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Hello.

I'm Jane McIntyre, a voiceover and writer, formerly an award-winning BBC radio newsreader and producer. My blog covers life, love and loss; travel, coffee and chocolate; with some heartfelt pieces in the mix about my late dad, who had dementia. Just a click away, I'm half of the team behind www.thetimeofourlives.net - two empty nesters who whizzed round the world in 57 days.

Friday, 18 December 2015

Christmas: All Yule Need.




Most of the glossy women's magazines do it at this time of year. Seen them? Smug pictures of the beautiful people bragging that they've got Christmas 'all wrapped up'.

Party canapes, making one bottle of Cava go six ways, the perfect gift guide, the ideal LBD for your shape, and that vital Christmas Day hour by hour cooking countdown will all be there. Along with 'tantalising' glimpses into how the other half spend their big day, and some tips on 'making time for me'. (Just buy one in your life, and stash it away until next year because they don't change much.)

Or read this *.

1) Children's toys. Get them now. Got them? Check them, immediately. And secretly assemble them in the office, or up in the loft or somewhere. This advice comes to you after a decade of discovering, on Christmas morning, that toy kitchens, plastic play houses, ride-on horses, Barbie Jeeps and magical castles can take HOURS to put together. That's if the instructions are in English, and you have the time and the practical skills required. Trust me on this, or risk toddler tantrums, threats of walkouts, and cold turkey.

2) Christmas cards: Optional. Has it got to the stage where you have so many to write that it's become an RSI inducing ritual? Do you actually know the names of all the family members on the card you're writing this minute? Are you so tired and bored that your signature is just a GP's scrip-scrawl? Maybe think about making a donation to your favourite charity in lieu of cards instead. And while we're on the subject of cards, don't write 'catch up in the new year !!!' if you don't mean it. If you said it on last year's card, or they did, and you haven't... it ain't gonna happen.

3) Christmas cash - one year, me and my sister realised that we were just sending cash up and down the M1. I'd send her a voucher, she'd send me one of the same value. And then we'd send cash to each other's children. Each envelope cancelled out the one received. If the grown ups in your family really do have enough 'stuff'... maybe don't march around town aimlessly trying to find them a gift - just meet up for a fab meal out sometime soon, or make a donation to a charity that really needs the dosh?

4) Cooking. It has its place. And gives millions of people endless hours of pleasure. But if you're not one of them... ask for help. Assign tasks. Share the load. And... psssst. Christmas markets and festive fayres sell fanTASTic cakes and mince pies... so you don't have to bake unless you want to. Tradition can be fun. Seasonal rituals, slavishly adhered to, rarely are.

5) Turning up unannounced. Yep... there's every reason to invite friends and family round for a drink, a knees up, a meal, or more. Surprises really CAN be fun. But if it's the (not that interesting) couple you met on holiday five years ago who were 'just passing' (just as you're settling down for your favourite movie)... it's not that great. Don't be that couple. Check first.

6) Turning up unannounced... WITH BIG GIFTS. Has this happened to you, too? Not ONLY did they take us by surprise when the room was a complete bombsite with bits of toys, satsuma peel , broken nut shells, dog hair, plus fractious, overtired children, and sozzled, rosy faced adults with paper hats at a jaunty angle and waistbands loosened....but they did so armed with piles of presents that, like the guests, we really hadn't anticipated. Big, expensive gifts. Awkward? Very. Advice in these situations? a) Effusive thanks and honesty  b) Effusive thanks and shedloads of booze down their necks so they don't notice you're not reciprocating c) posting a small child on lookout so that you can turn off the lights if said couple approach. Not advised, as children have a habit of screaming 'but mummy, we ARE in...' just when you think you have it sussed. Ring first.

7) Working on the Big Day. Lots of people have to. All the blue lighters. People in hospitals. People in hospitality. People on the radio. So while Christmas is special, for lots of reasons.....don't beat someone up literally or metaphorically, if December 25 is 'another day at the office' for someone you love. See them another time.

8) The Food Shop. I remember one year, pre Christmas Sainsbury's was so crowded that the queues almost reached the back of the store. Most big chains have opened more tills, and got faster. But why risk it? a) do it now and stuff it in the freezer and b) are you *really* going to eat two trolley loads before the shops open again (often on Boxing Day) ? Do you need it all? I reckon we spend so much, and often waste so much on 'just in case' stuff. Cut back. Eat less. Give something to your local food bank, or have someone over who'd be eating alone.

