life change

152bI never thought I’d say this but I’m getting a little bored of taking pictures of robins. It’s not that they aren’t gorgeous and very cute because they are, it’s just I now have loads of them. Those little cheeky chappies are just such posers and they dart around while we are out walking, tweeting loudly and crying out to have their photos taken.

So now I have loads.

But, knowing me I will probably keep clicking away.  I am quite snap happy :)

I’ve bought myself a couple of bird books and I am collecting birds now. I am trying to photograph as many different birds in the wild as I can and check them off in my book and see how many I can get. I’ve ticked the box for robin now. I’m even considering joining the RSPB.

My lovely daughters think I’m sad, what with the birds and also the fungi. I came out with the statement “I love fungi” at home the other day. Apparently this is bad and wrong and not something that should be said out loud (… the world according to gorgeous daughter number 1). Pah! is all I can say to that :)

The other thing I have discovered is a little app for my phone called Walk4Life. It has a website too. It is (obviously) a walking app. When you head off on a walk you open the app and press start and it tracks you on your walk. It’s great if you want to know how far you are walking and what your route is. At the end of the walk, you can save it to do again at some point if you wish, or just for info. You can publish your walk to the website and share it with other people and even add photos to it. Or you can just keep it for reference for yourself.

It tracks your progress and logs all your activity. So if, like me, you are trying to build up your exercise and keep tabs on what you are doing, it is perfect.

It does have a flaw though. It’s only as good as your GPS signal. And mine appears to be crap. Now Man has it on his phone too so on Saturday we headed off to Attenborough Nature Reserve to take some photos and, we thought, find out the distance of a regular route that we stroll round.

We actually ended up on a little detour we’d never tried before. Man’s phone had us walking on water through the middle of a lake  and cut off a mile or so midway through our walk. Mine missed off a complete lake at the end. Between us we managed to work out that we’d walked about four miles.

Attenborough is one of my favourite places at any time of year but in the winter you get more of a chance to see the woodland birds because there are no leaves on the trees. On Saturday we got some reasonable shots of a heron or two, found a gravel extraction site and the water levels had dropped so the rats were back underneath the bird feeder in the kingfisher hide.

It was a lovely walk.

The first signs of spring are showing and I am looking forward to the buds and blossom, the fungi and insects and of course the chicks :)

Cleared for take off :)

Cleared for take off :)

Well there have been no further recurrence of the mini strokes that I experienced, my ecg results were fine, MRI scan showed no permanent damage, cholesterol results, that I was initially told were 11.6 actually turned out to be 5.6 – still high but not unbelievably, dangerously high and blood pressure is down.

And all that means I can drive again WOO HOO. Sadly, it also means I don’t have to work from home any more so I am back in the office from Tuesday BOO. Although my consultant did suggest I ought to work from home more often … I wonder what would happen if I suggested it :) Might be worth mentioning.

Anyway, other than having to see the GP on Wednesday, I am clear of medical appointments for three months when blood tests need to be done again to see if anything has changed. In the meantime I intend to continue with the health kick – low cholesterol/fat healthy diet and lots of walking. Oh and I can go back on the list to have my hernia operation now.

The thing I am most pleased about is I am still not smoking. According to the app on my phone it has now been 43 days, 11 hours and 48 minutes and this has saved me £333.26.

Quite where the money has gone I am not sure, because I am certainly not any better off at the moment. All I can say for sure is I am slightly (very slightly) less debt ridden.

I am sure the financial benefits will come at some point. Although I am spending a fair amount in prescription charges instead now!

And dental treatment – although I had the final piece of dental work done last week, so now I am clear until the next six month check up. There is progress after all. Slow and steady wins the race.

So what have I been up to for the last few weeks?

Well I have been working from home but that means the housework keeps up to date as well.

I’ve taken to walking on the Common a fair bit when the weather hasn’t  been diabolical. I have watched every single episode of every series of Criminal Minds and got through the first two and a half series of Merlin.

I have rediscovered my interest in cooking. I am eating loads but it’s much healthier than it was. If it doesn’t involve oats or lentils, I don’t want to know lol. No, it’s not quite that bad but I do actually love fruit, vegetables, beans and pulses and whole grains etc etc so I am making an effort to use them. My ten bean chilli is gorgeous, as is a recipe I discovered/adapted for apple, oat and honey cookies made with no sugar and no butter yum.

At some point, also given the increased levels of activity, I am hoping the weight will start falling off. At the moment, I am just happy to have lost a few pounds despite the fact I have stopped smoking.

Man has been down to look after me for a couple of long weekends and on Friday I drove to his in Nottingham for the first time for ages and ages.

