Bronchiecstasis, Daily Life, Lung condition, Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, Writer's Blog

Keep Smiling Through


My mum is a complete technophobe. She refuses to allow me to set her up with a little computer, laptop or even a smart phone. It has taken us long enough to persuade her to use the new mobile phone we bought for her to use during her frequent stays in hospital. it took even longer to encourage her to leave it switched on during the day to enable us to call her for updates. She seemed to think we would sense when she had it switched on and call her during those brief interludes. I am sure she still thinks we get some kind of ‘Big Brother’ alert when she has the device in her hand, and she gets irritated when the calls don’t flood in.


Since she has spent weeks at a time in the Norfolk and Norwich hospital, she is known as a ‘frequent flyer’ and many of the staff recognise her face when she arrives for another stay. Equally, she has made many new acquaintances during her time ‘inside’. The problem arises when the new friends ask mum for her email address and she tells them she doesn’t have one, preferring instead to write a proper letter. Most just back away slowly with a sympathetic smile, but one or two have pounced on me and I have ended up sharing my own email address or Facebook details, just to allow them to give and receive updates. I don’t mind. Some of the ladies she has become friendly with are real characters.


During her most recent stay, much of it on Gunthorpe Ward which is a sister ward to the two main respiratory wards she is most familiar with, she has spent the longest spell of time in a bed opposite a white-haired, very pretty, older lady, called Jean. As I go to the ward to visit mum, I tend to put my hand up and smile, maybe saying ‘hello’ as I pass the other ladies’ beds but, obviously, I don’t intrude on their privacy. More often than not, they have visitors of their own.

Mum had another of the rather invasive procedures carried out during her stay and I wasn’t able to visit until the evening. She had left the ward before lunchtime and didn’t return until gone six in the evening, at which point she was extremely hungry. She might be poorly but certainly suffered if she missed a meal, or on that day, two. I arrived at the ward as she returned, moved her bags from the chair beside her bed and started to sit down. No sooner had I made myself comfortable did she ask me to head to the cafe and get her some fish and chips, heavy on the vinegar. I took this as a sign the procedure had gone well as she was so hungry. I headed out of the bay and to the wash basin where hands had to be scrubbed on exit and entry to the ward, with there being a ban on the hand gels due to the ward having confirmed cases of both norovirus and infleunza circulating. As I dried my hands, a gentleman came up behind me, saying he was glad he had caught me. He thought I was leaving and had been talking to my mum the previous evening with his wife, the lady in the bed opposite. They had talked about his life as an evacuee in the war and how he was currently writing his story about those times. This had led to my mum telling them I wrote stories and poetry and had been successful enough to have some published.


He introduced himself as Clive, yes another one, and we chatted about the books we were currently reading. He told me the writer who was writing his memoirs had also written a book about a man who had written hundreds of letters back to his beloved while he was at war and those letters had not been discovered by his family until he passed away. I had recently read ‘The Tattooist of Auschwitz’ and it turned out that Clive was in the middle of the same book.

When I returned from the cafe, complete with a healthy portion of fish and chips, heavy on the vinegar, for mum, Clive came over briefly to ask for my website and said he would bring in a copy of the book he had told me all about, which he promptly did the next day. We exchanged email addresses, with promises to keep in touch over our respective relative’s health. I still hear from one or two of the ladies who have spent time in hospital with mum previously and I am sure this new acquaintance will be no different. Anyway, I have to keep in touch as I have a book to return to him when I have finished with it.

As we walk life’s complicated path, we never know when a new friend is just around the corner, often in the most unexpected of places.



