Friday, 30 September 2016

Days Of Gratitude - A Confidence Boost, Two Choirs, And A Dinosaur Adventure

I think I can be proud of myself.  When I consider how things went on September 20th and then look at what I achieved on September 21st.  I've had bad days in the week since then - several bad days that are in part my own fault for pushing myself too hard to do something unwise.  In the space of a week I've had three days on which I couldn't get out and two days on which going out led to difficulties.

But the confidence boost mentioned still holds.  I am absolutely bright about the future and absolutely certain that I will be able to do more than I imagined.  I am also very pleased that I'm not basing this on an obsessive enthusiasm but on a bit of insight into how I function and how I dysfunction.

A while ago I was hoping to do something and it was something important to me.  But I pulled out because I didn't think I would be able to do any of it.  In part that was my mental health going through a bad phase.  In part it was panic at the thought of each aspect of it.  In part - Amanda thinks, probably correctly - it was demand avoidance.  No, I haven't got PDA but I can see similarities between that diagnosis and the way my head words.

What September 21st teaches me, alongside experiences in Edinburgh and a few other things recently, is that I can be involved with this project.  It's not my baby any more.  I passed it on to others.  But there is space for me to be involved.  It took everything in my mental power to even get to the first meeting of this project.  As the second meeting approaches I am firing not on all cylinders yet but on many of them and I know - yes, I know, that I can do a lot more than I thought.  I've just got to convince the world of this!

September 21st

Grateful for the confidence boost in the morning when attending a training session about autism which I was in no way entitled to attend. Yep, I completely wasn't meant to be there! Photo was taken afterwards.

And grateful to just about still have the mental ability to get out later and sing. Looking forward to the next rehearsal if I can make it.  [yes, I could make it. It was last night and it was excellent.]

September 22nd

Grateful to have got some jobs done, some of which have been waiting to be done for a long time. Part of my executive function skill problems means that things don't get done. It's not laziness. And it's not procrastination. I always thought it was. Grateful to have discovered that there's actually a reason why my brain is like it is. Grateful that discovery means that in time I can find realistic ways of dealing with it all and so function a lot better.

The photo represents electricity. One of the jobs was switching our energy supplier. I knew we weren't on the best tariff from our old supplier, the Cooperative. But I didn't know just how rubbish it was. The prediction is, if we use exactly the same amount of energy in the next year as the last year, switching will save us just over £700.

I am pleased. And also shocked to have been paying nearly £60 a month more than we needed. Every single day I delayed and wasn't up to doing the job cost us nearly £2. Blimey!

September 23rd

Grateful to have got lots of jobs done including writing a pretty stonking follow up email from autism training on Wednesday.

Grateful to have gone and sung in the evening with people I've never sung with before. I don't know whether I will again but it was worth doing.

Also grateful that my mental health assessment went well and she is going to at least try to refer me somewhere that might be of some earthly use to me. CBT is NOT a possibility. Hoorah.

The photo is the only one taken in the day. It's not good! Jesmond in bad light on the way to the singing.

September 24th

Grateful to have known that it was okay to leave something in the morning when I wasn't coping well.

Grateful that this left time to take Blob Thing and Winefride on an adventure.

They had a wonderful time and didn't get eaten.

And having completely mucked myself up later in the day, grateful for a decision about self care - assuming I can manage to stick to it for once.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Day Of Gratitude - The Writers' Cafe And A Whole Heap Of Honesty

I am proud of myself.

Because this was a very difficult day.  And yet I still managed to do some things and to do them well.  And even though it was so hard and my brain was not recovered I managed to do things the next day that surprised me and gave me real confidence boosts.  I was going to include all those good things in this post but they'll have to wait until the next post because this one came out differently to expectations.  I hadn't meant to write nearly 1000 words about a day.

