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Les Vacances…

This should be a photo of Norman Foster’s spectacular Millau bridge – for that’s where we are – in the Camping Car Aire at Millau

This is the river at the other side of the valley. We had a pleasant walk along here yesterday when we arrived and had that very welcome cup of tea.

Of course we couldn’t go very far because there was no way I was going to unpack the pushchair for the dog…you haven’t heard about the push chair for the dog? Nor do you want to I expect, but on holiday, me, the dog and the pushchair become good friends and I am used to the pitying stares, smiles and sometimes interesting comments. A necessary evil if we want to walk for more than 15 minutes.

After all, she is old and likes to be with us and she has been good company so what can I do? But here we shall be staying for one night, so no grand unpacking. The weather is lovely and mild, the WiFi on this aire is excellent – we can watch the TV and the electricity for the oil filled radiator is all in with the price.

That was yesterday on the the sunny drive from home…

Day 2 of the holiday.

I love holidays – that was always what I said and thought when I was at work…and oh yes, so much younger, when leaving my comfort zone wasn’t a problem – it was exciting…and when adventures were part of life and not like nowadays when an adventure is a crisis and definitely means something has gone wrong…

I still love this idea of setting off for the Spanish sun, driving the camper van, stopping for picnics, seeing different scenery, and yet I can’t quite explain why the edge has been taken off it – you’ll have to bear with me on that one – it must have something to do with old age and decrepitude and of course the elderly person’s anathema – fear!

It’s a Thursday so why did I write ‘Happy Friday on the text to my daughters today? Once you’re away in the camper van then time loses some of its regulation – I mean after all if you can’t sit down at 7pm French time to watch the BBC news at 6, then all is nearly lost.

This morning started off damp and grey and January like – for why else would be journeying to Spain?

A pleasant walk into Millau where they are trimming all the plane trees – there are two this shape in one of the squares and they are a wonderful shape for giving shade.

Shopping for bread, croissants, pizzas and stuff to rub on inflamed gums and a mouthwash and we are ready to set off for St Jean Plan des Corts. We know the campsite there and have stayed a good few times. This is getting boring and time I stopped.

My quote for today is this one, and apologies if I put it on before but there is no internet here so I can’t look back and see. I thought I would wish this for our daughters

“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.”

― Eric Roth, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Screenplay

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2019

It’s the New Year – ho! ho!

I feel I should write something…some rant or other, or some words of ‘wisdom,’ something that says I am glad to be alive and well and able to do this – after all isn’t it the beginning of another year? Of opportunities stretching out in front of me like Hazlitt’s winding road? Isn’t it another 365 day journey round the sun? Oh yes its all of those things and much more.

Age is a funny thing… actually I write that and I don’t mean it – age makes you think about things in a different way, that’s what I meant to say… I can remember New Year’s Eve parties in the old days – way back when in the very early seventies…drinking, dancing the night away,  looking forward to the new year and all that it could bring….toasting ‘May the road rise with you’ in strong Bacardi and coke and thinking we were wild!

Now how things are  different. I am comfy in bed by 11! I am sorry to see the old year departing – it was a good one, I remained healthy and upright and in charge of myself so that was just great…so I don’t want anything to change at all… unfortunately when you are old the future is somewhat of a scary prospect…

Of course one mustn’t think like that, that way madness lies,  but sometimes you just want everything to stay the same – it’s a bit like wanting to live forever and of course no one wants that…and yet you know that deep down this could be the year when some things alter  – and so change when you are older isn’t a good thing…not all the time.

I wonder how many people in their early seventies would sign away the next ten years to remain totally healthy and independent up till the minute of their death in a decade? Be guaranteed ten years of freedom without the prospect of a stroke, or long and painful treatments for unmentionable illnesses, or long and untreatable illnesses which cause a sad loss of dignity and independence? ‘But some people live long and active lives into their nineties’ I hear you shout. Thank goodness for the voice of reason. And some people don’t.

And here’s my quote for this New Year – its from something called ‘Where things come back’ by John Corey Whaley

“…life is so full of complications and confusion that humans often find it hard to cope. This leads to people throwing themselves in front of trains and spending all their money and not speaking to their relatives and never going home for Christmas and never eating anything with chocolate in it.

Life doesn’t have to be so bad all the time. we don’t have to be so anxious about everything. We can just be. We can get up, anticipate that the day will probably have a few good moments and a few bad ones, and then just deal with it. Take it all in and deal with it as best we can.”

Happy New Year and ‘just be.” I think I’ll go for that.

Our local dog walking path in the low cloud of a January day.

 

Some days…. more from an ordinary life

Some days it’s just not worth trying to be a sun to anyone, not worth trying to positive, not worth trying to do anything constructive…some days it’s best just to give the day over to a complete waste of time…pour yourself a gin and tonic eat a whole bag of nuts and watch Star Wars Revenge of the Sith. Then eat your weight in pizza.

Like today.

Why? I can hear you thinking, and I can’t really answer that – from my own point of view, some days just make me want to dance, to feel good, cook healthy food, garden my own vegetables and clean the bathroom…

Not to mention feeling grateful for every small mercy, walking the dog and doing a whole pile of ironing…

Then what made today different? Why waste a whole day? Aren’t they precious? Someone said how can you waste time without injuring eternity? And I know in my heart of hearts that time itself is the only valuable jewel in our possession, worth more than any sparkling diamond. Time and of course good health to appreciate it….so why suddenly give the day over to nothingness?

It must be something to do with the way you sleep, or not, as the case may be, can’t be the way you wake up, can it? Take today, for example the bad mood was there when I woke after a disturbed night, dreaming or thinking about my mother and how awful her last few years were – so unpleasant and horrible even those words don’t describe the end of her life… but it’s done and can’t be changed, but things are always worse in the middle of the night….

