Wednesday 17 June 2020

My Dad

My dad died on Sunday, it came as a relief for us all at the end as he'd suffered so much. It was so hard to watch him go through all the pain he was in and we just wanted him out of his agony for his own sake.

Thank you for all your thoughtful comments on my last few posts, knowing you were all thinking of us at this difficult time really helped. He had been in hospital for just over a fortnight and he deteriorated so quickly in that time. I'm not sure he even knew we were there with him by the end.

I'm going to take some time away from the blog for a while, I'm sure you understand. It's so very sad losing my dad in such a short space of time after my mum and it's hitting me hard. My mum died just three days before Mother's Day last year and here we are again with Father's Day coming up on Sunday. There's all the practical things which need doing at the moment too and these are being hampered by the coronavirus, there's so many changes to procedures because of places, including official buildings, being closed. On top of that we're all having to isolate for a fortnight as my dad came into contact with someone on the ward who later tested positive for the virus, and though my dad never showed any symptoms and wasn't tested, we've been told we have to take precautions. My dad was a huge part of our lives, we all loved him very much and he'll be greatly missed.

Sunday 14 June 2020

A Change Of Date

My niece was supposed to be getting married in September so I made my mind up at the start of the year that I'd like to cross stitch a wedding sampler for her. I had a look online and found quite a few different designs. I liked the look of To Have and To Hold by Country Cottage Needleworks, and it looked easy enough for me as a novice cross stitcher.

The wedding was supposed to be held at the beginning of September but with all the uncertainty around Coronavirus and what gatherings would be allowed to happen, the happy couple made the difficult decision to postpone their wedding until next year.

It hasn't put me off my stitching though, I've very nearly got this sampler finished now, there's just the date at the bottom which is yet to be stitched but I'm holding off on that until nearer the time. I know things are starting to open up again, more things are being allowed, and getting back to normal is on the agenda but I don't want to stitch the date just to have to unpick it again if the wedding has to be postponed a second time so the date will be stitched nearer the time.

Time for a new start. Next on the stitching pile is He's a Flake by Little House Needleworks.

I'll let you know how I get on.

Thursday 11 June 2020

At The End

Thank you for all your thoughtful and kind comments on my last post. Things haven't got any better, in fact, they're a whole lot worse. We got called into the hospital on Tuesday to see the consultant who basically told us that my dad isn't going to get better. They've now referred him to the palliative care team in the hospital and are keeping him as comfortable as they can with pain relief. We're allowed to visit for as long as we want and as often as we want, though only one person at his bedside at any one time. His deterioration since his hospital admission on the 30th of May is drastic. He was unable to speak when I visited yesterday and I'm not even sure he's fully aware. It's such a very sad time.

It was back in 2015 when I started my Agatha Christie challenge. I wrote about my 2015 Challenges, one of which was to read all sixty six of Agatha Christie's murder/mystery novels in chronological order.

I started with the very first novel Christie had published, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, which she wrote in the middle of the First World War in 1916, and which was first published in the United States in October 1920. Quite fitting that I've come to the end of my challenge exactly one hundred years after that first book was published. I decided that I'd read one book each month, in between reading other authors. I'm pleased to say that I kept on track with this, sometimes reading more than one each calendar month, but then I might go a month or two without reading any, but I've just read her last published novel, Sleeping Murder, so I've averaged exactly one book each month. At this rate, sixty six titles equals five and a half years, which is quite a long challenge, but one I've enjoyed.

Although Sleeping Murder was Christie's last published novel, it wasn't the last one she wrote. It was set in the 1930's, written during the Second World War and published posthumously after her death.

Looking now at the list of titles of all sixty six books, some are definitely more memorable than others. There were a couple of real duds in my opinion, Endless Night particularly springs to mind, and some which I definitely enjoyed more than others. Particular favourites are And Then There Were None and Evil Under The Sun. I really enjoyed the one I've just finished too, Sleeping Murder, though I did guess the murderer very near the start. I must have found a knack to solving these crimes after reading all sixty six books.

Christie created some fabulous characters. She had three particular collections, those featuring Hercule Poirot, the Belgian detective with the egg-shaped head, Miss Jane Marple, the elderly spinster who lives in the village of St.Mary Mead, and Tommy and Tuppence, the 'Young Adventurers' who appeared in four novels and a short story collection. Of course, there were many other characters who appeared regularly throughout her books, Hastings, Ariadne Oliver, Inspector Japp and Superindendent Battle to name just a few. You often find that people who have read a number of her books have a particular favourite from Poirot and Miss Marple, I have to say that I do enjoy the Miss Marple stories, but Poirot is my favourite.

I've got a couple of short story collections by Agatha Christie which are sitting on my bookshelf so I shall read these at some point, but my challenge has now come to an end. I've enjoyed this little venture so much that I'd like set myself another reading challenge but what that will be, I've no idea just yet.

Agatha Christie is such a popular author, she began writing during the First World War. Postern of Fate was the last book she wrote before her death in 1976, but Curtain: Poirot's Last Case, which was written in the 1940s, was published in 1975 before her death, and as mentioned previously, Sleeping Murder was published posthumously in 1976. Her books have sold over a billion copies in English with another billion in 100 foreign countries. Her books are outsold only by the Bible and Shakespeare. As well as her crime novels and short story collections, she also wrote nineteen plays, and six novels under the name of Mary Westmacott.

How about you? Have you read any Agatha Christie books? Which ones have you read and did you enjoy them? Do you have any particular favourites?

