“Come Fly With Me…”

Wonder what he’s humming while he washes his hands… “Fly me to the moon..” “I believe I can fly…”

Now. I know flies are an irritation and a nuisance and not the most hygienic of creatures either – but they are, if you look at them, little marvels of Mother Nature’s engineering…

The true flies derive their name from the Greek, “Diptera” meaning “two winged” and have compound eyes, which roughly means that their vision of Life appears to them in mosaic form … fascinating… yet also despite having compound eyes, flies are actually short-sighted. I feel a certain kinship with them in that respect.

Our winged friends make themselves particularly noticed during the summer months. To try and deter their presence in her house, my mother bought one of those fly curtains which are basically coloured strips of plastic hanging from a rod you fix above your door frame thus hindering the access of flies and other unwelcome visitors.

I was only too happy to assist my mother with fitting it to her door frame, and then we stood back and admired it. I agreed she was indeed fortunate to find one in black and white which matched the colour scheme of her kitchen. Then, as we stood and watched, a fly flew in through the hanging strips of plastic with the absolute precision of a computer aided jet fighter pilot, made a swift circuit of the kitchen and exited again with deadly accuracy through the millimetres-wide gap in the hanging plastic strips of the fly deterrent curtain. I looked at my mother.

“*%$@!!”

On another occasion, my home was fly-free, or so I thought, and I was quite happily pottering about upstairs tidying when –

“zzzZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!!!!”

I was joined by a large and cheerful housefly. It buzzed in self-importantly:“Hi! And how are we today?” – smacked its head against the mirror, then commenced that infuriating desperate scramble up and down the window that they do…

I don’t like killing things mindlessly, so seizing my opportunity I opened the window and used the blinds to waft the fly outside to freedom … I resumed my cleaning…

“zzzZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!!!! Hi! And how are we today?”

The bloody thing had flown straight out of the window, gone downstairs and round to the back of the house, found the back door open and flown right on in again…

Despite my annoyance, I did find it quite funny and to be fair, these little creatures oft-maligned still have their place in the Universe as one of the tiny cogs that deal with the various aspects of decomposition. Mother Nature’s solid waste technicians if you will.

And they are the source of a joke that I originally heard as a child and still find (shamefully) funny now…

What do you call a fly with no wings?

A walk…

Hello…

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Good grief… it’s cold and dark in here!

Just give me a minute – I’ll get rid of this dust, put some lights on and get the kettle on.

I only meant to step out for a minute, but somehow, I got lost for a little while.

I’m back now, my dear friends, but please, help yourself to tea and biscuits and tell me all about what’s been going on in your lives.

xxx

Buddleia And Butterflies

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When I was a little girl, my grandparents had the most wonderful buddleia bush in their garden – a truly magical place for me to visit and explore , and populate with my imagination, aided of course by a feline friend.

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I can remember sitting beneath the buddleia’s silvery arching branches and looking up into the natural architecture of the tree, an intricate fretwork and interlacing of branches reaching upwards, an arboreal cathedral.

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The flowers! Sumptuous, heavy-headed spikes of tiny purple flowers, overflowing with intoxicating fragrance; the scent irresistibly drawing crowds of various butterflies and bees to feast like gluttonous courtiers at Henry VIII’s table.

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I remember my grandmother carefully deadheading and pruning this wonderful shrub, and my father – perhaps in a fit of envy, or perhaps to please me – visited every garden centre in the region to procure our very own buddleia.

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He even managed to get an orange buddleia (“Golden Knight”) which was quite rare in those days… even though the man down the road has one in his garden. Nowadays, everywhere you go you can see buddleia growing prolifically – apparently it’s quite invasive, it self-seeds on waste ground, hence its nickname of the “bombsite plant.”

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Not bad going really, for a bush whose origins lie in China. Of course, it’s a great source of nectar for all sorts of creatures – some have even evolved flowers designed specifically for a hummingbird.

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Buddleia is also known as the “butterfly bush” and it was originally named after an English botanist called the Reverend Adam Buddle.

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This year, I’ve tried my hand at a little gardening, and to be honest, I have both enjoyed it and found it therapeutic. I’ve even joined a Facebook group for gardeners… Throughout the post I have included some pictures of the visitors we’ve had – I hope I’ve managed to recreate a little of the magic in my own garden that I was lucky enough to experience at my grandparents.

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The Consultant And The “C” Word…

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Now. As regular readers know, I had an appointment at the Ear, Nose & Throat Department at our local hospital to see a consultant and determine whether there is any underlying reason for my persistent hoarse voice and sore throat.

I was already feeling a little… twitched… shall we say about it as when I checked the envelope for the letter with the appointment time I found a leaflet that I had previously missed, explaining how the NHS aims to see all suspected cancer patients within two weeks. I know this is standard procedure – and a good thing too – but still… it played on my mind.

