Making the most of life

I am currently researching a memorial at Hindhead. Sadly, I’ve found a few people who refuse to come out of hiding. This is sadder than the stories themselves of young people going off to die in a fruitless game of ‘my king’s dick is bigger than yours’ insanity. Still, for every one I can’t find, I tend to find many others. And while still a sad waste of life, it does make me feel a little better as they become real people and not just surnames on a block of stone.

Sometimes the people I research have lived amazing lives full of adventure regardless of the Great War and they make me wonder what they could have achieved had they lived beyond 25. Other times the people are but children who have their lives snuffed out before they’ve barely seen anything of life. And sometimes I’ll research someone with exceptional parents. Today I did just that.

Geoffrey Wilmot Herringham went from Eton straight into military school. He became a Captain and, though brave and possibly dashing, he was dead by the age of 31 having lived only in the army. His brother, Roger, was even less fortunate. He suffered from a severe case of arthritis as a child and died very young. His parents, on the other hand, were extaordinary.

Sir Wilmot Parker Herringham was a medical doctor in the British Army.

He was one of the first to investigate and search for a cure for poison gas attacks. He was knighted in 1914 after attending Oxford and working as resident physician at St Barts in London for a while. (I don’t know why he was knighted but assume it had something to do with his medical skills.)

At the outbreak of war he went to France to help and rose up through the ranks to a Major-General of the Royal Army Medical Corps by the end of the war. (Incidentally, I think being a doctor during war is an odd thing to be. I know this was dealt with in Catch 22 and, to a larger extent, MASH but I still find it peculiar.) In his memoirs, Sir Wilmot claimed he learned more medicine during the war than at any other time.

He also wrote a lot. From scholarly articles for journals to books, it seems like he never stopped. Though he did find time to meet and marry Christiana Jane Powell.

Christiana Jane Herringham (nee Powell) was an artist and a suffragette.

She was an amazingly adventurous woman who looked a little bit like Emma Thompson. Her father, Thomas Wilde Powell, was a wealthy patron of the Arts and Crafts movement so I guess she was surrounded by beauty from birth. Given her start in life she naturally also worked tirelessly for arty recognition.

But she didn’t just support art, she was also a very talented copyist and she was responsible for saving many great works of art simply by making expert replicas. She was particularly talented in tempura. Then she met William Rothenstein.

William, along with Ernest Havell, formed the India Society which had a simple creed: To promote Indian art in the UK. Christiana joined the committee and set about making things happen. Meetings were even held in the Herringham house in Wimpole Street, London.

Determined to be more than just a committee member, she then travelled to India (with William and others of the society) to work on the famous Buddhist frescoes in the Ajanta caves. They were deteriorating rapidly. She wasn’t the only female artist either. Along with her was another exceptional copyist, Dorothy Larcher. 

I’d never heard of the Ajanta caves before. Having looked at the Wiki page on them, I really want to go and visit them now! Extraordinary.

Unlike me, Christiana travelled to India twice. Once in 1906 and then in 1911. Some of her copies were exhibited at the Crystal Palace in 1911 upon her return.

Wearing her Suffrage hat, she was great friends with Millcent Fawcett and they regularly worked together, trying to improve the lives of women. She was also a member of the non-violent protest group the Women’s Freedom League and could regularly be found chained to railings around Downing Street.

Things then became a bit strange. Christiana ended her days in a mental asylum in Sussex because, it’s claimed, she suffered from ‘delusions of pursuit and persecution’.

As a strange postscript, in 1916, Sir Wilmot was cited as the co-respondent in a divorce case brought by William Rothenstein. He claimed that Sir Wilmot had been carrying on an affair with his wife Alice.

Obviously, this is just the merest snapshot of their lives; an appetite whetting exercise if you will. I want to know more about Christiana at the very least. And I really think Emma Thompson should play her in her bio-pic.