I have been trying to capture lots of different birds with my camera as I have been on my wanders on the common (although it was lovely to be able to go a bit further afield and visit Attenborough Nature Reserve yesterday) and this has become a bit of an additional hobby.

I’ve also read a bit.

I haven’t been able to get out to see any more churches, but now I’m back on the road again, who knows :).

And I think it’s time to start blogging again.

So here’s some of my birdy photos … rest assured there will be more pictures to follow :)

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20130213-204307.jpgDo you like my flowers? Cheerful aren’t they? I love the bright colours, they remind me that spring is on the way.

They are from my lovely colleagues from work and I think they’re gorgeous :)

The last time I wrote on here was the day I headed home from Man’s house near the end of January.

Before I left his house I had a weird thing happen to me.

We were sitting watching the television and all of a sudden I got really bad double vision and the left side of my head had pins and needles, even the left side of my tongue, it was like there was a line drawn down the middle.

Then the pins and needles switched to the other side. It last about 15 minutes during which time I panicked and Man had me do sensible things like stick my tongue out and raise my arms in the air (can be indicators of someone having a stroke).

Anyway, half hour later I felt fine and decided to drive home, despite Man’s protestations that I should go to hospital. So drive home I did.

The following day I went to the dentist and then to work and worked all day (about 12 hours). Just as I was about to leave I got pins and needles in the left side of my head and down my left arm. They lasted about 15 minutes again.

Having promised Man I would seek medical advice if it happened again, I popped in to the reception at A&E on my way home and asked the receptionist whether or not she thought I ought to see someone.

I spent the next three hours having blood tests and ecgs and being monitored, speaking to the doctor and then being discharged with a referral for a CT scan.

Apparently I hadn’t had a stroke but it was highly likely I had had two TIAs or mini strokes.

I was also told I couldn’t drive for four weeks from that date.

I also had raging toothache from the dental appointment that morning. I was hoping it was just the anesthetic wearing off … turned out it wasn’t. You know that ‘never rains but it pours’ sort of day.

Unable to get to work and not sure what was going on, I worked from home for the rest of that week. By Thursday I could stand the pain of my tooth no longer and had to return to have the first part of root canal treatment done. By Saturday I was back there getting a prescription for antibiotics because I then had an infection in it as well.

On the Monday, I spent the day at the Stroke Clinic.

Such fun. I had a CT scan and an MRI scan and an ultrasound of the jugular, blood tests, another ecg and then a long chat with a consultant who spoke in sentences I didn’t understand. (But at least the antiobiotics were kicking in for the infection in my tooth!).

The upshot was that I should have been admitted to hospital the week before and I was at serious risk of having a full blown stroke. I ticked most of the risk factor boxes – overweight, bad diet, until ten days previously I had been a smoker, family history (grandmother), stressful job, two TIAs in a 48 hour period and a cholesterol level that was more than double what it should be.

And this was on top of my two hernias and gastritis. Not exactly a picture of glowing health.

I took the week off work, I felt dreadful. But, to be honest, I felt/feel dreadful mentally more than physically. Although I fell asleep (a lot).

The consultant, who I didn’t understand, scared me. Was he telling me I was seriously ill? I think he was trying to but I didn’t know what things like statins and lipitors were – his customer relation skills sucked.

I did understand that he was telling me I had to rest, I had to take regular but gentle exercise, I had to eat a low cholesterol diet, I had to cancel the operation for the hernia that I had scheduled for the following weekend and I wasn’t allowed to drive.

I also understood I had to have more blood tests, see my GP, have a 24 hour ecg and go back and see him in a month.

So I walked down to the GP (it’s a two hour process to walk down there, see the GP and walk back) and spoke to her and then I walked back the following day to have more blood taken.

Man came down for the weekend and we walked a lot on the common. Gorgeous daughters one and two have been taking me to the shops and my parents have run me to dental appointments and hospital appointments.

I have been working from home around the medical appointments and trying to make sure I get lots of sleep. But the two lots of tablets the stroke guy gave me (the blood thinners and stuff to lower my cholesterol) set my gastritis off, even though he also doubled the dosage of the medication for that.

I have been trying to get out for a walk every day but sometimes the weather in February isn’t very conducive to that and I have been trying to eat a very healthy, low fat, low cholesterol diet.

And I have been trying to get my head around what I need to do to make some serious lifestyle changes.

Everyone has been extremely kind and helpful and I have been a bit snappy. I’m not very good at talking about things. So people ask me how I am and I say fine, and I say it in a manner which indicates no further questions are welcome. I don’t mean to, well actually I do. I suppose it is a defence mechanism. I just find it very difficult to express myself without being overly emotional and I don’t want to cry all the time :). So I don’t want to discuss it with people. Even though I know they are being kind and they are concerned. It’s almost as if I am embarrassed about it.

