Fast Forward

Photo credit – Unsplash

Okay – you’ve guessed it! That’s not me in the above photo! Surprised? I didn’t think you would be. It’s just that it was difficult finding an image of a wheelchair in motion. You mean to say I had you fooled for a moment 😁? No? I’ll retract that then!

It’s now only three days since I got home from being in hospital. I’m still absolutely exhausted and rather sore (only to be expected). What I want to say is that I’m running as fast as I can to catch up with all (or at least some) of your posts that I’ve missed while I was away from home. I’m not succeeding very well so far. My concentration is shot to pieces, and I currently have the attention span of a gnat. Nevertheless, I remain optimistic and know this is only a temporary blip. I’ll soon be back on form and communicating with everyone a bit more efficiently. Don’t expect miracles too soon, though.

So, that’s where I’m at right now. Please, bear with me a little longer till I get my oomph back. I’m managing to read one of two of your posts but can’t get my brain enough in gear to comment. I feel like I’ve got a head full of rice pudding. Don’t ask me to expand on that thought further.

In the meantime, thank you all for your kind comments and for caring about me. I do love my WordPress family. Have a great rest of the day (unless it’s the middle of the night where you are). Love to you all. Ellie xx 💖🥰💞

Home From Hospital

I just thought I’d pop in briefly to let you know I’m home from hospital now. My friend came and collected me from the hospital this morning and was kind enough to stay some of the day at home with me. You’ll be pleased to hear my operation was successful. There was a minor complication, but the hospital really did look after me well. I have to visit my GP in ten days to have my stitches taken out. I’m also on antibiotics, still somewhat wiped out and have very little energy. Not surprising, though. Early days yet.

I was lucky to have been on a reasonably quiet ward, or as quiet as wards can be, with the general hustle and bustle of hospital staff being as busy as they are. That, along with a variety of pings and beeps from hospital equipment. The doctors and nurses were all lovely, and so were the care workers and cleaners, and I feel grateful for being cared for so well. What would we do without the NHS?

My home help, a good friend, is coming over a couple of extra times over the next week to make sure I’m okay and see if there’s anything I need. It’s very kind of her, and I appreciate it. My neighbour got some shopping in for me yesterday, so I’ve got food, although I’m not very hungry. The hospital food was yummy, and they even had a good choice of vegan meals which surprised me. I think food always tastes nicer if someone else has cooked it for you!

I probably won’t write much for a few days yet as I’m still pretty exhausted. I don’t think I’ve got all of the anaesthetic out of my system yet, either. I will try and catch up with some of your recent posts as soon as I can. I’ve missed you all being part of my life. It’s funny how people we don’t really know away from WordPress can become a big part of our lives.


I’ll say night-night now as I’m going up to bed early. I might even let Peanut, my cat, come up with me as I think she missed me while I was away. A neighbour popped in a couple of times a day to ensure she had enough food, water and a clean litter tray. I missed her too.

Mostly, I wanted to thank all of you, my blogging buddies and readers, for your very kind comments and good wishes – I’ve just had time to read some of them. It’s lovely to know people care, and it means a lot to me. See you all soon. Xx .💟

Hospital Break

TO ALL MY READERS AND FELLOW BLOGGERS,

UNEXPECTED NEWS

This brief but important post is to let all my readers and fellow bloggers know that I’ve unexpectedly got to go into hospital for an urgent operation tomorrow 😢. I’m being picked up first thing in the morning, so, as you can imagine, I have an awful lot to do to get myself ready for my inpatient stay. The hospital estimates that I’ll be there for anything up to a week, depending on how the operation goes.

I sincerely apologise to all my blogging friends that it’s unlikely that I’ll be able to read your posts from now until I’m home and recovered again. However, if, after my surgery, I’m feeling well enough, I’ll try and catch up with some of you from the hospital as I’ll have my phone with me. You never know, I might even feel up to writing a short post from my bed!

