Monday, 12 August 2019

A Bit of a Day

I posted back in January about being diagnosed with atrial fibrillation & how great the treatment I had in hospital was. 

Something like this is a wakeup call & has certainly made me think about things. I found a book my sister recommended called The Doctor's Kitchen - Eat to beat illness which was written by a doctor, Rupy Aujla who developed atrial fibrillation & didn't want to have the procedures that normally would be offered to patients with this condition. Basically he has written the book which he describes as "a culinary journey through food in medicine". He takes a holistic approach and looks at how food and your lifestyle can improve and maintain your health and there are lots of recipes too. The book isn't just for dealing with atrial fibrillation it's for everyone even those with no health problems.

I've been trying to do some of the things recommended but changing your lifestyle isn't something you can do overnight. My main struggle is with exercise, I do swim a couple of times a week but I need to do more. I hate the gymn & our climate isn't always conducive to walking so I need to find another way to exercise.

The main problems I have day to day are with sleeping, walking up the slightest of inclines, carrying bags plus swelling feet & ankles. Not too bad compared with a lot of people & I was resigning myself to making the best of it as I had decided not to have a cardioversion procedure which was offered. Basically they they give you a light anaesthetic, stop your heart & then give you an electric shock or two to start it which may get your heart back into a normal rhythm. I wasn't too keen on the whole thing especially the risk of stroke & the fact it's not always successful & may not last.

Out of the blue I got a hospital appointent for the procedure & after some thought decided I was going for it as I was sick of having massively swollen anles & feet & was worried about the amount of medication I was taking. 

Well the day was today & with a lot of apprehension I was at the hospital for 7.15am. It's a new surgical centre which is really lovely, I had a lovely view of a little patio. 

I have to say the people were wonderful & thankfully
the whole thing went well, with one shock they got it back into rhythm. So it's thanks once again to the amazing NHS which gets so much unwarranted criticism.

Now I have to wait & see whether it will last. Time will tell, but in the meantime I have to follow more of the advice in the book!

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

The Covers are Off!

Durham Cathedral

The Tower covers are finally off, the scaffolding is down after 3 years & the main tower is open again! 

This is what it looked like with the covers on and often a lot of stuff in front of it.

It's sad that most of the time these lovely buildings have to have so much work going on which maskstheir beauty but it's the price of keeping them alive for future generations. Here's the BBC article about the work.

St Mark's Basilica was covered for ages, I stopped taking photos of it when I was doing the Great Rail Journeys tours. I can't imaging what Notre Dame will look like as it is being renovated. Think it will take more than the 5 years they forecast but I'm sure they will do it even if it doesn't look like the original. It's hard to get the specialist people to produce the craft work necessary. Durham have their own team & train apprentices as I suppose all cathedrals do but the amount of work needed to renovate Notre Dame is colossal.

Now there's lots of work going on inside Durham cathedral providing new entrances to improve access and to show more of the architectural features of the doorways which have been hidden. Hopefully it will be finished by Christmas.

Today there were visitors from many countries including France, Canada, Australia & the USA. Hope they enjoyed their visit even though they are not seeing the cathedral at its best.

Monday, 15 April 2019

Notre Dame in Flames

Notre Dame, Paris     Image Wiki Commons - Licence 

What a tragedy today seeing much of this beautiful Gothic building being destroyed by fire, luckily the main structure has been saved.

The symbol of Paris survived 2 world wars and a revolution but today fire ravaged it. 

BBC coverage is here

Saturday, 23 February 2019


Well when they work they are great when they don't!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I've had this laptop for a couple of years now & mainly it's been great. It wasn't too expensive, it's easy to use, fast enough for me & has a lot of storage. 

