The Corona Chronicles ~ 2

Well that’s my first week of isolation done, and no symptoms so my clients at work were presumably all clear, at least when they saw me. Phil of course is still going into work. Although there have been 3 C19 deaths at his hospital so far they haven’t had to use the Operating theatre staff, but they are wearing protective eyeware, plastic aprons and gloves to deal with the emergency operations they have to do. When he gets home he heads straight to the shower, puts all his clothes in a bag and they go straight in the washing machine. I open all the doors so he doesn’t have to touch the handles. Any shopping is disinfected and decanted into clean pots where necessary, and the kitchen surfaces disinfected afterwards. Bags all discarded, hands scrubbed with soap. I haven’t been out except once to the local shop and though we shoppers stood 2 meters apart, the corridors are thin and the lad filling the shelves brushed by everyone on his way, sigh.

Last week the nation stood outside their houses or leaned out of their windows and clapped and wooted and banged saucepans to applaud our NHS staff. When we heard it was going to happen Phil said he didn’t need people to clap for him, he needed the NHS to be better funded, have personal protection kit, and for people to stop voting for the Tory Bastards as he calls them. But when it kicked off and we could hear the amount of people on our estate who participated he was quite surprised, and a little chuffed I think. It IS nice to be appreciated.

Luckily we have had some sunny days, even though it was too cold to bask in it, and I turned my camera on now and then and took some photo’s. My blossom tree is shedding petals now in the wind and looks a bit bare, but it was lush when it reached full bloom and I sat and waited for the blutits to come so I could get a picture of one amongst the blossom.

bluetit and blossom

I turned the Helios loose on the tree too,

Last year I bought a Japanese maple which doesn’t like wind and as we had a surfeit of that last year it promptly died, or so I thought, but it appears to be working again so I thought I’d best catch it quick.


Mum’s plant is firing up, I can never remember the name of it, though someone tells me anytime I post a picture of it, it will always be just Mum’s plant in my head.

Just before the red leaves appear, it produces tiny bell shape flowers which the bees seem to love.

Bee bells.

There’s a lot of huge bees around this week, mostly getting trapped in our conservatory and having to be rescued and released. Maybe Queens looking for places to nest. I found one in our water barrel on it’s back, flapping it’s wings and buzzing for all the world like it was having an angry swimming session, I rescued that one too. 🙂

The conservatory plant, another resurrection, is up and running with new leaves

Wait for me!!

and my Mothers Day flowers from Shelley and the kids are still going strong after 3 weeks.

Phil finished his labour-of-love tank last week, most of you have seen the work in process shots I’ve taken along the way last year. He photographs it against a white card backdrop which he tapes to the conservatory table and pegs up on the clothes drier. On Thursday he went to take his shots of the finished tank, and when he’d finished, cleared away the drier having forgotten the tank was still on the table. ‘Oops’ was not the word I and the rest of Gateshead heard as it shimmied off the paper and crashed to the floor.

He’s had to put it all back to rights of course, but was not a happy person for a few days while doing so. All done now though, and the little men in, I’ll get a shot of it when it’s sorted and on the base, (before he drops it hopefully 😀 :D)

At the weekend we had a video call with Phil’s son and daughter which lasted an hour. It’s a good way to keep in touch and just have a chat and a laugh.

I’ve decided to work on a couple of books of photos I’m planning on doing, and that will take some time to sort, so I’m definitely making the most of the lockdown, just got to decide what I’m going to do, I’m thinking of a book on the castles I’ve photographed for one, arty farty flowers for another, and maybe Newcastle, but I’m not sure which to choose first, if at all. I don’t suppose it matters, they’re only for me.

I am restricting my input of news, reading the paper each morning and hear the odd snippet on the radio, is bad enough and I may have to stop reading the paper and go straight to the crossword, as mostly it’s bad stuff and there’s nothing much I can do about it. Instead of the 6 o’clock news we watch Narcos on Netflix, before that it was Narcos Mexico so I’ve learned a lot about how not to run a drug cartel 🙂 and am not adding Mexico or Columbia to my list of places to visit before I die. Though at this rate I won’t be visiting anywhere except the back garden and my shed.

I started doing excercises last week. Most of the country and lots of people in other countries have been doing the Joe Wicks live stream excercises on Youtube at 9am here. He started doing it for kids, but because he looks like a cross between Jon Snow, & Heathcliffe all the Mummy’s hearts went a-flutter and now everyone’s joining in and he’s getting famous. Yes he gets revenue from adverts on his channel but he’s donating 100% to the NHS so he’s nearly a saint now. I did his workout last Tuesday afternoon, and couldn’t walk without ouching for 3 days, sitting down and standing up was like a knife sticking in my bum, and I’ve just about recovered enough to sit on the sofa and watch him! 😀 😀

So week 1 over, and as Phil is not at work today we are planning a walk into the greenery around where we live this afternoon, if the rain holds off, and I’ll take a camera with me. Hope all my pals who visit here are keeping well and sane,

stay frosty my friends!

Day 196 & tales from Fraggle Towers

It’s been a little while since I wrote anything, I seem always to be busy, or having nothing to say! We’ve finally had a sunny day all day! Of course I’m back to work so missed most of it, but it was a nice evening at least. Life here is quite mundane at the moment, but the garden is looking lush with all the rain we’ve had, the buddlea has become a monster

shed and buddlea

I’ve got a Begonia this year, which I have no idea about, it’s my first. For some reason all the flower stems bend over and the flower faces downwards, which seems odd, (yes I have watered it!) but it looks really pretty when you can see it.


Very excited as my pre-ordered-several-months-ago bluray arrived today, which means that Saturday Night movie night is taken care of already.


