Saturday, 30 April 2011

Waiting for a storm

There's a threatening sense in the air,
The trees are whispering fervently,
"It'sss comingggg"...

The parched ground is ready,
The thirsty leaves looking to the sky,
Still innocently blue and clear.

But there is a promise of heavy drops
Before the night is out,
As thunder approaches on the breeze...

Still on a high

Last night's performance of 'We Will Rock You' - well what can I say?  I'm not a big musical or theatre fan, my friend bought tickets for this for an early birthday present and WOW!   I was glued from start to finish with the talented dancing and incredibly powerful singing.  It was much funnier than I'd expected (although non-Brits wouldn't get all the quips), and had poignant moments too. The choice of Queen tracks for each scene were well chosen and interestingly/amusingly adapted for some.

The second half started with 'One Vision', and when the intro began both my friend and I could close our eyes and imagine ourselves back at Wembley or Knebworth Park, with crowds screaming and Freddie about to strut on stage.

The story is set in the world of 2300 when live music is illegal and all instruments have been banned, all music is digitally produced and danced to by clones. A small group of underground 'Bohemians' hold on to ideas from 300 years previously, found in the video scrolls telling of rock and roll, and a 'dreamer' (our hero) who will save the earth by bringing back live music.

If you're in the UK and any sort of fan of Queen's music or just want a good night out, see it!

I think I'll be getting the record deck out later and playing my Queen LPs from the 80s, loud ;-)

Friday, 29 April 2011

Snippets from an extra bank holiday

I just deleted 118 people from my Facebook friends list, it felt great. They were acquaintances or even 'once-acquaintances'.  It will be interesting to see how many of them even notice.

This morning I watched the Royal Wedding live over at my parents house. I'm not a Royalist or a anti-Royalist - I don't worship the Royal family but equally I have nothing against them.Anyway it was a beautiful show and it was good to see something positive instead of all the doom and gloom. Kate was a lot cooler than I would have been amongst all that pressure!    Oh and for those of you who remember that I hate going to weddings - watching from the comfort of a sofa is quite another matter ;-)   

Tonight I am going with a friend to see We Will Rock You, I used to be a big Queen fan and saw them twice live in the 80s so it should be a good evening!

A small brown spaniel just legged it out of my house closely followed by a barking Django...  It turned out it belonged to visitors next door, it had obviously come through the hedge and had a good nose around!

On that note I must go and get something to eat, have a good weekend.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Physio and the concern of mothers

I saw my physiotherapist this morning.  The outcome of it was that I'm doing all the right things (cycling, walking, exercises) and basically it's now just down to giving it time.  The bone is still 'remodelling' and will be for at least a few more months, so he didn't suggest trampolining or training for a marathon. I mentioned that I was thinking of doing some swimming so that got a tick, as did the fact that I make up my own physio exercises sometimes! So no more appointments, but I can make one with them if I want to discuss anything.

I won't be telling my mother this because I don't think she will consider that sufficient, despite the fact the physiotherapist I've been seeing works at the best regarded practice around here. Although as I see it, the reason I don't need to see him is because I don't need him to motivate me - I have enough motivation for two people, and I imagine that is a big part of a physiotherapist's role.

He said my leg was pretty strong (though it did blooming hurt when he did the 'ok, push as hard as you can against my hand' stuff in all different directions!).

So I'll just carry on doing what I'm doing. Yep, I can manage that.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Studying in a bra, and a photo

I'm sitting on the veranda, typing my essay in my bra (well I was before I popped over here to write this). The 6 o'clock sun is really warm and I'm in the lee of the house so no breeze here... so the t-shirt had to go.  Ah the advantages of having no-one overlooking - at least not unless they really, really try!

