Simplicity Of Sweetpeas

sweet peasThe Spinster had a sneaky suspicion that her new (red) swimsuit would attract comments from fellow waterbabies at the Barry pool this morning. Oh yes it wasn’t just Thomas (pronounced in the same way that the woman in Tom and Jerry calls the naughty kitty i.e TAAARRRMMUUUUSS!) no the ladies in the changing room threw in their two penneth as well. Me mate, the one recently mistaken as the Spinster’s Carer, started it all off when she realised she’s bought the same red costume; and why she didn’t divorce her husband on the spot when he said ‘do you think you should get a larger size babe only it’s a bit tight’!! This from a man who is over 6 foot tall and has a belly bigger than a pregnant woman beyond her due date!

The primary reason for buying the red number was it was cheap; a mere £6 in the Tesco sale and it had the deal clinching sticker – ‘tummy control’ on it too! Double bargain the Spinster thought; without actually looking very closely at it. The changing room conversation included the following ‘helpful’ comments: ‘I’m not sure about the coverage – I mean you might need to be careful when you swim on your back’ and ‘how you going to manage those straps, the cross over at the back could be difficult’ of course the Spinster hadn’t noticed the straps until I actually put the blessed thing on! And then my friend said ‘you don’t need to worry when you’ve got me!’ oh lord she think’s this Spinster can’t dress herself!

In fact it’s actually rather comfortable and flattering as long as the casual observer doesn’t cast more than a causerie glance below the actual swimsuit i.e. for health reasons one recommends not dwelling on the fulsome thigh area! Bless my friend who said the Spinster had a nice figure; always embrace the compliments of mates whilst being aware they are probably being kind rather than honest!

On the subject of not lingering on naked flesh the Spinster is still in denial over a sight I saw on Sunday. Now I’m the first to confess that I haven’t exactly seen much naked male flesh up close and personal for some considerable time; neither intimate nor public displays. The former down to opportunity, the latter because one chooses not to look! Mum and Dad were down at the weekend; the generosity of this daughter knowing no bounds when I gave Dad his birthday present in the form of the opportunity to cut my privet hedge (again)! He is still a wonder with the manual shears at the age of 85; the woman over the road busied herself with the same task using electric ones as if she was somehow goading me! The Spinster was perhaps, in her opinion, committing some form of elder abuse; no lady he did it willingly even travelling 200 miles to perform the task (this fact he was overhead telling a random passer-by the last time he cut the privet)!

Hospitality dictates that a hostess should offer an alcoholic beverage before supper and Dad had a glass of red wine leaving the rest of the bottle untouched. My neighbour to the right is a white wine only kind of gal so the Spinster decided rather than throwing the wine down the sink to offer it to the music teacher neighbour to the left. These left hand side neighbours got married last weekend so it seemed appropriate. Mrs LHS answered the door – Mr LHS had shouted ‘love Fran’s at the door’; why I thought don’t you move yer generous backside and answer the door yourself. The Spinster was about to find out. Mrs LHS called Mr LHS saying ‘Fran’s brought some red wine for you’ to which he replied ‘I haven’t got a top on’ to which I replied ‘no worries I’ve seen it all before!’. Oh Lord how naieve was this Spinster to respond thus as Mr LHS appeared around the door in all his glory. Now the Spinster has overcome a youthful fear of male body hair but somehow this experience didn’t prepare me for the sight before me! He’s a big lad, width ways, has the pale bleached milky skin  of a redhead complete with a generous smattering of freckles and his heavy gold link chain nestled in his ginger chest hair. The coverage of ginger extended across his belly, over his shoulders and crept endlessly down his back! Oh ladies the Spinster was almost overcome with a fit of the vapours!

And then the killer sentence was uttered, after the Spinster made polite enquiries about the wedding (after giving them an update on the rodent situation), Mr LHS said ‘when the wedding photos come back you’ll have to come round for supper’! How will I ever look him in the eye again? When the Spinster bumped – not literally – into Mr LHS this morning he was wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with the words Vintage Stuff‘ I nearly choked as I attempted to smother a snigger!

On the subject of Sweetpeas, aren’t the ones pictured from the Spinster’s garden simply gorgeous; simple pleasures from relatively little effort. Following Monty Don’s advice the Spinster goes out to harvest the blooms every morning and yes they just keep coming…


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An Advantage of Being Disabled finally!!

firemenOK when you are as encumbered as the Spinster you get all those parking perks and you don’t pay road tax to boot! Ambassador you are spoiling us!! Curiously one couldn’t find an answer today when asked why disabled drivers don’t have to pay to cross the bridge; should have said well why not but then as they say hindsight bloody marvellous thing ha ha.

Yesterday the Spinster who is too darn polite and rule bound duly polled up again to the Dental Hospital for a routine appointment. The ‘just done five rounds with Mike Tyson’ look splendidly on show; still put the other ‘hollow’ cheek bone into a pleasing stark relief. Appointment at 3 pm and sitting calmly in waiting area at 245 pm. Having a discrete shifty look around the fellow patient group; recognise a woman from last time on account of her sharp jaw length bob and excellent cheekbones – and then it dawns on me that the poor woman  evidently didn’t  have any teeth on that particular jaw hence the depth of the hollow.

250 pm and the fire alarm goes off. We look at each other before getting up and standing vacantly before being shepherded towards the stairs by the Fire Monitors. Not wanting to get caught up in the crowd the Spinster hangs back as if the backs of my knees were glued to the chair. The Fire Warden says ‘can you manage the stairs’ to which I hesitantly  respond how many flights are  there. ‘You’d better stay with us’ she says and guides me into the dental call centre where treatment is metered out. After a few minutes there are just three of us; me and two nurses with one transistor walky talky. After several attempts it becomes evident that the Call Centre can’t hear us; by someone else in the Annex can and she’s got 5 staff and 2 patients in her care!

It was utterly hilarious and a slight hint of hysteria makes it all feel like we’re in a Victoria Wood sketch. You know the one where Mrs Overall or some such character keeps asking ‘is it on the trolley?” Nurse two takes over the transistor and puts her glasses on to see if she can make it work; randomly pressing button it suddenly bleeps; and bleeps again. Nurse almost drops it as this wasn’t quite what she was expecting! Fits of laughter engulf all three of us. And then Nurse One says ‘You ok Victoria? A glass of water?’ And then I realise that she’s got my name wrong (the Spinster’s second name is Victoria) and Victoria isn’t a code name for disabled patients! Earlier when I’d heard her saying ‘we’ve got Victoria with us’ I actually thought this was a way of conveying that the patient was disabled!

