Nella Martin

an appointment with a nurse in practice

Small Accomplishments on a Summer Solstice.


My house frequently looks as if it’s been burgled, the front door left open by its tardy inhabitants, rooms strewn with discarded clothes, piles of clean clothes yet to have creases smoothed out, stacks of papers knocked askew by drivers searching for carelessly placed car keys and little girls for their loom band bracelets. Amongst this chaos, if all I manage to do, is to wash the dishes in the sink and put a line full of washing out to dry then I feel as if I have accomplished something. I instantly feel calmer, more in control and able to trip over husband’s dangerously misplaced shoes without cursing him with too many foul expletives. The line of washing you see above is such an everyday insignificant thing, but to me it signifies so much more. Somehow, that simple act of pegging out and looking at the results makes me feel like a good mother, housekeeper, wife, person, clean, an Eco warrior (for not tumble drying on this occasion), thus enabling me to go out to play for the rest of a sunny, summer solstice with a clear conscience.
I dropped little daughter of to a party just before midday then went to have afternoon tea with some of my most favourite girlfriends.

I love these girls. Cake with extra-large portions of gossip and laughter is really all that is needed to cope with life.
Late this afternoon we have been to a fund-raising garden fete in the village. I spent the time plaiting little braids with beads into little girls and one little boy’s hair. I’ll often do this at school fairs, it’s an excellent activity for monitoring head lice in the local population. I do then discreetly tell parents if their child is hosting unwelcome guests!



Delightful Dawn Discoveries before a Working Day.

This morning I awoke at 04.30, I briefly considered going back to sleep before effortlessly slipping out of bed, grabbing some clothes without disturbing a snoring husband and deciding to go out to meet the day while it was brand new, fresh and dewy.
My first memorable encounter was on a narrow nettle lined footpath with an industrious Mistle Thrush, her beak was full of worms, we both stopped and looked at each other with interest, each of us waiting for the other to hop out-of-the-way. She reluctantly hopped a few paces forward not wanting to be the one to give way, claiming her superior right to be there when clearly I had very little, it being far too early for humans to be up and about.
When I reached the end of that footpath and turned into the lane that leads down to the Marina I stumbled upon a Muntjac deer, he was large and strong for his breed, he didn’t immediately bounce away, we surveyed each other with equal curiosity from a respectable distance before he leapt into the safety of dense foliage. I didn’t have time to muse over Mr Muntjac before spotting my greatest prize of early morning delights, two Little Owls, companionably sitting on a low fence by a barn. I’ve never seen them so near in the wild before and so definitely themselves. We all three paused as we took stock of each other before one flew away having decided that I was too much of a threat to remain, the other stayed put, boldly staring until I moved, half hopeful of photographing him or her with my mobile. I’ll go back there to see if I can see them again. I continued my walk along the sea wall coastal path, flanked by creeks and mud flats on one side and long grasses with rabbits that could barely be bothered to move away from me on the other side, it was just me with the furry and feathered creatures, caterpillars unfurling themselves to munch on nettles, and poppies and daisies opening up to greet the rising sun.
I arrived back home at 6.20, I was amused to see our Cat sitting in the middle of the road staring at our house intently, he was obviously awaiting the first sounds and sights of his humans being awake to let him in and feed him after his night-time adventures of shrew stalking. I took him by surprise and he meowed and mewled in no uncertain terms to tell me so. Husband was awake in bed and had noted my absence. Little daughter was still asleep under her duvet and didn’t even wake up when Cat settled himself down to sleep a purring on top of her.
Two hours later I was at the surgery ready to start a 9.5 hour day. My morning surgery was a mix of asthma and diabetes reviews, cervical smears and contraception checks. The morning ended with a home visit to a housebound elderly lady to give her a B12 injection. My knock on the door was greeted with a “Come in, it’s open” as I entered she said “Please help me with this dear, I’m in such a muddle and I can’t leave it.” She was leaning precariously on her Zimmer frame, trying to defrost her fridge freezer, the floor soggy, lumps of ice and bowls of water, frozen foods starting to defrost all around. I cleared up the floor and the water, collected up the last remaining stubborn chunks of ice, wiped it all out with a towel, put everything back in and switched it back on, that took about 20 minutes. Then I gave her injection!! “I’m so grateful nurse dear” she said several times over.
Lunch was very colourful today, I arranged it all on my plate to be so, tomatoes, avocado, orange, peppers, bread with cream cheese and watercress and yogurt. (Early morning walks make me extra hungry)
I started my afternoon surgery at 13.20, my most “challenging” patient was a 60-year-old Nepalese lady, she had received a letter for her first ever smear test. She came in with her husband and a male soldier translator friend. I had a Nepalese print out of smear test information but she couldn’t read in any language, I tried to establish if she knew why she had the appointment and they all pointed at the letter, when I explained to the interpreter friend in very basic details of what a smear test was and he explained to my patient, she looked aghast and gesticulated that the men leave the room, I nodded and showed them out! We communicated with body and sign language, we told each other that we both had three children, she two boys and one girl and I, two girls and one boy, I demonstrated how we would do the smear and she giggled like a young girl. Afterwards when it was all finished and I said that she could go, she gave me an unexpected big hug and a kiss on each cheek, we both laughed. Despite neither of us being able to speak a comprehensible word to the other we had connected and understood each other in many ways.
Straight from work I had to go to collect three little Brownie children from the scout hut. I dropped two off to the penultimate house in my lane and kept one for myself.
The little Brownie and I made stir fry veg with some noodles with a piece of baked salmon for dinner.
She is back in bed asleep and I think I will now go to bed also.



