Friday, 18 May 2018

Physio 2 and Mindfulness

It was the second physio session this morning. After the first session, where it was mostly talking, I was a little sceptical about how much I'd benefit from these sessions but today I left feeling much more positive.

The session started with a talk on pain control which was informative and I came way feeling that I'd added to my knowledge base. We discussed not only the various options for pain relief but also how to use your chosen method correctly - a lot of new information to have a think about. They offer TENS machines you can use on a trial basis and then purchase if you find it works, so that's one possibility, but I think my initial approach will be to use a combination of a pain relieving gel and a heat pad, one of the herbal ones you warm in the microwave. I want to avoid medication if possible as I already take a concoction of tablets every day, so don't want to add more unless I really need to. We finished the session by completing three different exercises each. I tried balancing (need to work on this!), steps, and the static exercise bike.

Whatever pain relief I choose, it has be be backed up by a regular exercise programme so it's time to recharge the Fitbit and restart my walking schedule - tomorrow will be day one! There are quite a few local 'walking for health' groups which I have in mind to join once I've built up a bit of strength and stamina - the shortest 'walk for health' is 45 minutes, so I have quite a bit of work to do first!

This afternoon I'm off to Frome with Julie for a wander round the shops, followed by a meal, and tonight we have tickets to see Ruby Wax's 'Frazzled' show, where she discusses her approach to mindfulness.

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Mini Break

This will just be a quick post as I'm driving to Watford today to spend a few days with family and friends. There's supposed to be wifi in the apartment I've rented so I may be able to add posts while I'm away but if not it'll have to wait until I get home.

Yesterday would have been Ced's birthday and on the day wasn't quite as emotional as it has been in previous years. Part of the reason for this was the news received at band - we hire space in the local Arts Centre and yesterday they advised that they haven't been successful in getting the necessary grants so will close the doors in July, which leaves us with very little time to find a new base for the band. Some of the other clubs/groups based at the centre will also be looking for their new accommodation, so it'll be a race to find something suitable. It's relatively easy to find practice space for Saturday mornings, but our problem is always to do with finding somewhere that also has secure storage for all the music and instruments. 

Guess what I'll be doing when I get back!

Saturday, 12 May 2018


Yesterday was the first of my four physio sessions at the local hospital. It's a group session with six of us in the group, plus the physiotherapist, and the focus is on reducing knee and hip pain. This first session was mainly taken up with educating us on the causes of osteoarthritis - this went on and on and on, so there wasn't much time to get to learn about the actual exercises. 

The small gym where the class is held is set up for a circuit of six different exercises and in future weeks we will complete the entire circuit each week, spending about five minutes on each exercise. Yesterday the session overran so we only had time to try one or two each. I opted for the sit/stand one where, using an ordinary kitchen chair, you stand up without using your hands to push yourself up and then slowly sit back down again without using your hands. The more time you take to sit back down the better as this is when you are actually strengthening your muscles. I managed to do it without any problems so to make it more challenging I had to repeat the exercise but this time holding a rubber ball between my knees. I also had a go on the balance board but found that a lot more difficult!

It seems to be a very friendly group so I think the next three weeks are going to be fun. We've already been told that four weeks isn't long enough to see any significant progress and that in the near future the course will be extended to twelve weeks. However, we only have the four weeks but it will provide a good start to the recovery.

At the end of the four weeks the physiotherapist will report back to my doctor with recommendations for follow up, if anything else is necessary. She is able to offer a referral to a local gym for an ongoing subsidised exercise programme and I'm hopeful that I will qualify for that. In the meantime, I have a handout to follow showing suitable exercise to do at home so I have work out how to build those into my everyday life - a couple of suggestions she gave was to do five repetitions of a standing exercise when waiting for the kettle to boil, or to practice balancing on one leg when standing at the sink. It's more likely to be successful if I can incorporate the exercises into my day in this way, rather than trying to find the time to do them all in one go.


It would have been Ced's 79th birthday today. I'll be celebrating with his brother on Monday. 

Friday, 11 May 2018

An Emotional Goodbye

Yesterday I said goodbye to my Thursday school. I've been teaching there since 2005, providing class recorder lessons for the year 3s and brass and woodwind lessons to too many individuals to remember all their names.

I was invited into the hall at the end of my final lesson to find that the entire school had assembled to say goodbye. There was a lovely thank you from the head teacher, who then presented me with a gardening voucher and a beautiful photographic card of part of the village. This was followed by a presentation from the year 3 class of a handmade card  in which they'd all written their own messages, added a class photo of them all waving goodbye and some photos of me teaching them! We've agreed that I'll buy a (dwarf) cherry tree with the voucher to remember my time at the school - a cherry tree because the year 3 class is Cherry Class! And to finish, probably the loudest 'three cheers' I've ever heard - my ears were ringing!

