Monday, 9 August 2021

An Eventful Few Weeks

 Firstly, the Assessment Day, regarding my cataract surgery, didn't exactly go as planned and I was so glad that I hadn't gone on my own.  I knew that I wouldn't be able to drive after the appointment because of having drops in my eyes which would affect my vision.  So  a good friend collected me and Benji (the Dog Who Can't Be Left Alone!) and drove us to the hospital in plenty of time for my appointment - despite the l o n g delay because of repairs to the Tamar Bridge only allowing one lane of traffic to cross at a time.

So - I had a further eye check and the promised drops inserted (3 lots!) then I was sent in to see the consultant. He asked me what I was expecting from the cataract removal and I replied that I had heard so many reports about the wonderful outcome when vision is restored.   He then warned me that the results might not be as good as expected because the Macular Degeneration would probably have a negative effect.   

Wait!  What??? Macular Degeneration????  

"Oh! You didn't know you had that?" he asked.  No, I didn't know.  No-one had told me that.  He couldn't apologise enough and said he assumed I knew because it was on my referral form from the optician.  

I confess I was in shock from then on and I have no idea how the conversation went on.  I do remember him asking if I had any questions and I replied, "Yes - lots, but mainly how does this progress and at what pace?"  I don't think he was able to give me a straight answer or an accurate one.  I did a heck of a lot of internet trawling that evening.  It isn't good news, that's for sure, but I have had time to process things and I've been referred to The Macular Society - lots of information and tips from their online presence and the possibility of an MD group in the nearby town. 

So I can still go ahead with having the first cataract removed and see what effect that has on my vision before deciding whether or not it's worth having the 2nd one removed.  At present, my vision is blurred, like looking through badly scratched glass, so I reckon that should improve with new, clear lenses.  The effect of the Macular Degeneration is to remove my central vision - there's a black blob in the centre - but I instinctively move my head from side to side to use the peripheral vision.  This is more effective when looking into the distance, but not so good with close work. I cope with reading by using my Kindle with enlarged font; on my laptop I zoom in on the font enough to make it readable; applying  lipstick accurately is well nigh impossible!!! And it's so frustrating to find that my online banking would be so much easier if they used BLACK font instead of their pretty faint blue! 

It took me a week or so to come to terms with that diagnosis, then I heard of the terrible fires raging across Turkey - where one of my sons is living. There was very little information on the news, what with Covid and the Olympics, so I looked online . . . . Oh my word!  I found videos of the fires around my son's village and the lack of firefighters or Government help; their water and electricity was cut off, internet and phone lines were down; my emails to him were met with silence.

I was constantly checking online BUT I won't dwell on that.  Suffice to say that eventually I had an email from my son, then another a couple of days later and finally, yesterday a phone call.  The relief to hear his voice. It appears that the temperature has dropped and the fires are either out or under control now, so they can relax a bit more.  They have been sleeping in shifts while they were on fire alert, and ready to be evacuated at very short notice; things have been scaled down a little now and all are praying that the winds will drop and won't change direction.  Greece is suffering badly now, so I hope things will improve there too. So many homes have been destroyed, land burned, vineyards, animals lost and people's livelihoods gone. 

I am so very grateful to know that my son and his partner are safe and that they still have their home.  


Friday, 23 July 2021

In the garden

After several days spent with curtains closed whilst flopped out in front of the rotating fan in my living room, it was slightly cooler today with a light breeze.  So as rain is forecast over the weekend, I decided that today was the day for mowing the lawns . . . . erm . . . meadows complete with leggy wildflowers. 

Of course, as soon as I had dragged the lawnmower from the depths of the garage, the sun came out again and the heatwave resumed. But I battled on, cut half the front lawn, emptied the grass box 3 times before sitting in the shade in an old camping chair stored in the garage. Phew! I was debating whether to phone a gardener to come and finish the job and trim the ever-expanding border shrubs; the postman will soon need a machete to reach the front door.  But after cooling down and regaining my breath, I finished the job - just the front lawn - and cleared up before retiring the lawnmower and garden waste bin back into the garage. Back lawn tomorrow?  Maybe? But it's so good to keep virtuously admiring my tidy, shorn lawn through the front window, knowing I've beaten the rain. Ha! 