But if I bottle things up I explode and so the answer, for me at least, is to write them down. Then I can organise my thoughts into some sort of order. Then, and only then, can I talk about things without running the risk of being hugely emotional.

So, I need to make a lot of changes in my life. My daughters only have one parent and that is me and so I need to look after myself better and that means having a good, hard look at my life and making changes where they are needed.

I had already decided that changes were needed and sort of half-heartedly started making them but I have had my wake up call now so it’s time to get serious. Gorgeous daughter number one would say I am being my usual over-dramatic self and she’s probably right lol.

I called this post Reasons to be cheerful, 1, 2, 3 and yet, it’s been mostly miserable and self-pitying  so far :)

But I do have some very good reasons to be cheerful.

Firstly, some people aren’t lucky enough to be given the warning signs that I have and to be, therefore, given the opportunity to do something about their medical issue before it either kills or seriously disables them. I have been given that opportunity.

Secondly, I haven’t had a cigarette now for 32 days 23 hours and 44 minutes and, according to the NHS smokefree app on my iPhone, this has saved me £252.78 to date.

Thirdly, I have some very beautiful flowers on my windowsill from some lovely colleagues.

Three reasons to be cheerful :)






photo (8)Sadly there are a few mindless idiots in this world.

Just before Christmas this boat was moored in town, maybe half a mile from work when some yobs cut the rope … just for fun, you know how it is.

The untethered boat floated merrily down the river until it got wedged in the weir next to our office.

This week the rescue mission began. It took the crew two hours on Thursday just to get the prow unstuck from the weir. All the heavy rain we have been having recently meant the water flow was fierce and the boat was wedged in tight.

Yesterday they tried to refloat her but sadly she was so full of holes it wasn’t possible.

They pumped out the water and used a hyabb to lift her up and then towed her around to the front of the Mill that I work in and loaded her on to the back of a lorry in our car park.

photo (10)The owner is very upset and I’m not surprised really. A couple of mindlessidiots have ruined his hobby. It’s such a shame.

I wonder what they got out of it? The likelihood is they were probably drunk and can’t even remember cutting the boat loose.

Anyway that was the excitement for yesterday.

And I want to show you this.

photo (11)This is my campervan fund. How funky is that?

Gorgeous daughter number one gave it to me as part of my Christmas present. It’s so I can save up the money for the VW Campervan I want to travel round the coast of the UK in.

I’m putting every £2 coin I get in there.

I shall have a campervan in no time :)




My parents bought me a camper van … apparently I get a real one when they win the lottery :)

The other day I was reading through some favourite blogs and a line caught my eye.

It said fifty before fifty.

Fifty challenges, things to see, achieve, do before you reach the age of fifty.

Well my countdown clock is ticking away at the side of my blog, so why not?

… and then maybe I’ll give myself five years to do fifty five challenges before I’m fifty five, and sixty challenges before I’m sixty in the next five years, there’s always going to be more things I want to see, do or experience.

But first (I’m getting ahead of myself again) fifty before I’m fifty. I sense a new category coming on here.

In no particular order (drum roll please)

  1. See the Northern Lights
  2. Read two books a month (that’s 72 before my 50th birthday)
  3. Travel the coast of Britain in a camper van
  4. Become a member of the Royal Photographic Society
  5. Take Man to Paris
  6. Get married
  7. Visit every castle in England
  8. Hold a photographic exhibition
  9. Write a children’s book
  10. Get a short story published in a magazine/book
  11. Gain another qualification
  12. Visit Edinburgh
  13. Go camping in my little tent
  14. Get a passport
  15. Lose four stone
  16. Give up smoking
  17. Go punting at Cambridge
  18. Go to Whitby to photograph one of the Goth weekends
  19. Have a go at archery
  20. Yarn bomb a tree in the name of art
  21. Give up work to work for myself
  22. Reach my goal of saving £50,000 so we can
  23. Buy a house
  24. Visit every church on the Churches Conservation Trust list
  25. Make at least one donation to a charity shop/clothing bank etc every month
  26. Visit Lindisfarne
  27. Go on a steam train
  28. Get 500 followers on my blog
  29. Finally get to live with Man
  30. Take part in a charity event
  31. Visit the Lake District with Man
  32. Take a holiday in Wales
  33. Buy a car
  34. Learn a new skill
  35. Create my own  website
  36. Make myself an item of clothing
  37. Make a patchwork quilt
  38. Write a novel
  39. Watch the sunrise at Stonehenge
  40. Take some amazing photographs of a beach
  41. Get more than 100 photographs accepted by stock photo agencies
  42. Visit the Isle of Man
  43. Visit the National Media Museum
  44. Visit the Black Country Museum
  45. Go on a hike of at least ten miles at least once each year
  46. Learn to use photoshop expertly
  47. Make a meal using ingredients I’ve grown myself
  48. Photograph lightning
  49. Go on a hovercraft
  50. Knit a jumper for Man (and make him wear it ha!)