We’ve babysitted grandkids and not only survived but had fun, we’ve ‘done lunch’ Phil has been working on his latest tank (not allowed to photograph it for the blog yet) and I’ve been quietly doing a photography course- I say quietly as there is a forum for all the members on Facebook, but it’s all a bit bonkers and not really me, but I’m doing the practice and the lessons. I can’t post the pics as they’re in colour :). The evening news is mostly distressing, and it drives Phil mad that with the womens football, tennis and cricket taking up to 15 mins in poll position at the start of the programmes, what’s the point of having a sportsday programme to follow the news, and, where’s the bloody news?? He becomes very Alf Garnett about it. 🙂 I reckon they’re trying to do a ‘feel good’ thing to take our minds off the state of this nation, but it isn’t working here! Luckily Euronews is also on Sky and they do proper stuff.

I can’t help feeling most of the time, when I do see the news, that I live in a broken country, in a broken world. Very little I can do about it except to vote when needed, recycle stuff, go to work, suck ears, and take photographs, so I try to keep my thoughts in check, and simple, but it’s hard work sometimes!

Movies we’ve watched of late- Dot Zero 30, we started that on Friday, but it was supposed to be happy-movie night and after 20 mins we decided to postpone it to a ‘grim-movie’ night! The Last Post, with Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks was absolutely excellent and fascinating to find out how The Pentagon Papers got out ( shades of Assange, Snowdon and now Kim Darruch) and horrific at what they found in them. Wonderful acting by Meryl, such a joy to watch her work. Pete- I know you’ll read this and probably didn’t see it because of Hanks, but mate, this is right up your street. We’re in the last 1/3 of Schindlers List which, believe it or not, I’d never seen. What a staggering piece of work, the photography and lighting is sublime, I am fangirling Speilberg, or at least his lighting director. The acting is SO good, Ralph Fiennes! Amazebobs! We’ve re-done Private Ryan and Band of Brothers series, so we’ve been very military in our choices. I’m quite looking forward to a break from it all with Captain Marvel. Oh wait, I think the universe is having a war in that! 🤣 Well I can’t do daft horror movies, and romcoms are just urk, I prefer superhero’s to most of the rest of the world. Family and friends excepted. 🙂

Enough blathering on, leaving you with my fave shot of the day

Day 196 ~ Hanging on.

Tales from Fraggle Towers

It’s been emotional in Fraggle Towers this week, as both Phil and I have said goodbye to our old cars and got newer ones.  Cars, of course, are just tools of transport, but dafty us got emotionally involved with ours.  🙄  Phil had his Hyundai coupe for 10 years, and being a bloke bought her for her stunning good looks & curves rather than comfort or ease!

Phil’s Little Bluey

I was a field dispenser when I got my Toyota Rav 4, which is now 17 years old, and needed something that could cope with carrying a load of equipment and driving up farmer’s tracks and through snow in the Northern countryside I worked in, as well as be comfy for the long haul trips over to Cumbria and the west. I’ve not really photographed it, it’s more a Mrs. Doubtfire than a Pamela Anderson, though bits of it have appeared in some shots.

 As Phil’s was too low down to see over hedges or much scenery at all and was also quite a bumpy ride, we always went on our Europe trips in the Rav.  But when it reached 16yrs old we had to get a special breakdown cover to go abroad, as cars over 15yrs are not covered by most policies.  So it was decided,  that we would upgrade the Rav 4 to something similar, but newer. When you’re not really bothered about cars per se, it’s not easy to choose a new one. Phil goes for looks more than I do, (won’t have red/yellow/black/white/etc) and didn’t want us to get a ‘washing machine on wheels’ as he thinks of most cars.  We agreed that we could both cope with a Nissan Juke.  

In the meantime, the rear wheel arch on Phil’s little bluey was starting to rust.  It had already been to a body shop a couple of years prior and had it ‘sorted’ but back it came and Phil decided to fix it himself.  Unfortunately, when he prodded it with his finger a huge hole appeared where the rust fell in.  He had to pack it with newspaper and chicken wire before using a ton of filler and respraying!

At that point, it was decided that I wouldn’t have a new car, but Phil would, as he knew the bodywork was going to be a big problem on his.

In truth I was quite happy with that, I loved my Rav 4 and the version of it that I have is obsolete, so it was a bit special.

After we got back from Europe, we started to have a look around the internet and take advice on cars. Phil’s daughter swears by Seat, our mechanic wasn’t happy with Jukes. So we went off to a big used car dealer near us to see what else there was Phil might like, and got the worst ‘used car salesman’ ever! Never mind looking at cars he took us into a cubicle and started talking about finance right off the bat!  We eventually got to see some cars, but nothing floated Phil’s boat, and it seemed the little salesman was never going to let us get away, so I invented a dental appointment and we made our escape. 

Disheartened we went home had a cup of tea and had a think.  We decided it was too hard to choose a car without having one in mind, so went back to our original idea of a Juke and the next day went off to the Nissan dealer. A completely different experience, the salesman there saw us looking around, came out and introduced himself and told us to give him a shout when we’d finished looking around. To cut a long story shorter, Phil found a Juke that fitted his criteria (blue 🙂 ) <pause> am being unfair here, he really wanted metallic grey, but they only had those in diesel and Phil will not have diesel <continue> and we took it for a test drive. Then we went to do the paperwork.  We had thought that as in days of yore (pre-little bluey) you put the biggest deposit down you could muster then do the rest on hire purchase, and had planned financially accordingly. But since the crash in 2008 things have changed, and in order to sell cars (which had a big wobbly due to the recession) financing them has changed. Now you do something called a PCP, where you put a small deposit down, have small monthly payments, and at the end of 3 or 4 years trade in for a new one. That’s a bit simplified, but ostensibly it. We’d always wondered how poorer people than us could afford new cars!! 🤣

While we’d been wandering around looking at the Jukes, I spotted a little Fiat 500 parked in the For Sale spot.  I’ve always had a soft spot for these and even more so since my friend Helen drove me around in hers. I fell for it. 😍 When we got home after Phil had done all the paperwork, I told Phil I thought it would be a great idea if the deposit he hadn’t had to put down on his new car was put on the 500 instead, as we didn’t both need a big car, and especially as I no longer drive around the North for work anymore. Cutting an even longer story shorter, that’s what happened.

