The Question asks; “Are You a ProActive and Optimistic Senior” Hmmm… #MondayBlogs

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Well, I thought about this… a lot! Yes, I think, mostly, I’m optimistic. And sometimes, I’m even proactive. It was the ‘senior ‘ that I needed to think long and hard about. What constitutes a’senior’ You see, for years I’ve always thought some people were quite senior; at least to me. Until I realised I’d caught up with them. I was fifty-nine for quite some time. Then I moved up to sixty-two.  I’ve been sixty-two for a bit as well.

 So I thought I would investigate this group. And, oh, had I underestimated my peers. The members of  www.OAPSchat.co.uk are, as founder of the site Janice Rosser says: “… looking at the website from far and wide.” Ever courteous  she welcomes visitors to  the site  from countries as far away and diverse as Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, USA, Canada, India, Venezuela, Irish Republic, Spain, France, China, Japan, Greece, Mexico, The Bahamas, Indonesia and Switzerland and cheerfully says, ” a BIG hello from the UK to you all and thank you for visiting. I hope you are enjoying the huge and varied content that is here.”

 I bet they are, as well. This is a place where the over 55s can share  news from all over the UK: local and holiday news (there’s a lovely piece written by Juliet Greenwood:  on visiting:  Portmeirion  in North Wales ), and I was recently chuffed to see a piece of my own from last year again on, Ciovo, Croatia . There are topical issues ( Top 5 UK Airports To Fly From), financial and health advice. On a personal level members can promote their talents, chat and share their interests and hobbies, giving encouragement to others to join in with their hobbies.  I was particularly interested in Chris Lovell’s piece about launching  her small boat, the Blue Nun, from Neyland in Pembrokeshire  as that’s local news for me, as well as learning about a hobby. And then there’s Tracy Burton talking about how it’s Never Too Old To Backpack! ; quite a consoling thought as I struggle along the narrow rugged Pembrokeshire  coastal path sometimes!

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Portmerion                                                                     Ciovo

As you can see I’ve picked out the items that are of particular interest to me  but there are similar and constantly changing  items from all over the UK and abroad that will be of interest to many. The OAPSchat  net is spread far and wide. 

Members also give an insight to their lifestyles, share memoirs and occasions. I loved the story  written by Georgia Hill, In Remembrance – and a Mystery

Most importantly for me, when I first came across OAPSchat were the books I saw to buy there. And there is often a wealth of talent to be found. For instance, in the present issue,  Jane Lovering is being interviewed with her book: Can’t Buy Me Love  Margaret James discusses her new book; Girl in Red Velvet and Sheryl Brown, one of my favourite authors,is talking about her latest book, Learning to Love

Then there is the scope for authors to promote their own work! When I first explored the site; after I’d looked at all the different topics, read articles, noted places I’d liked to visit (one day) I saw Advertise with OAPSchat … yes I do know I’m a bit slow sometimes!! I realised that all the books on the left hand side bar of the site were advertisements/promotions of books placed by the authors. Would Janice take mine? Of course! Rates are so reasonable. More importantly the readers are there; ready and waiting; people who have so many interests must have so many preferences for genres. Some one might like mine. And they did! I had great sales.

So, for me, OAPSchat  has given me so much: new friends, new interests, new ideas, new readers. Do I mind being a ‘senior’?  Well no… as long as I’m also mostly “optimistic”. And sometimes, even “proactive”. I can cope with being sixty-two… for a few more years!

For more information on OAPSchat  check out About Us

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Of course I couldn’t finish without giving Janice a little space (well, she is the founder) The floor is yours, Janice.

Thanks Judith.

OAPSchat was born in April 2013 as a Facebook page. It was in November 2013 that I decided I had enough material and confidence to launch the website.

Since that day, I have been writing articles on all kinds of topics, ranging from hobbies, holidays, food and drink, memories, families, finance and much much more. I now have over one hundred and thirty seven wonderful contributors to date and articles on all different subjects are posted on a daily basis. Over 1400 articles can be read now! Members can comment via disqus, FB and Twitter.

Raffles are held monthly, sometimes more often. A newsletter goes out once a month with my plans for the coming weeks. I am an Independent Happy List Winner 2014 for founding the website.