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Still not bald

Today was my ten week hair day…except it was my twelve week hair day because of various postponements and cancellations involving various trips to various parts of the world. I don’t know why I always book my haircut ten weeks ahead except it’s the same time lapse as the puppies, which Kate decided on. So I blame Kate for the fact that my hair timetable is at ten week intervals.

For that reason (and because I’ve been a bit slack with the trip to Oz) I spent yesterday afternoon colouring my hair in preparation. Otherwise, I’d have been really, really grey following the scissor action of today.

Of course I went to the gym first and, while I didn’t manage any PBs, I was very happy I’ve not ached at all following the two week break. I think this is the first time that’s happened. I usually have to suffer through a few days of painful muscle readjustment. I have no idea why this time has been different but I’m definitely not complaining.

In Starbucks I chatted with Andrew who, when I explained I was getting a much needed haircut, indicated this wasn’t a problem he suffered from. While not hairless, he doesn’t have a lot and the bit he does have is making itself scarce.

Sat in my Ruby Mane chair, having Cacheta work on my head is one of life’s little joys. Once upon a time I hated getting my hair cut but these days, the combination of massage, washing, attention and chat is hard to beat.

Today we talked about travel. After I told her about the joys of Japan and the woes of China, Cacheta told me about her experiences in Thailand and Jamaica. The two places couldn’t be more different.

In Thailand she told me about the first trip she made there with her husband. They had an absolute blast, mostly because of a young Australian couple on their honeymoon who introduced them to an amazing club in a cave. It was THE spot to go to when everything else closed and, by 6am the next morning, was still throbbing with tunes and drinking.

Fast forward a number of years and after having their daughters, they decided to take them to Thailand to share in past glories. Sadly, everything had changed (and not for the good). The people had become more greedy and racist. And the club in the cave had returned to the way nature had intended, a way that didn’t include decks and drinks.

The daughters were not enthused and wondered what their parents had seen in the place. They thought it was all a bit ‘meh’ and claimed they’d not bother returning any time soon.

This experience, I told Cacheta, reminded me of Bali. When I went in 1973 it was an unspoiled paradise. Ten years later it was an awful, over commercialised, island like any other island. We decided it’s important to remember the great things because they, obviously, don’t last forever.

Far more ‘fun’ was their experience in Jamaica. Cacheta was born there and had relatives so the dangerous countryside, while retaining an element of danger, was not a surprise. They knew the precautions to take and, in consequence, had an excellent time. Sadly, her uncles are rapidly dying off so, soon, there’ll be no-one left to visit.

As usual, I was very pleased with the results of my appointment and went home to two over excited puppies given my usual two hours away had magnified to almost four. So, of course, after lunch, we went to the park where Freya almost caught a squirrel.

To be fair it was the squirrel’s fault rather than any skill on Freya’s part. It was sitting in the middle of the Avenue of Trees, it’s back turned to Freya when it shuffled it’s bushy tail in an involuntary sweep of the path. The sudden movement spurred Freya into action as she made a mad dash to close the three metres between them in under a second.

The squirrel must have heard something because it’s little head swivelled quickly, spotting the white blur approaching and took off just ahead of Freya’s paws. They reached the base of a tree at almost the same time, Freya nearly slamming into the trunk while the squirrel raced up to the safety of a branch very high up.

Squirrels almost always spiral up trees except when in extreme danger of capture. I figure this is because they want to tease the pursuer. This time, the squirrel went straight up, not pausing for anything until it was safe in the crook of a branch. Freya’s tail swished as she tried to figure out where the squirrel had gone.

I nearly got it!

It was most exciting. Meanwhile Emma just chased her ball.

A woodland run

Meanwhile, for her birthday, Mirinda went on a two hour boat trip then had dinner at a Michelin starred restaurant.

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1062 degrees, baby!

Following the devastating burning of Notre Dame the other day, one of our newspapers printed an evocative photograph showing an untouched golden cross standing defiant while all around was blackened ash. I don’t read newspapers so I wouldn’t have known about the photograph had I not read a tweet which featured the photograph and stated  that it was the hand of god and was undeniable proof of his existence.

