Tuesday, 30 September 2014

A Pain in the Neck

Oh Lordy, now what have I done?
Woke up in the night with a pain in my neck and shoulder now, today, I can hardly move it. Well at least it takes the mind off the shooting pains in my ankle!!

Frank has got my Mum's old mobility scooter going and I'm using it to whizz around the house. It's great and I'm getting very good at maneuvering. There is one tight doorway which I now have sussed (might need a touch of paint later).
I have ventured out on it once but don't feel very safe on it. It's very light weight. I'm pleased that Dad bought himself a sturdy one. He used to come and see me on Mum's . You could see him belting along the pavement almost taking off at the curbs. I nearly had heart failure watching him.

A great advantage of the scooter is being able to move stuff around. If I drive carefully I can even take a coffee through to the sitting room. The best thing tho is moving things around in the studio so - on a very positive side - yesterday I painted!!!

in the studio at last

Of course, as soon as I think I've got set up I realise that I've left a vital bit of kit at the other side of the room but at least I'm getting there.
Today, I'll just have to make sure that every thing is in front of me so that I don't need to turn my head - ouch

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Positives vs negatives

It's three weeks today that I broke my ankle in France, it is also today that I should be flying to Venice to paint with friends Felicity, Haidee, Penny and also meeting up with Wyllis & Ann the lovely American artists we met in Morocco. I am still trying to stay positive but I'm thinking the balance may be tipped on the negative side so I shall make a list


1. Three weeks with broken ankle
2. Not going to Venice painting today
3. Missed out on 4 days painting on the Broads with friends and fellow artists
4. Pulled muscle in left leg trying to get up off floor after going upstairs on bum.
5. Ditto right arm
6. Can't get into the shower
7. Can't tend the garden and my pots
8. Can't put weight on foot therefore can't stand
9. Am rubbish with the crutches
10. Turning into couch potato and putting on weight


1. Got the best husband in the world
2. Best husband can cook
3. Friends and family have been to visit
4. Worked out how to set up easel to paint with leg up
5. Swelling gone down
6. Bruise on upper leg now fading
7. Taken myself off pain killers
8. Can now sleep on my side
9. Going shopping today
10. Can read loads of books on IPad
11. Meeting up with Holt Hall painting gang in two weeks
12. Corry has offered Ted's services to help me set up and paint in Norfolk (Ted is more than happy)
13. Have been one of 30 artists chosen to paint plein air in Norwich
14. Three weeks of healing under my belt

Ok - looks like the positives win. I will have to keep reminding myself of that. Especially when I think of Venice. Just tell George Cloony "Sorry I couldn't make it"

Friday, 26 September 2014

A Treat and a Visitor

Wednesday 24th

Oh Goody, it's Gill day.

Gill is my treasure, she's been coming to help me out in the house for quite a few years now. Never was she needed more than now. The state of the house after a weekend with 14 adults, 9 children and a dog - well I'll leave you to imagine that. Yes, the girls and Frank had tidied the kitchen but it was crumbs on and under chairs. Dried mud where there'd been a circuit through the garden and house.

The first thing I asked Gill to do was take me to my second treasure - Beryl.
I had an appointment for a pedicure and facial.
Beryl used to run her own mobile beauty salon in London and has now retired to Holbeach and runs her business from home. Now I bet you're wondering if it was half price with one foot out of action, no, she carefully washed all exposed bits of toe, trimmed and polished them.
I then lay back for my treat, first she waxed my eyebrows and and used electrolysis on the stray eyebrows (the ones that pop out of your chin). Ok - that bit isn't so pleasant but then she gives a full neck and face massage, skin exfoliation, face mask - pure bliss.
I'm there for an hour and a half and she charges, wait for it - £20. Needless to say she usually gets a tip.

Back home, to a lovely clean house, feeling more human I tackled the the evening meal, curry. It didn't take too long as I didn't want to repeat yesterday's agony of having foot down for too long.

Then a welcome visit from daughter in law, Jo and baby Effie. I had a lovely cuddle with Effie as Jo made us coffee then, as she left to collect Lilah from school my friend Ann arrived so I spent a lovely afternoon with my leg up enjoying her company

Little Effie - so cute, cuddly and smiley

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Delivering Paintings and a Shopping trip

