It’s truly biblical.

Today I found myself standing in the hallway looking intently at nothing in particular and humming that banal little ditty ‘I want to go a-wandering among the hills so green’. Now that is worrying and obviously deeply psychological. What shall I do? First things first, decide what to have for lunch since the decision has already been made for dinner tonight. At the moment I don’t feel like cooking so it’ll be pasta with tomato and chilli sauce. Well that’s another decision made but lunch isn’t for another two hours or so, how shall I fill the space before then?

How many of us around the world are feeling the same? Thousands possibly even millions of people I would imagine trapped in this strange limbo land.

For the LSO and myself this will be a long haul because of our age whilst those younger and less at risk will eventually be able to go out as long as they keep socially distancing. It’s going to be a slow process and I wonder how much will actually change hopefully for the better. I am not so much bored as feeling trapped. Having been trapped for over five years whilst looking after the AP we really had found our freedom only to have it taken away again.

The LSO would like to be sitting on a riverbank watching a small red float drifting past lily pads but I just would like to feel that I can go out at a whim. Perhaps shopping or to lunch or meet up with a group of friends, see the family. Now that really is a miss. The grandchildren are all growing up, our own children are growing older as we are and we can’t visit them or them us. Then just to rub salt into the wound when eventually we can meet up we can’t even cuddle or hug any of them. Cruel world indeed.

I had an email from a friend in Australia who has survived the drought, the terrifying fires, then the floods and now this. It is all truly biblical and I keep looking out to see if we have a plague of locusts approaching. That reminded me of an occasion when the LSO and myself were visiting friends in North Norfolk in 2011 and we heard something like hailstones hitting the car. They were in fact Ladybirds and there were thousands of them. People were rushing around trying to brush them out of their hair and there were piles of these insects lying in the gutters. When we reached our friend’s house we scurried indoors to find the lights on because the windows were black with these invaders, apparently the swarms had been blown across the Channel from Europe.

I have since discovered that these foreign insects are responsible for the demise of our own native species.

All food for thought.

Keep hope close.

Hope. There are so many meanings for that small four-lettered word. It can mean something that you want to happen; it can be a feeling that good things are coming or you can be given hope. As a verb it can mean to strive for or wish for something in the future. At the moment all we can hope for is an end to this pandemic and hope that the world will be a better place for everyone.

In the meanwhile I find myself dwelling on the need to keep to a sensible diet mostly because I don’t want to see the LSO having to open the double doors to get me outside when this is all over. The diet has to have some special features because these are unprecedented times. For instance I need to bake but why do I need to bake? I guess it’s a way of coping with adversity and it is a very therapeutic exercise from the preparation through to the cooking and then the end product also the LSO loves eating them so I feel I have fulfilled some of my wifely duties. Inevitably I need to sample these luscious morsels, just to test them of course but that is never going to be a useful addition to a weight loss diet.

I have always loved cookery books and have rather a large collection which tends to spread around the house but I can read them like others read a magazine. Cooking is alchemy and I enjoy sampling foods and flavours from around the world and on top of that it really is fun. My kitchen cupboards are full of spices, flavourings and sauces for all manner of different dishes and my latest book by Yottam Ottolengi is just a joy. I find cooking a calming exercise and even get enormous pleasure from seeing the colours of a mirepoix of vegetables sautéing in a pan. My first thought of the day is usually what will we eat today and I can spend happy hours reading recipes and trawling the internet if the books don’t help.

That of course, brings me back to the beginning of this post, the inevitable need to hope that I will find a balance with food and enjoyment that answers all the problems that occur during this lockdown.

This strange existence.

Nobody has experienced anything like the present situation but it has been most interesting noting peoples’s responses to this lockdown. Most are intelligent enough to understand the need and the importance of it all but there are always the selfish ones who just don’t care about others and think they are bombproof. I suppose they are always there no matter what the situation is. They are the ones who play their music at a volume that assumes everyone wants to hear it, who jump queues, who drive like idiots, park inconsiderately, consider they know it all and generally are obnoxious, self centred, arrogant and selfish. The Me-Me ones who just don’t care until something goes wrong. It’s not even a generation thing because they come in all shapes, sizes and age ranges.