9) Decorations. Do it your way. If a minimal, ice-white winter wonderland with everything matching floats your boat, go for it. Brrrr...but good luck. But if you opt to cover nearly every external brick in flashing, dancing lights, and you're keeping it that way until the new year, then good on you.It'll raise a smile.

10) Wrapping up presents. Ohhhhhh. So much fun when there's time. Such a toil when it's 1 am on Christmas day and the Sellotape's nearly finished. And all the tags have gone.I suppose it'd be easier to wrap stuff as you get it. But it's advice I never heed so... see you at the kitchen table at 1 am on Christmas morning, probably. Don't lose the end of the Sello, ta. Oh, and 'cheap' wrapping paper, isn't. It rips so easily that you need twice as much to go round the gift, so you might as well buy the more expensive, thicker stuff and stay calmer.

11) What Women Want. Don't be that man with the 'rabbit in the headlight' eyes in Marks and Spencer's lingerie department this Christmas Eve; grabbing anything that's left (often in festive red)  because 'she can always change it', and because you checked her cup fitting with the assistant who was 'about her size'. Ask her. And, while we're on the subject...ask HIM. He may not 'need' any more socks.

12) Santa Claus is coming to town... He will, and the look on your children's faces when they realise he's been, and has scoffed the mince pie and beer you left out... AND that Rudolph has chewed a couple of the carrots the kids selected for him... will stay with you forever, and make all the hard work worthwhile. And anyway... they help you see in the dark...

Have fun xx

*Yes it might look familiar. The advice stands though. And, frankly, if the glossy mags can recycle their festive advice year after year... so can I. Not least because I mention my blog only on Twitter (fleetingly and infrequently, honest...). And I have 2000 more followers this year, than last. Which is lovely. If you're one of them, have a Yule Blog. And thankyou for following. Do tweet me a hello sometime... so much easier than a Christmas card ;)

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Oh..for the love of Paris...


24 hours in Paris.

I had one day...and (nearly) all of one night before my Eurostar home.

There was time, in theory, to cram in some culture, see the sights, neck a cocktail and catch a can-can; an intoxicating city sharpener after a lazy few days in the Normandy countryside.

But a snooze on the train had been irresistible after my early start, so with tourist map still unfolded, I emerged like a sleepy mole at Montparnasse into blindingly bright spring sunshine; still not sure how to pace this trip.

My guidebook had scores of ideas on how to get a taste of the city--from bitesize to the whole damn baguette. With time ticking away; I considered a quick, double shot espresso, a quick sprint to the starting blocks, and following a suggested route.

And then I took a deep breath--of second hand smoke, mainly, but at that moment, it didn't matter. Looking around, you remember. Paris isn't an `all you can scoff` buffet, with the next sitting waiting in the wings. It might be busy and bustling; pacy and passionate. But it's a city to savour. Slowly.

So....I strolled across the station square for a lazy cafe au lait ; catching conversations, watching people watching me, watching them. Guide book packed away, I headed back across the square into the Tour Montparnesse for a better way of deciding what to see; where to go: its 56th floor viewing platform. A perfect panorama of Paris; which almost moved me to tears. Breathtaking; and on this gloriously sunny day, quite beautiful.

After a easy Line 12 ride to my hotel at Saint- Georges to leave my bag, I drank in the view from my window. Balconies, shutters, taxis, mothers taking chirruping children to the little park in the square across the way. I ambled up the Rue des Martyrs to find lunch and watch the world go by. Well..I tried.....through a little twirl of smoke from the man at the table next to mine. Somehow... it still didn't matter; didn't bother me; I was too busy watching a pair of local estate agents squeeze their Smartcars in to the tiniest space,together, at rightangles to the kerb.

Soon, because I'd caught a glimpse of its most famous church, I was heading up the hill to Montmartre  and the funicular car to the stunning Sacre Coeur, and yet another heartstopping view of the city below. I jumped on the Disney-esque little Montmartrain for its six euro tour; its toytown appearance strangely out of place as it bumbled past the Moulin Rouge and the sex shops.

More coffee stops followed as the afternoon turned into early evening. I watched lovers at neighbouring tables still languishing over their late lunches and each other...then, map still abandoned, dawdled through the cobbled streets and their little independent, boho shops, chatting with the owners; picking up treasures to take home, listening to live music on the corner of a square and wondering just how soon it might be decent to return.

