Instagran!

The sight of a woman over forty, sashaying down a catwalk, is something that I thought I would never see, but savvy clothing companies, are now realising the potency of older women and how they often outspend their younger counterparts.

With our life expectancy increasing and the grey pound soaring each year, the clothes and travel industry are at last being a little more inclusive of the older consumer and what they have to offer. However, it is not enough.

Fashion

I have always been a jeans and t.shirt kind of gal, but having dipped my toe into Instagram, I have been persuaded to hit the sales and purchase a few dresses and the odd pair of summer sandals.

I have never considered myself frumpy and have always tried to embrace my age, but never succumbed to the stereotypical blue rinse brigade, which is often wrongly associated with women over fifty.

In the 70’s I helped to set almost every fashion fad and remember my poor mother, scurrying out of our local Co-op, when she saw me adorned in my braces and Dr. Martin boots. She breathed a sigh of relief when I graduated to a more sedate Crombie and white lacey tights, but recoiled when hearing ‘Skinhead Moonstomp’, belt out from my Ghetto Blaster for the tenth time!

Travel

Forget the caravan, the must-have vehicle for seniors these days are motorbikes and Saga has seen an upturn in their insurance policies for silver bikers, who are taking to the road in their hoards.

Where I live in Dorset, the coast roads are often clogged with plump older men, whose ponytails flap in the breeze, like a Sainsbury bag caught in a car door! Strange really, since it was once the Mercedes and BMW who seemed to attract the older gentleman. I often wonder if it is because when we reach a level of financial security, we chose to buy goods to reflect the kind of person we want to be, keeping a tight grip on the dreams we never managed to achieve when we were young!

Fitness

There are numerous studies, which prove the important health benefits of exercise, especially as we venture into our latter years. Regular physical activity helps to improve both our physical and mental well-being, which undoubtedly helps us to maintain our independence as we age.

Because of my busy work schedule, I tend to visit my gym during the week, between the hours of 10 and 11 am, where the majority of users are over fifty and rising. Indeed, you do not need to be a follower of ‘Love Island’, to wear stretched lycra, as increasing numbers of silver surfers are discovering the benefits of exercising in later years.

Women of today

In modern society, we have more role models for over 50 women than ever before. Women are taking control, even though we are still marginalised. We are reinventing ourselves and creating a new concept of what it means to be a senior in the modern age.

As for that image of two elderly people bent over with a walking stick, I know what I would like to do with that!

Smugglers Inn – Osmington

This beautiful pub was once frequented by the infamous smuggler ‘Pierre Latour’ and dates back to the 13th century.

It retains a lot of the original features and looks every inch the traditional English pub, with oak beams and wood panelling. It is nestled in a beautiful little cove, which sits on the edge of the famous Jurassic Coast. It does get extremely crowded in the summer months and at times there is a long wait to be served.

The pub is surrounded by beautiful countryside, with far reaching views over the ocean and is a haven for dog walkers. In fact, the pub is so welcoming to their canine visitors, that they serve doggie ice-cream and have an array of dog biscuits on the bar counter.

Food

On the first occasion I ate in this pub, I found the food distinctly unappetizing and this was reflected in the Trip Advisor reviews. However, the pub has since changed management and I was reliably informed that the menu has received a drastic overhaul, so I decided to lunch there on two occasions.

Being a vegetarian, I decided to try the houmous and vegetable sandwich, which consisted of rocket, carrot, beetroot and shaved red onion, which was extremely tasty, served on fresh bread of choice.

There was also the option to add skin-on fries, sweet potato fries, or triple cooked chips. Since I have a small appetite, I found the sandwich more than ample.

Staff

The staff are extremely welcoming and nothing is too much trouble.

They are adept at offering advice and explaining their menus, while the pub’s heartbeat is definitely the manager, who is always extremely keen to help with anything that you may require and his genuine effort to please visitors is extremely impressive.

The Smugglers Inn, Osmington

Saying Goodbye!

Last breakfast

Who could have known that I would be giving my old boy his last breakfast that day! I had noticed a marked decline in Luika’s health and he was undoubtedly slipping into dementia, so much so, that now we worried about allowing him alone time with our three rescue cats, when only last year, their relationship was mutual respect and harmony.

The day started like any other, but as it progressed I noticed that my old boy was reluctant to leave the comfort of his bed. Even when the biscuit tin was rattled. When finally he did open his eyes, they seemed dim, almost like the light was diminishing. He suddenly looked like a little old man and my heart sank, as I knew the time was coming for me to make the choice that all pet owners dread.

