can take such good photos!

Unfortunately the photo of our local farmer feeding his pet calf has disappeared – something to do with me trying to remove the number plate of his van, perhaps?

And now I can’t think of any thing else to write – it’s the home for the bemused and bewildered for me at this rate.



More from the birthday year..

…and what a year it’s turning out to be. When I was approaching seventy I thought I’d fall into the Slough of Despond too easily. There’s getting old and then being old…not quite the same.

I mean, I’ve been getting old for ages now, but actually being old – that puts a whole different slant on things and seemed to me to be a little daunting.

So instead of becoming depressed I decided I’d be thankful to have  got this far by having a whole year of celebrations.

In a previous rambling I mentioned some good times in the UK in Spring – and then surprise! surprise! wasn’t I just whisked off to Venice!

I haven’t been there since the mid sixties – wow, the buildings may not have changed but the amount of tourists must have doubled ten fold.

Couldn’t afford to do this in 1965!

A real touristy ride in a gondola – Yippee!

Won’t be doing that again in this lifetime, but its one for the album – so when, more than likely I’m in the home for the bemused and bewildered someone can sit with me and say ‘oh look this is when you were in Venice!’


We sat and people watched and oh yes, did some eating and drinking, especially those red drinks called Spritz…and took the water bus and had a lovely time.

of beating panics and anxiety…

or one woman’s account of recognising what a panic attack is…

Recently I cycled 9 km in the lashing rain out on my own, on my electric bike. Now that, for a lot of you good folk out there, is nothing to write home about – or even write on a blog…but for me it is truly wonderful. ‘Out’ and ‘on my own’ – simple words indeed.

If I had broken my leg and it was mended then that would be great too, but this was an invisible break and boy was I broken.

There will be some of you  who don’t leave the house unless they are with someone, some people don’t leave the house at all. There are some who only go to the supermarket when there will not be much of a queue, and there will be some whose toxic and catastrophic thoughts take over their lives.

And it is for those people that this is written.

This is written for you, to give you hope, to say that panic attacks, and anxiety feelings can be beaten and you can conquer that overwhelming fear…but you have to recognise what they are. And don’t ask me fear of what? Sometimes it is fear of something dreadful going to happen and sometimes it’s fear of the fear itself…

It took me ten years to conquer mine.

Why? Why didn’t I go to the GP and explain, get help or take pills?

All I can say is that when you think you are surely going mad and have strange symptoms like something in your body vibrating , like eyes not seeming to be focussing correctly, like feeling you are going to collapse any minute, that something awful is going to happen but you have no idea what – you don’t tell a soul – you daren’t – you don’t want to be told you are a mad woman. I was under the impression that panic attacks gave you sweaty palms and palpitations and I never had those symptoms so I thought I was just going mad…

Help is out there. Go and explain how you feel. Don’t bottle it up like I did.

You can be in control of your thoughts. Once I knew what the enemy was it became more easy to start winning the battle.

Believe me, panic attacks don’t want to be helped – the adrenaline fuelled mess that your brain turns into likes being that way – more adrenaline is produced and more fear generated…

For any one who is suffering now – think on – it will pass – you will get back to the person you were and life will be good again. But you can’t do it on your own, and panic attacks, trouble with your ‘nerves,’ anxiety feelings – call them what you will, are nothing to be ashamed of at all and you are not going mad.

It makes me feel good to know I have eventually beaten the feelings that caused me to give up my job, and that  spoilt so many days, weekends and holidays over the past decade.

Those of you going through the battle now – don’t do it on your own, get help, time is precious.

Good luck.