Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Royal Lodgings, an Old Cat and a Bad Ankle

My last couple of weeks has been a mix of emotions.   We attended a funeral, which as well as being sad, was also uplifting.  The person who had passed away, too young, was very much into ecology and nature, and very fond of his native county, Rutland.  Rutland's the smallest county in England, and one of its sights is the church where the funeral service was held - Normanton Old Church (below). 


If the church looks as if it's half submerged; well, it is. It used to be the private chapel of the Earls of Ancaster, but in the 1970s, the Rutland Water reservoir was constructed, and the church was de-consecrated and slated for demolition.  After a public outcry it was adapted to stand in the water and is now a popular special occasion venue in the most beautiful and peaceful surroundings. 

Funerals are always a bit emotional so we decided not to rush back to London but spend the night halfway between Normanton and London.  Before the trip, I looked at the map, and, just off the A1, about halfway there, I discovered this place, which I had never heard of in my life. 


If it reminds you a bit of photos of Hampton Court Palace, that is hardly surprising. The site's now called Buckden Towers, but it was for centuries the palace of the Bishops of Lincoln (even though it is in Huntingdonshire.)  Above is the gatehouse, dating in part to 1480 - about 35 years before Hampton Court was built. 

There are all kinds of buildings on the site, which has a chequered history, but it is now owned and well looked after by a Roman Catholic organisation called The Claretians, which maintains four self catering apartments for those who wish to come on a retreat or have a peaceful and simple break from the world.  It is not a hotel - you have to make your own bed and look after yourself - but it was ideal for us. 

 We stayed in St. David's apartment. Look at the thickness of those walls.  


And this was the view along the battlements as you turned around from the door of the apartment.   


The site adjoins a most fascinating parish church,  and,  just out of the picture to the right is a knot garden created in honour of Katherine of Aragon, one of King Henry VIII's unfortunate wives. She was apparently imprisoned in Buckden Palace for a while.  (Other past visitors, by the way, include Henry III, Edward I, Richard III, King James and the Prince Regent, not to mention the diarist Samuel Pepys who must have been there on the King's business, I suppose.  I don't think I've stayed anywhere that has had so many royal folk staying before.)   

We took a stroll round the grounds. One of the most interesting buildings we saw is the chapel of St. Clare. It looks as if it could be very old, as the floor level was obviously much lower than it is now.  


The interior is simple and dark, lit only by jewel like colours from the modern glass. We spent a long time sitting there and the chunky art glass was fascinating to look at closely. 

The grounds are also full of surprises, but since we had not been invited to look around them, we just admired them from a distance, particularly noticing two huge old trees, an oak and a London plane, which date from the 17th century.  I believe there is more to see there and if we stay again we will ask if we can explore.

Then we meandered back to London via the National Trust's Wimpole Hall in Cambridgeshire, which dates back to the Domesday Book and was left to the National Trust by Rudyard Kipling's daughter, who spent the royalties she had inherited on repairing and maintaining it. 

Sadly, we arrived too late to do anything but have a cup of tea and a browse in the bookstore, full of donated second hand books.    The tearoom, shop, plant sales and bookstore are inside the stables, which are shown below. Personally, I think you'd be forgiven for thinking that's the house, it is so grand. 



  When the hall shut at 5.30 we remained, lying on the grass outside in the sun.  Shortly after that, we were visited by what at first struck me as a very spooky cat.  It drifted up like a wraith, and sat near us, and proved to be very friendly. But I have never seen such a skinny animal, and there was something distinctly odd about its fur, as I think you'll agree.  I was concerned about it, to be honest - but then a member of staff came out of the gateway and called it in for supper, and off it hurried! 

So I asked her to tell me about the cat. She said he was a male cat who had adopted Wimpole Hall stables twenty years ago, when already full grown, so now they estimated his age at about 22.  They'd known the house he originally come from, and took him back three times, but he obviously preferred the stables,  so in the end he was allowed to stay. 

Turned out this venerable old gent had been taken to the vet just the previous week, because his fur had become very matted (which is why he didn't have much.)  After a shave, though, the vet checked him over and said he was in good shape, despite his appearance.    


I suppose some do become skinny as they get older, and certainly he is entitled to wander around rather than running. And perhaps keeping a whole lot of long fur neat and clean is a chore when you reach his age.... 