The essay is the last one for this year, it's a very general 1500 word affair about the advantage of looking at topics from different psychological perspectives.  I've kind of written the introduction and feel as though the rest will come ok - until I hit that wall of course ;-)

I made a big mistake earlier, I looked at the course page on Facebook. I haven't looked for a while because it annoys me, but I was hoping that in amongst the rubbish there might be some useful tips on TMA06.   There were a couple of posts on there saying 'Oh whatever, I just can't wait to get this year over, I've hated it'.  Last year when I was doing social science there were similar comments about that course. I think I've probably mentioned this before but sorry it's bugging me again. Yes it's been hard on occasion but it's a degree course - what would you expect??  I find it quite sad really, and I want to post on there that I've found it really interesting and life-enhancing and horizon-broadening.  I'm sure it can't just be me...

Here is a completely unconnected photo of my 'garden wall':  Everything growing in it is self-seeded (probably with the help of the birds).  No cherry trees this year (not yet anyway).  Anyone who can invent a connection between this and my post, please share it...

Later when it's cooler I will take Django out for a walk. I suppose I'd better put my t-shirt back on for that.

Monday, 25 April 2011

Stepping back from the edge

Just when things seem to be swinging along, something gets me down again.

I got an invitation to my sister's surprise birthday party, she's going to be 50.  I probably won't go because there are too many difficulties including needing time off work and the fact that she lives 2 hours drive away...  But just thinking about it stressed me out.  Just my parents saying "I know they'd love it if you went".  Nothing's that easy any more and I need to do things in my own time. And getting a lift with someone else would almost be worse - I'd be so tense by the time I got there, having driven the whole way in my head but without the controls!

I already have my first longer drive planned, and it will to see my brother and sister in law where things are relaxed, and if I suddenly got stuck on the way they would probably come and rescue me!   Maybe a madhouse full of teenagers would work just as well, but.... I'm already making the excuses, I'm not going to go.

Even on my bike I've noticed my change in expectations on the road.  I used to be much more casual but now I always wear my helmet and luminous top, even when it makes it a bit warm. Even when it's just 1.5 miles to work. The thing is, I've realised I wear them not only for the obvious reasons, but so that if somebody does knock me off my bike one day I can say "Yes I was wearing a helmet, yes I was wearing a luminous jacket".   In the same way that now I can say "Yes I was wearing my seatbelt / sensible driving shoes / sunglasses" or whatever - don't try and pick up on anything to pin the blame on me.

I read that after a traumatic experience, a person's outlook can change from generally positive to generally negative.  Obviously effects vary but that's kind of how I feel.  Instead of somebody doing something stupid on the road being an outside chance, in my head it's now favourite odds, and it's up to me to anticipate it and avoid it. Maybe that is something do with the fact that there was "little or no chance" of me avoiding our crash (the coroner's words, not mine).

I'm attempting (not always succeeding) to pace myself physically and same applies psychologically.

Maybe I should get myself a T-shirt that says "I'm going as fast as I can...".

Sunday, 24 April 2011

The here and now

This being Easter Sunday, all sorts of questions have been going around in my head. Now I know that this is probably a sensitive subject and if it upsets anyone then ... well I suggest you stop reading if you get to that point.

I was raised as a Christian, low key but weekly church and we sang in the choir.  Mr H was brought up with a similar background but probably ducked out earlier than me. In fact I met him at a Christian Arts Festival, he was there for the music and I was there for.... I'm not actually sure.  I started going with my brother and sister in my teens, and I suppose we also went mainly for the music, and it was a 'safe' festival to go to.  It was just something I did.

In my twenties, after I was married, I stopped going to church except at Christmas.  Now I don't even go then because I don't want to be one of those people who only goes to church at Christmas.  Mr H and I didn't have much in common with the people our age at church; instead we'd go out somewhere, to the sea or the forest, because we didn't believe that God's presence was restricted to a stone building. .

Over the last few years, both Mr H have realised separately that we're not really sure what we believe in..  Is that age? or education? or just that we've both become more questioning of things that were previously taken for granted?