AND  I've actually spoken to someone - a lady who walked past as I was toiling.  I must try to have more conversation; Benji isn't the best at it. 

I bought 2 Standars Fuchsias, but they are so top heavy that the slightest breeze kept blowing them over, so they are now standing in a redundant plastic storage chest, until they finish flowering and can be re-potted into large,heavy pots for next year. (Along with the Honeysuckle, Clematis Montana and the Salix Caprea Pendula Kilmarnock Willow Patio Tree.)  Crikey!  It's name is longer than the little tree!

Pretty Geraniums - many varieties

I love this shrub / tree? It appeared last year in entirely the wrong place but I decided to leave it until I knew what it was.  Still don't know but it's growing and growing. Goodness knows how big it will get. I cut a few sprays in home but the flowers fell quite quickly, so best left growing in future,I think.

Here it is again at the side of an Acer, planted in ericaceous compost - maybe the white shrub likes that soil?

I got quite excited when I saw this 'Garden Services' van pull up next door, because my neighbour had told me she was intending to have the ugly, dark conifer removed.  Yay!  But no - she changed her mind. 😞 It's still there.

And finally - a tidy lawn. Ta-da!

Tuesday, 20 July 2021

Blood test results; meeting a friend and enjoying a Grand Day Out.

 Well, I'm thrilled to bits!  I just rang the surgery and asked for the results of last week's blood tests - and everything except thyroid is very good; thyroid medication needs adjusting, that's all.  I am particularly pleased (over the moon in fact) with the HbA1c (blood sugar level) reading of '53 - good control' as I only control the diabetes by diet, not medication. I was dreading this reading as I have had no diabetic check-ups for 2 years.  And b r e a t h e.

I started my renewed lifestyle with a vengeance last Friday, meeting with a friend who was down in Cornwall  - we had wished for a dry day, after many rainy ones, but hadn't reckoned on the beginning of a heatwave.  She was staying in Paignton, Devon, so travelled to Cornwall by train; we had just over 5 hours together before she needed to catch her train back to her B&B.  I thought long and hard where to take her, wanting to show her the very best of my beloved county within reasonable distance of the railway station. I decided on Rame Head, which has spectacular views along the coast road which ultimately leads to the Coastguard Lookout.  

On Thursday afternoon, I arranged with Ben, the owner of the Cliff Top Cafe, for a takeaway lunch as I knew we'd stand no chance of finding a seat or table at this time of year; we collected that on our way through to the Rame Head parking area - only a dozen or so cars there, no caravans or motorhomes because the final part of the road is too narrow for big vehicles. In the car, I had two comfy folding chairs, a small table, a coolbox and as usual, my little camping stove, kettle, crockery, cutlery - and lots of water for Pat and myself as well as Benji. of course. 

We set up the chairs, put a bowl of chilled water down for Benji in the shade of the car and settled down to our picnic.  Prawns in Rose Marie sauce baguette for Pat, chicken, avocado and lettuce wrap for me, plus a chilled J2O Spritz each from the cool box.  A Galia melon was duly sliced up to make a refreshing dessert I can't remember the last picnic I had - it was lovely  and I must do it more often!  

After clearing away and re-packing the car we set out for a stroll along the coastal path; the wildflowers were a picture . . . but here I need to make a confession.  I had forgotten my camera so these photos are from a previous visit in May 2018, just to show how beautiful the wildflowers are that flourish on these exposed clifftops. 

Just to emphasise that these flowers appear in the Spring, not mid-July!

All other photographs were taken by Pat during our lovely day out.