In the meantime, please, stay safe and well and keep writing all the beautiful pieces that you all do so well. For now, take care of yourselves, and I’ll look forward to catching up as soon as I’m able. Thank you all for your understanding. Group hug 🤗🤗🤗 – Ellie xx 💜💖💙

Fashion Shopping for the Reluctant

Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

I thought I’d share this piece I wrote for part of my coursework just for something different. I had to choose something I found boring written from someone else’s perspective.

How about we meet up in town for a coffee, Ellie? It’s about time we had a good catch-up. Let’s go to Costa – they make excellent coffee there, and the cakes are delicious. I’ll meet you at 11 am outside Boots.

11 am came, and we met as planned.

Darling! Lovely to see you again; how are you doing? You look a bit tired; too many late nights? Let’s go and queue up at Costa’s – they’re bound to be busy. You grab us a table and park your wheelchair; I’ll get the coffees. What cake would you like? They make a fabulous carrot cake.

Well, that was a perfect cappuccino, and that cake was amazing. Is that the time? I wanted to go to a few shops to look for a dress for the office party. I love shopping for clothes. You don’t mind coming with me, do you? I thought you might like to help me choose. Let’s go to River Island – they sell very stylish things there. They’re a bit expensive, but it’s worth it to get something fashionable, don’t you think? I don’t want to turn up in something boring and old fashioned. Ooh! Look at that dress? It’s down the end of the shop – let’s go and have a look. And, it’s blue, my favourite colour. You don’t mind if I go and try it on, do you? No, I didn’t think you would. I won’t be long; you wait there.

Fifteen minutes later

Oh, I’m sorry I was so long, darling. You should have seen the length of the queue! I decided against that dress; it made me look frumpy. Let’s try somewhere else. We can go to H & M. They’ve got some lovely clothes in there too; they’re very stylish and cheaper than River Island. This is so exciting! Oh, look at that red top over there! I think I like that more than the dress. It’ll go with my new black trousers. I bought them in the sale at Matalan last week. I think they’d look smart together. I’ll just go and try it on. I won’t be long; the queue doesn’t look as long as in the first shop. You wait here.

Four minutes later

Nope – this top isn’t right either; it makes me look too wide around the bust. It’s such a shame; it looked so lovely on the mannequin, too. How about we go to Next? It’s only up the end of the High Street. Come on. Next is a bit pricey, but it is for a special occasion; I don’t mind paying more. Goodness, it’s getting busy everywhere. I suppose lots of people are shopping during their lunch hours. Ooh! Stop a minute. Let’s pop into Primark as we’re passing. Look! They’ve got a beautiful yellow top in the window. That’ll go well with those black trousers too, and it looks so summery. Yes, I know it’s a bit crowded to get your wheelchair through, but I’m sure you don’t mind, do you? I’ll head off to the changing rooms; you catch me up in a minute. Okay?

Ten minutes later

Ellie!? Oh, there you are. Come into the cubicle with me; you can have a proper look. What do you think of this? Don’t you love it? Do you reckon this colour suits me – come on, be honest? Personally, I think it’s my favourite item so far. You wait outside the fitting rooms while I get changed out of it. Why don’t you start queuing up; it’s a long queue? I won’t be long; I’ll be as quick as possible. Save me a place. We won’t have such a long wait to pay that way. Well, that was a bargain, wasn’t it?

Oh, hang on a tic; I’ve just seen a necklace in the window; it’ll go brilliantly with the rest of my outfit, don’t you think? I don’t know why I didn’t see it before. Wait here. I shan’t be long. The queue has died down a bit now.

Twenty-five minutes later.