Luckily, Alex was arriving back in town on the same day so he could accompany me. We met up and went to the reception to check in. Then we waited. And waited. And waited some more… Anxious enough already – I had a nasty suspicion that the examination would involve an endoscope up my nose – I could feel a panic attack approaching – a distant thundering, like a herd of bison on their way, as my fingertips began to tingle, my heart began to race and the flight reaction kicked in.

Right! That’s it! I can’t possibly wait any longer!” I declared, and shot to my feet, racing off down the corridor.

Alex caught up with me by the receptionist’s desk and managed to calm me down a little while the lovely receptionist went to find out what was taking so long. It just so happened I was next in line to be called… so with Alex talking to me soothingly and the receptionist guiding they shepherded me to a different waiting area.

I went back to breathing exercises while I waited a further fifteen minutes, the chant in my head going: “You have to find out… you have to find out…” Then finally it was my turn. Unclenching my hands from the seat, swallowing my nausea and wiping the sweat from my brow, closely followed by Alex, I entered the consultation room.

I was met by a duty consultant – not the one I’d been expecting, which threw me a little – a cadavernously thin, sunken eyed and very tall man, with large meaty hands. He looked at me. I looked back. He introduced himself as Dr. G ~ Somethingunprounceable – in an extremely heavy accent which in my already heightened state of panic I could barely understand.

He was a very rude man. He would not let me explain my symptoms before cutting me off – “Yes, yes, I see you are nervous person – I examine you now.”

Then without so much as a by-your-leave he lurched forwards and seized me by the throat. Eyes bulging, I managed to restrain myself from punching him on the nose. He released me and I fell back breathless in the chair, clutching at my neck.

Yes, yes, nervous person – nothing there. Now we look up your nose.”

Oh Christ,” I thought – then: “Not bloody likely – I’m off!”

Aloud I said: “No thank you very much not today, I’ll be leaving RIGHT NOW let me out let me out.” I leaped to my feet and tried to exit the room. A nurse stood firmly in my way. I (very bravely) burst into tears…

What matter with you? Is perfectly normal exam – I have it done myself!” The consultant said.

I just do not want a camera up my nose – surely there’s some other way!” I squeaked desperately.

No, no, I numb nose we do it now. Only danger is breaking off inside you if you struggle.”

With that he leant forwards and snapped his rather large teeth in my face. A small part of my mind was saying: “No, pull ourself together, this is your chance to find out that your vocal chords are normal and there’s nothing sinister going on.”

All the time in the background I was aware of Alex talking soothingly to me, but what brought me to my senses was the other nurse who said:

Here. You can hold my hand.”

Alex said: “You can do this.”

And so it happened… I’ll spare you the gory details… a set of incomprehensible instructions delivered to me by the satanic consultant, all the while I focussed on Alex’s voice, clutching the nurse’s hand and trying not to break it while my other hand jerked upwards wanting to smack the consultant where it would hurt him the most and me the least.

Finally it was over and the camera was withdrawn from my poor violated nostril.

Oh I forgot, we need still picture, I just put it back in.”

Oh no. No. No. That’s enough,” I said, wiping tears, snot and local anaesthetic from my face.

I looked at the consultant. He concluded that my loss of voice was all in my head and due to my nervous disposition and gave me an appointment for Speech Therapy (really?!) although to be fair I did find my voice as I left the room. I thanked the nurses most sincerely for their kindness and called him a c*&t. Oops.

But really, his whole “bedside” manner left a lot to be desired, he was patronising, condescending and thoroughly unpleasant. On the other hand, I firmly believe that nurses are God’s representatives on Earth – bless them each and every one.

By the way, there are no abnormalities with my throat, nothing suspicious at all, thank you to everyone for your love and concern. Just as well, really, as I don’t think I would be welcomed back in the ENT department in a hurry!

(Just a note, friends – I was unlucky, the procedure itself is usually pretty straightforward, so if needed, do NOT put off having the same procedure yourself.)

The Seagull

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Thank you Alex for the use of your beautiful photo x

I saw a dead seagull today and it upset me more than it should have done, or perhaps more than I thought it would.

A big herring gull, crisp white feathers and smooth grey wings. Strong, curved yellow beak, but greyish filmy lids closed over fierce proud eyes.

Still and silent in the middle of the road, carelessly crumpled and neck bent awkwardly back on itself and legs outstretched.

You should be flying free and wild, soaring over the sea, screeching your savage call to carry on the wind. Not here.

You should look down upon seas churned with foam, waves crashing towards the land. Not here.

Not dusty tarmac. You should blink fiercely out of existence into magnificent nothingness.

A dirty city street is no place to die.

