Returning from half-term in London to work and Cumbria, where it’s rained for at least a part of every single day this week, has been hard. Eveything feels hemmed in. It was interesting to hear the descriptions on the national news about Copeland (that’s never in the news) because of the by-election. There were statements like ‘it’s the most remote county to travel to in England’, and ‘it’s roads and infrastructure are the most poorly maintained’. There was talk of the ‘culture of isolation and disengagement from politics’, high unemployment and a lack of representation of the county’s needs in the UK. Living here, this is how it feels. Working as a community nurse, it can be miles of driving between appointments, often down bridleways and farm tracks. Carlisle – the nearest place for specialist services can take well over an hour to reach on terrible roads, and longer if you’re stuck behind a tractor. The local council relies heavily on speeding and parking fines and, even in an area as remote as this, there are few places you can park without the dreaded yellow, sticky ticket appearing on your windscreen. This includes the hospital site, where I have not been able to get a parking place anywhere near my place of work since the new regulations started in January. It’s really shocking. I often walk over muddy grass and paths in the rain for 15 minutes before I even get to work. It saps all the energy from you and leaves little left to convert to art or music or books, the things that get you through the hard times.
The ‘wood mouse’ that we caught and realeased from the humane trap has turned out to be a baby rat, now mature and digging bucketfuls of earth out of a burrow under the wall every day. The humane traps are set again but it’s wiser now and, no doubt, pregnant. The burrows seem to go far under the shed. I think we wanted a wood mouse so we had one for a bit. The reality of the rat and it’s destruction’s a bit unnerving!
We went for logs for the wood burner today to a place near Bassenthwaite Lake. We filled the back of the van with huge pieces of birch, oak and beech. We stopped for a couple of drinks in The Pheasant Inn and then drove very slowly back. It makes you feel better having a wood burner in this constant rain.
I’ve enjoyed the series Taboo and was sorry it finished on Saturday. The writing, acting and sets were excellent but most of all I thought the message of justice for past wrongs, individually and as part of a nation or a large company (i.e the East India Company), had a powerful message and the ending was not disappointing. I’ve been reading Travelling Alone by Samuel Bjork and have found the Norwegian settings and strong characters made the book very difficult to put down at bed time on work nights.
Most of the week has been dominated with the most excruciating toothache I’ve ever had. It’s drives you mad. You can’t think, talk or even drive properly. I’ve been taking codeine with little effect and I was at my wits end with it when I saw the dentist on Wednesday. They removed some of the nerve but the tooth is dead and I’ve the choice between root canal work of extraction. I have no idea what’s better, but the pain has reduced in the short-term and the relief of being able to enjoy food and even a cup of tea reminds me what I take for granted.
I was very interested to hear the Jeremy Vine show this week, driving between appointments, about the musician Alice Martineau, who died of Cystic Fibrosis in 2003. I remember her debut single being played around that time. It was not the best of years, as dad also died in 2003 and every minute of that year we were conscious of time running out. I didn’t follow Alice’s story and didn’t realise she had died until this week. I think her voice is beautiful. I also think her attitude to life was admirable, hard to sustain and a triumph of talent over illness. I’ve always been conscious of the small window we have. This is in the family I think, as all grandparents died young. I also got diagnosed with a serious stomach condition when I was 24 and have to have regular biopsies. Alice’s story reminds me to do what I can while and can and to do it with courage.
Sometimes life does feel overwhelming and just too hard. That’s why I’ve put the picture of our two rabbits in the back yard – Flat and Parsley – on the blog. They love each other so much and that really is all that matters.