Some days contain much that is dreadful.  But not all days.  And even the dreadful days contain much that is good and much to be grateful for - even past the mundane, taken for granted things like "I have a house, I have the ability to walk, I live in a country where I won't get thrown in prison for leaving my religion or for being queer, I have books, I have clothes, I am richer than most people on this planet, I have a ready supply of clean tap water."  Those are all big things and perhaps we all take them for granted too much because of their daily familiarity.

If I had focused differently and was part of the Sunday Assembly Honest Description Group then this difficult day would have read like this:

September 20th

I felt bad in the morning and due to sensory issues the journey into town was painful.  Nevertheless, I took part in the Writers' Cafe and am pleased with the results and was able to spend some time with people afterwards.  I am grateful for that and possibly came out with an idea that hasn't been written before.  By anyone.  Ever.  I didn't eat in the cafe with them though because I wasn't up to eating lunch just as I hadn't been able to eat any breakfast.  I was able to mask well through the morning and I am glad to have been able to do it but inside was hurting and being out in the street was too much, too loud, too bright, too smelly, too everything.  One of the bad days in which I have to work extra hard to get through.

Then I went to my electrolysis appointment.  Because of the extra sensory issues and because the anaesthetic cream was only applied 30 minutes before (as they recommend) rather than 50 minutes before (as I recommend) it hurt far more than usual.  Usually I find it very painful.  Today was excruciating as every nerve and every part of my brain was wired up for amplifying every input and giving it all to me at top volume.  Listening to distracting music and clutching a soft toy wasn't helping.

It's not just the pain.  It's the bright light shone at my face.  It's the sensation of being touched so much and in such a way.  The whole experience is awful for me even on the best of days when I manage to get through the appointment without collapse.

I struggled through the appointment determined to get through to the end.  I pressed my right hand into my left hand hard and as it got worse dug my nails in repeatedly.  As a result my left hand is bruised and has blood marks from my nails.  I tried so hard to get through my appointment.

I failed.  Instead my whole body went into some weird spasm.  The person doing the treatment asked if I wanted or needed to stop.  She's nice.  I wasn't able to speak but managed to nod.  So we stopped.  I couldn't speak.  I couldn't move my body.  She asked if I needed time.  I managed to nod again and she left me alone.

Slowly I was able to move again and managed to sit up.  I looked at my arm and wanted to cry.  I wanted to cry anyway because I hadn't managed to get through the appointment.  I tried to tell myself that I am not useless or a failure but at that moment my head wasn't accepting reason.  My face hurt.  But everything else hurt more.

I managed to get myself going and was able to leave the clinic.  I can't remember whether I made another appointment.  I will have to check that out.  It's a period of time my head is now choosing not to remember in detail because then it would take me back there in full technicolor glory and present the hyper-sensory medley to me once more.  Sometimes it's good to forget.

I was now on the street in central Newcastle.  I knew that I would be unable to get myself home.  In my current state it would be impossible.  I also knew that that street was too hard to deal with and that I needed a quieter place, close by, and somewhere familiar.  There may have been unfamiliar quiet places close by but at the top of the hill, maybe 100 metres away, there is Waterstones.  There are some comfy chairs in there, it's relatively quiet, and they don't play music at you.  Somehow I got there.

I found a chair.  Sat down.  And went more into shut down.  Unreactive.  Unresponsive.  I couldn't do a thing.  My brain continued to churn but I couldn't act.  But a comfy chair in Waterstones beats the noise of the city street.  It's a nice city.  I love it.  But not on this day.

My brain kept going and eventually I was able to come up with a solution and was able to put it into practice.  I texted Beth who would be finishing work at 4.30 and passing close by to Waterstones on her way home.  By that time it was nearly 4.30 anyway.  I wrote "in waterstones   come get".  And I waited.

She arrived and held me for a bit.  I couldn't speak.  She led the way and took me to buy food for dinner because I still hadn't managed to eat.  And then she took me to the bus stop because I couldn't manage the underground Metro platform even with help.  I was able to talk with her a little on the bus and even at the bus stop.  But not vocally.  I had to use a text to speech application on my phone.

So, some gratitude.

