Monday, 20 May 2019

SECOND SIGHT


Doorway at Buckland Abbey
More than two weeks have passed since my second cataract operation, and each day brings new surprises as I move – quite literally - into the second sight of my life. Did I mention having to wear glasses since the age of five? Well this is no longer the case. Thanks to living in the 21st Century I feel overwhelmingly privileged to have undergone these two life-changing operations. Admittedly I have experienced a few more problems with the second eye, one of which is a ‘floater’ which drifts across my vision like an annoying fly or – as so well described by a cousin, a tea leaf! There is more blurring too, but beyond lies my perfect sight, revealing everything in a panorama of gloriously sharp colour which can be quite overwhelming at times.

I couldn’t wait to get back to my camera, but I was forced to admit that I needed to adapt to new circumstances, one of which is that I no longer see through the lens in the same way! This adaptation applies to many other tasks, and I now read with a pair of £4.99 magnifying specs instead of my hideously expensive varifocal glasses. This is my first piece of writing on the computer, and I’m still getting used to a different way of sitting in front of the screen without leaning forward and peering at it.

Here then are some glimpses from my ‘new’ eyes. As my friend told me: ‘slowly, slowly,’ and I’ll heed her advice and keep this article short. All for now!

Wisteria at Buckland Abbey
First Poppy


Dartmoor near Okehampton, Devon





Tuesday, 9 April 2019

HONESTY

We seem to be surrounded by an atmosphere of distrust here in Britain at the moment, with the media screaming out headlines such as: ‘Lies… Dishonesty… Deceit… Duplicity!’

In complete contrast, I can walk out into the garden and my eye is immediately caught by the bright purple clumps of Honesty flowering for the first time since I sowed the seeds last year. Their pure simplicity is enough to cheer up anyone.


April in the garden is a month of hope, as green shoots start to appear. In the greenhouse even the Dahlias have begun to push their way out of what resembled complete lifelessness a few weeks ago. It’s a bit touch and go, mind you, as some still look dead, so I will wait for at least another month before condemning them to the compost heap.

The Pulsatillas in my galvanised wash tub have blossomed into their best year yet, seemingly egged on by the adjacent Windflowers and dwarf Phlox.



Tulips abound, and I dread a week – or even a few days – of strong cold winds, as they will be wrecked.

News on the eye front: I have a date – at last – for my second cataract operation, in early May. ‘Hurrah!’ I shouted to an empty house when I opened the letter from the hospital. I can’t wait, and it’s not often that one’s anticipation of surgery is so optimistic.


The most bizarre feature about May is the coincidence of my birthday falling on the date of the European elections. Not a day goes by without the date being mentioned at some point in the News, and every time I start in recognition. Never before has my birthday seemed so important!

And on this happy note, I leave you with a picture of our first Azalea to flower this year, an exotic burst of colour to brighten the darkest of days. Honesty is one of my life's philosophies. It has caught me out from time to time, in its difficulty, but has never let me down - in the end. Enjoy the flowers - there is no dishonesty in such simple pleasure.




Friday, 22 March 2019

VAGUELY MARCH

I am struggling with my 'in between cataract operations eyes' this month, hence the delay in writing my regular report about the garden. Imagine, if you can, waking up to find one eye smeared with Vaseline - which you cannot remove. Every day is like this at the moment. As I've mentioned before - and I apologise for so many reiterations, it's more than tedious - and very, very tiring. Enough said, and on to the garden...

My greenhouse is an ongoing source of joy. Today held a surprise: one of my new 'Angelique' tulips has become the first to bloom - and it's stunning! A double flower with creamy outer petals, the centre is rose-like, but the claim to be fragrant has not yet found its way to my nose. Perhaps this will come later?



For some unknown reason, wherever I live and however many I plant, my daffodils flower late. But when they bloom they are a riot of dancing colour, and I must show you two which caught my eye this afternoon. The first is a dwarf daffodil, a perfect miniature of its larger cousins. The other a double which I planted under our fir tree and forgot about - until now.