Around 11, I was packed, showered, mellow and tired after my day of map-free meandering, and set my alarm in good time for my 5 am taxi.

Around 12.....the shrieking of the hotel's fire alarm; and the shrieking of an American woman, banging at my door for a coat before we dashed down the stairs. "It`s not so much the cold, " she said, as I handed her the duvet runner from my room. "It's the fact that I wear THIS in bed on a trip to Paris with my husband. If this is a fire and it makes it to CNN, all America's gonna know I sleep in "Hello Kitty"...`"

Luckily, there was no emergency; just someone having a sneaky cigarette in their hotel bedroom. Some smoke; no ire. It meant I got to stand out on a Paris street for a while, in trench coat, boots and...not much else, really, not *that* far from the Pigalle ; tweeting furiously to look busy, and trying not to shiver too much, or laugh too much at the cutely attired American lady. (Who says romance is dead?)

Soon after dawn; it was all aboard the Eurostar. We were four strangers round one table on the train...a couple of businessmen, and opposite me, a portly Frenchman with a newspaper, and a battered London A-Z, priced 3/6. I`m kind of hoping he didn't bother with his map, either.....


















Monday, 19 October 2015

Your own French hideaway---for under £60,000!




Hello--just to let you know our little French cottage is now on the market. Walks, wine, Paris by 9, and nestling in one of the prettiest corners of Normandy, close to the stunning Roche D`Oetre. Could be sold fully furnished and fitted ! If you`d like to find out more, or book a viewing, let me know, and please spread the word. Don`t forget that between stays, it`s also been rented out successfully--something you might want to consider. Just to give you a taste, here`s my blog offering you a little guided tour. Thanks for reading!




Fancy a last minute break to France--but don`t have time for a full week? Want somewhere that`s perfect for two-- comfy, tasteful, peaceful...and right in the heart of the Normandy countryside? Somewhere you can find gorgeous walks that start at the front door--but still within a short drive of ferries, shops, bars, markets, days out and the train to Paris?

Maybe you`re finding that holiday websites and property owners are scoffing at your idea to chuck everything into the car and head for the channel for a spontaneous few days away...especially with midweek start dates...with no notice at all.

Don`t worry. Here`s your hideaway. Almost everything you`ll need is here, waiting for you, so you can literally contact me....throw some clothes in a bag...and leave. That`s what I love to do, and if you`ve got a couple of days or more free and fancy staying here, get in touch. I only release selected weeks for rental on lettings sites to keep plenty more free for me....and friends and family.

Oh...and I`ll offer you Twitter mates` rates, and a discount code to use on Brittany Ferries.

So...come in....grab a glass of vino and a look around?

It`s a small, detached Normandy stone cottage, called Les Deux Sabots.
Probably something to do with the footwear the farm workers wore, way back when.There`s even a tiny pair of clogs nailed to the front door, as a reminder.
Vino veranda looking down on garden
Opens out into large double!
Wooden steps lead up to the main front door and to the tiny vino veranda where you can sit out and have a bottle or two, or a cup of coffee and a quiet read, and another set of steps, in stone,lead back down from this level into the garden.



Step inside the front door and you`re on the middle level of this three storey cottage. It`s a beamed and full height sitting room, with a large, open log fire and a basket of logs ready to use if it`s chilly, (plus two highly effective radiators--full central heating throughout.... ) a couple of comfy sofas,in cream/neutral shades, loads of cushions and throws, and a dining table overlooking gardens and apple orchards beyond.

One of the sofas opens out into a good size double bed, and you can curtain off this area if separate sleeping accommodation`s needed on this floor. There`s a television with both French and English satellite channels, maps, books, CDs and tourist guides.
Breakfast in bed...? Or at this end of your bedroom

There are open, twisting wooden steps up from the sitting room to a large, light, airy bedroom, with the same neutral shades and a few splashes of blue. 

At one end there`s the double bed, wardrobe and chest of drawers, and at the other end, a Velux window overlooking those garden and apple orchard views, plus a little sofa and a wicker chest , perfect for you to put your feet up and read, or rest your morning breakfast tray. 



