Equal time on the planet

Today is a significant day/date which I have sort of been waiting for for six and a half years.

Up until today I have been able to say, John still outlived me, he still had longer on the planet than me (because he was older).

But today the day has come when I have been alive the same amount of time that he had in total (59 years, 131 days). So today is the equivalent day for me, to the one where his life ended. So after today, if I’m still here (unless he ‘comes to get me’), I will be living with the awareness that I’ve actually lived longer than him. I think that will add to my grief.

I am scared for myself, because he died aged 59 – why should I not also? I don’t deserve to be the one who survived longer.

So how to pass this horrible day without being too profound, and too scared, and too sad?

At least one of the two of us is still here to have these thoughts, and make these comments.

Poor, dear John, I wish you were still here to enjoy life with me. xxx

New Hobby – Birdwatching

I got a free subscription for a birdwatching magazine, and so have been slightly inspired by the list they provided of 200 birds to try to see during the course of the year.  I don’t think I could ever see all the unusual and rare ones, but I may try to achieve 100.  I’m already (amazingly) at 41, just from the garden, a park with a lake in it, and a couple of coastal spots.  I think I knew all the more basic/common things, but it’s going a step further to try to identify birds you’re not sure of, and to actually be ticking them off within a time period.

So it looks like birdwatching is my new (sadly solitary) hobby for 2021.

I have seen lots of oystercatchers and several curlews.  I’ve been pleased to see and identify some of the more obscure ducks – namely Shoveler, Widgeon and Teal.  Maybe I’ve seen them before in London parks but never registered them, I don’t know.  I’ve also seen a Little Egret and what I believe was a Buzzard (in fact two).  When I saw a bird of prey I thought I’d never identify it, but I think I’m right, based on a process of elimination relating to key features like size, colour, shape of wings, length of tail, and whether it can possibly be in this location at this time of year.

We shall see how it goes.  Currently things I think I should see at some point and can add to the total are: wren, jay, hooded crow, pheasant, song or mistle thrush, maybe great crested grebe, and in the summer swallow, swift, skylark.  Things I’ve never seen in my life (and don’t expect to see) despite being British birds: kingfisher, nightingale, cuckoo, nightjar (.. and many more!)

Unfortunately my proper camera failed on my last holiday – I’ve only just sent it off for repair.  So the only photo I can offer at the moment is these Canada Geese on a little lake.

Dear John, 6 years on

Dear John

Well, in the same way it’s so weird that you didn’t know about Brexit, you also completely missed a world-wide pandemic (tautology!), with a virus having killed well over a hundred thousand people in the UK alone.  So far I have escaped it.  I have wondered whether you would have survived it; it might have taken you just a few years later anyway.  I’ve also wondered whether it was a factor in your ‘unknown infections’ whilst in hospital; could it have been Covid back then?

We are still in a national lockdown which means no travelling round the country, no holidays abroad, no restaurants or retail outlets open, no zoos or stately homes to visit, no big events to go to like the country shows, or Crufts or racing.  Also I have not been able to socialise at all, look for new friends etc, so have felt very very isolated and often scared.

Because I’m in a new area, my grief has come back quite a bit.  If I walk by the sea on a rough and rainy day, I think, John would have liked this.  Every time I see old couples together holding hands, I think, that should have been us – we would have stayed together so I would have been in a life-long relationship, growing old together (didn’t happen).  I come across historical things locally and think, would John have known about that?  What would John have thought about everything that’s happening and where I’ve ended up?  (Well, I’ve moved but still not sure I won’t move again; it wasn’t the dream perfect location, it was just having to choose somewhere, anywhere, in a panic, because I’d moved out of the old house and had nowhere to live!)

The worst thing is living alone in a new house, with a lot of our things still around me – the same sofas, the same bed at the moment, the same pictures on the walls, the same books and CDs etc.  I can’t help thinking how sad it is that I can’t show you my house, take you on a tour.  Look, this is where I put our old bookshelves, this is where I’m keeping your artworks, our bookmarks collection.  What would you have thought of this house, John?  Would you have approved of it?  Would you be jealous to see me living here now?  Yes, of course you would have wanted more life also.  I picture you sometimes – that’s where John would have sat, in the porch, reading a newspaper, enjoying the retirement he never had.

I’m supposed to be looking forwards not back, but it’s difficult when you’re alone all the time not to feel sad and sentimental.

All my love xxx

Looking for comfort at the time of Coronavirus

I may die

But not everyone will die.

I may die

But there will still be blue skies and green fields.

I may die

But I will have lived.

I may die

But my whole history has happened, is a reality.

I may die

And that matters to me, but not to the world.

I may die

But there will still be elephants and zebras (hopefully).

I may die

But there will still be daffodils and oak trees (probably).

I may die

And my whole consciousness cries out at the tragedy.

I may die

But maybe someone will read all my writing, hear all my recordings.

I may die

But you, reader, have not died.



