Weekly Smile: 22 May 2023

I really do need to make more of an effort to find at least one smile to write about every week, because even when life is not going particularly well, as long as you look hard enough there’s usually something somewhere, however small, to smile about…

This week (between 14th and 21st May) we’ve had a succession of family birthdays – first my mother-in-law, then my youngest grandson, then my dad, then my youngest niece and finally my mum, who were 82, 8, 87, 26, and 81 respectively.

My mum moved in to her new Sheltered Housing home last Monday, and although she’s finding it all a bit confusing to begin with (as she has recently been diagnosed with early stage dementia) she’s already met many of her new neighbours and thinks she’s going to like it there, which is a relief!

My husband has been off work this week (on annual leave) so we’ve been able to spend a lot of time in the garden together weeding and cutting the grass and planning ahead for the summer, which is always lovely.

An old friend of ours came over for dinner yesterday, what with one thing or another we’ve not seen each other for ages so it was lovely to have a good catch up in person. I made us a boeuf bourguignon with mashed potatoes and petit pois, which was really tasty so we all had seconds, then we had fresh fruit salad and vanilla ice cream for afters – yum! πŸ™‚

Weekly Smile


Share Your World: 22 May 2023

Growing up, were you closer to your mother or your father, or was it a balance of both depending on the circumstances?

I’ve always felt closer to my dad, and still do… I’m a quiet introvert, like my dad, whereas my mum is one of life’s gregarious extraverts and I suppose we don’t really understand each other πŸ™‚

What was your favourite toy as a child, and do you still have it?

How do you choose one toy across a whole childhood? Um… for outdoors I’d probably say my bike, or rather the constant succession of bikes that changed as I grew older. To us bikes meant freedom. We lived in the countryside so when we went to play with friends it was either by bike or by walking. And because we were all local kids we all generally cycled to and from primary school, as it was very rare to be ferried around by parental car. And for indoors, I’d probably choose Lego for unending imaginative play and its sheer indestructible staying power over the years.

Did you have any secrets?

My biggest secret was feeling not good enough for being such a disappointment to my mum, who has spent my entire life joking to everyone else that she always wanted to have five boys, but Ruth came along first and spoiled it…

What did you want to be when you grew up, and are you anywhere close?

I remember always just saying whatever was expected of me at any given time when asked by anyone what I wanted to be when I grew up, as the usual options to choose from were pretty gender-restricted. So boys generally wanted to be footballers or astronauts and girls wanted to be nurses or ballerinas. But in all honesty I’ve never had any real career aspirations – I suppose all I’ve ever consistently wanted was to be happy, and that still feels like a big mountain to climb, even at 59… Still hoping to get there one day! πŸ™‚

Share Your World


As of yesterday, my parents’ home – my childhood home – is now defunct.

Mum and Dad moved in to that house 50 years ago this summer, the year I turned 10. It’s changed a lot since then – replacement kitchen, additional downstairs shower room, multiple changes of use of internal and external spaces over time – but still, it’s a bit odd to think of neither parent living there any more.

Dad (who turns 87 on Thursday) now lives in a residential care home – he’s had five strokes and has vascular dementia, so has needed proper nursing care for the last 18 months. Thankfully he is somewhere where he is safe and cared for, he seems happy enough and appears to be settled where he is.

Mum (who will be 81 next Sunday) continued to live alone in the rural home she shared with Dad for all those years, but she too has recently been diagnosed with early stage dementia, so has finally agreed to move from there in to a very pleasant Sheltered Housing development in the nearest town, much closer to Dad.

Her new rented home is much smaller – just one bedroom, a bathroom, and an open plan living room and kitchen – so she’s taken with her what she needs and wants (and whatever will fit) and the rest of the old house and contents have to be cleared and sorted and made ready for putting on the market.

So Mum moved in to her new, self-styled ‘old-lady’ place yesterday, and thankfully slept well on her first night in her new bed. Tomorrow my husband and I will be going out to the old house to look for some necessary documentation I need to complete on Mum’s behalf. And then we can start planning ahead for whatever comes next.

It does feel a bit strange to think of the house not being in our family any more, but neither my brother nor I have ever had any wish to live there as adults ourselves. In our late fifties we each have our own lives, our own families, our own homes. That was Mum and dad’s dream home, not ours. And anyway, it has to be sold to pay for Dad’s ongoing care, and Mum’s new life alone.

I have a lifetime of memories wrapped up in that house, some great, some not so good. But it was our family home. It was where I grew up. Realistically it should have been sold years ago, and Mum and Dad should have moved somewhere smaller and more practical and accessible when their health first started failing, probably about a decade ago.

But instead they chose to sit tight in denial and hold on to the bitter end, insisting that they would both manage to live there independently until they died. However now in their 80s neither are fit to be there any longer, they both now live elsewhere and as of yesterday it falls entirely to my brother and I to sort everything out and sell up for them.

Fifty years of the accumulated stuff of life – paperwork, personal possessions, old photographs, family mementos and memories, toys and teddies. Not to mention all the excess furniture and fripperies, including a full set of my maternal grandmother’s wedding china from the late 1930s kept wrapped up and stored in a box ‘for best’. And Dad’s old army suitcase from when he did his National Service in the 1950s.

Of course there will be some things of sentimental value to other family members that will definitely be kept, but much of what is remaining after everything is sorted out will inevitably be donated to charity. It seems a bit heartless, but what else can we do? Dad doesn’t remember any more, and Mum no longer has any room to keep it all.