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   Janice celebrating at the ceremomies

Loneliness is a big scourge on our society worldwide and the website helps combat this awful isolation by coming together and sharing our thoughts and ideas. OAPSchat is well and truly born now and I hope it will continue to thrive. With your support, I’m confident it will!

OAPSchat FaceBook Link: http://bit.ly/2vnZYGh

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Tales of Our Holiday Lets. Or … Is it Really Worth it? Or … Tales of the Unexpected!

Well, yes.looking back down the years and now we no longer let the holiday apartment attached to our house, I know it was worth it. We loved letting, despite the unexpected. It brought us many friends; visitors who returned year after year in the summer to enjoy the lovely Pembrokeshire coastline and all the other attractions this part of West Wales offers. We loved seeing them again. And we were fortunate to meet many new people as well. But there were downsides. Or should I say, occasions that made us think again about sharing our home.

We’ve had many visitors from other countries staying in our apartment and shared great times with them. Couples from the USA, Australia have enjoyed barbeques on the lawn; long boozy evenings of wine and slightly burned kebabs and steaks, of tall tales and laughter.  Visits to restaurants with people from France and Italy. Long walks and talks on the coastal paths with a couple from New Zealand that we’d met from there on holiday in Christ Church, followed by drinks in local pubs. We had a German man stay with us for three weeks who’d come to participate in the Iron Man Wales event. He’d worked hard for twelve months he told us and had to acclimatise himself to the course. Three days before the event he caught a chest infection and had to drop out. Despite his antibiotics he needed to join Husband in a double whisky that night.

Oh dear, I’m sensing a common theme here.

One year our last visitor for the season was a single man. We’ve had people come on holiday alone many times over the years and the apartment always seemed to suit them.

But when he arrived we quickly realised he could only speak a little English and we couldn’t speak his language at all.

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He hadn’t been in the apartment an hour before he came to the door brandished the empty bottle of washing up liquid.

’Oh, sorry,’ I said, ‘I thought there was plenty in it.’

‘Used it,’ he said.

 An hour later washing powder was asked for by a demonstration of vigorous scrubbing at a pair of underpants. I didn’t ask!!

‘There’s a box of washing powder under the sink.’

‘Used it.’ He shrugged.

Sunday brought him to the door twice.

First with the sugar bowl.

‘Used it.’

Then the salt cellar.

‘I thought I’d filled it—‘

‘Used it.’

“Used it” quickly became the watchword, whenever we were supplying tea bags, vinegar or handing over shoe polish

Monday he arrived with an empty tube of glue.

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‘Sorry, we don’t supply glue.’

He stands, smiling, waggling the tube. ‘Used it.’

Husband went into his Man Drawer and produced a tube of Super Glue. Scowling. Ears red. We never did find out what the man wanted it for, even though the following weekend Husband examined everything he could that would need to be stuck.

 Each day, at least once, the man came to the door to ask for something by waving the empty bottle, carton, container or label at us. Unlike most holiday- makers he didn’t knock on the back door but always came round to ring the doorbell at the front. In the end Husband and I would peer through the hall window.

‘It’s Mr Used It,’ one of us would say. ‘It’s your turn to go.’ Pushing at one another. ‘You see what he wants this time.’

 On the Thursday he arrived with a cardboard roll.

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‘There are six more toilet rolls in the bathroom cabinet to the right of the hand basin,’ I offered, helpfully.

‘Used it.’

Seven rolls of toilet paper have always lasted a two people the whole week. I handed over three more

 ‘What’s happening in there,’ Husband grumbled. ‘Do-it-yourself colonic irrigation?’

On the Friday Husband produced a list. ’We should charge for this lot,’ he declared. ‘See?’

 It read like a shopping list: milk/salt/sugar/vinegar/butter/tea bags/ coffee/soap/soap powder/toilet paper/shampoo/glue/shoe polish. The writing became more indecipherable after that; think Husband was becoming exasperated… or  there was too much to put down.

‘Really?’ I said, even though I knew the chap had been a pest. ‘You’ve been keeping tabs on him?’

‘Too true.’ Husband was indignant. ‘We could even charge him for overuse of the battery in the doorbell.’

‘Except that it’s connected to the electricity.’

‘Even worse!’ Husband grumped off to His Shed.