All Bodies Great and Small.

In the beginning I was mostly interested in the bodies of small creatures, spiders, frogs, worms, snails, caterpillars, chicks that had fallen from nests. When we are very small, we are much closer to nature and wildlife, or did it just feel that way? I would once sit,  delighted and thoroughly entertained at watching little red spider mites crawling all over hot paving slabs or a stone wall. I now can’t remember the last time that I saw any. Are they still about but I have failed to notice them?
Do children still have funerals for dead butterflies and beautifully ugly, bald, dead blackbirds chicks? I can remember taking one with me to a Girl Guide camp, hopeful that I would be able to raise him after our cat ate his parents. He did of course die and I sadly gave him a grand little funeral with a decorated grave, then I dug him up again a few days later, eager to know how his little body was decomposing.
As I became older, human bodies began to hold a similar fascination, inside and out. Women’s bodies have always been the most interesting because they can grow and feed babies, men’s seem rather boring in comparison, a penis alone a poor consolation prize. A part of me has always felt a little bit sorry for men because of that. I’ve never met a man who laments not having this ability though, yet, somehow in many places all over the world Men even feel that they are better and more powerful than women. I’ve never understood this when they can’t even grow their own babies. I can remember having these thoughts at three to four years of age when my mother was pregnant with my sister and they have persisted over the years.
I’ve been nursing for many years now and have seen the bodies of many men, women and children. I cannot remember a man or a child ever apologising to me for their body, like the frogs and the spiders they mostly just unconsciously are, as they are, but it often saddens me that women almost always apologise for their bodies. They are sorry for their body hair, for stretch marks, for how fat or thin they are, if they might smell a tiny bit of anything other than perfume or deodorant. They are sorry that I have to do something as awful as a cervical cytology/smear test.
Bodies are meant to have hair, a cervix is a cervix, just a part of the body but tucked a way, to me and other doctors and nurses no different from looking into an ear or down a throat for tonsils.  Bodily secretions really don’t bother me, I used to play with frogs and snails and dig up dead birds. I still find it all interesting. Little babies chubby hands or the wrinkled veiny ones of a 90 year old are both as equally delightful, they are alive and working and pretty amazing as every single living creature is, when you look, think, notice and wonder.



Wonky Tudor Houses.

I haven’t written for a while, I still have no computer and I find it difficult to write on hand held devices.
Husband went away in March to Budapest and Bratislava, his phone wouldn’t work there so he didn’t contact me. I did think that his phone may not be working but then I thought if that was me I would get on the internet somehow and email that my phone wasn’t working, hence I then started to imagine him dead, beaten up and mugged or under the wheels of a moving vehicle due to confusion over road left/ right differences. I imagined being all very sad and having to get his body back to Britain and buying a smaller two bedroom little house for me and my little daughter. He did of course turn up bigger and fatter and larger than life, I did feel a little brief pang of bereavement for the little two bedroomed house that would have been all pretty and tidy but only for a fraction of a second!! Honest… :-/
Today is Good Friday, a long weekend, family time. People romanticise family time. The reality is that it’s impossible to please everybody, children moan and whine if you make them walk far and take them to look at ” interesting” places. Dogs are a burden and prevent you from going into many places, they whine and need to pee and poo in the most inappropriate places. Husbands listen to the most boring radio stations ever in the car, either old men droning on about obscure subjects or to deafening histrionic sport commentaries. Mine never seems to listen to any upbeat, mood lifting groovy tunes.
I much prefer family life when everybody is incarcerated in their own allocated holding place for the day, either to earn their living or get educated enough to enable them to earn their living, then we can spend small amounts of quality time together in the evenings before escaping to different rooms with electronic devices.
Having said that, once I’m back home, I’m glad that we made the effort to get out and that we were able to explore another little part of the world nearby. Lavenham today was very pretty and I did stare in wonder at the old wonky Tudor houses. Husband laughed when I asked if they were built a bit wonky to start with, apparently it’s movement over the centuries. I might google that in moment…

