May 2018

Thursday 31st

Eric & Colin’s Thursday Jaunt

Today we ventured back to the Marsh and the Kent Wildlife Trust, Romney Marsh Visitor Centre. Fog, sun and torrential rain we had it all plus a nice coffee and as always diverse chat. Subjects today were the old firm (Brett’s) LGBT, abortion, towards end of life and Cromwell’s role in our constitution (unwritten) today compared to journey of current African and Middle East countries.

Throughout June the centre is running an art exhibition titled ‘Together Separately’ it looks interesting so hoping to get back and have a look

Wednesday 30th

To fight or not to fight that is the question

For two consecutive Wednesdays we have had a debate about the use of words, and fight in particular, in respect of terminal illnesses. Although I still stand by what I said I do believe I was a little self-indulgent and I apologise for that. Ruth has now taken time and stock of the subject and her analysis below is very interesting and thought provoking.


When I re-read your first and second blog on the use of the words ‘fight and battle’ used regarding a terminal illness, it seemed to me that maybe we did have slightly different topics. It was also useful to see the definition of the words as given by the Oxford and Cambridge Dictionaries. I think we all interpret and understand life based on our own unique experience and in my case, those words are definitely negative probably due to being brought up during the Second World War, and seeing the results of it. In my case I would use words that I consider more positive such as courage, challenge or resilience. All of which you’ve got ‘in spades’!

 I understand, I think, where you’re coming from in terms of the words ‘fight’ and ‘battle’, and it makes sense knowing that you have so many challenges and how amazingly you are dealing with them. Maybe it’s different for people suffering from MND in comparison to those with a cancer diagnosis. In Alan’s case, he was told that it was too late to operate but was given chemo only a few months before he died, which initially gave him hope but caused great anger as time went on and he only felt terrible from the effects of the treatment. I had a discussion about this with my oncologist and he told me that giving people chemo, which as you know is very destructive to the body and causes people to feel very unwell, in the last few months of their lives is very common and sadly, not helpful. He quoted research on the subject.

When I was visiting the oncology department regularly, I met many people who wanted to ‘fight’ their diagnosis by trying all sorts of ways to avoid it, to the extent that they travelled to many different places and had lots of different kind of treatment and operations, when sadly they weren’t spending time with their family and friends. 

I recently had a catch up with Trent and I told him about your thoughts, as a result we had an engrossing discussion and his response was interesting. His father died of cancer about 6 years ago and the terminology was used that his father had lost his battle/fight with cancer. In Trent’s case this had a profound effect on him. He felt his father was a loser and he himself a failure. From my perspective I think this is the sort of situation that Macmillan Cancer Support were referring to.


How we handle illness and end of life in particular is unique to everyone, with current trends that we should have all facts and information can, perhaps muddy the waters sometimes. Information from professionals hopefully is beneficial from well meaning amateurs and surfing the Internet it can be counterproductive. When it comes to words then we have the English language to deal with, a subject all of it’s own. In 1985 my Father was diagnosed with Cancer of the Lung, which was too far advanced to treat so he was managed without any invasive treatment and he peacefully slipped away over the year. I would suggest a very different experience to Alan and indeed Trent and his Dad?

When it comes to single words courage, challenge and resilience are good but equally fight and battle also describe something. Say if you’re short of breath it’s certainly challenging and at times you can be fighting for breath with the additional challenge of putting one foot in front of the other, neither word takes anything away from the other, or indeed is negative. I was also brought up during the Second World War, and experienced the results of it and the aftermath; stoic comes to mind, as there was a lot to bear across many countries. At no time have I suggested you should fight the diagnoses, the disease is the disease and a head buried in the sand is going nowhere.

If you scroll to the bottom of the page Jo’s comment perhaps sums it all up in just 14 words.

If anyone has any thoughts on the subject please feel free to comment, it would be interesting to hear your views.

Tuesday 29th

Hedgerow friend or foe?

