September Blog

A final post

This is my final blog and I would like to say I have enjoyed creating this website and latterly, especially the blogs. Although I was fit and well when I started out on the project little did I know how important it would eventually become. Originally it was sometimes difficult in finding the time but since the diagnosis of MND it has given me a focus, when other pursuits have diminished as the disease has taken hold. Sitting at the computer writing the next days blog I could forget my MND and lose myself developing each and every one, often starting off without a clue what it was going to be.

Thank you all for your support and interest you have helped me more than you will ever know. Will the website continue, well that’s for others to decide. If it does it must be because someone wants to take it on and has the passion. It must not be because Colin wanted it to continue, it’s your choice now.

I also thank the love of my life, THE CURRENT MRS SMITH, particularly for her love and care of me but also for being the butt of so many blogs. Bless you my Darling. XX

Day 30

Allourlives Sunday Quiz

Where would you be if you were among these breakwater sea defences?

Post your answer or best guess at the bottom of the page on the comments facility. We will then see who is first back with the correct answer and how many got it right or wrong.

Answer to last weeks quiz

The Mound in the Canterbury Dane John (Jon) garden in Canterbury. One of the few places you can look down on the cathedral from within the City Walls.

No entrants this week.



Day 29

MND takes a grip

Having moved myself completely downstairs and slept in my new hospital type bed for the first time, I awoke feeling very much below par. Fortunately I had an appointment with the Respiratory Nurse who changed the mode of the Bi-Pap machine, hopefully that will improve the situation. It’s the nature of the beast but you’re never expecting it to take a grip at any particular moment, although you know in reality that it will. Onwards and upwards.

Day 28

John Cunliffe 1933 – 2018

Yesterday the death of Postman Pat creator John Cunliffe was announced at the age of 85. What lovely stories they are, with catchphrase’ enjoyed by young and old alike. Simple stories that have stood the test of time and will live on for many years.

Rest in Peace John Cunliffe

Day 27

Eric and Colin’s Jaunt

Today our jaunt was not so jaunty as Eric has an important Bowles Match this afternoon, which limited his time this morning. Time wasn’t wasted as he fitted a replacement light track in the kitchen. Much discussion over a coffee followed which eventually took us to my Blogs and what Eric liked in particular. As he is all BREXITED out he prefers my family blogs rather than political, I wonder what the consensus is out there? Anyway onwards and upwards who knows what the next blog will be as ideas drop into my head.

Day 26

Should we stay or should we go now?

With the Labour Party Conference arriving at the BREXIT Station yesterday with the claim they will vote down any deal negotiated by the Maybot seems rather juvenile and irresponsible. This is probably the most important decision we have had to make since joining the Common Market in 1973 and therefore should be treated with some reverence. It would seem to me as this is so important party politics and party infighting should be put to one side and as in wartime we should have a government of national unity. That would concentrate minds in Brussels. Next week we have the Conservatives Conference, which is likely to muddy the waters even further. Taking the words from the Clash 1981 hit song (albeit a little corrupted) aptly describes our situation: –

Should we stay or should we go now?
If we go, there will be trouble
And if we stay it will be double
So come on and let us know

Day 25

A wedding vow is very special

Hilary and Tom Sacket 25th September 1971

Today the Current Mrs Smith and I celebrate 47 years of marriage. How fortunate have I been to share so much with this wonderful lady. Starting out just as a wife then developing into a mum, nan and now my carer we all owe so much to her. When you say the words ‘in sickness and in health’ in a marriage service you’re young and invincible but reality eventually comes knocking on your door. She has certainly fulfilled that commitment my admiration for her just keeps on growing.

Thanks my Darling, happy anniversary.

