The Heath and My Chinese God Daughter

Momentous day for Roma Felstein. I got to leave Finchley. I was let out for a social distance walk on Hampstead Heath with a girlfriend.  The first time I left  home in 14 weeks. It prompted a wardrobe exchange, a discussion re appropriate footwear, and a safety bag equipped with mask, hand gel and disposable gloves – just in case. Girl Guides would have been proud – that is of course had they let me in. Wrong religion. I also considered make-up but opted instead for sun cream.

Driving with my windows open in bright sunshine I felt free. It was almost a Thelma and Louise moment. And like Thelma and Louise it didn’t end well. Just 200 yards into the Heath, after the Rhododendrons which are in full bloom and look stunning – I stumbled and fell flat on my back. It’s an embarrassing moment – suddenly everybody around you stops and stares but because it is lock down no-one knows what to do.

“It’s ok” I say trying hard not to be too self-conscious, “I am ok – please don’t try to help me – I am vulnerable.” Sounds like I have leprosy. “No don’t pick up the water. Please just leave my glasses I will pick them up.” I felt like I had the plague or that maybe they had the plague. You always feel so foolish when something like this happens. I didn’t trip over anything; the ground was perfectly flat which prompts people to look at you quizzically wondering if something else is going on. “I AM FINE” I say trying to be polite but firm.
I hobble back to my car, tail between my legs, feel thoroughly depressed and let down. Perhaps this is a message ‘it is is not yet safe for you to leave your house! Dammit.
So, the rest of the day I have been resting with leg on ice and elevated – my ankle is the size of an orange.

It got me thinking though the Heath was brimming with activity as is my local park every day from early morning until late at night. Picnics, basketball games, cricket, football, tree climbing. Everyone is having a good time. And every day is a Sunday. Parents playing with their children, youngsters listening to music and chatting, runners running and walkers walking. We are getting used to a new norm and it would seem loving it. So, what is it going to be like going back to working 5 days a week, 8 hours a day, rush hour, commuting and for some wall to wall meetings? That is of course if there is any work.

We have all been shown, albeit briefly a different way of life. And maybe a realisation that perhaps what we were doing – isn’t what we want to be doing going forward. If anything, COVID19 has shown us the importance of a good work life balance. What we do with this is our individual choice. It will be interesting to see. 

Confined to my horizontal leg up position I have been watching a lot of screens today not least the news in America.  And as thousands gather today in Trafalgar Square for  a rally Black Lives Matter –  hopefully with masks and 2 meter distance – I  am reminded by my god daughter of the racism that she experiences in the UK as a Chinese person.

“Recently I have questioned whether, or not, I feel safe or accepted in a country that I have grown up in. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that I feel angry, upset and massively let down by the way that some people have chosen to behave in light on Covid-19. I was left heartbroken watching a BBC documentary of Chinese children saying they were being targeted in schools; seeing graffiti on the front of Chinese businesses; and reading reports of violent assaults towards East-Asians all over the world.
To Everyone who has been shouted at, spat on, egged, and attacked you belong exactly where you are. I wrote this and I hope it speaks to some of you”



“Lets be careful out there”