Cow Parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris)


Cow Parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris) is currently in full flower, although often seen as a Thug on verges and hedgerows; it’s a larder for others.

Monday 28th

Politicians and Religious Leaders should trust the people

So the Republic of Ireland resoundingly voted to legalise abortion against the advice of the celibate hierarchy of the Catholic Church. In the 2016 UK referendum we voted to leave the European Union (EU), with politicians split between levers and remain, a resignation mater for some. Not wishing to champion either cause it seems to me certain Politicians and Religious Leaders have forgotten they serve us the people and should listen to the populous.

In 1936 a King had to abdicate to marry an American Divorcée, in 2018 we have the first in-line to the Throne divorced and married to a Divorced Catholic. Added to that the 6th in-line is married to an American Divorcée of mixed race and was married by the Archbishop of Canterbury, which was fully encompassed by the public. Proving times change and you change with them.

With our withdrawal from the EU our politicians are still debating in or out, Brussels politicians and none elected bureaucrats seem devoid of common sense. Right or wrong the people voted leave, some say because of immigration, which in part may be correct but I believe it goes deeper, which the EU is underpinning with their intransient attitude. The Galileo project without UK expertise and technology will be a poorer project. Not being able to share security data, who currently has the strongest security services? I would suggest the UK, so who will be the loser there? Just two examples and Industry, politicians, bureaucrats can argue and debate all they like but I feel if we had another referendum now there would be an even bigger leave vote.

With the result in the Republic of Ireland it now leaves Northern Ireland out of step with south of the border and the Union. I understand the DUP are against abortion and will not want a referendum on the other hand Mrs May will be under pressure to allow one but as she needs the support of the DUP in the House may feel she can’t. If this is the case, what right do the DUP have to prevent the people from having a voice? Their fear is that they may lose in which case they wouldn’t have been representing their constituents. Some faiths are slowly learning they cannot run their religions on a set of rules 2000 years old, politicians equally have to realise the world is now better educated and continually changing. Both have to have faith and trust the people.

Sunday 27th

Allourlives Sunday Quiz

Where is this lovely East Kent view?

Note the Thames Barges at anchor.

Answer to last Sunday’s Quiz

Where would you find this display in the City?  Answer; Beaney Institute

What would the equipment be used for?           Answer; On a Hop Farm

Saturday 26th

From Bridesmaid to Super Nan

One of the Andrews Sisters (no not the 40’s American Singing Sisters), the Cockering Road Sisters, hit a landmark yesterday.

Auntie Maureen the baby of the trio hit the big ?0. Birthdays with a zero at the end are important and have to be celebrated; I hope the family gave her a fabulous day.

Auntie Maureen, forever young, happy Birthday from all at Smith Towers.

Friday 25th

It’s not only Chelsea that requires preparation.

French Lavender (Lavandula stoechas)


As spring slowly slips away and we approach summer The Current Mrs Smith and her little helper prepare the Summer House

With plenty of warmth and moisture this spring the garden is in full gallop, go Hilary, go. Or is it go Jo go?

The intrepid duo find time to wave to their audience

Thursday 24th

Eric was busy today so Louise and the current Mrs Smith took charge.

We retuned to Faversham’s Standard Quay, well at least I did, it was a first for the girls. Coffee at the Secrete Garden Cafe and a large piece of Victoria Sponge for Lou, which she couldn’t finish (a first) proved a success. Visiting one of the retail outlets specialising in old tools, Louise likened it to my shed full of tools that nobody knows what they’re for. Cheeky Daughter.

Wednesday 23rd

Living with pain

Last Wednesday (16th) I challenged the Macmillan Charity’s stance that you shouldn’t use the word fight when associated with a terminal illness. Ruth our Antipodean Correspondent, who has had first hand experience in this area, has subsequently challenged the content of that blog.