Pat climbed up to St. Michael's chapel to enjoy the views from the top.  I watched from below!

There had to be one of Benji - it took several shots before Pat managed to get this one without him turning his head away!

Slicing the melon.

Walking up the slope from the Cliff Top Cafe, with St.Michael's church on Rame Head in the background.

I thoroughly enjoyed my day in Pat's company - I couldn't have wished for a better start to my resolution of getting out and about again, rather than Staying At Home as Boris demanded. I see from today's news that he's not so keen on doing that himself. 

We made it back to the station in good time for Pat to catch her train and I think we'd both had enough sun for one day. It was good to return home and switch the big fan on.  Benji fell fast asleep. stretched out on the floor and enjoying the cool air wafting over him.

Wednesday, 14 July 2021

The aftermath of enforced lockdown.

 Been nowhere; done nothing, therefore nothing to write about and the only photos show how well the weeds have grown in my garden. .  But all this time of obeying the Prime Minister's orders to 'Stay At Home' and 'Keep Your Distance' hasn't done me much good at all.  Yes, I might have avoided catching the dreaded Covid bug, but the rest of me seems to be falling to pieces.

Attempts to take Benji 'walkies' along the local lanes ended in failure when too many people wanted to stop and chat or fuss the cute little dog, while I worried about how close they were.  So I bundled him into the car and headed a little further afield.   Foiled again because every beach, every (formerly) secluded, quiet beauty spot was bursting with crowds of people.  So many, like thousands of holidaymakers have flooded into this little county, hoping to find the sun (ha !) which travel restrictions have denied them this year.  To make matters even worse, many have travelled down to Cornwall in their hastily bought Motorhomes or Caravans, then found that our very narrow and twisting lanes are almost impossible to negotiate in anything larger than a Mini. 

So my car has been parked on the drive out of harm's way and our world has been restricted to the house and garden.   Actually, lockdown hasn't been too bad for me; I like my own space and it's been a different kind of freedom, knowing that no-one would be calling unexpectedly and if I fancy lounging around in my dressing gown all day, then I can. My groceries came by weekly deliveries and I succumbed to online shopping.

 I could have sunbathed in my birthday suit, knowing I wouldn't have to answer the door to anyone.  (I didn't because I have neighbours!)  And I don't want to frighten the birds. So - although it has been quite frustrating, living in Cornwall yet not being able to even see the sea, it has been quite relaxing, enjoying the sunny days (there have been a few), the wonderful birdsong, seeming louder this year through the lack of traffic and as long as I kept the birdbath topped up I was free to sit and read in the garden with just a bit of weeding, dead-heading and occasional mowing of the 2 lawns. Not a lot of watering to be done - we've had plenty of rain, thanks very much, in gentle drizzle, torrential downpours and epic floods

But like I said, it's not been good for my health.  My FitBit has been redundant - it counts steps and there aren't many between the kitchen door, the garden chair and the bathroom.  All this time without any exercise - BAD! Muscles - GONE! Along with constant dull headaches (I never get headaches), dizzy spells and fatigue. The worry increased - have I caught Covid?  If it's not that, then what is wrong with me? So the tension mounts and the headaches increase in strength and numbers.

However, I sent off for some Covid Flow Test kits; used them, they're negative. The dizziness? I suspect my blood pressure medication could need changing or at least adjusting, so I've had blood tests (results next Monday. )  Fatigue?  I've realised that every time I eat bread, I can - and do - fall asleep in the chair, no matter what time of day.  Googled, as you do and searched online and found it's probably gluten intolerance.  Since switching to gluten-free foods, the sleepiness has almost stopped.  And because I've done something positive, the tension has eased, along with the headaches.  

The nurse 'tutted' when she realised I'd had no tests for almost 2 years, but in my defence I had assumed that with the Covid pandemic and the regular reminders not to put extra pressure on our doctors, it wouldn't be possible to ask for blood tests, etc.  But I was told that I should have arranged regular medication checks and blood tests. Ooops! 

