Retroladytyping …

Taking a break …

… from  “The Facebook News Feed… oh that black hole of endless EVERYTHING”

Just recently I found myself becoming increasingly stressed without any reasonable cause.  Nothing much had changed.  Spring had sprung.  There were holidays and breaks to look forward to.  No pressure of work.  No pressure of any kind that I could see, and yet, and yet … something was happening.  My eyes felt as if I needed to take them out and rinse them under the tap, my back ached, my head ached, but mostly I was worried about a ‘something’ which I couldn’t quantify or  describe.   There was always a feeling of ‘something’ being wrong, ‘something’ which needed to be checked – just in case.

Wandering in a sleepy daze downstairs every morning, I caught my hand going out to that switch in the hall.  That one.  The one which triggers a flashing green light.  The box of connectivity.    I wasn’t switching it on with any real purpose in mind – no imminent need to email, shop or check the news or the weather.  As I opened up the laptop, I realised I was automatically moving the mouse to Facebook.  Why?

Why indeed?  Because I wanted to check if anything was happening.  Of course something was happening.  Something always is.  I can honestly say that I do know, in real life, most of my Facebook friends,  we have a common interest, or a shared educational or employment history.  Yes, I’m justifying myself.  But I felt I needed to check on their doings before I’d even staggered into the kitchen to put the kettle on for a caffeine hit, as well as frequent checks throughout the day.    Did I really need to  keep checking, googling and clicking on links until I developed a crick in my neck, followed by a headache, then a stress-inducing worry session brought about by information overload?  I did.  After all ‘something’ may have happened overnight, or may happen just as I log off … and I wouldn’t know about it. 

So what.

Yesterday I found myself massively over-reacting to a minor mishap in the real world (don’t ask – to do with misunderstandings and the expectation that the person closest to me can actually read my mind and knows what I am really saying … yes, that kind of misunderstanding, probably familiar to most long-married people.)

On reflection, when I had calmed down, I realised that what I was feeling  was brain overload.  I felt teary, tired, emotional and mentally exhausted for no good reason.  On reflection I realised that this kind of thing had been happening far too frequently lately. I’d been blaming others, the weather, being busy, the political situation – anything really.     I then found this website:

Please read it.  It is very enlightening.  There is so much information out there, most of which we don’t need or want to know.  It’s an endless pit of ‘stuff’ which I fell into every day and was in danger of becoming suffocated by.

That website describes Facebook as “a black hole of ENDLESS EVERYTHING” – yes, that’s exactly right.  Of course, Facebook has its positive uses:  keeping in touch with past friends whose paths have taken them to far-flung places, discussion groups with like-minded people, photographs – especially of weddings and new babies.  Using the Chat facility to arrange reunions, sharing news of personal events. Who can complain about those?

However, it’s the other side of those positives which I think had been  affecting me – the constant need to check ‘just-in-case’ somewhere within that endless everything there was that vital something which I really, really needed to know.  If that wasn’t to be the case, then I would share something about my own life – most of it just trivia to pour into that black hole of endless everything.

The truth is that everyone who might need to share something with me which I really, really needed to know, has my phone number, email, address or all three.  Similarly, if I need to tell someone about my day, I can telephone them, see them, or even … don’t tell them, because they don’t really need to know.  I don’t live on a remote island away from human contact.  My automatic reaching out to that box of connectivity in the hallway and the automatic moving of the mouse to the Facebook icon needed to stop.  So it did … yesterday.  I am taking a break.  Time will tell for how long.

What shall I do instead?  Well, I plan to take more time to do real things properly, even if those real things are routine or I could drink my coffee while it’s hot,  rather than letting it get cold while I am in the virtual world.  That’s about it:  just taking time.

Of course, it  may be that Facebook isn’t the reason why I’ve been so stressed.   It may be “others, the weather, being busy, the political situation.”  Time will tell.

At the moment, I am sorely tempted to just take a quick peek.  Shall I?  I may be missing out on something vital;  I may need to react to something I read;  I may need to get involved in a discussion or, more likely, it will be just information to pour into my overloaded brain.  So, I won’t.  I think.  Maybe.


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Penalised for coping …



I am sharing a post written by a lady who has early onset dementia.  She is coping fantastically well, has regular meetings with the likes of NHS high-ups, the media and those with the power to change things so we can all live in a dementia-friendly society.

In order to help her cope independently she, and her family, have put several dementia-friendly strategies in place in her own life.  This also give her the means to do what she does to raise awareness.  Now she has been turned down for PIP funding  (Personal Independence Payment) which would help her to keep her independence, to travel to meetings with those in power and, more importantly, keep her morale and dignity high.  She just cannot understand why, when she has a progressive illness and used to get this funding, it has now been withdrawn.

I am angry on her behalf and on behalf of all those  who try to keep their dignity and independence against the odds.

