, , , , ,

This is another diary post.  Before I write anymore accounts of days out and holidays I really ought to tell you about a few things that have been happening lately.

The saddest event of all is that my mother-in-law died on Thursday 13th August.  She had been in very poor health for some time and had had to move into a nursing home a few months ago.  This made her unhappy but she knew that she was incapable of living on her own any more and was doing her best to come to terms with the changes this entailed.  My brother-in-law had visited her during the afternoon of the day she died and hadn’t been home long when he got a call from the nursing home telling him she had collapsed and the ambulance had been called for.  He telephoned us and said he had been told that there wasn’t much hope that she would survive and we were to prepare for the worst.  He phoned us again a few minutes later to say she had died.

IMG_2433Marsh Mallow (640x427)

Marsh Mallow (Althaea officinalis)

The strange thing was that we were only an hour or so away from Manchester (where my husband’s family live) when Chris phoned us.  Thursday 13th August was the day we travelled to the Peak District with our caravan to spend a week there on holiday and with the hope of visiting Mum-in-law.  We had set up the caravan where we usually stay in Leek, Staffordshire and put up the awning on the side of the van already.  We had then driven to Sheffield (about an hour’s journey) to take Elinor to stay with Alice for the week.  Alice had given us a cup of tea and we had left the girls there together and were driving back to Leek.  We had almost got to Buxton when Chris’s call came through.

IMG_2439Allium with bees (640x427)

Alpine Allium with bees

We went to Manchester the next morning.  The rain, which had started when we got to Sheffield the night before, was still coming down so the roads were very wet and some were flooded.  We went to Chris’s house and spent some time talking to him and his partner Annie and then went out to have some lunch together in a pub.  During the afternoon we went to Joyce’s (Mum-in-law’s) nursing home and sorted out all her belongings, taking some away with us but donating all of her clothes and a lot of her equipment and wheel-chair to the nursing home.  They were pleased to accept all we could give them as there are many old people in homes who have no relations to get them clothes and other necessaries.

IMG_2450Peacock on mint (640x427)

Peacock butterfly (Inachis io) on Water Mint flowers (Mentha aquatica)

The Coroner couldn’t establish a cause of death despite a post mortem and there have been a number of tests done and an inquest has been held.  All extremely painful for my husband and his brother.  Eventually the date for the funeral was set and it duly took place yesterday 2nd September.  There was a large turn-out of family and friends and all went smoothly and we hope Joyce would have approved.  Richard had the difficult task of writing the eulogy which he delivered with dignity.  The wake was in the upper rooms of a nearby pub and that was a success too.

IMG_5588Female Gatekeeper (640x480)

Female Gatekeeper butterfly (Pyronia tithonus) on Marjoram (Origanum majorana)

Our holiday was a weird one to say the least!  Richard’s 62nd birthday was on Sunday 16th August so we went to a church in Leek and said more prayers for Joyce and then went to a café for brunch.  There wasn’t much else we could do.  We met Alice and Elinor in Bakewell on Tuesday 18th August and told them the sad news.

This was one of Joyce’s favourite pieces of music.

A lot of our time has been spent (as usual) in keeping appointments with doctors, with physiotherapists and at hospital.  Not a week goes by, it seems, without one or other of us having to go to see some specialist or another!  Elinor went to her yearly appointment with the physiotherapist and was told she needed to do more calf-stretching exercises.  I’m not sure that she has done anything about it yet!  Richard went to the hospital for yet another MRI brain scan but won’t hear the results until he sees the specialist in a few weeks.  He also went to the eye clinic and all seems okay.  I took my Mum to her eye clinic again last week and she had to return there on Tuesday for another eye injection.  I went to the Rheumatology clinic for a check-up and it seems I am in a medically-induced remission.  My blood tests show excellent results and I have lost all the fluid on my finger joints.  The nurse suggested I give up one of my drugs for a month to see if it made any difference to the problem I have in my throat.  It hasn’t made any difference at all, so I’m back on the drug and my GP at my local surgery has asked the Ear, Nose and Throat clinic to give me an appointment so they can investigate further.

IMG_2410Swallows and Martins on cable (2) (640x427)

Swallows (Hirundo rustica) and House Martins (Delichon urbica) on electric power cable

Alice works part-time in the University library in Sheffield and some months ago went to a number of internal job interviews.  She desperately needs a full-time job, preferably one in which she can use her librarianship skills instead of filling shelves and moving crates of books about as she is doing at the moment.  She was disappointed to hear that though she had been offered a job one grade higher than the one she was doing, it was still a part-time job and as the hours were fewer she would be earning less money.  After a lot of thought she decided to accept the job and after some discussion with her supervisor she has been given a few more hours and is earning slightly more money than in her last position.  She moved house at the weekend and she is now sharing with a few other people (one of them a friend of hers) and will be paying less rent.  This will be a Good Thing!  She has finished the corrections and amendments to her PhD and has handed it back in to have it read through again.  When that’s done she will have to get it printed – not just one copy but several – which will be yet another expense for her.  We will then hear when she will receive her Doctorate which we all hope to attend if possible.  She had her 30th birthday on the 24th July and her friends got together and arranged a Haunted Sheffield Tour for her to go on which she found great fun.