Day 24

East meets West at Smith Towers

As we bumped into the Autumn Equinox and the Moon Festival over the weekend, Smith Towers went all oriental. Billy, who follows the Lunar Calendar, mainly as it often delivers a Bank Holiday, arrived with lanterns, moon cakes and presents for the little people. Traditionally lanterns with candles would be given as a gift and flown off into the night, not so acceptable now as it can have implications for aircraft flight safety. So now we have battery operated plastic lanterns in the shape of super hero’s, which is all good fun but not quite the same. Darth Vader and Storm Troopers, where did they come from in Chinese mythology? Most probably from the twenty-first century Chinese money tree.  None the less an all round fun weekend, thanks Billy.

Day 23

Allourlives Sunday Quiz


Where were these two lovely ladies’ standing?


Post your answer or best guess at the bottom of the page on the comments facility. We will then see who is first back with the correct answer and how many got it right or wrong.

Answer to last weeks quiz

You would be buying cheese from The Canterbury Cheese Maker at the Canterbury Goods Shed Farmers Market

One correct answer this week, Billy (alias James). Well-done James cheese is on its way. lol

Day 22

From Typhoon Mangkhut to Storm Bronagh

There’s great excitement with nephews, niece and sisters not to mention the parents at Smith Towers as Billy our Asian Correspondent drops in from Hong Kong. Last weekend he was battling with Typhoon Mangkhut this weekend, perhaps not so dramatic but its Storm Bronagh. The plan was for a family gathering of apples from the Bramley Tree but the way it’s developing looks more like a sweeping of the lawn. The current Mrs Smith likes her produce organic without any sprays of any sort.

Organic doesn’t bode well for apples staying on the tree.

Day 21

Looking at the positives always helps

Following a meeting with an Occupational Therapist earlier in the week I was pointed to an article in a NHS Community Health Magazine, issue 22 written by MND sufferer Martin Page. The article is emotional and uplifting and amazingly proving the strength of individuals. Click on Martin Page and scroll through to page 32 to read the article.

Day 20

Eric and Colin’s Jaunt

Today we returned to the Gallery Kitchen Café at the Creek Creative Studios in Faversham. This week Lyn Powell was exhibiting her photos with accompanying poems, quite lovely and thought provoking. The exhibition is titled ‘Songs of the Marshland’ with her poems matching her images of the Faversham Marshes. A lovely morning in convivial surroundings.

Day 19

MND has no respect for age

Stephen Darby, of Bolton has announced his retirement from football at the age of 29 following his diagnoses of MND. This debilitating disease is not good for anyone and obviously doesn’t respect age and at 29 is a tragedy for him and his family.

We wish him well as he finds the resources to cope with this challenging illness.

Day 18

Typhoon Mangkhut Hong Kong Aftermath

After experiencing the forces of nature on Sunday it was time to reflect on the damage. Trees didn’t do well and Tower Cranes required the services of larger cranes to dismantle twisted metal. With the disturbance of undergrowth there were some surprising discoveries, better confronted in the day rather than night. One tower block appeared a bit draughty as the builder had not, perhaps fitted the best.

Day 17

Typhoon Mangkhut gives Hong Kong a bruising

Shek-O Beach May 2012

Yesterday Billy our Asian Correspondent had a Duvet Day like all sensible Hongkongers as Super Typhoon (category 5) Mangkut hit the territory. With winds gusting up to 216 km/hr only the foolhardy ventured out but their efforts were rewarded by some dramatic images posted on social media. The poor people from the Philippines took the full force of the typhoon consequentially with poor infrastructure sustained serious damage and loss of life, whereas Hong Kong although it will have some damage will get off relatively lightly. It’s a shame but a fact of life the poor always suffer the most in any crisis, be it financial through to natural disasters. The two images of Hong Kongs Shek-O beach show two very different stories, one taken on a balmy May afternoon with the temperature at 37°c the other yesterday with Mangkhut in full flight.

Click on the video clips to take in the full impact of Mangkhut

Shek-O Beach September 2018

Day 16

Allourlives Sunday Quiz

Where would you be if you were buying cheese from the Canterbury Cheese maker? Our Antipodean correspondent is barred from the competition this week as she was there.

Post your answer or best guess at the bottom of the page on the comments facility. We will then see who is first with the correct answer and how many got it right or wrong.

