Sep 21st

The Dementia Golden Ticket - An Emerging New Model of Care

By Christine B

Where we live in East Sussex, our local CCG has been working hard on developing a pathway of care for people who have dementia, in all it's forms.  This pilot project has been widely acclaimed, and has won awards including the National Primary Care Awards 2016 for "Pathway Innovation of the YearAward", and several other accolades.

The pilot was commissioned by the CCG in response to  a clinical review of dementia services which highlighted delays in receiving a diagnosis, limited access to services and limited choice, poor patient outcomes and the strain on carers.

Having heard so much about the project, I arranged a trip to the "Birthplace" of the Golden Ticket in Buxted, and took with me 7 other members of our local Patient Participation Groups - we arrived in a minibus, very ably driven by my husband, and we arrived on time despite getting lost due to my own stupidity!

We were blown away by what we heard and saw.  We had a talk from one of the GP surgery members (a Paramedic), who is leading on the project, and he told us that the Golden Ticket is transforming care for people with dementia, as they are being treated with a holisitic mix of services to address health and wellbeing in every aspect of their lives and that of their carers.  

Once diagnosis is confirmed, the person with dementia received their "Golden Ticket", which includes direct point of contact with the practice nurse; social activities including a "Memory" Cafe (which are open to all, including carers, giving the opportunity to chat and take part in activities), access to a "Dementia Guide" who is the main point of contact for support and advice and guidance not only for the person involved, but for the whole family.  Amongst things they do is to set up Advanced Care Plans.

"Blip" clinics are held for those moments of crisis and people are seen very quickly.

We were then taken in small groups to the Memory Cafe, which in this case is hosted in the local Pub!  It was a vibrant community - nobody looked or felt out of place or "different" - it was just a group of people enjoying a cuppa and activities - when we left the very noisy group, they were having a "musical" quiz (guessing the 2nd line of a song and then singing it).  Amongst one of the regulars was a little boy of about 3 years of age, who apparently had been a member since he was 4 months old!!

A happy and inspirational visit it was for us all 

Sep 14th

Where are the Poppies

By Mary B

Thanks to Janet H I have now planted my poppy on the map.....

It's another wonderful idea.


What I wrote:

"I am posting the picture of my poppy on the 103rd anniversary of the day my Grandfather, James Baker, was killed in action at Troyon, near Vendresse, on the southern slope of the Chemin des Dames ridge, north of the River Aisne. I researched his war and found he had walked 100 miles with his Regiment, the Royal Sussex, before meeting his death on 14th September 1914. I was privileged to be able to walk in his footsteps one hundred years later to the day. It was the most amazing and emotional nine days of my life, and something I will never forget. A lot of people helped with the project and one of the support team was my sister-in-law who very kindly gave me my poppy as a Christmas present in 2014. It was a lovely gesture and so my poppy is very definitely my grandfather, James. I have no letters from him, no photograph of him, and he has no known grave, so the poppy is particularly significant to me as I have so very little of him apart from his Soldiers Small Book. I love my poppy."

If there was more space I would have added that I used to keep my poppy in the garden, but I have brough it inside now as I don't want it to get spoilt.

Perhaps when I am much older I should make another pilgrimage to the battleground where he was killed and plant the poppy there - but I'm not sure the French farmer would appreciate that!


Sep 5th

Shakespeare Sonnet 32

By Mary B

If thou survive my well-contented day,

When that churl Death my bones with dust shall cover

And shalt by fortune once more re-survey

These poor rude lines of thy deceased lover,


Compare them with the bett’ring of the time,

And though they be outstripped by every pen,

Reserve them for my love, not for their rhyme,

Exceeded by the height of happier men.


O! then vouchsafe me but this loving thought:

‘Had my friend’s Muse grown with this growing age,

A dearer birth than this his love had brought,

To march in ranks of better equipage:


But since he died and poets better prove,

Theirs for their style I’ll read, his for his love’.

