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December 2023
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A wonderful time of year

I love Christmas, but before the glorious 12th, I’m a bit down. This is a little new because I didn’t know my diagnosis date for certain for many, many years, but I knew it was around this time before Christmas.

I know it’s a bit strange because this all happened a long time ago, 46 years this year. For the first time, I’m taking the day off work to attend a charity function – not for type 1, but interesting all the same. I have plans for most of the days that week – keeping my mind off it.

Unusally, this year, it’s actually cold: below freezing, which is notable in the UK. We had snow yesterday.

I’ve downloaded my favourite cooking show, my husband has lit a fire, I’ve closed the curtains, grabbed my oody and I’m settled, while my dough rises to make bread rolls. These will not only complement my carrot and corriander soup later, but serve as lunch material this week with left overs.

Like many, we’ve rolled off our fixed rate mortgage over the past couple of days just as the bite of winter hits the UK. We’ve had plenty of warning is coming – which allowed us to budget, so hopefully, we will not only be able to celebrate midwinters eve but have a happy new year.

Planning is everything, and I am not talking about pre-cooking the veggies on the day.

What did I feel about being diagnosed?

When you are sick, things happen to you and around you. I’d been to the doctor’s recently and went back home in a slightly worse state than I’d gone in because I still hadn’t been diagnosed. The locum GP thought I “didn’t look diabetic to [them]”.

Some people think you’re too young to remember what happened. This is what I remember.


I’d got sick in the summer, after finishing my second term at nursey school. School was great. I got sick very soon after the hoiday began. I spent a few days wrapped in blankets propped up on the sofa with my favourite rag doll. Part of me liked being that cocooned, though it was a bit boring.

By the time I went back after the summer, I was quieter and thirsty. The nursery assistant noticed I was now drinking the free milk – before the summer, I hadn’t touched it with a 10′ barge pole, now I was finishing it faster than anyone, even though I’d puked it back up shortly later a few times – I have never liked milk.

The walk to school was getting harder. Christmas was approaching. Father Christmases and mince pies. Sitting down as much as I could. Being asked to hurry up and mum putting me in my brother’s pram because that was quicker on longer walks.

I never wet the bed, I’m pretty good in the dark and the seat was down on the bathroom toilet, but the lid was up. Not a problem. We had a downstairs loo, so at home everything was dandy. A loo was never far away.

I remember sitting quietly a lot of the time but not sleeping. I’ve never been able to sleep when my blood sugar is high. The level where it is possible to sleep is now really quite low since I am in range so long. Over those weeks, the level must have been quite high.

We walked to the GPs. I remember the waiting room from visits for my family. There was a toy room with a rocking horse. That seemed like a lot of faff. I just sat on the big chair with mum while my kid brother played, we watched.

The lady was dark haired not Dr Smith. But the fish tank was there, tropical fish. I felt a bit brighter, a good sit down always helped. I watched the fish with my brother while mum spoke to the doctor. Mum was upset she wouldn’t test me.

Saturday and mum went to work as normal. I played with my brother in my room and went to bed after tea. The next morning, I peed into the beaker. Mum let me watch the colour change in the test tube when my urine was added, 15 drops and the big tablet was added. Then I was allowed to drink something. We had beef for lunch, when we visited my gran we’d get some of the beef my gran and granddad didn’t eat. No potato. Lot’s of gravy. Water only. I don’t remember tea. Normally it would be eggs and bread – my grandparents kept chickens, we ate a lot of boiled eggs for Sunday tea but I don’t remember that. I was hungry and ached, even walking across the lounge seemed like an awful lot of effort. Dad carried me to bed: I’d already had my bath.

The day.

Mum wanted me to wear the green dress I didn’t really like. We were taking dad to work. Then we drove out, away from home.

We parked and walked into the hospital. I just wanted to go home. Mum was a pharmacist, so she’d briefed me. The doctors would test me, then I’d have injections and they would make me better. It would mean injections, for always, but I would be better.

I remember waiting and being hungry and thirsty. Being four, I couldn’t tell the time and didn’t have much clue about the fact we were there all day. My dad didn’t have a telephone for personal use, so when we’d walked to the children’s ward, mum waited then spoke to the nurse – she’d be back and would take my brother so it was less effort, but she’d leave me and come back with my dad.