Ignoring the fact that it was him that allowed the thing to burn in the first place, my favourite response on twitter was this:

Nice one Judith!

That made me laugh out loud. Kind of like the continuing hilarity of a podcast that Lisa recommended I listen to.

It’s called My Dad Wrote a Porno and, seriously, it’s laugh out loud funny. I was listening on the plane coming back from Oz and had to stop myself exploding with mirth many, many times. I’ve started listening to episodes while having lunch (and dinner), ignoring the possible choke hazards.

Meanwhile, on the way to the gym this morning, I discovered a rather odd addition to the big roundabout I circumvent on the way.

Why?

The only explanation I can come up with is that people have been driving across the roundabout. Okay, this is unlikely given the forest growing on it but why else would an established roundabout need this sort of over the top signage? (By the way, Home James doesn’t exist anymore. They were bought by VGT taxis.)

After shopping and walking home and eating lunch (and listening to My Dad Wrote a Porno) I took the girls to the park for a much needed (according to Emma) walk/run/ball chase.

Avenue of Trees

I also snapped another couple of flower photos from our garden. First our beautiful camellia is being bloomin’ bountiful:

Our Lady loves them

And another close up of one of the yellow and red tulips, this time in a pot on the terrace.

Spanish

The weather has continued to improve which is why I wore just shorts and t-shirt all day.

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Joy in the garden

Yesterday the gardeners came and I was in charge. The reason I was in charge is because Mirinda has gone away with Fi and Bob for a week. I was given a long list of jobs that needed doing and a practical tour of the garden to make sure I knew the difference between geraniums and tulips.

Gardener Dave and Paul assured me they knew what they were doing and went at it. And I have to say, the garden looked fantastic when they’d finished.

Pots on the terrace

The garden is really starting to come alive after the long sleep of winter. Tulips are following on from the daffodils and freesias to add to the yellow with splashes of red and purple. The insects are starting to appear as well, buzzing around the blooming glory.

Ex-wildflower meadow

I love the garden at this time of year (particularly when all I have to do is admire it) as it begins to burst forth. Colours that have been hidden, suddenly splash stunning shades of serious sparkle about the place. It becomes alive.

Of course, there’s still the weeds…but that’s never going to stop.

The tulips in the front garden are still magnificent. Here’s a better photo than the other day, given I took it from the front instead of overhead.

Spanish tulips?

Of course, we went to the park and Freya made friends with a very big, very hairy Dulux dog. I really wanted to get a photo of them together but only managed this:

Watch out for the tail!

The rest of the day was spent working on the transference of amendments between thesis versions for Mirinda. Meanwhile she was off enjoying a high tea overlooking the sea somewhere on the Devon coast.

Oh, and I went to the gym today for the first time in over two weeks. Upon my return home, I had my usual Tuesday weigh-in and it seems that I lost half a kilo in Queensland. I guess that’s what going OMAD will do for you!

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Tears won’t extinguish an inferno

It was with great sadness that I watched the burning of Notre Dame in Paris this evening. It came through on Twitter with some extraordinary video footage. The spire falling was very dramatic. The Parisians singing hymns was very poignant.

Any regular reader of this blog will know how much I love Paris. We’ve been going via the Eurostar for years; a weekend here, a week there. We have come to think of it as our second capital city. And Notre Dame has always been a centre point of our trips.

Our first trip to Paris in 1999, may not have been our most delightful but standing outside the cathedral was certainly magical.

1999

We didn’t go inside but did wander around, admiring the tourists who were obviously prepared to queue for hours. Speaking of queues…here’s a photo of the queue in 2008. It has wound around the side of the cathedral and probably took most of the day for the stragglers.

