Surprise Event!

A few weeks ago I had a nasty cough which I couldn’t really throw off; I found it quite unpleasant and horrible, so the next day, when I had no-one visiting me, I didn’t ask for a smoke, and the days went on when I realised I had given up smoking! I felt I didn’t want to die through smoking too much, and so I started telling people that I had given up smoking. The response from most people was amazement and congratulations. So it seems that, as I couldn’t sneak a cigarette on my own, partly the decision was made for me. My sisters are asking whether I have kept it up; they were pleased that I seemed to have stopped, and so was everyone else. I was asked by many people what made me decide to give up smoking, and I explained that I didn’t like the coughing.

Adrian was going to visit our oldest son, Barnaby, in Sydney, and has gone to Tasmania as well: he said that Barnaby and Mirren had given him the idea to fly to Tasmania. Before Adrian went away, Jonathan and Lori and their two children were staying in Adrian’s house and they came with Adrian to visit me and take me out on Sunday 9th April. I told Jonathan I had given up smoking and he was really relieved, so was Adrian, but he had finished off the tobacco by rolling me enough cigarettes to last some of the time he would be away.

I knew I could have asked my sister, Lucy, to give me a smoke but I never did. I felt that going outside to enjoy the sunshine was pleasure enough, so I didn’t even ask for, or have, a cigarette, though my mind occasionally went to thinking about how I wouldn’t smoke, although I wanted one sometimes.

It is three weeks now since I gave up!

Mary Smith   27th April 2017

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A letter from Mary

Dear Friends

I have little news to tell you except that my thoughts have been with Jonathan and Lori, who have just had my seventh grandchild, Rafael Theo Jefferson Smith, 7lb 11oz, on 9th March, a brother to Alexia. I am telling you this so that you can understand why my mind has not been on blog-duty!

However, now I have started writing, it has led me to think of things that I have been doing recently. Adrian takes me out every Sunday and sometimes, when Dave is in Truro, he takes me out on a Friday. Both Adrian and Dave told me how they worry about pushing my chair up and down hills in Truro; it was a suggestion of Jessica’s that I should get a motor for the chair, which many people find heavy and cumbersome to push. Adrian acted on this suggestion and has got a motor with a rechargeable battery which makes the hills, up and down, much easier for the pusher. It also makes my asking to be taken out much easier as their comments have been listened to.

Last Sunday Adrian and I went to the Eden Project which we had avoided because of the hills there. We had a really good time there; Adrian took me up to the top of the Tropical Biome which we found too hot, and so we went down to the Mediterranean Biome, where we had lunch. Next Sunday, Adrian is thinking of taking me to Trengwainton.

Adrian still makes my cigarettes which I have whenever we stop to admire the views wherever we are. On days when it rains Adrian and I go to St Agnes; I sit under the tailgate of the Berlingo and smoke my cigarettes. We sometimes go to a park in Falmouth where there is a sheltered walkway.

Really, one point of telling you who come to visit me about my motor, is that you could see Adrian using it so you could learn how to do it yourself! (which will be very useful when Adrian is in Australia for a month from mid-April).

I enjoy hearing what other people are doing, so please let me know what you are up to in the next few weeks. It slowly comes to me that I hear about people following my blog but I don’t often have feedback!

Love to you all for now


31st March 2017

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For many years I have felt regret that I never told Dad how much Singleton meant to me. He knew that I had chosen to go to Exeter University because it was the nearest university to Singleton; he knew I loved going there as a child and as an adult.

Singleton is a place that is important to both me and Adrian: we got engaged there, and Adrian told me that we had to be married in a church because that was what his mother would want. The only place I felt religious was in Cornwall, so we decided on St Minver Parish Church. Luckily the man who married us was happy not to know whether I had been christened; he was a long-time friend of my father who had sat with him and listened to his worries about his wife, who had dementia.

Singleton is also important to our sons, and to friends who have come with us to enjoy it. I know it is a place that holds special significance for many other people; many children have shared the pleasure of going there. One day when I went swimming, my wedding ring fell off; amazingly, the eagle-eyed Rosie, always a winner of cowrie-hunts, found my ring the next morning when the tide was out. Oscar has recently reminded me of this event which he remembers well.

I expect I speak for my brother and sisters when I say that we all thank Lucy and Sandy for taking on the responsibility of running and organising the lets at Singleton, and continuing Mum and Dad’s love and respect for the place; Lucy does what Mum did, and Sandy gets busy like Dad did. It is a fact that all my children as well as my friends’ children feel affection for Singleton, and appreciate the continuity of life there over many years and for many generations of people. As an example of this continuity of life, Lucy has told me that Vanessa and her family also love coming to Singleton; Vanessa’s father, Cyril, once a patient of Dad’s, farmed in North Cornwall. Dad contacted Cyril to enquire whether he knew of a house which might be for sale near a beach and a golf course for him to escape to…

Rock pasties have a meaning for many visitors; they are bought from the Rock Bakery.