The link to her post is below,  outlining the reasons why she was turned down for this important funding, together with the comments  ‘they’ made on each of the points she made.  I am fuming … if you are too, please share.

It’s also worth reading her other posts.  She is an amazing person.  I only hope I can be that strong if I am ever in the same position.

Thanks for reading.





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The same but different …



“Almost a third of British travellers visit the same location for their annual break, or so says a survey of 2,156 adults by And 10% of those have admitted to going to the same place more than 20 times! Can’t that get a bit dull?”

I happened upon this quote today, the first day of our annual return to ‘our’ cottage in Guernsey.  I say ‘our’ cottage – if only it really was.  We have been returning (not visiting) for 6 years to this particular cottage, plus probably 20 or so returns to the same beautiful island.  We first visited before we were married, almost 40 years ago – camping then – we had very little money.  There was  a break while we investigated the questionable delights of holidays camps and similar all-singing, all-dancing holidays,    with our two  sons.  Peaceful parenthood:  if they were happy, we were happy, and we were, then.

Now, we only have ourselves to please and we are pleased to know that we will continue to return to Guernsey every year for as long as possible.  We occasionally have a conversation along the lines of “Shouldn’t we go somewhere else, for a change?”  But, we wait till that feeling passes, then rebook this cottage.

I could list many reasons, with pictures and links borrowed from the VisitGuernsey website, but the real reason is that we both know that the feeling of relaxation we experience as we reverse the car off our drive each year is going to continue for at least two weeks and will echo throughout the rest of the year, to be recalled on rainy Sunday afternoons in November.

We know Guernsey as well as we know our home town.  As in our home town, we know which tourist traps to avoid – most of them.    We stroll along the designated Ruette Tranquilles (quiet lanes where cyclists and pedestrians have priority); we talk, and listen to each other, so much more than at home; we buy  from ‘Hedge veg’ stalls and we buy very fresh goats cheese from the Golden Guernsey goats just down the lane next to the cottage.   We buy plants from local gardeners; last year  we brought home a couple of oak saplings..  Yes, they did survive and  have thrived in their new situation.

golden-guernsey-kids           hedge veg                                                                        We read; we sleep in the sunshine; when it rains, we settle down indoors with a pile of books and take time to read newspapers properly; we just do what we could do at home, but don’t, even at the weekends when we aren’t at work.   That’s why we return.  That’s why we’re not visitors.  That’s why we don’t feel we ‘ought’ to go somewhere else.  We’re comfortable here.  We know what to expect and we like that.  We have ‘our bench’ in St Peterport, where  He Who Likes to Watch the World Go By will be waiting, and watching,  while I browse around the local shops.  We know where we will go for coffee, where we can sit in the window seats and people-watch.  We know where the best ice-creams and crab sandwiches are to be bought.  We know what we need.  We need this place.


Returning to the quote at the beginning, I take issue with’s use of the words “10% … have admitted to …” etc.  Admitted!!!  And, no, it doesn’t get dull.  It gets to be the same, but different.  Different from everyday life, but familiar, relaxing and healing.Belvoir Bay



To run or not to run, that is the question … and does it matter?

Running or walking

Last Sunday, I took part in a sponsored event for the Alzheimer’s Society,  Blue-Forget-Me-Not-Flower-Wallpapers-1 which, as some of you will know, is a cause very dear to my heart.  The Cheltenham Challenge has several options, catering for all abilities – walking or running anything from 5k to an Ultra-Marathon.  I, with my friend Liz, opted to do 10K.  We did it last year and raised over £300.  On that occasion we both walked more or less the whole way, as we don’t see each other too often and had a lot of chatting to do!  I know, I know … that’s not the point, but still …maybe we should be sponsored per word.

This time, however, with PBs to beat, we decided to run as much as we possibly could, without having to call on the first-aiders.  The route follows Cheltenham Racecourse, then out onto cross-country (very muddy) tracks and fields, over stiles, through fields and over streams via slippery single track bridges,  as well as more accessible, hard-surfaced country lanes.  It became apparent very soon  that Liz’s fitness levels were way in excess of mine.  Before we had even ventured off  the racecourse, I was struggling … oh dear.

The dilemma was whether to continue to struggle, to hold Liz up, who was itching to run on or, as I felt at that point, just  give up and cry.  Liz felt that she should stick with me, despite me saying she should go at her own pace.  I didn’t want to hold her up and for her to feel she needed to stay with me.  It was absolutely fine with me for her to run on, and I would have felt guilty if I’d held her up.  Eventually we agreed that she would run on, but would increase her sponsorship of me, while I went at my own, somewhat slower pace.  That was fine with me and, I’m sure, was fine with the Alzheimer’s Society.