2008

Still, we did manage to visit the inside. It was in 2006 and I was a little less than enthusiastic with my opinions:


It strikes me that this church has little spiritual feeling remaining as the tourists wander around, taking photographs, filming people praying – in terms of worship, this would be one of the last places I’d visit! It is also quite gloomy. However, what is very impressive is the north facing rose window. It is huge and not one part of it is either horizontal or vertical and it gives the impression that it is moving.

We don’t always visit Notre Dame on our Paris trips but it’s enough to know that it’s there. It’s a bit like seeing St Paul’s in London. It’s comforting. And it’s symbolic.

It’s symbolic of human mortality that an edifice can be seen by many, many generations of us short lived creatures because we have the ability to construct such a long lasting thing of beauty. It doesn’t matter if one is religious or not. It doesn’t matter if one is knowledgeable in the ways of flying buttresses or religious incantations. It does matter that this beautiful church existed.

It’s good to know that there are so many people who love Notre Dame. Of all the tweets I read tonight, one stood out. It was from Yvette Cooper, a Labour MP (who, some believe, should be the Leader of the Opposition) who was in Paris today.

It was a sad day but it was full of bravery. There were people saving precious artworks and fake reliquaries, disregarding their own safety as the cathedral threatened to collapse on to them. There were the firefighters who, as most firefighters do, worked tirelessly and carefully to minimise the damage.

The call is now to rebuild Notre Dame. Given what has been done throughout Europe following the Second World War, it’s entirely possible that the new one will look exactly like the one that burned today. But, hopefully, with a bit less fire risk.

2008

Just a thought to finish on. A lot of people are claiming to be praying. I’m not sure what they are praying for. Given god is omni-powerful and omni-present, surely he let the fire take Notre Dame in the first place. I’m not sure what prayer is going to do except, perhaps, give him pause to think that possibly his followers doubt his wisdom.

I’ll never understand religious people. That doesn’t stop me loving Notre Dame.

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Back to the chill

We are currently experiencing a bit of chill weather. Apparently a weather pattern has crept down from Scandinavia, making us shiver and shake. While nothing like the Beast from the East of previous cold spells, it’s enough to warrant the wearing of a fleece…a far cry from a week ago in Caloundra. While culture shock is not really a problem, climate shock is a big possibility. I was actually cold. Well, for the littlest bit.

In the park

In Farnham I chatted with a few of my favourite service people, commenting on the cold and how hot it was in Queensland. To a woman, they all assumed I was missing the heat. I dissuaded them of that sort of thinking quick smart. Besides, the weather is supposed to warm up by next Wednesday as the Scandinavian front is replaced by a Mediterranean one. Stay tuned for more weather complaints mid week then.

While it was chilly, it was sunny enough to hang washing on the line which may have taken all day but by sundown was nicely dry and neatly folded. The weather wasn’t really responsible for the folding. I’d like to say that Freya did the folding but it would be a lie. She is such a lazy dog. Emma, of course, was doing her job of guarding the house from the safety of a window sill.

Speaking of her window sill position, there is a beautiful bunch of red dipped yellow tulips in the front garden perfectly placed for Emma’s vantage point. I took this photo from above as we went to the park.

After lunch, we headed up to the Park for a bit of a ball chase, something I miss when I’m away and something that Emma misses even more.

My favourite tree

We saw quite a few dog walkers but none that we knew. I managed to hold Emma back from a couple of over-sized greyhounds at one stage but, basically, we had only one visit by another dog. It was a cute fluffy thing who approached Freya with as much trepidation as she normally shows. They rubbed noses, sniffed butts then went their separate ways. It was all very civilised.

Back at home, I started work on moving Mirinda’s amendments from the working version of her thesis to the new master copy which came back from her supervisor with very high praise and copious exclamation marks in the cover email. When I spoke to Mirinda she seemed surprised at this reaction to the work. I merely said “I never doubted it.

Now it’s the final march towards the closing date in May.

Something I feel I should say before signing this post off is how I have not found anything out of place in my kitchen. Fiona has taken excellent care of my domain during my absence in some cases going above and beyond in white goods cleaning. I’m more than happy for her to come back and use it whenever she desires.