I am allowed to stop appointments early.  Nobody is mad with me.  With help - absolutely necessary help - I got home safely.  With help, with safety, I was able to speak again.  With help I was able to find food and find the encouragement to eat it.  Without that help I would have been at great risk.  I expect though that had I still been in Waterstones at closing time - if I hadn't been spotted sooner - someone would have helped me.  There would have been a solution found for me.  If I hadn't got to the shop and remained on the street I would have ended up at grave risk.  Grateful to have been able to get inside.

That's what I could have written.  Instead I wrote this short entry:

September 20th

The second half of the day was awful. Some of the worst bits of being autistic. Pretty crap.

So. Focus on the morning.

Grateful for the Writers' Cafe. I wrote some words that may be worth playing with. A lot. And adding to and building on. A lot. This is a happy thing.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

For My Favourite Uncle And For All The Happy Times Spent With Him

On Friday it is the funeral of my favourite uncle. I can't be there but I am thinking of his widow and children a lot, and thinking of him too.

This is a photo from 1983 and my mother was amazed at this technological scenario. She captioned it "3 computers in one room!"
In the foreground from left to right there is me, my cousin - son of favourite uncle, and my brother. We have Sinclair Spectrums. In the background my favourite uncle sits with his Acorn computer.

I remember on that day that my uncle challenged each of us to write a program called "Traffic Lights."

It was a great day, like so many others we spent with him, his wife - my favourite aunt, and their children.

I thought of this photo when visiting the South recently because my brother and I visited them. It was very good to see my aunt and her children. But my uncle was missing.
The garden where we shared so many times and so many games.  
The garden from which we have eaten so much home grown food.
We enjoyed good family conversation.  But he was missing.

There's Blob Thing engaged in conversation with the cat.  I am not sure what Blob said to make the cat wear that expression.

We walked on paths and roads we have walked many times as an extended family.  But he was missing.

We visited the museum he had poured so much love and enthusiasm into.  But he was missing.
And, like so many times before, we ate great food.  But he was missing.

His death was sudden, a few days before. A big shock to everyone. He's going to be greatly missed by family, friends, and the whole community of the place where he lived. His blogs will be greatly missed too by those people across the world who read them.
Why did I think of the three computers photo?  Because at one point five of us were sitting in that same room with laptops in use.  Another laptop sat open on a table.
Yes, SIX computers in one room.
And that doesn't count the mobile phones we all had close to hand each of which are far more powerful than a Sinclair Spectrum.
Times have changed.  But I confess that I now lack any knowledge to program any of the computers with even the simplest program called Traffic Lights.

Times have changed.  This is a photograph taken a little over three years ago when we visited Avebury Manor.

My parents are seated.  From left to right standing are my child, me, my uncle and my aunt.  My dad was already very noticeably ill but that day was an excellent one, full of smiles and laughter.  So many days with my uncle were full of smiles and laughter.  If I picture him in my mind he is smiling.
Another Avebury Manor photo.
Smiles.  Yes, we smiled for the camera.  But when visiting my uncle we all smiled.  And we enjoyed being with each other.  I will return to his home again and stay there with my aunt.  Maybe it'll be during a family gathering and I will see cousins too, and a half-aunt and half-uncle and all their spouses and children.  I had been half planning to get there next Summer anyway.  That plan still holds.
One final picture from that day three years ago.

This photo calls him king.  He truly was the king of uncles.  Anyone from my mother's side of the family who reads this will know that to be true.
Farewell uncle.  We lived far apart but I will miss you.  We will all miss you.

And on Friday I will find time to raise a glass to you and in your memory I will smile.

Days of Gratitude - The Near Paradise Of An Autistic Fringe Yurt

These were great days.  I feel I should warn regular readers of something.  Lots of the days since have been very difficult indeed as my lovely autistic brain has struggled with the whole idea of getting through things and has failed to do so at times.  Although in another sense it has succeeded because, after all, I am still here.  Last night was very difficult.  Today has been very difficult indeed.  So many tears.  So much shaking and yeah, it's generally been horrible.  I cancelled today.  I had things I wanted to do or needed to do and cancelled the lot.  Later I did manage to get a few things done - like prepare this post.  But self care involved pulling out of everything I had committed to.

