9 May 2013


Last weekend the weather was sublime.  We had sunshine for several days in a row and not only that, at a Bank Holiday, too, so that for once we were actually able to enjoy it.  After the winter we’ve had, we were certainly ready for it.

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Only six weeks ago we had a foot of snow on our garden.  Then last weekend – whoosh – summer arrived!

Or at least, the weather was as good as it gets in summer in Derbyshire.  The sun shone and the temperatures reached a heady 23°C.  We made the most of it, barbecued twice, took the dog for long walks and spent lots of time in the garden.  In the space of barely three weeks the garden has been transformed from a dull mass of dead plants into something vibrant and sparkling.  The grass has shot up, the daffodils have greeted the sunshine by waving merrily in the breeze, the primulas are glorious and we have a few tulips about to open.  It’s as if everything is rushing through spring as fast as possible to get to summer and make up for lost time.

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Then today, we have strong winds, rain and it’s decidedly chilly.  Ridiculous.  In fact when I took Lulu up to the field this afternoon I was wearing my winter dog-walking anorak – the waterproof one with a hood and mud on it from previous walks – and after five minutes I was pleased to find a pair of gloves in the pocket.

That’s the thing about May.  We get a few nice warm days, everybody gets excited and fetches the garden furniture out, then the evil weather comes back just to remind us that we were only dreaming.  Dreaming that summer had come early !!

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But at least it was nice while it was nice, if you see what I mean and we definitely made the most of it.  After all, in six weeks time we have the longest day and after that, the nights start drawing in !!

Changing the subject, I have been at home today, on a day when I would normally be at work.  It’s a good job too.  I heard an unfamiliar rattling noise on the other side of our back door and looked out to see part of the roof of our car port about to take off in the strong wind.  I was able to stop it lifting off, temporarily at least, by putting a couple of bricks on top of it.  If I had been at work as usual I would no doubt have come home to find no roof on the car port and who knows what other damage.

Anyway, the cause of my being at home is a “bad back”.  Only those who have bad backs will understand what a nuisance it can be and, at worst, a life-changing miserable affliction.  Mine is an old problem resulting from the day I was determined not to fall off my motorcycle but, like other back sufferers, I have come to know my own back and understand what it can and can’t do and how to manage it.

You would be forgiven for thinking that the afore-mentioned gardening is the culprit but this is not so.  The cause is the new equipment installed at work about eighteen months ago.  In order to use it I often have to stand and twist and bend awkwardly around it to do my job and I always knew that sooner or later it would catch me out.  It happened one day last week – I felt the twinge.  I struggled in to work the next day then over the weekend my back settled down, but just one day at work this week was enough to do it.  I always knew it was a problem just waiting to happen.  I woke up at 4am with pain shooting across my lower back and that nasty sciatic pain down both legs.

It’s not serious.  After two days of rest and gentle exercise it has settled down again and I am not in work again until Saturday, then for only half a day, which should be fine.  By the time I have a full day to work things should be back to normal.

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Two weeks from today will be the first day of my retirement.  I am looking forward very much to not having to use awkward equipment that I would not have chosen myself, to not worrying about whether I can justify having a day or two off sick when I am not actually dying, to being at home more often when disasters are about to occur and being able to stop them, to occasionally finishing the ironing before I start the next lot of washing.  And of course, to spending more time walking Lulu and in our little house in France, just because I can! 

Things are hectic.  Apart from being incredibly busy at work now that word has got around that I am leaving, there are jobs in the garden that just have to be done before it’s too late and blogging time is short so bear with me…..I only have to go to work six more times……..

Bon weekend !!


  1. Just to cheer you up a bit it is distinctly chilly here today so you aren't missing anything weatherwise!

    Hope your back bears up the final days at work.

    1. Me too, it would be a shame to spend the last few days "signed off" by the doctor. Wouldn't it ??!!

  2. Not good down here either in SW France! Hope your back holds up for this last haul, and then yippeee! Freedom!

    1. Vera, that's exactly how I see it. After nearly forty years of doing the same job, flat out, day in day out, 29½ of those years in the same place, freedom is definitely what it is !!

  3. We have our heating back on today!!!!! Take care of your back, I broke mine as a teenager and I have found that exercises every morning are a must to keep things in order!! Have a great weekend. Diane

    1. Thanks Diane, I hope you have a fabulous time on your cruise and look forward to reading all about it in your blog.

  4. Just look after yourself, Jean!!
    I have an aching shoulder from trying to work the still "rather too wet" soil...
    but we've had a couple of light days...
    it has, as N&A mentioned above, become chillier and decidedly grey...
    and, just to really annoy me, it decided to start spitting with rain when I wanted to sit outside for a few minutes!!

  5. I'm sure the people who are booking to see you at work before you retire will also be hoping that your back recovers quickly. I know the pain - our woodburner on Christmas day 1993 was the cause of mine - although for the past 9 years it has been pain free. Typed touching wood!

    Enjoy your last few days at work and look forward to the wonderful times that retirement will bring.

  6. Feel better Jean. A fellow bad back person here! We only had one day of summer weather up here so had to make the most of it! Nice to see the always regal Lulu.

  7. Oh Jean, I do sympathise. Back pain is one of life's cruellest blows not least because it is so often abused by malingerers, giving genuine sufferers the added guilt and worry "will they think I'm putting it on?"

    Try to enjoy the last few days by thinking ahead to a life where your time is your own and you have the luxury to spend it as you wish.

    It's much deserved and long awaited... And it's NEARLY HERE!!! xx

  8. Take care of that back of yours! It would be such a shame to be in pain now that retirement is so close! Hope to see you in France during the first week of June. Not long now! Martine

    1. Martine, I am really looking forward to meeting up with you again!

  9. no fun, having a bad back
    but oh! retirement is so close!

  10. Ouch, I too an sympathise with the agony of a bad back. It's over 30 years since I hurt mine and mostly it's fine now, but I can remember the bad old days. Take care for the next two weeks and then you can rest and recover, hopefully in better weather than we have today.

  11. Jean, several people in my family suffer from back problems. My husband recently came across two articles in the Guardian that he found encouraging, which report that chronic lower back pain can be caused by a bacterial infection and can be cured with a 100-day course of antibiotics. I don't know if that's the type of back pain you have, but I offer the links to you in the hope that they might help.




  12. Thanks for this, Carolyn. I suspect this is one of those articles that GP's dread - suddenly their waiting rooms are full of people hoping for an end to their back pain misery. At least this looks like a sensible treatment to try, that won't result in endless hospital referrals and is fairly simple and cheap to try.
    I shall certainly ask my GP about it if this episode goes on much longer, and will mention it anyway the next time I need to see him for any other reason. It looks like a wonderful solution.