Though not next weekend. Next weekend I’m making moussaka and kulfi.

The park
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A very small wake

Just like a typical football game, today was a story of two halves. From the heady delights of watching Aldershot play Hartlepool to the frantic race to get the Stockwells out of the house and on their way to Devon before Nicktor arrived to pick me up. There was also a preamble with Fi, Bob and I having a coffee in Starbucks followed by shopping.

It was quite fun going into Starbucks and having everyone say hello and ask me how Queensland had been. I don’t think people really believe that I know everyone and this sort of thing makes me glow with happiness. My first silky latte for two weeks also made me glow with happiness. I’ve missed this sheer smooth and heavenly joy in a mug.

After shopping for their week away, we headed back home to organise Mirinda in her endeavours to get moving. Bob arrived shortly after we did and had a cup of tea. Always better being an audience for these sorts of events. Still, eventually the car was packed and I waved them farewell as they chuntered down our street and out, into the wide world of motorway madness.

I then reversed my hand and waved as Steve From Number 11 pulled up outside the house with Nicktor sitting in the passenger seat. This was an unexpected pleasure as I was under the impression that Steve From Number 11 had decided to forego support of the Mighty Shots and, instead, join the hordes of non-football fans glorying in CFC money laundering¹.

The tickets have gone a bit downhill as well

It would be fair to say that Aldershot Town Football Club has been having a pretty awful season. I’m fairly sure it’s not the worst I’ve seen but it’s certainly pretty disappointing given the godlike status afforded to manager Gary Waddock. Even he has no explanation for the downward turn of the club.

Anyway, today (and the rest of the season) was all about going through the motions as it’s very, very unlikely (impossible really) that we will be able to avoid relegation next season. As we sat in the club bar, enjoying a melancholy beer, Steve From Number 11 stated that it felt like a very small wake as we toasted…well, end of season defeat, really.

Steve, unknown fan and Nicktor discuss Bovril

Eventually we took our places on the Slab (I gave Bill a happy pat) which sadly lacked Charlie who has boycotted the rest of the season. It’s hard to see how his boycott could actually have any effect on anyone but him given he has a season ticket and football seems to be his only outlet. Still, I’m sure his caustic comments were missed by someone.

Anyway, the game started well and we scored an excellent goal in the first half, leaving Hartlepool reeling. It was then a case of passing back and forth, missed non-chances and a rather exciting game (in patches). At least it gave Nicktor something to do.

It all look like being a win for Aldershot, the first at home since early November last year but then, as usually happens when we don’t score a second goal, Hartlepool equalised. And so it ended. 1-1 and only a point to show for it.

At least the weather was a delight.

¹ I think I should state here that this is in terms of taking money from ‘fans’ and selling them crappy beer, over-paid football players, cheap advertising revenue and a complete disregard for what once made football great.

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A long Friday

I forgot to mention that the other day, sitting on the verandah at mum’s care home, I almost had my ear nibbled by a kangaroo. It was standing behind me as I sat and waited for mum and Tracey to return from mum’s room. As Tracey opened the sliding door she suddenly stopped and, very quietly told me to slowly turn around. As I began to move my head, the kangaroo hopped away, along the side of the swampy gully before heading up to the bush. I saw it as it bounced passed me.

All in all, it’s been an odd two weeks. It was mostly sedentary yet productive and interesting. For one thing, I have discovered just how much I enjoy sharing in other people’s stories. They are like little snatches of self edited biography. They are interesting even when they’re not, mainly because they are generally concerning things outside my own life experiences.

Anyway, leaving the philosophy to one side for a bit, the first half of my very lengthy Friday flight back home, was spent surrounded by the occasional sleeping form, glowing TV screens and a crying child one seat behind me.

I discovered, while the plane was moving bumpity bump through outside turbulence and the inside was being buffeted with waves of screaming child, that The Violent Femmes is a good way to blot out extraneous noise and encourage sleep.