Last Friday and Saturday were 'hand in' days for the Eastern Open. An open exhibition for artists living here in the East. There are a lot of submissions and you are lucky to have work accepted. Non the less, I keep trying with the occasional success. I'd filled in the forms and sent money off before I went to France. Of course I hadn't planned on not being able to drive and hadn't taken into account Dad's birthday celebrations. I thought "well. I'll just have to miss out this year" but hang on - I paid £36 (£12 per painting). On Monday I phoned to see if I could put them on a carrier. Yes, that would be fine as long as they were there by Thursday. Next call was to Frank, he dispatches orders daily via their carrier. No one had known about my dilemma as I do hate asking for help and people doing things for me . So when Frank knew he said he'd take me and the paintings over to King's Lynn - what a star. Finding the labels was a bit of a challenge as Frank had 'tidied up' but eventually they were unearthed from the bottom of a 'to do' pile. Paintings duly wrapped and labelled, off we went.
Frank drove my car as it's easy to get in and out. it was lovely to be outside again. I have to say I am a bit of a back seat (or in this case, front seat) driver, which is a bit of a problem when it is your braking foot that is broken, shall I just say 'OUCH'

Paintings delivered I asked Frank if he'd mind calling in at Tesco. I had to convince him that they would have wheel chairs, his way of saying that he wasn't really keen on going. Once inside we headed for a stand of wines on offer. He asked me which one I wanted and how much was it to which my reply was "Don't know, I've got my back to it all" Some wheel chair driving lessons are in order I think. Vital supplies having been tracked down we headed for the check out, credit card in hand I was pushed straight through and out so he had to make payment.

We got home to the welcome smell of braised steak in the slow cooker. That morning was my first attempt at cooking. I managed quite well hopping round the kitchen and kneeling pot leg on a stool but the combination of that and being in a car with leg down for so long had taken it's toll.
I retired to the settee with a rather swollen throbbing foot and purple toes and a very large glass of Tesco's best white wine. 

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Progress so Far

Yea! I'm plastered. All feels a bit more secure - let the itching begin.

It's almost a week now since I arrived back from France and it's 16 days since I broke my ankle.

At Stansted with nurse Brian

I am getting very good at lassoing my foot with a knicker leg also at going up and down stairs on my bottom. Things I am not good at are crutches. Main problem is that the leg taking all my weight is in need of a new hip. Yep - more metal work. My arms are getting stronger, for the first couple of days they felt bruised as if I'd had a work out at the gym. The other difficulty is getting down to and up off the floor to go down the stairs.
I can't get into our bathroom with steps down as there is nothing to pull myself up on, also they are cold tiles. I tried it once, not a pleasant experience. So it's a strip wash in the spare room.
We have the decorators here painting the outside at the moment so have to be up early as they're here by 8am and you never know which window they will appear at.

I have had to cancel so much, the main thing being a painting trip to Venice with two dear friends. We were staying in Ken Howard's Venice studio. Can't begin to tell you how disappointed I am about that one. Painting friends will understand.
Yesterday I found out that I had been selected as one of only 30 artists to take part in plein air event in Norwich. A great honor but fear i may have to turn it down as I would have to rely too heavily on someone to help me.
I have had to let my friend Linda down too. I was one of the demonstrators for A Brush with the Broads, something else I was looking forward to .

One thing I refuse  to miss out on is a reunion I have organised for the painting group that came to Holt Hall, Norfolk. Twenty or so of the best painters and loveliest of people I know. Some are coming from Holland. We are all staying in Blakeney and painting the North Norfolk coast. Haven't worked out how I will get about let alone paint but wild horses won't keep me away from that reunion.

Food wise we have been coping well. or should I say Frank has. He has been a star and produced some fantastic meals. I have been online Tesco shopping and the little man that brings it has been good enough to put it all in the kitchen for me. I have borrowed a zimmer/trolley from dad so I can move stuff around.

Today I have asked Frank to leave some ingredients out and i am going to attempt to cook. I've found the if I kneel on a stool with pot leg then I can stand a bit longer. Trouble is, the leg and ankle are still very swollen and if it isn't elevated it does start to throb rather. The bruise shows above the cast and is giong some wonderful colours. No - I am not going to paint it.

Haven't worked out yet how to paint. I do prefer to stand but that isn't going to happen. I'll let you know how I get on with that when I get into the studio again.

Meanwhile I'm trying to decide how to decorate 'the pot'

All suggestions welcome. Please note painted toenails. I couldn't manage them myself so waited for my daughter in laws, surely one of them would help????? No way. Aparently they don't 'do' feet. Fortunately my friend Sandra came to the rescue.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Dad's 90th & a Family Weekend

Well my Dad hit the 90's on Friday and to celebrate on his birthday I took him to the local where some his friend s were waiting for us

Dad, Pam, Noel, Betty & Mo

A great time was had by all and he thought that was it! Nope - another surprise was installed for Saturday.
He walked into my lounge Saturday lunchtime to be surprised by all of his Great Grandchildren popping up from behind the settee. Poor chap, glad his heart isn't too weak. The look on his face was a picture


It was great to have all our boys, their wives, & children plus My brother Peter, wife Jill, Daughter Rachel & Granddaughter Paige. Also Aunty Jonnie, Steve, cousins Lisa & Sean and their children Molly & Grace. In all 16 adults and 9 children. There were a lot of helpers with the presents

I have to say my daughter in laws were brilliant. I am out of action with a broken ankle and only managed to get home from France on the Tuesday. I'd been a bit worried as to how I was going to manage but everything was sorted. The food was very good and Rohan made the most amazing cakes and puddings - what stars. I didn't set my good foot inside the kitchen once.
Mind you , those that know me will know how frustrating that was.