The leap in technology over the past 10 years is quite surprising us We are used to a gear stick, steering wheel, lights and a radio.  The Juke especially has all sorts of warnings and guides, beeps and buttons, it’s like flying a plane. There’s a screen that comes on when you are in reverse, and a camera shows you where you’re reversing, with guidelines to help.  I’m so old school I couldn’t get the hang of it and quickly reverted to using the side mirrors before I crashed!  Even the 500 has stuff in it I didn’t even know cars had. They tell you when to change gear!!!   I’ve been driving 41 years and I learned when to change gears and how to reverse from my driving instructor, before I was let loose on the roads! WTF do new drivers learn if not how to drive?? 🙄 Mine is more like driving a smartphone than flying a plane.  All good fun, but it was painful saying goodbye to my Rav, we’d been on so many adventures together. A lot of history and memories wrapped up in her.  Phil was quite upset about his too, he did like looking at it! 

So here we are dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century, goodbye our old friends, and hello to the new.

Rav 4————————————————Fiat 500

Wednesday 7th November

I’m away yet again from tomorrow for the weekend. Travelling down to Shrewsbury and staying in a Tudor guest house (must take my breeches and doublets 🙂 ) for a night so I can photograph Shrewsbury on Friday, then to the National Model show held in Telford, where Phil will be entering models for the competitions. Especially his latest Brumbar

The Brumbar at SMC Eindhoeven

Our club has a stand where members show their models which is fab as I can sit behind it and read books! 🙂  

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been using this new Gutenberg editor on this blog.  I originally had it on the Universe blog but had to go back to the old editor there as the new one is missing some features I liked to use and need for the Fraggle reports.  I’ve kept using it though on here, as I like to persevere with something until I either get it, or don’t.  I’ve been using PC’s since the advent of the Sinclair ZX Spectrum in 1982, so I pretty much understand development, and take on board new stuff really easily, and I reckon I’ve given Gutenberg a good try out.  I’ve come to the conclusion it’s a pile of shite. There are bits missing.  Especially annoying to me is the inability to link to a prior post by way of a pop-up list like in the old one

In Gutenberg, the pop-up list of previous blog posts doesn’t appear, so in order to link them in Gutenberg, you’d have to go to each blog post and get the url from the browser, which is just too time-consuming if you want to add Part 1, Part 2 Part 3 etc. 

Also, when you set a featured image IT DOES’NT COME UP ON THE BLOG AS THE FEATURED IMAGE!!! That really naffs me off. 

Also when you go to ‘Add new post’ in the admin menu you have to first go to ‘all posts’ then on to add a new post, if you just do ‘add new post’ you get a white screen.  Anyway, I won’t bang on about all the stuff I’ve found, in the end, it’s still easy enough to use,  I’m still actually doing blog posts on it, I’m just not liking it as much.  The old editor will be taken over by this apparently, maybe I need to start a referendum to keep the old one, WPrexit!

This weekend is Remembrance Sunday here.  I’ve read in the papers that some people don’t want to wear poppies as the far right have appropriated it (along with the Union Jack) and they don’t want to be associated with that group of people.  I WILL be wearing my poppy badge, my Grandad served in WW1 and I am remembering him this weekend. No Far right group will take that away from me or those of us who want to show respect… unless we let them by NOT wearing the poppy. 

Interesting times over in the US of A, and am pleased for some of my American friends who are not too keen on the Republicans, actually all my American friends, I don’t have any Trumpskins that I know of anyway. The House is going to be a pretty place with all those ladies of different colours and creeds, lots of new young people too. Lovely to see the diversity that gives America it’s strength, or used to.  Not sure how all those white middle American men who love their Trump are going to cope!  Fingers xt it happens again in 2 yrs time, but in the senate too. Long way to go. 

Anyhoo, it’s time to get packing and get my cameras ready for action. 

Laters Gaters


Thursday Thoughts

Easter is nearly upon us, so for those of you into the resurrection thing, Happy Easter! and for those who are otherwise inclined, Happy Ēostre!

Good news and bad news from Fraggle Manor, the good news being I purchased the new macro lens released by Fuji I think back in February.  I didn’t think they’d ever get round to it, and their 60mm macro lens that I have been using, was a disappointment to me after having been used to the Nikon 105mm, which was just awesome. I am chuffed as nuts with the new Fuji 80mm, so much better than the 60, it’s bigger, and heavier, but it’s quality all the way.  It has OIS for the shaky-hand brigade (moi) and a minimum focus distance of 25cm and full-scale 1:1 reproduction ratio. It’s a bit slow to focus (as was the 60) but that doesn’t matter, macro isn’t about speed shooting. I love it already and here are some test shots

and yes that is my cherry blossom tree’s first lot of flowers, might be a tad early as we’re forecast another few days of bitter weather, but the tree doesn’t seem to care.