An amazingly important thing is that, on the whole, Lucy and Sandy make lets available for people during the school term-times; last year my friend Vivien said her daughter, Kate, was looking for a place to rent to bring her children on holiday, and Vivien could only think of the most perfect place being Singleton. She asked me whether I minded if she asked Lucy if she could rent it. I, of course, was particularly pleased that she wanted to pass this pleasure on to her grandchildren. My grandchildren are being brought to Singleton and are getting to know the delights of the Fairy Pool, climbing up Brea Hill, walking along the cliff-tops to Polzeath, and exploring other special places. I know that Singleton will never lose its appeal to many people.

I never thanked my father for acquiring Singleton; in a way it is not a thing that needs saying: he knew it. I’m sure that Lucy and Sandy know it too.

Mary Smith    12th February 2017

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About my name…

When I was about sixteen, my friend, Caroline Pringle, in a geography lesson, leant across to my desk and whispered to ask what would I be called when I was married; she wrote my name, Mary, on her atlas, and pushed it across to me to fill in what I would be called. I felt that Mary was quite a common name and so I would add to it the equally common name, Smith, so I could be whoever I liked.

I didn’t remember this when I met Adrian at the Oxford Bridge Club when I was nineteen. We spent much time together, drinking wine, playing bridge and talking. Adrian was sometimes the worse for wear; he kept asking me to marry him and I said “no” but then, in the end, we were talking quite soberly in the sitting room at Singleton when I realised, thinking about the years ahead, that I couldn’t live without him, so I asked him to marry me; he agreed and we went to bed, to sleep quite happily knowing we would get married. I said I was not religious but Adrian thought his mother would only like it if we got married in a church. The only thing that made me feel religious was when I was in Cornwall, so we decided to be married at St. Minver Church near Trebetherick.

So that’s how I became Mary Smith!

Mary Smith   5th January 2017

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My life on the Edge


I woke up this morning in the middle of a dream where I felt I was on the edge of things.

Having been totally involved with my children growing up, I now feel I am “on the edge”; I hear about how wonderful my grandchildren are from Adrian, my husband, who remains loyal to me. He tells me about how wonderful Rasmus is, aged nearly one, when he looks into Adrian’s eyes, as he would mine. It is important that Adrian tells me these things, which makes it a double difficulty for me as I want to hear them, and I always enjoy them even though I can’t exactly do them.

Adrian tells me how Alexia loves her nursery-rhyme book which he gave her from us for her second birthday, and he showed me a video which Jonathan had sent him, of Jonathan playing the nursery-rhymes on his keyboard and singing them with Alexia which, of course, I enjoyed seeing … and longed to join in with them.

Adrian chooses Christmas gifts for the children and has decided that cards will suffice for the adults; so far he has been good at selecting things for our grandchildren. I am used to agreeing with what people suggest!

I am aware that I watch Masterchef while realising that I never go near a kitchen nor am I likely to try any of the delicate touches they do!

Another reason why I feel I am on the edge is that Adrian texts our children often and I can’t do that. I hear, from Classic FM, about how you can text Crisis at Christmas to make a donation, but I felt that decision was in Adrian’s hands. Since then I have found a friend who had the same experience so we are going to donate together.

I have my own telephone which I can answer when I have got my Possum pad on, or when I have a friend here who can press the “hands free” button on the phone so I can hear who it is and we can talk to make arrangements, taking me off “the edge”!

Having a neighbour, Sheila, who is always shouting out about how she is afraid, reminds me of my vulnerable situation …

I hope people are used to my use of dot dot dot!

Mary Smith     2nd December 2016

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Mary, Dancing with Death


Twelve days ago, on 22nd October, the Saturday before my 65th birthday, I became critically ill with a chest infection; I was taken into hospital by ambulance (against my wishes) and there I was given extra oxygen to breathe and some strong antibiotics intravenously. I can’t clearly remember that time as I was very confused, and not even clear that I was in hospital.

Adrian told all four of our sons that I was critically ill and that, according to the doctor, I might die. This involved all four boys coming to visit me, much to my joy including Barnaby who had flown over from Australia. They all told me how they love me.

