Thursday, August 28, 2008

Woke up this morning feeling fine...

At last. I'm back to feeling like myself again. I can eat, drink hot tea, swallow and speak without pain. And I never want to go there again. One of my regular (and witty) commenters suggested that my affliction sounded like "Blue Tongue", which I haven't looked up yet, but I will. Whatever it might be, it can't be more disgusting than my tongue was. I'm still not showing it to anyone, but the improvement is quite dramatic.

Now of course, I've got a lot to catch up with. I haven't visited any of my favourite Blogs, and I expect some of my Blogging buddies will think I've dropped off my perch. Not quite yet. I have listened to a lot of radio and read a lot of books, inbetween sleeping and moaning (with pain I hasten to add, not complaining). One of the interesting things on the radio has been the 1968 "Day by Day" news, which reminds us of what was happening 40 years ago. 1968 really does seem to have been a watershed year. I particularly remembered that on 21st August 1968, when the Russian tanks invaded Czechoslovakia, I went out and bought my first ever copy of The Times, because I wanted to know the truth about what was happening. This seems a trifle naive to me now, but back then I believed that The Times would give me a fair and balanced view of events in Prague. And I believe it did just that. Poor Dubcek - he was, in the commentator's words, "Too nice". He believed and trusted the Russians who, as it turned out, had been planning the invasion for months because they didn't trust Dubcek to get the country "under control". Dubcek was a decent man, and genuinely didn't realize that "Communism with a human face is not possible." It was a tragic misunderstanding, and a dramatic and exciting time for those of us who were observing - but it must have been terrible for all those Czech people who believed that they were about to be freed. The 'with hindsight' view was that it was a "successful invasion, but a political disaster". The 1968 uprising was about Idealism and National Unity, but November 1989 was different - they no longer wanted Socialism with a human face, they simply wanted their Freedom.

Of course, I have a Foreign Student here from the Czech Republic. He is 19 and knows nothing of those days. Even his parents, who are both 43, remember nothing. Yet they are all children of that Revolution, and now live normal, untroubed lives in relative freedom - thanks to all those who suffered and died, who protested and were imprisoned. They know nothing of the people of Prague who had no guns, but who stood in front of the Russian tanks and pleaded with the soldiers to leave them to their hard-won independence. They were truly heroic and I remember still the black and white photos of those people in Prague, dwarfed by the Russian tanks, but not defeated. It was impressive then, and it is still moving now.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Moaning Minnie!

This week's motif has been pain. Mine. I'm sorry to be such a Moaning Minnie (a phrase from my Mother, but most appropriate), but I'm still in agony here. Not from the stings - they have receded to a couple of itchy spots on my feet. Nor from the sore throat, which has also receded and left me with tender glands (no, not those glands, Billy!). No, the next thing to strike was the ulcers on the tongue. Ugh, I hear you say, and quite right too. But just try 5 days of excruciating pain every time you swallow or try to eat, drink or speak and see how you feel. Now most of you will know that eating, drinking and talking are just about my favourite things (apart from Blogging of course)but I have been a stranger to them all week. Sometimes I have been desperate for food, and have forced down something just to keep body and soul together, but it's like trying to chew and swallow large lumps of acidic grit - no taste and all pain. The ulcers do look nasty, and so does my tongue. I believe it may be all to do with the Shiatsu treatment, because my therapist put a tiny magnet on my stomach last week - presumably to draw out anything noxious - and I guess it's working! Sleeping has been tricky too, because you tend to lie down and swallow when you go to bed. I realize that I'm stating the obvious, but it's not until you have something like this that you even notice normal bodily functions. Yesterday I gave in and went to see my lovely GP, who is very keen on holistic medicine too. He informed me that this is a virus which is doing the rounds locally, and might last for up to two weeks! And he warned me that I will probably feel worse before I feel better. I came away with some B Complex vitamins, and a devout hope that the virus will bugger off soon!

My week of pain was alleviated somewhat by a visit from Grandson. Daughter brought him over on Tuesday because I really wasn't up to driving there to collect him. She had been given an extra day's work on Thursday, so I had him until Thursday evening. On Wednesday we were both quite happy to chill, and anyway it rained non-stop. But on Thursday we ventured out. It was a lovely sunny day and we started with a visit to the Donkeys where we fed them carrots. (Grandson always eats a carrot too, to keep them company - and he always has a Gingerbread Man to follow.) We then went on to the other Garden Centre for lunch, where I managed to force down a gritty and tasteless sausage roll - but the Iced Coffee was such bliss and so cooling that I wanted it to last forever. Before we left home, I had tracked down the local "Jack and Jill" Windmills, because Grandson adores windmills, and I had been promising him a visit. So after lunch (I use the term lightly) we tootled off to see them. They are really spectacular, and right on the South Downs Way, with wonderful views over the whole area. The Windmills weren't open, so we had to be content with a look from outside, but I promised him we'll go back next weekend (Bank Holiday) when the Jill Windmill will be open. Instead, we went for quite a long walk along the South Downs Way. He was jumping in puddles, spotting butterflies, picking a few wild flowers for his Mum and getting very muddy, very happily.