So whats the bad news? Stress has arrived at Fraggle Towers in the shape of a new kitchen. When Phil semi-retired he decided to get the house into shape, and has decorated a few rooms himself, but we came to the conclusion that as the fridge freezer was in death throes, and other bits of the kitchen were in a poor state, we would go all out and have a new kitchen. It started this week on Monday, with the kitchen stripped out, first phase electric and plumbing (i.e shutting everything off) and plastering. Today was to be floor- levelling day, with the new kitchen units due at 7.30am on Tuesday after the bank holiday, and the fitters following hot on their heels. But the leveller hasn’t turned up. Neither has the plumber who is supposed to remove a floor heater thingy that’s still plumbed in so the concrete can be poured.  Of course I’ve been in touch with the project manager guy, and he’s passed on my number to the plumber and leveller to have them ring me when they’re on the way, but it’s 5.30pm now so I think they won’t be here today.  Phil thinks they’ll come tomorrow or Saturday, I hope he’s right or Tuesday morning is going to be a right palaver.

In the meantime, we have converted our little conservatory into a mini kitchen, microwave, breadmaker, kettle, cool~bag as a fake fridge and our little chest freezer all in there, and prior to this week I spent a day cooking lots of different dinners for us so we don’t have to rely on take outs.  Sweet & Sour chicken, Chicken in black bean sauce, lasagne, Chile con carne, spaghetti bolognese, portions of spaghetti, rice, mash.  We’re eating better than we normally do when we had a kitchen! My mosaic shed is now a storeroom for all the kitchen stuff, most of which we didn’t know we had 🙂 Tonight though we’re going to see Phil’s sister and have dinner there while we do a load of washing in her machine. Nice to have family nearby.

Hopefully everything will sort itself out with the kitchen, and then it’ll be a good news day! Luckily I have a magic button which should make everything OK, feel free to use it yourself if you have a need!

scary biscuits! 😱


Friday Fraggle

This week I participated in a photography course that one of my blogging photographer guru’s, Michelle, gave out. The premise being to take a photo of yourself each day following a prompt that would be emailed to you. Michelle explains that this is not the ‘selfie-stick’ images she wanted us to do, nor fine art self portraiture, but to turn the camera on oneself with intention. “My hope is that each of us will make time over the next few days to consider how we’re feeling, to note what we’re doing (or maybe not doing), to consider the way our outside and our inside play off one another.”  

Now you guys who are regulars know I’ve done tongue-in-cheek selfies, and the odd post where a shot of Phil and I are together in some foreign land over on the universe blog, but mostly I’m shooting places I go and things I see in my life.  (Lots of birds 😀 ). This was a different exercise, and I quite enjoyed working out what each prompt meant to me, and how to photograph it and include myself within the image. It wasn’t necessary to bang your whole body in, just parts of you were sufficient.  So this is how it went for me…

Day 1~


the quality or state of being warm in temperature
the quality or state of being kind or friendly

What does the word (the idea) of warmth conjure for you? How does it feel? Does your mind immediately go to temperature, or does it go to temperament?

I wished we had a log fire in our house, but it is a modern house and whilst the radiators do a cracking job of keeping it at a comfortable temperature, they are not too photogenic so I decided a lovely candlelit bath would portray warmth for me. I covered my lampshade in a pink vest, 😀  set up candles around the edge of the bath, got in, and tried not to drop the camera whilst I took the picture. Eventually I found I’d taken one I like. To be honest I can’t remember the last time I had a bath, I’m more a shower kind of person, but doing this shot has me wanting to do it again, without the camera, it was so lovely to be in warm perfumed bubbly water, it would be fab to wallow and enjoy it.

Day 2~


the quality or state of being physically strong
the ability to resist being moved or broken by a force
the quality that allows someone to deal with problems in a determined and effective way.

Be bold in claiming your strength. If needed, be gentle in the recognition that today might be a hard day…but hold the idea (for yourself) that strength assuredly lies within. Show us (remind yourself of) your strength.

I have a rowing machine I bought because I’m getting older, and I wanted to keep fit, and strong. I liked the rhythmical rowing action, had my headphones and music on. But the seat broke a while back, so I haven’t been using it. I sat in it anyway to get the shot and now I’ve asked Phil to fix it so I can start again.

Day 3~


the quality or state of being calm or without noise

making very little noise
marked by little or no motion or activity

to make (someone or something) quieter, calmer, or less intense

in a quiet manner

What does quiet sound like? How does it feel? Are you comfortable with quiet, or does it make you anxious? Is life quiet today? Are you quiet? Or is it a bit too loud?

Hah! I thought when I read this, my life is never quiet. At work there are machines, TV, and people. At home Phil has his rock music on most of the time. I used to go and sit by the sea to find moments to myself, but the North Sea is crashy, and the seagulls piercing cries don’t make it a quiet place. And then I remembered my shed, which I’ve neglected since December, where I do my mosaics, and there is only the sound of distant traffic, or tweeting sparrows and blackbirds and I get lost in cutting tiles and sticking them down. So I returned to my shed for this picture, and got all fired up again to get back to it.

Day 4 ~


a state in which opposing forces or actions are balanced so that one is not stronger or greater than the other
a state of emotional balance or calmness

What does a sense of evenness (a sense of equilibrium) feel like to you? Do you have tools and practices that help you feel this way? When you begin to teeter (because we all teeter from time to time), how do you return center? Does the evenness rest in your eyes? Does it make home in your heart?

This was the easiest to do, because I know I will never feel emotionally balanced.  My son and grandson live so far away, and I can’t see them very often, my heart is always aware of missing them, even when I’m fine and happy with life. I cried when doing this shot.

Day 5~


a formal ceremony or series of acts that is always performed in the same way
an act or series of acts done in a particular situation and in the same way each time

done as part of a ceremony or ritual
always done in a particular situation and in the same way each time

What are the rituals and routines to which you turn frequently? Do they soothe you, motivate you, inspire you? Is the time of day important? Or a particular taste? Or a color?