I’m so sorry, Ellie. Isn’t it typical? I was standing behind this woman in the queue, and as she went to pay, she couldn’t find her credit card. The checkout girl asked if she had any cash or would she like her to put it back for her. She confirmed she had money and got her brown suede purse out of her Marks & Spencer carrier bag. Then, she asked the cashier if she’d mind taking coins as she didn’t have any notes. And then, would you believe it, she emptied her purse and counted out a mixture of pound coins, 50ps and copper and then realised she was short of £3.50! Honestly, you should have seen the checkout girl’s face! I could tell she wasn’t impressed, but she was polite and offered to put the necklace back on the stand after serving the other customers. It was my turn next, and by now, the queue had backed up all the way to the customer service till at the end. That woman got some filthy looks from the people behind her. I’d have been so embarrassed if that were me, wouldn’t you? I hope you didn’t mind waiting for me for so long; I knew you’d understand. Do you fancy another coffee? I’ll put that necklace on, and you can take a photo of me wearing it and then share it on my Facebook page. You don’t mind, do you? Oh, damn, there’s a queue for coffee now. Just our luck! Let’s call it a day! I’m glad you didn’t mind coming with me. I knew you’d enjoy it. We had such fun together, didn’t we?

Family Moving In!

(Image courtesy of Pexels)

Well, that was a blow! It’s Sunday afternoon. I’ve just had a very long phone call with my son, Tom. He was married about 16 years ago and had two children, but that didn’t work out, and he split up with Karen after ten miserable years together. Since then, he’s been in a relationship with a woman called Kim, but that’s not working out either (after six years). Tom and Kim had bought a big house between them as Tom has got my two youngest grandchildren, aged nine and seven. I call them my ‘little ones’ because my daughter and son-in-law have ‘my girls’ who are older. Kim has three much older girls still living at home. As a Mum, I sensed something was wrong quite some time ago. I hadn’t said anything, but Tom just called to say they’re definitely splitting up. The house will have to be sold.

Tom had a question to ask me. In fact, it was a huge ask. He said the big house would have to be sold so that he and Kim could afford to each find somewhere smaller for themselves. Until then, he can’t stay in the house with Kim as they’re not getting on well at all.

“Can the children and I come and stay with you for a few months, please?” I wasn’t expecting that! I’ve been living alone very happily for many years, and as much as I’d love to see more of them, I need and enjoy my space and privacy. I like that it gives me plenty of time to do some studying and writing. What on Earth do I say? We talked at length; “Can I think about this for a couple of days, please, Tom”? Tom was willing to do that, naturally. I love them all very dearly, but suddenly going from living alone to having the house occupied by family will be a bit of a shock, to say the least.

There’ll be a whole heap of things that will have to happen first if I agree. They’ll have to sleep in my only spare room, a junk storage room. It’ll need clearing out, decorating, carpeting and new beds and furnishings to make it habitable. It hasn’t been touched for decades. The garage will have to be cleared of ‘stuff’ so that Tom has some space to store furniture etc. It’s going to be chaos. I hate having decorators in because of all the mess too.

I’ve now got a couple of days to think about all this. I really don’t know what I’m going to do. It’s come like a bolt out of the blue. Tom is an adult, so I didn’t ever expect to be playing the role of Mum again. I’m not sure I can go ahead with it, but what else do I do?

The Missing Mum Years

My childhood home

This is my dear late Mum’s house as it stands now. It was my childhood home until I married at twenty years of age and moved out. I’ve been reminiscing about this house over the last couple of days. One of my sisters had been back to visit there recently. Although she advised me against it, I asked her to share her photo with me. Big mistake! Huge mistake, in fact. It’s no longer how I remember it. Gone is the beautiful orange door (not that it’s visible in this picture) – it’s been replaced by a dull grey. The window frames have all been painted stark white over the original orange. Orange was Mum’s favourite colour. The steps outside are also not visible in this photo. The neat box hedge has completely overgrown, as has the glorious pink azalea shrub. I feel so sad. I shouldn’t have asked to see this photo. I should have known it would be different now, six years after losing my Mum. I still miss her so much. I always will.

