Life with a new hip

Untitled.pngHere I am with another up-date on my life as a retiree with a new hip and some ideas for all new members to the ‘Early Retirement Club’!

Three months post op and I am doing much better and getting around quite well – ache-clipart-12finally!! I still have pain climbing stairs, getting up from a sitting position and in bed at night. I also have quite a lot of discomfort when I sit for a long time and the top of my thigh is very sensitive to touch and the groin is painful when I exercise, so still a way to go yet before I feel fully recovered. I am told that this could take up to 12 months. Also, I am happy to hear now that many people who have had a hip replacement have not had an easy time of it either so that is reassuring. To those of you suffering some pain after this kind of operation, or indeed those who are going to have the op, ask for physio and hydro therapy post op. I have found that the hydro therapy has helped a great deal and I should NOT be sitting here right now writing this but should be making the effort to go to the swimming pool to do my own exercises!! Such effort!! This is what has happened to me for having had two or three yeas of pain and not being able to move much because of it. I have lost motivation. I have put on weight! Everything becomes too much of an effort. Clothes don’t look good on me anymore so I don’t bother to dress up. It’s time to act! Get my motivation back to get up and go. So how am I going to tackle this?

cooltext257186758227341  Treading the Boards. It’s back to the theatre! Nothing like a bit of escapism to enhance my daily routine, considered by Freud as a necessary element in the life of humans and I quote ‘(They) cannot subsist on the scanty satisfaction they can extort from reality’ What would you choose to do as a bit of escapism? Don’t think about it too much just go ahead and do it. The pleasure of being retired is being able to pick and choose as you wish. If you find it’s not for you, then move on. As a member of the Neath Little Theatre  I directed Steel Magnolias in March which I thoroughly enjoyed and am now looking forward to directing my next play in the near future. In the meantime I helped front of house with The Vicar of Dibley in May and will be involved with the next production in October. The October Production is Goodnight Mr. Tom by Michelle Magorian.

21232021_1822669147750468_8811973861538469969_nThe book has now become a modern classic. It is an uplifting story set during the dangerous build up to the Second World War and follows a young evacuee, William Beech, who has been housed with an elderly recluse, Tom Oakley, in a an idyllic English countryside village. The two forge a remarkable and heart warming friendship and all is well until William is suddenly summoned by his mother back to London. We will be giving opportunities for our talented younger members to get on stage and strut their stuff. Break a leg to them all. Come and see the production. You will not be disappointed!

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cooltext257186863838178 Lose a bit of weight. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to be skinny thin and I know it is supposed to be much more difficult for women of a certain age to lose weight, but I must lose a few pounds to get back into the clothes that are hanging lifelessly and forlorn in my wardrobe. I am NOT going out to buy a new wardrobe of clothes to fit this new frame so, I am cutting out sweet things  (not alcohol, I hasten to add!) and am trying this Eight Hour Diet! Check this site out! I’m going to give it a go. I have been doing it now for 6 days and I have lost 3 lbs. I have to tell you that I am a master of diets. I have tried every diet under the sun over the years (the most memorable for people around me being the Cabbage Soup diet. Enough said)  and they have all worked in their own way. I had the best results with Slimming World and I think that’s a great way to lose weight healthily but right now I am not ready to join a group with a weekly meeting so I am going to give this 8 Hour thing a try. If you know anything about it, are doing it or have done it please let me know what you think!  Ah! I am looking at the clock and my eating window is now open. 11am now so I can eat until 7pm. Just going to make some tea and toast with peanut butter!! Excited!!!!

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My breakfast for today!

I found this info about Peanut butter on toast on Livestrong.com. Interesting!!

Peanut butter spread over a slice of toast makes a healthy start to your day or a light lunch. The calories are low enough to work into your daily goals without ruining your diet. Plus peanut butter and whole-grain toast are packed with protein, fiber and nutrients.