Saturday morning came and the doorbell rang.  Smiling, the man put his suitcase down onto the ground and vigorously shook hands with both of us. He waved towards the apartment. ‘Used it,’ he said. ‘Very nice.’

 

Pattern of Shadows by [Barrow, Judith]

Changing PatternsLiving in the Shadows

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pattern of Shadows         Changing Patterns        Living in the Shadows

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A Hundred Tiny Threads

 

 

http://www.honno.co.uk/

 

 

Tales of Our Holiday Lets. Or … Is it Really Worth it? Or … Tales of the Unexpected!#MondayBlogs

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Well, yes.looking back down the years and now we no longer let the holiday apartment attached to our house, I know it was worth it. We loved letting, despite the unexpected. It  brought us many friends; visitors who returned year after year in the summer to enjoy the lovely Pembrokeshire coastline and all the other attractions this part of West Wales offers. We loved seeing them again. And we were fortunate to meet many new people as well. But there were downsides. Or should I say, occasions that made us think again about sharing our home.

Such as the Sports Fanatic.

Before I go any further I think I should mention that although we live along a quiet lane we are only a five minute walk to the village. In the centre is the local Co-op. The frontage is very old fashioned; it’s an old building. For years there’s has been talk of building a new store on the outskirts  (actually about five hundred metres behind the existing one, on the edge of common land) but nothing has come of it. In winter the place trundles sleepily along; goods not available because of snow somewhere up country.  the odd garbled message over the tannoy that everyone ignores, staff huddled in corners exchanging local gossip, wandering around, trying not to make eye contact in case you want to ask them something. It’s a place to meet up with local people who haven’t been visible all summer due to being too busy keeping holiday visitors entertained.

Which, as an aside, reminds me of a time I asked Husband to go and buy a red cabbage from the Co-op.

After half an hour he returns, empty handed and looking stunned.

No red cabbage?’ I enquire.

‘No, couldn’t find one. Asked an assistant. She said cabbages were on the veg stall and there  was red food colouring in the baking section.’ He shook his head. ‘You couldn’t make it up!’

In summer the place comes alive: more than one assistant on the tills, lots of bustle, filling up shelves,assistants eager to help. Lots of happy visitors always glad for a natter, which inevitable ends with the comment,”you are so lucky to live here.’

I don’t argue… we are.

The visitors! (Should add here there is a sign asking customers not to shop in their nightwear) Apparently beach wear is acceptable. Nowhere else have I seen people shop half undressed: men in shorts (even Speedos … don’t think too long on that image; not nice mostly), bare chests and nothing on their feet, accompanied by shoals of similarly dressed and bare-footed children.  All very  jolly… until someone runs over toes with a trolley. Or they step in something.

None of this, by the way, has anything at all to do with the Sports Fanatic.

The couple arrived late one Saturday evening. The man struggled out of the car and walked, wincing, slowly along the drive, using two sticks, irritated-looking wife marching in front of him.

‘He’s sprained his ankle,’ she said, tilting her head towards him and without introducing herself. ‘happened yesterday. I came home from work and there he was, lying on the settee, bandaged up. Apparently,’ she stressed the word, ‘apparently our neighbour took him to hospital.’

‘Good of him,’ her husband said. ‘Nice chap.’

Wife snorted. ‘Fine start to our week,’ she said.

‘Mrs Morris?’ I asked. I knew they were down for a family reunion. Her family reunion.

She ignored me. ‘This way, is it?’ Pointing towards the apartment door and stomping off.

‘She’s a bit cross,’ her husband offered. Struggling with sticks he held his hand out to Husband and shook it. ‘I’m Simon,’he said, ‘you got Sky Sports in there?’

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The following day it was the the reunion. The husband apparently had hardly moved from the settee in the living room of the apartment. 

Mrs Morris was no less cross than before. ‘He’ll have to stay here,’ she said. ‘he says he’s in a lot of pain and can hardly stand.’ She stared at Husband. ‘I’ll be out all day. Would  you go in and see if he’s okay every now and then, perhaps give him a cup of tea. I’ve left sandwiches on the coffee table for his lunch.It really is a nuisance.’

Husband was clenching jaw, the ears were giving off warning signs..

‘It’s fine,’I said, hurriedly. ‘Don’t worry.’