Breakfast table in the kitchen
There`s another set of open, twisting wooden steps down from the sitting room into the beamed kitchen.  It`s a bit lower in height than the other two floors, but has everything you need...cooker and microwave, coffee maker, breakfast table and chairs, fridge and separate freezer, washing machine, tumble dryer, coat hooks and utility store, also the loo/shower room, and a lower door out into a tiny gravelled area and the lane beyond that. The cottage is cosy for couples, and a secret, spacious escape for solos but has had one or two adults plus a couple of kids too. Bear in mind that the steps make it unsuitable for toddlers or if you`re frail though--and the `feel` of the place is pretty open plan.
From the veranda down into a private, sunny garden




The garden, which is at the side of the cottage, is very private, with a parking spot and double gates opening onto the lane, and a little garden store under the stone steps with a barbecue and chairs and a parasol or two. On the other side of the cottage is a stone garage and log store. It`s on a quiet little lane with just five houses,one of them owned by the lovely Jacques and Annick, who keep an assortment of chickens, ducks and geese, and seem to be almost self sufficient in fruit and veg, like so many other families in rural French communities.


The lane leads straight into a network of footpaths and ramblers` routes--all just metres from the front door. Walkers, cyclists and horseriders amble past from time to time--some asking if they can rent the place, which is nice!

Breel`s bloomin` lovely--this was a cycling festival



The paths take you to some beautiful, breathtaking scenery with stunning views, woodland routes and the occasional beautiful house along the way, some of them thatched. Just up the road is the famous Suisse Normande beauty spot, the Roche D`Oetre--you can stand on the cliff top and gasp at the sheer drop below and hear the rushing waters of the River Rouvre. Then scoff an ice cream at the restaurant/coffee shop adjoining the tourist centre there.



The cottage is in the pretty village of Breel. It boasts a collection of stone houses and cottages, the Mairie`s (mayor`s) office with the French flag flying proudly outside, and the most beautiful 16th century Church--the perfect place to visit and cool down on a hot summer`s day. Your fresh croissants and crusty baguettes (and a pastry or two for later...) are just a few minutes` drive away in the village of Segrie Fontaine, where there`s also a butcher`s shop, a little convenience store (avec vino, naturellement....) a hardware shop, a village school and church, and more lovely views.

I-spy a bar...in historic Falaise 


There are other little villages close by, offering a pizzeria and a couple of bars, and a beautiful cider farm run by a young family. You can buy apple and pear cider here--it`s great to support them and brilliant to bring home a bottle or even a box or two for your friends. When you need supermarkets , the bigger towns of Flers and Falaise are only 15-20 minutes drive away.





Falaise is particularly rich in Normandy history--its castle with strong William the Conqueror connections is well worth a visit. The railway station  at Flers takes you off to the coast in one direction (an easy beach day out at Granville) or straight into Paris if you head east. There`s a train around 7am from Flers which gets you to the capital around 9--plenty of time for a warm croissant, strong coffee and an entire day out in this fabulous city. Oh and the parking`s free all day at Flers as well.
Fromage at one of the great shops in nearby Flers

Both of those towns, and plenty of others,such as Conde Sur Noireau, have vibrant,bustling markets which are perfect for fresh fish, meat, fruit, veg, spices, pastries, cakes and most things you`ll need to rustle up a French feast. Delicious.

Frites with your mussels? Honfleur is a beautiful day out 


 The cottage is also well placed for visits to the cities of Caen and Rouen, Monet`s Giverny, (art fan? Check out Normandy`s Impressionists festival this summer!).... the Normandy landing beaches, dotted with stark, chilling reminders of conflict,the classy, chic coastal towns of  Honfleur (above), Deauville and Trouville, and further south, the chateau studded Loire Valley.


If it`s spring and summer, check out a vide grenier or two, the French equivalent of a car boot sale (a different kind of clutter...really good fun to browse and haggle...). Most have coffee and hot, barbecue style food stalls with tables for a lunchtime re-fuel. Occasionally there`ll be a band playing too, and even a little impromptu dancing...!

Pastries on board your Brittany Ferry (discounts available!)
Breel`s within an hour of the ferry port at Caen-Ouistreham, with an excellent Brittany Ferries service to Portsmouth (ask me for a discount code if you`re thinking of staying here, so you can get a quote online), or you might prefer to book the shorter, cheaper crossing from Dover to Calais and drive down to Normandy. You can choose dates and length of stay.....from a night or two, to a leisurely few weeks--and there`ll be a couple of bottles of wine waiting for you on the kitchen table.You won`t find the cottage on loads of holiday websites because just enough bookings to cover some bills and my vino/ fromage habit will do nicely, thankyou.