And then in a matter of 20 minutes it’s all over and everyone reappears. Back to business as usual; except Mo who I’ve been seeing (clinically rather than biologically speaking) for the last few months has moved on. The Spinster has been reassigned to a very tall statuesque young woman with a VERY sensible manner. ‘I didn’t expect you to come today’ she says. Non nonplussed I said it seemed an idea to get a check up after all the cutting and bleeding not to mention Ollie’s attempt at a Kirsty Allsop Make Do and Mend approach to needlework. All fine and I requested a month off on account of the trauma; the Spinster was of course being ironic as the appointments are always at least a month apart.

But the Spinster does now know why I’m not supposed to blow my nose for 2-3 weeks. Apparently the tooth (number 3) had a long root and as the bone was broken during the extraction process (that would be the splintering I heard) there could be a fragment of bone that could puncture the sinus under pressure. But Ms Tall and Sensible reassured me that the appropriate checks had been done so whilst this was unlikely it was a precautionary measure. Thank you to the gorgeous lady who sent me tissues to use when the time came; a sophisticated addition to the Spinster’s handbag; the thought gorgeous gal sent to different colour schemes to accommodate a range of summer shades!!

Off to dissolve table salt ( a bargain at 25p from some supermarket basics range) in hot water and hold in over the holes until the heat goes out of the water; or the pain makes you want to gag!!!

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Dental Butchery! A Long Traumatic Post With A Health Warning: Not For The Faint Hearted!!

nose blowingI am desperate to blow my nose; after being ‘butchered’ at the Dental Hospital yesterday the Spinster is supposed to refrain from blowing my nose for 2-3 weeks! Deep joy and frankly it’s going to be a challenge; the Spinster hates sniffers and the idea of becoming one is a tad irritating. The damage to my teeth from the Fentanyl lozenges is limited to the tooth not the root; see where this one is going?

The 10 am appointment yesterday was for three extractions; the letter instructed the Spinster to be at the Dental Hospital for 9 am for x-rays. Last time my companion (who usually drives me to the hospital on account of the parking problems) and I arrived for a similar appointment the x-ray was done in the first 5 minutes leaving us to wait for another hour. When the Spinster enquired about the delay I was told that because the Clinic can’t predict how busy the x-ray department will be they always allow an hour.  Hmm whilst the Spinster accepts the logic I still find it extremely irritating; it’s not just my time being wasted what about my companion who is incredibly tolerant of the volume of appointment (and the length of the treatment).

Yesterday the Spinster attended the Clinic alone so thankfully the horrific experience wasn’t witnessed by anyone else. I had decided that I wasn’t about to leave the house at 730 am to ensure I’d been at the Hospital for 9 am. No I thought I’d do my best to be on time but if the Spinster was a few minutes late so be it! The Spinster was mining her maverick genes to the full for once. As it happened the traffic and parking situation was fine and the Spinster was there for 9 am. Of course after the Spinster had glided slowly down the Hospital corridor it was more like 908 am when I checked in.

Enquiring where I should go for the x-rays the hassled woman on the Clinic reception said she’d have to prepare a card so I should sit down. Well time passed; people came and went; the Spinster’s crutches proved a hazard for a man with a pushchair until I moved them. Not wanting to be tardy when getting the X-ray call the I had left my crutches attached to my arms allowing me to get up (relatively) quickly; so the black poles did protrude into the waiting area. I just hate being a burden; hate getting in the way or holding things up.

Of course Disability Awareness training will no doubt have advised NHS to be patient with the patient but my experience is that in practice the more people say ‘take your time’ the less they actually mean it! As happened yesterday the Spinster is asked if I’d like a wheelchair because frankly it’s easier for the staff member. Oooh does the Spinster sound cynical and ungrateful? Of course but you have to understand that whilst this Spinster can still move her body herself she intends to do so! So sorry mine yer reserves of patience and deal with it!

The dental nurse eventually came to collect me at 1010 am; the Spinster was not called for x-rays as apparently they weren’t needed! Did the apology from the dentist make any difference? No it flamin’ didn’t! When she came to collect me of course the Spinster firstly couldn’t get up and then repeatedly lost my balance! Wobbling like an ancient spinning top or perhaps an elderly weeble – remember weebles wobble but they don’t fall down? Only this Spinster did not exactly fall down rather I ended up getting up and sitting down two or three times before eventually managing to stand up! And then as I attempted to turn the corner the Spinster lurched to one side almost falling; thankfully the wall intervened. It was at this point the nurse asked if I’d like a wheelchair; the Spinster politely declined saying it was just because I’d been sitting down for over an hour!

As the Spinster and the nurse slowly promenaded to the Dentist I asked if x-rays would be required or whether the treatment would start straightaway; if the latter I would need to loo first. Of course we had to go down to the dental booth to clarify the X-ray situation before the question could be definitively answered.  It’s amazing how much small talk the Spinster has to have on the tip of her tongue to accompany the journey; god knows it’s tedious but essential to break the otherwise lengthy silence! I SOOO wish it didn’t always have to be about Cruella; it makes the Spinster feel one dimensional! Heaven knows this Spinster is most certainly 3 dimensional these days but that’s another story.

When we arrive at the Dental booth, of course it’s the furthest one down the corridor, the Spinster is introduced to Josh the Dentist; oh my lord he doesn’t look old enough to be using power tools! He is best described as fresh faced aka looking a tad scared which isn’t exactly reassuring. Josh has no idea why the Spinster has received a letter asking me to come at 9 am for x-rays as he has been looking at a set of x-rays taken at the last appointment! So here comes the embarrassing bit; the return journey to the loo.

The nearest loo is in the Children’s Clinic and the Nurse says she’ll come with me; and she waits outside the door. Of course the Spinster can’t be left unsupervised in the Children’s Clinic; there are children there after all; small vulnerable people who I could presumably harm in some way? Lord knows the Spinster is simply attempting to manoeuvre my way around these small mobile hazards; the risk is all mine!

Finally the Spinster is in the chair and the real business begins. I won’t bore you with all the details; focusing on the gruesome facts, the most pertinent points as it were. Ostensibly the Spinster is here for three teeth to be extracted; this is the most urgent Fentanyl damage; believe me there will be more! The teeth are two on the bottom left jaw and one on the top right; injections are given in both areas including the bony roof of the Spinster’s mouth (horrendous is the best description of those 3 or 4).

Whilst waiting for the injections to take we indulge in small talk; the Spinster always ensures the dental practitioners are aware that the damage is not my fault, I don’t want to be judged as someone who hasn’t looked after her teeth! OK I don’t floss regularly; have you tried flossing with your eyes closed? If you can’t feel your fingers then it’s challenging to manipulate the floss; so the Spinster doesn’t floss! We chat about the Spinster’s Malawian upbringing; there is a lot of natural fluoride in the water there.

The first tooth comes out but it involves cutting the gum; and then the bone. The Spinster asks to see the offending article; the root is quite impressive in its undamaged state. The Dentist has already commented on the healthy state of the gums; presumably this was the preamble to saying they’ll recover from the cutting. The second is more difficult; more cutting is required and after 10 plus minutes the Dentist decides to ask for the assistance of the Senior Dentist covering the clinic.