But these days below were great.  It astounds me.  Today I couldn't leave the house.  Yesterday I couldn't leave the house.  But I spent three days in the unknown-to-me city of Edinburgh, wandering the streets, navigating my way around - including managing to find the Quaker Meeting House in order to meet strangers for a bit of Shape Note Singing.  I spent time among more strangers and people I've not met that much.  I coped with a pretty harmless but rather too friendly drunk woman and was deemed brave by one of the "names" of the autistic community.

I was quite amazed with how well I managed those days.  Yes, much of it was spent in autistic space with autistic people and that's easier to cope with than most things.  But it was all unknown.  And I am pretty proud of myself for how well I did.  It's the confidence boost I mentioned in the last post.  There's going to be another confidence boost in the next post too - it won't just be staggeringly crappy days.

So here we go.  Four days.  And a musical decision at the end.  I was playing it today.  Parts of the Mozart Clarinet Quintet.  Badly of course.  I am surprised to be playing it at all.  It was a horrible day in many ways.  But I played a clarinet.  And I played a guitar.

September 16th

Grateful that I have coped today with day one at an autism conference in Edinburgh.
This is the Fringe Yurt, safe autistic space.
And a conference hall that by all rights I shouldn't have been in.

Grateful too to meet up with a friend I haven't seen for 20 years. She says it was totally obvious then that I am autistic. Took me a long time to work it out for myself!

September 17th

Grateful to have been given this opportunity to be in Edinburgh at the Autistic Fringe and to have been able to sneak into the main Congress too.

It's been a bit like an unstructured mini Autscape. Being with part of my tribe for a few days.

The yurt was well lit in the evening.

September 18th

Grateful for the yurt days and the autistic space. But grateful for my own bed.

The weekend was an amazing opportunity. Totally glad I went. Now I need to recover from the last couple of weeks.

 Grateful too for a morning walk in Edinburgh. Pretty.

 September 19th

Grateful for a decision to pick this thing up for the first time in years and blow air through it.

There is a plan to blow lots of air and maybe make some nice sounds too.

But it's been a long time. The sounds are not currently as pleasing as once they were.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Days of Gratitude - Three Days, Three Places, From A Butterfly To A Bucket

It was a strange week.

I slept in four beds in four places.  This is not a usual thing for me.  These three days include three places.  Crawley, Greater Manchester, and Newcastle.  It all felt very strange.


I will probably not be allowed to live down my statement to the effect that we didn't need a coat.  In my defence, a coat wouldn't have done much good against the storm.  A hermetically sealed diving suit would probably have leaked against that much rain.

The last picture here shows one of my favourites out of any photo my dad took and exhibited in his years of exhibiting photos in the local camera club and sometimes further afield.  It shows a little girl called Vanessa.  We were camping somewhere near the France-Switzerland border.  Each day the girl was sent out to fill a bucket with water from the slow running tap.  One day my dad said hello to her, not worrying about the language gap.  And he took some photos.  They probably won him a prize.

The day after these was the start of a brand new experience for me.  One that has proved to be something of a confidence boost.

September 13th

Grateful to have left Crawley. All the necessaries are done for now. My parents' house is on the market. I hope it sells easily.

Grateful that Amanda and I didn't drown. We were out in the worst of the storm. A little wet! A wall of water between us and her door as if the house had been replaced by the torrent of Hardraw Force.


A butterfly at Crawley station.

And Amanda and myself on a bus in what was still a gorgeous hot and sunny day in Salford. 

September 14th

Grateful to have been able to see Amanda. Just for a night. But one night is better than none.

Grateful to be home now. I have a whole day to recover from being away and my head is informing me of how tired it actually is.

Grateful the house in Crawley is now officially for sale and has viewings.