Everyone believes that their religion is the 'right' one (although so many of them overlap), but now I don't know if it is.  I feel a bit as though I was brought up being told that Ford was the only make of car, but no-one gave me the opportunity to test drive any of the other makes. I'm not saying I don't want a car at all but in this enlightened age who has the right to tell me it has to be a Ford.  I also don't like the idea that the car manufacturer is responsible for everything, including filling the tank with fuel when required (if you can't keep up with the metaphor, I'm talking about taking responsibility for ourselves, our actions and what happens in our lives instead of relying on Somebody to sort it all for us).

Ford: "Any colour so long as it's black"

Today, as I considered for half a second that I might go to church, I checked myself.   Why did I think I might go?  I realised it was because I thought I ought to be thinking that I should go. Not a good reason.

Then I started thinking about the afterlife, eternal life, eternal damnation, and how some people spend their whole lives worrying about it.  I realised that right here and now I'm not bothered about the afterlife, I'm quite satisfied with the present life.  We think about the past and the future far too much as it is, and thinking beyond death too regularly seems to me to be.. well, odd. I suppose that the reason is that this earthly life is supposed to be just a stepping stone.  But what if this turns out to be it? All of it?  I'm not saying that everyone should go out and party and get hammered every night. I'm just saying that I prefer to make the most of the here and now,

And if when I die I get a shake of the head at Heaven's door, well I'll just have to take responsibility for that.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Sunbathing on Easter Weekend...?

Today I feel that I have been extremely lazy. This is based on the fact that I spent a large number of hours sitting on my sun lounger in the garden reading 'Atonement', drinking tea and watching the birds going about their business.

Normally this would be virtually impossible for me to achieve. I would end up weeding or doing other chores that need doing, and not being able to sit still. But since I had all those months sitting around unable to do things, I am much better at it now.

Django did much the same, except that he slept in various sunny/shady places around the garden instead of reading a book.

We were out walking at 7.15am up on the Forest this morning, and then I walked into town to the market for a few things, so I wasn't a complete slob.  And now it's shady so I have my chores to do - watering the vegetable patch.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Faye's Cat - a challenge

A while ago one of my friend's posted a photo of her cat on Facebook.  When I glanced at the thumbnail I thought it was two bridesmaids dancing at her wedding.   I told her about this and even printed off the photo, drew on on it, scanned it and sent it to her - but she couldn't see the two dancing bridesmaids.  

Can you?

I'm now thinking that Faye's Cat could become famous.. say, like Schrodinger's Cat?

Monday, 18 April 2011

Be proud of where you live

Tourist season has started in the New Forest. Locally known as 'grockles' they arrive for weekends and holidays in streams of cars and caravans, queueing to get through Lyndhurst.

Naturally the whole point of having grockles is to give the locals something else to complain about:

They clog up the roads.
The slow down to look at the ponies.
They bring their children.
They wander around the market at a snail's pace.
They have picnics where you want to walk your dog.
The fill up the car parks.
They generally get in the way.
Everyone wants them to just sod off home and leave us in peace.

Up until this year I have probably felt the same (albeit slightly tongue in cheek).  But this year I feel different and I'm not sure what it is that has changed my outlook.  Maybe it is being a regular visitor to Scotland and not quite feeling whether I'm a tourist or a local; maybe all this studying has made me see the world in a different way; maybe I've just grown up.

When I went out last weekend on a beautiful sunny day, and there were caravans on the road, I didn't start thinking 'oh no, here we go again'.   Instead I felt proud to live here, in a beautiful place that an awful lot of people want to come and visit.  

When I met some people walking who had obviously come from the camp site, I didn't snarl at them, I smiled and said good morning and if I'd had the chance I probably would have wished them a lovely holiday, or chatted about what plans they had for their stay.

When I thought about the amount of money tourism brings into the local economy I wondered what the place would be like without that input?