Budgets and Calories

While George Osborne has been preparing and delivering his fifth budget, I decided that it was a good time to do my own. I find budgets are comparable to diets, except it’s the other way round. Too little in V too much out with money. Too much in V too little out with calories. Both things make for disastrous consequences.
The theory is nice and easy in my head, in fact both things more or less match, my daily calorie total and my monthly pounds to spend total are pretty much the same. I need to keep them both to around 1500 and then everything balances out beautifully. Except I don’t seem to be very good at counting. Children and all their various needs devour the pounds, whilst I try very hard to not devour too many calories. I can keep both things on track for a while but then life happens to divert my mind from my counting and it all goes horribly wrong. I stand on the scales and I’ve gained three pounds, I check my bank statement and it’s lost £300 😦
Mostly this month but especially yesterday and today I have counted everything out beautifully. I have numbers jotted down on the corner of the tissue box, in my diary, on page margins. I have £50 to spend on shopping (I’ve already shopped this week to the sum of £70) and £40 on petrol until next Wednesday, when I should be paid again. Everything else is accounted for and I’m hoping to finish the month in the black and with no extra lbs or kilos on me. 🙂
I’m at work, three consecutive patients have failed to turn up for their appointments.

The Cold and Oil.

Today has been cold. I’ve been cold at work and cold at home. Husband and Practice Manager had both pre empted the ending of winter and the coming of summer and turned off the heating.
I had been getting nervous at home about the depleted oil tank. Living where a part of England comes to an end, miles from any town, there are no gas supplies. You have to ensure oil tanks are kept topped up if you don’t want the hot water tap to run cold and your radiators to remain icy to the touch. There are no monthly bills or direct debit payment plans. If you have no money you can’t buy oil. We are lucky that we still have coal fires and chimneys for those occasions when we have run out before, such as the freezing, snowy December of 2011 when oil tanks wouldn’t attempt to drive this far via snowy country lanes. This year our oil has lasted all through the winter months. Husband ordered 500 litres last week and it has been delivered today. I can now have a bath without the anxiety I’ve had over the last couple of weeks. He says we will probably need to order 1000 litres in August. We are both working, but it’s still a big outlay to find up to 500 pounds in one go. I wonder how other families who are struggling financially, manage? I expect many don’t and that they endure the cold.
I have oil but still no working computer!

A Weekend Without A Computer.

I’ve missed our computer so much. I’ve felt all restless and unable to settle to anything. I did get rid of all the laundry piles, clean have been ironed and put away and dirty piles, washed, rescued before they became creased in a pile and put away also.
My little kindle isn’t really up to blogging, I wanted to write about dolls but it can keep.
I took D2 and a little friend of hers swimming today. Luckily because of the friend I didn’t have to go in. I hate it. I hate the smell, I hate the changing rooms and wet floors, I’m not happy being braless and virtually naked in front of strangers. I understand why Nigella wore that big black burkha thing at the beach. Some of us just like to keep our bodies to ourselves. Then the being all wet and having to get dry, put clothes back on with dripping wet hair and skin all taut, dry and itchy. I find it all torturous. The girls loved it though. We then went to see a friend’s pond which is full of spawning frogs, it was quite a sight and sound.
Husband had had his brothers round to watch the football. I can’t be in the house at the same time. It’s hard to see husband, an intelligent man, reduced to behaving like a foul mouthed yob, screaming at players and a referee that cannot hear him. I can’t bear all the high expressed emotion over some men running around after a ball. It’s not nice or dignified and I lose all respect for him, so I have to leave the house for both our sakes!
It’s really hard writing on this kindle, I apologise for any grammatical errors.

A Spring Morning Walk Around The Sea Wall

Blackthorn Blossom

Blackthorn Blossom

mud flats/ sea wall.

mud flats/ sea wall.