If you`re not there,I almost certainly will be: out in the garden reading a book, walking the local footpaths, catching some rays in the garden or getting a shot of city culture in Paris. Book a break? Bet you`ll  love it as much as I do. 


Want to find out more? www.romanticnormandycottage.co.uk

@normandycottage on Twitter
@janemcintyre12   on Twitter
writerjane17@hotmail.com

Or call me: 07791 669889













Thursday, 16 July 2015

Getting the Dyno Rod man to park your car. And other confessions.


I guess I should feel some shame, here. But I don`t.

I'd identified a parking spot roughly twice the length of my (tiny) car. (So...not *that* big.)

I'd given it my best shot: First swerving in backwards, quite speedily, with confidence. Then realising it was a hopeless angle, and repeating the manoeuvre; slightly more gingerly. And again.

I'd tried sighing heavily and starting from scratch; and using the tried and trusted (ha) "one inch forward; one inch back" approach.

And I'd also tried the "aww feck it" method; ending up roughly parallel to the pavement and deciding that was good enough. Even if it was still "three feet away" from the kerb.

I would've walked away and got on with my life at that point, if hadn't been for the muffled snorting of my two daughters. They were18 and 24 at the time, and both excellent drivers. The eldest freely admits she couldn't parallel park if her life depended on it. And the youngest (the one who confidently negotiated a tight and slippy sequence of icy mountainside chicanes on the road from Geneva to a ski chalet earlier this year...) (yes; my knuckles were whiter than the Mont Blanc snow...) strangely declined my invitation to complete the parking task herself. (It may not have sounded quite that polite, at the time....)

Instead, she hopped out to "guide me in" ; before giving up and (resourcefully, I thought....) asking the blokes in the Dyno Rod van in front of us if they could just (for the love of God...) move forward an inch or two so that we (I) could fit in the space.

I didn't give a damn, frankly, that the driver got out of his van with a leer; and half jokingly, offered to park the car for us. I didn't care a fig that his mate also got out, to watch the spectacle. I guess, probably, that all three of us should have felt a sense of shame, at failing miserably to have parked one of the smallest cars on the streets, but no, nothing. I leapt out, ushered him into the driving seat; watched him nearly stall (ha...) as he discovered yet another grinning daughter in the back seat, and timed him as he slotted the Citroen into the space. (Yeh, ok, about 2.1 seconds. Very approximately. Give or take).

It made me think about other stuff I probably *should* feel ashamed about. Like walking the entire length of a world renowned hospital's corridor in odd shoes; in two different heights, because I'd been in a rush that morning, and hoping people would assume I was a patient with a limp, rather than the press officer there. (Actually, I do feel a bit ashamed about that)

Or selecting a particularly plump piece of rocky road to have as my reward after an hour's session at running club tonight. And annihilating it within ten minutes of arriving home this lunchtime. Yeh, OK..that was bad.

But letting my daughters watch a complete stranger park my car because I'd failed?

No shame. I reasoned it was part of  a vital life lesson for them. Learn to park, ffs, or learn to laugh at your limitations. And never be afraid to ask for help (even if there are two, supersmug Dyno Rod geezers chortling all the way home .) Oh. And if you need cake, at any given point in your lives....just eat it.

Lessons in life. (Just laugh)









Saturday, 13 June 2015

Kylie, Lulu and me.





Remember the Commonwealth Games closing ceremony? Kylie, in her thigh-highs; Lulu rockin` those tartan leggings? There`s not much between them height-wise; but hell--they`re twenty years apart. And, as Twitter so generously acknowledged during the proceedings, they`re both ageing so damn well.

I studied them on stage, shoulder to shoulder, belting out Auld Lang Syne, and reasoned, without the slightest soupcon of bitterness, that it`s probably easier to look that good if you`ve got great genes, a whole team of stylists, a limitless budget and your own range of beauty products.

But then...imagine the stress of having your name, like Lulu does, on a range of goodies called `Time Bomb`. You`d have to look incredible every time you went out. If you even put the bins out sans slap, some snapper would catch your crows` feet and send `em viral in a nanosecond. Not that either of them has got crows` feet of course. (Yeh, c`mon.Whoever said life was fair?)

Either way, for the rest of us...drifting numerically somewhere in between the two songbirds, getting older has the potential to be a bit depressing. You can`t get away with wearing anything you like any more. Keeping fit takes more effort, especially on the days your trainers look up at you, sideways, and say:`You`re going out running? Seriously?` The tubes of `age defying` moisturiser seem to empty faster. And...OK...heads don`t (always) turn like they used to.