DNA and Baking

Hot today so what better to do on a hot day than bake? I never knew before that biscuits were so easy to make and unfortunately so moreish to eat. Actually, I am quite pleased that I have only just discovered this or perhaps  it is more apt to say that my waistline is pleased. I guess I am not alone if the lack of flour  is anything to go by. Methinks we have become a nation of bakers. So far, I have made Lemon drizzle Cake, Honey Cake, twice, I am trying to perfect it but not there quite yet. Ginger Cake, Almond Sponge, Oak Crunchies and Victoria Sponge – that was the best with vanilla butter icing. And today I made ginger biscuits. Perhaps a tad too much bicarbonate soda. I am wondering if we inherit baking qualities from our mothers or our grandparents – does it become part of our DNA? Interesting this DNA I remember sharing with one of my therapists – I have had a good few but never been that successful at therapy – that I was always anxious that something was going to happen to one of my children. She said that Jewish women had for centuries had to be ready to flee, and that this anxiety had been passed down through the generations. That’s reassuring I can now stop being anxious over my anxiety. If baking is something, we learn from our mothers then it is no wonder that my baking skills are limited. I am a good cook, but I never learnt that either from my mother or my grandmother. In fact, I would say that my entire family, extended included are pretty poor in the culinary department.  It was years before I realised that vegetables weren’t supposed to be soggy, that meat didn’t need to be chewed at least 20 times and that there was something called pasta and rice. I had two specific jobs in my house – both of which I hated. One was to kosher the meat that would arrive from Manchester every month. The meat had to be first soaked and rinsed at least 3 times, then each piece had to be covered in salt and left for 40 minutes on a slatted slanted board. I had to prop it up and invariably I would hear a crash and come running into the kitchen only to find the whole thing collapsed on the floor. Surreptitiously I would rinse it again and re start the process, apologising to whoever might have been watching from a high and hoping I would be forgiven. Everything in our house was always a Heath Robinson affair. After 40 minutes each piece would then have to be rinsed again 3 times. By which time my hands would be red raw and the well salted and rinsed meat would have lost all its flavour. Well it let mum off the hook anyway. My other job was the pressure cooker. I was so scared of this awful piece of equipment and I have absolutely no idea why my mother was so attached to it.  It would come to the boil, let out a piercing screech and I would have to immediately cover the steam valve in the lid. If I didn’t it would blow up – I was petrified. What was my mother thinking leaving me alone in the house with this job? All very well worrying about the white slave trade mum but what about third-degree burns. I had every reason to be scared of this little monster for twice it did blow up and once we needed the fire brigade. Who already knew the way to our house as my brother had burnt down the top half when he accidently dropped a match from his illicit smoking, and it ignited with the illicit fireworks he was hiding under his bed? Apparently, my father had said as the fire engines blasted by his tailoring shop “some silly bugger has let off his fireworks a bit early.” Little did he know which silly bugger it was. While my father dished out the kind of punishment that would be illegal nowadays Brian could be heard saying “it was one fabulous firework display”. Timing was never his strength. It is sad really that food didn’t play an important part in my upbringing because in so many other Jewish family’s food was a big event. My mother just wanted to get the whole thing over and done with as quickly as possible. She longed for the day when pills would replace meals. After I left home and discovered real food I would call home and ask mum what she would be making for their dinner only to be told,   “it doesn’t really matter  what I make as it never touches the sides of your father’s mouth.”  It reminded me of a rather brash Australian girl in our school cookery class who would say, when she made a mistake “Aw Ro it doesn’t matter it all goes down the same hole.”

“Let’s be careful out there”

Missing Journalism

Yesterday I woke up feeling like I was on holiday today I woke up feeling quite the other way – that will teach me to be so smug.

Maybe it was the Will and decisions that had to be made which today I am now rethinking. Maybe it was very bizarre dreams about the sea, cliffs and swimming, maybe it is the huge angry bite on my leg or maybe it is about watching The Newsroom on NOW.

I remember Tod waking me up on and saying, “Think you had better get up, Diana is dead, the same with Yitzhak Rabin and oddly with the Queen Mother – all of whom died on one of my shifts. I remember reporting on the Deptford Fire, The Brixton Riots and writing stories about the Lebanese War. And now what do I do? Clean out a few cupboards, pull up some weeds and write this blog. I wasn’t exactly a news hound I suppose in the main I wrote features but there was always still the chase for a good story, a good interview. And the last 6 years at the BBC as a producer on Loose Ends wasn’t news either, but it was the chase for a good guest. To produce a good programme.

You can’t win with me – too much pressure – not enough pressure either way I am not content. But I do know that I need to find more of a purpose for my third era or is it fourth era – who knows but let’s not go there. I am open to suggestions from any of my 33 followers – or the 64 that the stats say I have. But nothing craft based as I am hopeless with my hands and nothing too physical as I have a bad back and nothing too intellectually taxing as my brain doesn’t work so well. Oh, dear maybe I am going to have to stick to weeding and housework.

Perhaps this dissatisfaction comes from a life well lived. My early years of hedonism followed by an eclectic professional life does not sit well with retirement. OMG, I have used the ‘R’ word for the very first time. Hateful word. I have worked as a nanny, secretary, bar tender, waiter, social worker, journalist, tv executive, radio producer, running a training company and event producer. I have travelled extensively, had incredible adventures, taken risks and survived.
Talking of travelling I watched last night a BBC Storyville documentary on Franco. Really how ignorant was I as a teenager? I had no idea how dangerous that regime was when I was hitchhiking around Spain and behaving badly. How much trouble could I have got in to? And I worry about my boys!

So, I guess it is no wonder that housework and weeding isn’t doing it for me. Anyway, I am a lousy cleaner. That said I did just sort out the medicine drawer as I was sick of rummaging through it in search of a paracetamol. I had no idea the amount of drugs I had stored in this drawer; Tramadol, Codeine Phosphate, hundreds and I kid you not of Naproxen, Zapain, Oramorph, Domperidone, Dicotyl, Oxycontin just a few of the drugs I found.  And 4 tins of stuff for Athletes Foot – which by the way, I don’t have. Should I get sick or want to end it  all quickly I am well stocked up!

I did also find a small bottle of George Eade’s celebrated rheumatic gout pills not dated but by the look of the bottle it looks very old.


