Monday, December 31, 2007

Thank God 2007 is nearly over!

Began a series of rants about some so-called therapies for ME/CFS. Here's the first one, there are links to them all in a section on the right.

Close up amaryllis
Jan 16

Continued rants on various therapies and discovered the wonderful Quackometer.
Dad admitted to hospital on the 13th.

Snowy garden
Feb 8

John had problems with his jaw and an abscess.
Dad moved from Arrowe Park to Clatterbridge for rehab.

Wind against tide on the Mersey, Sunday
Mar 18

Phone calls from Mum begin to get bizarre.
Found a just started sock from a couple of years ago and began knitting again.Spent a lot of time researching and visiting possible Nursing Homes for Dad.

Rust coloured socks WIP
Apr 29

Still knitting and taking photos of the back yard.
Dad admitted to Nursing Home on May 3rd.
John had a day trip to Abersoch.
The last day of May Mum had a fall while trying to sort out her shoes.

Rose bud - Peace
May 25

Mum admitted to hospital on the 4th.
Still taking lots of flower photos.
Indulged in a Swift finally.

Iris in sunshine
June 10

Mum admitted to Nursing Home in Wallasey
Mum and Dad re-united 27th but Dad taken into hospital the next day and died of pneumonia that evening, 28th.

Jul 14

Dad's funeral was on the 9th, we were very relieved Mum was able to come and thankful the Nursing Home was able to send a nurse with her. After a day's rest John and I went off to Abersoch for a week's holiday.
On my birthday I wrote about a strange happening after Dad died. A message from?

John Steven David out in Duck
Aug 17

Mum re-admitted to hospital September 3rd after having a "funny turn". Put on the Liverpool Care Plan for the Dying September 5th . She died on September 13th, Funeral and cremation was on the 21st.

John and Sarah and David G. climbed the tower at Birkenhead Priory on our way home from the Funeral Lunch. Then we found our way down to the bank of the Mersey so that I could take photos of the QEII docked at Pier Head.
John had a day trip to Abersoch on his birthday, and celebrated it by skinny dipping at Porth Bach.

Sep 21

We had our first visit from the delightful Brodie.
Brown envelope time - IB50 form to fill in.

Evening shadows
Oct 15

Our first outing together this year for John and me that was just for fun - Antiques Roadshow at St George's Hall.
I strained my chest somehow and was more or less bed bound for most of the month.

Lamp light and Wellington's Column
Nov 4

We had another very nice visit from Brodie, who definitely likes having someone in bed most of the time!
Worst Christmas for years... All four of us in this house went down with some sort of gastro intestinal virus. I was the last to get it (on 27th) and am just now beginning to recover. But we all had some nice prezzies, and it seems that Santa's Elves made good choices for the "kids"! So not a total washout.

Dec 10

On the whole I will be glad to say goodbye to stressful and harrowing 2007, and am hoping that 2008 will be a lot happier!

Here's wishing all my readers a Very Happy New Year!

Champagne pouring

Our belated Christmas

By Boxing Day both Sarah and John were somewhat recovered, so cooked the Turkey.

Turkey resting

Helen and David W. came for lunch, though David was still feeling a bit groggy - he had a cold anyway even without the after effects of the dreaded lurghi! Sadly David G. began to feel ill just before it was dished up. At least he got to open a few prezzies before lunch (we were waiting for the turkey to finish cooking, so thought we'd begin the ritual).

John got a pile of interesting books and CDs.

The Chef is pleased with present

After we'd opened a few presents the turkey was ready to come out of the oven and rest while Chef John and assistants finished off the rest of the meal preparations.

Christmas table

And here's my traditional yearly photo of my Christmas dinner!

My Christmas dinner

The tree looks magical after dark.

Tree at night

Unfortunately I went down with the virus on 27th and spent 36 hours throwing up and rather longer than that with the runs. Ah well, guess that about sums up how this year has been in a way!

At least am beginning to eat again now, though still struggling to get up and down the stairs as rather week and feeble.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas postponed for a day

Tree finally got decorated yesterday.

07 12 25 Dec Christmas Day tree 016

Half the family are sick today. We hope that we can have our Christmas tomorrow. If all else fails I'll have to try and cook the turkey myself. I can probably manage to do that, provided don't have to do all the trimmings. And I do have visitor help available if needed.

We'll see how it goes.

Watched most of Gone with the Wind earlier. There are some truly iconic scenes! The buggy being driven across the flames as Atlanta burns springs to mind.

Happy Christmas!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Santa Claus has just been to town

Father Christmas outside our house

I took this picture of Santa from my bedroom window.