‘I found your ideas interesting because they are so different from my own. It made me realise that we are all different and, as you said, shouldn’t be judged on our different approach or understanding of a terminal illness. Personally I didn’t and don’t like the words ‘battle’ or ‘fight’ used in that context. In fact I made it clear to everyone when I was seeing palliative care people that they should not use those words when I do die. What worked for me was acceptance, not giving in, but acceptance that I was terminally ill and as a result I could make choices about how I best wanted to live in the unknown amount of life I had left to live and also how and where I wanted to die. This actually gave me a sense of security. Right now, even though I am clear of cancer, my oncologist can’t say I’m cured or how much longer I might have to live. As a result, I still feel the same about those words but after reading your blog explaining your view and understanding, I realise that we are all different. But I certainly understand the Macmillan Society perspective.’


Two views on the same subject or do we have different subjects? There’s two elements the first accepting you have the disease the second is living with it. Cancer, TB etc. where there are treatments, albeit with differing results often provide for an extension to life thus giving some hope. How an individual handles the management of their particular illness is unique to them and there will be no black and white one size fits all set of rules. Neurological disease, such as Parkinson’s and MND, where there are no known cures and in the latter no viable medication/treatment to prolong life beyond weeks, is another matter. Accepting your illness at the outset is vital because then you can start to manage it but that’s easy to say not necessarily so easy in practise. In my case with MND then build in Psoriasis and Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) and you have additional difficulties. After 40 years I’ve learnt to manage Psoriasis with creams, sun and sea with some success, AS treatment includes anti-inflammatory medication and physiotherapy exercise regime, which up to now have kept me on top of that. MND makes the previous conditions, not insignificant and cannot be ignored but they have to be pushed to the back. MND is the disease that takes away, your breath, strength, mobility, speech, ability to eat/swallow etc., which makes each day a challenge.  I do accept that I have a terminal illness and yes it is a challenge but a challenge is borne out of the condition not the management of it. Yes you could sit in the corner and waste away or you can take up the challenge in an endeavour to maintain a reasonable quality of your diminishing life, now that’s a fight and three quarters.

11 years ago today we lost my Mum at the age of 92 following a stroke just prior to discharge from hospital.  For some twenty years she had severe arthritis and for the most part could only have paracetamol for pain relief. Helping to lay her flat after she had died was the first time I had seen her move without wincing in pain for very many years, which gave me some comfort in the moment. Having watched her arthritis and other ailments develop over the years she was a marvel not giving in to these debilitating illnesses. What single word best describes how she managed her struggle? I can’t think of a better word than fight, fight the pain, fight the restricted movement, fight for your independence etc.

R.I.P. Mum

Definition of fight: –

Oxford Dictionary:               Engage in a war or battle

                                              Strive to achieve or do something.

Cambridge Dictionary:       To use physical force to try to defeat another person or

                                             group of people.

                                             To use a lot of effort to defeat or achieve something.

Tuesday 22nd

Today we say Happy Birthday to a lovely lady

Janet Marsh née Shand is one of those special people who put themselves on the bottom rung while helping every one else. She can show Alastair Campbell a thing or two when it comes to spin, except her spin involves a wooden wheel and the wool from a sheep.

Happy Birthday Janet.

A very important member of the family

Monday 21st

Love and Marriage

The Royal Wedding, what a lovely event with two people making a commitment to each other. Yes it was a Royal Wedding, yes there had been enormous hype but fundamentally it was two people wanting to bond in love for their futures. Marriage appears to be falling out of fashion and I don’t have an issue with that if it’s not for you, however I do very strongly advocate the institution of marriage. The anti marriage lobby would suggest it treats the woman as a chattel reinforced by having to be given away at the marriage ceremony. A modern woman doesn’t need to be given away that’s a given. Marriage for me, and it doesn’t have to be religious, is the commitment that two people make to each other out of love not by any third party pressure. If it all goes wrong down the line then that’s another matter but shouldn’t detract from the beauty of the love one for another.

Sunday 20th

Allourlives Sunday Quiz

Two part quiz this week.