It has had one problem, the same one at least four times where it freezes and then won't boot up. This has meant taking it back to the shop to be repaired which is a pain, waiting a week or two & even more of a pain they wipe it so I have to keep reloading the software & getting all the settings back. Worse still they wouldn't tell me what had been the problem. All I was told was to leave it plugged in all of the time as it is set to do Windows 10 updates in the background & if the power is low it sometimes wrecks the update & causes problems. I thought that was the whole point of a laptop, not having to keep it plugged in all of the time!

Well it is now out of the warranty so I thought I was stuck last night when it froze again. So this morning I went onto the Tinterweb (as you do) and found a video explaining what you can do when this happens. I had been loathe to do any fiddling about with the laptop whilst it was under warranty as companies use any excuse to get out of repairing things if you have had the back off stuff!

Well I had to take the battery out which was a bit of a pain (not the easy external one) but I eventually managed to unscrew it slide it out without doing any damage and reconnect it again.

Well it took a while to boot up (I held my breath) but it did eventually. Whew!!!!! Apparently some kind of a charge builds up (you can see I am non technical) and unplugging the charger & taking out the battery can sometimes resolve the issue. 

If it doesn't I also now know that there is a NOVO button which resets the computer back to factory settings. You don't get hard copy manuals now so if your computer isn't working you need a second computer or smartphone to access info on the Internet. Resetting sould be a bit of a last resort but worth a try.

Well I feel a sense of achievement getting it working and it's a bit of a relief to know when it's my turn to do the church newsletter in a couple of weeks I do have a computer that works. Well it does at the moment!

Saturday, 16 February 2019

Blue & White Stuff!

I'm a sucker for blue & white stuff. I love it!

Blue has always been my favourite colour. When my sister & I were little she got the pink dresses & I got blue, my choice!

I use white crockery for everyday but my best stuff is blue & white willow pattern. I used to use that every day until Wedgewood in their wisdom stopped producing and I couldn't replace it.

Blue doesn't seem to be very fashionable & it's often difficult to buy things for the house. I struggled to replace my blue carpets a few years ago, I could get a hideous bright blue synthetic one but wool was difficult. I eventually ended up with a medium grey, not as nice as my previous airforce blue one but OK.
Blue has a reputation for being cold yet I find it very relaxing & fresh. It hasn't been in fashion for clothes though for  years, well other than denim which seems timeless. Odd but navy was out of fashion for donkeys years, I couldn't buy navy shoes, coats, jackets or dresses until a couple of years ago & I never wear black so it was a nightmare.

I can never buy light blue jumpers or T shirts and it's not easy to buy blue fabric. Luckily blue wool is easier to buy and so is light blue cotton yarn, I've had some stored away for a few years. I had intended to make a couple of jumpers but never got around to it. A few months ago a lady from our charity knitting group gave me some white cotton but I had lots of other things on the needles so never did anything with it.

Last week I decided to get cracking on making this. (It's a blanket not a cloak just in case you were wondering!).

Well an easier version of it just using a single square to get it finished quicker.

I've made twenty squares now so more than half way, I need at least 36 if I have enough balls of white cotton but I think I fancy joining the squares in light blue.

Hope I don't get distracted and start something else before I get it finished! I'm a terror for doing that. 

I've just finished crocheting a shawl for a friend & a knitted chick to hold a Cadbury's cream egg.

  • Currently I have a lace shawl on the go which I have been knitting for over a year now. It's been pulled out at least 3 times but I can't seem to accept that I can't finish it for some reason. 
  • I am also making another crocheted blanket made up of tiny little squares, that's an ongoing activity which could take years!

That's not a photograph of my squares, it's the gorgeous picture from Annies Place Blog which got me interested in making little squares. (There are lots of great crochet ideas there.)
  • I have two advent calendars half made which didn't get finished at Christmas as I was in hospital and a large Christmas stocking cut out. They can wait until next autumn.
  • I have three replacement cushion covers for my dining room chairs to finish and at least four cushions for the living room cut out and ready to sew.
Think I had better stop it's getting too depressing!

Sunday, 20 January 2019

Thank You!