Then we attempted the impossible - getting all the grandchildren together for a photo.
I think it went very well, we even managed to get Summer in the picture for the first time.

Summer, Stephen holding Effie, Ivor, Ishobel, Dad, Grace, Rufus, Molly and Lilah

With Rachel & Paige

Rohan, Steve, Adam, Wanda, Rachel, Nathan & Jo

Pete, Dad, Jill, Frank & Mo

All in all a brilliant day. He received some lovely presents including rather a lot of whiskey, We have decided, he won't be preserved - just pickled. Frank walked back with him at the end of the day as he drove home on his mobility scooter. Thanks again all that came and that helped to make Dad's 90th birthday such a good one.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

A week in a French hospital

This September I flew out to the Limosin area of France to run my second painting holiday at Les Marronniers near Crozant. Our hosts are Susie and Chris Richards,  a lovely, hospitable couple that moved out to France a few years ago. The setting is ideal with it's own studio and a swimming pool to cool off in at the end of a hard day's painting.  To see pics go to their web site The Forgotten France
The group this time were all from Norfolk and most kmew each other. I knew as soon as we met that it was going to be a good week.

A welcoming glass of champagne

 Things went along really well for the first few days going to Argenton, painting by the River Sedelle, La Celle-Dunoise, Gargilesse, (home town of George Sand)

 Sunday 7th September

Then disaster struck. I slipped going down the wet bank and..........

Four Pomiers

The things I do for attention!
Broke my ankle so was to be stuck in a French hospital for a week. I was having a great time with the group, they had been wonderful. Whilst indisposed they pressed on happily without me. Just so frustrating - and - I wish I spoke French

Monday 8th September

I had an op but doctor wouldn't put a cast on until the weekend. Had all my students in today as they fly home tomorrow . They all brought their work in to show me. I was very impressed by their output. They made me a card with lovely comments, it made me a bit teary. All are coming back next year which is great news.
I do have to say that the food here is appalling. Breakfast was a soup bowl of Luke warm milky coffee plus a bread roll, lunch was two slices of very rare beef with carrots and bread roll and tonight it was soggy pizza. Also they do not serve tea or coffee all day, not even a hot drink at night!

 Tuesday 9th September

Now I do have to say, I like my food and wouldn't you think if in hospital then France was a good place to be - wrong!!!

A good hearty breakfast

 There's nothing like a good hearty continental breakfast. and this was nothing like a .............!
On a point of etiquette, I wasn't sure if I should drink my tea with the spoon?

Pasta and ?????

No idea what the second dish was. It wasn't even pretending to be a sausage. It was just bland and tasted of nothing. Once I got almost raw beef with a pile of carrots. Soup was offered each day but the twice I tried it - eeew. Consistency of wallpaper paste and no flavour. They certainly didn't use salt and I wondered if they'd actually heard of garlic

Wednesday 10th

The group fly home today and of course I should have been with them. I can't get a cup of tea or coffee. My bowl of tea at breakfast is the only hot drink of the day. My lifesaver Chris, my host, brought in a travel kettle today after he'd dropped the group off at the airport plus some delicious fruit cake from Susie.
I didn't expect Chris and Susie to visit as I know they are so busy getting ready for the next group. This time it's photography plus, they are 40 mins from the hospital at Gueret

Thursday 11th 

Stiff upper lip getting a bit thin today!insurance company have sent forms to fill in to secretary and no one seems to know any thing about it. Can't book flight until sorted.
On a lighter note, I had a delicious piece of boiled fish today which went so well with the boiled rice and to accompany this , there was a salade verte (read, two leaves of Iceburg). Can't wait for tonight's treat
So far I have read five books and just downloaded two more. Have got 20 games of scrabble going on with friends and getting very good at Sudoku.

