Thursday, 18 February 2010

I am so Happy!

I am incredibly proud to announce that I have won a Western Short Story contest sponsored by the Art Affair website:

http://www.shadetreecreations.com/ArtAffair_WesternContest.htm

It seems I beat a number of American writers to do so and I am so thrilled, I just cannot tell you what it means to me:) The prize is a checque for $50 which I propose to frame.

I want to thank my dear friend, Judy, who not only brought the contest to my attention, she also read my entry for me and made valuable suggestions for improving the story.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

The Best Laid Plans

Yesterday was supposed to be my big day, the day I finally got to go to see the specialist at the hospital to hopefully get some help with my horrendous health problems. Long story short . . . it never happened! The Ambulance Service completely messed up my transport arrangements and by the time my wonderful husband had forced them to sort out the tangle, it was too late for the doctor to see me.

I was dreadfully upset, but I kept calm and while Tom played merry hell with the hospital, I had a phone conversation with one of the senior doctors at my local practice. He has prescribed me a different water pill to take in conjunction with the others and thinks it will help me to survive the next two weeks of waiting for the re-arranged appointment at the hospital.

I now go there on the 26th February and after Tom got through with them, I don't think they'll foul up the transport a second time:) In the meantime, life is difficult but I am blessed with the world's most wonderful husband who is doing all in his power to help me cope.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Louis has been adopted

Tom took Floyd to the vet this morning for his annual check-up and vaccinations and we were delighted to be told that he is in tip top condition. He is fit and well and maintaining the same body weight he had when we got him 18 weeks ago. I am pleased about this as he is very food orientated and we certainly don't stint him. Fortunately he races around so much he gets sufficient exercise to keep himself trim. The vet said she thought he was an exceptionally fine example of the Dalmatian breed and was the most handsome dog she had ever seen. She also praised his sweet nature and agreed with us that he did not deserve the bad reputation he came to us with. Tom was so proud of him!

We got Floyd from an organisation here in Britain that rescues Dalmatian strays and rehomes dogs in need of a second home and a fresh start. They have a website, which is how we found them in the first place and I often log in to view the list of dogs on their books. They update the page regularly with photos and details of the dogs they need homes for and for over three years now the same spotty dog has been at the top of the list.

His name is Louis and he is only very lightly spotted. He was in the kennels with the society when we got Barkley and apparently is a very nervy dog in need of an experienced owner. When our precious Barkley died and we looked at the dog list with a view to getting another dog, poor old Louis was still in kennels, three years on from when he was rescued.

The Society tries hard to match the right dog with the right new home and we had begun to think poor old Louis was destined to spend the rest of his days in the Society's kennels. So, we were delighted to access the website today and see the following notice:

LOUIS HAS NOW BEEN ADOPTED.

We are so pleased that after all the time he has spent in kennels, Louis at last has a new and forever home and we wish him well. The Society does great work and in our case they could not have given us a nicer dog than Floyd.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

One of my favourite places in England



The traditional British counties of England, Scotland and Wales have all been revamped over the last fifty years or so into the modern county names we now know. Modern day Cumbria was once Cumberland and Westmoreland and contains the whole of one of the most beautiful parts of the United Kingdom, our Lake District National Park. There are 14 main lakes in the park which covers 885 square miles, an area roughly square 33 miles wide west to east and 40 miles wide north to south. It contains six major mountains, the highest being Scafell Pike at 3210 feet. I have climbed the fourth highest, which is Skiddaw at 3053 feet. I was younger and fitter then!

The deepest lake is Wastwater at 243 feet. The longest is Windermere at 10.5 miles. My personal favourites are Coniston Water, the most remote and mysterious of the Southern lakes and Derwent Water, the biggest and most beautiful of the Northern lakes.

Paul Reynolds took this photo of Coniston:



The two pictures below are of Derwent Water. The first is how it normally looks and the second is how it looks now in the snow!





My friends Jane and Margaret and I used to take our dogs to Derwent Water every summer. We would hire a cottage and use the ferry boats on the lake to drop us off at a different place each morning to explore the many walks available. There are standing stones, waterfalls and many forest, hill and meadow trails to ramble through. We had some wonderful and peaceful times there.