Calories in Toast

As long as you don’t choose a higher-calorie bread, such as potato bread, most types of bread have about the same calories. One slice of toasted whole-wheat bread has 76 calories, while a slice of toasted white bread contains 79 calories. Whole-grain bread is the healthier choice because it has three times more fiber.

Peanut Butter

Most types of peanut butter — chunky, smooth, reduced fat or fortified — all contain about 188 calories in a 2-tablespoon serving. However, omega-3-enriched peanut butter has 195 calories in the same portion. Reduced-fat varieties often have more carbohydrates, which replaces the calories lost from fat.

I love peanut butter on toast! The problem is when you have trouble with mobility it is so much easier to stay in, be sedentary and move slowly and gently rather than exercise and move with some urgency. Where I used to once walk to the local shop I started taking the car. I would also decide to go for a walk and find half way into the walk, when it was equally as far to arrive at the destination as it was to get home, I would need to wait for a bus or indeed, call for a taxi to take me back home due to the pain and discomfort I felt, so it was inevitable that the weight would begin to pile on!! I’ll give any weight loss programme a go!

cooltext257395536540506exercise!!! So it’s back to the health club for me. I feel such a sense of shame when I think of that substantial amount of money leaving my account each month to pay for my health club membership which I don’t use! I keep thinking of cancelling it and then my ‘other’ self says not as I will go back again one day especially once the children have returned to school and it’s quiet there again! (I have been saying this since last Christmas, I might add here) Our health club (once Virgin now David Lloyd) has an outside poolwhich is wonderful but during the holidays and after 4pm  it can get very busy and that’s the last thing a retiree like me wants after having spent a career surrounded by active children!!  BUT this week  will see my return. A few hours in the club. I will swim, do water exercises, followed by the steam room, then tea and toast in the conservatory which has been refurbished by all accounts and home. It sounds perfect. Now to muster up the energy and motivation to do it!

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And finally I am happy to say that I am once again beginning to get back into the general everyday routine  of retired life. I will resume, flower arranging classes and ukulele class, I am taking part in a Murder Mystery evening (tickets still available) next week, back to Book Club and taking strolls along the beach before a hearty lunch with friends and family! Oh! The joys of retirement are here again. Yeah!!!

 

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Ups and Downs

cast and crew.jpg2017 started so well with my delightful trip to Barcelona (see previous post)  and then the beginning of rehearsals for Steel Magnolias. I was blessed with a wonderful cast and crew and it was an exhilarating feeling to be back at the Neath Little Theatre and involved in my first directorial production in almost 12 years. So it was full steam ahead.

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My fabulous cast 

Steel Magnolias is a beautiful play. It was a great film but in my opinion, the play is a better option. The film is a watered down version of the play in that we meet many different characters and visit a variety of locations. In the play we meet the 6 main characters only and the story develops from the conversations that take place in one setting. We learn about their relationships with their partners, families and friends from the sometimes hilarious conversations they have while assembled at Truvy’s Hair Salon in Chinquapin Parish, Louisiana on a Saturday morning. The action unfolds here. We are the onlookers as these ladies prepare themselves for the social events of their lives: weddings, funeral, parties. Here they are applying their public faces while at the same time revealing their very private selves by confessing their deepest fears, greatest hopes and heaviest burdens. It is a beautiful play – a bittersweet, tragicomedy, fulfilling experience. If you get the opportunity to catch a production in your area, then do so  and don’t let anyone say that it is a play for women only. Men need to see this play, too!

My wonderful set courtesy of Paul and Lee and thank you to Tony of Nine Croft Road and Celtic Prop Hire for the props.