You can get glum about it. Or you do what I try and do. And spin it.

So...every time you feel down about your DoB; dwell, for a moment on people in the news; or on people you`ve loved and lost, who`d have given anything to reach the age you`re at now.

Remind yourself that while age might be a real thing that occasionally laughs, hyena-like at you, from that yellowing birth certificate in the drawer, it`s really a state of mind. In your head, you`re still 18, yeh? OK...27. Well, you know...

Your mother told you to always tell the truth, but she didn`t mean about the age thing. Really. Until you hit the zone where you`re proudly calling radio stations and saying `I`m 86, you know...`; lie a little. If no eyebrows are raised, you`ve got away with it.

Either that or the person you`re lying to has had Botox. Ha.

Have a lovely day :)

PS: Ever thought about what it means to act your age? Take a look?

And ...do you talk on Twitter? How old is everyone else you talk to? One day I asked. And they fessed up :









Thursday, 11 June 2015

Dementia..or dating? : the choice isn`t yours


Two ladies; both out for coffee; each with a companion. The one on my right was probably late seventies. Neat grey hair; polished nails, car keys in the pocket of the dusky pink bodywarmer on the back of her chair--an Audrey, probably. She talked animatedly to a lady of a similar age about a new gentleman friend. He was `on a lot of committees`; a widower, who`d loved to go dancing with his late wife. He`d told her they `both deserved some fun and some friendship, now ,` and she`d agreed. In fact--talk had turned to holidays; a cruise together, maybe. The friend nodded; made approving noises; pointedly stirring her latte in a lull as you might a wind-up radio...egging her on; keeping the confidences coming.

`Dolly` was a few tables away to my left, and a few years ahead; her wheelchair tucked in tight. The young woman opposite called her Nan, and gently encouraged her to try a corner of her scone, dabbed enticingly with butter and jam. The older lady`s expression hardly changed as she ate; almost obediently. No voice was heard. Her thoughts seemed locked away; her eyes, distant, as Dad`s had become, in the later stages of his Alzheimer`s, in the days when he could still just remember how to eat; and sip from an open cup.

Audrey favoured a route that took in Sicily, or somewhere like that, but they`d only just started looking.The onboard facilities these days were incredible. So, too, cabins with a balcony, but they cost a bit more. A pause; then a neat deflection of the inevitable question to follow: offering to pop up for a piece of flapjack for them both, and another drink--her treat; anyway, they had half an hour on the car park ticket.

Dolly was being encouraged to pick up her paper napkin and blot a splodge of raspberry jam from her chin; no, up a bit; no, hang on; her granddaughter would come round. Dolly leaned her face back and closed her eyes, childlike; trusting, as her skin was wiped clean; roles reversed.

Audrey edged past, tray laden with more coffee; the promised treats; a morsel more about the mystery man, maybe, for her waiting friend.

I got up to pay, needing, somehow, to connect with Dolly and her carer as I passed their table. It`s been a year since Dad died and I`ve avoided even glancing at people with dementia...it`s hurt too much. I knew what a major effort it must have been to get Dolly ready; to explain to her what the morning had in store. And I knew, for both of them, what the months ahead have in store for them, too. My throw-away comment about the delicious scones in this place was met, as I guessed it would be, by a blank expression from Dolly; food consumed five minutes ago, forgotten. She turned, instead, to the familiar, for now, face of her granddaughter, and told her they probably needed to go back and get ready for bed.

A look back as I left, took in Audrey`s friend, agog now, stirring her coffee briskly; excitedly, to a stiff froth. And Dolly being told gently that she was just confusing night and day again; the way she did sometimes.

Two people.Two parallel lives. And how they can diverge, for all of us, with one roll of the dice.



+I wrote about Dad`s dementia pretty much all the way through its progression, to his death last year. Please click on the `Dad has dementia` link on the right hand column for more. Or click on the other stuff...about chocolate, or holidays, or being a TV extra....or that French bloke on the beach in Nice. Thanks for dropping by!


Comments on Twitter: Thanks for these, and the retweets :)

This is a lovely post. And the last sentence sums it all up. x

Beautifully observed, Jane ....


So concise & poignant, it might be a short story, via

Isn’t it wonderful? The juxtaposition of the two fit and able ladies with the dementia sufferer works so well.