So I now await the results and learn whether my diabetes, blood pressure and thyroid function is under control and hopefully that my forthcoming appointment for cataract removal can go ahead. There's light at the end of the tunnel at last.

Friday, 11 June 2021

A catch-up with visiting family - and not a lot of photos!

In the week before the Bank Holiday, pre-invasion of the caravans and motorhomes, I drove down to Daymer Bay to meet with my niece, Carole and her husband, Pete. As I travelled along our typical Cornish lanes, I fleetingly wondered how the drivers of those homes on wheels would cope with negotiating roads that were little wider than their holiday homes.

Well, this week I found out, because for several miles I was forced to follow a very shiny, very new motorhome. I never got out of 3rd gear and often had to revert to 2nd gear or 'stop'. Each time a car came in the opposite direction, he stopped!  Nothing could get past  his vehicle, not even a bicycle. At one such stop and an impasse where nobody moved, we were only able to continue when the approaching car had to reverse a considerable distance before the MH driver dared to edge past without having to touch the Spring growth of grass and wildflowers on either side. It took me 70 minutes to complete a journey that usually took half an hour.
And so to return to my Daymer Bay excursion - light traffic on the roads, no hold-ups on the lanes, even on the single track road leading down to the Bay; just 2 separate cars coming in the opposite direction, easily avoided by squeezing right in to the hedge and pulling my wing mirror in. 
And look at the beach - on a very sunny, warm day it wasn't exactly crowded!!!

At that point my camera told me that the memory card was full! So no more photos, but it was a really nice afternoon spent with my family; we had Cornish Pasties for lunch (of course!) and several brews of tea and a long, long catch-up. then the wander along the beach which Benji and Rosie (Carole's elderly Staffy) thoroughly enjoyed, having all that space to run around. 
On the way home I decided to stop at Colliford Reservoir in the car park at the side of the Dam.  However, a new height barrier had been erected since my last visit and although I slowly crept underneath it (as you do) it ripped the top of my aerial off! Gutted! To make matters worse, I was unable to take Benji for a walk along the Dam and along the opposite shore because, also new since my last visit, there was a big notice on the gate saying, 'No Dogs allowed in this area'.
So I sat in my car, deleted a few old photos and was able to get a few shots of the Reservoir and an errant ewe and lamb who had escaped from a nearby field to sample the more interesting herbs and foliage at the side of the car park.

And so to home, dinner for Benji and a restorative glass of wine for me while my dinner cooked!


Friday, 21 May 2021




I just craved a few hours in quiet, peaceful,  beautiful surroundings - and found it here. Birdsong, a babbling brook and no-one else in sight. Bliss!

At the side of the ford stood the ruins of an old packbridge and a stone footpath: Benji and I used the footpath but I wouldn't chance my pony and cart on the old bridge! Maybe needs a bit of attention?

What a great playground for children.

The stream is a tributary of the River Inny.

Be there Hobbits about?

After our wander along the stream it was time for a drink and then to relax with my Kindle while Benji had his afternoon nap.

But then - a car pulled up, right at the side of me. Within minutes, several more cars parked on both sides and people jumped out, greeting each other, sharing hugs; children running around and it was PARTY TIME! 

"Who? What? Where? . . . . "

Edward Bear, my camping companion, looked on as boxes and trays of food were ferried between cars and it suddenly became clear that I was right in the middle of a wedding reception. 
The first car contained the bride and groom, in all their wedding finery and their family had joined them in this beautiful spot to comply with the Covid restrictions on numbers of people allowed to gather indoors. Brilliant idea - just a pity that I had chosen that same spot on that particular day.
Have you ever tried to remove yourself from such a situation whilst trying to be invisible? 
I withdrew as gracefully as I could, face burning, drove through the ford and parked a few hundred yards further along, behind a huge old oak tree.
I couldn't help thinking that the old tree would have made a splendid background for the wedding photos - but I kept that thought to myself.

