Thursday, 30 May 2013

Quality "Mum and Me" Time

One of the nicest things about the school holidays is that I get the chance to spend a decent amount of time with my parents.  Yesterday Mum and I blocked in a full day on the calendar to do whatever we felt like. There was a provional plan to do some sightseeing but this morphed into a shopping trip when it was clear that it was going to be wet.

I pottered up to Droitwich first thing and did a bit of food shopping - milk, butter, fruit and veg. This gave Mum chance to have the slow start she needs nowadays due to her Huntingtons. (If you are not familiar with this illness, I explained it in a post last November with the title 'My Mum')

Anyway, we went into Worcester with idea that we would do some gentle shopping for a couple of party outfits and stop for a nice lunch and a natter. Its Mum's 70th birthday in September and my parents Golden Wedding Anniversary a couple of weeks later. My parents are also off on a river cruise through Europe in a few weeks time. Plenty of chances to get dressed up!

Mum and I shop well together. We get ourselves in the disabled changing rooms and Mum wiggles out of her clothes. I then potter round the store collecting anything that might fit the brief. Mum has quite a round shape but she's also quite small. The Huntingtons has got a lot worse recently and its important to buy things that won't catch or rub.  Its also quite hard to find clothes that will hang right and look glamorous on a body that moves all the time. A certain high street chain store let us down completely yesterday. However we struck gold in a shop that we'd never been into before. It was lovely to find some dresses inslightly different styles, colours and shapes, that look great on and will make Mum feel special.

When we got home Mum spread all her purchases out across the bed and Dad had to stand and admire the fashion show. He didnt mind that we'd raided his bank balance a little. He loves Mum to bits but its very tiring being the carer. When Mum has some time with me he gains a few hours where he doesn't have to worry.  He also hates clothes shopping!

Its after days like these that I wonder if I'm right in working full time. My Mum may only be 69 but her days of mobility are fixed. Things were lovely yesterday and Mum was determined to walk slowly round the town centre. She is going to need a wheel chair in the future and it will be harder to chat over lunch when her speech and eating reflexes degenerate.  The thing is - I'm not an only child. My younger sister lives down the road. She seems to have taken the decision to work part time but she doesn't seem to realise that Mum and Dad might appreciate some support.  I love my sister to bits.... but she does a very good impression of the ostrich that stuck its head in the sand!

No news on my poorly computer.  Jx

Tuesday, 28 May 2013


I had a great post planned for this week - with loads of photos from our recent walks. Sadlythis will have to wait for a couple of days. My laptop has decided to refuse to work. I think it may have a virus. In the week before the holiday it created a file with the date 2051. It then decided to modify this file in 2081!!  Now either its too busy time travelling to do useful things like blogging.... or it's very poorly!
I'll be keeping in touch with your posts via the little tablet computer that we got with my phone earlier in the year.
Hopefully the wonderful man who keeps Mum and Dad's computer going will be able to work similar miracles with mine. Stand by for a blizzard of posts once all this is sorted!
Have a good week. Jx

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

My Walk to Meeting..

While the rest of my family are 'cornerstones' of the local Church of England, my prefered venue on a Sunday morning is the Quaker Meeting House in town.  It's about 3 miles from my house but - with a little careful planning and some decent weather - I normally walk one way or the other.  (Mark either drops me off or collects me.)

The weather was wonderful here on Sunday morning so I decided to take my camera with me. 
I set off at about 9.30...

The first view is across open fields.  On a clear day you can see the Malvern Hills from this point.  On Sunday it was really hazy.

I walk next to the main road almost all the way - but sometimes it can be quite quiet for a few moments..

Shortly after I come to the edge of the Golf Course.  During WW2 this was a small airfield.  I think the fencing could date from that period...

Next there's the allotments.  People were already working hard on some of the plots...

Shortly after the walk starts to go through a more built up area.  This is where my sister lives (in the houses on the left).  Her house is just over 100 years old and they are only the second family to live in it.  They bought the house about 10 years ago from the daughter of the original builder!

I've always loved the detailed tiling in this bay window.  It's the only one in the terrace with this feature..

Then I walk past the entrance to Gheluvelt Park (named after a WW1 Battle that the Worcestershire Regiment were involved in and created as a memorial).

There are some large early 19th Century houses in the next stage of my walk.  Most of them have been converted into offices - but there are plenty of hints of their former glory..

Shortly after this I start to walk past small shops and the Grammar School..

When the suns shining, I can't resist peaking through doorways to take pictures of the blossom.
This is the entrance to some 19th Century Almshouses...

After the almshouses I turn down a side road and into an area known as 'The Aboretum'.  My sister used to live down this road when she first moved to Worcester.