Later, as we sat watching the Bedtime Hour on CBeebies, Grandson was asking if I would be going home with him. He was very sad when I said no, and replied "I think you should, Nana, because you love me so much." Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings...

Monday, August 11, 2008

An Eventful Weekend!

Praise be, dear old Terry Wogan was back at his microphone this morning, cheering me up immediately with his Light Programme wit. I'm always grumpy when he's away because there's no-one else I want to listen to at 8am. Getting up to do breakfast for Students is fine as long as I have good old Sir Tel making me laugh. Not that my Students are difficult, in fact they are very pleasant and very polite. The Spanish one was off doing his tourist impression at the weekend: on Saturday to Cambridge and on Sunday up to London again - he's a glutton for punishment. He staggered in the door last night at about 9.30pm, saying he was exhausted and was going straight to bed. The other one, from the Czech Republic, smiles a lot but doesn't have the stamina for all those trips. He did manage to get the bus up to the Seven Sisters yesterday, and said that it was very beautiful - even in the rain. Just as well, because it hasn't stopped raining for days!

I had Grandson here for the weekend, despite having a sore throat and not feeling on my best form. He was quite happy to chill out for the day on Saturday, and as it was (still) raining neither of us felt the urge to do much. He is having busy weeks at Nursery at the moment, and was quite happy to relax indoors. We also had a surprise visit from Son and his Girlfriend in the afternoon. He phoned to say that they had driven down intending to go to a Wedding Party in a field near Lewes! Needless to say, when they got here and saw the weather they changed their minds - they didn't have wellies, raincoats or umbrellas with them. What a shame! I imagine it was a fairly empty field and rather a quiet Wedding Party. Anyway, their loss was our gain because we had a lovely hour of sitting chatting over a cup of tea, and Grandson had a lot of fun being thrown up in the air by Son. Sadly they couldn't stay and decided to drive back to London - in fact there was no room at the Inn, because I had a full house.

Later on Grandson and I went downstairs to my Neighbour's Barbecue, which turned into an Aga-Barbecue because of the rain. We did have a good time right until the end, when Grandson decided to go out into the garden with no shoes on in the pitch black. He walked across the wooden deck and was stung on his foot (I later discovered) and YELLED. I ran to get him and was stung on both feet and YELLED!! God, it was painful. I gathered him up and sprinted for the house, where we landed on the surprised party, making rather a lot of noise. Grandson was crying and I was hopping about in agony. We had been stung by some all-black flying insects (I'm sure I've never seen them before) about an inch and a half long, with thin bodies. Nasty. I was batting them away and so was everyone else in the end. Bloody Panic. Grandson looked at me through his tears and said "Let's go HOME, Nana." So we did. I bathed him (and me) with everything I could think of. Luckily when I put him into bed he was asleep in about 5 minutes. But I lay there for two hours, waiting for the pain in my feet to subside, and listening to Grandson's breathing, with my hand on his chest. Fortunately he didn't have any further reaction, and only woke up once in the night whimpering because of the itching. It certainly took my mind off my sore throat!

PS. I Googled the Flying Insects and think they are "Paper Wasps" which can be black, but are normally found in America, apparently. I'm no expert, but I think my Neighbour has a nest of them under her deck. I won't be setting foot on it again, that's for sure.

Friday, August 8, 2008

No Smoke without Fire.

OK, so who's made off with my comments? I lay the blame firmly at the feet of Blogger, who first of all printed a very respectable and interesting number of them at the end of my last Post, and then 'disappeared' them last night, just as I was sitting down to answer them. I know it will be no use whatsoever getting in touch with the "Customer Service" department, having heard the comments of various of my Blogging Friends regarding the lack of response they have experienced in the past. I suppose I just have to lump it - but what else is going wrong I wonder? Perhaps my precious comments will suddenly reappear (and they are precious to me), but if not, where oh where have they gone? Are they floating in cyberspace somewhere, with no home to go to? (I can feel a teardrop ready to fall.) It's experiences like this that make me realize just how hopeless I am in technological terms. I wouldn't know where to begin to look for the missing little blighters. Oh to be an anorak, or a geek at this moment. Come back all you unsuitable and (previously considered) boring boyfriends of yore, all is forgiven if you can just sort out my Blog for me and find my missing, and much missed, comments.

