June Notes

June began with the wedding of Alison and Tim and what a glorious day this was. It had everything a dream wedding should have: a smiling bride, a smiling groom, pretty colours, blue skies and sunshine, organist playing the organ for all it was worth, singers bringing tears of emotion to our eyes as their voices rang out across the quiet cathedral, bells ringing out for joy, feelings of sadness at those who were not there, feelings of gladness at those who were there, strolling in the spring-flower bedecked gardens, mouth-watering food, clotted cream and bunnies. A kaleidoscope of faces and names. Cups of tea and conversation. Garden games and much laughter. Cake admired…then cut and eaten. The day was rounded off by Jupiter rising to the East and everyone waving a sparkler as the bride and groom departed for a welcome few days’ relaxation in the countryside.

Thankfully I had a week for the house and me to settle down again before starting a new job. Another new job. This time I checked whether the job was as it was purported to be and I was assured it was. It was disappointing the previous one did not work out but, I have to admit, the hours were a tad longer than I was used to.
Indeed, the new job is fun. It is in a superb location in this heatwave (nearly as hot as the famed summer of 1976!). I am based in an office overlooking the lovely tree-filled grounds of the local council with views towards and of the sparkling sea. The work involves much time spent in subterranean passages as I and a colleague catalogue files ready for archiving. I have written a ghost story inspired by the location and submitted it to a magazine…
On Roy’s weekend off, we had a change of scene in Wales. We booked a cheap Airbnb place which was delightful. It was extremely good value as we were given a delicious cooked breakfast and a pack of Welsh cakes in addition to the tea and coffee in the comfortable room. The people were teachers so we enjoyed much discussion about the education system. Judy the Dog barked when we arrived and, seeming to approve of us, ceased barking and let us stroke her.
It had been rather a journey to reach our destination as the M4 was at a standstill with cars headed towards Cardiff for multiple Ed Sheeran concerts. My feet were struggling with constant clutch changes so I turned off towards Monmouth. However, this is Roy and Me navigating. We found ourselves in the pretty location of Usk somewhat to our surprise! Thinking we would stop awhile and have a stroll around, I drove towards the village centre. Oh dear. It was full. There was some sort of garden event taking place and all the car parks were full…I drove on through and came across a village hall serving teas at the end of the village where there was one car park space remaining. It proved to be a fortuitous move as the cakes being served looked sublime. The iced one we chose was as tasty as it looked; it was positively oozing lemon and orange juice.
After a stroll around to the river, with just glimpses of the castle walls, we continued on our way.
The next day we had coffee with Kath and John before going on to collect Roy’s Mum for lunch at Llanwonno. Llanwonno is famous for being the site of a runner beating the kettle to run up and down the hill. Or some such story. It was also an old monastery. The views from the top are stupendous – 7 counties and the Severn Estuary can be seen.
The pub food is worth toiling up the hill for. Yes, we drove and the car did indeed toil up the hill. Tender local roast lamb with plenty of veg. I did not have a pudding as I had indulged in one on a previous visit and found the drive home rather difficult, feeling sleepy and full.
Sunshine has been on the news every day as it has been ‘wall-to-wall’ sunshine day after day. The temperatures have been consistently high and I have not ventured out at lunchtimes. The heat of the sun is fierce. While the evenings have been warm and sunny, we took the opportunity for an evening stroll followed by fish and chips. At 7pm, it was as hot as midday by the seaside of Sidmouth. And just as busy.
Observing on Fridays is not practical now although we were fortunate enough to look through members’ telescopes at the sun (through special filters of course!) and see some sun spots and flares. The Moon was rising and we had a look at some of the craters. It was too light and bright to really make proper observations though.

Karen Hedges
1 July 2018

Season of Hope

Easter joy and hope for the future
Oh the sweet sadness of
Springs swiftly sliding by
Thankful hearts beating to the rhythm of wings
Resting in hope in the peace of the evening
Endings and beginnings; new paths just emerging

Eostre, Easter, Season of Hope

Dementia. Demented. Dad.

