Catching up

My apologies for the lack of blogs this year. Much has been happening . I am hoping to get back into “blogging”.

I have just purchased a “tablet” so instead of sitting at the big computer I can do everything sitting in my chair.

The Tablet is 10″ screen. I decided the bigger size would be better due to the eyes at my age. I have been busy putting on the various “apps” including this site.

Will blog again shortly but having had breakfast time to go to town.

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Fungi Identify

Can any one help. Whilst walking in our local ‘valley’ I came across this. The area is trees, rocks one side and the stream gurgles along on the other. Our path used to be the old railway line, now tarmac. There used to  be the Iron Works many years ago and has some remenants hidden away (old walls ect.)

                                       fungi 2 (2)     Fungi eaglesbush

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Senior Student–Nurse in the 1940’s

My late Aunt did her Nurse Training in the late 1940’s. She wrote her memiors and I am now typing up to add to the Family Archives. I would like to share one of her pieces with you all. Life in the N.H.S. so different in those days.


ORIGINAL –  by Kathleen Phyllis Dicker

copyright Miss mary

Senior Students

(Nursing experiences)

The ‘wastage rate’ in nursing is the number of students who leave their hospitals without completing their training. The national average has always been around 30%, but our hospital must have had a really bad spell because about three quarters of the nurses immediately senior to my set left altogether at the end of my first year of training.

This didn’t seem to make us short of staff – a lot of new juniors must have come – it simply meant that we moved up in the world.

Suddenly we were senior students, expected to take charge of dressings and medicines trolleys instead of bedpans and wash-bowls. This was exhilarating but we were not ready. Not having completed any of the more advanced lectures we hadn’t much idea of the action of the medicines we dished out, and were learning the more complicated dressing techniques as we went along.

My biggest nightmare was preparing trolleys for the doctors to do treatment. I was sure that I wouldn’t have everything they would require. Then patients would suffer because of the delay while I ran to collect whatever it was, and the doctor would be annoyed.

When I’m teaching students today I tell them that the trolley is easy. All they have to do is visualize the treatment being done, and collect the things in order they’ll be used, but obviously this method doesn’t work if you have not seen the treatment done.

I had to constantly rush to someone for advice, although I studied like mad in my off duty, hoping to be ready for anything which might happen on the ward.

One day – when Sister was at lunch, and Staff-nurse had gone to X-ray department, – I even dragged a surprised doctor to the cupboard to choose his tools.

‘Ah – what’s this gadget’? He said, pouncing on a fearsome looking syringe with several taps. ‘now wrap it up carefully in gauze before you boil it. I’ll be back in 20 minutes.’

I was relieved. Nurses should, of course, know their work, and I hadn’t expected the doctor to be so helpful.

At the beginning of my second year I did more night duty, this time in charge of a busy surgical ward. This must have been a trial to the patients and the poor little junior nurse who had to work under me, to say nothing of the added responsibility for Night Sister. I managed, and gained a lot of confidence.

The Operating Theatre

I always hated changing wards – even those I didn’t much like became dear and familiar when I had worked there for three months, so I devised a method of boosting my morale when the dreaded ‘change list’ was published. It’s always fun to have new clothes, and I used to replenish my wardrobe then. Usually it would be undies or knitting wool, but when I found that I had been posted to the operating theatre I was so alarmed that it was necessary to splash out a bit – I bought a tweed suit.

One heard such awful things about our theatre- the surgeons were supposed to throw instruments about, and Sister was renowned for her sharp tongue. It was said that one of the Staff-Nurses was a ‘ghoul ‘ who spent all her off duty in the post mortem room, that you had to wash the walls from floor to ceiling every Sunday, and be on call at night. I didn’t really believe this, but it did nothing to re-assure me.

How I managed to oversleep on my first morning I’ll never know, but when I crept up to Staff-Nurse to apologize she looked surprised.

‘Oh, we hadn’t noticed you were not here.’

For the first week I spent most of my time scrubbing mountains of instruments, then I graduated to ‘running’. This means being the odd – job nurse fetching and carrying for the team in theatre. You do anything from picking up things they drop to mopping sweat from the surgeons’ brows.

As they were all ‘sterile’ and unable to touch anything that wasn’t, they were helpless if I went away. The signal for attendance was a loud kick on the side of the bucket which was under the operating table. The term assumed a new meaning for me.

I was glad to find nobody did any shouting and nothing was ever thrown. In fact the atmosphere in theatre was usually cordial. Some operations even went with the ‘party spirit’.

Then, oh, horror! I had to learn to be ‘sterile’ myself. Don the gown and gloves and hand instruments to the surgeon! Sister taught me to fold my hands ‘in an attitude of prayer’ to preserve their sterility while waiting for him to be ready. She guided me through the first few operations, then I was on my own. I even took my turn at being on call at night to take emergencies. We were paid for this extra duty if it happened after midnight, at the rate of ten shillings a case.

Patients’ Labels.