Freda & Finch

Well I'm feeling a bit ashamed at having such a long gap between posts but quite a lot has happened in just a few weeks. 

First of all I missed those cats I fostered in October so much that in early December I managed to persuade my husband to let me get them back, permanently. So here are the sisters, bigger, fatter & they settled back in no problem.

Then 10 days before Christmas I had a rude awakening when out of the blue I was admittted to hospital with a heart problem. That was certainly a shock to the system as the doctor who admitted me commented "You haven't been here since August 1973". He was right, that was just for 48 hours when I had my daughter Claire & I have enjoyed really good health since then apart from a dicky underactive thyroid well controlled with medication.

So what went wrong? I had noticed that I was having some palpitations, which I associated with needing a blood test to check my thyroid levels. The medication level was changed & I felt fine. Well until just before Christmas & one morning I felt dreadful.

Turned out I have atrial fibrillation. This is the British Heart Foundation's definition:

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a common abnormal heart rhythm that happens when electrical impulses fire off from different places in the atria (the top chambers of the heart) in a disorganised way. This causes the atria to twitch, and is felt as an irregular heartbeat or pulse. Atrial fibrillation is a major cause of stroke.

I had never heard of it but it's very common apparently, especially in people over 80. Lots of people have it & lots have it & don't know. It was like having a bag of frogs jumping about inside me trying to get out. A bit like John Hurt in Alien!

There doesn't appear to be any particular reason for me having it, my thyroid is underactive not overactive, I certainly don't drink excessively, don't do drugs, don't drink more than 25 cups of coffee a day & I'm not nearly 80! 

I didn't take kindly to taking what seems to me to be a lot of medication, a beta blocker to slow my heart down & a thinner to avoid a stroke but on the plus side it looks like I don't need any operations as thankfully there has been no damage done to my heart. Taking things easier & living life at a slower pace is difficult but have to say it's a good excuse for doing less housework & more sewing, knitting & crochet. As if I needed one!

I'm so grateful to the NHS for the wonderful care I received both in hospital & locally at every level. I've never come across so many lovely people who all obviously enjoy their jobs & couldn't do enough for you, whether it was a cleaner, nurse or doctor they were all wonderful. I felt like writing a review for Tripadvisor for them! The NHS comes in for so much criticism but all I can say is thank God for it & all those amazing people who work for it.

The cats have been a blessing too. They've made me smile at their antics & been a real comfort when I've been awake during the night. Cat stroking & listening to the purring is so therapeutic. 

Something like this is a real shock as I've always been so healthy & able to walk, swim & had no restrictions on my life. It certainly makes you rethink your priorities and be grateful & thank God for every day you have, even with its limitations. It could have been so much worse!

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

A Sewing Machine Update

A little while ago I posted Here that I had bought a little vintage sewing machine on eBay from a hospice. 

It was sewing a straight stitch well but I did notice that it was difficult to quilt using the walking foot as I realised the needle wasn't in the middle of the foot plate. I guessed it was something to do with the fact it wouldn't do a zig zag stitch & that the needle bar was stuck in the wrong place. The alternative was that something had broken off but everything seemed to move when I turned the levers.

I contacted Helen Howes who runs a great website with lots of advice about restoring vintage machines.  She's a textile artist & designer & also sells lots of parts & I got my replacement Singer stitch lever from her. 

Her advice to me was "oil, heat & wiggle".
So I oiled it yet again, blew the hairdrier on it for about 15 minutes & wiggled the needlebar. Yes it released it & now it does some lovely special stitches including a lovely overlock stitch. Amazing!

So I now have a lovely little machine that works perfectly, I contributed to a hospice  and I'm helping to save the planet by not buying a plastic throwaway sewing machine. 
Feel a bit of a Heather Small moment coming on! Love this song.

Still not used to that bobbin being under the needleplate though! Absolutely daft!!!

A Bit of a Day

I posted back in January about being diagnosed with atrial fibrillation & how great the treatment I had in hospital was.  Something l...