I tried a short video too, quality is awful, but I'm sticking it up as the whole thing really cheered me up. Been having an attack of the Bah Humbugs, which is improving now!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Prize clarification and market research

Gosh, a lot of comments on my post about winning £100. I should have been clearer yesterday, but didn't have time to go into too much detail as had to get a bath and light the fire in the living room before Helen and David came round to collect Brodie... Boo hoo, am missing a purring puss-cat leaping onto the bed for morning pampering already!

David spent ages sorting out the desktop computer, and has retrieved all my data. Hip hip hooray! He's taken the Acer away and will remove the hard drive to work on it. Also will try and find the fault... Suspect it's motherboard or chip wrecked by being spattered with G&T. My advice is don't leave an almost empty glass by your computer where you are likely to kick it over in the middle of the night if you happen to be restless!

Anyway, I think it is a genuine win. I am on a few market research panels, and the £100 was from a prize draw for filling in questionnaires. Some panels give points that eventually add up to vouchers for high street or online stores. Some do a mixture of points and prize draws. The prize is from GfK.

And there's also YouGov which pays 50 pence for most of their surveys (can be a little more or less) which sends you a check for £50 when you reach it. They also do a few prize draws too. I've had 2 £50 cheques from them, and am about half way to my next one. Mind you, I've been a member since around 2003, it does take a while to build up enough points to get a cheque! But a useful amount when it comes.

I've also won Amazon vouchers, and currently have a £12 Voucher for CD-Wow waiting to be spent (can't spend it before Christmas as usually get a couple of DVDs or CDs). I find it quite soothing doing online questionnaires, and there's no compulsion to do all of them that arrive in my Inbox. Sometimes I can't be bothered with them, but if I'm having a bad few days it's something to do that isn't too taxing and even brings some small rewards.

Mary, with regard to your comment, there's no need to apologise! I quite understand why you might think that the email was bogus. If I hadn't known where it came from I would have been suspicious too!

I used to enter quite a lot of competitions, but seem to have got out of the habit recently. Mind you, there wasn't a lot of spare time for stuff like that this year! Might get back to doing it, had some nice wins - a DVD recorder, 2 personal organisers, CDs, books, 2 nights for two in a 5* London hotel, though never managed the "ultimate" prize of a car! And it's always exciting when the postman calls - you never know when a LWE (long white envelope) will drop through the door bearing tidings of a win!

If any of my kind readers want to give online comping a go, a good place to begin is the Loquax website. There's also a useful UK newsgroup devoted to comping, uk.rec.competitions. Happy comping folks!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Won a prize!

Just going through my email, and find that I have won a cheque for £100! Fantastic - will be able to indulge in some goodies now... Will have to give some thought as to what. How nice to have an excuse to do some cyber shopping!

Brodie cosy

Brodie looking fetching

Another visit from my friend Brodie

My favourate visitor

Comfy Brodie

Brodie has been here for a week now, and he's had a goodly amount of pampering! We had to shut him out of our bedroom overnight as he wants to play at 3am, and we were just getting too tired!

Finally got a card reader for the new computer, hence suddenly can put up photos again. Just need to get back into the habit of taking them.

Hoping to get a bath this afternoon, and then light the fire in the living room - give Brodie a treat. He likes fires. It's a lovely sunny day, really lifts the spirits doesn't it? I'd far rather it bright and chilly than milder but grey and gloomy.

I finally got my IB50 in by the skin of my teeth - had to use Special Delivery. Was very glad I did, as I know it arrived in time. More than the DWP do, as I got a letter from them on Saturday to say I needed to get my form to them urgently. John managed to phone them yesterday, and it's OK, they do have the form. Oddly though they have changed the address it should be sent to on the latest letter. We sent it to Birkenhead, but now they are using Chester instead.

Still slogging away trying to get the new computer more user friendly. Am having some difficulties with installing upgrades that Toshiba say need to be installed. Ah well, will just have to keep on trying.

Think Brodie will be going home this evening. I will miss him enormously, but perhaps he'll come again for a few days soon. I've promised him some turkey-lurkey on Christmas Day, though doubt he will come here to eat it... He associates car drives and cat baskets with nasty things like Vets, so isn't a happy traveller!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

New Computer - Urk!

I seem to have killed my lovely Acer laptop - am hoping that I can get my data (especially photos) off it. Yes, I know I should have done back ups. But I lost the cables for my external hard drive in 2006, and this year has been so hellish I never got time and energy to search for them.

So I trundle on with a new Toshiba P200-17C. Nice machine, I think I will have fun with it. Eventually.