Sunday, 16 May 2021

Five, NO! SIX years of Rosie's Ramblings (with a few gaps!)

How things change in 6 years: in that first post I told how I'd met up with Elizabeth, a fellow Cornish blogger, and spent a lovely afternoon in her company at Pencarrow House. (She it was who persuaded me to start a blog of my own) We wandered around the estate and ended our walk with coffee and cake, chatting non-stop and putting the world to rights.  There were no masks; we weren't afraid of hugging and being too close to each other and we shared a car without fear of infection. 

Most of my ramblings centred around outings with my dog, Zac: coastal path walks; rambles over Bodmin Moor and Dartmoor; beach walks; camping holidays; cottage holidays; visits to pretty little villages with many opportunities for photographs - and lots of photos of my garden (whether you appreciated them or not!) That came to a sudden, devastating end in August 2016 with the saddest post I've ever written.  Without my lovely boy, walks just didn't appeal at all and the surgery I had that December, for a replacement knee, kept me housebound for a while, so my blog suffered. 

However, life goes on, doesn't it?  My leg healed and once I pulled myself together and realised I had to get active again, I thought it might be time to offer a home to a rescue dog. In mid-April 2017 I took on the long-term foster care of Benji, a Bichon Frise, supposedly 4/5 years old.  But when I received his microchip documents I saw that he was actually older than that.  He will be 11 years old on 1st August this year. Because he was very overweight, our first walks were slow and short; I was afraid he'd keel over if he walked too far so the challenge was to get him fitter and healthier.

Head or tail?

Gradually the length and speed of our walks increased and Benji was well and truly socialised - with people, other dogs, ponies, sheep and cattle. Rabbits, ducks, squirrels - not so much; he would prefer them on his dinner menu! He came camping with me - he enjoyed it but he had to be closely watched as, unlike Zac, he couldn't be trusted not to escape from the tent (just push the bottom of the zip and it would magically open).  It was easier when, for a holiday in Hayle, West Cornwall, I booked a caravan with a verandah where he was happy to keep a watchful eye on passers-by, with the patio doors open between lounge and verandah. The caravan was very close to the beach so we spent many happy hours on there; in fact I booked the same caravan for the following year. Not so brilliant though, as it rained non-stop from the day we arrived - we sat in the car for half an hour hoping that it would ease off, but it didn't - and on day 5 I gave up, packed everything, cleaned through the caravan, handed in the keys and came home, reasoning that I might as well sit in home watching the rain as in a caravan in a flooded park.
That turned out to be our last holiday, thanks to Covid: for the following year I booked a sweet little holiday home in North Petherwick on the north coast of Cornwall, for a week in early October, but as the time drew nearer, I worried so much about how thoroughly it might have been cleaned (like - how do you clean the soft furnishings, or all the crockery, kitchen tools, cutlery, etc?) that I cancelled it, too scared to risk it. 
The blog struggled on - and struggles still - through the restrictions of Covid: I have become a hermit, staying at home all the time, not going anywhere or doing anything apart from taking my car out at intervals to keep the battery charged and to ensure that the tyres don't go square through standing still. 
A short time ago, I came up with the idea of converting my Berlingo car into a mini-campervan, in anticipation of freedom from the Covid restrictions. 
I bought a single bed module which, when folded, fits neatly into the boot, leaving all 5 seats free for passengers but with the addition of bedding becomes the beginnings of a getaway vehicle for me and the BenjiDog.

** This is from the website of the manufacturer - my Berlingo is red. **

Now I wait with bated breath to see if we are to be allowed out, to travel, to go to campsites, to mix with other people - in other words, to have a social life again, so that all the 'gear' that is in my spare bedroom can be fitted into my 'would-be' mini campervan.
And ultimately the FREEDOM to go camping again and find fodder for my blog!

Oh and that overweight little dog is now looking better.