Tuesday, 5 January 2021

Weak Sun


The chimney sweep is here!
A visitor! 
How wonderful.
He’s a cheerful chap, behind his mask and has already asked where his “ Big bear helper “ was.
He was genuinely  sad  when I told him that she had died.
To give him covid space I took the dogs into the Churchyard and sat on one of the benches facing south.
The weak sun took an age to warm my face and for the first time in weeks I sucked in as much vitamin D as I could.
I didn’t notice old Rowenna’s walking stick until it poked me in the back
“ Mr Gray ! “ she said brusquely but not unkindly “ I haven’t seen you in a long time!” 
“ I have been on night shifts” I told her
I have been told you are working too much” she told me 
Word gets around , I thought

Rowenna is a stalwart of the Church and strangely is a far distant relative of mine. She lives next to village elder Islwyn who she always refers to as Billy. Her sister Barbara used to be the champion baker in the village and could knock out fifteen different cakes and a pot of jam in just one morning before the flower show.
Like many older women of Trelawnyd She has a sing song welsh voice and seems always in a hurry.
Dorothy grew bored with the conversation and started chewing my crocs so I made my goodbyes and walked back to the lane where I bumped into Meirion from Maes Offa

He was walking alone , so I just knew his old dog who always accompanied him, had just died . 
He looked awkward as dog walkers always do when without a lead in their hands.
We shared dog stories as Dorothy tap danced for attention again.
He looked sad.
And I tried to be kind.

I put the dogs back in the car and watched my cottage for a while. 
I was waiting for the sweep’s brushes to poke up through the pot before I returned home.
The cottage looked warm and sweet in the weak sun, and the walled bluebirds flying towards the lane , glinted briefly an azure blue

Neighbour Mandy darted down the lane and she waved 
Then jumped when Bluebell’s horn let off a sharp Parp! 
Dorothy again, this time jumping on the steering wheel
Merv’s racing pigeons scattered above the lytchgate   
I waved back at Mandy and looked up at the cold blue sky

I am home 

Monday, 4 January 2021


England heading to tier 5
Let’s smile at this fantastic piece
Ms Kitt singing in Japanese 



The final scene of the film Hostiles is one of the most powerful, I think,  in recent times.
PTSD sufferer Christian Bale is saying goodbye to the woman( Rosamund Pike)  and child he saved from an Indian attack  and now finally after a whole lifetime of abuse he has the option to join her ( and salvation ) or carry on hating his Indian foes and perpetuating his hatred for ever ....at the very last minute he quietly chooses salvation, and I remember leaving the cinema after I had witnessed this , elated and rather hopeful

How many choices do we all have that actually shape our lives for the better like this 

Answers on a postcard please.

Sunday, 3 January 2021

Sunday Lunch

Tier 4 has gotten  me into some awful ways .
My day off and after walking the girls at 8am, it was back to bed until midday.
Not good and a very bad habit to get into.
I’ve chided myself for it this afternoon and had a brisk and very cold walk on the beach in way of penance.  
When I returned home I roasted a lamb shank and made Yorkshire puddings from scratch. 
When they were cooked crisp, I shredded the lamb and filled them and added proper gravy made luxurious with cranberry jelly.
I ate my lunch watching How The West Was Won 
Mary won the lottery and had the bones all to herself
I washed my uniforms for the week
and read several chapters of The lost Language Of Cranes before falling asleep in my armchair.

Saturday, 2 January 2021

Friday, 1 January 2021

Rubber Chicken Immortalised

Winnie’s Rubber Chicken is being framed for eternity .
I have thought this strange thought ever since I found rubber chicken next to Winnie on the kitchen floor just before Christmas. It’s kind of become synonymous with my dear old girl.