Daily Life, Poem, Writer's Blog

Our granddaughter, Harper, at almost four months

So many changes in such a short time,
Contentment, its so plain to see,
A home filled with love, adoration sublime,
With her daddy Kurt and with mummy Katie.
A face which conveys to us, every need,
Be she happy or sad, it will show,
A smile and a gurgle, a full tummy indeed,
Can soon turn to frowns if she’s sleepy, you know.
A lip with a quiver, the smile is replaced,
How else could her needs be displayed?
There’s no use in smiling, a happier face,
If the time’s right to ask for a bottle to be made.
A suckle of soother will often suffice,
More so, if her Winnie is near,
A cuddle with family is always so nice,
So many choices, some far and some near.
For Harper’s been blessed with her grandparents, three,
Pairs of Nannies and Grandads, such care,
She’ll never be short of much help and advice,
Whether around the corner, or a call, we’ll be there.
Excitedly hands splay, when something she sees,
When today’s favoured playmate is near,
Sometimes it’s Dorothy, or a Teletubby,
When its in her hands, how it is favoured is clear.
Its great she is doted on, by family and friends,
Gifts of clothes, and surrounded by toys,
Importantly, a love there which never will end,
A grateful smile, head down, her look is so coy.
For those not so near, photos, videos if any,
Sometimes daily, to keep us in touch,
Gives us the chance to see changes, so many,
Let’s us respond, conveying we love her so much.
Expressions, and smiles, and a face so sublime,
As a book she is read, her eyes follow,
Fascination of pages, the tales and the rhymes,
One day soon, in those stories, she’ll wallow.
With so much to know and a lifetime ahead,
Now is the time to start learning,
With so many from whom those tales to her will spread,
Young Harper will not be left yearning.

Daily Life, Writer's Blog

Christmas Eve Book Giving Tradition

As an avid reader, as most of the readers of this blog are likely to be, I was excited to discover a beautiful Icelandic tradition whereby families exchange books as gifts on Christmas Eve. The idea is that you spend the night reading although, in reality, many people are preparing food and gifts in readiness for their guests or those they are visiting on Christmas Day.


The tradition is called Jolobokaflod in Iceland, which translates to ‘Christmas Book Flood’, at which, many of the books sold between September and December are headed. In Iceland, they don’t tend to give e-books, instead opting for the gift of paper copies, physical books being a gift of such importance.


This tradition is new to me, although I have always been happy to give and receive books at Christmas. The idea of giving books on Christmas Eve and then spending at least part of the evening snuggled up in my pyjamas with a warm drink, reading the gifted book, is definitely one I am going to bring to my own family Christmas.


My family do not know of this plan yet, and most of them don’t read my blog or short stories unless I send them to them directly via email, so they will, I hope, be pleased to have the additional gift of a physical book this Christmas Eve. We are all going to my daughter and her husband’s new home for Christmas so this is the first time I will be assisting with the preparations rather than accepting help myself.


I did ensure my husband was aware of this experimental family tradition, as he will need to buy a book for me to avoid any unease. And why not? I love a book as much as, if not more than, the next reader.




Daily Life, Writer's Blog

Changing Reading and Writing Habits

One thing is certain when I look back at my Kindle reading habits from the past few months, I definitely don’t have a go-to genre. As a writer, you would think I would have at least a good reason for choosing a book but every one I choose depends upon my mood in the moment.


I do read book reviews from fellow bloggers and sometimes I am swayed enough to buy following a particularly good one but I am quite fickle in my choices. I will choose a book because it has an interesting cover – often the cover doesn’t  truly reflect the content and then another day I will read the blurb or (hold the front page) go looking for a particular genre.

I am currently swaying between haunted and ghostly tales or Dystopian fiction. I am a bigger fan of fiction than non-fiction on the whole so that is the loosest genre I subscribe to.

I have just downloaded three more ghost stories but I am currently writing a ghost story of my own so I can be forgiven for calling it research. However, as I was searching a couple of thrillers, my previous favourite genre, caught my eye so they are now on my list. I love to have a list of books to read. In years gone by it would be a pile of unread, ‘real’ books and I do still have a small pile of three or four books beside my bed. I just find using my Kindle is so much more convenient.


I also subscribe to an app which I have installed on my Kindle, called Readly which gives me and four other family members (or four additional devices if I wanted to be selfish) full access to thousands of magazines. So I carry thousands of magazines and plenty of books with me at all times. That’s the thing with a Kindle, the multitude of reading material in one place. On the downside, you can never replicate the feel and smell of a real book or replace the pleasure of turning the pages.


One thing’s for certain, while trying to keep up to date with my blog, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest pages and reading so many books, I am neglecting my own writing time. I need to sort out a timetable to fit it all in. Oh, and then there is the matter of a full time job which takes up a lot of my time!

One day, instead of pushing my published and unpublished short stories and poetry, I hope you will find me advertising the publication of my first novel. Watch this space, but not too closely for now or you will have a long wait!