The steps at the front of the house were a barrier for me for the last four years before Mum passed away. Being a wheelchair user now, there was no way I could climb them to get into the house. To make matters worse, Mum was severely agoraphobic, which meant she couldn’t leave there. It meant that we didn’t see each other for all that time. It broke my heart (and hers). We spoke on the phone a lot, especially towards the end. I would call two or three times a day to check she was okay. She mainly was as fit as a fiddle … until she had her stroke. Before that happened, she would vigorously mow the grass, raking it up, digging and planting flowers and tomatoes.

Those last four years were so painful. I didn’t feel sorry myself; I never did, but I felt angry and frustrated about my disability stopping me from seeing her. It was hard to come to terms with, and we missed each other terribly. The only time I got to see her in those last years was when, towards the end, she was admitted to hospital after her stroke. Hospitals are nearly always accessible. She was never the same after that happened. I wrote a post about this at the time. You can read about it at https://elliethompson.uk/2016/11/26/grief-without-death/.

I’m glad I can’t see the inside of the house; it must be so different now, and it would only upset me further. The kitchen was always my favourite room. The kitchen units were orange, as was her one-person teapot, which sat permanently on the side waiting to be filled. She loved her cups of tea and her toast and marmalade, which she’d have for breakfast every morning. After we lost Mum, there were all the usual formalities to arrange; the funeral, the interment, the house to sort out etc. My sisters came from various parts of the country to deal with all this, but I had no choice, being unable to go up those damn steps. My sisters were very kindly involving me as much as possible by taking pictures of everything, so I could decide what I’d like to have. I chose Mum’s little orange teapot. It reminded me so much of her.

Mum’s orange teapot sitting comfortably on my kitchen windowsill

I have a tradition now. Every year, on Mum’s birthday and on Mother’s Day, I take myself off to a quaint tea shop in my city. I order myself a pot of tea (I usually drink coffee) and some toast and marmalade. Sometimes, I order a slice of cake – Mum always enjoyed her cake. Having recently bought the loveliest card I could find in John Lewis, I sit for a couple of hours and write to her. I write it as a conversation between us, just as if she were there with me, drinking tea and eating toast or cake. It makes me feel closer to her at those times. I wish she were still here to join me. But, however much I write, it’ll never make up for those four years when I couldn’t see her. I missed so much of her later life. I think I’ll always miss her – the pain doesn’t lessen. Perhaps, it will in time.

Sunnier Climes – Part 2 – The Pier

At the beginning of March, I wrote a post about my holiday to Southend-on-Sea during the summer of 2018 – https://elliethompson.uk/2022/03/06/sunnier-climes-part-1/ . This is the continuation of that experience.

Seven Hotel – Southend-on-Sea

It was a beautiful day in July when I set off from the rather plush Seven Hotel and headed for the pier. The train that went almost the length of it hadn’t started running yet as I’d set off very early in the morning. It was the hottest day we’d had in the UK for three years at over 33 degrees, and I’d thought I’d get out before the peak of the heat hit. As I sped off in my electric wheelchair, George, the welcome breeze swept through my hair. It was exhilarating, and I was soon at the halfway point. I looked back at the distance I’d travelled and admired the view. The sky was hazy with the heat, but the sea was blue. The gleaming white buildings, hotels and apartments were in the distance now.

The view from Southend Pier.

I trundled across the pier’s wooden planks, thoroughly enjoying myself with the seagulls flying high above me, squawking loudly. The café was right at the end, and I thought I’d stop there and grab some breakfast and a coffee. Twenty minutes later, when I’d almost reached my destination, the clackety-clack of the wood below my wheels began to sound odd. The planks were old and worn in some places but perfectly sound. After a few more metres, the noise became louder. I wasn’t too concerned and had my eye on the sign at the end. I stopped to take this photo. It read …

Congratulations. You’ve reached the end of Southend Pier.

I could see the café up ahead and was looking forward to my breakfast. I was nearly there. I went to set off again when I suddenly realised that something was wrong. My wheelchair was leaning to one side. I looked down, and there was a completely flat tyre. What a place to get a puncture! Now, what do I do?