Dementia, demented, slightly mad. Dad continues to be a jumble of memories and glimpses of Dad past and present. Finding pictures for him to look at is now part of daily life and is a great help to him. It is as though his memory box has been shaken up like the snow in a snow globe. We see fragments of his life and see the essence of Dad in his words and actions. We bring him the past, present and future by our visits. Our presence sparks off memories deep within him, making connections in his mind. It is heartbreaking. It is heartwarming. It is Dad.


As the late, great Stephen Hawking said, “Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up.” Although a recent book proposal of mine has suffered initial rejection, it also received positive comments. Indeed, I am encouraged to fine tune the project and submit to other agents. Watch this space (…space…in more ways than one!).

Easter is a time for new beginnings and I see the end of one phase as I begin another. I have an exciting new appointment in the main hospital to look forward to, following a week off.

Time Marches on…

…although at the beginning of the month no one was going anywhere very fast! Rain fell onto snow during the evening, freezing to leave a layer of ice for the unwary the following morning. I braved this to take a photograph and that was enough being outside for me. It was so cold. It was so icy. It was so nice indoors.
January was a write-off (appropriate phrase) given the plethora of people with flu and other illnesses and my father being unexpectedly taken to hospital. February was taken up with trying to combine visiting Dad and trying to regain some semblance of normality. Whatever that means. For me it means trying to regain some space for writing. I have a medium-term project on the go which needs to be maintained.
March. Winding up current job and looking forward to fresh start after Easter in the NHS. It feels like a nice example of synchronicity as I was working in the secretarial/admin field full time my 20s and am now returning to that area in the run up to retirement. It serves to highlight the somewhat messy middle bit of my working life.

Feeling grateful…

Thoughts on waking: a bus! Thank goodness the heating is still working. I hope the water supply is back on. Didn’t like those odd noises in the night.

Later…yes, we have water. Now to put the kettle on for a restorative cuppa.

Snow Day!

An extra day, a bonus day, a Snow Day! Can’t get out the front door, roads slippery, no buses, no trains…so….writing and tidying and planning the next stage. One submission has been sent off re an astronomy book. With a new job to look forward to after Easter, I am getting my paperwork and house in order ready for the more limited time.  Excited!  Looking forward to the increase in funds 🙂

A Grand Day out

Yesterday I enjoyed spending much time with the splending Lockyer telescope at the Norman Lockyer Observatory, talking to people and sharing my knowledge and enthusiasm for the telescope, Norman Lockyer and the Observatory.  The sun eventually obliged with a sun spot.


Life is fleeting

Life is fleeting
tis but a breath
from life to death

Sorrow and joy
like petals
strew the way
as hand in hand
we wend
with strangers
and with friends
through life’s
sometimes rocky path

Caring and sharing
to The End.


Wow.  Up in the clouds.  Bluebells, an orrery and held spell bound once more by the great Dr Allan Chapman.  His talk spanned the history of planet research throughout the 19th century encompassing the discovery of Uranus, helium, Norman Lockyer, orreries and much, much more!

Today was the official unveiling of the restored Victorian Orrery.  It was rebuilt by John and Bill.  Amazingly it even has the moon going up and down on its elliptical path around the Earth.  The unveiling was done by Dr Allan Chapman, a regular speaker at NLO events, and an all-round good man.  He is able to stand in front of an audience and talk to them naturally with no recourse to notes or pictures during the talk.  A real masterclass in how to give a talk.  I was thrilled that quite a few young ones from both Astroscout groups came along…a better attendance ratio than the adult Observers’ Group!  A member of the History Group introduced himself to me and offered to come along to one of our sessions to talk about space art.  John Bardsley was delighted to see a picture of himself with a write up on our display board.  He is such an inspiration to me and over the years he kindly and patiently showed me how to use the Lockyer telescope.  I also had an interesting conversation with Colin about the future of the observatory and the nature of Friday evenings.  I can see me becoming a Director one of these days…

The Friday evening Astroscout session went really well with the children using paper plates to record the information I had given them about A Trio of Stars: Arcturus, Spica and Antares.  I am trying to teach them to identify the first stars to appear in the lighter evenings and to inspire them to get out and look for them.  The whole plate represented Antares with a tiny, pea-sized circle for Spica in the middle.  It worked well in showing the relative scale of the different stars.

Devon is in full bloom now with the pretty wayside colours of pink, white and blue against a backdrop of varying hues of green.Allan Chapman orrery