This one really stumped me! Rituals?? Apart from getting up in the morning, having a wash, getting dressed, having breakfast I have no rituals. I could have used any of those, but they don’t mean anything to me, they don’t motivate, inspire, or soothe. They just are. So I contrived (again) a ritual I don’t have, of cleaning all my lenses for my camera.  I’m going out to photograph stuff with Sophie on Sunday, and I thought it was time to clean all my lenses in preparation. It wasn’t a ritual, but it will be now. It was so satisfying to make everything clean and shiny, and to know I won’t have to use the spot healer in photoshop to get rid of dirt spots on my lens!

So that was the 5 day challenge.  I felt I was a fake, apart from the equilibrium shot, nothing seemed to come from the heart, my photo’s all seemed so contrived, like trying to pass an exam. That’s given me heaps to think about regarding myself, and my photography.


Thursday Thoughts

It’s all about the snow of course. The pesky white stuff that is inundating the British Isles at the moment. Facebook is full of camera phone shots of people’s back gardens or streets, the news is all about the disruption to schools and travel.  The met office is issuing yellow, amber, red weather warnings. (Don’t go out if you’re in the red area as you’re likely to die!). People went out and stock piled food items so nothing is left in the smaller shops. 20 vehicle crash on the A19, the A1 is closed now too and police warnings telling people to stop being stupid and stay home.  The whole of the North East is shutting down. People living in Canada, USA, Finland et al look at us and laugh at our inability to cope with this weather.  We have a few gritters careering about ineffectually, and there is a tractor company that turns them into snow ploughs for rent here and there, but on the whole we just shut up shop and hunker down until it’s gone. Disfunctional Britain due to snow.  Our excuse is that we don’t get snow very often, have even heard that we haven’t had it for over 30 years!  I must have been living in a parallel universe most of my life then.   This is me back in 1961, I’m the cuteypatooty on the right…

That white stuff  happened every year of my childhood, for a couple of months at a time, didn’t stop us going to school, we walked as we got older. Didn’t stop Mum from going to work in her car.  The roads were cleared every night and we had heaters in the classrooms. This was in Yorkshire by the way, I wasn’t living in the arctic. Oh but that was back in the olden days our snowflake (!) generation say, less traffic on the roads – what they really should say is less idiots on the road. I drove to work yesterday and the amount of stupid I saw had me swivel eyed all morning.

In 2009 here we had a month of snow, and I went to work as usual


but came off worse for wear when going downhill in Newcastle and an idiot in a great big Landrover pulled out of a side road and hit my car, knocking me into several other cars parked up on the other side of the road

I was really peed oft at the driver, he blamed me!!  The insurance sorted that one out so no harm done, and I continued to go to work in the replacement insurance vehicle.

The following year we had even more snow,

Herky 2010

Yoyo 2010

I went to work then too, without incident that year thankfully, but had to take Phil to work and pick him up a couple of times as his car couldn’t get off our estate, we live at the bottom of a little hill.  So why on earth everyone thinks we don’t get snow so it’s not worth investing in the equipment needed to keep the country going is beyond me.  I’m lucky to be off for the next few days, but come Monday I’ll be going back to work no matter the weather, if the roads are open that is! No metro service from here to there and the buses are irregular if at all. 🙄

Phil and I took a walk to our local shop this morning

for milk and vodka supplies 🍸 so we’re tucked up indoors with the heating on. Of course I’ve been taking pictures, (hasn’t everyone?!) mostly on film camera’s but also with the fuji,


and day

my bathroom window this morning


and I’ve been making sure to put food. out for the birds, they’re having a right old time at the Happy Eater tree, and I got some shots of our Bobby Robin in his element

Christmas card 🙂

snow bound.

and finally for a quick giggle press HERE



Thursday Thoughts

This picture I took at about 1am last night, thats superbluebloodmoonlight through the window.  It’s a little bit fuzzy as I was in my jammies and didn’t have my glasses on & I may have had a couple of vodka’s previously too 🙂 .  I didn’t get up at 4am to shoot the red and bigger moon as for us it would be in the north west, and there’s a house in the way from my bedroom window. Also 4am, well meh! Maybe next time, 2037 will see me in my late 70’s and maybe 4am won’t be too bad then. (Hah!)

Phil got up at 4.30am to go to the loo and he checked and couldn’t see it so didn’t wake me up. He got up again at 6am and couldn’t find his way out of the bedroom as it was so dark, crashed about a bit and woke me up. “What are you doing!?” “Feeling unwell, gonna go and make a cup of tea, take some nurofen and then come back to bed, go back to sleep, I’m OK” He brought me tea at 9am, “I can’t believe it” he says, “I just got over the flu and now I feel like I’m back to square one!”  We sat in bed and had tea, read the papers, chilled out and got up. Down in the kitchen he tells me it hurts to cough, to breathe.  At midday he went for a lie down, thats a first, even with flu he didn’t ‘have a lie down’. At 1pm he gets up, comes down, is shaking and shivering and holding his arms across his chest. Sharp pains in his chest. Looks like death warmed up.  “I think you need to go to A&E”. “They don’t like it when you go there with flu stuff. There’ll be a long old wait to see anyone.”  “This isn’t just flu I think, this is sharp chest pain, maybe pneumonia or something” (thinking to myself I fekking hope this isn’t a heart attack).  “Maybe when I’ve had a cup of tea and let the nurofen work. ”  “OK, I’m gonna put a face on just incase”. I come back with a face on, he’s still shivering, shaking, breathless. “OK I’m gonna put some jeans on, we’re going to A & E”.

