World Toilet Day – Please support Water Aid

 Did you know that:

  • Every 40 seconds a child dies from water-related diseases?
  • 40% of the world’s population don’t have access to a toilet?

Established in 2001, World Toilet Day was born out of a desire to raise global awareness of the 2.5 billion people who don’t have access to sanitation – That’s almost half the world’s population!

2013 marks the first year World Toilet Day has been recognised by the UN as an official day.

I am entering a competition over at Splash Direct who will donate £2 to Water Aid  for every entry – That’s a month’s worth of clean water for one person.

To enter the competition, all I have to do is to blog my funniest, or most disgusting, bathroom story, so here goes:

During the seven years I lived in Rome, in my twenties, I had quite a few different abodes. But probably the prettiest, was a semi-basemen flat on Gianicolo, one of the seven hills surrounding the city.

It was in a small, nineteenth century villa which sat in its own little garden. My flat had a tiny bathroom with a high window that looked out onto the chicken run practically at ground level. Most unhygienic!

One day I went to use the toilet and, on looking into the water in the bowl, before sitting down, I saw what looked like a brown rubber band. You know, like the ones the postman used to litter the streets with, before they started using red ones.

“What on earth?”, I thought. Sticking my head down into the bowl for a closer look, the ‘elastic band’ swirled around and a head came up out of the water, as if to bite off my nose EEEEEEeeeek, heeeelp, I screamed, running out of my flat up to the boys on the next floor. “Come quickly”, I said, (in Italian, of course). “There’s a monster in my toilet!” But, by the time we had got down to my flat, it had gone.

Apparently the Rome water comes from Lake Bracciano, where there are lots of eels. They do have eel traps all the way down, but some get through. That little beggar somehow found his way up the pipes into my toilet bowl.  Needless to say, that for several weeks following the incident I was very nervous about sitting on the toilet!

I am part of the #Blog4Sanitation movement setup by Splashdirect to raise awareness of the importance of global sanitation. Learn more about World Toilet Day.


A day of firsts!

Yesterday was a wonderful day, definitely a big step forward (not hop!).

I had my first bath since I broke my ankle, it was glorious! Only thing that spoiled it was my lack of a bath pillow, which is essential with my bath.

When installing the new bathroom suite 12 or so years ago, I made the mistake of not trying the bath out in the showroom. If you replace your bathroom, I can’t emphasis enough that you should shake of your shoes and get into the bath! I didn’t and it was a big mistake! Why, you may ask?

Well, my bath is great if you’re tall, but for little ol’ me it’s so uncomfortable. I can’t sit up because I can’t brace my feet at the end under the taps. To do this, I have to lie on my neck! It is longer because the back is very upright, and not sloping like the old one. This makes it uncomfortable as I can’t sit up properly because my legs aren’t long enough!

However, with a blow up bath pillow strategically placed, I can lie comfortably for a long soak. I do have a brand, spanking new, bath pillow all ready to inflate last night when I decided to take a bath rather than a shower. So, with the water in the bath, I took the pillow out of its bag. The mouthpiece together with stopper are barely half an inch long,  and although I huffed and I puffed I couldn’t blow the damn thing up! Ridiculous! I feel an angry email coming on to the company who sold it to me!

So, sadly I couldn’t lie back and relax, but I did wallow around like a hippo in mud having the time of my life. What joy to have a lovely soak!

My second first was a lovely cuppa out of a china mug. What joy, again, no nasty plastic taste!

The last first was supper on a plate! Wonderful. For the last few weeks I have had to eat my food out of a plastic, lidded box, as this was the only way I could transport it, in my bag, to the dining or sitting room. I could eat off a plate because I used just one crutch, on my bad ankle side, leaving the other hand free to carry cup or plate. Great progress, but I don’t know whether I should, yet, be using just one crutch, but it was only for a short walk.

Facing up to one’s limitations

Reading Slummy Single Mummy’s latest blog post: What do you do when you are just not very good at something? started me thinking about what I’m not very good at. Of course, there are lots of things. Usually I will work hard at practicing what I’m not good at, to try to improve, as anybody would, but practicing one particular thing, doesn’t make the slightest bit of difference.