I rang the picture framer the day before yesterday, (the one I’ve used for years ) and asked if it was possible to do 
You want to frame a rubber chicken behind glass” the picture framer repeated slowly after I had thrown the proposal to him 
Yes” I told him cheerfully “ it was Winnie’s favourite “ 
The fact , that he might think that this question was in any way odd surprised me, after all I could have rang him with the request that he framed the last surviving slipper of sex, which I had incidentally found amid a ton of fluff under the bed only a month ago
The picture framer then  ventured into territory he wasn’t quite prepared for.
“Do you want an insert into the frame  some wording .” He asked 
Oh that’s a good idea” I told him. “What about the following” 
“ Winifred Salote Taupo III Queen of Tonga 200? - 2020 “ 
There was a long silence on the other end of the phone
“ I think we can do that “ the picture framer said finally and rather weakly 
He then paused, obviously thinking 
What colour frame would you like ? “ he asked 
“ Pink!” I announced loudly 

Of course!” he sighed “ Of  Course you do “ 




This beautiful hand painted card is my New Years Message

A dear blog reader sent it me a year or so ago,

 and it sits next to my favourite paintings in the living room

It’s  message resonates to this day.

Just take my name out and put in your own 

That’s all any of us can do, just keep swimming

It’s 6 am and I’m sat at my kitchen table with my bucket of coffee preparing for work

Winnie’s rubber Chicken is looking at me

And I’m sure he’s smiling 

Thursday, 31 December 2020

New Year Eve

The lane up to the village , my cottage is at the top

The cottage with her bluebirds

I got home last night to thick ice and some snow. 
The girls were safe at Trendy Carol’s so I picked them up, fed them and we all promptly went to bed.
I felt dreadful.
But overnight the antibiotics started to do their thing and by morning I didn’t feel too bad.
I’m resting today. 
I Bought a trashy Asian  disaster movie for this afternoon and I will go to bed early which is my want to do on New Years Eve. 
My long awaited turn around on day shifts have come around with a vengeance , I’m working the next two long days and the hospice staffing is pretty low.
Hey ho, be careful for what you wish for eh? 

Now my blog today, is passed over to you commentators, 
It has proved so often to be a good move on my behalf as often the comments are much more interesting than the post itself .

Of course it’s about New Years Eve, 
More importantly a New Years Eve

What is your most memorable New Years Eve? 

I have not really celebrated New Years Eve since the 1980s where it was common here to get dressed up in fancy dress and make a tit out of yourself at family parties and the local pub circuit 
In 1989 that was all finished for me when a friend, Ian Parry, was killed in a plane crash on the 28 th of December.
Frivolity and celebrations at New Year just kind of ceased after that

Perhaps it’s almost time to change this ......? 

Tell me your New Year stories.

Wednesday, 30 December 2020



My low mood recently hasn’t been helped by a recurrent urine infection which now seems to be finally reacting to a second load of antibiotics. 
A fourth dose of Ciproxin had me starting to feel better this afternoon, but as I was scraping the frost and snow from Bluebell this morning, the plastic scraper broke and a piece smacked me hard in the right eye.
Mid morning my eye was bloodshot and painful so I asked our retired doctor who was on duty in the hospice to have a look at it.
He held my head under the glare of a fluorescent light in order to oversee the damage only to be interrupted by the unit housekeeper who immediately made 5 out of 2+2 and gasped an “ohh sorry,”  before bolting  out of the door in fits of giggles ....

Tonight I’ve just taken my fifth dose of antibiotics with a half litre of water and have given myself some eye drops and with the girls piled under my duvet, I’m in bed watching Giselle looking like Shrek 
The Willis are just what the doctor ordered  

Early Morning

My first day shift in nearly four months starts in two hours.
I didn’t sleep and was awake just after 3am and 5 am
At half five I took the girls and Albert for a walk in the frost
A group of four badgers were spinning in the lane outside Trendy Carol’s and for a moment at each ends of the dark lane  we faced each other off before the badgers scattered like fat leaves...Mary yapped and Albert arched golden eyed as they fled.
Dorothy hugged my calf, frightened as always minutes after the encounter.
I settled the animals down on the kitchen reading chair as I made my breakfast, and even Albert was nearby rubbing his face on the chair back.
I’ve just realised .....I miss saying goodbye to a human before I go to work.