I turned to look over my shoulder and saw a couple behind me, although quite some way back. I waved at them frantically. To my dismay, they seemed to assume I was simply being friendly and waved back at me! As they got nearer, they could see my predicament and stopped to offer their help. I had no idea how I would get back to the land end of the pier.

Southend Pier – the longest pier in the world at 2.16 kilometres

The couple said they’d go to the café to get assistance, and soon, they returned with a manual wheelchair. I transferred into it, but there was still the dilemma of what to do with my chair. I certainly wasn’t going to abandon it. The only thing to do was push my chair, George, onto the train with me by his side and head back to land. A great idea, but there was a problem. The goods carriage was the only space big enough to take my chair, and that was filled with crates of wine bottles and beer for the café. There was no option but to unload it all onto the platform. The guard was not impressed! Finally, they got me on the train and back to terra firma. I then had to wait for an hour-and-a-half before the breakdown vehicle came and rescued me, brought me back to my hotel and whipped George off to have a new tyre.

I can laugh about it now, but that’s one holiday I shall never forget!

Sober Celebration

Yesterday, while clearing out some cupboards, right at the back, I came across one of the books I wrote in 2011, published in 2012. Although it was mostly poetry which I generally enjoy writing, it was at a time in my life when I was in a dreadful state, mentally, physically and emotionally. I’d written about all the trauma I’d experienced, which devoured my childhood and teenage years, and about an extremely damaging and abusive experience I had with a therapist, which totally messed me up, consuming a further eight years of my life as an adult. To numb the pain and unbearable feelings, I turned to drink and to drugs. I alienated my entire family and my friends also. I’m glad you didn’t know me back then – I wasn’t a nice person to be around during those desperate years.

So, why am I writing this post now? I know I didn’t need to, but I have done because I feel there was a reason that I found that book yesterday, and that was that it’s my tenth anniversary of being clean and sober (on the 27th of April). I finally got help at a local drug and alcohol rehab centre in my city and with a decent, boundaried counsellor. I have an awful lot of gratitude for those people who helped me in my recovery. They also say that time is a great healer, and I believe this is true in my case. I never thought, back then, that I’d ever be able to move on with my life. I’m very thankful.

I can now celebrate my life and appreciate it for what it is – not perfect but very acceptable. I have my family back in my life, and that’s worth its weight in gold to me. I have new friends (and a couple of old ones) who love me and take me as I am. I was a lot to put up with back then, but now, I make sure to value them all and tell them how much I love them. I don’t take my life for granted anymore. I’ve got my home, my security, my cat, Peanut, food in the cupboard, a comfy bed to sleep in and most importantly, I have peace of mind.

Now, what to do with my book?





Who’s the Boss?

Peanut (aka the boss) at home

Establishing who’s the boss in my house is a tough one. You may have heard the saying, “A dog has masters, a cat has slaves”. It’s certainly true in my home!

I have a much-loved, adorable, tortoiseshell moggy called Peanut. I named her Peanut because when I rescued her, she was a tiny kitten the colour of a dry roasted peanut! What better reason. She’s the first pet I’ve had since living alone (quite happily, too). Although she’s now two-and-a-half years old, she’s still quite petite and looks like butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth. But … don’t be fooled by her angelic looks. She’s no angel. She’s feisty, doesn’t like being picked up or held and is picky about her food, only eating the expensive stuff. She doesn’t like the beef or lamb cat food, only chicken, turkey or fish, fussy little madam. It’s just as well that I’m vegan with the cost of meat these days! To begin with, I found it challenging to buy poultry or fish cat food, but cats are carnivorous, and it wouldn’t be fair to expect her to be anything else. It was my choice to take her in; therefore, it’s only reasonable that she is fed naturally and responsibly. 

She also does what comes naturally to cats – she’s a hunter (unfortunately for me and her prey, of course). I’ve lost count of the number of mice I’ve had to chase around the kitchen floor after. Not the easiest of tasks in a wheelchair. Some have survived to tell another tale (pun not intended), but others, sadly, have met their demise.