Until little Alfie came into my life, I had forgotten all about it. Now, he loves nothing better than playing ball, though as I have said before, he doesn’t like giving it back to me ! However, when he does give it up, he looks expectantly at me to throw it again for him. This is where the problem arises. Sorry Alfie, I just can’t throw balls. Not into the far distance. Nor in the direction I choose. No wonder I was never in the rounders team at school!

Think I must have weak wrists or something, because the balls go a pathetically short distance, or up on the stable roof, or into the nettles. Not that it has worried me until now. Alfie looks oh, so disappointed that he doesn’t have to go far to retrieve it, or he can’t retrieve in because I have thrown it, strangely he thinks, into the beech hedge!

I’ll just have to accept it. I can’t throw balls. I can’t make stones skim across the top of water either (weak wrists again?), which is something I have always wanted to do! Ho hum.

Will just have to concentrate on the things I can do. Like making chutney, for example. Yes, you’ve guessed, I have made another batch! This time it’s spicey brown tomato chutney and although I say it myself, it’s very yummy. I just can’t let all those tomatoes I’ve grown this summer, go to waste, now can?

Spicey brown tomato chutney

1lb (450 g) chopped red tomatoes
1lb (425g) peeled, cored and chopped cooking apples
1lb (450g) peeled and chopped onions
8 oz (225g) brown sugar
8 oz (225g) chopped cooking dates
1 (560 ml) pint malt vinegar
Grated rind of two oranges
3 crushed garlic cloves
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste

Easy peasey, chop it all up and mix it up in your pan, following the instructions in my Red tomato chutney post. Makes 4 good-sized jars.

More little gifts for kind people

More little gifts for kind people


Hoppity, hoppity hop!

After a day of inactivity yesterday, I decided that today I really should crack on and not just sit around with my feet up.

Well, I said inactivity, but I did a little more hopping around as I went outside three times. The last time was to welcome Max’s physio, Jo, who had come to give him the once-over! It was quite tiring as I spent 45 minutes on my crutches leaning against the stable door watching.

Kind Nicky had put the mounting block out for me to sit on, but I couldn’t bring myself to ask for it to be taken into the stable. I am fiercely independent and find it really difficult to ask for help, or take from other people. My mum taught me how to give, but not how to take. Well, I suppose she couldn’t really, because she wasn’t much good at it either!

After trotting him up I was told that he was a little sore on his near side, so he went through some strong massage and manipulation. I knew that he was feeling uncomfortable as he kept jumping forward. I was in a bit of an ‘iffy’ position leaning over the stable door, because if he came towards my head I wouldn’t be able to jump (well, er, hop) back quickly! But luckily, my friend Myf managed to keep him away from the door! Hopefully, he’s all sorted now and after his good long rest, until I am out of my boot, he’ll be as right as rain.

Feel quite chuffed today as I’ve done two lots of washing and dried it (albeit in the tumble drier) and put it away. Something as simple as that to an able bodied person is nothing, but when you’re on crutches it’s quite a challenge. Armsful of clothes are quite diffficult to carry when you’re arms are trying to keep you upright!

Have de-limescaled the sink, draining board and loo, cleaned the microwave and washed and dried my hair. Washing my hair over the edge of the bath with the hand shower isn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. You can take quite a lot of weight on your forearms on the side of the bath, and my loo is strategically placed next to the bath so if I’m getting a but wobbly I can just plonk myself down!

Coping with the stairs and the step on the landing is so much easier, now that I have the technique, that I’m tempted to move back upstairs. I am sleeping on my spare bedroom mattress (on a camp bed) at the moment, downstairs in the dining room. My goodness, it’s so lumpy. What uncomfortable nights my guests must have endured!  Have you ever slept in your spare bed? Might be an idea to give it a go one night, you might get a shock. Guests are far too polite to comment.

Am just going to pop outside to say hello to Max, who should be back from his field by now, and give him some carrots. I am sure little Alfie would like a breath of fresh air too.

Ahh, that was lovely, he’s such a sweet little horse, can’t wait to be mobile again so I can spend more time with him.

Well, that’s it, for today. Looking forward to tomorrow’s challenge… Hmm, think I’ll have a bash at some ironing. I have a huge stack of white pillowcases that hadn’t come out of the linen cupboard for years and years and they had all turned a nasty shade of yellow! Have boiled them up and they are now back to super white. Can’t think how I can carry the ironing board while on crutches,  so it’ll have to be in the kitchen where the ironing board is kept.



