Monthly Archives: May 2014

Our Day Out

One of the biggest problems of being a carer is the difficulty of having a day out or a break away from the person you look after. Logistically, a lot of arrangements have to be in place before you can get away and spontaneity is not a possibility. We have previously used a local care home for dad’s respite care but we thought we would give Country Cousins a try. They provide you with fully-checked live-in carers so that your relative can stay in their familiar surroundings and stick to their usual routine.

Last year we added RHS Chelsea Flower Show to out calendar and promised ourselves we would go in 2014. It is easy to think of reasons why you won’t be able to do it but in a moment of madness I booked two tickets online, knowing that this would commit us to having some time on our own together.

Our lovely Carer arrived the night before and the following morning we set off for our day out. We took the Grand Central train from Hartlepool to London King’s Cross. It was a relaxing journey. We had packed a lovely picnic and a nice bottle of Malbec, so arrived in London feeling relaxed and happy!

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A quick Tube journey found us at Sloane Square Station and then a short walk in the warm sunshine took us to the gates of the Chelsea Royal Hospital. The show was every bit as lovely as we thought it would be.

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We wandered from one area to another, noting our favourites and planning what we could do with our own garden. The weather was generally quite kind, with just one torrential thunderstorm sending people rushing to the indoor exhibits and leaving the site with lots of puddles for the rest of the day.

Here are some of our highlights.

We both loved the wide variety of water features and there is definitely going to be some sort of pool or pond in our garden really soon. This was particularly attractive:

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This was also very appealing. The use of plants vertically was so unusual too.

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For a bit of fun, we enjoyed seeing this outdoor sitting room:

Outdoor sitting room

There were so many amazing things to see but we both adored the Waitrose displays because the mix of flowers, fruit and vegetables arranged according to colour was so appealing.



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We loved the tree ferns!

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And some other highlights here:

A very unusual Bougainvillea.



Cushions of lovely flowers:

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Towering glass flowers:

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Crowds gathering to watch the BBC teams filming:

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A tree house with revolving turret:

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The scent of the Lilies:




The driftwood horses:

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Two tired but happy people made their way back to King’s Cross, where we rounded off the day with a superb pizza and a glass or two of wine before getting the Grand Central back to rainy Hartlepool.

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We had the most wonderful day!



Smile of the day

Being a Carer can involve a lot of emotion and sometimes brings laughter as well as tears. My father lives with us – by ‘us’ I mean me, my husband, one noisy elderly Siamese cat and a crazy little Shih Tzu called Holly. We get along OK and take one day at a time, not knowing what the future holds.

My morning routine is to get up at 6:30, get showered and dressed, make dad a coffee and get his first tablets of the day, then go to get him up, showered and dressed too. He enjoys listening to Classic FM on his headphones during the night so after his tablets I remove his headphones and help him sit up. This morning I could hear the Brandenburg Concerto as I replaced the headphones on his radio.

‘You can’t beat a bit of Bach in the morning’ I said to dad, who is deaf in one ear.

‘Is it Holly?’ he replied and then wondered why I was laughing so much.

It then struck me, as I was helping him to the shower, that to an outsider looking in, we made a very strange sight. Walking frame up front, naked dad holding on to it for balance, me behind with my hands on his hips, guiding him in the right direction…..we must have looked like some weird, geriatric Conga!

Some days you just have to laugh.


I’m having a bit of a rant about targets this week.  My beautiful and intelligent 6 year old grandson has been telling me for days that he hopes to meet his literacy target and get a certificate. It has filled his life and caused him irritation. Last Friday he told me he had hit the target twice. Yesterday, he came out of school clutching his certificate, a sticker on his sweatshirt and an ‘outstanding achievement’ bookmark in his hand. He had got his TARGET. Naturally, as a doting grandmother I lavished praise on him. But the teacher within was seething. He is only 6. He should be honing soft skills like problem-solving, risk-taking, socialisation. He should be developing a love of play and learning with pleasure. He will have to meet targets for many adult years but he will never have the chance to be a child again. I don’t blame his school or his teacher. It’s a great school and he has a lovely teacher. But the system is pushing schools into this route and they will be ‘judged’ on these numbers and letters.

I mentioned this to my daughter and she wasn’t happy about it either. Then she dropped a bombshell. His 2 year old little brother will also be allocated a level from his childminder soon too. She has been sent for training to show her how to level him for literacy and numeracy. WHAT????? He is TWO! What on earth are we doing to these children?

Just to add further anger, I also encountered a comment on a school blog recently. The children do creative writing which is then commented on by adults and children from other schools. It is a great idea and works really well. On Sunday I logged in to do my usual allocation of comments and was dismayed to see a child comment on another child’s work ‘Wow….this is a 2a sentence’.  A 2a sentence? What on earth does that mean unless you are a teacher? Why not say it was an interesting sentence or a descriptive sentence?

A twitter friend describes it as ‘teaching by numbers’ – an apt description. The numbers and letters become a label for that child. Speaking of which, the younger grandson went shopping with me last week and I heard him tell me ‘This sticker says I’m a good boy’. When I looked at him, he had peeled a label from a T-shirt and attached it to himself. He was wandering around the area wearing a black sticker with £5 in bold white letters. Naturally, I wouldn’t have accepted £5 for him…..after all, he is already level 1d for literacy and 1e for numeracy.

Absolute twaddle.