Very embarrassed to find when I came to pay for it that I couldn't remember my PIN number for credit card. Fortunately John had sufficient available funds to cover it, but I feel really bad that he had to pay for me.

I'm having a few problems with getting Microsoft Vista to do what I want it to. For example, though I have Thunderbird as my default email program, MailWasher keeps opening Microsoft email when I "Process mail" to delete blacklisted and spam email.

Am using a simple work around at the mo - opening Thunderbird after checking and deleting email in Mailwasher, then immediately taking it offline. It's clumsy, and is a pain when emails are in html as you have to go online to see them. I wish all email lists would have a Plain Text Only option!

I'm sure that there's a way to do this better, but I am limited in how fast I can get to grips with new technology. Will be trying to sort it out when I have more time. Had hoped to put off buying a Vista machine for a few more months. But needs must when the devil drives! ;-)

Been offline since 22 November - eek, 6 days with no internet or email!!!

Painful withdrawal, interspersed with trying to get things going again. Read some books! I wonder if I can add a recently read books thingy to the side bar. Must look into that!

I highly recommend "The Executive Brain" by Elkhonon Goldberg. It's going to take me a while to read it right through, but it puts the role of of the frontal lobes of the brain into context. Very interesting, and also accessible for lay people like me.

No photos today, and possibly for a while, as I haven't worked that part of the new machine out yet!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Confusion strikes!

Yellow Chrysanthemums

Lovely bright chrysanthemums, a gift from our neighbour Pam. She said they are for optimism, that yellow is the colour for that.

Last Friday evening I went to see my Doctor to let her know she is likely to hear from DWP over my IB50. I took a paper with my main symptoms listed, and she was able to give me a copy of the neurologist's report from July 2005. I hadn't managed to get back to my GPs to find out what it said before - as anyone who has been reading regularly knows, Life just kept happening too fast.

Last Wednesday I did something weird to my chest. I was trying to open a bottle of tonic water, couldn't shift it, so was using one of those rubbery grabby sheets (from Lakeland Plastics), which I do find very effective usually. But this bottle was stubborn. I had it gripped in my right hand, while trying to twist the lid off with my left hand... It was clutched tight to my chest.

Suddenly there was a definite "clunk" feeling, it felt as if something had given in the front of my chest. It didn't hurt, it just felt, if you see what I mean. And then I managed to do the same thing (same bottle!) the next day too. By Friday when I saw my Doctor the only pain I had was in my right shoulder (made me yelp going down the stairs when hanging on to the bannisters), so she thought I had probably strained a muscle from the twisting action.

Over the weekend I have had pain over my sternum that has been worsening steadily. It hurts when I turn over in bed, so have had some bad nights. I find that when I walk around the house it helps if I place my hand firmly over my sternum, just gentle pressure. Probably co-incidental, but seem to have a lot of wind at the mo too.

Last night was a particularly bad night, had some vivid dreams, including one very muddled one about Mum and breaking a plate so all the chicken stuffing was lost. (!) Woke in the middle of the night, and watched Griff Rhys Jones' "Mountain" on Snowdonia as couldn't get back to sleep...

Woke up again to hear the News, glanced at clock, 6am, time to call John (He likes to swim before breakfast). Woke him, then fell asleep again. He brought up a pot of tea, went off to swim... Only to re-appear about half an hour later. The pool was shut - I'd misread the clock, and then he did as well. I'd woken him at 5am, not 6am! Think I must still be running on British Summer Time!

Since then I have had two spam phone calls and a call from Wirral Social Services about Mum's Nursing Home bill - they didn't know she had died! They will send a bill to us, and we will pass it on to Mum's solicitor. Heaven only knows when it'll get paid - we don't even have Probate on Dad's Will yet, and that has to be done before work can begin on Mum's.

Everything seems to take forever, not helped by the recent extended postal strike in Liverpool. Meant we weren't getting stuff sent to us, and also we were unable to post anything off. So a lot of papers were stuck here waiting for the strike to end.

Just wish it was all over and done with - I do worry when we get all these bills that we have no money to pay. But guess most of the utilities etc are accustomed to long waits on the death of a customer. We can't be the only folks who have to wait for Probate to get the wherewithall to pay the outstanding bills.

Sorry, bit of a doom and gloom day today. I am hoping to arrange counselling with the person I saw when I first got M.E. Don't think I'm depressed as such, but am not coping too well. Have a tendency to start crying for little reason, and am haunted by the last few weeks of Mum's life. So I got the Counsellor's phone number from my Doc last Friday, but haven't contacted her yet as have been so incapacitated with the strained muscle or whatever it is. Just don't feel up to travelling even locally at the moment.