The house used to be the Jesus Army community house in Salford. I detoured in the morning to see it. It's a place I used to visit 20 years ago.

A picture I see when passing through Leeds on the coach. This time I remembered to take a picture when passing and was fortunate to press the button on the phone at the right time.

September 15th

Grateful for a day of rest. It is desperately needed.

I have unpacked most of the boxes from Crawley and put up some of my dad's prints.

I think I need a week to get over Crawley. I have had a day. Tomorrow will be very unrestful and totally unknown. Eek!

Monday, 26 September 2016

Why I Am Ashamed To Have Marched In Newcastle For A Good Cause

It is very hard for me to march and attend rallies. It's hard to explain how hard it is for my head to cope with the noise and crowds and the fact that 56 hours later I have not recovered from being there. For me to attend such an event and stand up for equality, fraternity and liberty and all those nice things is a big sacrifice. 

I would still want to attend. Because there are things I believe in that trump the difficulties of being the owner of my lovely little autistic brain - and the shaking and tears and pain I've had the last couple of evenings as a pretty direct result of putting myself through the event.

But I am not going to attend. My conscience is such that I must in future stay away from them unless things change.

See if you can spot why I can no longer attend these rallies. Clue: It comes about 1 minute into this video:

Newcastle Unites, "a broad coalition of the left" have shared the video on Facebook.  It's called "The English Defence League v Newcastle Unites."  A great title for a football match.

Answer: The call for people to commit suicide.

I cannot be associated with that. Ever. It's evil.
I don't care who the people are.  I don't care what they say.  I don't care what they have done.  It doesn't matter.  Shouting at them to commit suicide is never justified.  Never.

I am rubbish at social initiation. But I did it on this occasion. Telling them just how vile the chant is. The response I got was, "Well they say bad things so we can too." I felt physically sickened by that response.

Others disliked that chant too. But there it is in the video as if this is something that supposedly nice people should be proud of. It isn't. Newcastle Unites should be profoundly ashamed that such things happen on their watch. Not proud. Ashamed.

Other chants distress me too:

Calling people scum. Yeah, they might be wrong, they might be racist. But is anyone scum?

Saying they're "our streets." Er, no. They're everyone's streets. Because we live in a free society. This isn't some gang warfare, Jets versus Sharks. This is a call for unity, for the celebration of the dignity of all human beings.

So yeah, no more marches and rallies for me unless I can be assured that this awfulness can be consigned to the dustbin of shame where it belongs.
I strongly dislike the English Defence League and the things they believe and proclaim.  I believe their brand of racism, like any other brand of racism, is cruel, ignorant and inhuman.  Earlier today I watched the video the EDL produced of their rally.  The ignorance is plain.  The hatred is plain.  The fear of other people is plain.
Some of their members even proclaim these things while carrying banners claiming to be "Christian" defenders.  I'm not sure they had read the parts of the Bible about how to treat the alien in your land.  Or the parts of the Bible in which Jesus - an interesting middle Eastern guy whose family were forced to seek sanctuary in a foreign land - talked about love and mercy.

Yes.  I'd love to see every member of the EDL give up their ways and wear nice "Refugees Welcome" badges.  It would be wonderful.
I am proud that I stand, as much as my head and variable abilities allow, against the hatred and racism that organisations such as the EDL churn out.

But.  I am ashamed to have walked in a parade and stood at a rally where the encouragement was given for those members to commit suicide, to shoot themselves.

I am ashamed.

And I won't be doing it any more.

Days Of Gratitude - The Final Four Days In The South

These were not the easiest of days.  I don't want to go into details of why they weren't the easiest.  Just accept it, they weren't.  I am glad these days are over.

They weren't easy for more reasons than expected.  The circumstances mentioned below were very sad ones for everyone concerned.  Others had a great deal more to cope with.  For myself the shock was great.  For those closer, the shock was much greater.  Very sad.