IMG_2415Southern Hawker (640x427)

Southern Hawker dragonfly (Aeshna cyanea)

IMG_2421Southern Hawker (640x427)

Southern Hawker dragonfly

Elinor wasn’t able to go into college to collect her GCSE results as we were still away in the Peak District so she got the results in the post.  She didn’t do as well as she had hoped but she passed three out of the four exams she took.  She got a D in Maths so she will have to re-take that exam next year.  She got an A in Psychology but only Cs in English and Art.  We are pleased that she managed to do as well as this because she missed two whole years of school and at one stage we didn’t think she’d ever be able to get any qualifications at all.  The college have found that the grades the students got this year were generally much lower than expected.  I don’t know if this is the fault of the college or if the marking was stricter than usual.   She went into college last Wednesday for her enrolment and was disappointed to find she can’t take the Graphic Art course she wanted to do because of her failed Maths exam.  She will do a years Art and Design course and re-take her Maths and then she will decide what she does next.  The Graphic Design tutors say that they will assess her work after six weeks this term with a view to moving her onto the Graphic Design course if she is doing very well.

IMG_2425Young Moorhen (640x427)

Young Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)

Richard has now retired.  His final week at work was last week and he had a good send-off from his colleagues.  He will be giving back his fleet car tomorrow and has ordered a new car of his own which will be delivered in just over a week’s time.  He hasn’t had time to appreciate the fact of his retirement yet.  He still has a number of things to sort out with his brother with regard to his mother.  Once that has been done he will relax a little and then begin to feel retired.

I spent a lovely day in Norwich with my dear friend Wendy.  We met at school 45 years ago!  Her husband was working in this area for a few days so she joined him and took the opportunity to visit former neighbours of theirs and to see me.  Fortunately the weather was fine and we were able to find somewhere to sit outside and have coffee and a long chat.

007Restaurant (640x480)

A photo of the Assembly Rooms where we sat outside and had coffee. This photo was taken last December – the garden was much brighter and greener when we were there a few weeks ago!

We then went to have a look at the Roman Catholic Cathedral which is an enormous building and has many fine features.  I’ll probably make a post about it sometime soon.  We walked from there to the Plantation Garden.  We had a lovely lunch together and I then walked back with her to her hotel.  In thinking about this special day I am amazed to realise that I cannot remember the last time I spent a day out with her or in fact with any friend.  I very, very occasionally meet someone for coffee or lunch or I visit Wendy’s house in company with my family but a whole day away from home with a friend enjoying myself…. no, I can’t recall anything since I was in my early twenties!

IMG_2442Gipsywort and sedge (2) (508x640)

Gipsywort (Lycopus europaeus)

I always look forward to having my piano tuned each year.  Kimble Reynolds is a very skillful man who not only tunes pianos but can also build, restore and repair them.  He has a piano gallery in Blundeston in Suffolk and has recently invented a way of teaching people how to read music which doesn’t entail having to learn the names of the notes.  His invention is called Noterettes.  He is a lovely man and I enjoy talking to him and we spend most of his visit laughing together.

IMG_2440Fly on Marjoram (2) (640x462)

Fly ( possibly Tachina fera) on Marjoram

IMG_2444Yarrow and bug or beetle (640x427)

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) with unknown bug

IMG_2445Ragwort with Hoverfly Sphaerophoria scripta (640x427)

Common Ragwort (Senecio jacobaea) with Hoverfly (Sphaerophoria scripta) and another unknown insect

IMG_2446Ragwort with hoverfly Helophilus (2) (640x483)

Common Ragwort with Hoverfly (Helophilus pendulus) also known as the Footballer Hoverfly because of the striped thorax which looks like a football jersey

IMG_2428Hoverfly (640x427)

I cannot identify this Hoverfly

With all the upheaval of Joyce’s death and Richard’s retirement, we haven’t had time for much gardening or walking locally.  We managed to visit Dunwich beach for an hour on Saturday.  We bought some chips from the fish and chip restaurant in the beach car-park and then walked on the beach.  The weather was quite over-cast and there was a very strong wind blowing but it was good to be away from the house for a while.

IMG_5591Snails in Sea Kale leaf (640x480)

Sea Kale leaf (Crambe maritima) with sheltering snails

IMG_5592Sea Kale gone to seed (640x474)

Sea Kale with seed heads

IMG_5593Dunwich beach (640x480)

Dunwich beach

IMG_5594Dunwich beach (640x480)

Dunwich beach

IMG_5595Yellow Horned-poppy (480x640)

Yellow Horned-poppy (Glaucium flavum)

IMG_5596Yellow Horned-poppy (640x480)

Yellow Horned-poppy

IMG_5600Evening Primrose plants (480x640)

Common Evening Primroses (Oenothera biennis)  Introduced and naturalised, these plants like to live on waste ground on poor soil; they only open on dull days or in the evening.  I see them on railway sidings quite often.  These particular plants have spread along the base of the crumbling cliff.

IMG_5603Common Mallow (640x480)

Common Mallow (Malva sylvestris) This plant was on the path from the car-park to the beach but at this time of year Mallows are seen everywhere in East Anglia. The round fruits that you can see just right of centre are called ‘cheeses’ and contain many nutlets.

IMG_5604Sunset (640x480)

Out of focus photograph of the sunset that evening during a rain shower.

Thanks for visiting!