Half an hour after she’d driven off Husband went in to the apartment ‘ I can’t find him, he said.

‘In the loo?’I offered.

‘No! Anyhow, he’s not supposed to be able to move around at all.’

The implications of that suddenly struck us.

‘I’m not bloody clearing up after him if anything happens,’ Husband says.

I don’t answer but I knew it wouldn’t be me, either.

We searched around the apartment, then the garden.

‘He won’t be out here,’I said. ‘He can’t walk.

Just then Mr Morris came running around the corner of the house, a pack of six cans of pale ale in his arms.

We stood and looked at one another

Then, without an ounce of shame, he  said, ‘can’t stand her family. Anyway, there’s loads of sport on the telly I don’t want to miss.’

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And with that he grinned, walked past us and into the apartment.

Not quite sure what happened the rest of the week but Mrs Morris left on the Friday and the last we saw of Mr Morris was him trudging off the drive, carrying his suitcase, to make his way to the railway station on the Saturday morning

 

 

 

 

Cruise Control

Another gem from Alan Roberts, student of one of my creative writing classes. His last post here: http://bit.ly/20Gvbh6 where he battles with the self service supermarket check-out

  Cruise Control

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We’d booked on MSC Lirica to cruise for almost a month from Dubai to Japan.  We embarked the ship at Dubai port on 5th April and that afternoon set sail for India and the beautiful coast of Goa.  That first day we explored the fairly large ship and spied a nice Café bar on Deck 6.  The second day was spent sunning ourselves on the upper deck before deciding, in the late afternoon, to make for the Café area.  The Indonesian man in charge of the bar we thought we recognised from a previous voyage with MSC and remarkably he appeared to recognise us.  He waved and smiled a welcome before despatching a waiter to take our order.  Betty ordered her usual latte whilst I, having weaned myself off cow’s milk some months previous, blithely ordered a soya milk hot chocolate.  Order taken, cruise card proffered, we sat back to await delivery.

Several minutes elapsed whilst behind the café’s counter there appeared to be some debate taking place.  Moments later the waiter and the Indonesian bar manager approached our seating area with the waiter holding only Betty’s cup of latte which he ceremoniously placed on its MSC inscribed coaster.  The Indonesian manager became most apologetic saying that he could not provide my hot chocolate as none of the café bars were provided with soya milk.  However, he had a possible remedy.  He sat alongside, nicely patting my arm.

“They (I assumed he referred to the Catering Section management) do not supply the café’s with soya so,” he hesitated for a short moment, “if you go to the restaurant you can ask the Maître’d to give you a carton of soya and then bring it back and I will make you the hot chocolate you want.”

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He nodded and smiled as he concluded his prepared speech.  I rose and took the stairs down to deck 5 and made my way to the restaurant at the rear of the ship.  Apart from two waiters who were preparing the evening dinner tables, the restaurant was empty.  I asked one of the waiters if the Maître’d was about.  He shook his head and simply said,

“Five o’clock,” before moving to another table.

I followed and asked, “May I speak with the Maître’d?”

He didn’t lift his head but merely said, once again, “Five o’clock”.

I tried vainly to explain why I was there but his grasp of the English language was even worse than mine of whatever his native tongue was.  He just repeated,

“Five o’clock,” before moving further away.

As it was just after four I had no inclination to wait for the Maitre’d to arrive by which time Betty would have finished her latte, given up waiting for me and gone elsewhere.

I had a thought (always dangerous in such circumstances) to go to the buffet on deck 11 and ask there for a carton of soya; so off I set taking the lift to the upper deck area.  One side of the buffet area was full of passengers having more than their fair share of the afternoon tea selection.  The waiters were fully occupied and so I moved to the other side where just a few people were sat.  I approached one of the waiters and explained why I was there and what I wanted.  He looked blankly at me before walking off.  I tried the second waiter, this time with a little more success.  He said he was unable to give me a carton of soya but I should ask a supervisor who, he said, were the waiters who had sleeves on their white jackets and he pointed in the direction of a young Chinese girl.  I thanked him and approached the supervisor.  I carefully explained to her why I was there and what I wanted.  She seemed to listen intently but then brusquely replied,

“No carton!”

