I’m back in lovely Devon, looking after my old couple. He is still in hospital; went in last week with a chest infection. The hospital has been closed with that diarrhoea (can’t believe I’ve remembered how to spell that) and vomiting bug, so we haven’t been able to visit him. They’ve been married almost 60 years and call each other ‘My darling’…they are both 95 years old and the sweetest people I’ve ever met. I should give them a name, let’s say that she is a Joy and he is a Gent. So it’s just me and Joy in the house and she goes to bed as early as she can get away with, which gives me the whole night to myself (I can’t go out) to laze about watching telly and hiding from chocolate biscuits. I have an exercise bike in my room but it sits beside the telly with the seat unpolished by my ample bottom…though I am really trying to give it some thought.
Was a little worried yesterday because the hospital called and said that we should come down. He’d seemed a little ethereal and angelic the day before, and they described him as unresponsive. So I woke Joy up from her afternoon nap and stuffed her in a local taxi (our friend and neighbour who usually takes us in on a weekend trip) hoping that Gent wasn’t on his way up the heavenly stairway. He looked flushed, wearing a cardigan over his PJs, and there was a knitted, patchwork rug on the bed (very badly sewn-up). I wondered if he had a temperature, but they said he didn’t. He seemed alright though, voice not wavering or fading and no sign of the chest infection.
It seems as if he might get over this, but the fact that he had a mini-stroke (TIA) the week before just underlines this year as, probably his last. 95 is a great age to achieve, but if he hadn’t had the year he had last year he might’ve made the ton.
I’m sitting in Spain, soaking up the lovely Alicante sun while snow sweeps the UK. I arrived just 2 days ago after working for 3 weeks 24/7….so I deserve it! When I was here last month it was pretty cold and wet; I became a hermit and stayed in bed with the laptop and loads of DVDs only getting out to make tea and food and visit the bathroom. Yesterday wasn’t quite so warm but at least it wasn’t snowing or raining. Today the sun was hot and the sky blue, and I was prostrate on a mat on my terrace, keeping company with some kind of huge insect; maybe an enormous cricket or something like it. But we didn’t bother each other and there’s plenty of room as long as there is no biting or stinging going on.
At the moment I am working in Devon as a live-in carer and living in Spain the rest of the time…kind of 3 weeks on 3 weeks off, or whatever suits my fancy. It’s a great life and I’ve got the best of both worlds, where the weather’s concerned; Devon is usually very mild and summer stretches forever compared with Glasgow summers (if you blink you’ll miss it!). I drag my trusty laptop around with me and write, read, footer about with photos, watch movies, play music, surf (I have an account with AOL so I can plug in anywhere). I have bits of arty stuff, wool and embroidery threads so that when a creative thought or idea hits me I can do anything…except pottery and darkroom developing. But it seems I miss them and my grandchildren so much that I’m in the process of trucking back to Glasgow, for a year or two at least.
I took myself off on a photo shoot down to Santa Pola, a couple of miles from here, Los Arenales, which is just a few miles down the coast from Alicante. Very Spanish; no hotels or football supporters or British drunks. Had a little picnic in the car waiting for the sun to go down; got some fantastic stuff on my new 8 mega pixel Samsung Digimax V800. It’s a nice little camera but in a lot of ways I think I preferred my Kodak; the only thing that bothered me about it was that the lens cover was always slipping off.
I’m a granny who ran away, finally grabbing the freedom I'd always wanted. In the end, when I was approaching 49, I had to give myself a deadline, set a date. I’d been ranting for years about this freedom and what I was going to do with it, so I wrote on the kitchen wall ‘1st August’ and tried to clear out some of my clutter; every time I left the house I took a carrier bag of books and gave them away. These were the very books Herman and I had lugged from the old flat to this new one only a year before, and the bookcases had been weeded out then too.
Preparing to leave was exciting but in the back of my mind there was this feeling that it wouldn’t really happen, that something would drag me kicking and screaming from my plans. My family probably didn’t believe I’d go either but, the great day arrived and I packed up the car, hugged two of my children and a grandson (I’d already said goodbye to my other son and his sons the day before) and suddenly I was driving out of the street, away from sunny Govan and grey Glasgow, down the M8 to the M74, heading south to my future. All I knew was that I was heading for Devon; my daughter had worked there for a year and I’d visited a couple of times, been so impressed with the mild climate and the people that I’d decided that Devon was as good a place to start as any. Exeter seemed to be the point I was aiming for.