I managed to hold myself together until I got home and then the tears flowed. This was my favourite school, and although I'll go back for concerts and special events, and maybe even to hear some reading, it won't really be the same. 

Looking back, I have many memories of my time at the school and I feel so lucky to have had this relationship with them. It's been fun!

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Good News!

With a big sigh of relief I was packed off home with a tube of ointment and the news that I have an eye infection. It'll clear in a few days provided I use the prescribed medication properly. Which I will as it could be so much worse!

Back at home I busied myself printing out all the info I need for my trip to Watford on Sunday. I like to be organised and find it makes the actual journey (the bit I don't really enjoy) less stressful if I spend a bit of time getting things clear in my head. So ...  I now have a note of all the postcodes I'll need for the satnav, prints of my ticket to watch the recording of Pointless on Wednesday, and of the map and address of the Airbnb apartment I've rented for my stay. I've replied to Lady Ella's email about where to eat on the Tuesday night, and have spoken to Ced's brother about when and where to eat on the Monday. That still left Tuesday with no firm plans because I couldn't get a ticket for the Harry Potter Studio Tour. I've been checking back from time to time but no luck - there were no tickets available from the official website although I could have paid the astronomical prices charged by one of the London firms but I'm not that crazy! Anyway, I decided to try the official website once more and ... drum roll ... I've got a ticket for the Tuesday afternoon. To say I'm excited is an understatement - the Goblet of Fire props are on display in the current exhibition and that's one of my favourite films 😃

The rest of the morning was taken up with cooking potatoes. I have no idea why there were so many but they are now mashed, divided into portions and stacked in the freezer.

Yesterday afternoon was spent reading. I need to finish this month's book for the book group before I go away but I'm struggling to get through it. We're reading 'This Must Be The Place' by Maggie O'Farrell and the struggle to finish it is nothing to do with the actual book, which I'm actually enjoying, but is everything to do with the fact I opted to download it to my Kindle rather than buy a proper book. I don't know what it is, but sometimes I can sail through an eBook and other times I really struggle. My Kindle is an app on my iPad so it may be something to do with the weight of the iPad and that I'd get on better if I bought a proper Kindle tablet, which is much smaller and lighter.

Last night was supposed to be spent with a friend but she had to cancel. She sounded awful on the phone so I'm relieved that she decided to stay at home and keep her germs to herself! So instead of chatting with my friend and sorting all the world's problems, I settled in front of the TV for a mindless evening doing my very best man-in-charge-of-the-remote impression and just kept flicking through the channels. 

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Just Chatting

I have no idea what I'm going to do today but I'm sure I will find an enjoyable way to occupy myself, I usually do. 

There are no photos in this post, nor will I take any today as my eyes are painful and my vision is blurry. The few photos I took late yesterday afternoon are not in focus and I don't want to change back to auto focus unless I really have to. I'm hoping it is simply hay fever, rather early in the year for me, but it's a possibility. However, I've made an appointment to see the optician again, just in case ...

Gardening is also out of the question at the moment until I know that all the bending and effort won't cause more problems with my eyes, but once I get the go ahead I'm going to concentrate on tidying up all the pots and the climbers. I had to move all the pots when the new doors and windows were installed and I now need to reposition them but I haven't worked out quite where yet. I'll be able to work through them, seated to save bending down, and once they're all tidied up will ask my neighbour to move them to their new positions around the garden. The rest of the garden may have to wait until next year. Frustrating, but that's the situation.

I've made some progress on finding new activities/groups for after I finish teaching. I've joined the Bradford on Avon Film Society which shows 15 films from September to April at a cost if £30, so £2 per film. Looking at last year's programme they showed two films a month, one foreign language with subtitles and one in English, so I'm assuming it'll be something similar from this September.  There were some good films on last year's list, including a couple of 2017 releases that I missed at the cinema, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the new year list will be just as interesting and up to date. So that'll be something in the diary for a couple of Friday evenings every month for eight months of the year. I'm not sure that it'll lead to any new friendships as it's not the sort of activity that encourages conversation unless there's some sort of review at the end of each film. I still have the U3A groups to follow up on but will do that when I get back from my mini break next week.

Enough waffling, I need to go and find something to do with my day. Hope you all have a good day.

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Bank Holiday Monday

Bank Holiday Monday was quiet but productive. It was another solitary day, through choice, and unlike on Sunday I did actually get to spend the day without interruptions. 

