Deer Hunting: No Longer What It was

Long-term readers of this blog might remember that one of Ollie’s favourite activities was to chase Deer. Over the years, he has managed to chase the three main varieties found around Beetley; Roe, White-Tailed, and Muntjac.

Of course, he never managed to catch one, and rarely even got close. Their ability to jump outclassed him, often leaving him confounded by wire fences or wooden gates. Besides, I would have called him back if he had got too close, as I would never want him to hurt one.

Over the past year, my old dog has slowed down considerably. On some occasions when we have spotted deer as close as 60 feet away, he has not even bothered to run after them. But in the close confines of the woodland area on Beetley Meadows, there are numerous Muntjacs to be found. Often not much larger than Ollie, they tend to run short distances, then go to ground in Brambles or Holly. The sharp spikes don’t seem to bother them, but Ollie knows better than to hurt himself by following them in.

We are just back from today’s walk, and in the woodland area, Ollie flushed out three of them. The two larger ones headed east, and a smaller one ran north, passing a few feet in front of us. Ollie watched them go, and made no attempt to chase any of them.

So, Deer hunting is no longer on the agenda for my old friend, it would seem.

He has realised his limitations.

The Old Codger’s Club

Quite a lot of the time, I am still quite lively. I manage to continue to walk at least five miles a day, more in better weather, and these days I am outpacing Ollie.

But there are many days when I am reminded that I am on the cusp of becoming a bona-fide old codger, and a member of the old codger’s club. Try to read anything without wearing my glasses, even fairly large print, and that will be one reminder. Spend an hour or so doing something mildly strenuous, like hacking down invasive brambles, and I am reminded once again when I feel as stiff as a board by bedtime.

This morning, I got a more serious reminder.

With Christmas approaching, Julie has taken a week off. We are having the carpets cleaned on Thursday, so she was determined to give the house a thorough clean before the carpet men come tomorrow afternoon. Keen to do my part, I decided to clean the bathroom. It gets a cursory clean most days, but was in need of one of those ‘extra cleans’, when I resolve to tackle the limescale caused by the hard water.

Despite having a water softener installed a few years ago, that is only able to cope with around 60% of the limescale in the water. This area is known to have this problem, causing us to have to regularly replace kettles and taps.

Our bathroom is small, and rather old fashioned. We still have the cream corner bath unit installed by the previous owner, together with a cream coloured sink and toilet, and cream and claret tiles that all scream “1989!”

Until we can get around to saving up to replace everything in the currently favoured pure white, at the same time converting to a shower-only ‘wet room’ style, we are happy to tolerate it. There is a separate power shower above the bath which we replaced, and it works very well. But I prefer a bath to a shower.

Always have.

One of the drawbacks of the wide corner bath is that I am not able to reach the tiles on the far wall without actually getting into the bath to do so. And because the build up of limescale is mainly felt to the touch, rather than visible, it involves me creeping about feeling the ceramic bath and tiles like a complete weirdo!

None of the cleaning products that claim to to vanish away limescale have ever worked in this house. Long ago, I discovered the best thing was to use a conventional spray cleaner, and one of the ‘kinder’ type of scouring pads designed for non-stick pans. The flat green ones, sold in multipacks in any supermarket. They work just fine, and do not damage the fittings, or the tiles. So I set to it today, and after almost two hours, I was happy with my thorough job in that small room.

Then I noticed a bit I had missed, right at the far corner, where the bath meets the tiled wall. I shook my head wondering why life always delivers a bit you have missed, whatever job you are doing I stepped back into the bath, turned to start scrubbing, and bang!

My bare feet slipped away from me on the now smooth and shiny bottom of the bath. My elbow connected hard with the rim of the bath, both legs flew into the air, and the third toe on my right foot disappeared inside the hot tap. Then I got the ‘rebound injury’, as the back of my head rocked back against the thick side of the bath with an audible ‘clump’. It was noisy enough to bring Julie running into the room, worrying what had happened.

I had to be helped out of the small bath like a resident of an old people’s home.

My toe was very painful, and bleeding from a cut across the nail bed. The elbow was painful to touch, and my head felt ‘strange’. When I had my wits about me, Julie washed the small injury on my toe with salty water, and I sat quietly for a moment before going back into the bathroom to actually have a bath and shave before taking Ollie for his walk.

Feel free to laugh. I suppose it was quite funny if you had seen it happen.

Short Thoughts (60)

Her feet were always swollen now.

The shoes unsuitable for the weather.

But the only pair she owned that she could get on.

No money for new ones, after paying for her shopping.

The smooth soles couldn’t cope with the ice.

Over she went, the ankle breaking with a crunching sound.

Short Thoughts (53)

So many tablets on the side table now.

Bottles, packets, strips out of boxes.

The print too small to read.

No longer any room for the cup and plate to rest.

Using a lap tray instead.

Was it four of the green ones and two of the white ones?

Or four of the white, and two of the green?

Best not take any.

Short Thoughts (52)

The slip-ons made sense.

Too hard to bend and tie laces now.

Elasticated sides made the trousers more comfortable too.

Feeling the cold more these days, but watching the cost of the heating.

A thick cardigan should do the job, no point wasting money.

There might be a nice one in the charity shop.

A good enough reason to go out for a walk.

Short Thoughts (50)

Should she ring the ambulance?

She didn’t like to bother them.

After all, they were busy, and had better things to do.

But the pain in her chest wasn’t going away.

She took two paracetemol and went to bed with a cup of hot milk.

That should settle it.

They found her body two weeks later.