I was happy sitting. It was nice being quiet on the seat in the corridor between the young children’s rooms with the cribs and the main ward for the older kids. The treatment room was down the corridor, past the loos, I’d been once already.

The nurse asked me to go with her down to the treatment room. There was a picture of Rupert Bear on the door and a few other cut out cartoon figures, Mickey Mouse and Popeye. I don’t hold images in my memory, so I don’t remember if I don’t have the names of them. A filing cabinet and venetian blinds. A few nurses and a doctor, a young man with curly hair and a big moustache. He wanted me to look away while he set up a drip. I wasn’t asked to sit still, I was held.

In my brain, I think I was reasonably stating that wasn’t right, it was supposed to be an injection. My mum remembers it as me wailing. If you’ve ever read Calvin and Hobbes, think Calvin calmly expressing himself to his mum about why something should or shouldn’t be so – mum’s assessment is probably right.

The doctor took mum and dad outside, then mum came back in and said it would be OK. Once the drip was up, mum helped me undress and I wore a hospital gown, mum hadn’t thought I’d be kept in.

I was put in a crib which felt very unfair, I was a big girl and slept in a bed.

I watched the drip for a long while. I think my levels must have come down enough to allow me to sleep, so I did.

I didn’t know what day it was, other than a Monday – two days after mum went to work. I didn’t find out it was the 12th December, 1977. My diagnosis day.

Perfect, shared moments

I live in the UK. I grew up in a small town, that like many in the UK has grown beyond all recognition. But I have to say, it has larger places down pat when it comes to celebrating Guy Fawkes night.

The British are weird. When we have an audacious assault (that fails) against our parliament in the early 17th century, we celebrate it by setting off fireworks and lighting bonfires, often with an effigy or guy who is burned a’top the fire. We drink warm drinks and wave sparklers. All while it is dark and cold.

I love it, and remember fireworks being set off at home (small children watched grown-ups light the pyrotechnics from inside the house until we were old enough to like the bangs and bright lights and wave sparklers.

When we were big enough, home displays were replaced by organised ones, primarily at the Museum of East Anglian Life (now the Food Museum?). It has stalls with hot drinks and food, sparklers but most importantly, no Halloween music or indeed any music. It’s lovely.

The last few years in the local displays have all been spoiled by poor sound systems drowning out the crackle of the fires and fireworks (and crowd) with either bad Halloween themed music (that was last week!) or dire pop music. It’s taken the shine off the experience, to say the least. Going back to my home town was a last ditch attempt to see if we could find something more old fashioned and traditional – more of a shared experience.

The fire was lit at 7pm with a good crowd chattering about the burn rate, use of petrol, parents explaining to children about the steam coming off the fire and the grass is was built on. Good paths allowed those in wheelchairs and mobility scooters to get close to the action.

When the fire had diminished, the fireworks were set off. Without the blaring music most displays have, the crowd got all the bangs – including some in the distance, the fire is built on the top of a hill so the view of the surrounding displays is fully appreciated, including the noise.

The crowd ooh and aahed. Favourites were shared. It was perfect. Everyone loved it and babbled just as excitedly leaving the display as they had been queuing up to get it. Definitely making the effort to go there next year 🙂

Wellies and warm clothing are essential, but looking forward to wrapping up for next year!

A bit of a waste of an extra hour…

We are now in British winter time and, as per every year, we get our longest day of the year today as our clocks go back an hour. I have to admit, I spent mine sleeping.

I walked to the local corner shop and got my Sunday newspaper before going back home to cook a pork roast dinner with all the veg I could squeeze into the pot. It should be a good bubble and squeak tonight.

Having had said lunch and cleared the decks, I am sitting watching the drizzle come down onto the already damp leaves. Yep, definitely the start of winter.

Having checked out the met office website, I am reminded that I should check my winter emergency kit and refresh my knowledge on how to drive safely in winter weather. In the south of the UK, we’re relatively unlucky to get caught in unforecasted severe weather but while climate is what you expect, weather is get, it pays to be prepared.