You will have noted by now that I am a huge contradiction in terms. Tomorrow is another day and you can be sure I will be somewhere else entirely. I blame COVID-19 for messing with my emotions.

“Let’s be careful out there”

Am I still on holiday?

Waking up to bright sunshine, chorus of birds and blue blue skies I have that holiday feeling.  A whole day ahead of me to do with what I like. Yes, I have a ‘to do’ list but none of it is that pressing.  After my morning exercise class, I can choose what order to do the rest of the stuff – or not to do. Yesterday I just went to bed for a siesta because I had one of my nocturnal insomnia nights.  Still awake when the night owls were hooting and when the birds began their morning chorus. And when  Mo the  cat, covered in bits of bush, jumped on my face demanding breakfast.  I told her in no uncertain terms, that breakfast is not until past 8 am and it is only 5.  Think she understood as, after her night out doing whatever cats do all night – she settled down and fell asleep on my bed.  She is most definitely  a DLSO (dirty little stop out)

I like this holiday feeling – it is quite liberating.  And if I ignore news alerts and don’t watch any of the news programmes, I could be forgiven for thinking this is a great way to live.  But of course, it isn’t, and I apologise for those who are having a hard time and of course for the thousands that are sick and have died. For those who have lost their jobs, who cannot afford to eat, who are cramped up with small children in a confined space and for the thousands of asylum seekers with whom I used to work  prior to lock down.

So, as one of the privileged ones,  I am taking morning coffee on the terrace. The views over the garden are glorious. But then out of the corner of my eye I spy the same blackbird as earlier in the week and in  its very yellow beak is a twig.   Wtf – I scream.  I climb on a chair and there sitting between the two fences is an even bigger nest.  The third one in a week. This is just one determined bird. What doesn’t it get? I am not being malicious, but this isn’t a good place to build a nest. Not if you want any of your offspring to survive.  So, I carefully lift it out and take it to the bottom of the garden where climbing a ladder, deposit it high up in a tree.  I left a note “Dear Blackbird, for safety reasons I have moved your nest to a safe place at the bottom of the garden in the tall maple tree on the left, next to the big old Oak. Just hope she can find it. I did think of leaving a trail of breadcrumbs but with the cat in mind, thought better of it.   FYI moving birds’ nests is illegal and one has to apply for a licence to do this! Another illegality to add to my already long list.


Holiday mood was suddenly dissipated when I remembered I had a midday Zoom meeting with a solicitor to write my Will. I did think of delaying it   — again but realised it has to be done.  And it is done!  But it certainly killed the holiday spirit. I had to address matters that I would rather have not thought about. This mortality thing is a hard one.  And because there is less time ahead of me than there is behind me, it is a bit scary.  Obviously, it is a fact of life that we are all going to die. Some sooner than others as we all know only too well. But that doesn’t negate the fact that I just don’t do well with this death stuff.  And I have had a lot of practice – not with dying but with watching others die. I sat with my best friend, my mother, my brother and my husband.  And it doesn’t get any easier. There you are – living with a whole gamut of experiences, emotions, energy and dreams and then suddenly you are not there anymore.  So where do you go?  What happens to all that stuff in your brain.  Why couldn’t the brilliance of Tod’s brain be transferred into my inferior one? It  is such a waste.

I suppose for those who have a belief it helps. I  am quite envious of them. If you think you are going to ‘heaven’ and you will meet your loved ones, maybe it is not so scary or upsetting. And I suppose for some quite a nice thought. But me – – well I have a sneaky feeling that it is all just a bit random.

When my girlfriend was dying, I asked her if she felt scared and she replied. “It is just the last of life’s big adventures and I am going to be there  a bit sooner than the rest of you. “

I fear I might have put a damper on what started out so well with the lovely holiday spirit. So, I am going to end in the same way that I started.

Sitting on my terrace with a few nice nibbles, a glass of single malt, chatting with my son and contemplating how I am going to spend tomorrow. Hopefully not destroying nest number 4!

“Happiness doesn’t always come from a pursuit. Sometimes it comes when we least expect it.” – Dalai Lama

“Let’s be careful out there”

Pesky on line ads

To pay or not to pay – this is the question I have been asking myself regarding on line app ads. I have been grappling with this for a while now. But so far, I have resisted and just get on with something else while the ads are playing. Like cleaning up my inbox which still miraculously has 15821 emails despite my effort to unsubscribe and delete. Sometimes these ads play for 20 seconds and sometimes they seem to go on for ever. I have almost emptied an entire dishwasher while an ad has been playing during one of my scrabble games.