Tuesday, 29 December 2020


 Cameron has finally photoshopped the somewhat difficult photo of the Trelawnyd Lockdown Wardens and it is now ready for circulation . I will post this on the village what’s app group too but if anyone wants a copy please get in touch. I will get a copy blown up and framed for the village Hall. 
I think it’s important such an initiative is marked.
Cameron has some beautiful photographs which are for sale framed or unframed . These can be seen on the following Instagram account 

Monday, 28 December 2020

Boys Will Be Boys

I met a friend today
We walked the dogs on Colwyn Bay Promenade and ate sausage baps thick with brown sauce, followed by large plastic cups of strong hot tea at one of the little kiosks at the Rhos On Sea end. 
A woman waiting for  her tea fell into conversation with us about the dogs and presumed we were a couple.
We played along because it felt nice to do so

Small pleasures now rank as high ones in this new world.

The film wonderbar 1934

Sunday, 27 December 2020

“My good opinion once lost, is lost forever.”

Another night 
Another weepy film in the dark.
This time it’s Pride and Prejudice with Mathew Macfadyen’s tree trunk thighs 
Oh be still my beating heart!
In a dark living room, I’ve watched a very careful Albert  walk slowly to the blue trendy sofa where Dorothy is sleeping. 
She is snoring as loud as Winnie used to do  and strangely Albert has just joined her, padding carefully like a panther. his big eyes golden.
I held my breath as he curled up behind her, his head tucked tight against his tail and her side and briefly she stopped snoring ,lifted her head and  sniffed him just once with sleepy interest. Then she laid her fat head back down next to his as I let out a sigh

A little thing, but it kind of broke my heart.


 Last night was the most Christmasy I have felt, thanks primarily to Storm Bella, a living room full of scented candles and the film The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society 
It’s a lovely film and is one that strangely resonates with our own lives under lockdown.

In the film the Characters are under curfew of the German occupation of Guernsey. 
Isolated from each other and from any cultural fellowship.
Isola Pribby is a lonely spinster waiting for her Heathcliffe to turn up in her life, Amelia Maugery a widow overwhelmed with grief, Eben Ramsey a grandfather and postmaster and Dawsey Adams an isolated pig farmer. 

All are hungry for the spark, a literary society meeting gives them, but more importantly it is the friendships that evolves from that shared experience that proves the most significant for each of them.
The experiences of these film characters, will resonate with many of us in blog land ,for we too are little islands in isolation from others.
All in need of connection, 
To feel a part of something

Blogging is our own Literary society meeting
I’d love to say that I’m a sort of Dawsey Adams , but in reality I’m a bit of an Even Ramsey crossed with a Miss Pribby

Saturday, 26 December 2020

Boxing Day


I missed the Queen’s Speech. 
Dorothy, Mary and I met up with my sisters and in laws and we had a walk up Craig Fawr which is a limestone hill which overlooks Liverpool Bay.

Afterwards we ate turkey baps with cranberry and pigs in blankets ( a bab is a bread bun to btw) and swapped gifts.  

I was very fortunate as my sisters added a new scatter cushion and some John Lewis cutlery to my collection . 
I now have the ideal number of both! 

I made a gravy filled Shepherds pie, walked the dogs before Storm Bella hits home and
Wrote my blog half watching Calamity Jane 

Later on I will watch Korean zombie movie Peninsula which was another Christmas DVD  Gift, this one from my nephew.