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Towards the end of the rehearsal time, I ironically found myself embroiled  in a tragic drama all of my own. It was a Saturday evening at the end of February at 11:30pm. I was comfortably catching up on Series 2 of Broadchurch and could hear what I believed to be  the doors banging upstairs, caused, as I thought at the time, by a draught due to the open windows in the bedrooms. When the banging became a nuisance I decided to resolve the problem once and for all by pausing Broadchurch, climbing the stairs and closing all open windows.  I reached the landing only to find the upstairs bathed in a golden light which I couldn’t fathom for the life of me. Looking out of the  bathroom window I discovered that the golden light was coming from huge, raging orange flames shooting out of the camper van and the car. They were both ablaze. This caught me completely off guard and very slowly panic started to creep in. I couldn’t quite comprehend what was happening. Instinct made me rush for the phone, dial 999 and get the fire engine to the house as soon as humanly possible.  I could not begin to imagine what would happen next!! There was banging, popping, fizzing and all sorts of firework sounds coming from the scene!! The flames were stretching higher and higher and there was NOTHING I could do! After what seemed like an eternity the engine arrived only to find that it couldn’t get down to the house from the top of our drive and therefore the hose had to be unravelled, attached to a hydrant and dragged some 150 yards to the vehicles. Barred from going outside the back door, I sat helplessly at my kitchen table in despair! By 3am, the fire was out and the shock of the evening set in. A sobbing me thanked the police and the firefighters for their efforts and away they went leaving me grieving pitifully the loss of by life companions. For those who read my blogs and know me, you will know that my van, aka Vin Diesel, has been a prominent feature in our lives over the past 18 months and now, he was gone!! Gone!

I was heartbroken. I am still hertbroken. The van was also packed ready for our next trip. Camping equipment, awning, tables chairs, bedding, karting overalls, helmets, winter coats, clothes, jackets, you name it – it was in the van. The car was also reasonably packed with clothing, bedding, chairs, duvets, pillows and things that are just left in a car! All gone up in flames.  Seeing them both in ruins was so difficult. Watching them being towed away was heart wrenching. The fire caused damage to the driveway, the electric cables, my hot tub and the guttering and windows of the house, but thankfully, nobody was hurt and we were lucky to get away relatively lightly.

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van 5  van 7van 6  van 4

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Two months down the line I am still vanless. The insurance companies have been wonderful and peace has been restored. However, I miss my dear little van so much. I drive around in my new car and see VW campers cheerfully zipping down the roads heading for fun holidays and feel such a pang of longing. I am keeping an eye out for a new one as I have become accustomed to  being a proud and happy ‘Dubber’ so, as they say, watch this space.

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The best is yet to come. I’m retired! 

 

The Prima Donna Years

Good afternoon. We are now well into October  and having a beautiful week here during my favourite season! ‘ Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’  to quote Keats. The poem, Ode to Autumn, by the way, according to the Guardian, is apparently the most anthologised English poem.

I am now getting ready for another project! Directing a play!! I have recently been having a hankering after a past that did not materialise! I have always wanted to be an actress  or work in theatre – well I did when I was a teenager! I would spend hours locked in my room playing the part of great tragic heroines. I would make up words as I went along and my characters were mostly based on films I’d watched or historic characters I had read about or heard about at school! In reality, the most tragic part about the whole thing was that I would think of all kinds of sad things to make myself cry while acting out the paInn_of_the_Sixth_Happiness-1958-MSS-poster-5rts before my death!! The greatest part I played to my audience of no one was that of Gladys Aylward after watching the film ‘Inn of the Sixth Happiness’! Oh my, how I protected those children from the shootings and saved them all by covering as many of them as I could using my body as their protective armour, huddled right there, on my bedroom floor!  And then the denouement –  my strapping, strong, tanned, handsome love interest, having been made aware of the shooting, would find me draped over the surviving children and take me in his strong, warm arms whispering words of love, tears pouring down his grief-stricken face as I smile at him and breathe my last breath! Waaah!

And then there was the true story of the very brave Violette Szabo, portrayed in the 1958 220px-carvehernamepridefilm ‘Carve Her Name with Pride’ which is based on her life working for the Special Operations Executive during World War II as a spy. Violette subsequently was captured, tortured and executed by the Germans. I threw myself heart and soul into that role, feeling her pain and her fear, and would recite with great passion, the poem used in the film as the passing on of secret codes, to whoever would listen!! And here it is:-

The life that I have
Is all that I have
And the life that I have
Is yours.
The love that I have
Of the life that I have
Is yours and yours and yours.
A sleep I shall have
A rest I shall have
Yet death will be but a pause.
For the peace of my years
In the long green grass
Will be yours and yours and yours.

