Personal blogging

Writing a blog can be cathartic

Today, Tuesday 21st August, my darling dad, known to the family as Pa, was cremated and we were not there to see him off.

Pa (94) had advanced Alzheimer’s, died peacefully in his sleep on Sunday 12th in Guernsey. I really lost him over a year ago when he didn’t know who I was anymore.

He was not religious and didn’t believe in an after life “When you are dead, you are dead, you can put my body in the dustbin”. For me I always found that concept difficult but had to accept and respect we have different ways of looking at death. Before horrible Alzheimer’s claimed him, he said when he died he wanted a memorial service only.

Why were we not at his cremation?

No family or friends live in Guernsey and we all agreed rather than fly to Guernsey for a cremation service only to bring his ashes back to the UK, it would be more sensible to have a Direct Cremation and then repatriate his ashes for a Memorial service. Anyway my eldest daughter is on crutches with her leg in a boot from knee to ankle and my brother has broken his wrist and is in plaster which would have made it all the more difficult!

A Direct cremation

“A direct cremation, is for those who would prefer a simpler choice for their funeral. It’s different to a traditional funeral as there is no funeral service and no one present at the cremation. It’s for those, who for lots of reasons, prefer not to have a funeral service. This option of a simple, straightforward cremation is now being chosen by a growing number of people”.

I don’t regret that decision but this morning I sat and cried because my lovely Pa was going into a large incinerator without any family goodbyes. My Mum died last year and before her death I could never come to terms with burial versus cremation. Mum was adamant to be buried and surprisingly I found the idea of being buried easier to cope with. She now has a headstone and plants on her grave. Although her spirit left her body, I have somewhere to go to talk to her.

Getting the ashes back to England is not easy. The undertakers in Guernsey had originally said they would post them to a local funeral director. Although it would have been in a sealed container, we laughed at the vision of him arriving in a Jiffy bag. However Royal Mail, for insurance reasons, no longer accept human remains, so we have to arrange for a courier.

In his Will Pa requested, much to our surprise, that his ashes be scattered at sea. This is an interesting event to arrange. Whilst not exactly a scattering, there are water urns.

Water urns

Biodegradable urns when placed in water will float briefly and then gracefully sink to the bottom, where they break down naturally over time. This prevents blow back.

A work colleague of mine scattered a relatives ashes on a lake and everything blew back in their faces, they couldn’t decide whether to laugh or cry.

Did you know there are companies that hire out boats for the purpose of scattering ashes at sea? They will take a small party out, in our case this would be in The Solent (Pa grew up in Southampton, so that seems appropriate), it will moor so we can say our goodbyes with promise messages.

Promise messages

The notepaper which will completely dissolve in water, you write your wish, thoughts, or promises and then cast it into the water with the ashes.

Pa was always a ‘party man’ and lived the good life to the full, so he would totally endorse us hiring a company who also provided champagne and M&S sandwiches afterwards. Obviously, this will have to be done when family members have their various limbs out of plaster.

Rest in Peace my darling Pa, I will miss you so much.

As for me? Each life event has a stress level number. With Mum dying last year, retiring from work at the end of January, moving into a new area at the end of April, missing close friends and my garden and now Pa dying, my level is extremely high and I am really struggling. However, there is always light at the end of the tunnel and I will get there eventually. Writing this has helped.

Personal blogging, Photography, Places to visit

This is Where I Now Live – Emsworth, Hampshire

It really is Flaming June at the moment and after an hour on the allotment this morning I was beginning to feel completely sapped of energy so came home. No more gardening for me today!   After lunch in fear of falling asleep I decided it would be good thing to go for a walk instead and take a few photos of my new home, Emsworth.  Disappointed that the tide was out and the whole harbour had turned green, I still decided to take photos.



Emsworth is part of Chichester Harbour and was built in 1215.  It has had a number of small industries over the centuries including boat building, brewing and oyster fishing. However the oyster industry ended in 1902 when sewage polluted the oysters.   These days it is well known for sailing and has two yacht clubs.

It is a tidal harbour and as you can see from above the tide was well and truly out today.  If you look carefully  the Spinnaker Tower  in Portsmouth is in the distance.


There is a harbour walk ‘promanade’ which runs between the Mill Pond and the open harbour.  It was odd today to see the difference between the water level on one side and the other. I walked along here with a friend earlier this year before I moved here, and it was icy cold. Today although hot there was a cooling breeze, which as much nicer.

