This time last Sunday we were trundling back on the train from London Cannon Street, having fetched grand daughter (GD) from my daughter, (D) her mother. Today we are just back from Birmingham, after a weekend seeing friends etc.
|GD on the Pier|
I’ve written about GD before – even though she is now 16, she is not as most girls her age are…. Currently, there are difficulties about finding her a college place for the autumn. The places at special needs colleges in BIrmingham have all been allocated to young people leaving special needs schools, and GD has been at a mainstream school – but mainstream colleges say they cannot meet her needs. I’ve told D to contact Steve McCabe, their local MP, but the poor guy has recently had a brick thrown in his face as he was riding along on his bike. It’s tough up in Brum.
Looking after and entertaining her is stressful – but it is what we do.
On Monday, after a trip to Waterstones to stock up on reading matter – fortunately she loves books and reading – I had to leave GD under the supervision of Angela next door while I accompanied Philosopher to a hospital appointment. He has been referred via the NHS to the private Spire Hospital, just next door to the Conquest, about his bad hip. We saw the orthopedic consultant, who only looked about 25, and after a prolongued period of waiting while the man finished an operation at the Conquest, Xraying etc, he pronounced that Philosopher needed a hip replacement operation, and signed him up forthwith. It should happen in November.
I have only recently discovered that most of my women friends accompany their husbands to medical appointments. It certainly saves rattling of teeth about them asking the right questions, being pushy enough, remembering what the doc said, telling one every detail of what happened etc. etc. Come to think of it, he has come with me to major medical appointments too. NHS-wise, I have been spoilt. With my cancerous background I only have to go to the GP with a pain in my big toe and am referred to a specialist before you can say scalpel.
Then we went down to the Pier. GD loves the space.
|Space on the Pier…..|
|Sidney Little’s 1930s underground car park.|
Tuesday, we went to Scotney Castle. Again, I have written about it before – it is one of my favourite NT properties. The views of the romantic castle ruins by the little lake are truly beautiful. It was sunny, we took a picnic, and GD enjoyed her day. Only downsides, first, the horrendous wasps in the cafe area. We made the mistake of ordering scone with jam, and Philosopher had seven wasps arrive to feast on his portion in about five seconds. Then we fell out with the woman at the next table because I put the little jam pot on the empty table between us to distract the wasps, and indeed about 50 were soon buzzing round like maniacs. She got very irate and slapped a saucer on top of the pot, which annoyed the wasps, who then descended on her table….. Message to National Trust – for heavens sake sort it!.
Second downside – GD got fed up with Grandpa’s slow progress and ran on ahead so far she went up the wrong path. I was stomping round the lake for ages looking for her, asking everyone if they’d seen her. A bloke with a zoom-lens camera panned it around and spotted her running past on the opposite bank. I was screaming across the water like a crazed banshee….
Wednesday, Philosopher went to the Jerwood, and although weather looked threatening, it started off dry enough for me and GD to walk to Bexhill – at the break-neck speed she enjoys. Arrived knackered at the De La Warr Pavilion to look at the art exhibition, ‘Safari’ by Simon Patterson. I was vaguely interested because it included things collected by Annie Brassey on her voyages aboard the family yacht ‘Sunbeam’. In September I am doing a talk on Notable Women in Hastings for the WI, and Annie Brassey is one of the women I am featuring. I have just got a copy of her book about her voyages – apparently a Victorian best seller. GD was vaguely interested because the previous evening we had watched that Night in the Museum movie – it bored us senseless but she loved it – all about musuem creatures and people that come to life. She also is quite interested in art and design. Here is GD looking at a roomful of postcards – rather a poignant, solitary photograph, I think.
|At the De La Warr|
Then, as it was by now pouring with rain, I introduced her to the arcane delights of TK Maxx. She has an eclectic, quirky approach to putting outfits together – see the first and last last pictures on this post. Anyway, we were in there for what seemed like hours and not a pair of sequinned shorts was left un-tried-on. Fortunately, no sequinned shorts were actually purchased, just a pair of very strange patterned baggy culottes and an animal print top…. However, I enjoy ferreting in TK Maxx very much also, but this time, I bought nothing.
GD had a bath in the evening, put about half a bottle of conditioner plus other unidentified cosmetic potions on her hair and neglected to rinse it, so next day her hair was sticky lank rats tails….
Thursday, I had a WI Committee meeting in the morning – was so stressed by this time that could barely unclench my jaw to speak… Philosopher took GD to the Hastings Museum. Then, later, D and Steve, her partner, drove over to fetch GD and take her camping for the next few days. They were camping on a site near Lewes. GD had never been camping before, and Wednesday was incredibly wet, but subsequent days, thank goodness, were much, much better.
Steve had never been to Hastings so D, GD, me and him and a good walk round the Old Town and along Rock-a-Nore and the sea-front. We all went on the miniature railway, went up the East Hill Funicular and had a cup of tea on the Stade. Hastings was looking very bright, shiny and picturesque. We had a good time but I forgot to take any pictures!
Before we knew about the camping plan, Philosopher and I had arranged to go up to Birmingham, stay with friends Sue and Alex and see various others. Even though we did not have to take GD up there we resolved to go anyway, so drove up on Friday in hideous traffic.
I met friend Pete on Friday night, friend other Sue on Saturday, Chinese meal out with Sue and Alex on Saturday night – yummy. One thing we have totally failed to find in Hastings is a decent Chinese restaurant.
Today, we met friends Dave and Carole and then drove home – no traffic this time.
Apart from our friends etc. we don’t miss Birmingham. Moseley has turned into a go-to young people’s entertainment area – practically every shop is now a restaurant, bar, café or take-away. Our old bank is a Costa, and my former retro shop is an Italian café. When I was down there on Friday night with Pete, it was just a heaving mass of youth. On the other hand, Kings Heath now looks rather scabby – empty shops, pound shops, charity shops…. The streets we lived in, filled as they are with elegantly gentrified big Victorian homes and lovely trees, look like an isolated enclave of privilege.
|In the kitchen at Scotney Castle|