My skinny blister


Early this week Kath was transferred out of ICU onto a ward and now … finally … home. Nothing reminds me how important my sister is to me than when she is ill. Thankfully she is doing better and I am beyond grateful for that. Thankful and relieved. 

Kath is a light … someone who makes life more … life like. Funny and kind, energetic and outgoing, sometimes bossy, irritable, and impatient, but with a zest for life that makes it an absolute joy to share time with her. I love her, both as my sister and as my best friend. 

Things started out innocuously enough … feeling unwell and spending days in bed deteriorating but insistent that all she needed was more water and more sleep. It’s scary how quickly things can escalate from what appeared at first to be gastric flu to ending up with failing kidneys and a scarily long stay in ICU.

Endurance athletes are apparently more prone to this sort of thing. Marathon training has taught Kath to push her body to and beyond normal limits and thus she’s less likely to feel alarmed, even when her body is screaming at her that all is not well. Coupled with her natural resilience and optimism that all will be well in the end and you have the makings of a situation where all the warning signals are ignored for way too long. 

Home but exhausted just getting from bed to chair, chair to loo, loo to bed etc. Days must feel very long when you’ve little strength or energy to do anything more than rest, eat, drink … and rest some more. But with each day little by little, her strength will return, nurtured and encouraged by her loving family and friends.

Kath and I don’t look alike at all, but apparently we have similar smiles and laughs. Here we are on holiday a couple of years ago. Long hikes in the pouring rain are great fun in the right company. I’m looking forward to spending loads of time with Kath as she regains her strength. After all, that’s what skinny blisters do.



Every once in a blue moon we get so lucky I can barely believe it. You can see it in my face can’t you, I’m beyond thrilled. And with good reason. We are at Wimbledon! Centre Court no less. Unbelievable. Fan-flipping-tastic it was. Monday of the second week means we saw Round 4 matches involving some big BIG names, Djokovic, Gauff, Kerber, and Federer. Tickets gifted by my wonderful brother-in-law, who was under no illusion as to what this meant to us. It was an amazing day.

I love sport. Cricket, tennis and rugby are my absolute favourites but I’ll happily stand pitch side in the pouring rain watching nieces/nephews competing at pretty much anything, or accompany family/friends to sporting events of their choosing. Sport might not be everyone’s cup of tea but there is something compelling and in some ways humbling about watching people dig deep and push themselves to perform at the very limits of their capabilities. No matter what their level of achievement it’s the effort itself … the commitment and drive to do better. It’s never “just a game” or “just a race” when people are prepared to expend so much of themselves in pursuit of doing their very best.

I remember when Ollie was a little boy. Poor chap inherited the same sporting prowess (or lack thereof) that afflicts me … often picked last for team games and so on. Well school sports day came round and that is classic Auntie duty material, so I toddle along to shout encouragement as per usual. Lo and behold Ollie came fourth. Well the celebrations in our family were loud and proud as he scampered across the line his little arms aloft in triumph, huge grin on his face as he turned to make sure we’d seen his finest sporting moment to date. That was the day Ollie reminded me that you don’t have to come first to feel like an absolute winner.

And sport has been useful to me. As an engineer I spend my days surrounded by men … some of whom have found it hard to accept that women can be engineers too. I started out in 1979 in a class of 70 odd apprentices where there was one women … me. It’s hard to hide when you’re so obviously different. Being able to talk about sport gave me an in. A neutral subject upon which to find common ground.

Everyone has had a difficult time over the last 18 months or so. It’s hard to predict how things are going to pan out, and that uncertainty is in itself difficult. I guess that’s why this trip out to see some tennis felt like such a big deal. It was a big deal and an incredible experience. But more than that, it felt like life might someday return to something like it was. Please god.



I love this time of year. Maybe it’s because I’m a morning person and it gets light so early as we approach midsummers day. I live not far from Stonehenge which is in a beautiful part of the UK. The gently rolling countryside combines naturally with the deep sense of history which is so apparent … not just in the stones, but the barrows (ancient burial mounds) that dot the landscape around here. You come across them all over this area and they just look like hills that have always been here. They remind me that people have walked this land for thousands of years.

It’s fantastic walking country and lockdown has given me the incentive to explore the walking routes a little further out from my usual stomping grounds. Walking and spending time outdoors is the new panacea for all ailments. As someone who lives with depression I’m all too aware that these “one size fits all” cures are not cures at all. Even so walking does help and the more I do it the more it helps. It’s not easy to motivate myself usually but with the nicer weather even that becomes less of an issue.