March birthdays are like a rash in our family. Last weekend we were invited over to our son's house where he and his partner went to a lot of trouble to entertain us royally with a wonderful lunch followed by tea and home-made sponge. We were celebrating M's birthday - he doesn't really want a fuss made, but we all insist - and since he's also undergone a minor operation this week, we felt a little indulgence to be appropriate. Little details such as the cake decorations, chocolates with our coffee and mini marshmallows sprinkled on the gorgeous dessert - are small gem-like memories to treasure.


I've acquired a slide scanner, and my brother heaped upon me two boxes full of old family slides dating back to the 1960s and beyond. I felt quite daunted by the thought of even attempting to operate the machine with my distorted vision, but it turned out to be easy to use and the results are engrossing. The forgotten country of the past suddenly finds its way onto my computer screen in bright colours, and it's mesmerising! So I leave you with a photo of my late uncle's garden. All of my father's family were passionate gardeners, and he took enormous pride in creating this one when he lived just outside Oxford. I love the curving edges to the borders and the neatly mown lawn. The photo was taken in August, 1978 on a beautiful Summer's day. And with Spring most definitely with us now, we can look forward - I hope - to just such a Summer.



Wednesday, 13 February 2019

RADIANT

There are days when not even the brightest of February sunlight or the prettiest of daffodils can lift the spirits. Distraction can be one solution to the brain’s chemical whims, and I experienced just such an event at the hairdresser’s yesterday.

Two or three of us sat on comfortable black chairs in front of mirrors, idly watching our hair being teased into submission by talented, long-suffering young women. Mine was being cut, and I was trying to avoid my fuzzy, unflattering reflection whilst listening to Linda chattering, when the door opened and in swept an angel.

She isn’t an angel, of course, but in that moment she might have been. Kerry, on her day off, couldn’t wait to share with her place of work the wonderful news of her engagement and how it came about over the weekend. As she stood with her back to the shop window, her face and hair – indeed everything about her – glowed with happiness. Who could not have responded to that widest of smiles, the flashing of little diamonds on her outstretched finger and the radiance of her mood? It was contagious. All of us shared the grins and the laughter which ensued.

Today, as I sort through photos of roses, I’m reminded of the joy of sensory things. This rose, 'Spirit of Freedom' is one I grew in my old garden in Mid-Devon. The fragrance was beautifully sweet and the shape of the flowers with their tightly-packed petals is - for a day or so - perfect.

A slightly paler pink is tinting our view of the garden this week as the ornamental Japanese Cherry gently glides into flower. It's been hinting at doing so for a couple of weeks, but today the show begins and I must share a couple of photos. I couldn't resist adding some 'blurring' to one photo, to highlight my own experience of it this year through these muddled eyes. In many ways the sight is quite interesting, although I hope by next year to have regained focus to both eyes... We'll see (quite literally... sorry!).



If you are afflicted by depression or simply feeling a little low, I recommend calling in at your local hairdresser's - you'll always find something to smile about.

I wish you a happy day, wherever you are, and especially all at Rachel's of Tavistock! (Names of the girls have been changed...)

Friday, 1 February 2019

NOT THE END OF THE STORY


The sunsetting of the platform Google+ where I have spent the last few years making many friends and contacts from around the world, is now imminent. Every day has brought little moments of joy viewing a myriad of beautiful photographs and reading posts both serious, humorous and sometimes sad. Strong friendships have blossomed, and will I hope continue but less easily than before. Life moves on, of course, but not without regret.

Turning to my own half-focussed vision, I have been slow to update you on the progress towards my second cataract operation because of a disappointing delay in obtaining a date.
A visit to the ophthalmologist at the hospital was both uplifting and depressing. This kind young man expressed a total understanding of my dilemma - one now-perfect eye, one distinctly poor short-sighted astignatic eye (did you spot the oxymoron there?) and brain overload! His appreciation of my slowed day-to-day skills was like a soothing balm. He then explained that an eighteen-week waiting list would be more difficult for me than others, but was the standard delay for a second cataract operation. It is assumed, wrongly in my case, that the first operation has made life so wonderful that there is no rush for the next. Well, life is always wonderful, but eighteen weeks, followed by another six-week recovery period, is a little daunting.
"Don't book your holiday," he told me, and "please don't drive!" I obey, glumly.