Today all patients have wrist bands with their names and the operation they are expecting to have printed clearly, so that no mistakes can be made. If a limb is to receive surgery, it is marked with a special pencil.

But we would have been shocked at the very thought of labelling patients as if they were parcels. Writing on the human body would have seemed almost sacrilegious – even our dead were only labelled on their shrouds. I shudder when I remember that our patients were identified only by the case notes lying beside them on the theatre trolley. But I don’t think there was ever a mistake over an operation in my hospital.

Sterile Equipment

I trained a little later than the time of Lister with his messy carbolic spray, but we were still having to boil instruments between cases, and re- sterilizing many things which are used once only today – syringes, catheters, rubber gloves. Some of the swabs we used were rather ‘nice’ ones, made in our sewing room, and these were soaked in peroxide, boiled, autoclaved and used several times. I don’t remember there being a lot of infection in our surgical wards.

Theatre Routine

The actual routine work in theatre hasn’t changed a lot since I trained – things have become easier and more streamlined, but nurses still hand instruments, and they still ‘run’.

Not sure on next sentence, had she written something before?

But they are no longer used instead of splints.

Let me explain.

During operations surgeons often required patients’ limbs held in certain positions so that their work can be done with convenience. It seems obvious that splints and supports should be devised for this purpose, but oddly enough, such aids are a comparatively recent development. When I trained nurses sat or stood – often many hours – holding these limbs just so.

It was comfortable – even easy – task to sit at a patient’s head holding her arm at your own shoulder level while the surgeon removed her breast. Even though you sat for almost three hours, it wasn’t tiring, and you had a wonderful view.

But I remember – could I ever forget? – having to stand on my toes on a footstool, to hold a patient’s arm vertically while she lay unconscious on her side and several people worked on her shoulder joint.

After an hour of this I was in agony, and the arm began to slip down. Nobody noticed my difficulty they were absorbed in the operation, and simply told me to hold it up higher. Then someone realised that I wasn’t an inanimate splint – I was a human nurse, they were subjecting me to torture. Suddenly everyone was full of concern, and many hands came to help me until the operation was over. But they couldn’t release me until the operation was over. I had been imprisoned within the sterile drapes, and firmly fixed there with towel clips.

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We have recently had a few weeks of hot weather which has encouraged the flowers and other plants to flourish.

The following photos show what I put in last year. I am often impatient waiting for plants ect. to grow but recently have discoverd that plants will take a year or two to get established. The last plant I have been unable to remember the name but these are the climbers to grow up and cover the wall.

The sun flower is interesting as on the stem not only is the one big flower but others are there too. I did not plant it but the birds must have dropped the seed there, back in the Spring.

1. SUNFLOWER                 2 SUNFLOWER





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Still Around

Hi everyone. Been a busy few months and also during the warm summer months am not on computer very much. Benji is fine and has had some mischeivious moments. He’s been on his holiday while I went on mine. I visited Lourdes, a very uplifting experience.

My family have been down this weekend and we all had a wonderful time, with the weather being very hot. Been on the Brecon Mountain Railway and a beach day where I actuallly went in the sea.

Closing now Still reading your posts Mary & Benji

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A warm summers’ day. – the longest day of 21 June 218. What is more delightful than to walk in the wood with ones’ dog – Benji. The views are delightful and relaxing. One can see for a long way – even as far as the sea. Many Foxgloves adorn the path as well as ferns and other wild flowers. Large rocks of various shapes and sizes rise majestically up the hillside. A reminder of how long they have stood for many, many years ago. When once just plain rock green vegetation and trees have joined this structure. These are magic woods where Fairies live. Walking along the path one looks for the tiny door in the trunk of the tree. I do not know how many are there but there are a lot.


Looking over to the hills. Neath is nestled in the valley.



Looking towards the sea in the distance

Benji loved this walk as he was off the lead. He loved running ahead but when he’d gone too far he realized he could not see me he came back.

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New Dog–Benji 2018

Its been a busy week but first I would like to thank all those who supported Benji in his operation last Tuesday.

We left the house at 7.30 a.m. to be at the PDSA clinic by 8.00 a.m  Benji had to abstain from food the day before at 5 p.m. and no water after mid-night. The first procedure was to take his details ( as you do in hospital). I gave him a kiss and stroke and duly went home. Seemed very strange without a dog being around.

The next step would be to ring at 3.30 p.m. I decided to go up to my friend at 3.00p.m. as she would be coming with me to help lift him in and out of the car.

Phoned to be told that due t some emrgancies he had not been done but was just about to have his aneasthetic. – phone in an hour. 1 Hour later – not ready yuet phone in an hour. I said to my friend I will go home and we will both have our food and I will phone when we can go and pick him up. Very kindly she suggested we go in her car as it is bigger than mine.

At 5.45 the vet phoned and up dated me on Benji. They had removed 400grms of fat from the lump, he had a drain in and instructions on the antibiotic and pain relief. To phone back again in an hour and this time I would be speaking with the night staff. At  7.15 I phoned and we were able to go over . Once there emergencies were on going and we had to wait until 8.45 before he could be disharged. He was pleased to see me depite he was sleepy and wobly on his feet. I nursed him all the way home.