The twist of fate !

My disappearance from social media since I retired at the end of April, has to be put down to many challenges, and projects, interspersed by a series of horse-related accidents that have befallen me since then.

The core of my retirement time has been taken up with riding four, sometimes, five days a week. Poor little Max didn’t know what hit him! Still, they were only gentle hacks around the country lanes for a few hours. These would take up half a day, once he had been turned out in his field, after which I could carry on with working to get my cottage, land and buildings, back to their former glory.

Hacking through the undergrowth behind the stables (with my pruning saw, not my horse, tee hee hee), comprising nettles and overgrown elderberries, that hadn’t seen the light of day for at least six years, I discovered, to my horror, that the wooden back walls were suffering badly due to rot and woodworm.

I would have loved to have replaced the planks myself, but my woodwork skills, I’m afraid, are non-existant. However, I’m a dab hand with a paint brush so, after purchasing new boards and giving them a couple of coats of creosote, John, a neighbour, removed and replaced the offending boards. I have done my bit by giving the two stables a couple of coats of the preservative. My, didn’t the wood drink it up! It took three times as many containers of the stuff to finish the job than I had bargained for!

I’ve also creosoted the barn doors that, under close inspection, were found to be on their last legs. (I had thought this 23 years ago when I moved in!) So something needs to be done there, watch this space, as they say.

Am dead chuffed because I’ve filled lots of holes in the barn walls with mortar, prior to painting them black. I chose not to use black tar varnish, which would have been used in days of yore, but went with Sandtex black masonary paint instead. It’s not shiney, and I feel that it’s kinder on the eye.

I have completed two and a half walls and it’s looking, although I say it myself, very smart. Barrie, another kind neighbour is sorting out the south facing end wall, which needs some radical surgery and a lime rendering. (To sort out the mistakes that a previous local builder, had made some eight years ago, at no small cost.)

Home paddock is looking brilliant, with 85% less buttercups after my purge on them this Spring.

A few weeks after Max had tripped me up, with me landing flat on my back in front of him on the road, he bucked me off in a stubble field. Luckily somebody in a local farmhouse was on hand to call 999, as I didn’t know where I was!  I spent the next hour in an ambulance!  It was my first time in an ambulance and in the care of  paramedics who were lovely. Fortunately, I was wearing my back protector, and, despite having been catapulted out of the saddle and landing with a crash on my back on the hard ground I suffered no more than mild whiplash !

This couldn’t be said for horse-related accident number three. Last Wednesday, we had been out for a lovely gentle ride (needless to say not on any stubble fields!) when, like every ride for the preceding 7 years the time came to dismount (get off, to the uninitiated). Easy peasey. Feet out of the stirrups, lean forward swinging your right leg over the horse’s rump….As I was at the point of no return, i.e. swinging my leg over his rump, for a reason only known to him, he decided to take a step away from my movement, leaving his front left leg behind. At this point I had started my  descent…. and my  right foot, instead of landing squarely on the ground, came down on his foot and the force of landing crookedly twisted my ankle over. Such excruciating pain! Ouch!!

With difficulty I hopped him into his stable and untacked him and let him out in the paddock and hopped into the house. I continued in this hoppity vein (with the help of my late mum’s walking stick) for the next two days (with more help from a friend, Nicky, who looked after Max for me).

Tried the frozen pea trick (well frozen mange tous actually) to bring the swelling down. Fortunately I had some Volterol and painkillers, which made it all much more comfortable, but my foot and ankle swelled and became bluer each day that passed.

I had phoned 111 the NHS helpline on Thursday, which I thought was defunct, but the nurse was lovely, and very helpful saying that it sounded like a bad sprain. However, if my foot went numb, or I had more pain or pins and needles then I was to call an ambulance.

I didn’t want to drive the 13 miles to the A&E as I worried about my insurance should  I have an accident, driving with a dodgey ankle. Also if I got to the hospital, and my ankle was found to be broken, how would I get my car home? Didn’t like to divert an ambulance away from a serious case, just to help me. Didn’t like to trouble a neighbour to drive me into the city. What a dilemma! So I just continued hopping around.

Poor Alfie, my new addition to the family, was having to make do with just a hoppy walk down the drive and dashing around after his tennis ball.