And one particular ad has been gnawing away at my patience as it has now found its way onto my word feud, my bridge and my spelling app, and also on my computer, my iPad and on my iPhone. It is the hateful Sophie Howard. Nothing personal I have never met her, but I already loathe her. At first, she was just a bit annoying but now – well don’t get me started. If she tells me again about how wonderful she is with this big white toothy smile I will puke all over my keyboard.

“I am going to tell you how to turn some bad news into goods news,” she says. Really so how can you turn the Cummings affair into good news, 37,000 dead – the highest in the world into good news, mass job losses, the collapse of the travel, the hospitality and live music industries, mass redundancies, the entire economic future of our country go on clever dick, tell me how you can turn all of this into good news and then and only then maybe I will pay for your ad. Well got that off my chest then!

The big event today after my morning Pilates with the lovely Grace, is the food order. Grace was my teacher at Virgin gym but now she works from home and we practice from home and I am loving it. I have a routine. Monday Yoga with Sue, Tuesday Pilates with Grace, Wednesday it is Sue again, then Grace on Thursday and on Friday it is Penny and Yoga. You would think I would be fit with a nicely toned body. So, would I. That however is not the case. My arms are still flabby, my thighs dimpled, and my tummy looks as if I am 6 months pregnant. The latter has more to with my addiction to cake. More of this later. But perhaps more worrying than the body shape is my stamina. I am still huffing and puffing when I walk up any inclines. Armed with my little gizmo I can now measure my heart beats and after climbing the two flights of stairs at home it registers around 140!!! Rather alarming but I am consoled by the speed in which it returns to around 80. I guess it is my Bronchiectasis and a reminder about why I am self-isolating. Even more worrying  is that I am beginning to sound like Woody Allen. 

I have digressed again – the food order – I am a bit of a sado but this is one of the highlights of my week. Nadia my neighbour invites me on to her Ocado order and I get my fruit and veg delivered by Eddy, local stall holder and the Odd Box which delivers odd shaped food which supermarkets deem unacceptable because they are not of perfect shape and colour. Planning the weeks meals takes time and creativity. And with three of us eating 3 meals a day plus snacks my food bill has rocketed. We seem to be hungry most of the day. My biggest downfall is cake. Thus, the large tummy. I love cake. I could eat cake for breakfast lunch and dinner. I could eat cake as a mid-morning snack and for afternoon tea. I have even eaten cake at 3 in the morning with a glass of milk when I couldn’t sleep. Of course, the answer is simply stop baking. Which is a shame as I have only started baking since lockdown, but it looks like it is all coming to an end because I have no flour left! One online delivery farm shop was selling flour at £14 for what normally costs around £1.50. That will put a stop to my cake addiction.

Apparently, UK millers have been working round the clock milling flour 24-hours-day-seven-days-a-week to double the production of retail flour in an effort to meet demand. Producing the equivalent of 3.5million to 4 million bags weekly. Surely the great British public cannot be consuming that much flour. I hate to think what we are all going to look like post COVID19. One survey suggested that we will all have gained an average of 14 pounds. On re reading this post I have just upped my fruit and veg order and reduced my Ocado list. Its carrots, cucumber and celery nibbles from now on.

I leave you with one of those unfortunate purchases. We have all had them. When an order arrives either a fraction of the size you expected or twice as large. Linda ordered some packing stuff on Amazon but it was not quite what she expected.

“Let’s be careful out there”

Honesty and Facial Hair

It is this time of year that I usually do the big change over. Winter clothes to summer clothes. Not a man thing but think many of you know what I mean. It is always quite exciting bringing out old friends. Remembering when you wore certain items, memories both good and bad. And those internal conversations – well in my case not so internal

“You are still here – bloody hell think I got you when I first left home and that was – well let’s not go there

“Ahh my beloved pink dress –  I love you – you are one of my all-time favourites.”

“I am never going to be a size 10 why on earth am I  keeping you?  Somewhere I have my wedding suit from 36 years ago which I bought because  — being  the parsimonious kind of person I am  —  I thought,  well I can always wear it again. Meanwhile I couldn’t fit one of my thighs into it nowadays.

This year the conversations are a bit different as there is absolutely no need to bring out most of the lovely dresses as I have nowhere to go. Would feel a bit stupid parading around the house in them. So, this summer my wardrobe is breathing a huge sigh of relief as I am being selective over what makes the final cut.  It’s a bit sad though. And I know there was a lot of disappointment in the summer clothes chest as many of them were hoping to see a bit of daylight and sunshine. The mutterings were almost audible as I closed the chest lid.

No blog yesterday too busy gardening. And today I am feeling its effect. My gardener arrived with a wonderful array of flowers – all as a pressi. I think he feels sorry for me ever since Tod died, he has arrived with little gifts. Well I am not complaining except, of course, I had to plant them all. I spent the entire day digging and planting and by 7 in the evening I couldn’t move. I was covered in mud, my back had gone into spasm, and my knees had locked. I crawled upstairs, took a diazepam and went to bed. But the garden is looking wonderful.