This last weekend we celebrated a family birthday. Oliver is 18! Blimey how does that happen? I mean I do know how it happens but it seems hardly any time since he was setting off to school as a youngster, and now he’s finished with school and taking a gap year before going off to university. Astonishing how time does that elastic thing … stretching and contracting in our perception whilst being consistent and linear in reality.

I love this young man as I loved the boy he once was. In my minds eye he remains much like that little chap with a twinkle in his eye and that wonderful shy smile … both things he still has.


It’s been over a decade now since I stopping drinking. That’s an amazing thing to me. I still remember the desperation that marked my descent into the kind of drinking that isn’t just “a bit of a problem”. I am so glad not to be in that state now. Glad, grateful and lucky. I’ve been to too many funerals not to realise how lucky I am that my life has moved on. 

I remember, but I no longer “re-live” it in my minds eye ... the intensity, the constant sense of foreboding. I feel like I’m remembering someone else’s life. Someone who if I met her now I’d probably know or guess that she needed help, but I’m not sure I’d know exactly what kind of help would be best. So I’d just tell her what helped me. Learning to be more honest. Learning to ask for help, not being too proud to engage with the help on offer. Taking it a day at a time, step by baby step. That’s what helped me.

Life’s pretty odd though these days, and has been for while. Covid has divided our already fractured world. The Haves and the Have Nots are more at odds now than ever. We Haves must do more ... much much more. Why is that so hard to understand? Healing our world requires a whole earth approach. In other words it needs all of us Haves to make changes ... some big, some not so big. Voting for example ... not a big thing but so important. 

I was shocked yesterday when voting in our local elections. Hardly another soul was waiting to cast their ballot. It seems like we’ve forgotten how to hold government to account and that it’s a privilege to live in a democracy. Government can only hear the people if the people stand up and say something in sufficient numbers to make the Decision Makers listen.  

I keep hearing that we’re all in this together. Not just with Covid but generally too. How can that be true when the worst effects of pretty much all eventualities are felt more harshly by some than others? Why then do we stay silent whilst the Have Nots suffer the effects of our unwillingness to change, our ignorance... or worse still, our greed? Our entire world is impoverished by this silence.

Enough of that for now. On to happier topics.

My family is growing. I now have 3 great-nephews and, come the autumn, either another great nephew or perhaps a great-niece. Currently I have 9 nephews and 9 nieces. This is more than before because I count spouses and partners. If you marry or partner up with my niece or nephew you also become my niece or nephew. Only seems right ... and this way I can look forward to welcoming more nieces and nephews in the years to come. Using words like in-law, half, step, second, third, once removed ... these words confuse me and make me feel a bit sad. It creates a separateness that I don’t like very much. Family, I understand family. A welcoming inclusive safe group of people who are there for one another no matter what and stay connected to one another, always.

Welcoming new additions to our family reminds me that life is passing, and it reminds me to pay attention. I try to remember but sometimes it’s difficult. Ted is my eldest great-nephew. He’s brilliant at reminding me to stay in the present moment. He will be 5 in a few weeks time and already he knows so many important things ... like how to dance in the street no matter where we are or who might be looking.

You can tell that Ted knows a thing or two about dancing can’t you? I’d love to say it runs in the family but my two left feet would indicate otherwise. Maybe more lessons will help ... you never know. 5 year olds are optimistic in a way that I’d almost forgotten. Ted thinks I show promise. He is a kind soul.

Tommy, my second great-nephew now has a little brother. Covid has stopped me travelling but I get photos and FaceTime chats which aren’t the same as seeing in real life but pretty darn good all the same.

Here’s Tommy,

His mummy and daddy have been teaching him all about a Father God that lives in heaven ... where great-grandpa lives too. Tommy has mastered the art of praying, he chats and laughs and goofs about and even tells the odd joke ... and then he remembers the set format of words that some other people have learned to use in prayer ... well sometimes he remembers anyway. I bet the god of his understanding loves to hear what is in his heart.

Mickey is Tommy’s little brother.

Mickey is the calmest small person I have ever known. He is the chalk to Tommy’s cheese. He is the snuggle bunny that his brother never was. He loves blue, he loves cake, and he is one year old ... born just as Covid was making itself felt all around the world. Mickey knows nothing of all that, his concerns are simpler and much closer to home, but not unimportant. I hope some day soon to see Mickey, Tommy and the rest of my “over the pond” family in person. I think we’ll have a wonderful time ... I mean, I like blue, and cake, and I think I’ve got the knack of praying even if I’m not always sure who I’m praying to. No doubt Tommy’d have a few things to say about that.

I hope life is treating you well, and if not then I hope things improve for you soon xx Jos