While Mr H and I were on holiday in Derbyshire, we met a lovely couple on one of our walks.  They didn't snarl at us for being tourists, we chatted about where we were staying and things we were doing.  That is the sort of local I want to be.

Too many people whinge about tourists but think about this - how lucky are we?  When they have to go home and tell their friends about what a great place they visited, we get to live here and enjoy it all year round.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Spot's Spot

Hi guys, thought you'd like this photo of me working hard in mum's office...

I stayed with one of mum's friends while she was away and it was cool, I went to the office every day. And to the bar where the friend works (only I couldn't go in it because it had a REALLY scary wooden floor, so I sunbathed outside). But the most fun was waking her up at 5.30am every day because there are no curtains in her house... oops.

My favourite days

My favourite days of the week are Tuesday and Friday, because those are the days I most often receive a letter in the post from Mr H.

Here are the letters I have received since 29 August 2010....

I feel like an excited kid when I come home at lunchtime and look in our letter box, and there amongst the junk mail and  boring stuff is a little handwritten envelope from him.

I always make my lunch and cup of tea and then sit down and read the letter while I eat. Sometimes it makes me smile, sometimes it makes me cry, but always it makes me feel close to him.

So... *ignoring any relevance to being at work/college or not* what is your favourite day(s) of the week and why?

Friday, 15 April 2011

Getting More

Well Folks you'll be pleased to hear that I'm feeling a lot more positive about things than I have been this week.  

I also have some I Want More plans for this weekend.  Just little things but that's all that was ordered - no mountains require moving and no major expenses.

Wishing you all a lovely weekend!

Thursday, 14 April 2011

The Leg Says 'No'!

Sadly the Holiday Anaesthetic has worn off....  I might Want More but my body doesn't currently agree with me, it's gone on strike!  I was feeling so good after our holiday, and the fact that I managed to do more walking than I thought, that I was all fired up with enthusiasm when I got back.   Couple that with the cost of running a car 1.5 miles to work and back every day (I can't believe how quickly the tank empties doing those short trips) at over £1.30 per litre and I was determined to use Shanks Pony or my bicycle for my commute. 

So on a couple of days I cycled in the morning and drove in the afternoon (have already established that once there and back is enough at the moment).

On Tuesday I decided I'd walk to work for the first time and take Django with me.  Well, walking to work on your own, on pavements in soft shoes is so much harder than walking in good company on grass in walking boots with a lovely view...who knew?  I reckon if you multiply the miles by about 6 then you get the equivalent. 

By the time I was half-way to the office my leg was complaining. By the time I got home in the evening I had slowed down to half my speed and was ready to cry.  I felt so pathetic - for heaven's sake it was a 1/4 of what I'd walked last week if I include walking around town and shops etc. 

I grimly had to write a note to myself - I am not ready to walk to work yet.

Photo illustrating the pleasantness of holiday walking compared with work walking

On Wednesday it ached but I was still feeling confident of being able to go for a walk on the clifftop with a friend on Saturday.  

This morning I took Django down to the field, a short 25 minute round trip. I took my walking stick because I felt as though I'd need it and I did, I felt as though I'd stepped back on my ladder by 2 months. I spent most of today at work with an ice-pack down my jeans, eating Kendal Mint Cake as comfort food.  

So, the leg says 'No' and has demanded rest and relaxation.  I have no choice but to submit to it for a few days (except for those short trips down to the field because Django has to be walked).  I'm not particularly good at submitting to whinging body parts but sometimes it has to be done.  

It was probably not a good combination of overdoing it and the come down from a fantastic week with my husband, and the PMS probably hasn't helped how I feel about it.... 

So, I will be suggesting swapping the clifftop walk on Saturday for coffee and a chat instead.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

What type of friend are you?

A friend of mine said something today which made me think - she said she'd been deleting all the really unpleasant people she knows from her Facebook friends.

