Oops, three months ago I wrote the last blog. I had just come back from driving the motorhome back from Adelaide to Perth all on my tod.
Since then we initially spent around 6 weeks in Perth doing our best to support Roddy’s daughter. I’m glad to report that she seems to be so much better but I am not sure how much our presence added to the recovery. I think the fact that she successfully worked her way through a course at Tafe added a lot more stability than our weekly dinners and other meetings.
I used the opportunity to do some work at my three schools to use my time productively and earn some cash. I love the flexibility my job gives me and would urge anyone to think about the portability of a qualification when choosing their career path. This has been of such benefit to me and I truly feel that I work to live and not the other way around. I love doing relief too as I can pick and choose and, as long as I am valued by the schools I am in contact with, always get days and often weeks at a time, pretty much full time work. Nae marking though and nae reports!! I might have mentioned that before.
In September we flew to Germany for my niece’s wedding and used the opportunity to nip over to Scotland to catch up with wee mum, the family and some friends. Both Jane and Tina came to the wedding. Paul couldn’t make it as he was at a trade fair in Birmingham with his Darkroom Team to present their Snaphunt game which was very well received!
My niece Anna married Alexander in the church she was christened in and the celebrations took place in a converted barn near her hometown Reutlingen. As is tradition, many guests contributed to the entertainment, so Roddy and I rewrote the words of Auld Lang Syne to fit the story of the couple, in German of course. We made the audience sing along to the chorus and I think it went down well. My sister was glowing, soaking it all in, as was Roland, the bride’s dad. The bride herself looked radiant and I can’t think of a more suitable couple than those two. I wish them both all the very best for their future.
While in Germany we also stayed in Heilbronn and I took Roddy to Bad Wimpfen, a medieval town near HN, for his birthday. We met up with old school friends and I decided to organise next year’s Abifest, our 35 year school reunion! In 2019 we want to be in HN for the Weindorf, the annual wine festival that takes place in HN’s market square and around the townhall. It’s very much part of my upbringing, especially as HN is full of Drauz wineries. As a child I helped with the grape harvest too. Wine is in my blood so to speak. Pass the bottle!
We spent some time in Stuttgart, the Landeshauptstadt, the capital of Baden Württemberg, as Roddy hadn’t really been there before. One of the ‘curiosities’ there was a visit to the Waldfriedhof, a cemetery were three of the RAF members (the Rote Armee Fraktion or Red Army Fraction, not the Royal Air Force) are buried. They died in the local high security prison there and were buried in the local cemetery despite local protests. As I was standing in front of that grave, evaluating my thoughts, I saw a middle aged guy with long hair and carrying a cat basket emerge from amongst trees. I retreated but kept an eye on him and, as I had guessed, he went straight to the grave and kneeled in front of it for some time before getting up, taking his cat basket and walking on. I had the feeling that it was a ritual he had repeated several times before. The scenario made me think about those days when terrorist attacks were so common and had nothing to do with Islam but came very much from within. I remember my mum crying when Hanns Martin Schleyer was kidnapped and then murdered. He had been an ex-Nazi who downplayed his involvement after the war (as so many did!) and, instead, became a very high profile industrialist and head of the federal employers association. The RAF kidnapped him and demanded the release of several of their imprisoned members but the federal government refused to negotiate with terrorists. While Schleyer was kidnapped the imprisoned RAF members were found dead in their cells and so, in retaliation, Schleyer was killed. This was very much the climax of the RAF’s activities during the 1970s and I remember them as a strong feature of my childhood. Now, as an adult, I do reflect on these events with much more insight than I did then. Then, I was just scared of them but also wondered about the way they lived as they would have to have false identities. They had to be in hiding as their faces were plastered on many walls in every town and could be seen most nights on the TV news. I had heard that they couldn’t go to the dentist for fear of recognition and wondered about their teeth!
I am not sure but I think my mum was scared that the bad days would return seen as she had lived through the Second World War, having been born in 1924. She never talked that much about it but I know that she hid in shelters, terrified. There are so many things I would like to ask her.
In Glasgow, wee mum looked very frail and a little confused at times but she did know us and she tries her best to make the most of the things she can enjoy, as we make the most of the time we have with her. Roddy and I also took a trip to our beloved Inveraray and to Newtonmore as Roddy had an irrepressible urge to buy a Tweed jacket. Och aye the noo!
When we returned to Perth I worked again, Alex finished her course and we decided it was time to move on. So we headed back over the Nullarbor to Adelaide.
Driving across the desert was exhilarating as ever and Roddy made my birthday very special. We were in Eucla near the border with South Australia and drank champagne whilst sitting on a rock on the escarpment overlooking the flat stretch below across to the ocean and the beautiful sunset to the West. He decorated the van with streamers and had organised glow sticks to wear after a lovely dinner in the Eucla Hotel – the only building there. The romance was perfection!
