Thursday, 7 October 2010



It seemed liked weeks and weeks that we’d been planning and preparing for our new rooms, and it was. Then on the morning of June 1st at 8am, six men arrived on my doorstep and it all started!
Having had my old bathroom and kitchen literally ripped out and new walls and ceilings put in, the fun started!
Through the front door, and up the stairs and into my spare room went a vanity stand, toilet, cistern, bidet, wall cupboard and shower unit. Then the large glass shower screen followed. It got to the bend in the stairs and was just too large to take the bend in an orderly fashion. I hovered, fearing for my walls and stair lift. They had another go, still no joy. The fitter was trying hard to compose himself in front of this elderly lady customer, but you could tell that he was bursting to shout expletives at the sheet of glass.
‘It’s no use’ he said. ‘It’ll have to come through the upstairs bedroom window’. I blanched. ‘But my bedroom window is a large double glazed fixed picture window’. ‘Yes I know’ said Mark the fitter. We’ll get the guy who installed the new kitchen and bathroom windows to take it out and put it back when we’ve got the screen into the room’.
My dressing table runs along the wall under the window and is over six feet long. It has four segments that are screwed together and the whole thing is immovable’ ‘Perhaps the window isn’t big enough’ I said weakly. ‘Oh it is, I’ve measured it’. I thought this a bit of a cheek as he didn’t ask me first. And that’s what they did. They took out the entire window, hauled the shower screen up the front of the house and through the window aperture. I feared that the sheet of glass would not be able to be transported from my bedroom, along the landing, and turn into the bathroom doorway. But it did! Of course I was charged for the taking out and replacing of the window. I forgot to mention that the large floor standing carousel in the kitchen suffered the same fate as the shower screen. It wouldn’t come through the back door, into the utility room and so into the kitchen. It too came in through the window. This time the kitchen window.

We were sort of marooned in the lounge, so didn‘t see much of the wet room installations, but you can be sure I kept a beady eye on the work in the kitchen.
Units were built and an induction hob and cooker hood fitted on one wall. Opposite was the microwave oven and self cleaning cooker. Under the wall cupboard was a drop down TV, DVD player and DAB radio. There were no floor standing cupboards as such. Behind each soft closing door were pull out units and drawers. No more agonising arthritic pains from bending and crouching in front of horrible cupboards.

I studied colour charts for hours trying to choose my colour scheme. The more I pored, the more uncertain I became. In the end I left it to my wonderful, artistic and talented son Philip. I was thrilled with his choice, and all my visitors say what a wonderful colour my feature wall is. It’s called 'Driftwood' and is a sort of mushroom colour and the splash back tiles are mosaic and echo all the colours that are in the room. I chose the colour of the units and I love it. I didn’t like white or cream but still wanted something neutral. It’s called ivory and it’s gorgeous.

We still had two little problems in the kitchen. One was the microwave oven which had a large sticky mark on the glass door. Nothing, but nothing would remove it. We tried oil, WD, sticky stuff remover, spirit, meths. It refused to be banished. In the end the whole oven was sent back to Zanussi and replaced. The other problem was the TV. It’s digital and although the DVD player worked fine, the TV and Radio just didn’t want to know! That too was replaced, but still didn’t work. Three months later, it took my friendly neighbourhood TV man and £96 to get it going. It was the electrical installer who had fitted the wrong cable and fittings for Digital signals. Unfortunately they had chased the TV aerial into the plaster on the wall, underneath my beautiful mosaic tiles! No way could it be accessed without taking down the tiles, and no way would I allow that. That’s why it cost what it did, and my lovely TV repair man worked hard and solved the problem. I now have TV on all my menus!

I've tried very hard to get photos (of which I have many) onto this blog. But for some reason known only to Windows 7 and Mr. Gates, it won't happen. I will keep trying.

Thursday, 16 September 2010



Hi! Remember me – Leeta (aka Granny Grimble). It’s been a long time since my last blog and a lot of water has gushed under my bridge since I last put finger to keyboard, so I’ll just recap to get back in the swing of things.

The building work is finally all over (more about that later) and we are both coming to terms with Arthur’s Alzheimer’s. It doesn’t get any better, but he has been prescribed Aricept which is a drug that can’t cure or halt the disease, but can slow the progress down a little, giving us a bit more time.