Well that begs so many questions, but mainly....  firstly if they are unpleasant why were you friends in the first place?   or maybe they were just 'acquaintance' friends, we all have some of those.  Secondly, are they really unpleasant or have they just said one thing you don't like?   Thirdly, isn't 'unpleasant friend' rather an oxymoron?

The verocity with which she said it shocked me rather, although it probably shouldn't (knowing the individual concerned).     I commented that I didn't think I had any really unpleasant friends, to which she replied that unfortunately she does.  This I must admit I took with rather a large pinch of salt as her friendships seem to run hot and cold all the time. Please excuse the mixed metaphors.

This is what I got when I searched Google Images for 'unpleasant friends'.  Hmm I guess they don't turn up with one of these in their pocket?

I can count the number of close friends I have on one hand - the ones I could turn to in a crisis.  Of course I have many more that number of casual friends and acquaintances but maybe I just don't get involved enough with them to find out if they are really unpleasant or not.  A bit like not finding out your partner's worst habits until you live with them.

The most I have to complain about is irritating friends - the ones who always seem to be negative, or mushy, or overly opinionated.  But that isn't the same as being unpleasant.

That then got me thinking about how much we attract different types of people as our friends. How much of whether they are 'pleasant' or not is to do with them, and how much is to do with what we expect of them which they don't or can't live up to?  Or, they expect things of us which we don't or can't live up to?  Either of those situations can cause bad feelings to build up, or just explode one day.

Or does what one person considers 'unpleasant' differ from another's?  Undoubtedly but I'd have thought we all agree if a person was generally nasty.

My final thought was that sometimes you have to keep certain friends slightly at arm's length. Get too enmeshed with them and you might find yourself saying the wrong thing one day, and being deleted because you're unpleasant.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

I Want More

So I came home yesterday from a fantastic week away with Mr H. I was well out of my comfort zone, in fact so far out of it that it got quite stressful at times.  But all in all, it was a Very Good Week.

On my way home I was thinking "Right, here we go. On the way home. Back to normal."

But then I realised that I don't want to go back to normal.  I don't want to slip back into the eat / sleep / work / study routine.   I want more.

I just have to work out how and where to create that 'more' in my life.  Just a few small things a week that make it different to the week before.

Now there's a challenge.

Reverse competitiveness

Maybe it's a British thing, but I've really noticed over the time I've been studying with the OU a kind of 'reverse competitiveness' amongst my fellow students.

It manifests itself in comments like "Oh I'm so far behind, I expect you've already finished it!" or "You're getting so much better marks than me, you're doing so well and I'm hopeless at it" or "I can't believe I got 97%, I thought I'd totally flunked it and was dreading my mark!" (yeah, sure you did).

I even find myself defending myself when someone comments on what stage I'm at compared with them: "oh no I haven't finished it, in fact I did no studying at all last week".   Why can't we just admit if we're enjoying something, or finding it easier than someone else might - the next module it might be the other way round. It's almost as if people need to prove how much they are struggling so they can get a group hug.

I'm not saying I'm not sympathetic to those that are struggling, but sometimes I really doubt they are finding it any harder than I am. It's just that I have more time to spend on it than some.

OU is of course different to 'normal' university because almost everyone has either a full time job, or a family, young children, caring for elderly parents, or sometimes all of the above. Yes there are some younger ones who are studying it full time but I imagine they are in the minority.  So, all of us have other commitments, are different ages and have a varying number of hours in the week to study.  We also have different strengths and weaknesses.  It's 100% certain that we'll all work at different speeds and struggle with (or not) different modules.

I also find it quite depressing how there is this expectation of having to moan about how hard/boring certain chapters are, or how un-supportive the tutor is ("gosh you're so lucky, my tutor is useless and takes over an hour to reply to an e-mail").  This, then, is the build up to being able to bemoan a 'low mark' - it was boring/I didn't get the support from my tutor.