Still enjoying sunsets from our bedroom window though.

Sunset Monday 2

Monday's sunset

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Remembrance Day

Poppy Day

Since I am unlikely to go anywhere to wear my poppy, my computer is wearing it instead.

Last night we watched The Festival of Remembrance from the Royal Albert Hall. When all the poppy petals float down from on high I remember that even when a small child I would think that one of those was for my Uncle Walter. He died in what is now Singapore, after VE day. My Mum was engaged to him, and when she heard that he had died she felt a great need to be with his mother. She arrived at Paddington Station, where Dad met her train. It was the first time they met. So without Walter dying when he did it is unlikely I would be here today.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Antiques Roadshow in Liverpool (and weird week)


Queueing for the Antiques Roadshow, St George's Hall, Liverpool

We went to St George's Hall the last time the Antiques Roadshow was in Liverpool. It was a lot of fun, even the queueing, both times. At least I managed to take some photos outside today!

We took a taxi down, as we thought it would be much too difficult to park anywhere particularly close, and I prefer to minimise my wheelchair travel as much as possible... Especially over cobblestones!

Dolphin lamp post

Dolphins on the base of a lamp post

When we arrived we noticed the queue was snaking up and over and down the steps in the front of St George's Hall. There was no way that we could manage that with the wheelchair, so John parked me at the bottom of the steps, and went to the back of the queue to ask the folks there to mark a place for us, and we would join behind them when they reached us.

Fun outside St George's Hall

Fun outside St George's Hall

Then someone saw me sitting in the wheelchair and offered their place in the line! They had decided not to wait any more, so decided to be kind to me. We explained we were happy enough to wait, and we didn't want to jump the queue. But the folks behind seemed happy enough for us to take the place of our benefactors, so we went for it.

Backlit queue

Shortly afterwards a young chap approached us and asked if we knew that wheelchair users had a special entry, and didn't have to wait. At some point John had been to the front of the queue and asked, to be told that we had to queue like everyone else.

Well, that seemed fair enough to us, other than that we couldn't manage the steps for the queue, but John had sorted that in a way that seemed fair to us. But this young man was insistant, and even went back to check that there was a seperate wheelchair access. Came back to tell us, and accompanied us to the door. (Well, he walked around the outside of the queue, we cut across inside to avoid the cobblestones)

Once inside it was a labyrinth to find the lift! Up to the first floor, along more corridors until we reached the right level. Into the Great Hall, and oh, the ceiling, the stained glass windows, the statues, the marble set behind them, the moulded and coloured roundels - George and the Dragon, Liverpool coat of arms, the Liverbird. Not to mention the amazing chandeliers, suspended from moulded ships prows. I tried to take photos, but sadly the light just wasn't good enough.

Everyone was very kind. When we first entered the Great Hall one of the Roadshow crew fetched us the labels we needed (books, china and miscellaneous) so we were able to begin the individual queuing.

We went for china first, it was a pretty long wait, but in the wonderful surroundings, and with chatting with other folks in the queue, and watching things being set up for filming (suspect will be an item on slavery) the time went pretty fast. A note to self for next time - not a lot of folks took glass.

Followed up with a pretty short queue for Miscellaneous and then a somewhat longer one for Books. John was standing behind me in the Book queue (he had to push the chair) and thinking something along the lines of "there's a lot of people here, bit odd we haven't met anyone we know" and about 30 seconds later someone comes rushing up to me to say Hello!

Margaret, who I used to work with before I got ill. She was a bit surprised to see me in a wheelchair. She said she retired a couple of years ago. I knew exactly who she was, but simply could not remember her name when she greeted us. Think this is cognitive dissonance - Antiques Roadshow and (ex-)work don't mix in my mind. Unexpected juxtaposition.

Roadshow Lorry

As for the rest of the week it was all rather awful.

Monday got IB50 (EEEK!), but from Birkenhead not Liverpool, which worried me. Managed to get advice from some folks on email Lists that allayed some of my worries. And John called DWP in Birkenhead on Tuesday and found that dealing with the forms is centralized within areas rather than cities and towns now.

I re-joined the wonderful Benefits and Work. Took a look at their advice on filling IB50 in, and fell asleep...

Next morning (Wed I think) found I'd kicked the dregs of my glass over, splattered keyboard and screen, computer frozen and couldn't re-boot. EEEK again!

Kept trying to re-boot over next few days, finally somehow (not sure how!) managed to get to a screen that let me take the system back to how it was when last working. I am not going to try and install my (perfectly good otherwise) printer on this laptop again, as I think maybe that was the root of the problems.