So,  we continued … I didn’t see her again till the end.  I walked, quickly, but I did walk most of it.  My  self-imposed challenge was to run the downhill and harder surface sections, which I more or less did, finishing about 10 minutes behind Liz, and fuelled by handfuls of jelly beans.  I don’t eat them at any other time, but they’re rocket fuel when facing yet another muddy track and seeing the 10K direction arrow pointing away from the Finish line clearly visible, so near yet so far away.  Having said that, it was lovely to be in the beautiful Gloucestershire countryside with time to look around and appreciate the views.  There were also some beautiful houses en route, which gave me definite location envy.  I  began to contemplate whether it was feasible to sell our house and maybe buy a small shed, with a view,   in that area.  Yes, it is slightly out of our price range.  It’s seriously posh round there.

The Challenge, as I said, consisted of several options and so various levels of athletic ability:  from me and others like me, to elite runners who were taking on the Ultra-Marathon.  At one stage I overheard a couple discussing whether to run the whole 36 miles – that must have been the Ultra-Marathoners – 36 miles!!!!!  That’s insane.

Despite those various challenges and abilities, the atmosphere was one of ‘we’re all here for the same purpose – to do what we can to the best of our ability.’  That was very clear throughout the whole event, from the warm-up, where elite runners mingled and chatted with the Sunday strugglers (i.e. the likes of me)  to the finish line and the collection of medals and finishers t-shirts.

There were times when I thought I’d never get that t-shirt; I often felt like crying, my legs hurt, my back hurt, I had a blister on one toe, I’d been bitten by some small, annoying insect, my trainers were wet and muddy and I was sneezing from running through fields of grass. In addition, my specs kept slipping down my nose because of the sweat (not perspiration or lady-glow – I was definitely sweating.)  I was a sorry state:  red-faced and disappointed with my efforts.

While I was struggling,   small incidents boosted me immensely – the small boy about 1km from the finish, who high-fived everyone as they ran past, from tall, long-legged elite runners to doddery old ladies like me; also the family who stood outside their house with a home-made banner, shouting encouragement – again to everyone, irrespective of their ability.  Thank you to the small boy and that family.

However, I was most motivated and encouraged   by a group of runners who clearly were very fit and fast, as well as young and long-legged and seemingly ready to do the whole distance again,  who shouted “well done” and “keep going” as they whizzed past.  They didn’t need to do that; they could have just overtaken without a word, while being justifiably  annoyed by someone like me being in their way, but they didn’t.  That meant so much.  Thank you speedy runners.  You gave me the incentive to keep going, to run the last few hundred metres and to jump into the air, arms aloft as I crossed the finishing line (and grabbed another handful of jellybeans).

Thank you also to the man, unknown to either Liz or I, who, while we were having our lunch, saw  our medals and donated £10 to the Alzheimer’s Society.  What a lovely gesture.  Thank you, whoever you are.  We raised almost £200, through sponsorship from friends, colleagues and family,  which made all the effort, blisters, pain and nearly tears,  worthwhile.

Thank you all of you, including  our sponsors and to Liz for increasing her sponsorship, so I could have a walk/run in the beautiful countryside without feeling pressured to push myself further and faster than I felt was possible, or sensible.

Incidentally, Liz and I both gained new PBs for the 10K.  (The times are a secret between us and the electronic chips on our race numbers), but we each made our minds up that next year we’ll probably stick to the 5K … or maybe not … the t-shirts and shorts are now washed, the trainers are clean, so maybe, just maybe, if we start training now, we could tackle the Ultra-Marathon … hmmm …  Meanwhile, we’ve both just signed up for a 7k Memory Walk for the Alzheimer’s Society in Bath, in September.






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Desmond, stoicism and soft tissues

imagesDG4GUYX7  This is me at the moment – feeling very sorry for myself when that annoying tickle in the throat and headache chose the first day of our week in the Lake District to develop into a full-blown (pun intended), eyes-watering, throat-sanding, steam inhaling, Vick rubbing, Lemsip drinking cold.  Talk about timing … made much worse by enduring an 8 hour delay on the M6.  I tried to be brave, tried to think about the people in other cars with crying, hot, irritating children, and those at the side of the motorway standing forlornly by their bonnet-up cars, but it was difficult, very difficult.  My well of inner kindness was flooded with the effects of what feels like the worse cold ever, as well as the problem of what to do with a pile of soggy tissues.  Added to that, a glance in the mirror showed I looked like a cross between Worzel Gummidge and Aunt Sally – red-patches among the whiteness of my face and hair blown every which way into sweaty clumps.    I was not nice to look at, but not as awful as I felt.   I was in a pitiful state, and feeling very sorry for myself when we arrived, eventually.

Then two things happened, the first maybe less significant, though it meant a lot to me – MrP, having put up with my miserable grumblings, frustration, sneezing etc… for the past day, said “Don’t worry about unpacking.  I’ll do all that.  You lie down.  I’ll go to the Chemist and get some of those soft balsam tissues and whatever else they have to help.”