Before reaching this position the Dentist and Nurse have been chatting over me; the subject is their colleagues apropos who else is working in the Clinic that day. The Spinster finds out personal details including when the Dentist asks about a female colleague he hasn’t seen for a while; the Nurse hesitates before saying ‘she had breast cancer’ and then ‘she’s only 28’. The Spinster is beginning to feel uncomfortable; a combination of realising the Dentist is out of his depth (the Nurse is gently suggesting where he should cut the gum) and the very personal information they are discussing. OK the Spinster has forgotten the name of the person being discussed but I did hear it!

The Dentist seems to have run out of implements and tools to use to extract the tooth. He seems to have gone white; later when leaving the Spinster actually asked if he was ok as he looked a bit shocked. No he said he was fine; it was just the way he looked!

Enter Ollie the Senior Dentist; he introduces himself through the facial mask so its a bit muffled. Ollie is masterful and decisive; physically he dwarf Josh. He’s wearing a kind of apron over a shirt and tie; he gloves up and gets stuck in! Ollie explains what he’s doing reassuring Josh he’d done well thus far. The second tooth comes out; to do this Ollie breaks it into two pieces, I can hear and feel it breaking. The anaesthetic has been topped up several times but it doesn’t detract from the pulling; the incredible force required to get the root out. Ollie takes over the suction and again the Spinster can see the blood in the tube.

The gum requires stitching; Ollie is a dab hand with the curiously curved needle; three stitches are needed. Josh seems relieved when Ollie offers to do the third extraction on account of the length of time the patient has been here; over an hour. The final one is the most horrific; a lot more anaesthetic is needed as it’s been so long since the proceeding‘s began.

This one is the most problematic; again it needs to be broken. Additionally the bone splinters, I can hear this happening inside my head; it’s simply horrific! Along with the tooth come fragments of both bone and a lump of tissue. Ollie shows me all the bits before saying I should avoid blowing my nose for 2-3 weeks. Evidently the sinus has been damaged; he’s already commented on the lump left behind after the last abscess. As a result of this final extraction the filling in the adjacent tooth has been damaged; after an hour and a half the Spinster is taken the emergency dentistry to have the filling repaired.

The Nurse mops the blood from the Spinster’s mouth; it’s everywhere and I can’t swill my mouth out until the next day. The Dentist advises taking ibuprofen and paracetamol alternately every 2 hours starting straightaway with the ibruprofen before the anaesthetic wears off. He’s not allowed to give me a prescription on account of the cost; on my way home I buy 16 of each for 51p!

When I get to the emergency clinic I recognise the Dentist as it was her who sent me for these extractions. She patches the damaged tooth up and cleans more blood off my lips and teeth saying ‘men don’t bother with the way we look’. As the Spinster is leaving the Nurse returns with a letter saying someone will phone me in 2 weeks to discuss the treatment before discharging me. Apparently standard procedure when a patient has had a difficult time; the phone call will be sometime between 730 and 930 am! Driving home I had to stuff a piece of gauze in my mouth the soak up the blood; imagine looking at another driver and them seeing a woman with blood around her mouth; bride of Dracula from Barry!

Driving home the Spinster has 45 minutes to get home and buy painkillers. The rat man is due between 1-5 pm and a friend arriving with lunch at 1 pm; eating was slow and painful! And it’s been like blinking rat central over the last few days; sitting in the downstairs loo minding me own business the Spinster see TWO rates amble in front of the back door! I now have a large plastic box with two lumps of green waxy stuff that will apparently attract the beasts! Rat man will return in a week to check the box; ma and pa are coming for the weekend – ma HATES rats and shuddered when being told how many the Spinster had seen! For a moment I actually thought she was going to change her mind about coming to stay!

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Gatepost Gossip/local intelligence exchange!

Terraced housesLast night the doorbell went and my neighbour, who is getting married today, asked if I had a plant sprayer to keep her wedding bouquet fresh. I couldn’t help so asked how it was all going ‘James (the man she’s marrying) has gone so its just me and the (seven) bridesmaids. It’s all a bit emotional’. We, or rather the Spinster, has lived through the preparations which seem to have been going on for months; it has  been months of meticulous planning as we all know (or are told by people, mainly women, who’ve already been through this), that the devil is in those all important details to complete the romantic experience. No wonder people are happy to engage the services of a wedding planner.

The Spinster has just come back in doors having taken photographs of the bride and bridesmaids; they all looked lovely with the adult women in hot pink shiny figure hugging strapless numbers and the children in 50’s style cream having had their hair styled into ringlets.  Making conversation with the morning be-suited older gentleman driving the soft top Chrysler the Spinster was able to garner a few more details to convey to the neighbour the other side – this neighbour was most annoyed that her lunch plans would mean she couldn’t witness the whole event and was insistent that I took photos!

The married couple are the epitome of opposites attract; he is a music teacher whose father is a QC and she a stay at home mum of four (one day she said to me ‘in case you were wondering there are four fathers’.  To be fair whilst it certainly is interesting living next door they don’t cause the Spinster any bother – you never quite know how many people are there as managing the difficult custody arrangements takes some juggling; after 6 months the Spinster has just about got her head around it so heaven only knows how the mother manages it. When I said this one day she just said she’s used to it and she’s not yet 30! Apparently her mother said to her one day ‘look on the bright side they’ll all be off your hands by the time your forty’  of course the latest one rather puts the kibosh on that one! (One too many drinks on holiday she said to me wistfully one day..)

ratThe conversation on the street of late has focused on rats; we have rats in the garden again and yesterday one ran over the Spinster’s bare foot in the kitchen! Given the weather the back door has been open most of the time so the Spinster is telling herself that the not so little beast came in from outside; I do not have rats living in the house! The council Rat Man only came 5 days ago and said there were no obvious hiding places in my garden so nothing was done. Apparently the two sightings were probably rats passing through; sometimes you’re just unlucky the Rat Man said! The Spinster doesn’t want to be lucky; after all I’m a vulnerable adult to use Social Service lingo! So first thing tomorrow morning this vulnerable adult is going to be onto Pest Control asking for immediate assistance! Wiles disease (the one you get from rat pee) could see the Spinster waving goodbye to this mortal coil and frankly I’m not ready quite yet.

One evening the Spinster was in conversation with my other neighbour about who was going to phone the council and how we’d split the cost if traps were needed. The Council charge for pest control these days unlike four years ago when we had the same problem; the Spinster has been archiving the Victorious Endeavours missives sent by email before introducing this wordpress blog and  came across a reference to rats in 2010. At the time we were all given a strong talking to about the folly of feeding the birds in our gardens as the rats were attracted by the dropped seed. Reluctantly we collectively stopped feeding the birds in the garden; I say reluctant but in all honesty it was one last thing to stop feeling guilty about forgetting to do! Other neighbours started putting bird feeders in the park that the houses back onto; regularly the Spinster smiles as I watch people carrying sets of ladders into the alley to reach over the wall into the park! When saying this to the Rat Man he said ‘they want to be careful, I won’t say anything, but that’s public property!’ Oh for heavens sake I wanted to say but didn’t as he’s a nice guy and yes I thought I might need his help again; little did I realise it would be quite so soon!