At least I finished reading 3 books while I couldn't get computer to work.

But don't want to go through that again anytime soon!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Happy happy joy joy!

The Post is restored in Liverpool! :-) Local mail strike is over. I am beginning to get mail again. Only had boring stuff over the first couple of days post strike, but yesterday the good stuff began to arrive.

Before the postal strike I'd ordered a load of stuff. Including some Birth Certificates. Those arrived yesterday, and it turned out neither were related to me. Ah well, next time I'll try and check details better. Though to be honest, how likely is it to have two unrelated girls in the same town with the same name born within 12 months of each other? Probably common in Wales with a name of Davies!

Today's mail brought a belated (now VERY belated) birthday prezzie for John - "A Pig with Six Legs". To add to his several clouds and weather books.

And a great book on bag making - "making vintage bags".

But best of the bunch is a book of Gustave Dore's London engravings. Absolutely magic while also horrifying. Gothic and dark... And yet some parts of London are recognisable to me.

I think that I've only had around half of my book order so far... More fun to come, can't remember what I ordered now as it's so long ago. Will be fun seeing what arrives over the next few days. I do like getting book parcels! :-)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Spider v Wasp

John and I were sitting in our bedroom soon after mid day, when I looked out of the window and noticed a wasp had got tangled in the big spider's web outside the middle bay window. The wasp struggled and struggled, but couldn't get free.

Big fat spider comes out to take a look (usually would have appeared much sooner on a tremble of the web) and hung back a bit. Wasp went on struggling, possibly getting stuck down onto the web a bit more... Spider comes a bit closer and stops again, then advances on wasp, which redoubled its efforts and flew away when the spider was only about an inch from it.

Which left me wondering which would have walked away from the encounter if it had happened. Or would both of them ended up dead from stings?

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Our Visitor

Brodie and I have spent a happy day together in bed. Well, me in bed and he shedding fur on the duvet cover. He is a very gentlemanly cat - not a scratcher at all. It's really fun to have a feline friend again. I hope that he enjoys his sojourn with us.

Brodie sleeping

Brodie enjoying a nice rest

We have a Visitor for a few days!

Bwlchtocyn Nosegay

Bwlchtocyn Nosegay

John went to Abersoch on Sunday to finish stowing the boat ready for winter. He had quite an exciting day, and brought me a little nosegay of flowers from our garden.

He and John managed to get the mast out and remove the ballast. After that he thought he'd go for a little row, as we hadn't managed to get the dinghy back up from the boatyard in August. Rowed round to Porth Bach where it was very quiet and the water was so warm that he went skinny dipping. All in all a good way to celebrate his 62nd birthday!



John had driven straight to the beach, and had intended to drive up to the caravan and leave the car there before returning for the dinghy. But he found that the road was closed with the fire brigade and an ambulance in attendance. A very big motor boat was being towed down the hill by a tractor and they had jack-knifed. So John had a chat with one of the rescuers that he knew, and then walked up for some lunch. The driver of the tractor was the only person hurt, but it seems he escaped with minor cuts and bruises - a lucky escape.

Yesterday evening Helen and David came over and treated us to an Indian Takeaway as a late celebration of John's birthday. They are going to stay with a friend in Bristol for the rest of the week, so have left the third member of their household here with us as a visitor for a week.



Thursday, September 27, 2007

Sort of back here?

Lamp, India building

Yesterday evening it was incredibly clear, we could see Snowdon from our bedroom. It always means a lot to me when this happens.

I woke around 4am with the Harvest Moon shining in my face through our bedroom window. I woke John to look at it (not being mean here - he likes to see things like this), but he saw it later on his way for his early morning swim.

Had a bath today. I think this is the first bath I took since the morning of Mum's Funeral. It took me about half an hour. It was great to wallow in warm water, and while doing so I began to think about how would be good to finish off our bathroom... Already broke one tile by opening the window enough to look out and take photos.

It's a real shame, as our bathroom looks great.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Tribute to Mum

Today was the day of Mum's Funeral. While I hope to write more about the last few days (very busy, very tiring), I wanted to put up my Tribute that I read out at the Funeral.

Rhena Jane

30 October 1917 - 13 September 2007

Mum was born and brought up in Dolgellau, where she lived until she married Dad. She was the third of five children, and she, like the rest of her generation, saw many changes in her lifetime.

As a child she had a candle stub to light herself to bed. She remembered when electicity arrived in Dolgellau, with a grand "turn on" of the street lights.

All her life Mum loved the mountains around her home town. She and her friends would climb Cader Idris on summer nights to watch the sun rise from the summit.