Answer to last weeks quiz

The Maggie Ann is on the Ramsgate Slipway at the Eastern side of the harbour.



No entrants this week.

Day 15

Typhoon Mangkhut

New Yau Ma Tei Typhoon Shelter

With Hurricane Florence (category 1) pounding the Carolinas spare a thought for Hongkongers as Super Typhoon Mangkut (category 5), scheduled to be 200km off Hong Kong by Sunday. Warnings are out that residents should prepare for the worst from this tropical cyclone of extraordinary speeds. Hong Kong appears to be an efficient place with typhoon shelters around the harbour so perhaps their preparedness will pay off. Trump will have to accept the existence of Florence, but most probably will deny the existence of Mangkhut. Keep your hat on Billy.

Hong Kong Ferry – Twinkling Star

Day 14

A Six Day Turnaround

Six days after the barley was harvested the field opposite Smith Towers is now all re-sown with Oilseed Rape. The current Mrs Smith checked with the farmer that the sowing fully complied with all EU Directives, prior to BREXIT. She was assured it fully complied and that they had planted double the quantity working on the theory one for the farmer and one for the pigeon. The speed of turnaround shows the efficiency of modern farming techniques and equipment. The steam plough would have wanted that time just to plough.

Day 13

Eric and Colin’s Jaunt

Today we ventured back to the Horsebridge Centre at Whitstable, which is currently running an art exhibition in its gallery 1, entitled ‘Shifting Tides’. Local artist work that had studied at the University for the Creative Arts at Canterbury as mature students made up the content on display. Although the content was a little sparse what was on offer was thought provoking and of a high standard. Coffee followed as usual but we were joined by David the Brett Group Electrical Manager who today has completed  25 years service with the group. Quite an achievement and a milestone in this day and age of fluid movement of people between companies. Congratulations David.

Day 12

To be PC or not to be PC that is the question

Writing in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph Julia Hartley-Brewer touched on the subject of being PC in respect of metaphors citing Boris’ recent articles when he has mentioned ladies in burkas looking like thieves and the Maybot wearing a suicide vest. She also suggested that Shakespeare would be in trouble today and I guess historically so would many a writer. Traveling in Australia in 2016 in a small NSW town of Morpeth I came across a sign for Teddy Bears and Golliwogs certainly not PC for the latter. In conclusion she stated that everyone knows that Boris was using the statements as metaphors and certainly wasn’t saying the Maybot was a terrorist. As a wartime baby we all appeared to have golliwogs and most of us saved labels for a Robinsons Golliwog enamelled broach. What a journey in a generation and to a point where you have to be so careful not to upset or be on the wrong side of the PC Brigade. Returning to the Golliwog did we grow up racists because we played with the cheeky rag doll? Are the people of Morpeth behind the times or are they just keeping up an historic tradition? I would be interested in your views on the subject as taken to its final conclusion all nursery rhymes; children’s stories and pantomimes would all disappear down the preverbal PC drainpipe.

Day 11

September MND Up-Date

A visit yesterday to the Multi Discipline MND Clinic at the William Harvey Hospital, Ashford proved a positive experience as always. Having arrived at the point of having to finally decide whether to have a feeding tube or not it was good to be able to talk it through with dietician, respiratory and neurology the pros and cons coming to the point that indeed it was now time. The NHS take a lot of flak but in my experience the MND support is second to none. Yesterday being a fine example of all elements in a joined up clinic able to share information and thus deliver real care to patients. I deliberately have not named individuals but they all know who they are and I thank each and every one of them. During discussions with the respective consultants I found myself using the fight word, quite subconsciously so I’ve not programmed the word out of my mind, apparently.

Returning to the feeding tube with Christmas just over three months away begs the question just how large a tube is it to cope with a turkey drumstick?