Yesterday I ventured up to the Big Smoke again for the day. It was long overdue. I had been promising myself a mooch around Peter Jones again in search of a couple of things. And I was also looking forward to seeing Son and to meeting up with Sister to return a few things she had left here on her last visit. I started with a cup of coffee in Peter Jones, just as it started to pickle down with rain, but sitting in their coffee shop in the sky is a delight, whatever the weather. Then I wandered down through the floors, finding something to love in each department, but sadly no Shower Radios. Years ago darling Daughter bought me a Sea Horse-shaped Shower Radio which fixed to the bathroom tiles by means of a suction cup, and allowed me to listen to either T. Wogan or Womans Hour while in the shower or the bath. Bliss. But it sadly gave up the ghost (or the horse) a while ago, so I really wanted to replace it. And I do love Sea Horses; many years ago, when I was swimming in the Mediterranean off Cannes, I looked down through the clear blue water to see a little Sea Horse swimming cheerfully along in front of me. It was the dearest little thing, and I fell in love on the spot. Since then, anything Sea Horsey just does it for me. (I have to say that that part of the Mediterranean probably isn't the place to see Sea Horses any more - too dirty and polluted.) Anyway, no luck there. And because I was meeting Son for lunch, I didn't have time to take a good look at the Microwave Ovens (mine is ancient and really needs replacing). By this time, it was sheeting down with rain, and my sparkly 5 Euro pumps were soaking wet and about to fall apart, so I jumped on a bus. Big mistake. Big traffic jam. So I jumped off again and caught the tube, which got me to Soho on time, if drowned rattish-looking. Son's new office is right in Soho, which brought back rafts of memories. When Sister and I worked in Advertising we were in Soho day and night, either working or playing, so it all looked very familiar. Nothing much seems to have changed. I met Son's new work colleagues, who were very nice indeed, and then we walked round to a Sushi restaurant for lunch. This was my first experience of Sushi, which Son found hard to credit, but I did enjoy it. I ate smoked salmon with chilli sauce, some divine spicy little dumplings, something called crystal rolls with unrecognizable stuff inside them, and some gorgeous prawns in tempura batter. I turned down the raw beef and the other raw fish, which Son hoovered up enthusiastically, and we finished up with Creme Brulee (not very Japanese, but very good). We had a great talk too - time spent with him is so precious as it's pretty rare now. He's working hard, but happily so. And he's comfortable in his new home. After lunch, and a hug goodbye, I whisked off to Patisserie Valerie to meet Sister for a cup of tea. Another blast from the past. It hasn't changed a whisker. Same pictures on the walls (and the same paint by the look of it - nicotine coloured) and the same array of wonderful pastries and chocolates on tempting display. I did resist them, as I'd just eaten, and afterwards we wandered back through Soho, recalling old friends and old times. My feet were killing me by the time I got to sit down on the train home. But it was worth it - all in all, it was a lovely day.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Lost in Translation..

Oh Hi. Just thought I'd jot down something quickly before another week flies by. I've got two foreign students here now, and maybe you'd like to know how they are doing? Well, Mattei (that's how you pronounce it) is from the Czech Republic, and his spoken English is even worse than Jaime's. Hard to believe I know, but it's true. He is very large and smiley though, and brought me a couple of lovely presents from home: some divine hazelnut wafers and a bottle of what looks like serious alcohol. I can't quite decipher what it might be, but it's colourless and looks very strong. I haven't opened it yet, but have tasted the hazelnut wafers, which are just dericious. Jaime is in his element, having been here a week already, and is therefore the senior monitor. It's so funny to hear him, with his very broken English, instructing Mattei in pronunciation and sentence structure. They are very nice together though, and Mattei has been invited to go with Jaime and his friends to Cambridge this weekend. Sweet.

Yesterday was a blustery but sunny day, and I took a long walk down by the sea. There were quite big, white-topped waves being whipped up by the wind. And several yachts being blown along, sails billowing, in a very choppy sea. It looked picturesque, but I'm not sure I would have wanted to be on board. I don't know if I would be sea-sick, but the little boats were travelling at quite a speed and kept practically disappearing behind the waves. Wish I'd had my camera, because everything was sparkling in the sun. The sea was that gorgeous deep azure green-blue under a perfect sky. I walked all the way to the beach cafe and sat with an iced coffee, talking to Katie and the other girls. It was lovely in the sun, but walking back home I was practically blown backwards by the stiff wind. It was a great breath of air though.

Over supper last night, the two boys were asking me what the little houses were down by the sea. They couldn't at all understand what I meant by beach huts, and asked what the purpose of them might be. That stumped me. "To sit in with a cup of tea and look at the sea, I suppose." They didn't look convinced. And when I explained that they cost around £9,000 to buy, they thought I'd completely lost the plot. "What for?" they asked. And I didn't really have an answer.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Sharing the Love.

Just a quickie to say a proper "thankyou" to RAC for passing on this special Award to me. And I have actually managed to make the link; if you click on the Award, it works, I promise. This is a very lovely Award, with a lovely story attached to it. Please read it, and do take this Award if you would like to. I would be so very happy to pass it on to anyone who reads my Blog - you are all friends who share your love with me on a regular basis . The only condition is that you should link back to Memoirs of a Mommy when you add it to your Blog. And then share it with all those Bloggers who make your day brighter - those who make you laugh or cry, or who make you feel that life is simply worth living. Remember, "Love is a Doing Word". Let's do it...