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Go away, Mrs Bucket-Bouquet

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The district nurse came today whilst it was all action stations, so once she had attended to Robert's foot, I invited her to sit and write up her notes at the table in the kitchen, so that ablutions could continue in the bedroom.

As I showed her into the kitchen, I apologised for the mess. She burst out laughing, and told me that I had no idea what mess was, and that I “wouldn't last five minutes” in her job.

She then advised me, as have many people before, that unless I wanted to drive myself into the ground, I needed to lower my standards.

I don’t really want to do take the advice, but I am trying, and I am learning.

I have learned that buying and heating up a ready meal is not a mortal sin.

I have learned that frozen peas and tinned sweetcorn still count as part of the 5 a day, and are as nutritious as fresh veg.

I have learned that Auntie Bessie is a damned fine cook, and a good friend to know.


I am still compelled to put the tea towel in the wash after each use, but, I have learned that once it has been washed, it doesn't have to be ironed. I have not yet managed to think the same way about sheets, but I am working on it.

I have learned that cars do not disintegrate even if not washed for a month, and neither does hair, if not washed daily.

Things stuffed behind cushions from time to time do no harm to visitors, neither do things hidden in cupboards.

There are people you can pay, quite cheaply, to wash your wheelie bin out each week, and many gardeners who are looking for work, so why not let them.

I have discovered seamstresses who will do my shortening and alterations for me, in fact I would be hard pressed now to remember where my sewing machine is.

OK, cleaners never clean the way you do, and I am still struggling with the thought of handing my mop over to someone else. It is my biggest challenge. My struggle was not helped when, in polite silence but absolute horror, I watched someone sweeping my kitchen floor out, into the hall, whence she carried the dustpan, and then carried the muck back into the kitchen, to empty it into the bin under the sink! No, for the time being, the cleaning stays with me!

I recently found that a visitor had emptied my dishwasher for me, whilst I was busy with Robert. After she had gone, I opened a cupboard, and my heart lurched when I saw that not only were the mugs not upside down (to avoid all that dust, of course) but the handles were not all facing the same way!!!  After I had calmed down, I had to concede that the roof had not fallen in, and also that, had I not opened the cupboard door, I would not even have known. So, what you cannot see cannot hurt you. Or so I kid myself.

I have learned that most people don't even see that there are crumbs under the chairs, or dust on the dresser, or that the open end of R's pillow, shock, horror, is facing the door!

Even the most organised people, I have found out, sometimes run out of milk, and what's wrong with coffee mate occasionally anyway?

Gravy made from granules, custard out of a tin, pasta sauce from a jar, mushrooms bought ready stuffed, carrots already julienned, single portion rice pudding in a plastic pot, disposable hand towels, oven chips, to name but a few, are truly blessings for the busy, and as such should be welcomed with gratitude, not guilt.

I am a devotee of the two German supermarkets, each with a four letter name, for their quality and value, and for their excellent range of ready made dishes. I possess a number of recipes for lamb shank, my husband's all time favourite meal, but these could now be put in the bin, since I am now able to buy delicious shanks, already cooked,  in just-warm-me-up plastic coats.

'If it makes me less exhausted, then it has to be tried', is now my mantra.

Perhaps the next thing would be for me to get therapy for my OCD.  Then I could employ some domestic help, and life would be a peach!

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What saddens me most about my husband's incapacity is his loss and deprivation of the things which he enjoyed, and which brought him such pleasure, and enriched his life.

Thomas Westhead

Like all aspiring medical students, before coming to university I undertook a range of work experience and volunteering roles.


Very very occasionally, there are magic moments when patient care and every aspect of domesticity all 'come together'.