One of the reasons that I have not been on the blogging scene is that looking after my other half, and running a home, and doing all the things that I’ve never had to do during our long marriage, takes up so much time and space , that there aren’t really enough hours in the day. I suppose being 79 doesn’t help, as I don’t seem to have as much energy as I did a few years ago. But we’re coping.

Arthur now gets taken out for three hours twice a week, by two lovely community workers, which gives me some ‘me’ time. He is also attending a six week course on ‘Living and Coping with Memory Loss’. This means that I have an extra three hours of ‘me’ time for a few weeks. I thought it would be a great idea to catch up with my blog and relax a little, so here I am!

Last Spring we were advised by our three children that we should literally get our house in order. The bathroom was very tatty and the shower cubicle was an accident waiting to happen withmy husband becoming more and more unsteady on his feet. The stairs were becoming such a trial that sometimes it just wasn’t worth the effort of climbing them! My kitchen had been inherited when we bought the house 15 years ago, and although a dream at the time was now falling to pieces. Two drawers didn’t pull out more than half way, and one fell on your foot if you weren’t mindful of its evil ways. There were lots more that I won’t bore you with. Putting all these things right was going to cost thousands and thousands of pounds, which we just didn’t have. The offspring persuaded us that the sensible thing to do was to raise some equity on the house. So we did. You will never know the amount of paperwork and phone calls it entailed, covering solicitors, insurance agents, brokers, builders, surveyors, fitters and installation men, suppliers and so it went on. All this and with no active husband to help me.

First we ordered a Stannah Stairlift, which was installed without fuss or problems, and then I set about choosing a new kitchen and a wet room. That was great fun, as for the first time in my entire life, I could choose what I actually wanted and not what I thought we could afford. I felt like I had won the lottery! Because my arthritis is now quite bad, I can no longer crouch or kneel down, so under worktop cupboards are no no. I set about designing a kitchen FOR ME. I am only 5feet two inches short, so I can never reach shelves and high cupboards. The first thing I decided was that I wanted the wall cupboards and work tops lowered by two inches. It took a lot of persuading to get the kitchen installer to come to terms with this! Then I insisted that the electric fuse box was lowered to my head-height. In the past it had been at ceiling height and when the lights fused (every time a bulb blew) Arthur had to climb a ladder to flip the trip switch back. Of course he could no longer do that, and I can’t climb ladders, so it had to either be lowered or we would have to live in darkness forever more! I had a fight over that. At first they chased dozens of cables into the wall and put the box half way down the wall. I would still have to climb a ladder to use the fuse box! The electrician was not a happy bunny, but it was costing us a great deal of money and I was the customer who is always right! They had to take it all out and bring it down even further. This time, hiding it in the wall cupboard, this was fine by me.

To be continued………

Friday, 9 April 2010



Some of my blogging friends have been wondering what had become of me, and if I was still in the proverbial land of the living. So I thought it time that reported in with my bits and pieces of news.

Things have not been going too well health wise since Christmas, so I’ll just slip very quickly over all that. My OH wasn’t very well for a few weeks and then I got this awful watered down version of flu. It hung around through five weeks, several courses of antibiotics and variations! As soon as that faded away I got the dreaded tummy bug that usually hits people at Christmas. You do NOT want that one! It left me after about a week and jumped over to OH! I do think that we are both feeling a lot better and ready to face life again.

There was just one other piece of news that I have to tell you. My darling OH Arthur, has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. This is still sinking in and quite a blow. We have been together for sixty-three years and married for almost fifty-nine! But we will survive.

My other news is much happier and exciting! We have decided to take life by the horns a little, and treat ourselves to a house face-lift.

We are turning our dingy old bathroom into a wet room (much safer for OH) and my twenty-year-old kitchen is being gutted and completely rebuilt to my specifications. I am so excited although it’s quite a headache organising it all on my own. Its taken weeks to get all the admin and form filling etc. sorted and it all starts on 1st June. I can’t wait! I’ll keep you informed with photos as and when it all happens.
That’s all for now folk!