DAY 10

There’s more good in the world than bad

On Saturday two members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses knocked our door and were selling the idea that the world was progressively getting more evil. A statement that required challenging. There’s no doubt there’s evil in the world but I’m convinced there’s infinitely more good than bad. Move on to Saturday evening and Sir Andrew Davis in his Last Night of the Proms’ speech highlighted the power of music to bring us all closer together, which benefits us all. Religious groups are entitled to their views but should be careful of how and to whom they express them.

Returning to the BBC Proms, what a fantastic season, once again. The culmination on Saturday with the last night, through Radio, TV and on-line around the world reached an incalculable audience. With the Albert Hall full of amazing talent the show was stolen by a young saxophonist, Jess Gillam. Having championed the BBC previously I make no apology for restating the importance of our BBC at home and abroad. Go BBC go!

Day 9

Allourlives Sunday Quiz

Where would you be if you were high and dry like the Maggie Ann?

Post your answer or best guess at the bottom of the page on the comments facility. We will then see who is first with the correct answer and how many got it right or wrong.


Answer to last weeks quiz

The Kent safe anchorage was Sandwich

One correct entrant this week, well done Pam

Day 8

A Poplar is not always popular

Hilltop view across the Stour Valley – Circa 1980

When I was growing up in the Hilltop area some of the fields were divided by modest (in height) plum trees. Subsequently these were replaced by poplars, which by 1980 had grown significantly but still didn’t encroach on our view across the valley. Move onto 2018 and the view is none existent as the vigorousness of the beasts have reached for the sky. They were scheduled to be felled last autumn as part of the Thanington Park housing scheme but still they grow on. Yes, we need a soft barrier between the proposed housing development but only of sufficient height to mask the buildings. The local consensus is the scheme is ill conceived paying little attention to infrastructure, vehicle logistics, particularly on and off the A28 and environmental issues. Therefore regaining our view would be some compensation, albeit small but a positive none-the-less in a sea of negatives.

Hilltop view 2018

Day 7

The Hilltop 2019 Calendar is now work in progress

Hilltop 2017 Photographer of the Year entrants

Entries for the 2018 Hilltop Photographer of the Year competition are all in, so we all now have to wait in anticipation of our photos achieving recognition. This year the Hilltop calendar photos, criteria in and around the South East, will be selected from the competition, hopefully increasing demand from quality.

Stand by it may be  necessary to get your orders in early.

Day 6

Eric and Colin’s Jaunt

Today we found a little gem in the city. The Sydney Cooper Centre now under the stewardship of Christ Church University following Canterbury City Councils plan to close the facility, is currently showing an exhibition of sculptor and artist Stephanie Quayle. This is the second time we have come across her work as she also has sculptures as part of the Animals and Us exhibition, concurrently running at the Turner Contemporary. The highlight of today’s exhibits was a life size Shire horse created in situ, absolutely stunning as you enter the gallery. Interestingly the exhibition celebrates the artist vision of the works of our own Sydney Cooper, renown for his animal paintings, which are displayed in the Beaney Institute. Further more the Centre, which was originally the Canterbury Art College and sent many students out into the world to create great things would be no more if the City Council had had their way and would have been a loss never to be recovered, so thanks to Christ Church University, who don’t always have the best record in popularity in the City. Accessing the building was an adventure in itself entering through the rear of the building, traversing two wheelchair lifts fortunately the staff were very friendly and helped us through other work in progress galleries, no old codgers were lost in transit.

Day 5

All Is Safely Gathered In

The late sown (April) barley opposite Smith Towers has finally been harvested having seemed to be ready since July. Each season’s crop is of importance as it’s another year of agriculture rather than a poorly thought out housing scheme. We now look forward to seeing the plough arrive.

Day 4

Autumn Term

Yesterday saw the start of a new term for the next academic year. It was a special day at Smith Towers as Oliver the youngest of the little people started at Wickhambreaux School and a smart little chap he was. Erin and Jules also cut the mustard and turned out all scrubbed up and ready for action, with Jules claiming it was his best day ever at school. Autumn Term is a busy one with Harvest Festivals, Halloween and Christmas etc., so look out Mums and Dads as your input will be required, I’m sure. The eldest of the little people, Freddie had a Baker day so his uniform was his PJ’s, enjoy the moment Freds.