I asked Barnaby, when he saw me on my own, to tell me about how his family life is organised in Sydney, Australia; he told me how he is involved, as well as Mirren, in looking after the three children. I felt, at the end of our conversation, that they are “good enough” parents to their children. I hope that Barnaby and Mirren both feel I appreciate what they are doing.

I also talked to Henry, Jonathan and Oscar. They told me that by coping well with my illness I had shown their children what a good grandmother they have. They also felt that I was showing good spirit to them and their wives and children.

My sister, Lucy, had rung Jessica as well as Alice and my school friends Vivien and Minky, to tell them that I was critically ill; I rang all of them after I returned to Amberley six days later, and they told me that my great spirit was shown in that I chose to live and not die.

Also, as well as Adrian, Carolyn, Sue, Michael and Jean-Anne have been to visit me, Tony and Chrissa came this morning and Nicki is coming tomorrow.

People have asked me how I found the hospital, and I suppose, to be honest, I couldn’t really say as I didn’t see it as a different experience, and for four days I was quite confused.

I was very appreciative when the nurses of the Acute Care at Home Team came every morning for five days after I returned “home” to Amberley, and my intravenous antibiotic treatment was completed by them yesterday.

Now I don’t feel confused, though I do feel quite tired with what I had to go through, and I am glad to be alive!

Mary Smith   3rd November 2016

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The Confidence of Youth Continued…(from the Dormobiling experience)

When I was eighteen and had passed my driving test, Vivien, my best friend at school, and I, plotted a holiday after A levels, round a large bottle of Coke. We agreed to put £2 each of our monthly allowance each week into the empty bottle. Vivien kept the Coke bottle and I remember that, a year or so later, she broke the bottle on a sheet and we counted the money. The other people in our form became quite jealous as we talked about this camping holiday in our last few weeks of school. I remember when we first became friends Vivien told me that she had asked my good friend, Maria, whether she would mind if Vivien became my friend too.

We agreed that our two aims were that Vivien would pass her driving test and I would learn Italian. (When we got to Italy I remember Vivien asking me the word for “meat” when we were in a shop and I could only remember that “zio” was “uncle”; I’m afraid to say that was the sum total of my Italian). As I had French covered and Vivien, with a German mother, had German covered, we felt optimistic that we could visit France, Germany and Italy without any problem.

Vivien agreed to work out the initial part of our journey, i.e. Belgium to Germany, and then we would go on to Austria and Italy. We were briefed by my mother’s worry that men would see us at filling stations and put nails down for us to drive over and puncture our tyres with the aim of having their wicked way. She also mentioned that we shouldn’t go south of Rome. I had the good idea that we could take Mum’s car as Dad also had a car, and Vivien provided the camping gear.

Vivien was responsible for the journey across the Channel from Dover to Ostend. She found us a place to stay the first night in Diksmuide, but as the carnival was going on all night outside our window we did not have a good sleep that night. To our horror we were given a double bed; however we were not “that way inclined”! Vivien told me about how her father organised camping trips for her and her brother to visit the First World War sites, whereas I had spent my childhood holidays at the house called Singleton in North Cornwall. Vivien often stayed there with us for holidays and she was impressed at the very easy relationships in my family.

We drove on through Belgium to Germany, and Vivien had arranged for us to visit her Uncle Rudy and his daughter, Vivien’s cousin, for lunch. Then we went on through Germany to Munich, and then into Austria where we visited Innsbruch, and then to Florence. Vivien brought the artistic side to our friendship, knowing places to visit in Florence, Rome and Venice. In preparation for the holiday and a visit to the Sistine Chapel I had read “The Agony and the Ecstasy” about Michaelangelo; Vivien joked that it was more agony than ecstasy.

One clear memory I have is of Vivien saying she would take over the driving one day; she later told me she had noticed I was falling asleep at the wheel. Another thing I remember is that Vivien saw a man hitchhiking, carrying a live rabbit and she suggested we picked him up; he came with us to wherever he wanted to go. It is Vivien’s recollection that we spent a lot of time in garages; at one, when we had a flat tyre and couldn’t turn the nuts, an Italian garage-man put a long handle on the spanner and then, when it turned, with a grin of triumph he exclaimed “Archimedes”! We had no problems at all with the Italian men.

Our A level results were due while we were away; Vivien had left an address so that her mother could let her know her results; following this I rang my mother to ask her how I had done.

We went into this adventure with confidence. While I failed on the speaking Italian side, Vivien seemed totally reliable in her driving, and in her knowledge of art.

As I lie here crippled with MS and unable to walk or write, I wonder whether the spirit of adventure was with me as I was aware that all was not well with my body.

Mary Smith   16th June 2016



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