After their marriage Mum and Dad lived in North Harrow, until a merger of the London and Lancashire Insurance Company and Royal Insurance brought them to West Kirby.

Mum and Dad were both sad to leave their home in Harrow, but soon settled in, making many friends. Mum was a very sociable woman, and Dad and I teased her about all the Coffee Mornings she went to!

Mum was a very practical person - she cooked, shopped, washed, ironed, cleaned, gardened, sewed and knitted. She did all the decorating around their homes, even learning to tile the bathroom as it would have been months before anyone was available to do the work for her.

Mum was a wonderful cook, her cakes were fantastice - Butterfly cakes, orange cake, lemon cake, coffee cake, but best of all, chocolate cake, which was my Dad's favourite.

After many happy years in Kingswalk, my parents moved to Spindrift Court, where they enjoyed the views of the River Dee and the marine lake.

Throughout her life Mum continued to return to visit friends and family in her home town. Mum especially loved babies and small children, and took great delight in latter years watching her Welsh nephews* growing up.

When Dad became ill, over 2 years ago, Mum insisted he returned home to Spindrift Court, where she nursed him until he became too poorly for her to manage. Because of her tireless efforts Dad remained in the home he loved with the woman he loved for as long as possible, and we had two further happy family Christmases together.

*should be great-nephews! I got confused,


Sunday, September 16, 2007

Long day Friday

Hamilton Square

Hamilton Square Gardens, Birkenhead

Friday was a very strange day. We spent hours in the Pyramids Shopping Centre in Birkenhead at one point, killing time. After trundling round for ages on the possibly visually appealing but very uncomfortable paving for a wheelchair user I felt I was beginning to lose the will to live... But at least I got a pair of cheap purple Crocs clones half price, so not entirely wasted!

We spent part of Friday morning making phone calls to arrange appointments. We rang Mum's solicitor, who was out, in Liverpool for the morning. His clerk, of course, knew already - he is also the Coroner.

We left a message for Mr E, Mum's accountant (also out), and will probably speak to him next week sometime. John thinks it was R that he spoke to, who had dreamed Dad had died - I hope he wasn't troubled by dreams this time round. Guess not, as I think he'd have mentioned it as we met him shortly after Dad's funeral.

John rang the Bereavement Office at Arrowe Park Hospital and arranged to collect Mum's effects. Her new slippers, the clothes she was wearing when admitted, and her wedding ring. They gave us the Doctor's cause of death certificate for the Registrar, and a form for the Funeral Directors, to be signed for the release of Mum's body to them. It was different to when Dad died, as he had to have a post mortem, so the Coroner's Office sorted out the medical certificate I think.

We made a provisional appointment with the Registrar (at Birkenhead Town Hall) to register Mum's Death, dependent on the paperwork being faxed from the Coroner by 3.30, or it would have to be Monday.

After the trundle round the Pyramids, and several phone calls to try and get things sorted we went to Posh Nosh Kitchen in Market Street for some lunch. I first heard about them on the Breakfast Liverpool blog. This is our second visit, we ate there the day we went to register Dad's death. I had the Full English Breakfast that time, and it was very good. Very nice to get Ulster Fry as well as black pudding!

All day breakfast

All day breakfast, yum!

John had the Full English Breakfast this time, but I went for double egg and chips. The chips were absolutely superb - the best I have had for years. Crisp and golden on the outside, melty potato in the middle, just perfect. Dunked in runny egg yolk, I felt in heaven.

Double egg and chips

Double egg and chips
(one egg nearly eaten already!)

We had the same seats in the window of Posh Nosh as we did last time. I can't believe I didn't notice this picture on the side of a building across the road on the corner of Henry Street before!

Corner of Henry Street

John had a couple of calls while we were eating, stepped outside to take them. We still didn't know if the paperwork would get faxed through in time, but after eating we decided to go to the Town Hall anyway in hopes all would be in order by the time of our appointment.

There was a marriage at the Town Hall when we arrived. We were about an hour early for our appointment, so we took a short walk in Hamilton Square. We sat for a few minutes on a bench, but despite the sunshine the wind was a bit chilly, so after taking a few photos we walked back to the car for John to collect the papers we needed, and then on to the Registrar's Office.

Birkenhead Town Hall

Birkenhead Town Hall

It was comforting to see the circle of life, two happy people and their family embarking on life together, as we went to register a death.

At first we were told that the paperwork hadn't come through, but John had had a phone call from Mr J to say he had faxed it through himself since his clerk had gone home. So they checked the fax machine and then told us to go through.