This is the side of the Library, looking back up to the main road.  I love the way Worecster's red brick buildings glow in the sun..

...And here's the garden of the Meeting House - a tranquil little corner tucked away in the city...

..And finally my destination - the door to the meeting.

I hope that you enjoyed this little insight into my weekends.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Fabulous Free Functions....

I love the way digital photography and the internet make such fantastic partners.  Recently I have become a complete 'PicMonkey' addict.  I find it incredible how much I can do with the free on-line functions.   I've had hours of harmless fun creating retro-style posters with the 'Posterise' effect!  Here's the process that I used to create my latest header...
I started with a view of a stile, taken on a walk above Crickhowell (in the Brecon Beacons) last April.
This is the 'Posterised' version - plus text...
I then started to add other effects - to give a rather more vintage feel.
This version ended up looking suitably sepia, but way too over-exposed..

And this is the finished item - hopefully looking just like the front cover
of a Bartholomew Map from the 1920s or 30s..

I can confirm that cars 'posterise' nicely - but people end up looking a little demonic!
For some-one who used to spend a ridiculous amount of money on one hour development of 24 exposure films, I can't help delighting in all this wondeful FREE stuff!
Also -all my lovely Year 11s left today - Sob!!!
This is my 24th summer of saying goodbye and I still can't prevent a bit of a cry for the ones that went the extra mile and made me proud.
What a softie!!!!

Monday, 13 May 2013

Charity Events and Other Things...

In January 1995 my Mum was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Within a couple of weeks of her diagnosis it was general knowledge that Linda McCartney also had breast cancer.  While Linda fought and lost her battle her battle in the public eye, my Mum quietly fought her battles and won.  She had surgery, more sugery, treatments and monitoring - and eventually gained the 'all clear'.
Despite her current 'trails and tribulations' with Huntington's Disease, we've always remembered the great support that she had from the NHS in Manchester and the local cancer charities during that difficult period.  Each year there's a major car event at Prescott Hill Climb to raise money for cancer charities in the West Midlands.  We've been regular attenders since the event started.
This year Mark took the silver Marcos up the hill a couple of times. 
Mum was so proud to be the first passenger on the hill with Mark yesterday morning....
Dad brought along his own 'sporty' red Nissan.  Here he is - lining up the cars with space for a picnic.  Unfortunately the weather turned really wet over lunchtime and it wasn't the sunny, leisurely event we've enjoyed on some previous occasions.
The event is very popular with the Marcos Club.  Here's Mark's car, lined up with some of her Marcos 'friends' in the paddock.

The event draws all sorts of cars out of their owner's garages.  I love the vintage style of these big old cars and the way that their drivers frequently 'dress the part' with tweeds, caps and headscarves.
Mark enjoyed the day a great deal.  He loves testing his cars on this track.  Sadly he had to come home and pack again last night.  He's working in Prague for three days this week. 
Thomas and I are 'home alone' again...  The 'plus' side of this is that I get the chance to select what we watch on TV and I can 'make like a star fish' in bed....!  The 'down' side is that it's really quite wierd being here on my own.  I'm not great at being a 'single cat parent'!

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Into the 'Silly Season'...

Things have been 'challenging' recently.  In the last 24 hours alone my sister has declared a full 'Post Viral Chronic Fatigue' relapse AND my classroom has been broken into at work.  Nothing that can't be handled really.. but the relaxing Bank Holiday weekend seems a bit of a distant memory!
We spent the weekend at Donnington Park race circuit.  I found this lovely Bed and Breakfast in Kegworth - maybe 10 minutes drive from the circuit.
The lovely owners put us in the ground floor room.  Mark was in heaven... he could lie in bed with teddy bear and car (AND wife!!!) at reasonable reach!
It was a great chance to catch up with some of our Marcos owning friends...

..AND we got the chance to play on the circuit during the lunch break.  This is my view from the passenger seat at about 100 mph.  Apparently Race Control were 'amused' by the exploits of the silver Marcos on the club laps...

This is a race-prepared Marcos doing qualifying laps on the Sunday morning.  It was lovely to see a 50 year old race car being driven so well.

Another of our Marcos acquaintances was helping his nephew in the Classic GP2 races.  His nephew is driving the yellow car and went on to win this race convincingly.

Each afternoon there was a fly past by a Lancaster bomber, accompanied by a Spitfire and a Hurricane.  There something really special about seeing the old vehicles on the track and these beautiful vintage planes in the air at the same time.

On Monday we managed to be a bit more chilled - and even had lunch out in the garden.  I love eating a salad and cold meat lunch under the umbrella on the decking.  Sadly the weather doesn't look so great for next weekend...