What is more surprising on my current course is that we're studying Psychology for goodness sake... surely we should be able to look at ourselves by now and see what we're doing when we make these comments?   Physician, heal thyself.  Or at least have a stab at dealing with that lack of self-confidence which is most likely what is behind it all.

Hmm, it's probably a good thing I'm not training for a career in counselling...?

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Honesty is the best policy

The other day I saw the orthopaedic expert for an assessment and he will report back to my solicitor.  I was (of course) 100% honest in my answers to his questions, and in my assessment of myself and what I can and can't do.

It got me thinking though. How many people in my situation would have limped into the room, groaned with pain sitting down in the chair and then wildly exaggerated how much pain they were in, and how they could barely walk up stairs let alone walk the dog for an hour.  Just so they could try and get a few more quid compensation. Hmmm, I'm thinking quite a lot of people.

I might have mentioned before how anti-spurious-compensation-claims I am, and how weird it felt being involved in a genuine one (let's face it, she has screwed up quite a few months of my life, physically and mentally, and who knows when I'll be back to normal?).  Hence there is No Way I would lie to an assessor who probably has a fair idea of what he's expecting anyway.

I lied to my orthodontist when I was 13, forgive me if I've told you this before. He asked me whether my gums bled when I brushed me teeth. I lied and said 'No', at which point he told me that they would if I'd been brushing my teeth properly. Damn, damn!    It was around that point that I learned that lying to an expert is probably going to backfire.

I always like having my eyes tested because I have no idea what they are finding out from their various tests with different lenses, so there is no earthly point in lying about my answers in an effort to stay out of the Wearing-glasses Club (and no, I'm still not a member, although I think I'd look quite good in them so in a way it's disappointing).

Why do we sometimes try to second guess what experts (or others) are driving at?  even if we don't lie, we are trying to work out what would be the best answer.  They must word their questions very carefully sometimes to try and ensure they get the truth and not what we think is what they want to hear.

Then there's the question of just not mentioning something ("that you may later rely on in court") - does that count as lying?   I regularly don't mention things to my parents because I don't want to have the Whole Conversation about it, but if they asked me outright there is no way I'd be able to lie to them. By the time I'd thought of the lie, my subconscious would have already blurted the truth out of my mouth.

I am generally pretty good at keeping my mouth shut when it matters though, if I'm told something in confidence it stays in confidence.

And now I've strayed off the original subject, so I'm off to make my packed lunch for my train journey!

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Risk analysis

In the last 3 months there have been two young ladies in the news who went missing, and then their bodies found.  One apparently left from her flat with someone, the other was the victim of a taxi-driver at 2am.

When I was walking through the back paths of the woods this morning I idly started wondering how long it would be before anyone missed me, and how long before they found me, if I was attacked in the woods.  I decided it wouldn't be very long as I'm expected at my parents this evening, and it wouldn't be hard for them to deduce I was somewhere in the car with Django, and then to find the car.   I remembered my self-protection course I went on a few years back, after which I walked with my hand on my car/house keys in my pocket just in case. I wonder how many of the techniques I'd remember now if I had to?

I rarely think about any dangers in dog-walking alone. Mainly I think most murderers would probably be too lazy to be in the places I am, and then hang around on the off-chance of a girl on her own happening to walk past.  Popular city parks are a much easier target.

So, there you have my cheerful thought for the day!

Friday, 1 April 2011

On holiday! :-)

Well here I am, it's Friday night and I'm on holiday!!  at least sort of, I'm not leaving until Sunday lunchtime when I board a train to the Peak District (4 hours north of here) for a week away with Mr H.  I've just been on the phone to my dad's cousin who we are meeting while we are up there, she is great fun and we don't get to see her often enough.

Before then I have to do the packing, which is always difficult at a time of year when the weather could do absolutely anything.

Sooo not sure when I'll talk to you again but you can be sure there will be photos when I get back ;-)

In the meantime here are a couple of Django being not quite sure about a Shetland pony up on the Forest...