Emsworth is quaint in many ways, lacking any shops of substance and no banks. Amongst the few old fashioned shops there is a baker, a couple of butchers, a fish shop, hardware store (a bit jumbly like and Aladdin’s Cave) a Co-Op and a chemist – all you need really.   There is however no shortage of cafes, pubs and restaurants.  I have included a photo of The Flintstones Tearooms which is on the harbour and a rather expensive but good restaurant called Fat Olives.  I’ve not been there, but I understand it is tiny, it certainly looks it from the outside.  There is a hotel in the centre of Emsworth called The Crown which is a Grade II coaching inn dating back to the 16th century.


This is the Mill Pond taken from the other end as you leave the town.  So tranquil with its ducks

There is is no shortage of flower displays in Emsworth and placed along the main road are delightful rowing boats planted up with colourful petunias and geraniums.

Next time I decide to go for a walk to take photos I will check the tide time first.  It really is a delightful place to live and even more picturesque when the tide is in.

Garden blogging, Personal blogging

Spring in the Garden and a Move on the Horizon

At last after far too many soggy days we have sunshine! This time of the year often means clear skies equal frosty nights but hey, it’s infinitely better than constant rain. I even have some daffodils appearing, which I always find exciting.

I’m going through cupboards and drawers discarding 17 years of clutter. For some extraordinary reason, whilst I was whipped into a throwing away frenzy, I binned all the carefully saved bulb packets. I think it was because I had assured myself all bulbs had been labelled whilst planting last year. WRONG! The above pretty crocus is sans label, I have had to Google until I came across a name I recognised. I believe it to be ‘Snow Bunting’, that seems to ring a bell anyway.

The garden is still mine until I hand over the door keys on the last day – whenever that is going to be! It will be a sad day but until then I can’t turn my back on a much loved garden and think after Easter you won’t be mine anymore. Above is the wettest, boggiest part of the garden, however the ferns love it and the foxglove I moved during the summer looks very happy. That is annoying really as I have never had much success with foxgloves, it would decide now to behave.

Whilst lots of people love foxes, the local urban foxes are the bane of my life and love trashing my garden and digging holes. There are lots of daffodils and tulips bulbs in this bed and in order to make life a little challenging for Freda Fox and her growing family, I placed lots of little sticks as a deterrent. It doesn’t look too attractive but appears to have done the trick, albeit there are still a few places they have made holes – you can’t win all the battles when it comes to gardening.

There is one solitary brave flower on the forsythia, it is a large shrub and the flower looks as though it has been stuck on for fun. I didn’t notice it when taking the photo but the spirea is also in bud, this shrub has wonderful golden autumnal shades in the Spring, turning a boring green in the summer.

I never tire of the little red lipstick shapes of the appearing peony. In all the years I have had it, the wretched plant only ever has one flower and I have never managed to find out what I am doing wrong.

Back to the patio, the hyacinths are pushing through the soil, which looks like a boiling porridge pot and is spilling over the sides as the plant makes its way to the daylight. I must remember not to use so much soil next time.

With little sunshine on the patio at the moment, the crocuses are not opening up in the way they should, so ‘Firefly’ is not showing to its best, still pretty though.

New update: My Move

Kirstie and Phil of Location Location Location TV fame would be proud of me – compromise being the order of the day. When looking for somewhere to move to, I had a choice of a small property and tiny garden on the Isle of Wight with all the travel issues that brings, or a ground floor apartment in Hampshire with French doors facing south on to a large patio. Fingers crossed all goes to plan and I have gone for the second option in Emsworth, a pretty harbour village near Chichester. My daughter and her husband are moving there next week and with a large garden that needs a lot of work I’m gently feeding the idea that they need help PLUS the icing on the cake is I have already found someone with a plot to share on an allotment just down the road. I am really excited about the prospect and can concentrate on patio/container planting and managing a small allotment – lots to blog about. I will be so disappointed if it collapses, but I am going to be positive. Keep your fingers crossed for me please people!

Personal blogging

To Sow v. To Sew

When it comes to the weather being too wet or cold I usually turn from gardening to needlework, hence to sow v. to sew.

A few years ago I had a small business sewing and selling cotton bags through Etsy. It started as fun but as my Thingummy bags became more popular it lost its enjoyment. I was also coping with breast cancer so my little cottage industry went by the board, leaving me with boxes of fabric waiting to be resurrected. One of the biggest hurdles was pricing the bags. The fabrics I used were good quality quilting material, but the sum of costs x time x profit made the price high in a competitive market, so I also became a little despondent, they sold well but I was not making a profit.