The Healing Process

One of the most irritating things I have noticed about geting older, is how long minor wounds take to heal. It seems like only recently that I could cut myself, stick a plaster (Translation: Band Aid) on it, and the following day it was back to normal.

But then I retired. And soon after that, I got old.

In November, I wrote on this blog about receiving unseasonal mosquito/midge bites. I admit, I did scratch them. One in particular remained itchy for so long, I scratched it until it bled. Then that scabbed over, but stayed itchy. I left it alone, but to my amazement, the tiny ‘wound’ that I caused at the time has still not healed over completely on my scalp.

At the beginning of January, I was opening an envelope, and got a paper cut on my right index finger. Strange how painful such things can be. It is now the 11th of February, and that cut has not fully healed. If I am cooking using something like onions or garlic, that juice gets into the cut, and it’s an “Ouch” from me.

Three weeks ago, I was heating up something in the microwave, using a large glass bowl. (I think it was fresh mussells, but not sure) As I removed the bowl from the machine, the glass rim scalded my right forearm on the underside. I managed not to drop the bowl, but the three-inch long injury was very painful. Still, I was an EMT, so I knew what to do. Let the cold tap run slowly, and place my arm under it until the wound cooled down. Job done.

Three weeks later, I can still see the red mark. If I catch it, or touch it, it is still painful.

Getting old is not much fun, I can tell you.

Looking after Mum

After the post remembering my Mum’s birthday this week, I was interested to see something similar on the blog of American writer, Pete Springer. That reminded me of this post from 2013, which few of you have seen before. Anyone who has ever cared for an elderly relative might be able to identify with this.


When I was young, my Mum was always there. She worked hard, looking after the house, cooking and cleaning, and doing all the washing and ironing. In addition to this, she also had a full-time job, and looked in on her own parents, as well as her sisters and brother. She rarely told me off, always seemed pleased to see me, and gave me constant encouragement in my school work, reading, and the development of my imagination. If I was ill, she tended me, sitting up all night by my bed if need be. She worried constantly about my eating, to the extent of overfeeding me, and making sure I always had sweets, and any other treats I desired. Though not a spoilt child, I was certainly a well-nurtured one.

As I got older, she continued in kind. When I was on school holidays, she arranged for her mother to…

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Thinking Aloud on a Sunday


Thinking about this today, as I was getting dressed in some creased shorts, a tee-shirt, and a fleece top.

Hard to believe now, but there was a time when I was concerned about being ‘fashionable’. During my teenage years, in the 1960s, fashion was all. It changed from month to month, and god forbid you should appear in something ‘old-fashioned’, when you met up with your friends. Trends changed constantly. One week, high neck shirt collars called ‘giraffe collars’ would be all the rage. As soon as you could afford to buy at least one of those, it had changed to ‘pin-through’ collars, and your contemporaries would scorn you for turning up in a ‘high-neck’.

Then there were leather coats. The cost of one of those mid-length, or full-length overcoats might exceed a week’s salary for one of your parents. By the time you had cajoled one of them to help you buy one, it would undoubtedly be ‘last week’s news’, and you were almost ashamed to be seen in it. Having a Saturday job, and school holiday jobs didn’t help. Armed with the money from working at those, you rarely knew what to buy, to stay ‘on trend’. The ‘Mods’ had a lot to answer for, at least where I was brought up.

I recall a craze for ‘cycling’ tops, as worn by Tour De France riders like Eddy Merckx. By the time I saved up for one, which looked awful on me anyway, my friends were smiling at me turning up in something that was so ‘last month’. Then Parkas became the rage, driven by the people who wore them when riding scooters, like Lambrettas, or Vespas. By the time I had saved up enough to buy one, it was high summer, and I dutifully turned up in it, sweltering in the heavy coat during summer heat.

Suits then became all the rage. Italian mohair, two-tone Tonik, and three piece, including waistcoats. If you were a ‘Soul Boy’, they were de rigeur, and you wouldn’t dare show up to a club or party without one. That was my fashion heyday, helped by the fact that my Dad had various ‘contacts’, so could supply suit lengths of material, easily made up by tailors of his acquaintance. Between my own savings, and some parental contributions, I soon had a nice selection of up to five suits, in different colours or shades. Other ‘contacts’ provided the shoes. Only the best, from Church, or Loake, at a fraction of the retail price. Back then in London. everything seemed to ‘fall off the back of a lorry’, and the world was our oyster, at maybe 20% of the retail price.

Between the ages of 15-19, I finally struck fashion gold. I was ahead of the game, and even setting the trend. Suits were definitely my thing, and I could finally get better ones than almost anyone else I knew. I was happy at last. No longer trying to catch up, but easily out in front. By the time I was 25, and getting married, I had stopped worrying about it. As long as I had a reasonable wedding suit, and something to wear to a restaurant, or dinner party, I was happy enough. Life became concerned with bills and mortgages, and fashion took a back seat, at a relatively early age.

Here I am now, retired, and aged 66. Fashion could not be further from my mind. I don’t even own a suit any longer, though I should get one. After all, I have a lot of funerals to attend these days. My only concern now is comfort. Warm fleeces for the winter, and a selection of heavy coats. I am still wearing shirts and tops bought as long ago as 1989, and couldn’t care less. During the so-called ‘summer months’, I am in shorts from March to October, and don’t even need to wear socks. I no longer even know, nor care, what is considered to be ‘fashionable’, and I don’t even own a pair of denim jeans.

It is freedom, pure and simple. You will get there too. One day.