Yes - I read this when you tweeted it earlier & can't stop thinking about it. Incredibly effective


Monday, 18 May 2015

Love, pride and a dad with dementia





He was only about three; a bright eyed little boy,clearly bursting with news.

Alongside him, his mum, in comfy tracky bottoms, walking gingerly. And his dad, holding a baby car seat containing a tiny bundle which was wrapped in a pale lemon blanket.

As he got closer to the bench where I was sitting, he wrenched his hand away from his dad`s, and ran up to me.

`See that?` he said, jabbing a little finger back towards the car seat.`THAT...is my new baby sister. I`m a big brother now. And I LIKE it!`

It turned out that little Emma was just one day old, and that the menfolk were there to collect her, and mum, from the maternity unit.

I waved at him as they drove away, his eyes still gleaming with excitement and pride, then finished my sandwich, soaked up the sun for a few more minutes, and headed back inside. I skipped the lift and climbed the four flights of stairs back to Dad`s ward, well aware that it was one way of extending my `lunch break` ; knowing a tricky six or seven hours still lay ahead.

You couldn`t get a bigger contrast between baby Emma`s ward and this one, I mused, as I walked back down to his room. One nurtures new life, forms families, full of future hopes and dreams. A lifetime and four corridors away, and you`re in`Geriatrics`. The care`s just as tender; the `customers` just as needy in their way, but time`s ticking by. Life`s ebbing away. Your heart can feel heavy here.

Some patients here today, like Dad, have dementia. The disease is like a giant eraser, rubbing out their lifeskills, one at a time. Independence? Deleted. Speech? Silenced. Mundane tasks? A muddle. Cutlery`s confusing; even families seem unfamiliar . This is no place for planning; surely. No place for pride?

And then, as I sit beside him, he looks again at the framed picture of his grand-daughters. And we talk about what they`re doing, and how much they love him.



I know he hasn`t held a pen for weeks; won`t touch the watercolours or sketching pencils he once drew deftly with. But I suggest it anyway. A note, maybe, for Alice. I could deliver it tomorrow, I tell him.

I busy myself in my magazine, aware that he`s moving towards the pen and pad. Moments later, he turns to me, that smile back in his eyes. `There`, he says, gesturing towards the book.

It`s a note to Alice. Personal, and loving. Just one sentence long; with words she`ll cherish for a lifetime.

Later, when the nurses come in, I tell them about it. They`re surprised, and thrilled. And I guess my eyes are gleaming a bit too. With tears that something so simple is even newsworthy. And pride--lots of pride-- that he managed it.



Dad died in May last year, peacefully at home....and the happy memories are still with us!


COMMENTS:


fabulous blog Jane - cherish the moments - they're so few as that cruel disease progresses - but so very precious xx

only really afterwards do u truly appreciate how special each "moment" was + the effort it took the person to achieve it xx

thanks for sending that to us, it is a really moving post.


Jane its great to see such positivity. That will be a treasured note:)




Love it :)

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thank you Jane for sharing this with us. A fab blog which has truly moved me. You are a very special lady keep smilingXx

Very moving, beautifully written, thank you I think wld appreciate too



  1. thanks for retweeting my blog.Much appreciated.
  2. pleasure. Work with people with dementia.


    hold on to that moment. So special. Lost my dad 10 months ago today after 10 years of Alzheimer's.


    pleasure - i had a lump in my throat reading it x





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    such a lovely post thankyou, treasure the good times, such a difficult disease x


    1. hi jane just read your blog & next thing im blubbering away like I dont know what, but know only too well what it feels like
    2. hi Allan. Aww sorry to make you cry but thankyou for reading it and tweeting me. Tough road ahead.
    3. its a very tough road indeed but seeing the good things hopefully far outweigh the bad,



      1. just read with much interest, my mom had dementia, it was hard to see memories fade, but sometimes funny too. I miss her :)
      2. thankyou for reading it. I'm sorry you lost your mum, and in such a sad way x
      3. Thank you it's a long old road but one some must take, I'm glad I was able to go with her,as hard as it was. I wish you well


        Got a friend with a father in similar situation. It's those little moments that she cherishes!






        1. Noting memories sufferers tell you about, for them to read, also helps to evoke further memories from them.

        2. Good idea. Last week we covered WW1, being sent down mines at 14, + being a royal bodyguard.Oh and Turner art

          ..I`ll write some notes and we`ll try those again on Wednesday. Thankyou.

          Thank you - and so true. The juxtaposition with new life very powerful