During our doorstep conversation about the rats, and other shenanigans on the Street, the other neighbour (the one getting married today) came out holding her 7 month old baby. She proceeded to tell us how she’d cleaned up her garden so the rats had nothing to attract them; and then she uttered the following ‘but the nappies are still there!’ Our black bags are collected once a fortnight and the idea that the rats were feeding of dirty nappies frankly turned the Spinster and her other neighbour’s stomach! We just looked at each other in horror (quite comical when I reflect on it now). Thankfully the Council have now delivered a nappy bin which is reassuringly rat proof!

Any way must sign off now as the Spinster is off for a facial; as they say ‘every little helps’ and a nicotine addicted woman of my age frankly needs all the help she can get! Plus me eyelashes are being tinted too for the first time; the Spinster has drawn the line before getting to eyebrow tattooing as that sounds like a step too far especially when using tweezers with this built in shake draws enough blood to occasionally give the impression of an incompetent tattoo artiste at work!

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A Family Weekend

photo (4)I spent the weekend with my family and I can honestly say I haven’t laughed so much for a very long time. My brother and I are only a year and a week apart with the Spinster being the elder. We were catching up during one of my brother’s ‘in between’ times; he’s currently doing glorified shift work in Azerbaijan! (Four weeks on two weeks off). On his next ‘in between’ time he’s off to North Korea on an organised tour; in times gone passed the Spinster had occasion to go to Beirut and the Russian Federation – only now do I reflect on how we’ve put my wonderful parents on edge! Risk exposure makes for a rounded citizen after all.

There speaks a sibling who doesn’t entirely know what her sibling does for a living; he’s a Chemical Engineer who revels in any opportunity to reduce the Spinster’s expensive cosmetics down to their base elements which invariably include oil or its derivatives! Thanks for that excuse me if I choose to switch off when you start talking; a handy wave indicating when you’ve finished would be also be appreciated I can zone back in! Seriously I know we might not like it but the oil industry does underpin many aspects of the global economy; very personally impacting on the car reliant Spinster every time I fill up with diesel!

photo (4) - Copy

This weekend the Spinster was on a mission; the object of the search into the upper reaches of the attic was my collection of Beatrix Potter ornaments. For some reason the rooting out of these ceramic animals doing ridiculous human activities had become urgent! In this Spinsterial brain a magnificent ensemble of c 30 figurines carefully wrapped in exquisite tissue paper. As you can see above there are in fact only seven; six intact with Mrs Puddle duck having suffered a broken neck at some point! And now as the Spinster stands back and looks at them they aren’t nearly as attractive or cute as I remember; the Mrs Piggy one in particular has the appearance of a sinister cross dresser!

Whilst in the attic we took the opportunity to go through some of the other boxes finding everything from well worn handmade toys courtesy of our gorgeous Granny including a matching brownie and cub scout now rather floppy! The kind of toys we as children had back in the 1970/80s just aren’t the sort you can gift to this generation; even if the musty attic smell could be banished! So off to the dump they went along with all the Spinster’s old school books neatly tied in years; I didn’t excel and they certainly didn’t merit even a quick browse but OMG did we love covering our exercise books in those days!

Report 6 JPGFar more interesting were the note books my darling father made to accompany a 1962 trip to the Lake District. NB this must be where I the Spinster gets her eccentric habit of reusing notebooks as one of the instructive manuals was contained in one from The Tottenham & District Gas Company Ponders End Works!(see above) The innards had been removed leaving the cardboard shell available to staple the notes to. Simply perfection dad! He and I share a number of eccentric habits of which this is only one!


 Report 3Such neat handwriting alongside purple typescript outlining the daily schedule with meticulous, if wicked, attention to detail. The annotations pithy little cryptic comments including Friday 3rd April Easy day. Mr Pink splinter! I asked Dad about the trip and if indeed there was someone called Mr Pink (a name the Spinster last heard in Reservoir Dogs). There was a teacher of that name but he could remember few details about that trip; at least initially, he later randomly dropped in a few facts. The notebooks were a reminder of how much the teaching profession has changed; normally taking boys on trips he stated emphatically that he always made sure he had a woman on hand if girls were there! As if those troublesome females needed special attention!! My father is and has always been an old fashioned gentleman in the true sense of that phrase.

Report 4Most intriguingly the notebooks revealed my father’s incredible sense of irony, humour and sarcasm. When reading the note on clothing (see below) he starts with a salutary fact that the previous year three Rover Scouts had died from exposure was assumes given the context of the sentence. Going on to the madness of wearing shorts in April and concluding with the sentence ‘The party are insured against personal injury and death but there is no money available for funeral wreaths’ That sentence had the Spinster literally doubled up with laughter and you know how I can’t multitask anymore! I had to brace meself against the wall momentarily!

And finally there’s the hilarious word of warning when visiting the coal mine when going underground it is likely that everyone will be search for means of making fire. Ending with ‘There is generally one individual willing to risk his own life and that of others for a quiet smoke’! People dismiss the eccentric comments of older people consequently devaluing the decades of experience they bring; an immeasurably valuable asset if only we took the time to really listen. End of rant!

Over lunch my brother regaled us with the off road cycling he had done with mates earlier in the week. Following a well trodden path the three of them came across a couple otherwise occupied; in flagrante I believe is the polite phrase! The woman naked (it was a hot day) astride the prone man enjoying the summer sun; a few yards further and they would never have been seen he observed. Perhaps, the Spinster noted, they wanted to be seen? Father discreetly smirked with mother rather more open with her expression of surprise! Oh yes dearest people really do behave this way.

The best was yet to come when the phrase ‘do bears shit in the woods’ came into its own. Boys out doing serious endurance rides are on occasions caught out; the action of cycling being hardly conducive to crossing ones legs! Well that was simply too much for us all ending with a question as to where the word ‘dump’ came from (as in taking a dump rather than taking to the dump referred to earlier)! Oh yes men do go native when there’s no other alternative; even the best brought up sons (of course all our sons are such) can be dirty little boys!!!

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Seemingly Significant Matters



hello kitty

The last week has been curiously uneventful; relatively so for once. Reflecting on what was different the Spinster realised she had had an appointment free week! Wow the space this constant medical maintenance fills obviously expands and contracts depending on Cruella mood; this week having provoked a reaction by lobbing another infection in my direction she has taken some time out. No doubt boning up on professional development matters to see how innovative she could be next! For the Spinster the ‘C’ word means chronic; for Cruella is means continuous and along with her host performance excellence is essential. No doubt some public body has given her a grant to further her expertise; every artist needs time out to reflect!