Aug 16th

World War One transcribing

By Ann R

For those of you that have been in touch with me for a while you might remember (or not lol) that I do quite a bit of transcribing for genealogy websites.  At the moment I am doing a section of the alphabet births, marriages and deaths for 1978 (for England and Wales), also burials for a village in Dorset, starting in the 16th century and finishing in the mid 19th century, finally I am doing part of the 1841 census for Leicestershire.

As you can imagine this keeps me out of mischief and I have learnt so much over the past few years, for instance I came across an occupation a few weeks ago which looked as though it read Buhl Worker.  There is a forum where you can ask people, sure enough that is what it was and it turns out it is someone who produces marquetry (named after Andre-Charles Boulle).

However, I felt that I wanted a bit more of a change (I will still continue with the above) and noticed that The National Archives in Kew (in conjunction with the National Maritime Museum) were looking for volunteers to transcribe Royal Navy crew records from World War One.  I sent them an email and started it all today.

Getting used to the writing is the hardest part as some of it has been crammed into a small space.  I haven't heard of the majority of the ranks so I am on another learning curve.

Aug 10th

Short Ode to the Cuckoo - by W.H. Auden

By Mary B

Short Ode to the Cuckoo

by W.H. Auden

 Short Ode to the Cuckoo

Short Ode to the Cuckoo

No one now imagines you answer idle questions
— How long shall I live?  How long remain single?
Will butter be cheaper? — nor does your shout make
husbands uneasy.

Compared with arias by the great performers
such as the merle, your two-note act is kid-stuff:
our most hardened crooks are sincerely shocked by
your nesting habits.

Science, Aesthetics, Ethics, may huff and puff but they
cannot extinguish your magic:  you marvel
the commuter as you wondered the savage.
Hence, in my diary,

where I normally enter nothing but social
engagements and, lately, the death of friends, I
scribble year after year when I first hear you,
of a holy moment.

Aug 6th

Letter to an unknown soldier

By Sandy H

On platform One of Paddington station in London stands a war memorial featuring a life-size bronze statue of a soldier.  He is reading a letter.  No-one knows who the letter is from, or what message it contains.  To mark the centenary of the First World War, authors Neil Bartlett and Kate Pullinger invited people from around the world to step aside from the more official ceremonies of commemoration and imagine themselves sitting down and writing that letter.


People responded in their thousands.

Grandmothers and grandfathers, serving members of the armed forces, midwives, students, prisoners, children and even the Prime Minister wrote to the soldier.

Letters arrived from all over the country and eventually from all over the world.

Many well known writers, poets and personalities contributed.


The response to this project was extrordinary.  By the end of it's second week nearly ten thousand people had written to the soldier, and by the projects close, 21,439 had written.

The website opend on the 28th August 2014, the centenary of the moment Prime Minister Asquith announced to the House of Commons that Britain had joined the First World War.

As the letters arrived, they were published on the website and made available for everyone to read.  A selection of the letters has also been published as a book.


Letter to an unknown soldier will be archived until 2018.  After that, all of the letters will be archived in the British Library where they will remain permanently accessible online, providing a snapshot of what people in this country and across the world were thinking and feeling about the centenary of WW1.

                                     One of the letters in the book by ( anonymous )


Letter to my mssing son

I see you walking boldly into the early morning sun, head held high, long easy strides, a half smile on your face, looking towards the horizon.

With hope and an open heart you set out to save the world.

And then you disappeared..........

Where did you walk to my beloved son?

The sun rises every day, and still you are missing.

A trap has been perfectly set.

The loss is overwhelming, but I will never give up.

Though my eyes grow dimmed with the tears shed,  I will

walk every path until I can no longer walk.

Oftentimes, in a crowd, my heart quickens.  I catch a

glimps of a shadow, the turn of a head, the sound of a long-

lost voice, of music you played.

I thought I might die of grief 'you think you cannot keep

breathing..... and so that you may do it, God takes out your heart of flesh, and gives you a heart od stone.'

The door is wide open, you are a brave bold son, it is over, walk home.

Your ever-loving




Jul 26th

Transport for London and the Congestion Charge

By Mary B

Transport for London and the Congestion Charge

Did you know you could pay the Congestion Charge without even needing to – and Transport for London will not allow you a refund.