Friday 12th 

Rations running low. I've long ago eaten the slices of fruit cake Susie gave me. One of the group left me some Tuc biscuits, I have worked out that if I only have three a day, they should last. On the up side I now get a yogurt with my breakfast, well, Fromage Frais and they know I don't like the soggy flans so, I also get cheese with meals. It's straight from the fridge so I thaw it out on the hot lid of my main course. Yesterday's delight was pasta with a spoonful of boiled mince. Haven't the French heard of garlic?
I have also thawed out some of the nurses. A lot are fine and we just smile at each other or they jabber on in French and I just nod. One though just cannot crack a smile ( it's my challenge of the day) mind you, when the doc is around she turns into a simpering school girl.
Hygiene here is exemplary, when they change and wash my dressing everything touched only with sterile tweezers, one set for removing and one for applying.
Had a good look yesterday and am slightly mystified by a neat square inch above my ankle where they have removed some skin for no apparent reason. The bruise has now crept up to my knee and I will spare you the photos of the incisions on the inside of my leg. The outside though is a neat cut with 24 stitches - sorry are you having your breakfast? They come round here at 5.45am to take your temperature .

Saturday 13th 

Had a major incident today! My internet password expired.
Fortunately a young nurse with a couples of nice tattoos answered my call button.
When I had explained that 'moi mot de passé expirer' she realised that this was a real emergency and immediately rushed off and got me a new one. The old bat I mentioned it to this morning obviously couldn't give a toss.

Sunday 14th 

Pretty uneventful day (again.)
The doc did his round at 8am as usual. You could tell it was the w/e as he hadn't shaved. Must say he was a very nice chap, had a little English. Think he was part of the furniture, must have been there since the place opened, very laid back, longish grey hair and about 70. Also the same chap that straightened my foot (which was at a right angle to my leg) BEFORE I'd had any pain killers!!!!

Monday 15th

New development, I spoke with the insurance company who said it's very important to have split cast put on as many aircraft will refuse for you to fly with new cast. I managed to get this over to the doc this morning when he did his round (complete with simpering bat). He then decided it would be best to travel as I am and have cast put on at home. Does this mean I could have gone home days ago??? - I am NOT going to think about it
I could have risked it couldn't risk Mr Jobsworth being on duty. Met him last time I was at Limoges when not only took fig jam and cheese from my group but also took Trish's lunch

 Had phone call from a French lady who spoke NO English. I grasped something about me leaving hospital aujourd'hui.
Me - non, demain
Her - Jabber Jabber...... departe aujourd'hui
Me - me ne parlays pas Francais
Her - Jabber Jabber..........
Me -je non comprend
Her-Jabber Jabber
Me- pardon
Her - silence.... Hangs up

Not sure if she was telling me to leave today or asking if I was

Well we got that one sorted, said lady came to see me with an interpreter. It was about my discharge papers.

I do have to say I am very impressed with my travel insurance. I was moaning earlier on in the year because it had gone up. I think it's about £170.
Well, I have a male nurse flying out today to accompany me home. They've booked three seats so I can keep my leg up and have dealt with all travel arrangements.
They don't normally send a nurse but because of the "complexity and severity" of my injury they feel I need medical attention
One thing slightly concerns me is 'what if I need the loo?' It's one thing having a bed bath by a male nurse in hospital (yes, it happened) but........? It doesn't seem right when you've got proper clothes on

Tuesday 16th


Merde! Nearly 1am here and the old codger a few doors down is kicking off. He's a real pain for the staff during the day, calls them all the time. When I say calls, the rest of us use our call buttons - he shouts. He's obviously in some kind of pain but really, does he have to scream and swear that loud. I can hear the staff shhing him to no avail and now some other chap has joined in shouting for him to shut up cos he can't sleep - hello!!!
Thought I'd turn in early tonight as I'm up in 5 hours


 He's here, my knight in shining armour . Not a George Cloony lookalike but a very cuddly, smiley Welshman called Brian ( in combats)
We had an taxi ride to Limoges airport where I direct Brian straight to the cafe for a cafe creme and a croissant - never has coffee tasted so good. All was going smoothly but unfortunately , no lift into plane so mounted the steps on my bottom
 Brian was a star, and for those that need to know, there was a loo stop in which Brian parked the wheelchair next to the loo and stood guard outside. Crisis avoided!

It was so good to see hubby Frank waiting for me at the airport. He'd taken a taxi to Stansted to drive me home in my car that was there - happeeeeeee.

Called in at P'boro hospital enroute home. They took more Exrays (sharp intakes of breath) and will send me an appointment to get plastered. 

Amazing that, the French doc said how important to get plastered straight away and P'boro are going "yeah, whenever" plus my prescription was dismissed "nah, we don't think you need that" what about pain killers - nurse puts 4 paracetamol in envelope. They were still offering morphine in France (didn't take it tho')


Finally, I'm home. I'm put on the settee with a glass of chilled white wine (yes, I know it's early) while darling Frank cooks Steak, asparagus, chips and more wine. It was cooked to perfection and tasted delicious.  So happy to be back and in the arms of the the one I love.

Frank is now talking of tagging me so that I can't leave the country!!