Monday, 17 November 2014

Local Issues (which span the world)

The Doctors' Surgery

Until May of this year we had a doctors' surgery next door to us in Pensby.  Literally next door.  Sadly it moved to Heswall.  No longer can I wander in in my carpet slippers whenever I want.  Instead it involves being given a lift by Jo or paying for a bus journey.  (Bus passes do not operate until 9.30 a.m. so unless I get an appointment after 10.10 a.m. I can't go to Heswall free.  And an appointment at 10.10 for a fasting blood test would have my tongue out hitting the floor.  I much prefer a time like 7.40 a.m.)  The reason for the loss of this facility was given as creating a better facility for the customers.  The fact that most Pensby residents wanted it to stay was irrelevant.  The fact that it enabled the surgery to cut costs may not have been quite so irrelevant.

Local Policing

On Saturday we went to an art and craft exhibition in Irby.  On the way in we met our community bobby, PCSO Sue Fowles, and spoke to her for while - she said she’d been an hour and half in the exhibition and was delighted by it.  I suspect a lot of that time was spent chatting to local people she recognised.  She is a very popular figure.  Hopefully community policing will remain a local policy for a long time to come though the Police Authority does threaten it (and reduce the numbers of community police officers) every now and then.  

 Irby Artists' Association

Although all the entries in the art exhibition were by members of the Irby Artists' Association the quality overall was very high.  And all entries merited their inclusion since the Association is about doing art in the community irrespective of people’s ability.  One or two were priced quite highly (though appropriate to their quality).  There was, for example, a beautiful acrylic of a lane in Brimstage in the snow by Dennis Oakes at £185 which was worth every penny.   Had we had the money and the free wall space (and not had dozens of pictures in the loft waiting to be hung or re-hung when wall space becomes available) we would have bought it. 

Another one I would have bought was an oil painting by Barbara Dunne at a mere £45 (Partner-who-loves-tea thinks it was £65 but that is still a bargain).  I compromised by buying three original oil painting greetings cards at £3.50 each.   When you think you can pay the same amount in a card shop for a printed card these originals are a snip at the price.

This one of St Werburgh’s Street in Chester must have taken ages to paint.

At the exhibition we also recognised a painting by Jean Upton.  We saw a lot of Jean’s paintings in September when she and two other local artists had an exhibition at Heswall Library.

The talent to be found in our area never ceases to amaze me.

Local Car Parking

While on the subject of local matters like policing policies and art exhibitions I should also mention the impact that parking charges are having locally.  They went up by 350% in 2013 and, unsurprisingly, people are going elsewhere rather than pay them.  Local businesses are suffering accordingly.

Just outside the town centre there is a block of shops with free parking (for an hour) outside.  Two of the shop spaces are occupied by a cafe  - Willow Tea House - and if you are just popping in there for a coffee and a cake the amount of parking time is fine.  But if you want a full breakfast or a three course lunch at a leisurely pace you need longer.  Once again a local business is not being taken into account by the Council.

You might think I'm being very parochial in talking about these local issues but how about this for a quote from an e-mail I got today from Friend-uber-special in New York State...
"...they are just now in the process of making all the parking spaces in the library parking lot metered, pay spaces.  So the library is something we pay for in our taxes, it's supposed to be free to use for all village residents, but we have to pay to park to go inside?  No, thank you!  As it stands now, I will go to another town to do all my shopping because they've already taken over Main St. with pay-for-parking spots." 

I hadn't mentioned to her the car parking problems we were having - it was pure coincidence (or linking of thought processes) that Friend-uber-special should raise the same issue with me.  She confirms exactly what the Heswall businesses are saying and shows that the problem is occurring all over the place. 

Our Local Library

It is also ironic that Friend-uber-special should mention the library because the local council here are talking about closing ours down or reducing their hours to 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  How ridiculous is that.  What about people who work for a living (some still do despite the unemployment level)?  What about schoolchildren?  

This is one of many budget cuts proposed for consideration this year.

The Public Loos

Another budget cut proposed is the closing down of all public toilets.  As one whose disability gives me the potential for 'accidents' if there is no toilet around it will restrict even further my ability to go out.   

Excuse me a moment while I have a little scream into a paper bag.  Aah, that's better.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

A Walk - not just a Ramble!