I have no idea how long it will take us to clear things away enough to put the house on the market, no idea how I will feel at the end of the day when all is said and done. But right now all I can say is I’m dreading it…

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Defunct

Noises Off

‘All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players’

William Shakespeare, As You like It

I loved reading Shakespeare at school, while others groaned and moaned about having to study his plays as part of the curriculum I really enjoyed it, mainly because we had to read it out loud, and personally I find Shakespeare’s words always come to life when read aloud.

I love the way theatrical plays in general show you what’s actually happening live on stage, but also cleverly suggest aurally what’s happening behind the scenes – all those descriptive ‘noises off’ letting your imagination fill in the visual blanks.

Life’s a bit like that for all of us, I think, there is what the public sees – the life that effectively happens on stage – but often it’s the private noises off that build our characters the best, make us who we really are underneath the public persona. Or maybe that’s just me… πŸ™‚

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Scene

I Ain’t Afraid of No Ghost

My kids loved the original Ghostbusters movie made way back in 1984, and also the sequel from 1989, so occasionally I’ll give them a whirl when on TV, just for kicks.

Last night I saw that Ghostbusters was going to be on so I thought I’d give it a go, but it was actually the 2016 reboot, which I’d deliberately never seen. I’m not always keen on movie remakes, but I figured what the hell, there was nothing else on I wanted to watch. And to my genuine surprise I really enjoyed it!

It was goofy and over the top with a same-but-different story-line to the original, altered enough to make it work as a stand-alone, and I loved the nod to the old fire-station premises, the wacky Ghostbusters car, and the awful beige boiler suits. And the couple of cameo appearances from both Bill Murray and Dan Ackroyd definitely made me smile – particularly Dan (as the New York cabbie) saying ‘I ain’t afraid of no ghost’.

I mean, to be perfectly honest the movie couldn’t in any way compete with the crazily original supernatural-comedy vision of the 1984 version or its sequel, but to my surprise it genuinely wasn’t as bad as I was expecting… πŸ™‚

Word of the Day: Supernatural

Mind the Gap

Before moving back to Inverness in the North of Scotland almost four years ago, I lived in London for almost two decades.

We moved in 2019 from a cramped one bed first floor flat with no garden and a front door that opened directly onto the pavement, to a three bed detached bungalow set in its own garden front and back. The gap between living that lifestyle and this feels huge. I really love having so much space around me – in our home, in our garden, within our town or easily-accessible countryside. Even the sky feels more vast living here.

As an introvert I sometimes found London an overwhelming place to live – exciting, yes, but it was a bit too full-on for me a lot of the time, especially on public transport commuting to and from work during rush-hour. Even at home it could feel a bit claustrophobic at times, so I would often spend time outside just wandering and exploring different areas of the city.

I always managed to find the quieter spaces and places to go to seek temporary refuge from the crowds – old churches and churchyards, public parks, canal paths, precious breathing spaces – small oases of calm in what could be a stifling, suffocating city.

And I took loads of photographs everywhere I went, as if obscured behind my camera I could feel somehow distanced from it all – seeing the bustling urban world through the camera lens I became more of an observer rather than a fully-fledged participant? For me it was a kind of creative coping mechanism, I suppose…

But now we are here, living an altogether slower pace of life that feels far more in keeping with us growing old together, safe in our own space. That was then and this is now, an ever-widening gap stretching out between past memory and present experience, and I honestly have no regrets at all… πŸ™‚

Weekly Prompts: Gap


Do not go gentle into that good night.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Dylan Thomas

Today’s Saturday Stream of Consciousness prompt from Linda is ‘gen’, and what popped into my head was the last two lines from Dylan Thomas’ poem, so I’ve shared them here… πŸ™‚


It would have been great to be able to say that the result of today’s questioning of Boris Johnson by the Parliamentary Privileges Committee today was unpredictable, but sadly it all went exactly as expected.

Boris still insists that everything dodgy that happened in Downing Street during the Covid lock-downs (causing over 100 fixed penalty notices for breaches of Covid regulations to be served by police on No 10 staff, including himself and the current PM) was completely acceptable and met all the guidelines, because of two oft-repeated reasons.

One, all the rules and guidelines at the time stated clearly that social distancing should be followed at work ‘wherever possible’ and in Downing Street due to the age of the building and general working practices it was not possible, therefore didn’t always happen but that was OK, so he was quite right to say to Parliament that all rules and guidance had been followed.

And two, non-socially-distant farewell drinks for staff leaving their posts were absolutely permissible larger group events as (according to Boris) they came under the the remit of a ‘necessary work event’, so again he was perfectly correct in reassuring Parliament that all Covid rules and guidance had been followed.

Also, Boris had repeatedly assured Parliament that he himself had been assured repeatedly that all was above board and nothing dodgy had gone on, but when asked exactly who had given this assurance it turned out not to be well-informed lawyers or even senior civil servants as one might expect, but his own personally appointed political aides.

Hmmm…The gentleman doth protest too much, methinks…

Boris certainly came across as rattled, belligerent almost to the point of rudeness to the committee, and was supremely arrogant in his attitude. He still doesn’t understand why he was given a fixed penalty notice in the first place, so he’s sticking to his ‘how-dare-you/ hard-done-by’ story and as far as he’s concerned he’s totally innocent and that’s that…

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Unpredictable

Sitting On the Train

Sometimes being on a regular long-distance train journey feels a bit like being stuck in a moving waiting room, as you basically sit in one place waiting patiently while you travel from A to B… This is our East Coast train travelling from Inverness to London last October, a total journey of eight hours πŸ™‚

Weekly Prompt: Wait