By Leo Marks

Other heroines I acted our were Anne Boleyn after watching the film  3726101  Anne of a Thousand Days 7 times. Kneeling on the old footstool in my bedroom with my hair tied up and speaking words of comfort to my executioner and just longing and hoping and waiting for Richard Burton to barge into the room in his knee length dress and fur cape, halt the execution and wrap me in his arms and carry me away on horseback  to the palace where I would be reunited with Elizabeth and change history forever, but of course that was not to be! And then there was Joan of Arc but I changed the end of her story due to my fear of fire!!

And so, back to present day and reality! When I felt strong and well enough I returned to Neath Little Theatre (NLT) my local amateur dramatic company. I have been a member since the early 90s but with the birth of my son and promotion at work, it got more and more difficult to keep being involved and therefore I took a 7 year gap – but now I’m back!! In December last year I helped out witdancingh a production of Dancing at Lughnasa which was performed in March and ran for a week, then I directed my own short one act play, Bar and Ger by Geraldine Aron.  poster

 

 

Now I have committed to directing Steel Magnolias in March next year and have already begun working on it. There is so much to cover when directing a play and the standards at NLT are very high so no pressure! I need to begin by sorting out the cast, the set, the production team, auditions, and then of course rehearsals and costumes etc etc I am really looking forward to it and have plenty of time these days to give it my all. The play will run for a week at the beginning of March! It may seem ages to go yet but it will be upon us in no time so what am I doing sitting here telling you all about it while I should be at my desk sorting out auditions for next week!!

Enjoy your journey and we will meet up again soon at the next Pit Stop!

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Last Night the DJ Saved my Life

PaulBack in March I was introduced to a very remarkable man, Paul Johnson. I had gone to a fundraising evening for another remarkable little person, Jacob Phillips. Jacob is now 3 years old but he was born with a form of cerebral palsy and needed a life-changing operation out in St. Louis in America. His parents and grandparents are very good friends of mine and I have beejacobn actively attending fundraiser activities for Jacob over the past year. In fact, my son raised over a £1000 by doing a sponsored swim for him way back when the fundraising activities first begun. So proud of him! They needed to raise £70,000 to cover the operation and follow-on treatment and are well on target thanks to the generosity of  people out there. We hear enough about the bad that goes on in the world but the good out weighs the bad by a multitude!  By the way, you can check out Jacob’s Journey and read his story here  or follow his progress on Face Book.

Let’s get back to the evening. Paul and I ended up sitting on the same table at the fundraising evening. As we got talking I realised that Paul couldn’t see me. Paul was born without sight, but despite this he is a DJ on a local radio station and spends his spare time collecting for charity having done everything from sponsored walks to even driving a car (off road of course) to raise money for worthy causes. He is constantly promoting local talent on his radio show and has a huge following. Read about Paul’s visit to the Paul O’Grady show here.

 

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During the evening we talked about all manner of things and I mentioned that I was assistant director of a play that was soon to open at my local AmDram theatre, Neath Little Theatre. I was invited on to Paul’s show to promote the play and the theatre, which I eagerly accepted. It was a great experience and incredible to see Paul at work. I was amazed at the studiodj – quite state of the art considering how small it is, very professional with some great people there. I instantly knew that I wanted to be a part of it! Having never done anything like ‘Djing’ in my life before, I was offered training by Mike, the station manager, and I now find myself on air once a week with Mike on the Breakfast Show and loving every minute of it! I will be hosting my own slot in September for 6 weeks on a Wednesday afternoon from 1pm – 3pm covering for one of our DJs who is off to Australia for a visit. So as I said way back at the beginning of the blog, we are never too old to try new things!

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