Late Musings On A Jaunuary Sunday

I am late to the blog today, as we went out early to deliver gifts to my step-children and grandchildren. Because we were both ill with Covid over Christmas, this served as a substitute ‘Christmas Day’ for all of us. While we were over there, a thunderstorm started, and we drove home in torrential rain. As soon as we got home, I had to take Ollie out for a much later than usual walk. We both got soaked!


The recovery from Covid continues. We are both testing negative, and Julie returned to work last week. As I mentioned earlier this week, the fatigue continues, and I am soon exhausted by trying to do anything physical. I appreciate this may take a long time, but at least I am able to sleep all night now.


Weather-wise, we have unusually warm weather for the time of year, punctuated by heavy showers, and occasional gale-force winds. It doesn’t feel much like January at all, to be honest.


I will do my best to catch up with everyone’s blogs next week.


I hope you all had a peaceful Sunday, whatever you are doing, and wherever you live.


Musings On The Eighth Day

On the 21st of December, I tested positive for Covid-19 and wrote off Christmas 2022 as a non-event. The next few days became a blur of constant coughing, hardly getting any sleep, and not being able to lie down and rest.


Between us, we tried our best to scrape up some Christmas spirit. Julie was able to watch her grandchildren opening presents on the 25th, but only via video-link on her phone. Ollie received his gifts with his usual infectious excitement, and that at least gave us both some smiles. There was no traditional dinner though. We settled for two days of eating a selection of Tapas items that involved little preparation, and no cooking.


For the first few days, Julie had to take Ollie for his walks, as I wasn’t capable. Deciding to get some fresh air, I started taking him out again, sliding around in the mud caused by the relentless rain that has accompanied this year’s festive season. Although I carefully avoided any other walkers, I didn’t have to try too hard, as there have been few people out in the dull weather.


Today is supposedly ‘back to normal’ in England, at least until the New Year holiday. Many people are back at work, and shops are open regular hours. Not that you would know that, here in Beetley. You could hear a pin drop in the street outside. No traffic has moved up or down the road, and nobody has walked past the house. I am the noisiest thing in Beetley this morning, as my persistent coughing punctures the silence.


I suppose I should say I have improved. On evidence, I have. As long as my head and shoulders are propped up, I have managed some sleep over the last few nights. A luxurious seven-and-a-half hours last night alone. I have finished my 7-day course of antibiotics, and I have stopped taking the cold and flu combination tablets. So, am I better? I certainly don’t feel much better. The muscles in my chest and lower abdomen are completely shot from constant coughing. Whatever remains of the C-19 virus in my body has left me with just about enough strength to get in and out of the bath, and that’s it. If I feel a coughing fit coming on, I have to brace myself for the pain that will follow. At least I am used to that by now.


It would be good to end on a positive note, so here it is.
I am not as bad as I was, nowhere near that bad.
I hope you all have a wonderful Wednesday, whatever you are doing.


Seasonal Greetings From Beetley

Whether or not you celebrate Christmas, I would like to wish every one of my blogging friends a Happy Christmas anyway. I hope that all of you can be around friends or family, or someone or something important to you at this time of year. I am not including a ‘Happy New Year’, as I hope to be back to regular blogging by the 31st.

I am aware that in some countries, Christmas Eve is the day for present giving and some feasting and celebration. So I am posting this a day early.

Sunday Musings 14 Days Before Christmas

The tree is decorated and shining its lights in the side window. The presents are all wrapped, and stacked around the base. Julie wrote some Christmas cards, and they are posted. With two weeks still to go, that’s pretty good, by our standards.


The weather is the main talking point this week in Beetley. With the wind coming from a northerly direction, it got cold very quickly. Very cold. Ice on the cars, on the ground, and in the freeezing fog. There is no mistaking we are in the grip of winter, especially with the chance of snow forecast for next week here.

Ollie finally succumbed to an ear infection, and began dropping his ear and shaking his head. Luckily, we still had some of the antibiotic gel left, and I squirted that into the affected ear. Fingers crossed we don’t have to visit the Vet before Christmas. But I never say never, not where poor Ollie’s ears are concerned.


Julie made two trips into Norwich this week. One to take her oldest son to dinner for his birthday and go around the shops with him, and the second to accompany one of her friends who wanted to get everything in one trip. She was worn out by both trips; walking around the city, and having to stand still in shops for ages as they chose things. Now she has a very painful back, and is using her heat pads for pain relief.


I hope you are having an enjoyable festive season so far, and that the stress of it all is not getting on top of you.


Sunday Musings At The End Of November

Another very quiet week. It’s that time of year. Colder weather, dark before 4pm. People are counting down the days until Christmas Day. I went to the restaurant to pay the deposit for our Christmas Dinner on the 25th. Like everything this year it has increased in price, but they always serve a very nice meal, with good portions.