There was leakage with the drain that gradually stopped by Thursday night. I spent a lot of time changing is covers and washing. Luckily I had kept his old beds so he slept there.

For the first 2 nights he slept downstairs and on the second moring found he’d dragged the bed near the door. The following night I allowed him upstairs to be. Oh my goodness me!!!! Benji shot up the stairs like a 2 year old. He has come on in leaps and bounds and the energy is lioke that of a dog in younger days. He went back Friday for the drain out and goes back on Friday for the stitches to be taken out.

Benji used to ‘cry/sing’ in the car but no more. He is very quiet and very much alert  – looking out of the window.

I now have a new lively dog and there will be lots more fun to be having despite that he his now 14 years old. Lucky me!

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Hospital Visit May 2018

My day startedd early. I had a hospital appointment at 11.00 and it was in Swansea. To go by car would be easy and quick but once there one is inclined to spend hours looking for somwhere to park!!! It is a large hospital.

I was up at 6.30 breakfast and dressed and ready to go out at 8.00 a.m. The bus left Neath at 8.30 to arrive in Swansea at 9.00 a.m. I have a bowel problem at the moment and this decided to attack me that morning. I was glad to have plenty of time for the other bus. How embaressing- I had messed my pants. So the plan of action was to find wipes.sanitary towels and pants. My brain was working well and worked out where to get all these items close to each other. Having visited the LADIES and cleaned up I was able to go and get the bus. It took a while but I still arrived in time to have a cuppa before my appointment.

Having just sat down and poured my cup of tea nature called. I asked one of the girls working there where the toilt was and would return for my cuppa. She said she would keep an eye on my tea. But this was not to be as when I returned my cuppa had gone – cleared awy by another person. I saw her with her laden tray and told her what had happenned and shewas able to replemish my tea.

To reach the department I had to walk down a very long corridor that took me 5 minutes.

The appointment was for tests on my left hand and it was confirmed I had Carponal syndrome. I would be seen at my local hospital. All done and I returned to the outside of the hospital to find the bus waiting.


Back in Swansea Market I purchased some fresh fruit and went to have egg and chips in my favorite cafe’ in the market. Did not have too long to wait for the bus home. Once home I collapsed on the bed and slept for an hour, woke to groggy for the next hour before coming too.

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Benji Vet May 2018

For several weeks Benji lump has now grown bigger. We visited the vet and given a pain killer but this has not helped as the lump continued to gow. Our walks are not too far and slow as it begins to bother him

Back today and the vet said she would carry out the operation to help Benji manage life more easily. There was a chance it would come back. The anesthetic for a dog of his age could be risky. She had prepared me for what to expct. I say that if it is time for hime to go over the Rainbow Bridge, so be it. We have had some grand times together. Yet I feel Benji is a strong little boy.

The operaton is scheduled for 5 June. We have to be there at 8.00 a.m. It will be an early start for me.

Here the weather has been lovely and hot with a breeze and Benji has been enjoying my garden.

I wil keep you all updated on his progress.

Posted in Benji, Health and wellness, Illness, Life, Updates, vet, Worrying | Tagged , , | 3 Comments


Benji enjoying the garden (2)        Swans 13 May 2018

The Swans and babies. The walk along the canal on a sunny afternoon a real treat as we observed that the the swan had her young with her. At first I thought it was only 2 but on our return counted 7 as some were further down the nest.


This is Benji enjoying our garden on a warm Spring day. I am happy to say the garden is now how I like it with very little work to do in it. This is a good thing as since February I have – and still am- not well. I suffer now with severe abdominal pain since 12 April and the Doctor is taking a very long time to diagnosis what is wrong!!!!!!

Benji enjoying the garden (1)

Back to the garden. I have planted the following and watch them all grow. Runner Beans, Carrots, Beetroot, Onions, Peas. The fuit tress have been in full blossom. This is the first year since having them for 5 years. Must like their new home. My son-in-law has put trellis up on the wall and I’m going to grow plants up them – all to deter CATS who are still a problem. One plant purhased is a Blackberry bush. Bought for .50p in the Pound shop.

At the bird table Ravens have been visiting. A pidgeon appears as well as a Jackdaw. Now I am so excited as a family of Sparrows have discovered the feeding area too.

Over the Bank Holiday Benji & I went to the local Melyn Fun Day. It is here we go in for the ‘dog show’ He was so so happy to go and had a permanent smile. Whilst waiting his turn to go in the ring Benji spent time rolling in the grass. A special mention was given for Benji as he had entered the show ever since it began a few years back. So, how did Benji get on/ you ask. Needless to say he came 2nd in THE GOLDEN OLDIE and has another Rosstte (blue)and certificate to add to his collection.

And on that note I will close.

Posted in Benji, Challenges, Garden, Garden Birds, Illness, Life, Memory, Photos, Swans | Tagged , , | 4 Comments