I took her response to indicate the buffet didn’t have soya and so asked where I might get soya milk.

“Here”, she almost shouted.

Somewhat confused, I carefully asked, “Might I have one to take to the café bar on deck 6?”  She looked at me as though I had just walked through a garden of dog shit.

“No carton, only cup”, she almost wailed.

I then tried to explain that it would prove difficult to walk with a cup of soya from the buffet on deck 11, down either the lift or the stairs to reach the café on deck 6 without spilling some of the contents on my way.  She frowned incomprehension.  I tried to demonstrate walking with an imaginary cup full of soya milk and wobbling a bit and pretending some of it spilt onto the floor.  She now looked at me as though I was completely mad.  I asked again, very nicely I thought,

“Do you have cartons of soya there?” pointing into the buffet kitchen area.  She nodded.  I tried further, “Can I take one to the café bar on deck 6?”

Instantly her browed furrowed and now seemed to consider me completely thick.  She barked,

“No carton, only cup”.

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Having learnt over the years that when defeat stares you in the face you should give up gracefully and go along with whatever is being offered, so I said,

“May I have a cup of soya?”

“Hot?” she asked.

I nodded.  She disappeared into the kitchen and a moment later reappeared behind the serving counter, leaned down and took a carton from what I assumed to be a fridge.

“Is that a carton of soya?” I gently asked.

She nodded.

“May I take that back to deck 6?”

“No, no carton, only cup I tol’ you”, said with an emphasis between each part of the sentence.

She poured the soya into an MSC mug, replaced the soya packet into the fridge and again disappeared into the kitchen.  Within a moment she reappeared without the cup to ask,

“With chocolate?”

Totally defeated, I meekly nodded and she disappeared back into the kitchen before re-emerging with a cup of hot soya chocolate which, with a very false smile, she slid across the counter.

“Thanks,” I mumbled and walked off to find deck 6.  An hour had passed since I’d left Betty and there was a great deal of mirth as I walked towards the café bar with the steaming mug of soya chocolate and then related what had happened.

The cafe bars never did receive any soya milk and for the remainder of the cruise the Chinese supervisor was simply referred to as, “Only cup!”

©  Alan A Roberts   May 2016.

Our Holiday in Ciovo, Croatia – and ‘I Like Your Writing.’

All the world appears to mill around Gatwick. The stress is obvious, the security a necessity, the patience of everyone varied, the wait tedious.

It’s with great relief we settle into our seats on the plane knowing that, on our arrival in Split, we will be met by Mr V, the taxi driver, kindly arranged for us by the owners of  the apartment where we will be staying in Okrug Gornji: https://www.homeaway.co.uk/p443630

We are met there by Bozena, the owner’s representative who, despite having to wait for us to arrive over an hour late, due to the delay of the flight (it is past eleven at night), greets us with a wide smile, picks up my suitcase and almost runs up the thirty-two stairs to our pent house apartment. A quick tour around, helpfully explaining the air conditioning, shutters and lights and off she goes. We go out onto the balcony and wonder at the vast expanse of lights reflecting on the sea below us.

 - Night view

 

The sun, pouring through the window, wakes me at 5.30am.

I pull up the shutters in the living area and go out onto the balcony. Below, the red roofs of the houses contrast with the stark white walls. The clumps of trees that intersperse them, soften the lines of the whole village.The sun lights up the sea, revealing the shifts, the currents,  in the expanse of  water. In the distance I can see the mainland and the various blue-grey hills of the islands around us with the stretches of dark trees and pale shingle-edged inlets. Too much beauty not to share. I wake my husband.

 - Main balcony with 3 seater swing and sun lounger

 - Light airy lounge with satellite TV/DVD/CD player

 - View from bedroom balcony

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our holiday begins with a stroll down through the narrow streets to the Mali Raj restaurant for a  tasty and  nutritious  breakfast  (this is a restaurant recommended many times in the apartments’ visitors book and we are to have most meals here throughout the week. None disappoint.)

Then a short stroll down to the harbour and a walk along the beach path. people smile, greet us, are friendly.

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A lazy day that ends with a glass of wine and a glorious sunset.

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On the second day we walk to Trogir; a walk along a busy road but with interesting sights to see; the buildings, the wild flowers, the gardens, the houses. It takes us thirty minutes and we’re glad to be walking on the long bridge over the water to the town to search out a refreshing drink in a cafe on the wide promenade.