On Friday (the day is important) I drove to London. I used my satnav to direct me to an address in North East London. My route should not have taken me anywhere near the Congestion Charge area.


However, as so often is the case, the satnav had a fit. My satnav is actually my mobile phone running Google Maps, which I, mostly, find excellent. We lost the GPS signal as we drove through the Blackwall Tunnell. I should have just driven straight north on the A12 but as a slave to my satnav I followed directions which seemed rather strange after GPS was re-established. I saw signs to the Isle of Dogs and seemed to be heading towards Tower Bridge – now that’s just not right, I knew that much. I ended up driving through all sorts of tiny back streets and was really, completely lost. I kept seeing signs for the Congestion Charge and I knew I didn’t want to get into that…….at one point I thought I had turned right just before it started, but I couldn’t be sure.


Eventually I navigated myself out of this mess and found my destination. The day went off successfully and by the time I came home the traffic was so bad that Google Maps took me way off east to the M25 and over the Dartford Bridge.

I was busy on Saturday and so it wasn’t until the early evening that I knew I had to pay my Dart Charge. This charge must be paid by the day after using the Dartford Crossing or a penalty is issued. I then spent considerable time trying to determine whether or not I had entered the Congestion Charge area. As I didn’t fully know where I had driven it was impossible to tell. It was also too late to ask for help from the Transport for London office which by this time was closed.

My decision was to play safe and pay the £14 for Friday and then on Monday ask the nice people at TfL whether I had actually gone into the Congestion Zone or not – and if not, well, I’m sure I would get a refund, after all, they can’t charge for something that didn’t happen – can they……..

So on Monday morning I duly called the Transport for London office – and waited for around 15 minutes before getting through to someone. The lady on the other end of the line told me they had no facility to tell whether or not I had driven into the Congestion Charge zone. I would just have to wait and see if I received a Penalty Charge Notice. I told her that it was for that very reason I had decided to pay. “Oh well” she said, in a rather smug voice, “Well, if you’ve paid then that’s your decision and there is no refund available.” Apparently, if I waited 48 hours I could find out if I had driven into the Congestion Zone. I explained to her that I thought the system was very faulty if it took payment from people whose cars had not been into the Congestion Zone. She confirmed that the system had been the same since it was set up in 2003 although they were working on a ‘live system’ because at the moment there is this delay.

I decided this sort of approach was just not acceptable. I told her I was making a complaint and I would like to speak to her manager. After another long wait I was told that her manager was not available and would only tell me the same as she had told me. That might be the case, I agreed, but I wanted to escalate this issue and I therefore wanted to speak to someone with higher authority. She assured me her manager would phone me back. Two days later I am still waiting for that call.

I decided to try Transport for London again today (Wednesday). I called and got straight through to a charming man called Jo. I explained my situation and he was sympathetic. He took some time to explain the tools that are available on their website to check whether you have entered the zone or not. I explained to him that it was difficult to use the tools when you don’t know where you have driven. TfL are quick enough to issue their PCNs (Penalty Charge Notices) but obviously not prepared to help those who get lost or confused.

He gave me the number of the Enforcement Operatives but I knew what would happen when I spoke to them. Sure enough, they are only prepared to confirm that you have driven into the zone and that you will be receiving a PCN for £130. Apparently no one is able to tell me if my car did not go into the Congestion Charge Zone. This is outrageous and totally unacceptable, given the technology that TfL employ. It seems to me they are all too quick to take our money and not so interested in accuracy or fairness.

It is true that if you pay your PCN within 14 days you get a 50% discount, but, as I explained, £65 is a lot to pay out of a state pension……

So, am I mad to expend any more energy on this?

I feel it is an outrageous situation and that the system is biased against those of us who live outside London and don’t know our way around. Also, I find that as you get older it also gets more difficult to take in all the signs when you are lost and panicking……  I believe the signage relating to the Congestion Charge is also less clear than it used to be. There used to be big C’s on the road so you knew exactly when you had driven over into the zone. They don’t appear to exist any longer.

I don’t suppose TfL will be very sympathetic but as pensioners, most of us cannot afford to pay penalty charges of £65 too often, and it bugs me that I might well have paid my £14 for no reason at all, and no one is prepared to help me establish the truth.