But in the midst of everything there are those who are caring, kind and considerate who go out of their way to help others. They don’t do it for themselves and don’t expect thanks but are just genuinely good people; in a way they are another group of the unsung heroes. They too, come in all shapes and sizes and from different generations but all have one thing in common, they genuinely care about others and are prepared to give help when it is needed.

It would be great to think that when this pandemic is all over there could be a better world for us all to live in. Sadly the doomsayers always shout the loudest but we do have a chance to reshape our lives, even change the world and those who have the power to do this need to wake up to the fact that governments should serve the people who put them where they are. Really serve them, really care for them, ensure that there is adequate transport, proper healthcare, jobs available for all and many, many other things that make life better for everyone because that is what a government should be doing. They need to stop the back biting, the one-upmanship, the general in fighting and constant blaming and shaming and instead to the very best of their ability serve the people in this whole country well.

Well, that’s that rant over. It won’t make any difference, the fact that air quality around the world has improved dramatically will be ignored and we will return to the same old situation of the powers that be thinking only beyond their very short noses.

Keep on smiling.

There is no doubt that laughter is the best medicine and some hysterically funny jokes, videos and stories have emerged from this lockdown. They certainly take the mind off the seriousness of what is happening here and around the world.

We try not to watch too much news on TV but inevitably the late afternoon briefing has become compulsive viewing which is no doubt the same for many thousands of people. The AP is tucked up safely in the Care Home and can’t seem to get a handle on this pandemic and according to her no-one is taking it seriously anyway. When I spoke to her this week she asked why had I not been to see her so I explained again that no visitors are allowed. This elicited the response that she had heard me outside in the corridor on several occasions recently and she gets quite distressed and upset when I don’t go to see her. I explained that one of the Care Assistants must have a similar voice because I haven’t been to see her for over three weeks because of the lockdown.

The whole situation left me feeling a little bemused and then of course I realised that she was just reverting to type and it was the old ‘trying to control me’ bullying technique coming into play. Had I really forgotten the dreadful years the LSO and I suffered looking after her? Her utter determination to control and manipulate us whilst telling everyone how wonderful we were. No, I guess that will take many years and it may be that I will never have fond memories of my mother but lately has been easier in that we cannot visit so that dread has gone. Mind you it isn’t something to be thankful for since it is because of the coronavirus that I feel the way I do which is ironic to say the least.

It is interesting to note that for the LSO and myself being tied to the house is not too much of a problem. We had up until last August been forced to socially distance for over five years, unable to go anywhere or do anything for most of that time. So although we had begun to really enjoy our freedom, we equally have been able to settle back into a routine that had been a habit but at least we don’t have the AP causing us grief. She really was a huge black cloud hanging over us, definitely a large bat in the attic.

I am thoroughly enjoying cooking and baking again and have managed a couple of inches of my sweater while the LSO has produced some wonderful lino prints which is good to see again. The AP slowly ground us down, knocking any sense of creativity or love of life out of both of us as we fought to survive her vindictive and malevolent nature. This was something we never saw at all until she came to live with us but bit by bit our love and appreciation of life is returning along with a sense of humour which has always been a huge part of our relationship.

Although I am not lighter I feel lighter but just have to endeavour not to end up being rolled sideways out of the house when some form of normality eventually returns.

The meaning of life.

An ominous title but not a philosophical one. I found myself inexplicably humming the ‘Galaxy Song’ from the Monty Python film ‘The Meaning of Life’ . Goodness knows where that came from but I seem to remember that the opening verse was “Whenever life gets you down and things seem hard or tough, And people are stupid, obnoxious or daft, And you feel you have had quite enough.” The rest apart from the end is lost somewhere in my memory banks except something about the Earth evolving and revolving at 9oo miles an hour. That trips easily off the tongue.

You have to be of a certain age to recollect those hysterically funny films produced by the hugely talented Monty Python team and now we have at least twelve weeks of social distancing the LSO and myself might well download them to watch again along with a comforting glass or two of a fine wine of course. This is certainly a time when spirits need lifting and humour does just that.

I also seem to remember that Mr Creosote was in that film too. I think my sub- conscience is telling me something and you don’t have to have an exceptionally high IQ to know what that is; the danger of being trapped indoors and bored is the inevitable attraction of comfort food and overeating and that is something to be avoided. It’s just all too easy to snack on things that make you feel good and these always seem to be sweet or fatty snacks, never a nice light stick of celery or some carrot batons and a dip. No it’s the shortbread biscuit with the coffee, yum, the bag of crisps that is just at hand, that piece of homemade cake, the fine handmade chocolate, even more yummy and lo and behold another pound in weight on, followed by cries of where did that come from!