It hasn’t stopped me buying interesting and unusual fabrics to sew dresses for my grand daughter. I love the American quilting fabrics, especially those by Riley Blake and Michael Miller. Trouble is there are only so many dresses a fast growing 7 year old can wear, so I do have to restrain myself.

I don’t expect you need a grammar lesson but as a lover of gardening and needlework there are two words that have a tentative connection, Sow and Sew. Sewing is stitching something together, like a tailor sews two pieces of fabric. Sowing, on the other hand, is planting, as in putting seeds in the ground that you hope will grow.

With a move due in the next few months – there is something in the pipeline but I don’t want to put the mockers on it yet, so I will write more about that in a few weeks once things have progressed a bit further down the line. I will say it is in Hampshire and NOT on the Isle of Wight.

Sorting out clutter and collectibles ready for a move is quite daunting. The above Singer sewing machine I bought in the late 60’s, is cast iron, weighs ton and is almost a family heirloom but sadly has to go, it was replaced about 4 years ago with an all singing and dancing new Singer.

The old Singer was instrumental in making extremely fashionable shift dresses for me in the 60’s and in the late 1970’s, I made clothes for both of my daughters from babyhood, and it even went to university with them. It is still in working condition and I was loathed to consign it to the local amenity tip so rang a local sewing machine repair man who suggested I contacted Tools With a Mission. It was collected today, and I waved it goodbye. TWAM are a charity who collect unwanted tools, refurbish them, sort them and send them across the world. What better new life for a much love warhorse.

I will be moving with my boxes of fabric pieces and may well, now I’ve retired, start to sew Thingummy Bags again, that is when I am not sowing seeds for the new garden.

Personal blogging

Project ‘New Home’ has Commenced

Project New Home has commenced!

Step One – I’ve accepted an offer on my home with a planned completion by Easter.

Step Two – Conveyancing solicitors have been instructed and the Property Information form completed and returned. I’m waiting now for my Buyer’s lender to send the surveyor.

My emotions spin around like a tumble drier from excitement to panic at the prospect. Whilst I’m totally against using age as an excuse for doing anything, the last time I moved I was nearly 20 years younger and fitter. I’m doing this on my own and whilst I don’t remember feeling the need for advice and support then, I get waves of the need for a shoulder to rely on.

At this stage you might be asking why am I moving, if I feel like this. There are lots of reasons, mainly financially driven following my retirement at the end of this month (😀🎉🎊😀) but also I am in need of a change and I’m not tied to where I live now after Mum’s death in June 2017. Of course I have good friends here and being within travel distance to visit is being taken into account.

The above photo is looking over the Solent from the Isle of Wight. Why the Isle of Wight?

Step Three – This is one place I’m going to investigate, the first of a few areas. Some friends have thrown their hands up in horror “What on earth do you want to live there for?” I like the Isle of Wight, it’s a holiday island yet it is still accessible to family and friends. I’m not too concerned about the ferry to the mainland. There are some lovely interesting places including Ventnor with the wonderful Ventnor Botanic Garden and you can’t forget Osborne House.. Step Four – I have booked a hotel stay on the Isle of Wight for a couple of days to have a good old recce to see what is on offer. There are only so many hours I can spend looking at Rightmove on the Internet, I need reality.

Meanwhile, my joke is that I will be The Lady in the Van and find a drive to park in. There is always that option!!!

Personal blogging

2018 Will Be A New Start

Watch this space! The new ‘Hurtled to 60’ blog will be unwrapped soon.

After 4 months of my blog lying dormant, I am picking up the reins again. 2018 is going to be an exciting, if not a somewhat scary year. I had always intended to retire from my job in July 2018, my 67th birthday. However an unexpected and unwanted move at work to a different team made me rethink my plans. I was given no choice on this move, but then I realised I had two choices, accept it or leave, so I chose the latter.

YESTERDAY I GAVE MY EMPLOYER NOTICE OF MY RETIREMENT – eek! My last day of working will be 25th January.

The other big change in my life is I AM MOVING and leaving my beautiful garden. I have accepted an offer on my flat and am looking for a new place to lay my hat, not forgetting a place for my garden tools and many pots.

My ‘Hurtled to 60’ blog will follow my new ventures in 2018, two of the biggest steps in one’s life. Going into the unknown is nerve wracking but an adventure.

Please continue to follow my search for a new home with a garden and adjusting to life in retirement.