23 June 2016


Ivy leaved toadflax growing in cracks in our front yard
Thank you all so much for  your kind, encouraging and helpful comments on the back issue. It's only looking back from the vantage point of improving stamina, (mostly) better sleep and less discomfort that I can appreciate how much we take these things for granted and, in particular, how precious well being is. Ivy's tale is a wonderful, touching and ultimately uplifting example of the value of looking after ourselves - engagement, keeping active and meeting friends. (Thank you, Rachel)

Valerian behind bars beneath the Dockland Light Railway, Cannon Street Road

It was not quite the case for my Aunt Lil - a trooper, a worker, a joker - who died a couple of weeks ago as she approached her 95th birthday. Despite stellar attentive care from her daughter and moving in with her family, mobility and progressive Alzheimer's resulted in Lil's transfer to a care home, where she fell and broke her hip, finally dying in hospital with her family at her side.

A tiny Mint Moth on worn out floorboards by the back door (tut, tut - that fluff!)

My mum's family, including Lil, were not really joiners-in. In a family with nine children, you aren't obliged to make an effort to find company or make close friends. But there are only two left now and I've watched my mum becoming more isolated and 'stuck', physically, mentally and socially. Older people like her are often left isolated by the changing demography of the East End, diverse and unfamilar cultures, confusing technology, unfriendly architecture, and local geography changing at such a pace that you can get lost going to the bank (which has probably closed down anyway). Without a doubt, old age requires the kind of resilience, energy, support  and zest for life that might even floor somebody years younger.

Escapee toadflax and other weeds between the barrier and the river, Blackwall

So captivity has been on my mind, my own included. When I signed up to 30 Days Wild, I imagined I might be visiting new places, trying out new ways of engaging with nature. What's happened instead is wild has come to me. So many escaped flowers; ferocious gothic storms; bats, wrens and goldfinches in the back garden; a young green woodpecker in the park; jays in the churchyard; a knowing crow surveying the allotments and an egret flying north overhead. And on those nights when sleep has been elusive, escapism into the world of Silas Marner, The Woodlanders and Alexandra Harris's wonderful Weatherland was available courtesy of I-player. (Pity I fell asleep during most of them and had to replay the next day.)

Wild, it seems, can be quite subdued if you look and listen in the right places.

Next up - a tale of pioneers, making, and other important stuff.


rusty duck said...

So glad you're on the mend. It's so easy to fall behind with the rapid pace of change. I felt it quite acutely going on holiday last year now that airports and train stations are so automated. And few people around to ask which way the ticket is supposed to go!

E15 kids said...

My mum died in January after a rapid decline with vascular dementia and various other things in the preceding year. Having spent all her life in the East End and kept active, especially post retirement at Richard House children's hospice, the way in which her life became so small so quickly was a real shock. She took on an enormous amount of change in her life - particularly in her beloved Catholic parish. The dementia was truly terrible with a real change in personality as well as the inevitable inability to recognise those of us closest to her. But up until she was 81 she had an enviably connected life made possible with much support from the younger people around her that befriended her.

Glad to hear that you feel so much better.


Val said...

Just catching up after being away for a while. I'm so sorry to here about your accident ..t sounds most horrid.
I hope the MRI gives you useful info so you can get back to feeling good again.
Life can be a bit much at times can't it ..yet when the Sun shines and you're feeling better I'm sure the World will look quite different(in spite of all evidence to the contrary I'm sure both events will happen)
I love looking at your photographs and reading your thoughts on life ...so it's lovely to have you back.
Wishing you wellx

rachel said...

I'm glad you're on the mend now. I was going to comment in some (unnecessary) detail about our elderly relatives, but think I'll save that for a blog post! Meantime, aren't those tiny moths just lovely? Tiny jewels. One summer I had so many in the garden - hardly any at all this year or last. The snails continue to flourish....

Sue @ Quilting the Green Star said...

Thank you so much for writing about Alexandra Harris. I looked her up and now have bought her book Romantic Moderns and am really enjoying reading it. It's one of the things I so love about blogs, the finding and virtual meeting of people who love the kind of things I love. I recently discovered The Bloomsbury Cookbook which maybe you would like, it's a birthday present list price for me, so I'm still sighing over it in Waterstones. Maybe the birthday fairy will wave her wand...
It's so sad about the onset of dementia, such a cruel illness, I hope your family has lots of support,
Kind regards,