Between fitful episodes of snooze, I finished watching the latest series of The Walking Dead – some would say it was also an episode of snoozing – then started on a Brazilian series called Most Beautiful Thing which was promising to be a lot of fun.

Then, at 6am in Hong Kong, we approached for landing at 570mph; the temperature was a tepid 24° and the sky densely cloudy…not that I had a lot of time for weather watching.

I was a tad concerned that the transfer at Hong Kong would be tricky, given my crappy mobility. I was a tad concerned when the in-flight display refused to show which gate and transfer should be used for my connecting flight as it generally does. I was a tad concerned when everyone in front of me decided to either stop suddenly and tie a shoelace or go to great effort to make my journey as slalom-like as possible by randomly pointing at toilets, shops or people tying their shoe laces. I needn’t have been concerned any single bit.

I sailed through the transfer and came out almost opposite Gate 5 which, coincidentally, was exactly where I had to be. I wandered around for about half and hour then sat down and waited for an hour which became an hour and a half because of some operational difficulties refusing passenger entry to the plane. Actually, while I waited for boarding to commence, the number of impatient business types huffling and puffling around me in impotent anguish and dire upset bordering on outright screams of injustice, made me feel very much happier about the presumably unavoidable delay.

Eventually I once more started watching my new favourite Brazilian TV show until I’d finished all episodes in series 1. There seriously needs to be a series 2!

Following fits, starts and snoozes, we landed at Heathrow half an hour late and I discovered my taxi driver home was to be the most despised cab driver in Farnham. Talk about unlucky. Normally I get the coach and train but this time thought Mirinda would prefer me to get home. Never again.

Home was, eventually, the loveliest place to be and I was greeted by two manic puppies, a wife on the phone then, after a bit, Fi.

And, delightfully, I had my dinner cooked for me by my wonderful sister-in-law. (The size of her quiche just had to be seen to be believed.)

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I’m picky about my fudge

What is it that spans a couple of Swedes, wild rain, fudge, a crafty mountain village and pork ramen? My last day in Oz. What else?

It all started with a long farewell with Ulla and Bjorn as we parted ways after two weeks which felt like a life long friendship. I was very serious when I said I’d stay there next year. They were superb hosts and I agreed when Bjorn suggested that next year we should sit and have a beer together as well.

But the farewells were soon over and Denise and I headed out for our day together which started at Coles and the Coffee Club in Sunland before winding up at her place for a cup of tea.

The weather was undecided whether to rain hard or soft but, by the time we were ready to head to Montville, the clouds had left for a bit and we figured we’d chance it. This was fine until we were halfway through lunch at the Edge when the rain came down in torrents, blocking out the view and making everyone but us scramble up from the actual edge to the dry interior of the covered bit of the restaurant.

It didn’t spoil our lunch as we sat, dry and famished beneath the big umbrella over table 43. It was almost spoiled by Telstra who Denise had a long phone call with regarding mum’s landline phone but we soon forgot about them as we tucked into our delicious meals.

Having visited Montville last year, I was keen to return and I wasn’t disappointed. After the sudden storm, the weather cleared and we enjoyed a lovely wander up and down the main street.

Montville cafe

One shop I didn’t remember from last year was, unknowingly, the inspiration for this blog post title. I over-heard a woman say it to someone she was with before entering the shop mentioned below.

Hard to argue with this

We managed to avoid entering and, instead, bought some tea in a tea shop run by a woman who once ran the Chevron in Sydney before going broke and heading for the no as bright lights of Montville. She seemed lovely and far more suited to selling tea than running a big city venue. (By that I mean she was lovely.)

Still, as usual, all good things, etc and we headed back down to Denise’s place.

We sat and chilled, watching two movies on Netflix (one about Agatha Christie, the other with Ricky Gervais) before I had to present myself outside her house, ready for the shuttle bus.