Eclogite And Echoes

38519078_277884036277589_5483915063595106304_nAn unusual crystal this, with a strong and fluid energy to it – not surprising when you consider where it came from. It’s actually a piece of oceanic crust that was forced up from Mother Earth under tremendous pressure.

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The pink bits are actually Garnet

Eclogite brings new vigour and energy to the inner “you”, perhaps reflecting the bubbling cauldron of perpetual life it emerged from. At its junction of creation, between land and water, it unites the life force within its wearer or owner, mind, body and spirit, opening and energising the chakras so you can reach your full potential.

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Essentially, too, especially in these difficult times, Eclogite brings hope, dissolving negativity and encouraging recovery.

Speaking of recovery – or rather, not speaking, “croaking” – I have an ENT appointment on Monday to investigate my lack of voice… I hope they don’t intend to stick a camera down my throat … they’ll have to catch me first!

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The consultant can just look at me from a distance and intuit what is wrong. I’m n ot keen on being prodded about. However, my husky croak has made for some interesting conversations with the girls.

Ting and Tooty both share quite a harsh “WAH” of a meow, delivered in varying tones, and I’ve found I have been able to echo their meows quite accurately. No idea what I’m saying half the time (nothing new there) but the cats looked at me curiously and replied too.

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“WAHHHH!!!”

The story of Echo in itself is quite a sad little tale – a beautiful nymph who provoked the wrath of a god’s jealous wife is doomed forever to repeat the last few words of what she hears… Birds are obviously very adept at echoing all sorts of sounds. I remember being fascinated by a mynah bird in the pet shop near us when I was a little girl. Every time it saw me it used to sing Happy Birthday for some reason.

A close relation of the mynah is the jackdaw and a particularly annoying one seems to have taken up residence in the tree at the bottom of the garden. It makes fun of me… every time I call the cats at the moment it echoes my harsh, croaking voice… I swear it’s laughing at me…

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“What? I never said anything!”

Plan Bee…

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I have known Alex’s father, my partner, for twenty years now. In addition to the usual ups and downs you experience within most relationships, he’s also changed a lot of his thinking. Not just to please me, but the sort of thing he sees the sense in. For example, he found me crying after I had accidentally stepped on an earwig:

WHAT’S THE MATTER? IT WAS JUST A BUG!”

No! Earwigs are really good mothers and they will fight to the death to protect their babies!”

I get very worried about bees too. I treat them with a healthy dose of cautious respect since both my mother and my sister are allergic to bees and will have an anaphylactic reaction if stung. I’ve never been stung, so I have no idea if I’m allergic or not and I don’t intend to find out either…

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Generally, then, if a bee (or a spider) needs rescuing, it is down to my partner to get the job done. I was out the other day when we had a short burst of rain. I returned home to find my partner putting my hairdryer away and at the puzzled look on my face – he has very short hair – he explained.

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He had been out in the garden feeding the fish, and as he was going back indoors out of the rain, he found two bees who had been surprised by the sudden downpour. He picked them gently up and rushed back indoors with his soggy casualties.

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Their bee-fluff was soaked, so he tenderly laid them on a piece of kitchen towel, inside a plastic bag, and with my hairdryer on its lowest setting, proceeded to revive them within his makeshift apian oxygen tent.

He was very soon rewarded with signs of life as their legs and wings began to stir, and aas the rain had stopped, took them back outside. He sat them down on some flowers and watched in satisfaction as they flew away.

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” Did you see that Barry?” “Yes Paul – Bee-hold the Light!” (R.I.P. Barry Chuckle, your gentle comedy will be sadly missed)

 

Tomatoes And Toes…

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I was having a conversation with my mother the other day about tomatoes – not unnaturally, I didn’t particularly want a hot dinner during this most unseasonable weather and opted for salad. My mother is not the most enthusiastic of gardeners, but she does quite enjoy growing her own tomatoes.

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She hasn’t had a lot of success in recent years, but Monty Don (that veritable garden god) said that most of the plants were affected by blight or mildew, hence the lack of success. Thus we have eaten shop bought tomatoes and Mother has complained bitterly about the tough leathery skins and watery texture.

Earlier on in the year, my partner casually sliced up a cherry tomato and flung the slices in a pot – he did the same with a kiwi fruit actually, just on the off chance – and lo and behold, we have some healthy tomato plants with tomatoes on too!

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There is such an amazing variety of colour in tomatoes… orange, red, yellow, but I was momentarily amused to see these purple tomatoes the other morning. Why? They reminded me of my toe… on Friday night, my partner and I went out for dinner at our usual curry restaurant. I ran nimbly up the stairs (so I thought) – and caught my toe on the edge of a step.