We met the same Registrar as we had when we registered Dad's death. She was very kind, and told us how much she enjoyed the work she did. While she has to record the sad events of life, she also has the happy aspects - birth and marriage - to record. She was looking forward to Saturday when she would officiate at two marriages. Should you read this, thank you A. for being so approachable and helpful - your kindness is much appreciated.

Then it was on to the Funeral Directors, Charles Stephens on Bebington Road, Bromborough, who looked after Dad's funeral. John signed a lot of papers, and we were helped to write Mum's obituary for the both the Welsh and English editions of the Liverpool Daily Post, and the Wirral Globe (freebie paper).

G and J at Charles Stephens were fantastic when we were dealing with Dad's death and arranging the funeral, and I am confident that they will be as incredibly helpful and kind this time around. But I'm sure that they won't mind me saying that I hope I don't have to deal with them again any time soon! ;-)


Dad and Mum on their honeymoon, September 1947.
I think this might be Clovelly?

Note: updated 5 Nov 2007 to add link to Obituaries for Mum and Dad.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

End of an Era

We had a phone call from the hospital to say Mum's breathing had changed around mid day. I didn't manage to take the call as I was in the bath and couldn't get out fast enough. So John took the call at work and then phoned me back.

John came back from work to take me to the hospital.

Mum died shortly before we arrived.

We were able to spend some time with her, and everyone was very kind. I talked to her, and stroked her forehead. I told her again that I love her. I know that it may sound silly to some folks, but it made me feel better to talk to her.

We then entered the more surreal part, but don't feel up to writing about that just now.

When we got home John spent a long time phoning family and friends.

I guess the best way to describe how I feel is numb.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Just a sad update

Tiny boat on the Mersey

A tiny wind and tide tossed sailing boat on the River Mersey

We spotted this little boat on Saturday on our way over to Arrowe Park Hospital. This makes me think a bit of our situation - there's that tiny boat out there on a huge river, battling on through the waves. Wind against Tide makes for rough water.

Wednesday last week after observing Mum on the Clinical Decision Unit over the previous 2 days she was moved to a ward and has been put onto the Liverpool Care Path for the Dying (LCP). They found that she had both lung and urinary tract infections, so had her on a ?saline drip and also intravenous antibiotics. They kept her on these (which they started while were there on the Monday Mum was admitted) for another 36 hours to see if she showed any signs of improving.

The first we knew that Mum was on the LCP was on Wednesday when John and Helen visited, but I didn't go. John went to the hospital this Monday, as nobody had really told us much about how things had proceded. I think we were too shocked by how suddenly and fast it all happened to ask before.

We've visited most days since Mum went onto the LCP (though I had a day off Monday as so exhausted by all the travelling), and we sit and chat about what's happening with the family news, and reminisce about past times.

One day we even had a bit of a sing song with the lady in the next bed!

To be honest I doubt that Mum can hear us any more as she's on so much medication (given via a pump) and looks as if she's sleeping. Every day when we phone we get the same message, which can be summed up as: "She had a comfortable night, no change."

John was back in work yesterday for the first day since (I think) last Wednesday - we just can't plan anything, it all feels so awful. We're just waiting for Mum to die, makes me feel rather like a circling vulture.

We went over yesterday evening, but only stayed about 20 minutes. I was able to stroke Mum's forehead and tell her again that I love her. While I have actively disliked Mum on numerous occasions, she is still my Mummy who was my world when I was a little girl. The love was still there.

John phoned Norah, one of Mum's oldest friends the other day to tell her what was going on. Her response was that she thought it was good that Mum was finally getting some respite, that her recent life wasn't at all what she wanted.

I think both John and myself felt better for hearing that. Norah has been a tower of strength and help when things were awful around the time John began to use Dad's Enduring Power of Attorney and Mum was rampaging up and down to the banks and accusing them (and us) of all sorts.

It may sound silly, but I can't bring myself to begin thinking of the F word yet. We both still have a feeling that Mum will suddenly sit up in bed and demand a cup of tea and some pink ice cream.

Nothing seems very real at the mo, and I've had a couple of really bad episodes of depersonalisation that have freaked me out somewhat. Finding it very difficult to eat anything, and frequently not sleeping very well either.

But slept 12 hours straight last night, so am feeling somewhat better today. And the sun's shining too, so that always helps.

Tower and Echo Building

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Mum is very ill

We had a phone call on Monday from Mum's nursing home to say that she had been admitted to hospital. We went to the hospital and spent about 6 hours there with her.

Tuesday John and I had solicitor meeting arranged in the afternoon, and then went on to see my parents' accountant. Helen went to visit Mum. Who was initially agitated, but then calmed down and Helen held her hand.