We hugged and kissed and I joined the bus where things almost came a-cropper when the driver asked me how to get out of the maze of streets that is where Denise lives. I laughed and explained I’d only been there twice and this was the second of them. I also suggested that the rapidity by which the streets appeared and disappeared made it next to impossible to navigate successfully for anyone visiting. He agreed then, almost by a miracle, found a way out.

Arriving at the race course we were required to wait a while for a late running bus to cast off its passengers for us to collect. This was quite handy for the woman who was so desperate to go to the loo that she almost hid behind a distant tree to relieve herself while her husband told us all waiting, what she was up to. When she returned I helpfully suggested she might want to swap her husband for one with a little more discretion.

Soon enough we arrived at Brisbane International where the usual long wait entailed until, finally, I could check-in then head out to wait at Gate 80 for a few hours. Although mostly the usual, mindless journey through the various stages, I was surprised by one security guard who, on taking my walking stick, handed me one to use to go through the metal detector. I thanked him and, on handing it back on the other side, said it was the first time ever, in any country, that I had been offered one. The guard was surprised, saying they had a lot of them scattered around.

I was so delighted I decided to celebration with a delicious bowl of pork ramen at Tuk Chop.

Seriously good ramen

And so the clock slowly ticked over to midnight then beyond before I boarded the first plane on the long journey home.

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Regarding time

As I sat at the bus stop, waiting for the 603 to take me to the home, Bjorn, my landlord, came over and sat with me. At first he offered me a lift, which I politely declined – it’s quite difficult explaining to people that I am fiercely independent and accepting lifts makes me feel the opposite – and then sat with me, chatting away the wait.

He told me that they (Ulla is his wife) go home to Sweden for three months every year. They leave the Queensland winter and enjoy the Swedish summer. He told me that they visit their continually ageing relatives and friends and their daughter who moved back as soon as she finished her nursing training because she hated the Queensland heat. Clearly a woman of my own heart.

He told me a bittersweet story about his mother. A few years ago they had gone home, as usual, and were driving to his mother’s place when he spotted a strawberry stand. Knowing his mum would love some strawberries he bought a bag full then added some chocolate to go with them. She was also a big liquid chocolate fan.

When they arrived, the three of them sat at the dining table and enjoyed a lovely visit with talk and laughter and, naturally, the strawberries and chocolate. Bjorn remembered it quite fondly.

His mum was 96. Three weeks later she died, without fuss and having had a full and happy life. Best of all, I suppose, her son was with her at the end.

My bus arrived and I left him to go and play golf (he plays off 30 which is pretty good for a man of 70+) while I headed for Little Mountain.

Then, as if some sort of sadness fairy had descended on me, I was sitting with Les and Glennis at morning tea and they both told me how utterly bored they were. I suggested that they could write their life stories. Just a bit each day would keep them busy and interested and bring back little snatches of the past.

Glennis said, “Mine would only fill a single page.” I thought that was incredibly sad.

Not that our day was particularly sad. Tracey took mum and me to Sunland where we had lunch at the Coffee Club following a wander around K-Mart and Coles.

I had a very nice omelette with smoked salmon and very few carbs.

Back at the care home we sat around while the Telstra man did weird things to mum’s phone. Then Mitchie turned up to visit (and wish me a fond farewell) then left shortly before Denise turned up to take me away.

As we left, we walked with Kevin and his wife. Kevin really doesn’t want to be there. Apart from being shaky on his legs, he feels perfectly alright. His wife explained that he couldn’t get up or down the stairs in their house which he would need to. Rather than sell and move to a bungalow, she felt the best thing was to put him in the care home. He doesn’t agree. She plays bowls.

Anyway, enough sadness for one day, my last. I’ll miss the staff and residents that I’ve met over the last two weeks. I feel like I’ve become a part of their lives in a very transient yet close way. Also the cafe women will now be able to forget my latte order.

Spotted in the care home car park and costing $5,000
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