It’s a long walk from the carpark to reception, we have to stop a few times for him to catch his breath, I always have to walk fast to catch up with his long strides, but not today, I take baby steps and hold his arm. We get to reception, answer the book-in questions. “Go through those doors and take a seat, I’ll ring through.  Just as we sit down, “Mr.Hyslop!” a young chap nurse calls, and they take him off into a cubicle. That was astonishingly quick! I sit and read my book. I keep reading my book. I read my book some more. I keep looking up the corridor at every page turn.  I keep reading my book, then I look up and he’s on a trolley being pushed back into the cubicle. I go and see him to find he’s been off for a chest X-ray.   The nurse comes in and gives him a big syringe full of antibiotics into the cannula in his arm and sets up an IV with a litre of normal saline. “What’s happening?” “Just had an ECG which they say is normal..” (PHEW! no heart attack!) ” had blood tests, my white cell count is up and I’ve a temperature of 38 point something, (I forget) so they gave me IV paracetamol, and now just waiting for the results of the X-ray”.  “OK, I’m staying here now, got bored out there”. (I wasn’t bored, I was fretting, I needed to see/know what’s happening.)  A Doctor comes in, she’s at least 15 years old. Asks him about allergies – none, drinking/smoking habits – lots. Phil apologises for coming into A&E with flu, “Don’t, you did the right thing, your X-rays show there’s pneumonia.” Shock on Phil’s face, not so much on mine. “We’ll have to keep you in for 24hrs-” dismay on both our faces. “Can’t I be treated at home!!??” “We’d really like to keep you in, monitor your temperature and do more blood tests in the morning to see how the white cell count is doing.

I make to go home to get an overnight bag for him. I can’t find my way back to the carpark through the hospital so walk all the way round the outside before I find the car.  I come back park up, find A&E after a couple of wrong turns. He’s been moved to the Emergency Admissions ward. Can’t find it, I get directions from kindly nurse. Can’t get in, ring a bell. Wait. Wait some more. There’s a notice, ring bell and please be patient as we are busy. Wait. Wait some more. A Nurse coming on duty lets me in but says “only stay a few minutes, visiting time is at 7pm”. It’s 5pm. I find Phil sitting in a chair next to a bed, he looks OK, the IV drugs have helped, he’s not shivering and shaking, I’m relieved.  It still hurts him when he coughs, and it hurts me to see it, but I’m an ex–nurse, so I am stoic.

I try to go home to wait for 6.35pm. I can’t find my way back to the carpark through the hospital so walk all the way round the outside before I find the car. Again. I get home in time to eat a pasty and beans with sausages, (comfort food) and go back again. More doctors have been to see him, he has pneumonia and pleurisy, the result of the Aussie flu or whatever flu strain he had. More blood tests in the morning.  He’s in a 4 bed ward with 2 other chaps, but it’s roomy, not claustrophobic, I took him his biscuits, and chocolate, and he’s doing OK, but was flagging by the time I left. I found my way out through the hospital easily this time, and cried when I got in the car. It’s been a bit of a day.



Wednesday wonderings.

I trained as a nurse way back in the mist of time, 1978 to be precise.  Nurse training today is very different, but back then a big part of what we were taught was that it did not matter whether a person was young or old, black, white, any colour you like, smelly, drunk, irate or suicidal, gay straight or undetermined, we should treat them all as if they were our mothers, fathers, brothers or sisters.  Any pre- existing prejudices or assumptions we had were to be replaced with compassion and kindness, no matter what,we were healers, not judges.  Training in Luton had me come into contact with most of the aforementioned, and the teaching stood me in good stead.  It is a way of being that has stayed with me through the years, in my personal as well as professional life, though it is sometimes really hard when your client/patient is an obnoxious git with too much money and so feels entitled to treat you like dog poo. That doesn’t happen very often I’m glad to say, and when you’re sucking wax out of someone’s ears, they soon shut up and do as they are told :D.

Today I met a client who is outside any experience I’ve had before, a transgender person, who booked in with a lady name, but was in body at least, a gentleman.  I didn’t realise at first as at a distance in the waiting room, the long blonde hair and nice make up convinced me I was just about to de-earwax a pretty young lady.  She had an androgynous uniform on so clothes didn’t give anything away, but as soon as I took her in to my clinic I knew she wasn’t a she, I have to position the head to get the ear at the right angle and I could feel the slightest of stubble on the chin, even see it.  In spite of the hair and make up the masculinity of her features was apparent at close quarters.  All this going through my head as I prepare to do the procedure. She had never had it done before so I explained everything I was going to do, and she was lovely, a little shy, but so polite, and thanking me at each stage.  Of course I was professional, and she got my best care as do all my people, but I find myself conflicted about the whole thing.  Not with the person herself, but with how hard I find it to think of her as a she, and when I asked our office manager to give her one of our cards, I nearly said ‘him’ and only just stopped myself.  I’m even struggling to write ‘she’ and ‘her’ in this post because my mind won’t accept she’s not a chap.  Of course in her mind she isn’t a chap and I can’t even begin to understand how that happens, or what that must be like for someone.  I know some people think it’s a ‘lifestyle choice’, but I can’t see how or why anyone would deliberately choose a way of life that involves such a cataclysmic change.  The difficulty in being accepted, in finding a job, in just living a life that you want and being what you want to be.

I wiki’d the term transgender, and learned it’s nothing to do with sexual orientation, you can be gay or straight as a transgender person. You can also be non-binary, including bi-gender, pan-gender, genderfluid, or agender.  There’s a whole herd of human beings who are not men or women as I think of them. Aproximately 1.5 million across Europe.  1.4 million across America. Of course I’ve read a bit in the newspaper here and there, seen a bit on the TV, there’s a film called The Danish Girl (I haven’t seen) about a chap who becomes a woman.  But today I have had to really think about it,  wonder what it all means, what’s it all about?  In the end, it doesn’t matter to me, whoever comes through my clinic door will be treated with respect, and I have always loved the diverse nature of humans, and known that when the skin is peeled away we are all the same underneath ( operating theatres teach you that one). We all need the same things to stay alive, oxygen, water, food, shelter, sleep, and we all want to love and be loved.  I hope the person I saw today has a happy life and gets to be what she wants to be, I don’t understand it, and have no life experience comparable that enables me to empathise, but everyone deserves acceptance as a person, as a human being, and I can at least do that.