This evening Helen and John went over to the hospital. They are giving Mum final care, trying to keep her comfortable. We can visit any time. Hope I can get early bath so we can get over early in the morning.

Hospital will call us any time if there's a change.

Mersey Tunnel ventilator building

Mersey Tunnel ventilator building

Friday, August 31, 2007

Message from?

Sunset from the caravan

Sunset at Bwlchtocyn

Dad died on a Saturday night, so we couldn't access any of the professionals that are concerned until the Monday. John's first call on the Monday morning was to my parents Solicitor - he and John are joint Executors.

After that John called my parents accountant, Mr E. He has been more than just a professional over the last few years - Mum has been taking her letters into the office to be read to her since her sight got really bad. He has been a friend to my parents.

John told Mr E. that Dad had died on Saturday. There was something of a silence, and then Mr E. said... "You may not believe this, but my clerk R. came in to see me this morning and told me he'd dreamed Mr Mills (Dad) had died over the weekend".

Which makes sense to me - if Dad was going to try and contact us from the Great Beyond, it would be typical for him to make contact through his Accountants.

It went on after too. John didn't have anything fit to wear for a funeral, his only suit was a horrid one bought cheap years ago for work. I was convinced we'd hit lucky in our local Oxfam shop. And we did - perfect fitting suit (even the sleeves fitted - usually much too short), nice white shirt also, and a great tie.

And there was a very elegant navy hat that perfectly matched the navy suit I planned to wear...

Plus we got parking space right outside the shoe shop in The Crescent (practically unheard of!) when we went to buy new slippers for Mum. Conveniently close the the butcher too, Roberts, where we bought a lump of beef to roast (it was delicious and tender).

So I felt looked after, that someone was making sure that we found what we needed when we needed. I realise that may sound odd to some folks, but I'm sure others may recognise this happening in their own lives sometimes.

Dad's funeral was on a Thursday afternoon in St Bridget's Church, West Kirby. It was a perfect summer day, with fluffy white clouds in a blue sky, and the swallows flying overhead. There were red and white roses and pink lilies on his coffin. It was peaceful walking behind the coffin through the churchyard and into the Church.

I hadn't been sure I'd be able to manage to read my Tribute (especially after shaking badly throughout the first hymn), but John was standing by to take over if need be, and Sarah helped me up the 3 steps. So I managed. Sarah helped me back to my seat, then returned to the pulpit to give her own Tribute on behalf of herself and Helen.

Afterwards a few of us went to the Crematorium for the Committal. Then we met up with the rest of our party at The Basset Hound for buffet and drinks. We had a tab on the bar for the party, as we felt Dad was always generous when entertaining his friends and family, and he enjoyed a tipple himself. ;-)

The Funeral Directors sent a car to fetch Mum from the nursing home with a nurse to help her, and Sarah travelled with her to keep her company too. We didn't know if she'd be able to cope with the whole of the day, but she managed both the Crematorium and the reception after as well as the funeral. John and Sarah took her and her nurse back to the nursing home when Mum began to show signs of being tired.

When they got back to the pub we had another round of drinks, just the closest family (including John's Mum, Mary).

This is all old news now, but I wanted to make a record for myself.

Here's a couple of recent photos of my favourite city.

St Nicholas Church, Liverpool

St Nicholas Church

Cityscape, Liverpool

Atlantic Tower, RoyalSunAlliance building (to let) and that big tall building that I haven't found the name of yet. It's very striking, even more so seen from Birkenhead. That top penthouse must have fantastic views!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Went fishing...

Well, not exactly, but we did make it to Abersoch for a week.

View from the caravan

The agapanthus only had 3 flowers this year, and John managed to knock off a flower head while on a mad snail and slug hunt amongst its leaves. Sarah (elder daughter) said it was a casualty of war. ;-)

Agapanthus seed head

Took a pile of knitting but mislaid the bag till packing to come back home. Ah well! Spent more or less the whole week in a nest of our double down and feather duvet on the bunk with the best view of the field and read some books.

Corner of the patio

The garden hasn't done too well, though we did have some plants survive. But I didn't get to trim the brambles choking the shrubs beside the shed - next time hopefully! Which we hope won't be too much later, maybe mid September, time will tell I guess.

Pink flower

The lily got chewed by bunnies I think, but badly snail or slug damaged too. The leaves you see in the background are the agapanthus. The lily still smelled wonderful, and I took some time to smell the flowers.


John and "the kids" went sailing, and friends and relations called, all good fun but I slept through vast amounts of fun. I was just really shattered.

It's going to take me a while to catch up, have a lot of stuff I want to think about and then write about. Still not really got to grips with everything that's happened.