Trogir is set within medieval walls.. The cobbled streets are fascinating; narrow, old buildings with Romanesque and Renaissance architecture  including a magnificent cathedral and castle.

Since 1997 Trogir has had World Heritage status.

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Later, before setting off on our walk back to  Okrug Gornji, we sit and enjoy a local beer at a bar by the water and near the busy, fascinating market.

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But before leaving, we stand and admire the yachts … and dream of winning the Lottery!
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The next day we go on a route march to Dango

The photos speak for themselves

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And we have a wonderful lunch at the Konoba Duga restaurant there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

At night the heavens open… we have a glorious storm that lasts until the following morning

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The rain stops and we’re off walking again.

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Over the next three days  we explore the area in the daytime. At night we sit together on the swinging hammock on the balcony, reading and enjoying a glass (or two)  of wine until the light goes

It’s our last night. We enjoy the final sunset of our holiday

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Then:

‘I like your writing.’ he says.

We’ve known one another for almost fifty years, been married for forty-six.  But he’s looking at me as though he’s never seen me before.

He’s just finished the last book of my trilogy, Living in the Shadows. He sits back and says it again. ‘I do, I like your writing.’

I want to ask why but I know he thinks he’s said enough. And it is. He’s read all three books over the last week. I’ve not known him do that before, he’s a man who barely sits still, who loves being outdoors, loves walking. But we’re on holiday and we’ve walked during the day. In the evenings we sit and read on the balcony of this lovely apartment.

I hadn’t realise he’d brought the books with him; they’re the ones I’ve used when I give talks and readings and the first, Pattern of Shadows, is, after five years, looking distinctly tatty. I’ve said nothing about it even though it’s been hard not to watch him while he’s read; tried to figure out his expressions.

Pondering on his words later I realize why I didn’t ask him why he liked the books.  It’s enough he told me. There are times when we’ve been walking, or watching a programme on the television when he’s said,’you’ve gone again… you’re thinking.’ And he’s been right; I was writing in my head. And times when I have actually sat in front of the computer writing and before I’ve known it hours have passed. I’ve dragged myself away to make a meal, to see if he wants a coffee, to flick a duster around the rooms to salve my conscience. And I see him watching me as though puzzled.

The expression on his face makes me feel guilty sometimes. But not often. I wrote in secret for years. Sometimes for long stretches of time – but mostly – when life takes over ( work, moving houses, illness, the family, other commitments) – sporadically.

I’ve loved our life together. There have been many ups and downs, celebrations, disappointments, exciting times. There are not many things I would have changed – perhaps the petty arguments, the struggles in our early years when we fought to find our places in this thing we call our marriage. But those times passed and we made this ‘thing’ our own, learning from mistakes ( or making the same ones over and over again until they became a family joke/tradition/ something to be sighed over in resignation).

I know this man I met so many years ago. We were both hesitant in commitment, both lacking in confidence, both coming from parents whose marriages were acrimonious, where quarrels were never resolved.

I’ve seen him grow into the man he is and I know – I’ve always assumed – he knows me. We finish sentences for one another, I can be thinking, planning something we should do, and the next moment he says the words. We share the same sense of humour, laugh often. We make love – okay, not as often as thirty years ago but it’s not a bad record. (I’m hoping he never reads this post, by the way!). We hold hands when we walk, when we sit together. We know each other’s needs: a touch of empathy, comfort, sympathy, reassurance.We know one another better than we know anyone else in this world.

Yet, never before having read anything I’ve written, he’s now looking at me  as though he’s just had the answer to a question  that’s been hovering in his mind forever.

I like your writing ,’ he says again. He leans towards me and we kiss.

It’s enough. I know he understands why I need to write.

 

Links:

Amazon. co.uk

Pattern of Shadows: http://amzn.to/1OpM6TI

Changing Patterns: http://amzn.to/1PPmzki

Living in the Shadows:  http://amzn.to/1PWBLiV

Amazon.com:

Pattern of Shadows: http://amzn.to/1QyPHN6

Changing Patterns: http://amzn.to/1JOTMxc

Living in the Shadows: http://amzn.to/1PGK108