Thursday Thoughts

It’s taken me a while to get back here to The Other Place while I’ve been concentrating on getting 2017’s posts up on The Universe blog.  I didn’t know what to do with this place either for 2018.  I kept reading other people’s posts about exciting goals/resolutions for their blogs in 2018, but couldn’t really get enthused about any for my own. I didn’t want to keep doing the same old thing, but couldn’t get inspired or think of a project.  On top of the creative limbo, I’ve had and still have the damned flu thing that’s sweeping the world. Phil has it too, so we are a sorry pair at the minute,coughing and spluttering and sniffling our way through the days wishing it would go away. :/

I have though now found a little project I’ll share on the blog.  Last year I wrote a post on the Hipstamatic app on the  iPhone (HERE) and I’ve just bought the latest new lens/film pack for it.  When I looked at the ‘my gear’ section I find over the years I’ve built up 87 different packs, that comes to about £86! Not much in the grand scheme of things, (I’ve had the app since it came out in 2009) £9 per year really, but I’ve never really used the packs purposefully.  I’ve taken pictures with it of course, and then faffed about with the ‘lenses’ and ‘films’ to process the shot, but never chosen a pack first for a specific shot. So this year I’m going to take a picture with every pack, and see what each one does. Monday Mobile Moments will be resurrected for the project.

I still do the Sunday Challenge over on Ipernity photo site and I thought I just might post those shots here too. Probably on a Sunday 🙂

For regular visitors, you’ll remember last year I decided to grow my own veg, and what a disaster THAT turned out to be (goddamned horrid worm thingys) though I did get a few tasteless potatoes  and a good crop of herbs. So this year I’m just growing herbs, building on success and ditching the failure seems a good way to go 🙂 . Instead of trying to grow food, I’m making the effort to cook it instead, not that I don’t already, but I’m trying out lots of new recipes I’m finding on various cooking blog sites, and I might feature the good ones on here, I could do with some practice on food photography.

I love reading blogs where people review books, TV, movies etc and I’m not very good at that so I’ve been thinking I might have a go now and then, but I’m blowing hot and cold on it as it doesn’t involve my camera!  I think my pictures are much more interesting than my words.

So we will see. There’s not much structure in this is there?  🙂 but I’m OK with that, I’ll post stuff willy nilly as and when and that’ll do.

Last night my dear husband woke me up at 1am to tell me it was snowing 🙄 and though I’m eye-rolling, really I was pleased and stayed up for half an hour watching it come down in big fluffy white blobs.  I took a shot of it with the iPhone which came out pretty rubbish

but this morning I set the alarm for sunrise time and watched the transformation

Here comes the sun doo-dn doo-doo

Most of it’s thawed now, yet again a one day snow day for us, though the west of the country still has swathes of it and no doubt Scotland has a good share.

Oh and one more thing, for Frego fans, she got a gorgeous box of chocolates for Christmas, which she didn’t share at all! I imagine she will be popping up in the blog now and then.






End of year Photography review.

I like looking back over the year, and reliving  the places and events I got to see, my travels and my outings with Sophie.  This is the first year I’ve had 2 blogs on the go, so am picking my favourites from across both blogs and posting on both. I am multidimensional!

Back in January I decided to embark on a walking project to do 1000 miles over the year, and do a 365 photography project.  This was a complete debacle as 9 days into it I got really ill with the flu, and it took me a month to fully recover by which time the impetus for both projects had disappeared.  Frego accompanied me on the walks I did do and we got some nice pictures around the area I live in spite of the freezing weather.


February was the first opportunity to go on a photography trip with Sophie, and we went off to shoot the bridges of Newcastle, a sunny day but cold. We also visited the quayside market which was full of interesting arts and crafts, and yummy food.

Phil had a joint birthday party with 3 of his colleagues from work, and though his is the last one in March, the party was organised for the end of February. Family and friends of all the birthday people attended, some in fancy dress, and a good time was had by all.

March came in with Phil’s Birthday on the 2nd and we celebrated in our usual fashion.

Phil also started work on getting my shed ready for habitation, but also a sad time as our cat Skye, who had been diagnosed with an inoperable tumour, declined in health, and finally at the end of the month had to have that last trip to the vets. Our hearts are still not mended.

April was a busy month,  I went with Phil to the model show at Darlington, then the following weekend an outing with Sophie to the food festival at Bishop Auckland. They had opened up the castle for the day and so we took the opportunity to visit.

then at the end of the month, off to Poland to meet Eddy, Gosia and Malina.  What a fab long weekend! Days out with Eddy and his lovely family, delicious home cooked food from Gosia, just great company and good fun. Can’t wait to go back and see the new arrival!

Another busy month in May. Sophie and I went to another food festival, this time in South Shields.

Phil’s daughter Shelley had bought a nights stay (with evening meal!) in  lovely Dunsley Hall near Whitby in Yorkshire for Phil’s Birthday present, and after we got there, we went off to visit the abbey in the late afternoon.

Phil’s son Carl had got him a day out in a tank so we did that too!

In June Sophie and I had a great day out visiting Tees cottage pumping station in the morning and Hardwick Park in the afternoon.

Phil and I had a day out at The Hoppings Fair in Newcastle, on the hottest day of the year, there were fairground rides, army displays, police dog displays all in 32deg C which we are not used to at all! Of course I got sunstroke 🙄 but for a colour~junkie like me it was worth it!