Ollie was shaking his head a lot yesterday, and we feared he was going to get another ear infection just in time for Christmas. But he stopped after a while, and hasn’t done it since. Fingers crossed he just had something in his ear that he managed to dislodge.


Julie has finished buying the gifts for family and friends. I have also bought her gifts, and I am awaiting delivery of one that is supposed to arrive in December. With the postal workers striking on various days, parcels and mail are going to be delayed. But I support their cause, so will not be upset if things don’t arrive on time.


I tried reading a book in bed this week, but only managed two pages. I have not been able to complete a book for so long now, I don’t even remember the last one I read all the way through. Something happened to me during the pandemic period, and I just stopped being able to concentrate on books. I have tried on a few occasions during the last two years, with no success.


My Shingles vaccination is scheduled for tomorrow morning. Julie will be on reception duty at the doctor’s, so will probably be the one who books me in when I arrive.


Wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, I hope that you have a happy Sunday.


An Alphabet Of My Life: Y


I looked up this word to make sure I was using it correctly. I was.

a feeling of intense longing for something.
“he felt a yearning for the mountains”

I have definitely yearned for many things in my life. But nothing comes close to how much I discovered yearning when my mum got her Winter shopping catalogue from the Catalogue Lady who lived nearby. The catalogue was bigger than a telephone directory, and so heavy I could hardly lift it. It was like a Bible of consumerism, lavishly illustrated with photos, and containing everything a family might ever want to purchase.

The most popular companies in 1960 were Freemans and Littlewoods, both competing for an eager market of shoppers who wanted to have everything in the post war boom. And they could, because those companies offered credit with a simple and affordable system. Each item had a price next to it of course. If you could afford it, you could pay the catalogue agent outright when it was delivered. But there was also an easy payments system that went something like this.

Say you spent £50 on an assortment of items. (£50 was a lot of money then, my dad earned less than £20 a week at the time.) You could pay just £1 a week for those items, over a set period. That was usually 60 weeks, so ensured the company received £8 in interest. The Catalogue Lady would call at your house each week, take the £1 payment, and mark it off on your payment card. You could see the debt decreasing, and you were also able to order more items if you so wished, the card being altered accordingly.

Yes, this was something of a ‘Debt Trap’ for working people before the age of credit cards, and when bank loans were hard to get for anyone on a weekly wage. But working-class people no longer had to save up to buy something. From a new tea-set to a girdle, a vacuum cleaner to a pair of slippers, they could have what they wanted or needed, and it almost always cost just £1 a week.

The catalogues included toys, and the Winter edition included dozens of pages of toys, usually at the back of the catalogue. As soon as I was left alone with the catalogue, I immediately turned to that section, and began yearning for many of the toys shown in the photos.

It was real yearning, believe me.

Not allowed to mark the items on the page using a pen or pencil, I would turn down the corners of the pages I was interested in, then add scraps of paper sticking up from those pages with the stock number of the toy I liked best on that page. Then I left the catalogue for my mum to look through, and yearned.

Waiting for Christmas morning to open my presents and see if the intense research had worked.

Most years, it had.

Normality returns

From tomorrow, the 4th of January, life goes back to normal in Beetley. Other than some different days for bin collections, the local kids go back to school, people who still go out to work (including Julie) start work again, and all shop-opening hours return to pre-Christmas times.

One of the things about geting old, at least for me, is comfort in familiarity. I don’t embrace change as I once did, (if I ever did) and like to know my routine is not disrupted. Just like my beloved dog, Ollie, I am happy with what I know.

Because of the Christmas holidays, I had to write down the bin-collection revisions on my new 2022 Sharpei calendar. I always have a calendar on my desk, and write everything I need to remember in the large box provided for each day. When you are retired, so many days merge into a blur, so I also get a lot of comfort from my calendar.

(Tech wizards please note*, I am too old to rely on a mobile phone to tell me all this stuff.)

So from tomorrow, I will be able to ring the Vet to get Ollie sorted, and ring the car mechanics to get my car sorted. I will be able to make a booking for Julie’s birthday meal on the 14th, and every service normally used will be back to normal.

That makes me very relieved.

Since Christmas Eve, I have felt as if I was in limbo. Every day was the same, just different levels of housework or cooking required. Once Julie’s birthday is celebrated on the 14th, (I have already bought the card and presents) we can relax until my birthday in March.

I have eleven months until the Christmas madness starts all over again, and I will enjoy every one of them.

The Blame Game

Earlier this afternoon, I made the weekly trip to the huge Tesco on the edge of the local town. With all the leftovers to eat, I didn’t exactly have a long shopping list, but we needed a few everyday essentials. On top of those, we decided to have a ‘Tapas’ buffet on New Year’s Eve, so there was an extra list to see what I could get to add to that.