Dorothy watched over me
And will do all day 

Her sadness continues 

Friday, 25 December 2020

Scotch Eggs, gifts and a fat Cheerful Virgin Mary

I did indeed sleep most of Christmas Eve.
Dorothy attached herself to me like a limpet and watched me snore for the longest of times with wide worried eyes. 
Since Winifred died, she has never left my side and her increased neediness has proven difficult as her relations with Mary are now more strained and increasingly volatile. 
Of course this will eventually settle down
But her increased sadness is worrying.

Like I said we slept most of Christmas Eve.
It was odd not to be organising food, wrapping gifts, listening to the ever depressing Carol’s from Kings or delivering last minute gifts.
And by the time afternoon came there was a little shrine of gifts dotted around the kitchen wall, back door and front door knob.
A cheerful bag with goodies in the the affable despot family. Mince Pies from Hattie, two bespoke scotch eggs wrapped beautifully by the Camerons, books from Wendy & Alun and an unsigned rubber chicken from Aldi with a label which said “ I saw this and thought of You !” on it.
I ate one Scotch egg whilst watching  Disney’s Moana, took a lovely phone call from Anne Marie in Philly then dozed a bit more before walking the dogs again and leaving for work.

I caught Tesco’s in Llandudno Junction just before they closed with alongside panicked husbands looking for non utilitarian gifts for their wives , I ran around and bought four bags of  party food. 
The ward manager hadn’t organised food for the nursing staff over Christmas so I took it on myself to get some..... (a product of years of doing it myself in Sheffield ) and so with a willing support worker in tow, I assembled the tables with covid appropriate foods ( small individual packets and bottles and tubs) all ready for the day staff to enjoy.

Christmas isn’t Christmas on a ward unless you have a food laden table draped with sheets secreted away in a side room for the nurses to nibble on between tasks.

My straight colleague zoned into his inner gay side by arranging swathes of holly into vases for decoration
I was rather impressed

We booked another take away for supper ( this time an Indian) and shared it again with the patient who enjoyed yesterday’s Chinese. Then we FaceTimed an ex colleague who was working in the next hospice along the coast and laughed a little 

It was Christmas Day before we knew it.

In between nursing jobs, I labelled some tins of gin and tonic for the day staff and wrapped a few gifts of my own.it was then I remembered Mrs Trellis.
On the way to work I spied her on London road her head down against the cold dark wind. Her bobble hat sticking out defiantly ahead of her
She was heading for the cottage
I stopped the car and she dropped a gift, through the window and onto the passenger seat with all of the aseptic technique remembered by the retired midwife .
The gift was wrapped a green felt and was tied with garden twine fashioned  into a bow 
“ You always giggled at Christine Davis bringing in the baby Jesus” she said in way of explanation
And as I drove away I remembered  all too clearly being in fits of giggles when Rector Robert commanded rather  theatrically for Christine the Church Warden to “ Bring In The Baby Jesus !”
The small figure , being transported in an upturned palm towards the nativity scene laid out before the pulpit.
The Christmas Eve carol service with nativity was an old tradition I always went to in Trelawnyd.
Last night the Church looked old  and cold and lonely.
As did Mrs Trellis 
and I wished I would have thanked her more when I finally got around to opening her gift from my place behind the nurses station .
For wrapped in tissue paper inside the green felt was a rather naivé but charming Baby Jesus alongside a plump and cheerful Virgin Mary, splendid in blue.


Thursday, 24 December 2020

Christmas Eve


The nativity left by my friend Ben at work

It is quiet in the hospice tonight. The staff ordered a Chinese meal for supper which we shared with one of our younger patients . The only patient who could manage to eat.
He was worried about his erratic blood sugars but the prospect of a sweet and Sour ball finally won him over.
He cleared his plate.

It’s a funny day Christmas Eve isn’t it? ...and to be honest most of mine will be in bed with a neurotic bulldog glued to my body. But if you are not busy with traditional preparations , the day tends to be a time for reflection and of memory.