So definitely a warning and not just to the curious, beware the handy snacks!

Finally the last bit of the song. ” So remember when you’re feeling very small and insecure, How amazingly unlikely is your birth, And pray there’s intelligent life somewhere out in space, ‘Cause there’s bugger all down here on Earth!” There’s certainly a lack of toilet rolls, kitchen rolls, tissues, tinned food and flour to name but a few!

Bored already.

Today, I suddenly became overwhelmed by a sense of utter frustration as the LSO and I watched the news which as is the norm now, being dominated by the Coronavirus but not with anything particularly definite. Just a string of ‘what could happen’ without any idea of timings. The talk is that the over 70’s which inevitably includes us, will have to self isolate to avoid catching this bloody virus but when! Having been more or less in that position for over five years and having finally got over our sense of being institutionalised we are now facing crawling back into our shells for possibly up to four months.

I guess, in truth that’s a drop in the ocean for us and yes, we can do it. We have hobbies, the dogs and a lovely environment but it is just so very, very irritating and already I am bored at the prospect. Self motivation goes out of the window and that must not become a habit. We had plans to see the family over the Easter break and now that won’t be happening. We have just got back our freedom of movement and have been thoroughly enjoying exploring places again, eating out when we feel like it and doing things at a whim only to have it all curtailed again. At least with modern technology as well as FaceTime isolation isn’t total but I just hope the government are astute enough to organise things in a sensible way. Perhaps astute, sensible and politicians in one sentence are an oxymoron, time will tell. But truth be told we are not ready to depart this mortal coil as yet and we will follow sensible guidelines in order to hopefully avoid catching this virus.

It is mind boggling that there are some selfish members of our society who are stockpiling among other things, toilet rolls. Common sense should tell them that these things, if bought sensibly will continue to be available for all but no, the stupidity continues at an embarrassing rate. It’s nothing new though, we have seen all this before from petrol shortages because people were filling up cars to sit on their drives to panic buying of milk and bread. It really is all so unnecessary, people should stay calm and think more about others and less of themselves.

Well, on that note I think it’s time to get my knitting out, who knows, I may finally finish the sweater I started over a year ago.

Feeling disconcerted.

Suddenly all focus is on the latest global virus which has become an ever-expanding problem. I had not particularly worried about it at first because I guess having a mother still living at one hundred and one, soon to be one hundred and two, does give me a different perspective on the LSO and myself, certainly in terms of how old we are.

But with the general focus being on the vulnerable and the elderly I was quite shocked to find that we are in the latter group of people. Up until now I have never thought of myself as elderly and it has left be feeling somewhat disconcerted. But I suppose heading towards three quarters of a century is definitely in the zone. In fact with a history of chest problems and diabetes I am not only in the zone but actually at risk apparently. Goodness, how did that happen!

I then started taking more notice of news flashes and reading more about how to avoid infection, so we are armed with wipes and gel but not a mountain of toilet rolls! Panic buying does not come with the territory for me but being of a certain age means I do have a small stock of essentials in all the time. It’s an ingrained habit that comes from being a child in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s when rationing was still around and even then I was aware of how little everyone had after WW2. Old habits just don’t go away.

It is probably why I find dieting so difficult. I resent giving up the things I really enjoy and for many years now we have had a pretty comfortable existence for which I am hugely grateful. The coming months will be a strange ride for everyone until this virus burns itself out. But I shall still continue dieting because more than ever I need to become non-diabetic again.

The case of the hopeless dieter.

This title sounds like a story from Sherlock Holmes but sadly the problem will not be solved as easily. My body is not responding to the low carb diet, I am not gaining weight but neither am I losing any. My glucose levels aren’t brilliant either so maybe the new drug isn’t working as well as it should or maybe it just needs to be a higher dosage.. it’s early days and my next set of tests are two months away. The LSO sent me the picture above which he called “Skinny Pole’ which is definitely not me. Funny B…. but you have to laugh.

Maybe I need to look at portion control and use a smaller plate for my meals, it’s certainly worth a try. I also am aware that this long, cold and wet winter is not helping. I hate mud so I am not walking the dogs with the LSO which is something I need to address but this little voice in my head says ‘when the weather improves’ but I have been listening to that voice for several months now.