In my mind it was supposed to be a lazy day, just reading and doing very little else. In reality, I carried on with sorting another pile of teaching resources (now in the bin), took a few photos (two are included in this post), and then lost a couple of hours working on my family tree.

I'd wanted to print my late partner's family tree because his brother, who I'm visiting next week, wants a copy - the printing part is easy, it's sticking it all together that takes the time! However, I got distracted immediately by a message from one of my DNA matches asking for help in linking up another branch of the family. Two hours later and printing forgotten, we'd managed to sort out another couple of branches of the tree. Once he'd allowed me to access his online tree I realised that he is a cousin who lives locally and who I know - I hadn't recognised him because he uses a nickname on the Ancestry website! All things considered, it was time well spent even though I still have to find the time to sort out the other family tree today.

I'll be teaching this afternoon (only five more sessions at this school after today) and then I have an appointment to see the doctor - not the one I plan to see regularly but the only one I could get an appointment with. I need my repeat prescription renewed so it should be a quick visit. 

Monday, 7 May 2018

The Quiet Sunday That Wasn't!

I hadn't actually told people I'd be away for the Bank Holiday weekend but I hadn't made any arrangement to see anyone so I was expecting a quiet couple of day, pottering about at home and working through a couple of things in my mind. No major problem or issues, just some personal things that I need to get on top of - to do with it being the anniversary of Ced's birthday on the 12th, I think.

However it seems that, although my plans may have been for solitude, others had different ideas and I had a steady stream of visitors throughout the day. The last visitor left at 9 pm, so in the end I spent very little time alone! Probably for the best, just not what I'd planned.

In between unwanted visitors (I know I sound ungrateful, and I promise I was welcoming to everyone!) all I did around the house was to sort through a pile of paperwork, most of which went in the bin or is waiting to be shredded. I'm sorting through a lot of teaching resources that I'll no longer need now I've taken the decision to retire. I've planned the outline of lessons up to the end of the school year so I know what will be needed during the next couple of months and the rest of it can go, although I'm having a quick look through before binning everything as I want to keep any resources that would be useful for the youth band.

I would like to say that I've sorted the problem with loading photos in Blogger but that wouldn't be true - the problem seems to have sorted itself without any help from me! A quick look around the garden shows just how much work is needed to get it looking nice again - this dandelion was the only thing worth photographing this morning! The weeds have taken over and I seem to have a nice show of nettles, thistles and dandelions, but very little else. There's not a lot I can do about it at the moment as saving my sight is the priority, but it is frustrating.

Sunday, 6 May 2018

Saturday Fun!

As usual during term times Saturday morning was taken up with the youth band practice. I've been teaching the beginners since September and for the past couple of weeks they have been learning their parts for two junior band pieces. Yesterday was the big day when they played those pieces for the first time with the junior and main bands and (breathes a sigh of relief), it was a complete success - no tears, just happy smiling faces! They all did well and despite it being an extremely difficult group to teach and thinking at times that they were never going to 'get it', they will all be promoted to the junior band in September.

After the practice was finished I met J for lunch. She's been working away a lot and we haven't seen much of each other recently, so it was good to catch up with each other's news. 

I didn't get home till gone 4 o'clock, by which time I didn't really have the energy to do anything except sit and read. I find the heat really draining and the bright sunshine can lead to more migraines if I'm not careful, so I just curled up on the sofa for the rest of the day, only moving for food and drinks. I need to buy a patio umbrella so I can sit in the shade outside - it would have been a perfect way to end the day.

Saturday, 5 May 2018

Bye Bye Crafting!

We'd planned to go to the craft and chat again yesterday but a conversation in the car on the way led to a change of plan and we detoured to a different pub for lunch. The organiser had said that she always put a message in the Facebook group if she was going to be there and that others could add comments to confirm attendance. I'd seen the messages for other days but there wasn't one for yesterday's session so we were planning to go on the off-chance that some others would turn up. On the way I mentioned that this would be my last time if we were the only ones there and L admitted she'd been thinking along the same lines, so we made a spur of the moment decision to go to a different pub to eat and decide what to do. So over a lovely lunch we decided that we won't go to this craft and chat group again but will look around for something similar. It's a long(ish) way to drive, and if it's just going to be the two of us, we may as well cut out the travelling and meet somewhere more convenient. 

We called in to Morrisons on the way back to L's home. This is the closest store to my home, I think, so I was keen to see their cheap wonky veg I've been reading about. I can't say I was that impressed with the wonky veg or the store itself, but I did buy some cute baby clothes for a friend's daughter who is expecting her first child in September.

After dropping off L I called in to see Lauren (to leave her card and present for tomorrow) and we had a long chat and a good laugh together. Next time I see her she'll be 21 - I can't believe how quickly the years have flown past. She's the youngest of four girls so goodness knows how Julie feels seeing all of her daughters so grown up. 