Snow has arrived in the garden, and all over Devon. Here, right under the corner of Dartmoor, we have been given a little protection from the worst snowfalls. It's achingly cold though, and harder to do things - especially in the garden. So instead I've been doing the things I can - a bizarre and short list: knitting, reading (large text), cooking and listening to the radio are immensely comforting asides to the undramatic slow pattern of my day-to-day run-of-the-mill chores. Reading the posts on Google+ will soon no longer be on that list. A new chapter opens, a new month begins and we all move closer to Spring.





Monday, 21 January 2019

ASTIGMATIC OBSERVATIONS: A RARE MOON

I was awake at 'stupid o'clock' this morning, snatched the camera and snapped away on various settings. They are by no means perfect, but here is a selection of my results. I was SO lucky to see it at all! The conditions were almost perfect: clear, cold skies; brilliant stars and hanging - strangely at odds with its companions, - this extraordinary rust-coloured globe.







I photographed what I could see for about one hour, and the last one was taken through the closed window as I was feeling the chill, hence the 'echo' effect. The sky was also beginning to mist over with streaks of cloud.


If you didn't manage to see this marvellous event, I hope you will enjoy my brief glimpses.

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

PASSING BRENTOR IN JANUARY


We took a different route to visit my brother earlier in the week, and it's one I love because it passes Brentor. Even in January the little church perched on the tor looks solid and reassuring, especially through the skeletal patterns created by the bare and lovely trees below. Brentor plays a cameo part in my writing, on a much more inclement day than this, and here is a little teaser: 

‘Earlier she had pulled up the hood of her coat, but rain was now dripping down off it on to her face and when she looked at Titus he was soaked, his hair plastered on to his scalp and his eyes screwed up against the newly-awakened wind. The fog was beginning to clear, but sheets of rain were creating a similar obscurity.
The mound of grass and granite rose up quite steeply, the walls of the church high above and beyond them disappearing into the grey mist. Without speaking they concentrated on their footsteps, walking and occasionally scrambling their way up the climbing path which wound around and back on itself. Eventually they stepped through an iron gateway into the churchyard area which surrounded the building. They staggered across to the church door, which was where fate held another little trick in store for them: the huge old wooden door, built to withstand centuries of exposure to the elements, was locked.’ Extract from ‘Stopping Time’ by P R Ford ©2018


The photo above shows a darker view from last March, as we returned from Okehampton in late afternoon. The church is recognisable from miles away.

Finally, a view of the moor beyond Brentor looking East. The glimpse of blue sky did not last, unfortunately, and our return journey saw a far gloomier Dartmoor. Wherever you are, enjoy your day!


Sunday, 13 January 2019

A CHANGE FROM GREY

My garden in January changes from day to day. There are almost monochrome mornings, blanketed in gloom, and then there are brief bursts of low sun which change everything. Here are some glimpses of colour to brighten your day:


   
The succulents are overwintering in the greenhouse, as are the gorgeous multicoloured pelargonium and the little viola. Outside the 'mop' heads of hydrangeas have dried to crisp Winter displays, still holding their own against the weather. I will cut them down once Spring arrives and the new shoots are safe from frost.




The sight of primroses is always heartwarming, and these have suddenly appeared - I'd forgotten they were tucked into this corner by the steps. 

  

My Hebe is still flowering despite some very cold nights, and its pretty pink colour shines out from the faded green leaves. The few roses I did not dead-head have rewarded both me and the birds with fat, juicy hips which glow in the sunlight. Finally, a surprise in the hanging baskets which I planted up very quickly in the Autumn for some colour - these plants are still flowering!

On the Home Front, I'm waiting for an examination of my 'new' eye this week, when I hope to hear how much longer I will have to wait for the second cataract operation. Meanwhile, I muddle on! I hope the photos will bring you some pleasure.