Thursday, my fourth annual leave day off. Husband had a day off also today. I walked D2 to school, she skipped along and chatted merrily about playground gossip all the way there. Back at home with the essential domestic drudgery completed, H and I faced the expectation of having to do something together, we very nearly managed it but we fell at the last post. We didn’t fall out out and it’s not that we didn’t want to spend time together but the truth is he wanted to go out for a long brisk stride with the dog, radio to his ear listening to sport live five or radio 4. My heart sank at the thought of being in his stinky car with stinky dog and trying to keep up with him during the walk with radio blaring and dog barking at anything that moves. Following a hand hot discussion, he went off on his own, much to my relief and I had my day off back to myself. I walked down to the sea wall and got lost for two hours, an hour of that felt like an eternity as I tried to work out where I would end up. I enjoyed the peace and solitude and it all worked out OK as eventually I found my way home.

I commented on some friends soppy FB post thing about finding perfect love. It doesn’t exist. It really doesn’t, it’s just an illusion at the beginning. Eventually, it is all about picking up dirty discarded socks, a sink full of washing up, bills to be paid. Children, barky dogs and cars needing their various needs attending too. It becomes about survival, TOLERANCE, compromise. If you can still manage to snuggle up in bed at night, give each other a kiss goodbye as you leave for work and remember to ask the other about their day after work, you are both doing fantastically well. It’s not really essential to go out on your precious annual leave day together, surely??!! That’s what little gossipy friends are for (and it does help if they are a similar height as I can’t tell any little fibs about anything then as they are on my eye level!)

No great cuisine today, just sausage and mash for dinner. D2 managed to bring another little friend back to play. They shut the bedroom door and got the dolls out, I think the dolls and teddies had to endure some harsh schooling. This was followed by music on the iPod and bracelet making. I have to pretend to not notice what they are doing as they have started to become self-conscious about playing with dolls. It won’t be long before the poor dollies are discarded for good.

The Humble Overlooked Beetroot Transformed into a Gorgeous Velvet Chocolate Cake


I love beetroot, baked, boiled, pickled, grated raw in coleslaw or salad, curried…. Today I have a big bunch of it, I’ve decided to make a beetroot and chocolate cake. I’ve quickly scoured internet recipes. They all seemed fiddly and involved melting dark chocolate that I do not possess. So I’ve kept it simple and I’ve done my own thing. I had 360g of boiled peeled beetroot and I’ve then added in the 80gish of cocoa powder and 300gs of plain flour (50/50 wholemeal to plain), 360g of sugar, 360mls of oil, 4 eggs, 2 tsp. of bicarbonate of soda. I’ve split it into two sandwich tins and it’s now baking in the oven. I’ll update this blog when it comes out!!

Cake came out rather on the large side, I think I should have made one small one with half the ingredients. I did cream cheese icing and coloured it with beetroot juice. Not the best quality photo. It is very nice, a slight bitterness from the chocolate, I maybe could have put in a little less, but very yummy overall.

I’m NOT a Dog Hater but what about the Pigs?

I was the last one up this morning, generally I am. D2 awakes at around 6am each morning, sneaks in for a quick cuddle and with cunning stealth tries to steal the iPad from husband’s side of the bed. He still pings awake like a small child, he has no sleepy in between, it’s either wide awake or fast asleep. As soon as Dog realises H is awake she’ll start her sharp, relentless barking until he takes her out for a walk at around 6.30 am. Sometimes as I lay in bed listening to the barking I do have fleeting, intrusive, violent thoughts, but don’t worry all you dog lovers out there, they only ever remain 6am thoughts. I’m not a dog hater, but neither am I a dog lover. In the main, the mess, the hair, the noise, the constant demands for attention, the smell, dribble, slobber, faeces, occasional vomit and the tie of having to get back or take with inappropriately, outweigh any benefits in my experience and opinion. People say about the love that they give. I’ve personally never felt the need to be loved by a dog. I’m very aware that it’s dangerous to voice any negative feelings towards furry creatures, it’s a crime greater than, well I don’t know, anything, eating little babies or shooting Grannies for instance. Many of those self-same dog lovers, treating their pets better than many humans are treated around the world. hypocritically munch away on bacon and sausages and battery farmed chickens without a thought for the suffering inflicted on these less aesthetically pleasing creatures. I like pigs, I wouldn’t like one as a pet anymore than a I like having a dog but I couldn’t eat one or even a little bit of one either and I haven’t done so for over 20 years. I could go on with graphic details of cruel animal husbandry from around the world but I don’t feel the need, people know already but choose not to think about it, yet they call themselves animal lovers because they pamper a pooch or two. It makes me cross.