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Laughing blithely inside at my clumsiness (and hoping no-one else had seen) I carried on. It was only half an hour later I thought: “No, actually that REALLY bl#$dy hurt!!!!”

My shoe seemed uncomfortably tight and the whole of my toe was throbbing. I gently eased my foot to the edge of my shoe and saw a smallish purple bruise. Reassured, I shoved my foot back in, but when we got home I was dismayed to see that the whole toe was now an interesting shade of purple. And swollen. Like one of those tomatoes.

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It’s almost probably fractured, but not enough to warrant a cast… and to be honest, it’s been quite interesting watching the bruise develop… a whole rainbow in my shoe!

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Some Of Life’s Little Trials…

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“Really, the woman has no grace or elegance at all…”

1. Sneezing too enthusiastically when you are reaching down for your handbag and headbutting the wall.

2. Dropping your moisturiser and not realising that the hot weather has turned it into liquid, thus when you drop it, it leaves a large purple, lavender scented splat across the floor. (At least the floor is now nicely moisturised…)

3. Being convinced for most of the day that you are actually having a heart attack (hypochondriac? Me? Never!) and then at night when you get undressed for your shower, discovering that the underwire from your bra has come loose and has been stabbing you in the chest…

4. Having successfully captured a howling Siamese to be anointed with spot-on flea and tick treatment – then carefully pouring most of it unawares down a crack in the table…

5. Lovingly filling a planter with plants, then forgetting what they’re called, so they are forever known as “orange stuff”, “the pink thing” … and so on.

6. Dropping a full box of cotton buds – the lid is off, of course… why you can you never replace them as neatly?

7. Proudly opening a brand new umbrella to protect you from the elements… then watching in resigned disbelief as a gust of wind gets underneath it, rips the fabric from the frame and sends it flying away down the street, while you are left clutching a bare carcass…

Hematoid Quartz And Hot Cats

37867639_297316924347055_2763508256054706176_nI’m very into these Dragons’ Eggs, or Seer Stones, as they’re sometimes known, at the moment. Shaped into ovals and roughly polished, and then with a slice taken off and that side polished to a high sheen, you are supposed to be able to see the future, whilst gazing into the polished side.

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I have quite a collection of these, a recent addition being this lovely Hematoid Quartz egg. I bought a darker one for Alex too… As the name suggests, this is Clear Quartz with inclusions of Hematite. It has a very smooth energy to it as a crystal – the natural grounding properties of Hematite are amplified by the Clear Quartz to help calm your mind, giving you the focus to filter out distractions whilst retaining the information you need to utilise at the right moment.

This is a good stone for students, as it will help bring creativity to your thinking and help you find the simplest solution to most issues. Hematoid Quartz will bring determination and perseverance to boost your willpower. It gives you the genuine desire for peace and harmony in mind, body and spirit and the physical world too.

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Hematoid Quartz is a great stone to use in healing and crystal therapy as it cleanses and organises the chakras, reabsorbing negativity and replacing it with unity and self-worth. As a crystal, Hematoid Quartz is also associated with the healing and calming energy of water.

Water – an always important resource, even more so at the moment in this unexpected heatwave. Obviously, now it’s more important than ever to look after your animals’ welfare, making sure they have plenty of clean, fresh water, somewhere cool and shady for refuge and that they are not stressed or uncomfortable in this hot weather.

Leave dishes of water out for birds, hedgehogs and other wildlife, ensuring it is fresh and changed regularly. We haven’t cut our grass in ages, to make sure there are some cool spots and undergrowth left for the toads and newts and the cats, of course.

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My girls are all short haired, but even so, they’re feeling the heat and I keep a careful check on them. I leave the bedroom blinds drawn so the room is slightly cooler, and when we all retire, the fan is usually running.

I’ve come across some helpful hints, which you may already know, but they bear repeating. Keep some towels in the freezer for a pleasant chill down – you can even buy self-cooling gel mats. My girls have one but they prefer a more direct method of cooling down… lying on the bed while I fan them…

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“I’m waiting….!”

Don’t leave wet food down too long in this heat either – it will very quickly spoil and the last thing anybody needs is an upset tummy…Wiping paws and the inside of ears with a cool damp cloth is also useful. Do NOT shut your animals in a small, enclosed unventilated area – there are still people out there leaving dogs unattended in hot cars and they can’t sweat like we do. Panting is how they cool down and if there is no fresh air coming in, you can imagine how quickly the atmosphere becomes stale and the animal begins to overheat.

Despite the weather warnings, I still see people who think it’s a greta idea to take their dog for a walk at midday – would you take a child out for a barefoot walk in scorching temperatures??

We leave a large plastic bowl of water out on the park for passing thirsty canines…Rant over… but stay safe friends, watch out for your furred and feathered family and our wild friends too.