I am a very proud home gardener.  I have talked to all the new plants, introduced them to their neighbours, watered them and promised to come back with some food this evening.   Indeed, as I walk down our road all the gardens are looking quite wonderful. This has to be the prettiest time for nature. And at this very moment, under the circumstances, there isn’t another place that I would rather be.

front garden
My front garden

Toby is now busy building a gazebo to be housed in our new space at the bottom of the garden. Next, we need to order the stones which I fear are going to be very expensive. It is a project I could have done without, but I know when it is finished, I will love it. And moreover, it has given Toby a project and impressed us all with his DIY abilities. There seems to be nothing that this boy can’t turn his hand to. His father would be very proud.

Meanwhile yesterday I got a surprise social distance visit from Zak and Jake.  We sat at opposite sides of the patio and shared cake, fruit and a drop of whisky.  Always time for a wee dram. It was the first time I have seen Zak in nearly 3 months.  His anarchic hair was a sight to behold and looked quite wonderful. The next time we are all together will be June 17 which is Toby’s birthday and the anniversary of Tod’s death but thankfully it’s not Father’s Day this year as when Tod died as well as being youngest son’s birthday it was also Father’s Day.  Not a day any of us will forget.

Yesterday I read a news item – not about the COVID19  but about a woman who was out with her family somewhere in America and she found £820,000 in a bag in the middle of the road. Which she then handed into the police saying, “it was not mine to keep.” And it got me thinking what would I do? Would I too be that honest person? It’s a tough one. Clearly it didn’t belong to an individual as who would be carrying that amount of money around. It didn’t belong to a big company because it would be in a bank – so probably it was stolen. From where? a bank? How do we feel about banks? Is it ok to steal from a bank if you come by it sort of honestly…?  And what will the police do with the money? If it isn’t claimed do they give it back to this woman? If not what? Imagine what one could do with this money. How many homeless could be housed?  Fed? or on a more selfish note – I could buy flats for my sons…. only kidding it would be the homeless honestly. I would like to think I too would hand it in – maybe not so much out of honesty but guilt. But clearly, I have not, as yet been tested.

At this very moment it doesn’t matter how much money I have I still can’t get my hair cut or have a beautician eradicate those unwanted hairs that seem to be sprouting up in the most ungainly manner. Mindful of a woman that always sat on our bridge table and who had a proper moustache and long hairs growing out of her chin, I always said to my girlfriends if you ever see me with hairs on my face for god’s sake tell me. I mean why didn’t someone tell this woman. I think she had a partner too. As my Aunt Billee would say “other people have to look at you.” No wonder I couldn’t focus on my bridge playing I was too busy focusing on the hairs.

cards old ladies

While I am on the subject there was another woman at our Bridge club who had an enormous black head right in the middle of her forehead.  I am baring my soul here, but I have a thing about black heads. I enjoy squeezing them. I know great big yuck – but we all have something.  It took all my restraint not to put my fingers up to her face and go for it. I nearly asked her once if she would mind but thought better of it.

Well this morning I looked in the mirror and I saw a hair growing out of my cheek and some upper lip stuff that is less than prepossessing. The legs too could do with a bit of an upkeep, other things, well that’s my secret because no one is every going to see them so they will be left to their natural course. Will be ordering Wax online.

In the meantime, I just might choose something from the summer collection and go and sit in the garden – at least the flowers will appreciate me.

“Let’s be careful out there”

Giving Birth and Curb Your Enthusiasm

As you might imagine there has been quite a lot of screen viewing over the last few months.  And I have some odd viewing habits. For example, I love to watch all the birthing programmes. The other day Toby came into my bedroom to find out why there was a woman screaming loudly – just as he came in the baby popped out covered in blood and slim – “FFS …mum what are you watching,” and he left the room disgusted.  But I am there with the mums, breathing through their labour, “Come on you can do it,” encourages the partner and me, and when the baby pops out, we are all overjoyed and relieved.  Tears flowing – all of us.

I loved being pregnant, even enjoyed giving birth in a weird masochistic kind of a way.  Although if Tod was here, he would tell a different story. “Don’t you ever touch me again,” apparently, I shouted as Zak was reluctantly pulled out. Of course, I deny this implacably.  If everything goes well there is no experience equal to the feeling you have just after you have given birth. It is as if you are the only one in the world that has does this and as you lay there exhausted with your baby next to you – suddenly nothing else in the world matters but you and this baby.   No wonder Tod felt left out!

photo of an infant sleeping
Photo by Jake Ryan on

I do miss having the children  around me –  I am sure I complained when they were little, but  I would do it all again – willingly. I especially loved being in bed with all three boys on a weekend morning. Of course I have selective memory here. And when older relatives would say “enjoy it  while you can as it goes so quickly,” and always at a particularly difficult moment when the children were being little sods, I would mutter ‘yeah right.’ But how true it is. I feel like I blinked, and it was over.  Hindsight hey – I find myself uttering those very same words of un-wisdom to parents and I can almost see what is going through their minds.