I have to say one thing I do carry in my winter emergency kit is a candle and a means to light it. I love torches for light, but if you get trapped in your car when it’s cold, a candle can heat the small space quite effectively and make the difference between hyperthermia and feeling a little chilly. Ensure there is good ventillation before lighting – a candle burns oxygen and releases carbon dioxide.

When it comes to clearing the snow and ice from your windscreen and windows, a heated ice scrapper can be a boon and more energy efficient than burning fossil fuels to get the car warm.

I also carry a chamois for demisting the windows inside the car – again, rather than having to spend energy from the engine or battery. I do this before the start of a journey.

I’m a big believer in winter tires, but appreciate they can be a bit of a luxury. Do ensure your tread is in good shape – remember, if you aquaplane, do not break, instead gently ease of the accelerator and steer into the skid. When the vehicle gets good grip, proceed gently.

Remember, any patch of road can have a micro-climate, so while the road has been ice free, a dark or sheltered patch may have some lingering ice. Many modern cars with external temperature gauges will beep when the general temperature is 3°C which is when this is more likely – if you vehicle doesn’t have this feature, look out for clues that you may be in a micro-climate (more mosture or moss on the side of the road, for example).

Not always easy to do, but see if you can get skid pan training – my advanced motoring groups arrange these every so often and it really does mean you can learn in a safe and a controlled environment.

If you are planning on a journey in inclement weather, always ask yourself if you have to do the journey. Few things are worth risking life and limb for when you can use video calling or the plain old telephone to be close to people 🙂

Some basic facts about software engineering

I wrote my first programme thanks to my mum asking a basic question having typed out a load of programmes from books so we could all learn how to do computer programming – “what do you want to do next?”.

That was when I really learnt about testing and how to prove something worked. As a kid, these early explorations lead to me wanting to study maths – a large part of which is proving things work as you think they do – and computer science.

Testing your own code is hard. Really hard. Because if you’re not careful, you test it the way you wrote it – as an expert user of that piece of software, you test the happy path.

But my early programming experiments lead me to learn about how numbers really worked, about seeing edge conditions. The code was very naive, very basic. But as a result, liable to end up in trouble.

Of course, as a professional coder, this is not what you do when writing code for selling. You defend the code, you use exception handling to ensure the edge cases do not stop your code from running and get other pieces of code to verify what you’ve done. It’s taken 40 odd years to get to the stage I am now. And largely, I have enjoyed the journey: especially the moment when an end user gets the tool that helps them to achieve more, faster and more effectively.

At the moment I am examining this as part of my day job, how can we test without writing a single piece of code to run the tests – which sounds odd when you consider we’re all looking at automation. How can you automate without doing anything?

This is where the mathematician part of my university education kicks in. In maths we have different ways of proving things. Induction is all about proving a statement is true for 0, and it’s true for 1 – can we say it is true for x+1 where x is any number. We can do this in the reverse order too, if true for x is it true for x-1?

But we can also prove by contradiction. This is all about saying something isn’t true and then proving that isn’t so. That’s really what I am looking at doing at work – I’m testing by getting other tools to analyse various pieces of software I’m writing and saying that the pieces must work if no faults are found by the other tools. QED, so to speak.

Final bank holiday before Christmas

And the last chance for meaningful DIY.

For once, I am going beyond the standard painting, weeding, and cleaning.  I’m looking at something a bit different.  Over the past year, we’ve been doing some of the final projects in the house; so it’s the way we want it.  Part of that has been rearranging rooms having learnt how we want to make use of the space.

We also “long term borrowed” some key pieces from my parents many moons ago, and with her house move, some of that is making its way back to the right owner.  That’s allowed some significant moves and the move towards a dream hobby space for me.

There are a couple of issues: the desk I’ve inherited is too big and very damaged.

So that’s my task next weekend.  Replace the damage top so it fits the space better and make something that will allow me to sew without snagging any fabrics.

Boring, why are you making this much fuss!

Well, the table is big – I am making it smaller but I am replacing a skinned frame with solid MDF.  At 1260x800x36mm, this piece will be heavy man!

Because the initial table was relatively light, it had a back brace too.  I’d like to keep this for strength, so that will need to be cut down.  But in many respects, this should be: measure what was there and replicate it.