The shop was busy, something to be expected on its first full day of trading after the seasonal closures.

I headed to the aisle where you can get boring things you need, like bin-liners.
They were in stock.

In the same area is tinfoil. The shelves were bare. Well, not exactly bare as the usual long boxes of assorted sizes of tinfoil had been replaced by rows of ‘tinfoil containers’. Despite suspecting the answer in advance, I approached a young man who was removing empty cardboard from the shelf. I asked if there was any tinfoil in the stockroom. “We have these”, he said pointing out some takeaway-style tinfoil boxes with paper lids. I told him I couldn’t spread those on the inside of a roasting tin, or wrap up opened cheese in them. His reply was boringly predictable.

“Sorry, it’s Covid. Oh, and Christmas. We are short of drivers and are waiting on deliveries”.

I headed to the deli counter, to buy some fresh anchovies in oil, Spanish-style, to add to our Tapas buffet. There were none visible. I asked a man at the fish counter, his beard reminiscent of that sported by the famous W.G. Grace, and strangely contorted by his face mask. He looked perplexed, and went to get someone. He returned with a lady who looked very confident. “She’s the fish-buyer”, he told me, his beard moving like a furry glove puppet under the mask.

The lady knew her stuff.

“Anchovies? I can tell you we don’t have an anchovy left in the shop, not even in jars or tins, let alone fresh. Sorry, it’s the Covid, and Brexit. A shortage of drivers, and they are imported too of course. We haven’t had an anchovy in this shop since Christmas Eve, and no idea when they will be back in stock”.

I thanked her for her efforts.

Having decided to cook a Chinese stir fry at the weekend, I was pleased to find Pak Choi, Fresh Noodles in boxes, and a nice mix of Chinese vegetables, also fresh in a box. I added two duck breasts in plum sauce to my trolley, and the went in search of some Shiitake mushrooms. There were only white mushrooms on the shelf, so I asked a man who was loading spring onions into a section.

He didn’t actually laugh, but I could tell he wanted to.

“Shiitake mushrooms? Nah, none left. They are imported you know, and we have problems with drivers ’cause of Covid and Brexit. And it’s Christmas, don’t forget that. They get time off, like anyone else. Sorry”.

I smiled back at him, under my mask. I think he could tell I was smiling as I asked him who he was going to blame once there was no Covid, it wasn’t Christmas, and Brexit was ‘normal’. He shrugged as he replied.

“They will find something to blame it on, I’m sure”.

The Fat Lady Has Sung

As the old saying goes, “It’s not all over until the fat lady sings”.

Well, it’s the 28th of December, and I can hear her. It is finally all over for another year, despite today being a public holiday in England.

Yesterday was a very long day. Up early to get everything ready, then five adults and three children arrived for a buffet meal that lasted from two in the afternoon until nine at night. Piles of presents handed out, and some fun games played. Noise levels that could drown out an F-15 jet fighter from nearby Lakenheath Air Base, and just enough places for everyone to take a turn in sitting down.

Ollie was so stressed out by all the comings and goings, he got grumpy and started growling at people. That was a first for him. He must be becoming a party-pooper in his old age, despite receiving a gift of a stuffed snowman almost as big as him.

At the end of it all, it looked as if the house had been burgled. We were too tired to do anything except flop on the sofa in the sudden quiet, and then have an early night. That means that we have to face a mountain of washing up this morning, followed by storing away folding chairs, closing up the extended dining table into a more manageable size, then have a good look under all the furniture to find what was dropped during the evening.

There is enough leftover food to provide dinners for today and tomorrow. On Thursday, we have our last Christmas present arriving. The delivery of a traditional English High Tea, ordered by one of my step-daughters. The uneaten snacks, crips, nuts, and chocolate should see us through until March.

At least I don’t have to go out today, except to walk Ollie later. It has been raining heavily for over twelve hours now, and everything is damp and dismal.

Next up is New Year’s Eve. Just the two of us, and hopefully still awake at midnight.

Christmas Blogging

Only a few days to go before the three-day Christmas break, and some bloggers are already disappearing from their blogs to make trips to family or preparations to receive them.

This is always a quiet time of year in the blogging community, something to be expected.

With this in mind, I would like to take this opportunity to wish a happy and peaceful Christmas to anyone who will not be around for the next week or so.

And at this time of year, let us not forget those who will not be in the mood to celebrate the festivities. Those who have lost loved ones in 2021, or are living alone without family or close friends. Widows and widowers, orphans, those suffering from depression or debilitating medical disabilities, and the many who are ill from the symptoms of Covid-19.

As we eat too much, drink a little too much, and exchange gifts, we have to remember those who have nothing to look forward to, and keep them in our thoughts.