Friday, 4 May 2018

Teaching and a Pre-Birthday Celebration

It was a bit of a mixed day yesterday.

I overslept so didn't really do anything much in the morning. I managed to reply to a couple of emails, caught up with a few blogs and responded to some comments, and put the recycling bin out for collection, but that was about it.

After lunch I drove to my Thursday school. Since the Easter break the class I teach has been attending a sport lesson immediately before their lesson with me. This is also with a visiting teacher who never finishes on time which means their lesson with me has been reduced to a fifteen minute lesson maximum. I don't have the option to carry on as it is the end of the school day so I have to finish on time. It happened again yesterday, so I've told the school that I won't carry on till July and that next week will be the final lesson. It's a shame as this was my favourite school. 

The evening was spent with Julie and Lauren, a pre-birthday celebration for Lauren who will be 21 on Saturday. It was a lovely evening with a Chinese takeaway, birthday cake and lemonade - we know how to celebrate in style! Lauren has just returned from a university trip to Germany and Poland so we heard all about that and saw all the photos and just had a good time together. I also met S, Julie's new man friend, who will be pet sitting over the weekend when Julie is taking Lauren and some of her sisters away for the weekend for the proper birthday celebration.

Thursday, 3 May 2018

Films, Birds and Groups

Yesterday's trip to the cinema was a pleasant enough way to pass a couple of hours. There were quite a few laughs mixed in with all the super hero fantasy, but quite a strange ending. If that ending was designed to make us go back to see the next Avengers film, assuming there is going to be one, it's worked - we have to know how 'it' all gets resolved.

There are plenty of birds visiting the garden now - no photos yet as I still haven't sorted out the problem with loading them to the blog. I had the French doors open while I was eating my lunch and saw a very busy blackbird, quite a few starlings and sparrows, a magpie, loads of pigeons, and a chaffinch (I think). It was at the far end of the garden and moving quickly so I didn't get a good look at it but I heard a chaffinch calling so there was one in the area somewhere. 

I'm thinking of giving the U3A another go, this time with the Bradford on Avon branch. From their website they seem to be much more organised than the branch I tried before and they have a better choice of active group I'd be interested in. Just looking through the list of groups there's scrabble, rummikubs, card games, easy walks, family history, photography, boules, and country dancing. Some of these groups meet monthly, some fortnightly and a couple are weekly, so I'll have to put my thinking cap on and decide which ones I'd like to try. The decision may be made for me as the next step is to contact the organisers to see if there are still spaces in my chosen groups and if there are any extra costs in addition to the annual membership fee. That'll probably be a job for next week.

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

So What Was That About?

Yesterday I felt like death warmed up and spent a good part of the day in bed. Today I feel tons better and my cold has gone! I feel a bit drained but otherwise am fine. It can't have been a cold, but I honestly have no idea what it was. I didn't even have time to get to the shop to buy some chocolate so I'll have to try the chocolate cure another time.

I'm carrying on with the admin bits and bobs this morning. I'm still waiting for one bank statement so can't submit my tax return yet but I've done as much as I can and will just need to amend a couple of figures once I receive the final piece of information. I have a bit more to do on the band admin before I've sorted it out, can pass it back and forget about it. I doubt that I will finish it today but hope to get it finished by Saturday for the handover. 

I'm off to the cinema this afternoon with L. There isn't a great choice of films so we have settled on 'Avengers: Infinity War' as the best of the bunch - time to suspend belief and spend a couple of hours watching all things super hero!

I'm not going out tonight. I think it'll do me good to have an early night after an evening spent reading and relaxing.

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Another Cold!

In the end I didn't get very much done at all yesterday. I didn't feel too good when I woke up but thought I'd get through the day okay. However, after a very late breakfast I started to develop a bad headache and was feeling shivery again. I made the really-important-must-be-done-today phone call to confirm the hire of practice rooms for the band for May, something which should have been done ages ago.  We can't have our usual rooms for the next two weeks but we will have access to an alternative room which will have to do and is better than having to cancel the sessions. 

Once that was done I sort of gave up and went back to bed to try to sleep off what I thought was the onset of a migraine. However, when I woke up later there was no sign of a migraine but every symptom of a rotten cold! I haven't felt this ill with a cold for a long time. I'm fairly sure this was a gift from the children at one of the schools - anyone and everyone seems to have a cold at the moment so I suppose it was inevitable that I'd get one. It won't stop me feeling pathetic and sorry for myself though ... and it's a good excuse to pamper myself ... chocolate is a cure all for colds, isn't it!