And then I realised the day was going even more to the dogs, and that’s an insult to my favourite animals, when it hit me that showing the photo of my English haircut to the French hairdresser was a complete waste of time, since I was shorn like a sheep and she should have gone to spec-savers.

I enjoy walking, but can’t walk at any speed these days and so while the sun was out after lunch, my better half went off up the hills for an hour or so – in the good old days I could have gone with him, and I knew it was still a bad day because I was thinking like that….instead me and the dog sat and let the fire go out…

Then just for me, himself drove me and the dog to the canal where we could walk along the path on the flat, but the orange coated hunters were out, guns over their shoulders, hunting dogs barking, yelling and yapping and we had to turn round, the sun had long gone, and the evening clouds filled the sky quickly…

Tomorrow will be better, I will be thankful if I wake up and can make my own decisions, I will not eat my weight in carbohydrates, I will try and ‘be a sun and not this weary insistent personality’ and I won’t waste a single minute of any part of the day, never mind the whole damn day.

So maybe that’s why you have to have one day every so often that doesn’t fit in the normal run of things…it’s so that you make up for it for the whole of the next week…

WATCH THIS SPACE!

Autumn in the French garden

The last roses of summer – they welcomed us back on the return from the UK.

What I miss…

Like you would miss your right arm if you had it amputated, or your toes if you got gangrene, then that’s the way I miss being young and the pleasures and endorphins you can generate with youth.

Primarily I miss that touch of another human being, a hug, a cuddle or that special touch from my partner. The way my toes curled when we kissed, the feeling deep down in the pit of my stomach that was total and irrefutable pleasure.

I miss coming back from a run and the high it gave me, and the feel of swimming in the Mediterranean and the touch of the soft warm velvety waters on my skin…

I miss going to work and being satisfied with a job well done, ok – so sometimes I was less than satisfied that I’d done it well enough, sometimes I even felt I’d totally cocked it up but there was always something to aim for, a point to getting up in the morning and a point to choosing which clothes to wear. The days had meaning, someone to help, someone to smile at, to make them feel good.

You try doing that when you are cloaked in the invisibility of old age – when no one wants to hear you and even if they do listen, heads on one side, pretending so as not to offend you, their eyes glazing over – you are not persuaded…

More and more I miss looking forward, the planning for trips away, for holidays, for parties, for Christmas, just the excitement of the future and what it could bring.

All that has been replaced with the frightening inevitability of declining health, hospital and specialist appointments, money worries, funerals, the indignity and invisibility that old age brings, and of course the horrible feeling that you may end up having a stroke and being a complete burden to your family, or sitting dribbling in an old folks home wearing someone else’s knickers.

Should I publish this, I thought after I’d written it.

Is it too depressing?

No I thought – it’s true and I will air it.

Then it will gear me up to writing the opposite side of the coin – the benefits of old age…’don’t hold your breath’ as the saying goes.

And to finish – sunset colouring the big skies of the Vale of York, and yes it was a lovely holiday.

A long time…

It has been ages since I wrote anything on here and I still haven’t anything of interest to share, but have a look at this chappie who came to sit with me the other afternoon

Probably an Assassin bug from the family Heteropteran – I think they might be quite common here in France but it’s the first time I’ve seen one.

And

The beautiful ‘morning glory’ climbing on the old house wall and mixing it with the Virginia creeper.

Anybody like old black and white war movies? Then you might have seen The Cockleshell Heroes, from 1955, starring Trevor Howard and Antony Newley…

This is a memorial to the men who were the heroes, at Royan on the coast north of Bordeaux.

I thought it quite stunning

And where is this person who was going to be a writer when she retired? Ho Ho.

..and oh, be a sun to me

…and not a weary, insistent personality.

I don’t know who said that, but I do remember it being written on my friend’s kitchen wall, way back when, in the sixties.

How little I knew then, and I wonder, do I know any more now?

I think of the children I taught and I wonder if any of them think of me as being ‘a sun to them’ and I do so doubt it. Too busy moving pieces of paper around, too wrapped up in the preparation, the worry and the anxiety, too many checklists and tick boxes and charts and tests and unimportant paraphernalia…

And even before that, working in the health service, I have a feeling that being a ‘sun’ to the patients was something maybe I tried to do, but nowhere near hard enough – age and experience tell me that.

Now when I see an old person suffering I recognise myself in years to come, I see the artist, the mother, the son, the mathematician, the train driver, the scientist, the nurse and a real person behind the wrinkles and I remember my mother and father; whereas back then I saw only something old, with no past and certainly no future.

Oh yes, age is a cruel teacher – we learn too late, if we learn at all.

And now some photos to warm your heart, and mine of course…

This is the scene of my daily walk with the doglet – an ordinary life indeed – but who couldn’t be thankful for this sort of peace and tranquillity.

And here’s the doglet herself – she seems to have found a comfy spec – in the gravel chippings.

And on this wet Saturday in rural France let’s be a sun for everyone…

Easy to say, difficult to do…

when suddenly I am old and start to wear purple

 

That’s the last line from Jenny Jones’s wonderful 1961 poem ‘When I am an old woman I shall wear purple.’

And these are my fat knees in my purple jeans… 

If you’ve read my previous ramblings you’ll know I woke up one day and realised my knees had got rather fat and they do give me food for thought now and then…

Somehow its been a moaning, ranting sort of week and really that’s not good, not for the morale, nor for any of my friends and family who may have time to read this…

SO its on with the purple jeans and lots of egg and chips for lunch, the Memphis Jug band CD playing and back to the ordinary life. The rant is over for a day or two…

I just thought ‘wouldn’t it be wonderful to think there was someone out there thinking to themselves – oh what a pity she hasn’t written more!’