The imposed institutionalisation as a result of being the AP’s carers is difficult to shake off and I am aware that I have become disinterested in a great deal that made my life tick before she came to live with us. Five and a half years of being trapped have taken a heavy toll. Her nastiness, vindictiveness and her cunning controlling ways have left a permanent scar that isn’t going away easily. The fact that we have to visit the AP in the care home has become a necessary chore and something the LSO and myself both dread. We never quite know what we will find when we get there, today she was in bed, in a deep sleep so we left her requested boxes of tissues and came home. There is no point in waking her as we have found to our cost in the past because all we are met with is confusion.

She will be one hundred and two years old on April 30th. Will she make it, who knows? She is just a bag of skin and bone, drifting in and out of a kind of dream world. It’s sad really because although she is well looked after she is just existing, waiting for the inevitable to happen. Being cynical, I guess it’s in the care home’s interest to look after her well as it guarantees another week of fees which are going up in April a mighty 5.9% from £1070 to £1133 a week.

I wish our pensions did the same!

At a standstill.

I feel at times that I am on the road to nowhere when everything seems to come to a standstill. Nonsense really as life is continually moving on even if we don’t think that’s the case.

I was feeling quite saintly about my week’s dieting but come the weigh-in and frustration took over. Not only had I not lost any weight but I’d actually put some on. How, came the strangled cry! It certainly is a mystery and a real pain in the neck because I had actually been enjoying cooking and experimenting again only to find it was not working. Do I change to a low fat diet such as Slimming World or WW? I’ve tried those in the past and indeed I have lost weight only to put it all back on again many times and just like all diets I get bored; so where do I go now? The low carbs certainly make a positive difference to blood glucose levels, that is a fact. The moderate protein and high fat are not easy to handle and I think my problem probably lies with an imbalance there. I am now going to look further into intermittent fasting because I am becoming more and more convinced that it is the best way to go.

So it’s back to further research, planning and recording.

I am also aware that the AP is still hovering in the background which dampens the spirits and in turn lowers the will power. Will I ever actually think fondly of her? But I cannot blame her for my difficulties in losing weight although the AP was part of the reason for the gain in the first place. No, I must clear my mind and focus on what needs to be done although part of me is silently screaming for all the foods I like eating which are not the most sensible for weight loss. It would be wonderful if there really was a magic pill that caused all the unwanted fat to just melt away. I guess everyone with a weight problem feels like that and it’s that very feeling that promotes these rubbishy pills being produced that supposedly aid weight loss. They promise everything, cost a fortune and just don’t work: it’s just people on a get rich quick scheme using the despair of those who are overweight, to encourage them to try these things. I hate to think what’s in some of these products. Actually I feel much the same about these official organisations that take money and also encourage people to buy their slimming products instead of eating proper food.

Oh well, I need to come down from the soap box, I guess its back to reality and determination.

It was inevitable.

Indeed it was inevitable. My visit to the Diabetic Nurse this week revealed what I had already guessed; I am back to having Type 2 Diabetes although not as high a blood glucose count as last time.

A mixed blessing in some ways as it makes it even more important that I lose the excess weight again and the fear of the consequences that can occur because of it certainly focusses the mind.

Last time the LCHF diet worked well for me in the beginning but as I have said before, no diets are sustainable in the long term. No matter how often you say to yourself that you don’t miss the things you can’t have the inevitable happens and you do. So this time I will do some mixing and matching; a couple of months on this one then have a rest and continue dieting using the 800 5:2 diet. It’s not hugely different but allows a bit more flexibility.

I am trying not to be stressed as the years of being in a continual state of fight or flight mode because of the AP have taken a massive toll on my health never mind happiness. But I do feel much calmer as long as I don’t dwell too much on the past and the lost years. Visiting her still tends to be stressful but at least she is not living with us anymore.

An added bonus is that my love of cooking has returned and I am experimenting with a variety of vegetable, meat and fish dishes. The LSO is definitely still the long suffering one because to a greater extent he is having to eat the same meals as me but so far he seems to be enjoying them. So that’s a bonus.

I just need to get moving again once Storm Ciara passes and what a storm it is. I am writing this with the rain lashing the windows and the wind singing in the guttering and whistling in the chimney.