  1. Where would you find this display in the City?
  2. What would the equipment be used for?

Answer to last Sunday’s Quiz

The Battle of Britain Memorial at Capel le Ferne, Folkestone.

Saturday 19th

Happy Birthday Auntie Lou Lou

Today we celebrate the Birthday of a very special Daughter, Sister, Partner, Mum and Auntie who has reached the great old age of??????? Lou Lou a very special family member who is totally selfless and all giving.

Have a lovely day my Darling. Keep on smiling.

Friday 18th

Disaster has hit the Doves

It would appear that the Magpie has won the battle and the Doves have abandoned their nest in the honeysuckle. The single egg was found on the floor but unbroken and was returned to the nest but no one has come back to incubate it. Nature can be harsh.

Thursday 17th

Eric & Colin’s Jaunt + 1

Today we were joined by James and after a late start headed off to Faversham’s Standard Quay, one of our favourite locations. It provides historic images of past times along with new businesses encompassing the historic buildings for new purposes. There’s much to enjoy food, spices, bric-a-brac, champagne bar and you can even get new tyres for your motor. If you’re the proud owner of an historic sailing barge there’s, most probably nowhere better for restoration skills. If you haven’t visited then I suggest it’s time you did. I don’t believe you will be disappointed.

Conversation started with ‘what would you like to come back as in the next life’? This then developed into being part of the food chain, which became a step too far and moved onto who would you like to invite to dinner with the following criteria: –

  1. 8 people with one fictitious character
  2. The fictitious caricature cannot sit at the table but has to have a job
  3. Must be politically and gender balanced
  4. Must include a Prime Minister
  5. Must include an actor/actress
  6. Must include an explorer
  7. Must include a musician

Willow of Harty

A simple task you would think but no, it became quite complex so have posed the question to return to at a later date. Any ideas?

Wednesday 16th

Having a Terminal Illness is a Fight

Dame Tessa Jowell lost her fight with Cancer at the weekend and our thoughts are with her family and friends at their difficult time. I use the word fight deliberately as to live with a terminal illness is a fight, although in yesterdays Daily Telegraph it reported that the Macmillan Charity suggested we shouldn’t be told to fight cancer as it puts the patient under pressure to look strong. No one with a terminal disease should have additional pressures but terminal illness’ are usually debilitating, step by step sapping your strength and makes life continually challenging. Some treatments also bring their own additional challenges’ and fight certainly is the word. No one should be judged by how they cope with a terminal illness, as you would need to walk in their shoes to understand their particular journey. Macmillan suggested that by implying the need to fight prevents discussions about death, I would suggest although intrinsically linked they are separate issues. Being able to talk about death is more to do with the people around you rather any specific single word.

Dame Tessa Jowell showed us how to fight the disease and the wider fight for research and pharmaceutical companies to pool resources. Fight, there’s no other word for it.

Tuesday 15th

48 years ago the then Miss Hilary Sackett, soon to become the currents Mrs Smith and I walked out on our first date. The location was Sandwich and we walked along the River Stour on a very pleasant May evening. A drink followed in The Admiral Owen before moving on to Westgate and St Mildred’s (Millies). A magical evening spent with a special lady and as they say the rest is history, but it’s not as we are still traveling. The lady however continues to grow and has become even more special as she soars to new heights. Her support for the family and me in particular is without compromise and we all love her.

Monday 14th

A Tale of two Villain’s

Sitting on the patio with the paper and a coffee minding my own business suddenly there was a kerfuffle in the honeysuckle. It was between a Magpie (the villain) and a Collard Dove, the former making a speedy exit on seeing me. On further inspection I found the reason, the Dove was sitting on eggs in the most rudimentary of nests, the eggs would have made a tasty snack for the Magpie. The nest is situated in a walkway above our outside tap and only 5’ off the ground. Will it survive? Seems unlikely now the Magpie knows it’s there, Smith Tower’s is now on Dove Watch. I’ve always been anti Collard Dove as they aren’t native to the UK and have been too successful at the expense of our native Turtle Doves, but now I feel all maternal

Sunday 13th

Allourlives Sunday Quiz

Where is this chap sitting looking out to sea?