Jul 9th

Curio Bay New Zealand and the Hoiho Penguin

By Sandy H

Curio Bay is a coastal embayment in the Southland district of New Zealand

best known as the site of a petrified forest some 180 million years old


Luck was on my side, the tide was out and I had the chance to explore the bay and the petrified stumps and logs that scatter the bay.

It was an incredible feeling touching something that is 180 million years old.....

The bay was deserted,  and I was standing gazing up above at a beautiful rainbow all was quiet and peaceful.

Suddenly some young lads began calling to me,  they were up above me on the cliff top,

"excuse me excuse me"  they called....


I turned and there right beside me not five metres away stood the most magnificent

Hoiho,  A yellow eyed male penguin.

He was standing so close to me on the rocks I think I could have reached out to touch him.  But new better than to do that.

I had no idea he was there,  I stood very still and quiet so as not to frighten him.

He shuffled his body and turned his back to me.

These were very pecious minutes and I knew I had to move slowly but quickly out of his way.

My last look at this beautiful bird and slowly I moved....

He began calling to his mate,  she came waddling across the rocks towards him.

I moved again,  eventually she waddled up to him and away they went, across the rocks into the safety of their hideaway.



The Hoiho Penguin


Several hoiho or yellow eyed penguins nest in the area around Curio Bay/Waikawa

They are one of the rarest penguins in the world with an estimated total population in New Zealand of between 6000 and 7000

The population has declined because of the clearance of coastal forest in which penguins nest.

They are also affected by introduced preditors, such as stoats, ferrets and dogs.

Which may disturb their nests.

Eggs are laid in September/October and both parents incubate and help rear chicks.

Birds usually leave the nest for the sea early morning, returning late afternoon/early evening.

The Hoiho is an endangered and unique species: a living symbol of the Caitlins.

Distinguished by its distinct yellow eyes and headband, the hoiho is a shy loner and a forest dweller.

Its Maori name imitates its shrill call and translates to 'the noise shouter'


These penguins have excellent eye sight and hearing and are easily frightened.


I feel very fortunate to have seen one so close and hopefully unintentionally did not frighten him too much.



Jun 27th

In reply to today's news about waiting times for the NHS

By Maureen J

A Tale of Two Doctors

Two patients limp into two different doctors’ offices with the same complaint:

Both have trouble walking and may require hip surgery.

The first patient is examined within the hour, is x-rayed the same day and has a time booked for surgery the following week.

The second patient sees his family doctor after waiting three weeks for an appointment. He waits another eight weeks to see a specialist, when he gets an x-ray, which is not reviewed for another week. Finally he has his surgery scheduled for six months from that time, pending decisions regarding his age and remaining value to society.

Why the different treatment for the two patients?



The FIRST is a Golden Retriever taken to a vet. The SECOND is a Senior Citizen.

Jun 25th

Gr'Auntie May

By Bill W

In the decade after WW2, when the nation was still licking it's wounds and austerity had become the norm, kids were expected to do their share of chores and getting part time jobs was manditory.....well it was for  the kids where I lived.

"Go round to your Great Auntie May's, see if she wants to swap any of her ration book coupons at the Maypole (a small shop in the vicinity), and take some of this fire wood for her," Mum said....impatiently.

"Why do I have to call her Great Auntie May, Mum, can't I just call her Auntie May, I asked?

"No you certainly cannot my lad, because she is my Auntie May, that makes her your Great Auntie May, so show some respect", growled Mum.





"Mum says I've got to call you Great Auntie May", I told my Mums Aunt.

"Well, our Bill, why don't you just call me Gr'Auntie May", she laughed.

Mum cottoned onto the name too, well she would living in Preston, would'nt she.  ha ha ha

After school in the dark nights I'd go round to Gr'Auntie May's and fill her coal buckets, then sit down with her by the fire while she told me wierd stories. She would light the gas-light on the wall which gave the room an eerie atmosphere, and I'd chomp on a big thick slice of toast....done on the fire .....and a big mug of tea.


To be continued........

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