Who remembers the trauma of the first day back after six weeks of freedom? A little different from the first day of the holiday when it was all before you.

Day 3

It’s Tough At The Top

With Parliament back from its summer recess this week and looking down the nose of the conference season, there was just two stories that dominated the Sunday papers. Survival of the Maybot and or Jezza, between now and Christmas. The Maybot has the poison challis of endeavouring to deliver BREXIT to everyone’s satisfaction, a challenge too far I feel for anyone. She is under fire from opposition benches but more dangerously from her own side. Jezza on the other hand has BREXIT problems but is particularly under fire for racial and Anti Semitic issues within Labour and also has a problem with his Parliamentary Members. Will either survive this turbulent time they find themselves in?

The Maybot has been written off several times but has so far bounced back, one of her strengths being able to come to the house and admit she got it wrong. Her MP’s are a dangerous bunch, so standby for feathers to fly.

Jezza is also a survivor but in my opinion only because of the lack of conviction by the Parliamentary Labour Party members. Frank Field who has now stepped up to the plate may give courage to others. Labour MP’s don’t seem so dangerous but depending on his handling of things this week may change all that. Could be Red Flags at dawn.

Day 2

Allourlives Sunday Quiz

Can you identify this Kent safe anchorage? Two pictures this week to help you.

One Keen follower should get this.

Post your answer or best guess at the bottom of the page on the comments facility. We will then see who is first with the correct answer and how many got it right or wrong.

Answer to last weeks quiz

The gantry signal box is at Canterbury West Station

Two entrants received this week and both correct.

Well done Louise and Ruth

Day 1

Back to School

As we enter autumn, Meteorologically and the return to school looms it’s time to reflect on the holidays. Firstly, how can six weeks go so quickly? This year the Smith Clan didn’t do their Spanish adventure or visit Disney or some other mega theme park in fact they went back to basics with traditional activities. This included coming face to face with a polar bear (Paula) at the Turner Contemporary through to three nights camping on the Romney Marsh. When pressed to say what was best of the holiday they all agreed it was the camping and in particular the sites playground and the funfair at Dymchurch. Interestingly this involved three days off screens; the site playground was like any local council facility and the funfair of the magnitude of a traveling fair. All proving the point that children will make their own fun when released from the shackles of routine and perhaps less is more.

Enjoy school little people.

16 thoughts on “September Blog

  1. Thank you Colin so much for sharing your latest experiences with MND. You are very generous and courageous, and your generosity helps us understand more about what you are going through. In the past we wouldn’t have dared discuss thoughts and feelings connected to illnesses such as MND. So again, thank you 💗

  2. Golliwogs, simply put they have attracted connections to racism and seem akin to the black and white minstrels. Fine to talk about in a historical context but can quite frankly stay in their historical context. Recongnising they came before the black and white minstrels I can see that if you connect the two in your mind (they have a slightly similar appearance) then they carry a poisonous sub text, that many would not understand which is a genuine issue.

    • Thanks for our comment Louise. I suppose your’e dealing with the innocence of a child against potential racism from an adult. The former is a given the latter not necessarily so but the potential has to be addressed.

  3. I really love last two blogs Dad. If politicians did stop infighting that would be a wonderful thing for all of us. I remember Grandad always saying years ago that they act like children in a play ground. I think children in general act far better sometimes.
    I also am so proud of you and Mum for how you are handling your MND.
    I’m witnessing a strength I hadn’t thought existed.
    You are fullfilling your wedding vowels and a love that I can only dream of.
    I love you both so much. Xx

  4. University UKC hill! Great blogs in last few days Colin! Especially like the ‘should I stay or should I go now?’ Reference and the anniversary post! X

  5. I love your blogs so much, I wish you were here now so I could thank you so much and for everything that you have done. I love you so much, from Julius Holmes xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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