Answer to last Sunday’s Quiz is the junction of Guildhall Street and the High Street, Canterbury. The parade of shops historically would have included H J Goulden’s, stationers.

Saturday 12t

Billy is always up for a challenge.

Billy saw the replica fisherman’s hut at the Samphire Hoe and went all Cape Canaveral and thought it would be a good idea to launch himself off the ground. He didn’t achieve a great height as he had forgotten his Backpack.

Poor Billy.



Friday 11th

Christmas is coming

Only 228 days to go so time to get the tree sorted.

Thursday 10th

Eric & Colin’s Jaunt + Two

Today we were four as Andrew and James joined us. Our jaunt took us to, what was until today a secret place to me, Samphire Hoe, which is accessed off the A20 between Dover and Folkestone. The entrance is through a tunnel originally used to access the seventies site, which attempted to build a Channel Tunnel but failed when Government support was withdrawn. The site is the result of the spoils from the current tunnel and has created a lovely nature reserve, with modest but pleasant facilities. Well worth a visit, but pick a nice day as you are very much exposed to the elements. Conversations today were varied as usual, politics, religion, business, school etc. etc. It arrived at a low level when Mr Carter started to talk about the Romans not being able to conquer angry blokes in tartan skirts and referencing that to today.

Wednesday 9th

Mermaid Watch

The Little Mermaid, Copenhagen. Courtesy of the Billy Collection

The Folkestone Mermaid

Billy our Asian Correspondent was recently traveling through Copenhagen and thought he should check out ‘The Little Mermaid’; often portrayed as the most famous mermaid statue of them all and inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale. He found it surprisingly small and a little disappointing after such claims and suspected it must have a well-orchestrated and creative PR Department!

Days later he found himself in Folkestone, where they have their own Mermaid statue conceived as a reinterpretation of Edvard Eriksen Copenhagen sculpture. Cornelia Parker produced the Mermaid in response to a commission for the 2011 Folkestone Triennial, which also sought inspiration, this time from the story of The Sea Lady by HG Wells (a long-time resident of Folkestone). The life-size statue is of a local mother of two, Georgina Baker, now immortalised in bronze in perpetuity.

The Folkestone Mermaid

Which is best, most probably a question without an answer as it will always be in the eye of the beholder. In my mind the Cornelia Parker sculpture at Folkestone has it as a relatively small town to commission it in the first instant and then for her to produce it life size. The model being a local girl also adds to its charm and gives it the authenticity it deserves, sitting on the harbour wall with her looking out to sea.

Tuesday 8th

Weather is a third to time

After a truly lovely Bank Holiday Weekend with record temperatures it was interesting to see Ian Hamilton Finlay’s words on the lighthouse at the end of the Folkestone Harbour Arm, ‘WEATHER IS A THIRD TO TIME AND PLACE’. When you’re in a Champagne Bar on a warm sunny afternoon it’s easy to forget the vagrancies’ of the sea.

Monday 7th

The Story of the Current Mrs Smith and her Azalea

What do you do when you’ve been given an indoor Azalea plant when it’s finished flowering? You pot it on in ericaceous potting compost put it outdoors in a shaded spot and ignore it except for the occasional watering (rain water preferred if you’re in alkaline territory). You will then have the gift that keeps on giving. The Smith Towers Azalea is some 10 years old and despite the current Mrs Smith ignoring it, it continues to thrive.

Sunday 6th

Allourlives Sunday Quiz

What junction would you be at if you were joining the old A2?

To help you on your way, in the fifties you may have bought your vinyl (78’s) here, you could say it was Golden but then you would have spelt it wrong.

Answer to last Sunday’s Quiz was the Thames Barge Repertor was moored in Faversham Creek.