Recent headlines relating to the University Hospital Cardiff, locally referred to as the Heath (a fact handily pointed out by one correspondent – one does lived in the ‘provinces’ after all and the public beyond our borders need a spot of translation to appreciate the full horror!). Regular readers will be fully conversant with the Spinster experience of the healthcare afforded to those of us gifted with the special powers that come with being labelled with MS. It will not have escaped you that the relentless tediousness of pointless appointments, many in the corridors of this august institution, does tend to grind a patient down; frankly it’s exhausting! If the Spinster has to discuss opera with another Consultant again she may actually spit feathers!

Ann ClwydMs Ann Clwyd is on the case undertaking an enquiry into how patient complaints are handled; one can’t help but be curious as to whether she got a reassuring response to the appalling treatment her husband received in his last days. Or have her energies been ‘directed’ or perhaps ‘channelled’ into conducting the enquiry to keep her busy; troublemakers/whistleblowers consume valuable resources that evidently this hospital should be concentrating on patient care. If this was someone’s idea of ‘managing’ Ms Clwyd they may be about to find out she has no intention of keeping quiet; once the bit is between her teeth she doesn’t tend to let go, at least the Spinster for one hopes not. I keep remembering her life long campaign to highlight the treatment of the Marsh Arabs; a minority issue for many but one she remains committed to.

Hmm one could hardly not comment on the story now could I but as with most things to do with the Spinster’s experience ‘tis all rather academic unless something actually changes to improve one’s personal situation. All too boring to dwell on me thinks; limited energy must be channelled more productively! Accordingly I finally got around to getting my business accounts up to date; and yes once again the Spinster found herself musing over a pile of random receipts (again)! The dining table was required to aid the process as was the mini shredder (bugger me it’s hard work winding the blessed thing once again wondering who had a hamster to benefit from the energy expended).

A Shameful Heap of Paper...

A Shameful Heap of Paper…

Of course with the state of freelance work it’s not exactly a time consuming exercise; well it shouldn’t be if one had input the little strips of paper every month. Still looking on the bright side it was only 3 nearly 4 months this time! All I can say is ‘touting’ for business costs this disabled Contractor a lot of money; diesel, car maintenance and parking charges alone before adding in the coffee that goes with the chat with potential clients! But ultimately FM Consultancy needs to remain visible; the downside of having (some considerable time ago admittedly) had a high profile position is people assume (mistakenly) that one is always busy! Not forgetting to omit one is a woman of a certain age and young eager whippersnappers (the freelance equivalent of sharp elbowed parents one has concluded) – will to work for peanuts and fit enough to run faster! What happened to respect for ones elders? Why not practice on those in our middle years people – you too will soon be just like us! And whilst I’m on the subject consulting the Spinster for advice costs so please at least pay for the coffee?!!

If I could make a living out of writing and coaching/mentoring this Company Director would be a happy gal! My work with individuals and small/micro businesses is some of the most rewarding especially when those people really engage with the process. This week FM Consultancy was engaged in actual paid work something that is most reinforcing; being single, childless and self employed can, if one isn’t careful, lead one to being defined by one’s work. The elusive work life balance requires both elements to be in play; i.e. one needs both work and a life! The confidential information disclosed is a form of intelligence gathering and superb at facilitating the raised eyebrow when one comes across things that just don’t quite add up; the stories we tell ourselves to make sense of this complex environment never cease to amuse me. Of course as it’s all entre nous the information can’t be shared but then that half the appeal of it! Remember your grandmother/auntie asking you to tell them what you’ve been up to? Heavens the Spinster role as confidante and comforter has morphed into something she never intended!

Perfect with a cigarette holder!

Perfect with a cigarette holder!

As you might have realised every time Cruella gets busy the Spinster has to review life; try to ferret out what precisely will have to change. A frank assessment of the impact must be made; pragmatism is a finely hones skill these days. Lateral thinking to accommodate the new circumstances; I often reflect on how as Cruella stuffs my attributes in her swag bag they seem to be handed over to my 5 year old godson! (Does he realise he’s handling stolen goods and there are consequences!) His manual dexterity continues to improve as mine deteriorates; this week the Spinster has noticed a dramatic improvement in her ability to flick things. One momentarily pondered whether to take up tiddlywinks…

Both larger things (hairbrushes/toothbrushes etc) and rather smaller items (prescription drugs/Sweetex etc) are propelled at incredible speed! Can I find them of course I can’t; tomorrow the Spinster will implore her wonderful GP to increase the number of pills prescribed to compensate for the significant number misplaced thus! Even the usual hiding places are empty; often ‘bits’ of ‘stuff’ reveal themselves when one is undressing – nestled in the folds of fabric with the fulsome brassiere historically being a favourite cache!

You may recall the Spinster bemoaning the deterioration in her short sight as a consequence (according to the smug faced optician) of age. Sliding my glasses down my nose was the prescription; the question is just how far down my nose before the glasses fall off? It’s a close call these days especially when one factors in the need to have the reading material adequately illuminated! Picture the Saturday afternoon godson visit when reading is the order of the day; getting him to sit comfortably (for both of us) without blocking the light or moving suddenly resulting in me glasses falling off!

On godson matters this Godmother was feeling a little smug when she found seedless watermelon; introducing him to the fruit was education (as long as there were no seeds of course). After initial success a second watermelon was purchased and prepared (along with the usual grapes). Now I did notice that there were some seeds in this second one but nothing significant or so one thought. Well the first piece went down albeit a bit messily and we were engrossed in the Cat in the Hat (a book requiring concentration to get the rhythm right). Leaning over for another piece of watermelon ignoring Godmother’s suggestion that a piece of kitchen roll might help. ‘I can’t eat that!’ Oh yes this cute little monster spotted the seeds. ‘It’s OK they won’t grown in your tummy’. Of course between Godmother and his accompanying Mamgi we bit off the seedy bits for the next 20 minutes!

And then when he was leaving he misjudged giving me a goodbye kiss instead planting his wet chops on my tummy!

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Coco Chanel Versus A Hen Party – What Would You Choose?

Coco-Chanel-Collana-PerleI had hoped that as one embarked on the third day of ‘industrial’ strength antibiotics a degree of wellness would have returned. Yep the dental business discussed a couple of days ago resulted in not one but two abscesses; one under a filled tooth and a second where the injection was given! Yesterday morning brought a kind of ‘lock jaw’ tightness and then a tongue (followed by index finger) examination revealed a lengthening of the swelling in the second infection; technically one is informed this behaviour is called ‘tracking’ (always good to know ha ha)! But mustn’t grumble as the first one seems smaller and following a ‘brain enhancer’ one is feeling (mentally if not physically) sharper!