My other big joy is Place in The Sun the tv programme about buying property overseas. Even more attractive now I am locked in.  I have always fantasized about owning a place in Italy Spain or France. And still do.  Tod used to call these programmes Roma’s porn. I also devour other programmes such as Escape to the Country, Fantasy Homes and Grand Designs.

So,  I have a question and  it is one of those ‘why or why’ questions; why oh why does everyone always walk around the living room and say, “I can just imagine our Christmas Tree here” or  “imagine the Christmas lunches we can have around this table” Do they not realise that Christmas only comes for 1 day each year – are they really going to buy an expensive house based on where the Christmas Tree will go?   I wonder if Jews think “I can just imagine that the menorah would sit beautifully here ” – or ” this would be great for Rosh Hashona” – or Muslims would imagine their guests sitting eating in a particular place after Ramadan or ….  No it is always the christmas tree.


Staying with tv programmes for a time my friends have kept recommending  Curb Your Enthusiasm. “You will love it Roma,” they said.   Now, after watching just the first programme of series 1 and there are 6 series I am wondering what it is about me that they think I will love about Curb Your Enthusiasm.    I am already  feeling slightly uncomfortable just from the first programme. Larry David certainly knows how to dish out emotional punishment.  It’s a little too close to  reality  – the stuff we think but don’t share. The stuff we do but try to cover up.  It’s that awful, prickly discomfort we feel when a social encounter is spiralling out of control. I think it is best watching this on my own.  I just might need therapy by the end of series 6 if I make it that far.

Its Blog 51 and I am beginning to wonder why I am writing this. Certainly, I never thought I would make it this far. But should I carry on? And who am I doing it for? If it’s for me should it then be private and then I could really reveal my inner most feelings and it would be a cathartic blog.  If it is for others, then maybe I should try and make it a bit more interesting. Clearly as I only have 31 followers it isn’t really yet for the wider public.  But how does one reach the wider public? And do I want them anyway – all very riveting info I know.

But  for now I have earmarked the next hour to admin.  Have been procrastinating insurance claims for lost flights, questions from my IFA, moving around bits of money and preparing for the Will meeting which I had to cancel last week because I  hadn’t worked out some of the finer points such as executors etc and what  to do should I get sick.  I find all this so distressing. It took Tod and I 15 years to write a Will as every time we got to the point of who would look after the children should  something happen to us we would get so upset that the whole process would break down and get delayed – again. Only to be completed once the children were old enough to look after themselves.

We were both incredibly emotionally soppy. We would switch off the news if it got too distressing, walk out of the cinema if it became too emotionally upsetting and refuse to watch films with sad endings.  Tod stopped watching R4’s  The Arches after Nigel fell off the roof and died. “Why would they do that to us,” he said.  He certainly wouldn’t have been able to watch Curb Your Enthusiasm.

larry david

A therapist would have a field day with us – actually they did!

Enjoy your Saturday and “Let’s be Safe Out there”

Memory Master Class

Day 50 of my blog! Wow that’s quite momentous say it myself I shouldn’t – stupid expression why shouldn’t I blow my own trumpet. I never thought I would be able to keep it up. Well done me.

It was one of those too good to be true offers. “Learn how to boost your memory in a free 1-hour masterclass with world renowned memory expert.” What have I got to lose I thought except an hour of my precious time which isn’t very precious at the moment? After all this guy has worked with the best of them. So, I booked in yesterday at midday. Full of anticipation and hoping that not only would it teach me how to remember what I had for breakfast or how to remember the beginning of my sentences but also names, books and important facts. It’s not just my memory which needs help but also learning how to retain information. I had thought of taking some of Tod’s Ritalin to see if it helped but have not, as yet, gone down that route.

At midday yesterday pen poised, paper ready, so I could write stuff down and not rely on the memory, well not just yet I doubt it would work that fast I logged in. Ok so it’s American, well that’s ok I am kind of half American. But my heart did sink a little when I heard the presenter start his speak. Didn’t take me long to realise this was going to be an hour-long hard sell interspersed with a few tit bits to keep us interested. But I stayed with it – what’s an hour if I learn something. I could always play scrabble on my phone during the selling bit. The Masterclass it turns out was more of Master speak. I got a lot of Scrabble played but not much memory learning. It did however remind me of some of things that I already knew especially about how to remember names. And if I ever get out of my house and need to mingle again, I will put it into practice. It is a system that the Americans are very good at. Goes something like this.