July wasn’t as hot, thankfully and Sophie arranged us a trip on the River Tyne. Lots of riverside industry to see from a different perspective out on the water, and many bridges to sail under.

We also managed a trip out to Teesmouth nature reserve which is a mix of coastline, meadows and industrial complex.

Also in July I went down south to dogsit for my son, and had a couple of days out photographing with my pal Helen. We visited The Swiss Gardens at Shuttleworth, beautifully landscaped gardens with follies and quirky buildings to come across. And peacocks!

She also took me to Jordans Mill which has a smallish garden but is great for macro photography. Although it was raining we walked a fair way up the river Ivel too so got some mileage done.

Sophie was away a fair bit in August but we did manage a day out first to Cresswell Hall ruins, and then on to Druridge Bay where they had a vintage rally going on.

Another busy month in September, Sophie and I visited Pow Hill Nature reserve which is the current Fraggle report over on the Universe Blog 

and Northumberland Zoo was a great fun day out.

We also visited Bolam Lake just as Autumn was beginning to take hold, and the 1000 yr old St.Andrews Church nearby.

I also went to a work conference with my boss and friend Brenda, stayed in a posh hotel and had fun meeting people I hadn’t seen in ages. They put on a swish dinner in the evening and the guest speaker was Ben Cohen, formally a rugby player, then on Strictly Come Dancing, and now runs his own charity which he gave a talk on. So I did my first ‘celebrity’ shot ever! He is quite buff in the flesh!

In October Phil and I did a mini tour through Belgium and Holland, visiting loads of WW2 sites and museums, what a great holiday! We ended up in Veldhoeven for a big model show where Phil was judging.  Hard to choose a favourite as everywhere we visited had some great photo ops, but am going with this shot taken outside the Arnhem museum, of an old chaps hand feeding the deers so I could get a good shot of them. Nothing beats the kindness of strangers when in different lands I think. That touched my heart.

Of course it was Halloween at the end of the month and I did the usual thing of swapping treats for a photo when they knocked on the door.

November saw Sophie and I off to Jarrow Hall and the Bede Museum. They have an outdoor medieval village and Sophie tried her hand at grinding flour for bread.

We also did a long walk around the Rising Sun nature reserve, but man was it windy and cold!

I did a B&W project  for 30 days too.


December has been switching between very cold and very mild, and Sophie and I went off to an open day at the 17th century Guild Hall in Newcastle, afterwards we watched the sunset over the Bridges and got some lush photo’s of it.

We also went to the Camel Parade in South Shields, and as well as camels they had drummers and light walkers on stilts followed by a firework display.

Frego came round to do a fashion shoot with the Orientals.

and we had a Christmas party with our family.

So that’s the end of the year just about.  Not a bad one, except for Skye.

Thanks to all who follow this blog, and also to the Fraggles Universe followers ~  you all make blogging a fun thing to do 🙂 so Happy 2018 to all 🥂🍻

And stay tooned!


















Thursday Thoughts

I haven’t been blogging for a couple of weeks, though have popped in to everyone else’s blog of course. No Mundanity Monday’s, no Thursday Thoughts here, and no ‘places wot I went to’ on the Universe blog.  Last week I completely lost all motivation to pick up my camera. Would have loved to do some snow scenes but it came and went whist I was at work and then it just turned cold and meh.  On Monday this week I woke up with what people call Manflu and I call a bad cold + chest infection, so am sniffing and coughing my way through the week.  At least it will be over (I hope!) by Christmas.

Ah yes, here it comes again, and my world is split between those ramping it up going bonkers with presents, decorations, parties, shopping, etcetera, etcetera,etcetera, and those who are bah humbugging and grumbling at the commercialisation and having to buy presents when they don’t really want to.  If I analyse it down, the bonkers lot are younger, mainly women, and have kids, and the humbuggers are older, mainly men, whose kids flew the nest long ago, if they had them.  🙂 .

I figure it’s impossible to ignore it, the radio is playing the same old crappy Christmas songs they play every year ad nauseam, the TV is full of crappy Christmas movies I wouldn’t watch if you paid me, and I daren’t even check out the family facebook pages! They’re all on the mad side.

Christmas here at Fraggle Towers will be mostly a quiet affair, we have a tree up now, on the 12th, not the 1st of December

though my decorations are old and worn, there’s still a bit of sparkle going on

We went to Cyprus one year for Christmas, and had dinner in a Chinese restaurant, we were the only ones there, and the lady owner gave us a Christmas decoration for a present.

And though it was nice to be away, there’s really nothing like Christmas dinner at home.  It’s always just me and Phil for Christmas Day, the kids always do their own thing, which is grand. We’ll be having roast leg of lamb and I’ll push the boat out on the veggies to go with it.  Pudding will not be an option, we can’t manage 2 courses these days!

At some point Phil’s kids and grandkids and his sister + hubby will come over for an afternoon and I’ll make a load of vol-au-vents and party food for it, and that’ll be our socialising done!

We don’t do presents, everyone gets money, we figure our grandkids are overloaded with stuff they won’t even remember getting by the week after, so when it’s all over they can have a little spend themselves. Phil and I decided long ago that surprising each other was a pain in the arse and we’d both rather just get what we want when we want it, so birthday and Christmas present became obsolete, and it removes the worry of what to get!  I haven’t posted Christmas cards since forever, think they are a complete waste of paper, I’d rather ring some one up and have a chat.  So on the whole I quite like Christmas, the tree looks pretty, we’ll have a lush dinner and a few glasses of something nice, watch movies that have nothing to do with it, see our loony family for a little while, and have a week off work. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. 🙂

I hope you all have the Christmas that’s perfect for you!