Saturday 5th

It’s all about TEAMWORK at St Stephens School


I’ve always believed it’s important to share the workload, working on the premise that no one sits down until all the jobs are done enabling everybody to get some free time. Yesterday this young Lady in assembly at Canterbury’s St Stephens Junior School spoke with confidence on the subject of Teamwork. An important discipline to understand at a young age and a message worth repeating.

The gap between our first woman Prime Minister and our second was 26 years, add that time to this young lady’s age and could she be the third?


Friday 4th

It’s not a good spring for the Bees

I have been searching for a good bee photo for weeks but with the erratic spring have not had the greatest success, eventually capturing a solitary Bumble Bee on the Oregon Grape (Berberidaceae). The old saying two swallows don’t make a summer comes to mind. A single bee certainly is a long way off either a spring or a summer.

A hint, perhaps of better climatic conditions to come, maybe?

Thursday 3rd

Eric & Colin’s Jaunt

Today we stayed in Canterbury and visited the Beaney and the exhibition of Quentin Blakes illustrations for Roald Dahl’s BFG. An interesting exhibition showing how the character developed. Unfortunately no photos of the exhibition, as photography wasn’t allowed. Outside the exhibition I did come across two interesting bedfellows, Bagpuss and Hewlett Johnson (The Red Dean). Bagpuss only woke up when Emily said the magic words and the Dean who was a firebrand all his life. Who was most important? Depends on your age and philosophy.  Bagpuss’ stories we all know but if you want an excellent read then The Red Dean by John Butler is a snip at £4.99 from the Cathedral Gift Shop. A guaranteed page turner.

Wednesday 2nd

The Punters couldn’t take a Punt today

Monday delivered a month’s worth of rain in just one day and with low temperatures made for a miserable day. Yesterday the River Stour was at full tilt as it surged through Canterbury. The comparison of balmy summer days with the result of a late April shower for this tranquil chalk stream was significant.Tuesday 1st

King Louie escapes deportation

King Louie was a bit concerned as one of his mates had eaten his documentation and feared deportation and taken away from all his mates. Amber Rudd had been on his case with an assurance that nothing untoward would happen to him. Having initially seeing a green light Amber suddenly turned red and threw in the towel, leaving King Louie high and dry without a champion. Fortunately the Maybot was on hand and appointed the nice Mr Javid to the post of Home Secretary, he was hopeful he would be sympathetic to his situation. Then he realised it wasn’t the Home Secretary that made these decisions for Kings; it was Govey so all was well.

It’s not easy being a second generation immigrant, whatever your status.

8 thoughts on “May 2018

  1. I like your Wednesday 16th post, Dad. If there’s a consistent theme that has run through this last 18 months it’s one of you fighting – fighting for answers and then fighting to tackle this illness head on – each and every day. It continues to be one hell of a battle! The Dove could learn a thing or two. Backpack or no backpack. 🚀

    • Thanks for your comment. With the support around me makes it easier, some poor folks have to handle their illness all alone. The Dove has the advantage of working to known timetable. Onwards and upwards as they say.

  2. Hello Co,
    Je m’invite sur ton blog pour t’offrir un mot synonyme de combattre.
    En français on dit “en découdre avec…” c’est comme ci on défaisait, on décousait…ce qui est mal fait…il ya de l’espoir dans ce mot pour moi.
    En anglais la traduction est par ex de reverso: “découdre v —detach v · separate”
    Voici celle en français du dictionnaire Littré:
    “V. n. Familièrement, en découdre, se battre, lutter, contester, disputer. Voyez, l’ennemi s’avance, nous aurons à en découdre. Il veut plaider, il faut en découdre.”
    Je te souhaite cela; en découdre!!!
    Beau courage et grosses bises des correspondants Lotois que tu peux lire aussi sur ta boîte mail.

    • Thank you for your interesting comment. I will include this fully in a blog in a few days.

      Love to you both


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