Monday, 4 January 2010



One evening at about ten-thirty the phone rang and Arthur answered it.
I heard him say: ‘yes, yes. Mostly black, getting old.’ He put his hand over the phone and turned to me.
‘It’s the vet. They’ve got Rusty, he’s been run over’. He turned back to the phone. ‘OK. I’ll come down there right now.’
Arthur replaced the phone and turned back to face me. ‘I’m afraid he’s dead. A car hit him as he was crossing the Hertford Road.
I screamed, and started to cry. ‘What was he doing in the Hertford Road? It can’t be him. He isn’t out, he’s upstairs under the bed.
‘No, he isn’t,’ said Arthur. The vet has his collar, with his name and address on it. They don’t advise us to have him back.’
I just couldn’t believe that he was dead. I really thought he was upstairs, asleep, and I had no idea that he’d gone out. He never went down to the main road, as far as we knew.
I was desolate. Rusty was eighteen and a half years old. We’d had him longer than we’d had the children. He was like one of the family. Indeed he WAS one of the family. I suppose with him being black and it being dark at the time, he never stood a chance. It took a very long time to get over his death. Every part of the house held memories of him, and sometimes we’d swear we could hear him shuffling to get under the bed.

* * *

I can’t remember what exactly it was that prompted a six-year old Philip to leave home in search of fame, fortune and new parents. We had a period of him complaining and sulking over something. Not being able to get the better of me, he suddenly stated that he wasn’t going to live with us any more and was going to pack his things and leave home. I was very understanding and said that he was entitled to dislike us all if he wanted to and, although I didn’t want him to leave home, if that was what he really wanted to do, I would help him sort out his things. I went upstairs with him and gave him a small suitcase. To this I added his pyjamas and a couple of other things, including his favourite bear ‘Daisy’. My attitude was not what he had expected, and he sat on the edge of his bed not sure about the way things were going. I didn’t want him to lose face by saying he’s changed his mind, or by crying, so in a matter-of-fact voice I said: ‘we’re just going to have tea. It seems silly for you to go now, you might as well have your meal first, don’t you agree?’ He did.
By the time we’d all sat around the tea table eating and chatting, Philip had, by accident or design, completely forgotten that he was supposed to be leaving home that evening. Later, I crept upstairs, unpacked his little case and replaced all his clothes where they belonged, tucking Daisy up in his bed.
to be continued...

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Part 2 The treasure chest of Mum's stocking

Somewhere in this treasure-chest of a stocking Mummy would almost certainly place a few sheets of transfers. There were two types available. The cheaper ones were printed about a dozen to a sheet, like postage sheets. We would hastily cut them out, lick our arm, and place the transfer face down on the wet patch. A soggy handkerchief would then be applied to soak the paper backing away, never very successfully, revealing a slimy, far from perfect picture in hues of red, green, and blue. The more expensive type of transfers, which we weren’t always lucky enough to get, had multi-coloured exotic pictures of butterflies and flowers and always produced a perfect result. These transfers were larger, about six to a sheet, and had a silvered coating to one side. We treated these with much more respect and each one was carefully trimmed from its sheet and gently soaked in a saucer of tepid water. It was then very carefully applied to an arm or hand, while we waited for the glorious moment to gently slide the backing paper away, to reveal the secret picture that lay beneath the silver coating.
The toe of our stocking always held an orange, a handful of assorted nuts, and a pink sugar mouse.
A present that arrived on most Christmas mornings, either in my stocking or on the floor beneath it, was a paint box. There was absolutely nothing in the world like receiving a brand new box of water colour paints. The outside of the box was black and so shiny, indented into six cushion shaped squares. The thrill of opening the lid and gazing at the pristine coloured slabs of paint
set in two or three rows, and nestling in the virginal white interior of the box, with the paint brush lying stiff and straight just waiting to be swirled into puddles of brilliant colour, took a lot of beating.
A new pencil case was another longed for luxury. These were double-decker boxes of varnished wood. The top layer not only had a lid that slid out to open up compartments for pencils and rubbers, but it pivoted at one end revealing a lower box for things like a six inch ruler and coloured pencils. The first thing I always did was to open the box and take a deep sniff of the lovely aroma of varnish and new wood, a smell that still transports me back to school days.
I received one of these wonderful magical stockings every single Christmas until I reached the age of fourteen. Naturally, the contents were updated to accommodate my increasing ‘old age’.
On the Christmas Eve following my fourteenth birthday, all the little ones having gone to bed, Mummy turned to me and said the words that would change my Christmas forever:

‘Now that you’re fourteen, would you like to stay up and help me fill the stockings?’