And yet even in these days there were things to be grateful for.  And some big surprises too.  The opportunity mentioned below was stunning and a total sudden surprise.  It meant that a week later I found myself not in Newcastle as expected but in Edinburgh.  But that can all wait for a future post.

September 9th

The circumstances are not what we hoped. Not at all.

But I am grateful to be able to see the relations that I like.

I often visited this place as a child, the home of my favourite uncle and aunt and their children.

We would always walk into the village and often take pictures of the child angel.

We would always be fed well.

Things are different this time. But the angel and the feeding remain. As does the view.

September 10th

Grateful the day is over.

That's all.

Except grateful for an opportunity presented to me unexpectedly.

September 11th

Grateful for a surprise lunch with my ex church pastor from Crawley. I learned solid, literalist, Biblical homophobia in that church. Things have mellowed a lot since then.

Grateful too for water features at a Crawley hotel.

September 12th

Grateful that we got the necessary things done today.

Grateful to have got through this time in Crawley. In 12 hours I will be gone.

Photos were taken tonight in the darkness of what was my parents' back garden.

Grateful too for a surprise contact and the promise of meeting a friend at the weekend for the first time in 20 years.

Monday, 19 September 2016

A Short Thought About Christians Going Into The Ministry

Is find myself annoyed at the commonly used term of Christians "going into the ministry."  My annoyance arose from the reports I read yesterday of our local assistant bishop who is "retiring from the ministry."  Bishop Frank is a lovely man and when I was re-accepted into membership of the Church of England four years ago I was happy that he was the man at the front doing the accepting.  I wish him well in his retirement.  And yet, I found myself getting more annoyed and the phrase got stuck under the surface of my brain.

My annoyance is this:  It isn't THE ministry at all.

It's A ministry. One of many.

Every Christian has a ministry to go into, in which they should minister as Christ in this world, light bearers to others. Every Christian will have their own ministry.

Being an ordained priest is certainly a form of ministry but to refer to it as "the ministry" is unfortunate. If it is THE ministry then this automatically relegates the lives of all laity from being Christian ministry.  It posits a system in which some people's service of their God is more important and better than the service most people give their God.
And although I'm sure most people don't mean to do it, by calling an ordained hierarchy THE ministry they linguistically make the service of Christ, ministry to the earth and all who dwell upon it, to be a second class service.

All Christians should be in ministry. All should be ministers. And though the form of ministry may vary widely, they should all minister love.

In fact I believe that - although non-Christians may use different language and may not centre their lives upon the life and way of Jesus - all people should be in minstry and minister love:
If Christ is the light of the world then all people should seek to be Christ-bearers.
If God is love then all people should seek to be reflections of love.

If the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of creativity, of reconciliation, of transformation, if the Spirit is the encouraging paraclete and the model of faithfulness then all people should seek to be Spirit bearers and speak the words of the Spirit.
If the life of the Spirit is wonder and awe, service and excitement, rejoicing and mourning with others, and living the fullest lives possible then all people should seek that way of being.

If the Gospel is of hope and peace, if it is good news, then all people should preach and live it.

That's what the ministry is.  Not gaining a dog collar and a place in a hierarchy.  The ministry is to follow the commandment of Jesus to love one another.

The ministry is for all of us.  Christians.  Non-Christians.  Even anti-Christians.  All of us, preachers.  All of us, examples.

That includes me. And I, like all of us, sometimes am a good minister and sometimes (often!) fall short.
I am not a Christian right now.  [Although I think a few people would disagree with that statement.]  I am not a theist right now.  But I want to grow in ministry.  I want to be a Christ-bearer.  I want to preach that Gospel in word and deed - and in silence too.  I want to walk in the wholeness of God and fullness of being which is love.

Please bear with me while I keep getting it wrong and keep exploring to find out what my ministry might be and might become outside of believing the old, old story, outside of dogma and doctrine, and outside what most people would recognise as Christianity.  Please bear with me as I learn to walk in the wholeness of God while not believing in a God.

Yes.  Please be patient.  This woman is going into ministry!