I’ve measured everything three times and finally bought the replacement top.  It should arrive by Thursday next week.  I’ve already bought the paint for the top – at the thickness I’m looking at, it is difficult to get preveenered MDF and I’m definitely not brave enough for doing that myself!


Alright now.  Apologies, this is my first project of this type and a bit of a fore runner if it is successful.

When we had our bed room fitted, there had been a drawer unit inside a siding door cupboard – we kept the runners and the drawers and these would make a great unit for my hobby room.

That’s my project for spring…

R and R

Yes, it is a Monday and yet I am catching up on my blog.


Well, at a moment’s notice, I took a week’s leave, and because it was such short notice, I felt quite bad about killing my incrediably busy Monday last week.

I was pretty tired, and having had a big holiday in February, we hadn’t really planned anything for this summer. But leave is there for a reason – it’s to allow you time to not work and take some time to smell the roses.

Trouble is, I am a proud home owner, and staying at home in my case meant some tackling some of my long term to-do list. I serviced my sewing machine and fixed the cushions I made a while ago. Re-joining a split seam and adding poppers to stop that happening to the rest.

I’ve cooked, from scratch, all week. My husband suggested meeting our son for lunch one day, which I did by cycling over to see him. I’ve pottered. I’ve relaxed. I’ve enjoyed not commuting.

I’m going to make a desk over the August bank holiday and I’ve learnt exactly how to do that!

I’ve finally cooked a microwave roast chicken my son couldn’t fault. I went to my motorcycling group’s club night on a motorcycle. I’ve not got up when the alarm has rung in the morning. I travelled up to see my mum. I’ve seen a couple of films at the cinema. I’ve read a book. I’ve had fewer hypos, I have weighed most of my food.

I’m back to work tomorrow. It’s going to be so restful by comparison!

Little fixes

I am of an age where I would watch Blue Peter on a Tuesday and Thursday afternoon and wonder at the “projects” – the making of a Sindy hair salon (yes, really, I’m British, so it was Sindy not Barbie) to a Thunderbirds island.

Now, as a kid, these were really impressive but involved having equipment like “double sided sticky tape” and “sticky backed plastic”. Which as I didn’t get any pocket money until I was 12, was a tall order.

Joy of joys though, I’m now a grown-up and can easily afford such things, but likewise, I can afford to buy pre-made things too.

So, why am I writing this down today?

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should…

Actually, I’m agreeing with you. I have done odd things round the house: made cushion covers out of trimmed down curtain fabric, bought spare fabric so we can have coordinated rooms. Little things, quick and easy.

A few years ago, I saw Kirstie Allsop making Christmas Crackers and thought I’d give it a go. Kirstie suggested a hot glue gun, and I thought, if I have one, there are a few odd jobs round the house I can do with it too.


Got the glue gun yesterday (I did try this with just “the gun” but that looked a bit odd, so please forgive the extra word). Oh joy. You can see my proto-cracker (though a little naked) here.

A naked cracker with blank moto inside and the snap in place

It’s a little bit of a reuse story – the tubes are indeed empty toilet roll holders. The moto paper are the trimmings from train ticket printouts (as they don’t require power).

Could I just take a moment to say I am VERY tempted to insert the motos before adding the last toilet roll tube as putting it in afterwards is VERy fiddly but then that is the point of a prototype, to work out the best way to do things.

Now, ever since I was a child, I have listened to peoples’ reactions to the contents of crackers, which is why I am doing this.

My son hates the jokes, and has volunteered to make some material for the paper.

I hate the prizes, so I am working on that.

My mum hates the hats, so I’ve asked about alternatives.

It’s July, which should mean I get the time to fine tune all the pieces. We can have a perfect Cracker set for Christmas Day – and hopefully, no waste.

Not quite the end of the story…

Oh yeah?

Yeah! A long while a go I learnt some upholstery skills to re-cover some dinning chair pads but learnt the principles of doing a settee or a comfy chair on the day.

Now, after 28 or so years, our favourite two seater we use in the kitchen (anything bigger just won’t fit in the space) is looking in need of such tender loving care. But one thing I can’t do is fix broken foam.