Now I really had begun to leave my childhood behind me, and felt very important. I gathered up the stockings, each with a label pinned to it bearing a child’s name, and excitedly helped Mum to fill them up. I certainly enjoyed this task, and went to bed looking forward to the next day.
Christmas morning dawned and the family trooped into the kitchen to see what good old Father Christmas had delivered. I looked along the mantelpiece for my stocking- it wasn’t there! Then it dawned on me: not only did Mum think that I was old enough to help fill them up, but she thought I was old enough not to have one! I was quite shattered and fought back tears that were hurting the back of my throat. I never said anything to Mum but, from that moment on, Christmas morning would never ever be quite the same.

Friday, 11 December 2009


Christmas magic

Mum and Dad made Christmas very special for us, and I always tried to carry on this tradition by making it so for my own family. This wasn’t always an easy task, as my husband hadn’t been brought up in the same family orientated atmosphere as I had, and I’m sure he often thought I went too far, worked too hard, and was slightly mad.
Whereas I was content to stay up on Christmas Eve until the last mince pie and sausage roll was baked, the turkey was in the oven, the bowls of fruit and nuts laid out and the last Christmas stocking (including one for the dog) was filled. Arthur would want to go to bed at the usual time and ‘do it in the morning’. But then he didn’t have the memories I had spurring him on!
Throughout my entire childhood the Festive Season was a wondrous time. We were often very poor, but oh so happy. I remember one year when the electricity had been cut off because we couldn’t pay the bill. It didn’t stop both my parents working by candlelight, way into the night after all us children had been put to bed.
Mummy would tuck us up and say ‘don’t come downstairs any more this evening: Daddy is helping Father Christmas.’
Dad made handsomely painted wooden toys for the children. Dougie and Bill were the recipients of trains, lorries and boats, while the youngest little girls in the family received doll’s cradles that rocked gently back and forth, complete with bedding lovingly made by Mum.
She sat and sewed till the small hours, so that each of her four little girls (I was, by then, a bigger girl) would have a pretty frilly dress to wear over the Christmas holiday. She made beautiful pram sets for doll’s prams, and baby clothes for the various dollies. One year, Dad built a doll’s cot, which was just like the drop-side cot that my youngest sister Gill slept in. It was painted a pretty pink and Mummy made all the frilly bedding for it. I believe that this was a present for Babs. We certainly didn’t go without, and only in latter years did I realise the sacrifice, time and, above all, love that went into giving us all ‘A Happy Christmas’.
I also received my share of homemade clothes. One year, I distinctly recall Mummy making me a dusty-blue dirndl skirt and a biscuit coloured single-breasted jacket to go with it. How proud and smart I felt that year as I went walking with my friends!
We all had a stocking on Christmas morning, and I still feel a thrill tingling through me, as I remember the excitement of delving into the elongated depths of one of Mummy’s carefully washed and filled stockings.
First out from the top would be a noisy blower with a feather on the end. Then, so that the stocking would stay open enough to hold the little gifts that were tucked into it, there would be a magic painting book, comic, or reading book, carefully rolled up and strategically placed, so that the centre was hollow. Into this tube of colouring or reading matter would be hidden coloured pencils, yo-yos, hair ribbons, dolls, Dinky cars, five stones, pretty beads, toy soldiers, pea shooters etc, depending on if you were a girl or a boy. In between all these wonderful surprise items were bars of chocolate, packets of toffees and, of course, chocolate money wrapped in gold paper and tied in a golden net.
To be continued…

Monday, 19 October 2009


We all know what she was like... "Don't give all the money to the Interflora!"

If you would have arranged flowers for Sindie's remembrance, she asked if you could send the money you would have spent to The Cavendish Centre instead. They were a great help to Sindie and Gary.Please only give what you can spare (the amount of your gift will not be shown), but rest assured, every penny you can give will be put to very good use helping families get through difficult times.

The centre provides supportive care to cancer patients, their carers and children. It helps people find ways of coping with the physical and psychosocial effects of the illness, helping them to live through the illness with maximum independence and optimum quality of life. The service is free.

Please click on the link and read all the lovely things that have been said about Sindie, from people far and wide! If you have lost someone to this dreadful disease called cancer, you might like to donate a small amount to Sindie's favourite charity. Thank you for reading this. XX