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Dear John, 4 years on


Dear John

Went to the Cemetery today and took flowers to your grave and the flower room.  Put a card saying I miss you and think about you.  Feel very sad that there’s no-one else to visit or care, so no-one will even see the flowers or the card but me.

What’s news here?  My (our) house is under offer and I’ve been househunting, but am still very confused and undecided about where to go and what to do with my future.

I’ve just come back from Pembroke, John, where I looked at 6 beautiful houses.  I can see myself starting a new life there, but it’s not going to happen.  Nothing feels right.

Little John – your proxy – came to Wales with me.  I even took him out as I drove over the Severn bridge to show him the view – dangerous and silly in many ways; you’d’ve been annoyed with me.

I keep seeing things I want to tell you about.

There’s one particular house down a path which I often drive past, that we looked at years ago when we were househunting, and I just saw it’s been extended hugely.  It was shared history, something I would’ve wanted to update you on.

The weirdest thing is that on the site of the Pizzaland opposite East Croydon Station, where we actually first met all those years ago, they are building a giant building – there are two ‘cores’ that keep getting higher and higher.  I want to tell you – hey, can you believe what they’re doing at our special spot?  All the people who might live or work in that building will never know that there used to be a Pizzaland there where a couple once met, and stayed together 29 years, til he d….  Every time I see those two tall cores, it’s like they are a (secret/private) memorial to our relationship.

It’s very weird that you missed the whole Brexit thing.  I think you would have been so interested cos you were into politics and it’s all ‘history in the making’ – which is why you said you liked watching live football matches!  It’s bothered me a bit that whilst I think I know what your position/opinion on Brexit would have been (same as mine) – I can’t be 100% sure.  I’ll never know.

I went to Italy for Christmas, John, and left a copy of A Widow’s Words in the hotel library/bookshelf.  I noticed the next day it was gone already, so someone at least has perhaps been reading about you.  I’ve also done the legal deposit thing, so at least there are six copies lying in libraries for posterity.  Maybe someone will read about you in 100 years time.

My plan for the rest of today is to start packing our 4000 books.  Everyone tells me I can’t keep so many, but they (most of them) are your property, things you acquired and wanted over the years.  It will be painful to be putting them in boxes and thinking how you should still be here to enjoy them.  But I’ve been so ‘stuck’.  I haven’t touched the nice ones in the front room for 4 years, they are still as you arranged them.  Probably if you were here you would be amazed I hadn’t moved house sooner.

So, still struggling on with my own problems, pretty depressed, John, and realising how much of it is still grief.  Have stopped adding to this site cos of crushing bad feeling that no-one looks at it anyway, so I guess it’s just a private diary.

Missing you.  xx

(Little John sends his love.)

(He says he’s trying to look after me but it’s a big job.)

PS The cuddly red dragon in the photo is called Henry because Henry VII was born in Pembroke Castle, which fact the probability of your having known I would estimate at about 70%.



Wakehurst Place

Flowers at Wakehurst

As I’ve just written on the Bereavement Blog, I’ve been to Wakehurst Place to revisit a significant spot.

It’s a beautiful garden – with both formal gardens plus loads of woodland paths to walk on – and I do recommend it as a place to visit.  Especially the shop by the entrance which was SO full of beautiful things I wanted!

This is what I bought – hardly the most useful items in the world, but I couldn’t resist – two cuddly mushrooms!!

Cuddly mushrooms

Nuthatch Grove

LJ at NG

In A Widow’s Words I wrote about the several significant places where I scattered some of my dear John’s hair – for example at Hever Castle, and in St Moritz.  There was one more place I wanted to do it, and I finally addressed this the other day.

It’s a place we loved at Wakehurst Place, a clearing in the woods where birds come to feed.  I saw that it’s really called the Himalayan Glade, but we called it Nuthatch Grove.

I wrote about it in People and Places – here’s a link to that chapter: Nuthatch Grove

So I went and did it, managed to spend some time there alone (though it was quite busy with people despite being quite isolated).  I took ‘Little John’ and got some photos.  All very sad and sentimental.

Amazingly, I really did get several sightings of a nuthatch, so it’s a pretty reliable place to see them.  It’s a tiny bird that flits about so quickly and never seems to rest long in one place, so even if I’d had a proper camera it would have been difficult to get a good shot – below is the best I got on my phone camera.

I don’t know if I’ll ever go there again… too painful.  Very beautiful though.

Nuthatch crop




Came across this stunning display of wildflowers in a London park, a whole swathe of them left to bloom in an otherwise boring little inner-City playing field.

I was amazed by the variety of colours, and the fact there were bees and butterflies visiting.  What a nice idea, to show children who perhaps might not get out into the countryside a bit of nature.  And how nice that no-one seems to have trampled it or vandalised it.  Please don’t!

They lifted my spirits on a bad day.

1st July – half the year gone, lovely summer weather.  Reminding myself to make the most of it.  More walking, more sunshine, more flowers.

Enjoy the summer, folks.