Cruella as a result has been having a field day or rather she has downed tools altogether deciding her host (moi) should be prevented from, well, doing pretty much bugger all! Irritating and frankly inopportune! For some reason ones senses, all, become more sensitive to whatever they’ve responsible for especially sight and sound; on reflection touch isn’t great either. So should you per chance bump (please not literally) in the Spinster refrain from stroking me! Not that this is a frequent occurrence one might add but with a noticeable shrinking of one’s person space – something not unfamiliar to many disabled people and curiously to pregnant women – anything is possible

So the ‘sudden’ appearance of loud construction noises, along with music from next door (the weather necessitating, understandably, all windows to be open), wasn’t entirely welcome! When I say ‘sudden’ it turns out residents had been informed something one was reliable told by my neighbour when I commented on it – the letter put through the door early Thursday evening from Welsh Water addressed to The Occupier apologised for 48 hours of noise whilst work was done to the sewage system. I confess not to rushing to clip clop and pick up something that appeared to be a circular! Curious timing as the work began on Thursday evening and continued throughout the night and the following 1-2 days; it had better be worth it especially as the location of the noise provoked recollections of ‘friend with benefits’ one hasn’t been in contact with for over a year, 13 months to be precise! Ha just noticed the (unintended) link with sewage!!!

On the subject of noise specifically ones neighbours the Spinster is reminded of a conversation, ironically overhead in the changing room, recently. It always amuses me how people are disarming honest/frank/open in the subjects discussed, and shared, when in a state of undress; naked we are unencumbered by the rules governing privacy (and the privacy of others). The fellow swimmer was moaning about her noisy neighbours and their children; barely acknowledging that a family of 6 including a teething baby involves a degree of crowd control! In the next breath, and this had me raising an eyebrow into me undergarments (the task I was attempting at the time (and yes I confess in a manner designed not to muffle my hearing more than momentarily), in the next sentence fellow swimmer went onto comment on how irritating it was not to be able to overhear complete conversations! How many times has one wanted to say ‘listen to yerself lady!’…

Where else does one glean local intelligence that is after all the lifeblood of the street?  Or indeed of the office? It reminded me of overhearing my own neighbour (lovely woman) telling Friday Fairy that I hadn’t been well; she’d heard me coughing through the wall during the night!! Heaven knows what else they say about me! Having decided to take a bath early evening yesterday I studiously ignored the doorbell; you know the moment when you’ve just got comfortable: right temperature, everything within reach etc? And then it went again! Teeth gritting (not literally as that would be too painful) irritation/concern – perhaps the persistence means the caller needs something? Of course (in my case at least) the physical response is to sit up to consider my next move; and then the decision was made for me. Why so you might reasonably ask?

Well. Not for the first time the Spinster might add. I bloody go and knock a nearly full pack of (supremely expensive VAT laden) cigarettes in the water! No no no were the words that came from my mouth as I ‘quickly’ attempted to rescue the slim brown, sophisticated, (in my opinion reinforced by a random colleague who commented that I made smoking look thus), and increasing wet fags! Of course not one is dry enough to be smoked in that much needed muscle relaxing bath!

Grumpily I put together, augment one might say, the random smells and sounds from next door. Barbecue smells, patio party preparation behaviour (dining table outside, swing seat moved and stripped of its ‘roof’ etc) and conclude the caller was probably her-next-door. And her a woman who one has discussed smoking habits with; her short commitment to the electronic variety (acquired in a shop in New Gale (clue in the name) when camping with the family) and the cost of tailor-made’s versus rollies! That this neighbour would be responsible for frankly ruining my bathing experience had me metaphorically spitting feathers! Of course she couldn’t possibly be held responsible rationally know that. BUT in that moment I was absolutely resolute, crisis or trivial request to borrow something (previously including a hoover and parcel tape), I was not answering the BLOODY door!

Of course the seething didn’t last; it never does anymore (well not really, apart from one thing but the ire isn’t nearly as strong as it was anymore). Later, not that much later as the temperature was no longer right, when deliberately in the garden, the Spinster casually enquired if said neighbour had rung the doorbell. ‘Yes it’s my hen night tonight and we’re having a BBQ so I was just giving you the heads up; it could get noisy!’.

Coco Film ImagePragmatically I shut the window and settled down to watch a DVD about the early life of Coco Chanel accompanied by my three vices: caffeine, nicotine and Fentanyl oh yes this Spinster knows how to have a good time! The addition of white and triple chocolate fingers confirmed that this was going to be a good evening; and it was, almost, only slightly marred by having forgotten the film was in French with tiny subtitles! So to complete the image place the Spinster’s glasses half way down her nose as advised by the Optician on account of ones age!!

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Pondering On Pregnancy

PregnancyHmm babies; pregnancy; giving birth (in various ways all, it seems to me, rather painful); and ahh the ecstasy of first time mother/father/grandparent hood! The suspense of the gender; a boy (as an ardent feminist I secretly imagine momentary disappointment) or a girl (the two little ‘ladies’ currently a feature in my life both received their first pair of dungarees on their first birthday’s with accompanying card’s saying ‘it’s never too early to wear dungarees’ or similar sentiment to ensure their mother’s were in no doubt that further reinforcing feminist ‘material’ would surely follow)!

Having said all that I confess I am with the Queen’s 88 year old first cousin who, when interviewed by an American news channel about whether she was excited about the imminent birth of the Royal birth, said ‘Not terribly’. When the interviewer pointed out that this child could one day be king or queen Mrs Rhodes replied ‘Yes, all right. I’m prepared to be excited’.  This Spinster is a bit non plussed by new babies; I don’t exactly think they all look like Winston Churchill but some years ago at a child free wedding I did say to the father of the only baby (a week old so too young to be farmed out for the day) that the child looked (and brace yerself) well fresh!

(As an aside since writing this the Duchess of Cambridge has gone into the early stages of labour; does this change anything? Urh no why would it? My favourite comment from an American reporter camped outside the front of the private London hospital where the monarch creating event is playing out was – referring to the legions of press waiting alongside her she said ‘this has to be the most watched place in the world; but as they say a watched pot never boils!’ Good luck Kate!)

I’ve never been one to get caught up with royal events; a tenuous connection surely simply requires one to afford a neutral degree of respect but nothing more? But maybe one should be a tad more excited, if not the frankly irritating bordering on intrusive interest of Auntie, when a reasonably close relative (first cousin) gives birth. The young woman in question is 31 (or possibly 30) and she has recently had a little boy. Don’t get me wrong I’ve already sent a card and accompanying presents for both her (a rather lovely necklace made by a jeweller whose work one has an affinity with) and her firstborn (a rather cute snuggle ‘thing’ (tiny blanket with a Dalmatian(ish)puppy in one corner).