It is not unusual for my health to dominate my thinking but at the moment it is with positive thoughts.  My GP was away recently and normally I don’t bother seeing anyone else – I just wait till he’s back. It is so much easier than trying to explain my case history to someone new who only has a five minute slot for the whole consultation. But on this occasion I saw another member of the practice.  He suggested a referral to the stroke rehabilitation physiotherapists at Clatterbridge (even though I haven’t had a stroke).  It turned out to be an excellent idea.  Laura, the physiotherapist I saw, was most helpful and understanding.  Neurological consultants are concerned about finding a cause, measuring the progress of the deterioration and finding a solution – and have only been successful at the middle one.  This charming neurological physiotherapist was concerned with the impact that my disability has upon my lifestyle and with finding ways of lessening that impact by tips and tricks and exercises.   I was most impressed.

More Reading but Nothing Serious
Edwards St Aubyn “Never Mind” (1992).  When I read ‘Lost for Words’ I thought I’d found a new author whose works I would love and I looked forward to working my way through his complete works.  He has a series of novels about Patrick Melrose so I chose this, the first one.  One review describes it as ‘epic, intimate, appalling and comic’.  I know the critic was using appalling in the sense of nightmarish or harrowing but I think the use of it in the sense of ‘awful’,  Not for me.  A mere five out of ten.
I have read a few more cosy crime books recently, including some by new authors.  Michael Pearce’s ‘A Dead Man in Malta’ (2010) was enjoyable and ranked about 7 out of 10, bearing in mind it was never meant to be anything more than a fun read.   
Ann Purser’s ‘Tragedy at Two’ (2009) had a slightly darker side, raising, as it did, the thorny issue of gipsies and their effect on a settled village community.  Or the effect of a settled village community on a Romany encampment, depending upon your viewpoint! 
Ann Granger “Testimony of the Hanged Man” (2014).  The latest in the series involving Inspector Ben Ross and his wife Lizzie, investigating crimes in Victorian England.  Fun cosy crime.
Susanna Gregory “Death of a Scholar” (2014).  The twentieth chronicle of Matthew Bartholomew, set in 14th century Cambridge.  Amusing cosy crime and keeps me up-to-date with the whole series.

Claude Izner “The Pere-Lachaise Mystery” (2007).  I mentioned the first in this series recently.  I have now gone on to read this one, the second in the series, and then “The Montmartre Investigation” (2008) and “The Marais Assassin” (2009)
Garth Christian (Ed.) "A Victorian Poacher; James Hawker’s Journal" (1961) The story of a Victorian poacher who spent his life dodging fines and worse as he took hares and rabbits and game-birds from the rich estates to feed himself and other poor.  In those days if a man stole a sheep he got 14 years transportation.  A pheasant would cost him the same.   Not the best read of its kind but interesting nonetheless.

Ponytail and glazed expression
It is a while since I showed a picture of myself so I thought I would treat you to two today – back view with my controversial ponytail and front view with a glazed expression (but perhaps that is usual). 

Autumn Walks
I have had a few walks from home into Heswall recently.  Sometimes I have walked back as well. Walking back is a lot easier because it is mostly downhill.   At other times my bus pass has come in useful.  The first time I walked it I was shattered and my breathing was bad.  It took me 45 minutes.  I can now do it with little more than an ache in my arthritic hip and perhaps a slight tug on another muscle or two.  My time is down to 25 minutes.  That is assuming I don’t keep stopping to take photos which I have done on a few occasions.  

 It’s a lovely time of year for walking.

I usually end up in Avanti – my favourite coffee shop.   Aroma in Irby has nicer coffee but is too noisy and we rarely go there now.  And sadly Linghams coffee shop has become ‘Toast’ which has different staff from the old days and little variety - the name Toast just about sums it up.

Would you like to join me for a cappuccino?

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Scottish Holiday – Day Ten (Friday 15th August 2014)

I have, at long last, resumed sorting my photos of our Scottish holiday in August.  Day Ten began with a 6 a.m. walk along the front at Inveraray.

After breakfast we set off for Moffat.  The first stop was to take photos of Loch Long and Arrochar.

Our next stop was Loch Lomond where folk were learning to toss the caber.

And musicians entertained us.

It wasn’t long before we arrived at Moffat where we were staying the night.

You would hardly expect a Pagan to have a monument this size!

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