She did catch a baby bird the Spring before last. I managed to rescue it from Peanut’s jaws; it appeared uninjured but was definitely in shock and hardly moving. I wrapped it in soft tissue for warmth and protection and popped it into a relatively small empty box. I then had the slowest of journeys up to the vets an hour away while trying to shield the little mite from the wind and the broken paving beneath my wheels. Once I arrived, the vet examined it and declared it to be uninjured, as I’d thought. That was a relief. They took it in to care for it and were going to send it to the local wildlife rescue centre until it had grown enough to be released safely. It turned out to be a baby Great Tit. Unfortunately, the butterflies she catches fare less well. Last week, she caught a slow worm (rather lovely creatures and much-needed for the garden, as are all worms). Fortunately, this one did survive completely unscathed and got put back in the garden, whereas Peanut got put in the living room with me to give the slow worm time to make a quick getaway. They can move pretty fast.

The one that got away!

Going to bed is another matter. She doesn’t like being shut-in, but I couldn’t have her bringing in all and sundry while I sleep upstairs. Firstly, I’d be none the wiser when I got up, and secondly, I wouldn’t stand a chance of finding her live prey in the morning if it had run under the fridge or washing machine. She’s got her biscuit, water, and litter tray, so is quite comfortable. But the fuss she makes when I go to bed is only to be seen. I’ve tried taking her up to bed with me in case she’s lonely; she then decides to shin up the curtains and plays leapfrog from the chest of drawers to the dressing table, knocking off everything on them. I wouldn’t mind if she quietly settled down next to me, but I swear she thinks she was an Olympic athlete in one of her previous lives. But, for all that, I love her dearly and couldn’t imagine being without her. She’s become a good companion … when it suits her!

Peanut asleep on my sister’s lap – Day One
“You can’t see me”

Coffee and Cake

(Photo credit: Simone’s Kitchen)

I wanted to share this poem in dedication to my dear friend, Jenna, who I’ve known for over thirty years. I worked as a home help (before I became disabled) for her and her husband with their three older children when I was a single divorced parent who brought up my two young children alone. I loved being at her house – it was a grand Georgian house with a sweeping staircase and mahogany panelled walls in the hallway, and I thoroughly enjoyed my work there. Lots to clean with all the nooks and crannies. We’d sit for an hour in the middle of my morning talking about all and sundry. I always made my coffee time up working later than my allotted time there. She was always there for me, and I for her.

About four years ago, having lost her husband and two older boys tragically, she moved down to the south coast to be near her daughter and granddaughter. She’s now living in a little cottage almost on the beach. She loves it there, and I’m so pleased for her. That’s not to say I don’t miss her very much because I do. She no longer drives, and I’m unable to visit her because of the distance and lack of accessibility of transport. She’s eighty-three now and becoming frailer in her old age. It worries me greatly as just recently, she’s started to deteriorate. I dread anything happening to her.

COFFEE AND CAKE

I miss the times we sat together
Over your heavy pine table
We drank coffee and ate dainty madeleines
As I poured out my troubled heart to you

That time spent together
Strengthened and deepened our friendship
We cannot sit there any longer
But, my friend, my memories are so fond

You saw me through my best and worst
Through a close-shave house move
Through damaging relationships
You soothed me as my mental health declined

You never once judged me, never criticized
Quietly there amid your own turmoil
And coffee and cake became a sigh of relief
Time to stop and share both joys and tears

Now, so far away with miles between us
You by the sea and me still in town
We still speak for hours, not every day
Perhaps, once or twice a week

We never tire of things to speak of
Often, putting the world to rights
We talk of our children, some lost, some grown
Partners and mothers long since passed

We talk and talk endlessly
I feel that I witness your life
In its goodness and its pain
As you too, witness mine

Our extended phone calls
Prove those miles between us
Hardly matter at all
But, my dear friend, I would give my all to see you again.

© Copyright Ellie Thompson 2022