After lunch

I ate a small lunch and for the first time, did not have to wave Luika back to his bed. Despite his training, we never did break that ‘please give me some’ look at feeding time. He just wanted to sleep.

Mid-afternoon and he suddenly sprang to his feet and lunged at our youngest cat, who was over in the far corner of the lounge. It was terrifying and completely unprovoked. The attack seemed to last for minutes, when in fact it could only have been seconds and I knew immediately that I needed expert advice. This was not the Luika I knew.

Vets

The appointment was at 6 pm and the drive to surgery was done in a complete haze. I had made that journey so many times since it was next to our local shop, yet I remember nothing.

Luika struggled to get out of the car and needed my support into the surgery. When the door closed behind us, I knew that he would not be coming home.

Our Last Cuddle

Luika’s dislike of the vet seemed to summon his strength and he had to be muzzled.

For a brief moment, I had hoped this may be a sign that he would be coming home. I cradled him in my arms to stop his struggle and looked into his eyes that were sunken and gaunt. It was just like the life was already leaving him and the vet’s examination confirmed that his body and heart were closing down.

I held him tightly and while the injection went into his leg. with uncontrollable tears, I promised him that he would soon be free of his pain. I thanked him for all the wonderful years that we had shared and as I felt the life leave his body, I knew that I had made the right decision. He was gone, and a part of me went with him.

Alone

The vet and nurse left the room, leaving us time together. Our time, just Luika and me. I sobbed of course, for Luika and for all the other dogs that I had loved and lost and when I eventually left the room, I felt utterly bereft.

Remembering

Luika as a puppy

Driving home I remembered our first training class together. I had already taught him the basics, so the down stay and sit was a doddle and we came away with three ribbons and a puppy bone.

I remember my frustration at him constantly emptying our bin. We tried every make and model, but he still mastered the lids and within minutes was tucking into its contents.

I recalled him romping in the garden with our three cats and teaching our eldest cat to bark. Yes, she actually barks, all be it cat-like. They would sit together waiting for the postman before the morning chorus began!

I relived his whole life in that twenty-minute journey home and wept inconsolably on my return.

Euthanasia

This is the last kind act we can do for our pets. Knowing that we can stop their suffering. It is a decision that will be inevitably wracked with guilt, but I try to take comfort in knowing that he is in a better place. I just hope that he is behaving himself up there in heaven and not leading others astray. I also hope that God has those waste bins firmly closed, or my Luika will have the contents out within seconds and a feast will be had by all.

National Mental Health Week

Mental health problems can literally affect anyone, meaning that you are unable to function in your everyday life.

Signs and Symptoms

I suffered a breakdown shortly after losing my dad and I will never forget waking one morning. into a world of sheer panic and it is not an experience that I like to relive!

My body had ceased to function properly. My heart raced uncontrollably, I lost my sense of balance, my face felt numb, I could not eat, sleep and felt totally disconnected from the world I knew.

These symptoms persisted for almost a year, with little or no respite and yes, there were days when I considered a way out, not because I wanted to die, but I could see no future living in this nightmare.

My Father

I was in my late twenties when I lost my father. We worked together, we laughed together and most of all he was the rock that anchored my very existence.

My dad was hardly ever ill. He never smoked or drank and hated fatty foods, in fact he was an extremely healthy 72 year old man, with a huge heart, so it was rather ironic that it was to be the cause of his death.

I did not attend my Dad’s funeral. I was angry that he passed and left us all behind. Left me behind and I would never really recover.

Medication

I remember vividly, how my doctor advised that by referring me to a counsellor would be a stain on my medical records, so a short course of diazepam was prescribed, along with beta-blockers in an attempt to regulate my racing heart. The diazepam did offer a brief spell of normality, which soon abated as the tablets wore off. The beta blockers, however, caused me to faint on the bus home and I vowed never to use them again.

It was some weeks later when my symptoms continued to worsen that I was sent for counselling. The doctor I was to see, was actually based in a mental institution called Hill End and on my arrival, I had to fend off a woman, who desperate that I should save her from the demons, that chased her night and day and I will never forget her wailing.

It was an experience I refused to endure again, hence when someone suggested hypnotherapy, it seemed my only way forward and so my recovery began.

Getting Help

It was the love and devotion of my German Shepherd Dog Ben, who gradually walked me through the rain and into the sunlight and a short course of hypnotherapy that targeted my panic and helped me back to normality.

I must stress that hypnotherapy was not a quick fix. I felt like it helped to reprogram my mind and I would not hesitate to use it again, if ever the panic returns, which please God, it will not!