I don’t want to be haunted by melancholy thoughts tonight, for it is still the night when I write this and only minutes ago I have just stroked the hair of someone muddled and restless until they fell asleep...
I miss my hair being stroked 

Hey ho

Do you remember Christmas Eve last year ? I was working here, on the same shift and hadn’t been here long.
And at roughly this time, I stood and listened to a colleague singing with a patient .
The patient was sipping Sherry and my colleague had a voice worthy of any Welsh Chorister and the moment, in the dark of early morning, was as magical as anything Disney could have envisioned.
I am remembering those thoughts. 

It’s a different Christmas for all of us, this year and it’s been a funny old 2020 all told too....and show girl that I am , Ive decided to listen to Judy sing as I sit in the dark.
She says it better than anyone 

It’s such a lovely song
It’s worth repeating 

Wednesday, 23 December 2020

A Christmas Story 1984

I have told this before but it’s well worth a repeat.

1985, I was a second year psychiatric nurse just starting my “ Long Term” placement on Action Ward at the West Cheshire Hospital in Chester which optimistically called itself a rehabilitation ward.
The patients had already been rehabilitated within an inch of their lives, and non were deemed well enough to be placed into half way house facilities in the community.

I was still very much a new boy at work, and it showed as many of the patients ran circles around me in an environment which reminded me very much of old institution and concrete thinking.

It was Christmas week and my responsibility was for an older patient called Ivy.
All I really remember about Ivy was that she always wore a smart red coat buttoned to the neck and smoked roll ups very precisely. 

She had been in hospital for neigh on thirty years and was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic 
For me , she was benign, polite and compliment with care.
An ideal patient to supervise on a winters day duty.
The Wednesday before Christmas she was allowed to withdraw ten pounds from the hospital bank and together we made a list of what she wanted to buy for Christmas. 
Her list was sparse , given that she had no known next of kin; a few toiletries, tobacco and sweets that was all. So together on a late night shopping day we caught the bus into Chester.

We went to Boots, had coffee in Marks’ cafe and finally ventured into Browns Of Chester to see the Christmas lights. 
Ivy took my arm gamely as we braved the crowds.
We looked like Gran and Grandson rather than nurse and patient.
My confidence increased.
As we passed the perfume counter , a plastic looking woman with a bottle offered Ivy a squirt 
Would Madam like to try some of this?” 
Ivy stopped for a moment and my heart froze for a second but then she smiled and holding her hand out 
Said “ Oh Yes please” 
The plastic saleswoman beamed and gave Ivy a generous squirt on the wrist which Ivy graciously sniffed saying 
oh That’s nice what is it ?”
The saleswoman sensing a sale homed in “ Its new from Dior Madam , it’s called Poison” she crooned

Everything stopped for a millisecond 

Ivy paused, internally I panicked at just what a paranoid schizophrenic might make of this information and the plastic smile never left the plastic saleswoman’s face
A moment later Ivy nodded and seriously replied with an appropriate “ Oh it’s very nice “ 
I sighed loudly as Ivy’s pupils suddenly went a little darker 
And the old lady reached forward and touched the saleswoman on the arm 

“ I knew Hitler  you know “ she whispered loudly and as the woman made a perfect O with her lips she added cheerfully

 “ He had a gigantic cock! ” 


Tuesday, 22 December 2020


The Christmas Cards have filled the living room, kitchen window and the baby blue bookcase in the living room.
This pleases me. 
I’m shallow enough to think this is a good thing.
Cards posted with care and attention mean more now I’m older.
I’m the second to last on the postman’s delivery route and he never gets by much before 3pm...so today I’ve left him some mince pies in a Christmas themed plastic food box.
Working tonight

Monday, 21 December 2020

Tier 4

This afternoon,  I’m waiting for the post to arrive like a child would.
I’ve cleaned the back patio of the slime and the leaves, a product of rain every day for a month, and have walked the girls several miles .

Another nothing , lockdown day.
Dr Zhivago is on the tv
I had forgotten just how beautiful Omar Sharif was.