The Barossa Valley deserves a mention. The valleys and gentle hills around Adelaide are the most prolific wine region of Australia. We stayed in Tanunda, the main town in the Barossa valley and in Clare, the equivalent in the Clare valley. Apart from the beautiful wines themselves, the rolling hills with their rows of vines made me feel like home; it was just beautiful. No surprise then that South Australia became the home of the largest number of German immigrants in the 19thcentury by far. Many street names have German roots and ca 80% of the names in the graveyards are German too. Many of the older gravestones are inscribed in German and people are proud of their ancestry. Most imigrants came from Prussia but, as the wine industry was started by the Germans I was curious to find out more, as Prussians are not known for their viticultural heritage. And in a small museum in Talunda I found the answer… Heilbronn was one of the towns from which immigrants came from so I like to think that a Drauz ancestor arrived in the Barossa and started a craze. The Spätzlespresse above is proof of Schwäbisch infiltration, surely! And “they” say that immigrants are lazy and a threat! Ha! I raise a glass to all the industrious, plucky people who had the guts to up sticks, travel to the other side of the world and start from scratch.
Now to a wholly different topic. Women’s stuff. Anyone squeamish should just skip the remainder of this blog. If you think that people are dead from the waist down from the age of 35, then you should also exit now. And maybe most men – it’s up to you, but don’t say I didn’t warn you. It’s my blog and I write about whatever I want to! It would be interesting to hear what others think and you need to open up if you want others to do the same. Actually, I am not writing this because I need to hear everybody’s stories but it would be interesting to compare notes nonetheless.
So, I am at the age where, for women, things are changing. At 54, I am in the midst of peri-menopause. Being naturally curious, I have read quite a bit about it. I am not upset about being at this stage because I make a point of enjoying every stage of my life as I have loved all the stages my kids have gone through and will in the future. It’s always interesting and there are challenges to tackle. Since the birth of my third child my periods have become very heavy and for the last year and a bit they have become immense. Some have been quite restricting in the sense that I calculate when I will have access to a bathroom, how many tampons and pads to pack to last me until I return home. Not painful but a pain in the arse. Women who have the same issues will know exactly what I mean.
There are other symptoms of the peri-menopause but let’s stick to the uterine issues for now. I went to my GP to discuss matters after a blood test revealed a very low iron count. Never in my life have I been low in iron! The doc said that it happens to women who don’t eat enough? – FNARR; even she suppressed a little smile while she sized me up – and asked me if I was vegan. No. She wanted to eliminate other health issues, which could have led to this – anything that leads to internal blood loss basically, but she also asked me to describe my periods. When I did, she said they were off the scale and that she doesn’t understand why women put up with this level of nuisance in this day and age. So she recommended the Mirena IUD to replace my copper IUD as the progesterone in the Mirena often reduces or eliminates periods. Apparently they were designed for “Women like me.” Yipee! Once upon a time I thought that I would miss periods when they finish as they are inextricably linked to fertility and therefore their absence would signify a loss. Pahahaha! Not true! Well not at 54.
So my lovely female GP told me that I could either go to a gyno or the family planning clinic. Being a skinflint I opted for the FPC, phoned them up only to have the most bizarre conversation with the *sounded like* middle aged woman at the other end of the line.
“Why do you want the Mirena?” I explained.
“Oh, heavy periods. Our doctors would only do this after a pelvic ultrasound.” Ah, ok. My GP said you would just do it.
“Do you need it for contraception?” Affirmative.
(Astounded voice) “Oh, are you still sexually active?” Yes – (thinking) ‘Are you not?’
(Haughtily) “Well, it’s just that we normally only deal with young women who are looking for contraception.” Well, I am an older woman looking for contraception. Sexually active, you know….
“Well, I can’t guarantee that our doctors will give you an IUD.” Thank you receptionist.
So I hop off and have an ultrasound and find out that everything is ticketyboo, good to know, I suppose! I asked for a referral to the gyno because the FPC sounded very non-committal.
So I phoned the private gyno and ‘Lydia’ booked me in. When I finally came face to face with the gyno himself he asked me the same question. “Are you still sexually active?” How old do I look? I was even wearing a sexy shortish dress! My father was 60 when I was born! I know women and men who still shag in their 80s. I’m a mere 54 and only just. I was 53 just over a week ago, my early fifties, nudging into the middle.
When I confirmed that, indeed, I was active, he relaxed, told me he was 47 and that recently he had “seen a woman who had just started a new relationship at the age of 56, which led to a very active sex life and her becaming pregnant” – a last ditch attempt of nature to procreate, a flip flop of joy of the hormones, the last bountiful uterine furlong. He said that the copper IUD could be the cause for the heavy periods and that I might want to consider no contraception at all as it was decidedly unlikely that I would become pregnant and, if I did, nature would take care of it and I would have a miscarriage within a few weeks. I did contemplate this but, in the end, felt that I didn’t want to start having miscarriages now when I was so fortunate to never have suffered them before. Was he just being pragmatic or was that a man speaking? I certainly don’t want another child, nor do I want to be one of those freakishly old mums, so a miscarriage would not affect me emotionally, I don’t think, but maybe it would? In any case, why risk it when there is an alternative that would probably suit me much better anyway? In my mind’s eye I could see my GP roll her eyes at the gyno’s suggestions. You will be delighted to hear that the procedure went ahead –ouch- and my uterus is now awash with progesterone. But that’s another story.
So on Monday I’ll fly to dear Alba again to gloat / burst with pride at Paul and Tina’s graduations and to see wee mum who is very weak now. I will no doubt see some of “my readers” there too. I’ll try not to blush when I see you – hohoho.