As for Bishop Frank:  He may no longer be a bishop of the Church of England.  But I don't believe he is retiring from the ministry.  Those reports were erroneous.  He's just retiring from a form of ministry he happened to have.  He'll still be in ministry.  It'll just be a different form of ministry.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Days Of Gratitude - Boxes and Beacons, Cemeteries and Chai in Crawley

Hard days.  I have been visiting the town where I grew up.  It's the last time I will ever stay in my childhood home.  Being there is hard but I have found the setting easier than expected.  The house is nearly empty so it doesn't feel much like my parents' house.  It feels more like a shell.  There aren't things everywhere that speak of them, just bare walls, bare shelves - at least where there are still shelves.

My brother and I have a table.  We have a chair each.  A bed each.  A fridge.  A kettle.  And not too many other things.  Once we're gone everything else will be cleared.  The house will be sold.  And hopefully someone else can enjoy living here.  It's a good house.  If it was in Newcastle rather than Crawley it would be a much better house!

I knew the visit would be difficult for quite a few reasons and as I type this, a couple of days before I leave this town, my head is struggling to keep going.  I'm glad that today is quieter.  And I am glad that it's a sunny day too.  It means I have a day when I can be quiet and be out doing things on my own.  I've been masking like crazy, hiding my head and forcing myself to be appear functional and happy.  I hope that I won't be collapsing afterwards, especially since it turns out I have a single day to recover when I get home before going to spend a few days somewhere else unexpectedly.

Hard days.  And there was some shock family news too just a few days ago that has hit everyone pretty hard.  But there have been plenty of good things.  Today there will be more, especially as I go and visit the nicest park in the town.  I am looking forward to that.  I always liked wandering there.  Today I can take Blob Thing and Winefride with me and they can visit the nice animals.

September 5th

Grateful to have made it here without melting too badly.

Grateful that I won't be here for very long.

I grew up in this house. And this is my final visit to it.

Grateful to have brought down a few little happy making things from home.

September 6th

I am allergic to Crawley. Not grateful for that!

Grateful that I won't be here long.

Grateful too for unhealthy giant chai latte.

For wandering in a Catholic cemetery.

And that my friends enjoyed the driverless train at Gatwick Airport.

And for cheap eyebrow waxing and a pretty roof in the shopping mall.

September 7th

Grateful to have sorted out my travel arrangements to leave here next week.

Grateful to have sorted boxes to be couriered back to Newcastle.

Almost my entire physical inheritance from my parents in two boxes. That's okay. There isn't a lot from my past that I want to take into my present, let alone my future.

[Note - I've since sorted out two more boxes that should be in Newcastle by the time this is published.  They're mainly filled with photo albums.  There were many photo albums.  Between the four boxes there are some old things I'm glad to have and some useful things too.  Forks!  Because for some reason our forks keep vanishing.  I'm also taking back some pictures in my case and a very pretty piece of wood if I can get it to fit.  Some of the pictures are prints my dad made when he was entering photographic competitions.  They are good prints and some of them won prizes.  I think these pictures will finish my job of filling the walls of the new art room.  I'll have filled all the walls with good things for less than ten pounds including a very expensive picture that cost me three pounds!

We visited a relation last night (as I type this) who now has quite a lot of furniture and useful things from my parents' house.  She is very welcome to it all.  It's good to know that they will have a life there rather than being thrown away.  It was nice to use the plates I grew up with for one last meal.  My relation has also been able to take some furniture and household things for refugees who have moved into the area.  I think that's pretty brilliant and I know my mother would have completely approved of it.]

September 8th

Grateful that today we went to the South Downs and managed to do something we've needed to do for a while.

[Panorama of a view from Ditchling Beacon.  Last time I was there was with my child and my parents.  That was a happy day - at least, that's what the photos suggest.  I'd post one but my laptop is missing three or four years of photos from my parents.]

Later we saw my dad, who was able to say some words. Just knew that even at this stage of his dementia he would still have opinions on the best route to an uncle's house.