Monday 8 June 2020

A Study In Scarlet

Thank you for all your get well wishes for my dad and Jasmine on my last post. I'm happy to say that Jasmine is recovering well and her coronavirus test came back negative, so that's one less thing to worry about.

Unfortunately, things aren't so good for my dad. We were called into the hospital on Friday to speak to the consultant. My dad's kidney function is now at just 9% and they've been treating him for a severe kidney infection since his admission over a week ago. Although he doesn't seem to be getting any worse at the moment, he isn't getting better either and reading between the lines, I don't think they expect him to. Because of this prognosis, he's allowed one visitor each day for a period of half an hour, so at least both my brother and I have got to see him over the weekend. He really is very poorly and there's nothing at all we can do now but wait and see what the outcome will be.

My first poppies opened on the 28th of May. There's been a continual supply since then, with at least one or two new flowers opening daily, which is good as the blooms don't last long at all, especially in the rain we've had over the weekend. The plant is heaving with buds, still lots more colour to come. They're such a happy, blousy plant, the show-off of the border. I can't resist getting my camera out, though the colour is never really replicated in a photograph. Nevertheless, here's a few I took when those first buds opened.

This is poppy Brilliant. I love the purple coloured poppies, Patty's Plum and Plum Pudding, I'd love one of those next.

Friday 5 June 2020

The Wish List

I haven't been reading a great deal just lately, we've had, and are still having, a very worrying time. My dad is back in hospital again, he's been in since last Saturday, but for a week or two prior to being admitted he went downhill very fast. It's doubtful that he'll be allowed home any time soon. He's very unwell at present and they're now talking of him going into community rehabilitation if and when the time comes for him to be discharged. It's all about making sure that he's safe, and he wouldn't be at home at the present time. The sad part about it all is that we're unable to visit him and he's very confused, he doesn't know where he is or why he's there.

On Monday, Jasmine, Daniel's girlfriend, was admitted to hospital. She's diabetic and was unable to stop being sick, sending her insulin levels out of control. She was kept in until yesterday, but I'm pleased to say that she's finally been discharged. She had a coronavirus test while she was in hospital as the doctor told her that he'd seen similar symptoms in other diabetic patients who had the virus but they never said the test had come back positive so I suppose it was negative. She hasn't had any other symptoms.

Needless to say, with all this going on and the worry and stress I'm under at present, reading and crafting have been on the back burner, I haven't felt like doing much at all, and I'm tired out too as I'm not sleeping very well. However, prior to all this happening, running out of books during lockdown has had me reaching for my Kindle and actively seeking out books to download. There's quite a few I've read recently which, ordinarily, wouldn't have made it onto my Kindle, and that would have been such a shame as I've discovered some really wonderful books from some new to me authors. The Wish List by Ruby Hummingbird is one of them, and you can see a list of what else I've been reading in my sidebar.

I really loved this book, it's full of interesting and likeable characters, it was such a pleasant read.

"Sometimes you have to hit the bottom before you can float to the top.

Maria Birch is seventy years old and, for her, every week is the same.

On Monday, she does her weekly shop. On Tuesday, she goes for a blow-dry. On Wednesday, she visits the laundrette. But Thursday is her favourite day of all - everything hurts less on a Thursday.

Every Thursday Maria walks to her local cafe. Waiting for her at one of the red gingham-topped tables is Albie Young, a charming man with a twinkle in his eye and an impressive collection of tweed flat caps. Every week, the pair share a slice of marble cake and a pot of tea.

Except, one week, Albie doesn't turn up.

When Maria finds out what has happened, her perfectly ordered life is ripped apart at the seams. Suddenly, she is very lonely. Without her Thursday friend - her only friend - she no longer has the energy to circle the weekly TV listings, she has no reason to leave her apartment, no reason to laugh.

Then she discovers that Albie isn't who she thought he was, and she's left wondering if she knew her friend at all. But Albie has left behind a legacy - a handwritten list of wishes he never got the chance to complete.

Maria is resigned to facing the rest of her days heartbroken and alone. But fulfilling Albie's wishes could hold the key to her happiness - if only she's able to look past his secret..."

I will be honest, I found the beginning a little slow to get going, but totally worth persevering with. I think anyone who has enjoyed books such as Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and The Other Half of Augusta Hope (I'd recommend all three) would really enjoy this book too.

This is another book I'd thoroughly recommend.

Tuesday 2 June 2020

Planting Up The Hanging Baskets

I managed to pick up some bedding plants in Home Bargains and I thought they'd be ideal for my hanging baskets.

This tray of twenty four Busy Lizzies only cost £3.99. The plants are quite small but it's still early in the season so there's plenty of time for them to put on lots of growth. Busy Lizzies go on flowering throughout summer so there's the potential there for lots and lots of colour.

I've got a couple of baskets which have been used before, they're just cheap ones from one of the discount stores, but they last more than one season so they're good enough for me.

Ta da! Okay, they're not the most stunning hanging baskets I've ever planted up, I do like trailing plants in them usually, but they'll look better once the plants have grown a bit and they'll add some very welcome colour to the front of the house.

Whilst I was planting up the hanging baskets, I filled a couple of plant pots with compost and transplanted some sunflowers which had self seeded, one in a pot containing geraniums and the other in the pot housing my little fig tree. They could have gone straight into the ground but sunflowers seem to be a gourmet meal for slugs so I thought I'd give them a little extra protection and let them put on a bit more growth before I set them free. More mature plants don't seem to be quite as tasty to slugs.