But beyond being pleased all concerned are happy and thriving the spinster feels, well basically if one is being completely honest, fairly neutral! I know secretly at least a few of you will feel the same although you’d never actually say this! More significant is my young teenage recollections of when this same young woman was born I went to stay with her parents to help out. Her mother is my youngest Aunt; younger by 9 years than her nearest sibling she was always a little bit more fun to be around and motherhood thankfully didn’t change this. When, during my stay, I piled soft toys on her firstborn’s head whilst the tiny baby was sitting her bouncy chair my Aunt didn’t chastise me. Oh no we both dissolved into fits of giggles and she took a photo!

But bang goes another potential recipient for the Beatrix Potter ornament collection the Spinster built up during child/teenage hood! Of course said items need to be located first; precise details of which are yet to be crystallised. Encumbered as one is by crutches, albeit ‘stylish’ German ones, one is not permitted to the parental attic space as it is accessed by ladder. If only I’d thought of this when a friend and I were up there recently on the hunt for other childhood items. Seems a tad ridiculous that a 43 year old woman is denied this simple request; my activities are even risk assessed at her Ma and Pa’s! I shudder to think at how what one get’s up to one is unsupervised would be assessed!

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Staying Awake

Boiler MenWednesday morning I skipped early swimming as the Gas man was coming to service the boiler sometime between 8 and 12; arriving circa 1030 full of how he remembered coming to ‘well service ‘ me before. In fact it he was more specific than that. He did the call out when the snow resulted in the pipes freezing; he was the resourceful guy who stood on the windowsill to pour boiling water onto to the pipes to melt the ice. ‘Yes’ he said ‘I thought I recognised the address and then when I saw you and I remembered’!  Sometimes being memorable isn’t desirable; Cruella on crutches in Barry with an accent more received pronunciation than South Wales somehow adds a drawing pin to that service call!

As you do we exchanged titbits about the boiler, the manufacturer and how he didn’t recommend stopping the service contract. I’d fastidiously cleaned the sink in the bathroom just to be sure; I would hate visitors to consider my standards were slipping, polishing the mixer tap so you can see the reflection in it is somehow a sign that the Spinster is in control! Before he got started he came down to ask if he could use the toilet; of course I said yes, followed by (twice) ‘make sure you put the seat down afterwards’ – my house, my toilet etiquette – he heard and wisely refrained from commenting.

On reflection the conversation lost its informal tone at that point! As the Spinster has got older the excuses made to save the perplexed looks of random strangers unable to grasp whether my father’s throw away comments are eccentric humour designed to provoke polite laughter have become necessary more often; heaven help me perhaps people already find themselves in the same position in response to me! Are middle age feminists – (between our founding mothers who fought the equality battle to our little sisters too young to appreciate how far we’ve come or indeed those of the younger generation who have found their own fire in their bellies) – so out of sink with contemporary society?

imagesCA7UGOGJNow there are some places one shouldn’t fall asleep; some actions that require a person to be fully awake like operating heavy machinery or being in sole charge of young children, the kind of thing where a momentary lapse of attention could have serious consequences. After a long drive back to Cardiff the Spinster had an appointment at the Dental Hospital; this time with the regular dentist to whom I have been allocated by the Restorative Dentistry Consultant. Last time neither the Dentist nor the Consultant was there; one had omitted to remember my appointment and gone on holiday and the other off work on account of a broken arm. Neither absence ideal given I was there for a review of the work so far; as I was collected from the waiting area the nurse filled me in and reassuring said she’s got a lovely dentist lined up in his place!

And lovely she was indeed albeit reluctant to actually do anything that might not have been on the overall care plan. Given that the Spinster presented with a rather large hole in a rather large tooth one had hoped for some significant remedial treatment involving anaesthesia and needles. But neither was forthcoming with the dental equivalent of ‘No Nails’ being applied in industrial quantities to fill in the gaps. The second enthusiastic young Irish woman whose ambit I had temporarily fallen into; the kind of person one warms to and would happily see again but of course one seldom does.

Now a regular patient I judge the ‘success’ of the session on the degree of numbness; numbness is a familiar ironically reassuring feature in my life so no numbness equals a waste of the parking charge or it would do if my friend who usually takes me felt it necessary to buy a ticket. Oh the confidence to be even this little bit naughty! How did I end up with a full dose of compliance genes? I guess the thing about being hugely reliant on my car might have something to do with it but I’m right behind me mate for her deviant (none paying of parking ticket) behaviour!

Stand in Irish dentist’s parting assessment went like this; basically you are going to lose all the teeth on both sides as a result of the Fentanyl damage but the front teeth are pretty strong (adding in ‘and clean’ for good measure). So your smile won’t be affected; people won’t be able to tell so that’s positive! That’s the way I’d look at it if I were you!’ OK lady I can relate to that; or rather I did until one of my front incisors broke off – is there no one whose judgement I can have confidence in!

So after a 200 mile drive I find myself in one of the call centre style dental booths with my regular practitioner; this time the dentist is assisted by a tall slim Irish gentleman with a sense of humour. As always the gap between the dental assistant and the Spinster grows as the fit buggers yomp down the room; we always comment on the length of the walk but no one sees fit to work on me in a booth nearer the reception. I guess this is the dental equivalent of hot desking with everyone having a personal preference in terms of their work station.

As the bearded assistant makes conversation he settles me into dentist chair by putting my handbag and crutches just out of reach so as to remove any chance I might leg it. To get my attention the Irish lad repeatedly touches my shoulder as if to reassure me; to be honest the soft burr of his voice is quite sufficient. Besides which I can’t really feel that shoulder so feel free to stroke away, unless I happen to be looking in his direction, no offence will be caused!

During the procedure(s) the dentist and assistant exchange banter about the quality of supplies in private practice (where the dentist seems to spend at least some of his time) and the dental hospital. The Irish assistant is training to be a dentist rather than a dental nurse and at one point says ‘there’s the rub you said NHS and investment in the same sentence!’; was this aimed at the patient perhaps?

The dentist reviews the dental plan for today; with a hint of Kirsty Allsop’s ‘make do and mend’ he proposes to patch the most sensitive teeth (of the 4 that have broken since he last saw me) and refer me for extractions. Unlike the last consultation injections are central to the procedure today; a mere 4-5 big ones in the jaw joint and at the front by the time he’s finished I am convinced my bottom lip is huge – at least equivalent to being punched by Mike Tyson. But no a glance in the rear view mirror disappointingly reveals no swelling at all!

The restorative intervention takes about 45 minutes during which the Spinster is mortified to say a she has a couple – possibly three – naps! First couple of times I vaguely remember both of them gently saying ‘open your mouth’ as the slumber evidently resulted in a slackening of the jaw but no teeth marks – at least no punctures in their ‘not latex’ gloves. The final time one excelled oneself by giving a snore/snort so loud I woke myself up!