On Friday evening, after a long Skype call with my brother in Sweden, I decided to call 111 again as I was getting really bad pains up the back of my leg. The outcome was an ambulance arriving at ten minutes to midnight to take me to A&E. My goodness twice in an ambulance in my lifetime and both within 3 weeks! How crazy is that?

After a three and a half hour wait, I was seen by a doctor and taken to radiology. After a short while, I was wheeled around to the ‘plaster room’. “So,” I said to the guy in there, I suppose I’ve broken my ankle, and I’ve been hobbling about on it for three days, oh dear!”

They supplied me with a snazzy pair of hospital jim jam bottoms; plastered my leg; gave me a rush course on how to walk on crutches and released me into the wide world. Well, into a taxi that took me home, arriving at 6.15 a.m Saturday morning.

Can we go out for a walk now mum?

Can we go out for a walk now mum?

Next post will relate the trials and tribulations of a 65 year old, on crutches, for the first time and a few tips for those who find themselves in the same position.





Photo of the week 4th May

Thursday this week I spent 16+ hours in a tiny village hall as poll clerk in our local elections. Usually it’s quite arduous, but this time it was great fun. You can read all about it here.

We had a variety of animals on leads who came to vote with their owners. Can you guess what this one was?


Team Lloyd

Photo of the week kindly hosted by Team Lloyd 

A memorable week #R2BC

Monday evening last week I was busying myself in the feed shed mixing Max’s tea, when I heard it. Could it be, I thought? Straining my ears, I stopped what I was doing. There it was again. My heart soared. They’re back, I thought. Then I heard it again… the unmistakable chattering of swallows. My swallows, back from Africa to spend the summer with me. I went out into the yard and there they were, a pair of them swooping and soaring,  chattering away. What joy, I was thrilled.

They have staked their claim on the stable next door to Max’s. The more dangerous one, I feel, where marauding cats are concerned, as the nest is on the gable end right in front of the door. Whereas Max’s door is on the left of the stable, the opposite end to the nest up in the pitch of the roof.

How lovely, now my family is complete!

Swallows born summer 2011

Swallows born summer 2011

Thursday was my last day working for Orchard Toys, after 5 years plus.  It was also the last day of my working life. I am now a retired person! Wow, my life is now my own. It still hasn’t really sunk in. Will now have time to ride Max, garden, grow my veggies, take photos and sort everything out. Whether I’ll have the energy is another thing!

At 11 am on the Thursday everybody was ushered into the canteen for my presentation. My boss said some really lovely things about me and I mumbled a thank you, not having prepared anything to say. Silly me.

I was gob smacked when I opened my leaving gift… It’s a Nikon SLR digi camera. I was, and am, absolutely thrilled. How kind of everybody!  I will now have the time to leisurely snap away and maybe drive off somewhere to get some shots. Hitherto, because of time constraints, I have had to take photos around the cottage or up at the field. Now, the world is my oyster! Can’t wait.

Another surprise was my card. Especially designed by Nicki one of the company’s illustrators, which shows me in my favourite cardi holding my mug. Apparently she has captured my stance perfectly. I had no idea I stood with one hand in my pocket!  What a lovely keepsake to remember my happy days at Orchard Toys!


Another event that made this a very positive week, happened on Friday night. I was sitting eating my dinner. It must have been about 8 pm and it was dusk outside.  I heard one of the cats trying to get through the catflap. It kept going ‘click’ but the cat didn’t come through. (It’s one of those that is operated by the cat’s microchip. So every time they get close to it, it goes ‘clunk’ and it opens.) I went to investigate and it was Maisie, with a baby bird, or a small bird, anyway. I managed to scoop it up as it wasn’t flapping around, unlike the bird she brought in the other month.

It looked like a dunnock. I put it on the tray on the bird feeder. Maisie followed me out there so I picked her up and shut her in the bathroom.  I kept watching the bird feeder until it got dark. The bird remained there. I really thought that I would find it still there in the morning, dead. The forecast for that night was for frost.

This morning I went to check and it had gone. So I hope that it flew off. I haven’t seen a sparrow hawk in the garden for several years, so I’m confidant that it is still alive. Hurrah!

Then today when I was digging bean and potato trenches on the veggie plot, I saw a peacock butterfly, the first I’ve seen this year! Hurrah again!

Lots of reasons to be cheerful, which is kindly hosted by Michelle at Mummy from the Heart

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

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