I do quite like him sometimes, and I certainly didn’t deserve any consideration.  Of course, I didn’t leave the unpacking to him (as if!), but it was so considerate of him to offer.  Just thought, maybe he  wanted to escape … and I don’t blame him.  I am not a patient patient.

The other thing was that I picked up a copy of Cumbria Life, the magazine which the lady who owns ‘our’ cottage saves for me, as she knows I appreciate a good pile of them for the first evening of our visit.  The January 2016 issue gave an account of the floods resulting from Storm Desmond in December 2015.  I was already aware, of course, of that event, but reading local people’s personal stories really brought it home. So much harm was done to more than their belongings.   One months rain fell in one day.  Just trying to understand that is beyond me without the pictures in Cumbria Life of places I knew.  One of our favourite walks was no more – two bridges had been swept away in the torrent; the main road between two of our favourite places, Grasmere and Ambleside, was no more.  Landslips had taken care of that.

More significant though is the effects on people’s everyday lives and their incredible stoicism and determination to get on with their lives.  We’ve seen pictures on the news of the effects of flooding on people’s homes, their precious possessions and their livelihoods.  You’d have thought morale would have been at rock bottom and it probably was, for a while. It was the middle of the winter, that dark,  time before Christmas, when there is so much to be done,  without coping with the ruination caused by Desmond.

There were many stories and pictures in Cumbrian Life showing how people overcame their feelings and carried on regardless to keep life as normal and routine as possible.    A Christmas Fair scheduled to happen just two days after the floods happened went ahead for example.  Not only that but the turnout exceeded previous records – how about that for stoicism in the face of what would have finished lesser people off for weeks, me included.

One picture stood out for me more than the others,  and I hadn’t seen it before – one little girl, aged 5, determinedly walking to her school along a specially made path around the landslip affected road, just two days after the floods.  It would have been very easy for that little girl and her parents to not bother.  It was nearly Christmas; what difference would a couple of weeks make, especially at age 5.  She, and they,  were clearly determined to carry on as normal.  I won’t post that picture – probably copyrighted, but it was of a tiny girl, carrying a backpack almost as big as she was, wearing wellies of course and a bright red coat, being watched by her proud mum, while she walked along a path at the edge of a flooded field so she could get to school, and maybe take part in Christmas festivities as planned.

Certainly puts my sniffles and self-pity into perspective.  In the wee small hours, when MrP was snoring contentedly, and I was blowing, sniffing, coughing and quietly hating him for just getting on with what he needed to do, I briefly considered giving up, catching the first train home and leaving him to it.  However, I’m not going to.  I shall keep taking the tablets, using my special soft tissues and spend some money to help support the wonderful people of Cumbria.  I may just spend today resting though … feeling a whole lot less sorry for myself than I did yesterday and at 2 a.m. this morning.  Then it’ll be life as normal, with added tissues and Lemsip.

If anyone is considering a visit, the Lake District is well and truly open for business; it always was even during December’s floods.  It is beautiful; the weather is warm and sunny and set to remain that way for the rest of the week, so much so that MrP has just requested suncream for his head – least I can do …










 Life imitates knitting – at least it does in my case …

unravelled yarn

Over the past couple of weeks  I have become unravelled.

I have felt knotted, muddled, mixed up and unexpectedly confused.    I had taken on a project which should have only been slightly outside my comfort-zone.  I had expected to feel like I do when picking up a well-used, familiar knitting pattern: comfortable and at ease.   However, this time someone had  amended the pattern, without adding an erratum notice.

If I’d expected the unfamiliar, I would have done what I usually do – researched, Googled, You-tubed, practised and rehearsed until I felt comfortable.  I didn’t, so  I became unravelled.  I knew how to knit; I knew all the stitches.  What I hadn’t done was used them according to that particular pattern.

I  hadn’t realised the need to re-familiarise myself with what I thought were well-learned techniques before starting.  Big mistake.   I  carried on trying very hard to untangle the knot which I felt inside every day.   I re-read the pattern, but still had to cope with the knotted yarn.  I was becoming more and more frustrated and even thought of abandoning the project. I thought there was no way to sort the heap of unravelled-ness.

Today  someone told me to  pause,  think and check understanding before starting.     I did.  It worked.  The lesson I have learned is to not to assume knowledge; if you do, expect to become unravelled.  The other lesson I learned is make sure the yarn is untangled and the pattern is understood before attempting to start knitting.  Time is all it needed; that and the realisation that every new undertaking is slightly different.  Expecting that difference might avoid a mess  of unravelled yarn, which takes longer to sort than making sure all is in order before starting.


The project is still a work in progress; hopefully that tangle is no more.    If not, I shall  take time to smooth it out before starting.



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