“Hi Mike Linhook. So nice to meet you Mike. That’s an interesting name where does Linhook come from. Really, that’s fascinating Mike I will remember that if I ever meet another Mike Linhook. Get my drift and always end with “Well it was lovely to meet with you Mike Linhook.”

Masterclass over, yes, a little disappointed but not massively. Today was cupboard day. Finally, I am going to sort out some of my cupboards. Me first demanded the kitchen. It did have a point. It is tedious to open a door only to find the contents of the entire cupboard comes tumbling out because stuff is jammed in. So, what is it about Tupperware lids? They are like socks that come in pairs but always come out of the washing machine solo. Tupperware arrives intact but doesn’t take long before it loses its mate. I had 34 lids and no bottoms. I also had 6 cake tins but no removeable bottoms. I suspect cakes had been made, the bottoms left on the cake and then they got thrown away. And 60 jam jars. Yes really 60. I love to make Jam. But 60 methinks perhaps a bit OTT. Soon it will be strawberry jam time, then blackberry, quince, rosehip, grape and finally come January its Marmalade. But I reluctantly jettisoned a box of 12.

I have had no takers for the Capodimonte – quelle surprise – or any of the other items I have listed on Facebook marketplace, Etse and eBay. What’s the matter with these people can’t they appreciate a bargain? But I have found two items which I think just
might be worth a few pennies.

Pewter Mug 1935 Silver Jubilee King George V and Queen Mary. Casket Coronation of King George V and Queen Mary 1911. Here’s hoping.

Quick update on the dog for those following me. Back from the vet £1000 poorer! Issue with back leg and hip (well I knew this) on medication and needs second opinion on the swelling in her throat. Meanwhile the cat is continuing her killing spree. If you look carefully you will see the poor little mouse pretending to be dead. Pleased to report I rescued the mouse and put her or him in a safe place




Toby has nearly finished the digging at the bottom of the garden. It is so flat we could put a shed down there – Oh yes just remembered we already knocked one down.


“Let’s be careful out there”

The Bird’s Nest

Desperately upset this morning as yesterday sitting on my patio I viewed a black bird with a twig in her mouth. I watched, alarmed to see her perching on the patio fence with a twig in her mouth. She was building a nest in-between the rafters of the fence just above the patio. How lovely you might think. Unless, of course, you have a killer cat. Who already in the past week has deposited 2 birds and 3 mice on our living room carpet? She has even bought in a very large dead rat which she dragged upstairs and left besides my bed. 

I googled “how to remove a bird’s nest” and the answer was don’t. But what if it is in a danger cat zone, I asked Siri. She replied, “I don’t understand your question.” Sadly I destroyed the nest to save  some of the next generation of black birds. 

This morning sitting on the same patio at the same time I see the same bird building a duplicate nest in exactly the same place between the rafters that I destroyed yesterday’s nest. This little bird is very determined.  Clearly this was a choice spot. And would have also been a choice spot for my cat. So this nest had to go too.  I went and kicked the cat.  

While I am on the topic of animals it’s the day of reckoning for Izzi the dog today. At midday she will have 2 x-rays to determine why she is choking, and why her back leg isn’t working well. She is nearly 13 and dearly loved by us all. A Collie Cross with Belgium Shepherd she is a wonderful dog that just consumes love. A people’s dog rather than a dog’s dog. I am reminded of Rudyard Kipling’s poem ‘The Power of the ‘Dog.  Below a short extract

Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.

Buy a pup and your money will buy
Love unflinching that cannot lie
Perfect passion and worship fed
By a kick in the ribs or a pat on the head.
Nevertheless it is hardly fair
To risk your heart for a dog to tear.

Need to be be uplifted so thought I would attempt Jake’s recipe for chocolate truffles. He made some for us last week and they were so incredibly delicious that we fought over the last one. I use the word attempt as I started with a defeatist attitude which I know wasn’t helpful. I diligently weighed everything out before hand – which is a first for me as I usually start a recipe and invariably find out halfway through that I am missing some key ingredients. This time however I am prepared. I think you probably know where this is going. Yes. Disaster. The sugar melted well much to my surprise and  it didn’t burn but the issue came when I poured in the cream

It kind of cystalised. So I put it back on the heat hoping the heat my save the day but to no avail and this is what I ended up with

Doesn’t look like truffles to me!!!! Didn’t bother to put in the chocolate so that at least we could eat it in replacement for the truffles. I wonder had I been more positive in the first place maybe I would have had a better outcome. Bit disappointing.