I couldn’t wait to get out of the Dental Hospital hardly waiting to get the referral letter for the next procedure. The third time the Spinster left without the prescription for super strength fluoride toothpaste which has apparently done its job as the decay hasn’t progressed! Hurrah not! Perverse logic warning: Fentanyl has already damaged all teeth on all four jaws; what ever these dental ‘magicians’ do ultimately all these teeth are going to fall out. So why not let them all fall out; no teeth to damage ergo carry on with the Fentanyl as at least it dulls the pain?

If you happen to bump into the Spinster please avoid provoking laughter or smirking as she’ll be practicing her ‘I’ve got no side teeth smile’ and the interim is likely to be painful for both parties!

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Blissful Baths

Marsha Burns: a delightful postcard sent to me..if only! if ever!

Marsha Burns: a delightful postcard sent to me..if only! if ever!

Baths play a significant role in this Spinster’s life; living alone affords to luxury of extraordinarily long languorous ones. Such blatantly selfish behaviour that comes with living tout seul; a utterly marvellous privilege quite frankly I’d have to be facing absolute peril to give up and it wouldn’t be willingly! (Taking the occasional tumble doesn’t get anywhere near it besides this affords the opportunity to find a myriad of things I’ve dropped and one becomes very aware of the amazing places cobwebs are created; ingenious beasts the weavers of cobwebs don’t ya know!)

Of course one is able to nip (well slowly inch on crutches in my case) up the corridor to fetch something I’ve forgotten without bothering to cover ones nakedness! Now the image of me in such a state of undress frankly appals me (so those of you who know me please protect yourself from harm by not going there). You know the bits that go South in ones middle years and the delightful flashes of lightening otherwise known as cellulite (that a particularly unpleasant ex partner said helped him find me in the dark; for years I tried to secretly verify whether stretch marks were luminescent (they aren’t))! Orange peel doesn’t even get near to my extensive geographical navigation map -(practically to OS level of detail not omitting even the most minor of A roads) – these days especially when you factor in the nicely named thread veins oh ladies, as many of you will know, age really doesn’t come alone!

Walking on crutches does of course mean the wobbling of hanging flesh is less pronounced than in an able bodied person. Please one has to look for the positive where one can these days; there are seldom upsides in my current daily life! The Physio might have taught me ‘model walking’ but that’s the last thing on me mind when inching naked from the bathroom to retrieve some item ‘essential’ to my bathing experience! Posture is frankly more likely to resemble that of a Neanderthal man in the stage between ape and human. And yes the rear view won’t be any less frightening; I swear my buttocks can wobble from side to side these days – when Vera my 84 year old swimming companion who gets occasional pleasure (if not glee) from slapping my wet arse next indulges herself I must ask her to give me her honest assessment on wobble behaviour! Believe me this is NOT something I should ask because she will give it her full attention before turning me around so I neither miss the message or the facial expression when delivering it! She can be utterly unforgiving and shockingly insensitive sometimes but what you see is definitely what you get!

2013-06-26 14.56.48Back to blissful baths. The Landmark Trust rent out a remote cottage in Cornwall, near the Lizard, and buried in depths of primarily oak woodland owned by the National Trust. It is indeed idyllic nesting in its own woody glade seemingly carved out just for the purpose some considerable time ago in the 19th Century when it is believed it was home to a fisherman. When Royal Navy fighter planes from Culdrose up the road aren’t practicing for a forthcoming air day Fisherman’s Creek is deliciously peaceful sitting just above the Helford River. The cottage is basic to the standard it was last lived in or thereabout either way the period my companion and I were fascinated by was the 1950s when it was rented as a retreat by one CC Vyvyan and Maria Penhaligon. Excited as one sniffed a Sapphic soaked triste I confess to being a tad gutted to read further into the most informative file to find the name of Maria’s man! But thankfully he seemed to have a rather subordinate bit part in the story!

Along with a copy of Daphne du Maurier’s Frenchman’s Creek ( a ‘cracking’ read according  to my companion) there were several books written by CC Vyvyan who seemed to be a great traveller. When I say great the creative subject focused on the Cornwall and Scilly Isles but with a foray into mainland Europe too. The Helford River is a witty well observed travelogue detailing amongst other things this cottage which she and Maria named Cuckoo Cottage on account of hearing a cuckoo when they first found it. Romantics at heart they, or rather Maria, set about furnishing Cuckoo Cottage in a comfortably rustic style appropriate for their times a deux and the entertaining indulged in from time to time (catered by the Penhaligon staff).

2013-06-26 15.00.09 Eagerly lapping up the story I confess I approached the task rather too hastily skimming the text (of a less than pleasant scented book) for juicy morsels. CC liked to come to the Cottage on her own to read in her bath I read how utterly fabulous I felt an immediate connection as one Spinster to another; CC never married. Conveniently ignoring the fact that the Landmark Trust had during the renovation installed running water it never occurred to me to consider the logistics of having a bath of a suitable temperature to read in at length! Companion humoured me carrying a cafetiere of coffee for her disabled chum into the bathroom as I filled the bath with lovely hot water will a couple of capfuls of Jo Malone Pomegranate Noir or it could have been the Fig and Cassis as I had both with me.

Point of information: this Spinster is well aware that only one capful of oil is required especially in this bath which it turned out wasn’t quite as big as it looked. No with these fulsome nether regions rather more water was displaced than anticipated when lowering the body mass in; still that’s probably why there were so many towels you know to mop the floor when the water cascades over the top! However back to the bath oil and this seemingly profligate behaviour. Well my gorgeous brother bought, well i confess to having allowed him to not precisely be there at the point of purchase that Christmas; but either way in December 2011the two bottles of Jo Malone came into ones possession. Can you see where this is going? Basically you can’t bloody use the stuff fast enough; great value but 18 months on I’m getting a bit bored of them hence the two capful observations!

cc1When I went back to the informative documents I only discovered that the baths CC and Maria loved so very much didn’t involve water at all! Oh no Maria had discovered that a carefully upholstered hip bath made the perfect place to curl up in! They had matching, in the ‘vintage retro chic’ sense i.e. a harlequin set i.e. no blinking matching at all, baths in Cuckoo Cottage. All I can say is they must have been rather fitter and flexible than moi as the prospect of heaving this Cruella inhabited body in and out of a hipbath without the aid of a hoist or strapping lad or lassie is laughable! But possible, maybe, if the bath was braced to the floor and a small stool were to hand; now that might be a runner…wonder if the OT (if she ever finds her way from the University Hospital to the deepest dark environs of the Vale) would consider?

cc3 cc2


No matter how old one gets one never tires of hearing stories of eccentric women from earlier generations. I wasn’t surprised to find that CC was actually part of the Vyvyan family who own a substantial estate in Cornwall. Apparently older people in the area still remember the eccentric CC in her pony and trap; what a gal she was by all accounts! These photo’s from her books just give one an indication of the woman she was; the oldest image just makes me smile as I recall one story of the challenges of collecting dung for the garden, she just sat back contemplating the task and lit a cigarette!

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