That little lot ought to keep me going for a while.

Simon’s Wood.

I’ve found a new place to play. It’s called Simon’s Wood (don’t know who Simon was – I should find out really).

It’s just up the road from me, only a couple of miles, but I haven’t been there since I was a kid.

Contrary to the weather man’s guess, it was actually an ok day weather wise yesterday and, as I haven’t been out with my camera for ages, I thought I would indulge myself.

I got lost and had to track down a dog walker to direct me back to the car.

I went looking for the colours of early autumn. I got a couple of shots I was happy with. There are acres and acres of woods and all different types of trees, it’s very pretty and it smells amazing at this time of year.

I practiced taking pictures of fungi.


At one point I got barked at by a dog and startled its owner because I was taking pictures in a bush, off the path.

“Well officer, I was on my hands and knees in a bush with my camera in this popular walking spot …” yep, that sounds innocent enough lol. Actually the owner was very nice once he’d recovered :).

You know I have absolutely no idea what any of these things are. I need another reference book.

But it seems like somewhere that is going to be worth visiting again and again as the seasons change.

Lots of deciduous and coniferous trees, a small area of heathland, heathers, a small lake and, rumour has it, there’s a nudist camp in there somewhere too :)

I’ve never taken shots of life models before lol. Although I think I should probably stick to the nature rather than the naturists!

Now, although today is Monday and I don’t work Mondays, today I am going to work. I am going in a) because we have a couple of special publications coming up that I don’t want to leave for the others to have to do on their own and b) because I have this week left and then I am on holiday for two weeks woo hoo.

Man is coming down Friday and we shall spend a week mooching about down south and a week mooching about in and around Nottingham. I can’t wait. It is also gorgeous daughter number 2’s 20th birthday next week and my 47th the week after.

My self-imposed countdown clock on this blog has already ticked down to 3 years to my 50th birthday (which I think is a bit rude two weeks in advance).



Very patriotic.

I’m having a pottering weekend.

I trudged off to Tesco yesterday to buy some cheap curtains. Tesco doesn’t sell curtains (doh) so instead I purchased these. Now I know they are not going to block the outside world from looking in my window, but they’re cute, I like them and they were the bargainous price of £1 each :).

I’m turning into a gardener!

I dropped the landlord’s mail into the letting agents (my good deed for the day) then I went to Homebase where, as well as a spade for future snow removal on my treacherous steps, I purchased this little lot. Note the gardening gloves are kids ones, I have very small stubby hands – I’d never have made a painist.

And then I chopped back the triffids around the back gate that are growing through from one neighbour’s fence and the honeysuckle (I think) growing through around the patio door from the other neighbour’s garden. I think I destroyed an entire eco system.

I planted a little patio rose that I’d picked up for just £1.49 and about 100 bulbs! I am getting green fingered :) And all the time I took photos recording the efforts.

Daffodil bulbs.

Some of them, like this one, are generic enough to submit to the stock photo agency (you see, I am getting back on track).

I also put my bird feeder up, but the only place I could find to put it was a nail by the back gate. I did see a freestanding bird feeder pole in Homebase but funds are a little short this month, with the move and gorgeous daughter number two’s birthday in ten days, so I resisted for the time being.

I emptied all my bin bags and boxes of clothes onto my bed so I couldn’t get in it until I had put them away and then I went off on a second attempt to purchase curtains.

I went into our nearest main town, Camberley. Now there is a reason I don’t do this very often:

  • The roads into town are congested and full of idiots;
  • The car parks are horrendous;
  • There are way too many people milling about, not looking where they are going and walking into me;
  • Screaming children have invented names like Shaniqua and;
  • Their mothers appear to be orange oompa loompas with bleached blonde or dyed black hair who swear at them loudly while they scream on the floor.

And nothing had changed, it was exactly as I expected. I really don’t enjoy shopping.


My little patio rose.

I found some curtains, there was limited choice. I had to get ones with rings set in because of the style of curtain pole. I bought some for the lounge, for the dining room and for my bedroom.

I got them home and they didn’t fit the curtain pole! So now gorgeous daughter number two has a pair in her room, the one’s for my room fitted, and I am going to have to brave the horror that is Camberley town centre to return the other ones. I might leave that for a day or two.

I did remember to unbury my bed and put all the clothes away and, with the assistance of gorgeous daughter number one’s boyfriend, we put all our Banksy pictures on the walls of the lounge and dining room.

So now our new house looks a little more like home.