Sorry -Toby no desert. It’s his turn to do dinner. We take it in turns. I think tonight is Viennas, sweet potatoes and courgettes. Running low on veg only have courgettes left. I realise that I am spending a lot more on food at the moment but then not eating out so little luxuries are ok. Except that there is always that little  nagging voice inside of me – the parsimonious part of me – that gets a bit anxious about money. It’s not that I can’t afford it. But the hiding-under-the table with mum because we couldn’t afford to pay the milk man  is hard to forget. 

Still feel bad about the blackbird. Apparently, it is the female bird who makes the nest and moulds it around her body. What must she have felt about me and indeed why did she come back a second time to rebuild the nest when it had been completely destroyed? Dread to think what I might find tomorrow.

Think I need to kick the cat again.


Not fussy about where she sits – butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth 


“Let’s be careful out there”


Talking to oneself

I am back. I have got up dusted myself down and given myself a good talking to about emotional indulgence. Mindful of the post Barbara sent me from a German Psychiatrist I am not talking  too much. Although the psychiatrist  said that it is normal to talk to the walls, flowers and carpets in lockdown and one only needs to worry if they talk back.  Phew so far  our conversations have been very one sided.  Although I think I  heard a few murmurs the other day.  That said I do come from a long line of people who talk to themselves.

So, after my thoroughly-good-talking-to I decided that today is the first day of the rest of my self-isolation and I need, no must, be a lot more proactive. It is too easy to get sucked into laziness and I was doing so well at the beginning with my lists; exercise, meditation, spring cleaning, bridge & scrabble. I say I was doing so well – meaning I had written the list but the meditation only lasted 4 days, the spring cleaning is still an ongoing exercise with very little achieved and  the exercise classes have been sporadic.  The Bridge and The Scrabble however are ongoing but also with little success. You would think that with all this time I would be able to perfect my playing but clearly others too have all this time and they are perfecting a lot better than I am.

So, the conversation I had with myself this morning went like this:

“Roma Felstein there is a whole world out there and I know you can’t actually access it personally but with modern technology you could be doing a lot better. So, start exercising that very lazy brain before it stops working altogether.  And begin by getting out of bed.”

Apparently not only is talking to yourself normal it is actually very good for us. So says a Dr. Nicolosi on the American network NBC.

“If we speak out loud, it forces us to slow down our thoughts and process them differently because we engage the language centres of our brain. By talking to ourselves we become more deliberate, and this creates a slower process to think, feel and act, instead of being bombarded by our thoughts.”

So, I am feeling pretty good about myself right now.

“What we say to ourselves, when we say [it], and how, has a tremendous impact on our self-esteem,”   Well Dr. Nicolosi anything that boosts my self-esteem is good news to me.  But he also  advises that it is the content of the conversations that is most telling.  Hmm now not feeling  quite so good about myself.  Most telling about what? The content of my conversations are a little bizarre.

If there are any experts reading this blog which I doubt as I am sure they have better ways of using up their time,  I would be very interested in their thoughts on the following.

Rewind to around age 9. I had this complex imaginary world with a bunch of different characters.  I would act out scenarios talking aloud BUT – and this is the really weird bit – I could only talk out loud if I was throwing a ball in the air at the same time.  Yes, I know how bonkers. But I guess by now you are not surprised.  And at night  I could  only get to sleep  by throwing the ball and talking to myself. My mother, worried that this behaviour was somewhat abnormal – can’t think why!  – would confiscate the ball. Which I would replace with a rolled-up pair of socks and continue – quietly.

Methinks I just might have disclosed a little too much here.

Moving swiftly on my son Toby – ever vigilant and protective about his mother – is coming down strong on our friends who are not so careful.  I have tried to explain that everyone has their own level and if they are not vulnerable then they are going to be going out – but I think it is falling on deaf ears.  Toby does nothing by halves.   And bless him since Tod died, he has taken over the role of looking after mum very seriously. Which he does very well and I am  eternally grateful.   And no way is anybody stepping over our thresh hold who has not been careful.

All packages, letters, groceries etc are sprayed with disinfectant and left in the downstairs decontamination room for 2 days.  Good job I have a large house! We have masks, disposable and reusable.  Disposable gloves, anti-bacterial wipes and anti-bacterial soap.  And lots of hand cream! We are a house that is well protected, and wo betide any germs that try to enter. They will have to deal with my secret weapon – Toby.  Everyone needs a Toby in a pandemic.

That said we are making a foray out of the house for a click and collect from Waitrose.   Given up on trying to get a delivery slot so this is the next best thing. I have already spoken to the local store who,  say if they are not busy, they will bring our shopping into the car park.

So, guys even if you are going out please be vigilant – this  pandemic isn’t over just because you’re bored


“Let’s be careful out there”