I had a bright idea to trying washing the arm pads which were in a very sorry state. Being wadding, you have the option to wash them. So I did, and then tumble dried them (energy intensive but hopefully better for the planet than throwing them out and buying new).

They came up beautifully and are just as comfy as they now look. Result 🙂

Really should get on and make the new loose covers and main body…

Shh, but there are things you wouldn’t believe I can do. But I shouldn’t have to do that.

I hate to say this, but I have a feeling this might turn into a whinge

Shock, horror, no?

Hey, I try not to moan. Life is on the whole pretty amazing. Great job, really interesting and despite being the wrong side of 50 now, I’m still learning some really cool things.

After four beloved years with my old phone, I have made the upgrade to the latest shiny offering. Like many, I used the switch my mobile app to make this easier – though guys, really, nearly 4 hours?

Any, shh, but I do do a reasonably technical set of things for a career and on a good day, I do a quick and tidy job of it. so moving to a new phone shouldn’t cause too many issues.

Of course, being type 1 diabetic means my phone is doing some quite involved stuff. Which is also fun, when it finally all comes together and works. Which is rarely, if ever, first time.

I use Dexcom G6 – a continuous glucose monitor to help keep my glycated hemoglobin (the amount of blood sugar that has stuck to my red blood cells) as low as I can without being hypo – while I am old, hypos are still not pleasant or particularly safe if you are on the road (as either a pedestrian, cyclist, motorbiker, or car driver. The alarms give me enough warning to stop these or highs (remember that pesky glucose sticking to my blood cells, that causes all sorts of issues) from being too big.

It means my chances of being a spy or thief have disappeared completely, nothing like sneaking around silently have completely evapourated…

Back to the chase, please!

Thanks, that could have gone anywhere… So, such devices really impress the non-diabetics out there, while providing a source of comfort and despair for those who need them. One thing you can do with the Dexcom is get the reading on your watch. My kit is all geared up to allow this but, it not being an apple device, I have to jump over some hurdles to get there. The new phone meant this all had to be done again.

Step 1: Pairing watch to new phone has completely reset the watch. Groovy, all the side loaded (yes, that’s really the term) applications to give me my blood glucose on my watch have disappeared.
So, reset all the things on my watch while waiting for the phone to get back to where it should be.

Step 2: Phone has lost ALL setting for Dexcom, so restart the sensor on the phone (which worked better than I thought it might) and get that all going.

Step 3: side load the app. Now, to say this is convaluted is not really explaining how hit or miss this feels. I think I was a little unlucky in the fact that the watch had a softwear upgrade during the faffing. But six time worked a charm. Thank you “wear installer 2”.

I am sitting here have contorted my mind round the whole, it’s still not working, and able to view my blood glucose – if you’re struggling, powering down and removing the Dexcom G6 app from the phone and watch does give you a clean slate from which to build. Must remember that for next time 😉 Happy weekend.

Not what you say, but what you do

It is Sunday afternoon, and I am watching a download of James Martin’s Saturday Morning which I really enjoy but rarely find something there that I can have – it’s definitely treat food not everyday food.

I love food, I love tastes and textures. Combinations of ingredients, some contrasting and some complimentary. Herbs and spices, and tasty food items.

This weekend, while the sun has been shining, I have been cooking.

Yesterday evening, I made a ratouille with a garlic bread from the frozen half of my pizza dough. It was my turn to cook on Sunday, so I did a roast chicken and used that to make some stock and the left overs (with the stock) will make risotto tomorrow. I am just waiting for some dough to be ready to shape into rolls. Again, a chicken and stuffing roll will be made from these left overs for me and my husband. Four meals out of a roast chicken – one for three people, two for two people each. That one chicken is feeding seven adults.

Which sounds terribly domesticated. It’s more than that. How we used to eat made the most of not just the food (and potential left-overs) but residual heat from ovens. I should have started the rolls while the oven was still hot, but I am doing a crumble later and that will be after cooking the rolls. Making the most of the remaining heat.

This time of year, we’re starting to make the switch to heating our water with electricity from the solar cells. It will mean we get a little less from our export rates (less electricity going into the grid) but much better in terms of burning gas. It’s now warm enough to just need to wear jumpers in the evening once the sun sets.

Looking forward to the upcoming week, hope yours is good too.