Isn't it odd how cavalier we always are about areas of beauty near to us? I had travelled all over the world, visiting both Moscow in Russia and Washington DC in the U.S. before ever I went to Cumbria, which is less than forty miles from my home on the Wirral Peninsula.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Winter Britain

Winter continues to grip Britain and though by American or Canadian standards the weather is not at all severe, the truth is, we are simply not used to it over here and much of the country is at a standstill. Schools are closed and there is no public transport. Some services, such as Mail delivery and refuse collection are severely disrupted. There has been some panic buying in the shops, resulting in shortages of basic foodstuffs such as bread and milk. The gritting has been patchy at best, so it is treacherous under foot. Tom has been going out as little as possible. I haven't been going out at all, needless to say. We really cannot afford to have Tom break an ankle or a wrist. I don't know how we would manage, so we are erring on the side of caution.

Sweet Floyd, surely the world's most co-operative dog, dislikes going for walks in the snow. He loves to play out in it in the back garden and will race round and eat it etc, but then he likes to come indoors and warm his paws up again. He let Tom put him on the lead a few times, but just stopped dead in the street and refused to walk any further. So, instead of taking him for walks the last day or two, Tom has been playing tug of war (Floyd's favourite game)and amusing him at home. I can't believe the bad reputation his previous owners gave this poor dog. He is an absolute darling and we love him dearly.

Here are some more pictures from the newspaper of the snowy scenes around the country.

A frozen canal in Sale in Cheshire


A Highland Cow in Pickering West Yorkshire


Lake of Menteith in Scotland


Chollerford in Northumberland


Whittlesea Wash in Cambridgeshire


A frozen Waterfall in the Brecon Beacons


Blair Drummond Safari Park, Stirling Scotland

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Brrr!!!



The photo is from today's newspaper and features a place called Cale Green Park in Stockport, Cheshire, about thirty miles from where I live. As I write, it is snowing outside and for the moment at least, it is sticking. I am upstairs in the study, but Tom is downstairs and he tells me Floyd is out in the back garden playing around in the snow. He is eating it and having a thoroughly good time apparently:) They say this is the coldest winter in thirty years here in Britain and I see no reson to disbelieve it! I am so thankful to be retired now and not to have to venture out unless I want to.

My District Nurse, Helen came to see me yesterday and began the painstaking process of removing the dead skin from my lower legs. She was able to make a significant amount of progress and was warm in her praise of Tom and how well he has been attending to the dressings for me in betweeen her visits. She told me I was a very lucky lady and I told her I knew it. I am very impressed with Helen and the service the District Nursing team offer. They look at the whole patient, not just the particular medical issue that requires treatment and as a consequence, she is referring me for all manner of help and support which should assist me to manage my personal care and my health problems a great deal better in the future. As a result, not only are my legs improving, I feel better psychologically, because I feel I am improving my lifestyle in general.

I have a mountain of post to wade through, including new writing magazines to read and there is a stream of new books and DVDs arriving daily, so I am not lacking entertainment or occupation. I am beginning to feel optimistic about the coming year and aside from the fact I am still falling asleep at the drop of a hat (a consequence of my anaemia) I feel better in general.

I sent my Australian friend, Carol a calendar at Christmas and had an e-mail from her this morning. We first met in the U.S. in 1977 on my first holiday in America and have been friends ever since. My best friends, Jane and Margaret have been to Australia to visit her several times and she tells me she is coming here in April. It will be lovely to see her again!

So, a good start to 2010 and lots to look forward to. Helen is correct . . . I am a lucky woman:)

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Help at last!

After constantly nagging my doctor for several weeks, including putting my concerns in writing, the powers that be finally sent the District Nursing Service in to see me at home. My visiting nurse is called Helen and she is a poppet! She is a big girl herself and understands my struggles with my weight. She is referring me to the Lifestyle and Weight Management team for help in my weight loss efforts, which is an added bonus. She has inspected my leg problems, given Tom and I intelligent advice and information and is returning later to supply us with what we need to treat the troublesome areas. She has cleaned and dressed the wounds and is confident she can help us clear the problem totally. She intends softening up and then removing the dead skin for me. I KNEW the DNs were the right ladies for the job and I was right. Helen was non-judgmental and helpful, friendly and pleasant and a credit to her profession. I feel so much better for her cheerful and amiable help today:)