Then, last Monday, we had some time when passing Osterley, another National Trust estate, very near Heathrow Airport,but not bothered much by planes. There, we visited another stables teashop.  Those National Trust teashops are pretty good!  In Osterley they serve vegetables and fruits from their home farm, including some unusual old varieties. I wish I'd photographed my salad but it contained, among other things, beautiful and delicious red pea pods. 

This  (below) was a part of the stables not used for a cafe, but instead was where they kept the 18th century fire appliances. You might be able to make out one of the wheels.  I hope they have some more up to date firefighting equipment too!



If you want to see what it looks like and how it works, I believe this one in Colonial WIlliamsburg isn't that much different... 


I also hobbled around some of the interesting garden which has a variety of different and equally lovely areas.   Not sure what this building below was originally for, but presently it contains large specimen plants. 


They include these striking and very large fuschia blooms, which I loved!  They're called  Fuschia fulgens "Rubra Grandiflora" 



And I always love cedars, which are often to be found in the grounds of big old houses.  Osterley had some fine specimens. You can get an idea of their size by looking at the person in the picture below.  A little hard to spot, but...


...here she is. 


Maybe you notice I said I "hobbled."  On Monday I had to face it that my ankle had swollen up and was painful and tender when I walked.  



 Last year, when the same thing happened  I went to a physio who said I had small tears in the ligament, or was it the muscle? Anyhow, I did some exercises she gave me and it got better.  But over the last two months I've been increasing my exercise routine, and perhaps has triggered it off again.  So as of yesterday, I've decided to stay inside for a few days, and follow my doctor's advice to keep it elevated, ice it, and use ibuprofen gel.  I can't say it's had much effect yet.  

So that's it, that's been what I've been up to. And anyone with advice on how to fix an ankle like mine, please advise, because even though I am taking it very easy,  it doesn't seem to be improving much, and I'm feeling a little anxious about it. 

61 comments:

  1. Oh my, this is just the BEST post! I have been yearning for an adventure in a place so lovely it just takes my breath away- you have achieved that and then some. The cat is the cherry on top!
    I will be reading this post for the rest of the week, and looking at maps. Wonderful!
    So sorry you are lame for the time being and I do wish I could fix it with good advice- I have none.

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    1. Thank you! It's a boost to get a lovely comment like that. Looking at maps is always fun. I can spend hours with a really detailed Ordnance Survey, seeing all the amazing things hidden away.

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  2. As to the ankle- sometimes it just takes a really, really long period of rest to heal a soft tissue injury. And if that's not the hardest thing to do- to rest- then I'm not sure what is! Not when it's summer and you've got such beautiful places to walk about and see and photograph. You might just have to go have someone look at it again.
    Thank you, as always, for sharing your journeys. You give me visions of other places and other times and I appreciate that.

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    1. Thanks for your comment, I like the idea of giving visions of other places and other times. that is a nice idea. Yes.... I'm a bit afraid it will take a really really long time to heal the ankle. It is quite nice sitting in the sun relaxing but I hope I'm better in time for a couple of active sounding things I need to do in the next few weeks.... we shall see.

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  3. You've been in and out of a lot of architecture! Put a few miles on your foot, I bet. Rest, ice, elevation. Or, like the dear old cat's fur, "they" may need to do more.

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    1. I'm going to give one of "them" (our local GP) the chance to have his say tomorrow morning, I won't be waiting! :) One thing I will be asking is how best to pin one of those long bandages in order to support the ankle. If I can do that it will have a better chance to heal, or at least I think so.

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  4. That was all fascinating! So sorry about your ankle, though. I have no advice. I have swollen knees still from falling on them and I don't do anything but wait it out and try to put my feet up half the day--LOL! ;)

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    1. I always admire how you are so positive on the health issues which harass you Rita. I am aiming to realise that I am lucky to have a complaint with a reasonable chance of sorting itself out fairly soon

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  5. I wish I had help for your ankle, mine too. I've noticed something similar but it comes and goes. You're ahead of me in knowing some physio exercises. I've had some luck with ice, ibuprofin and compression. I wish you well.

    This looks like a wonderful way to pause after a sad occasion like the funeral, time for contemplation. Buckden is handsome. I remember that from my Henry VIII book and Katharine. What a beautiful place to stay. And Wimpole Hall and the cat -- also nice. Now, that's a cat who is living out his nine lives in one I think. I'm glad they are looking after him. Thanks for the tip on the National Trust tea shops! I'll remember that one.

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    1. Thanks, Jeanie. Mine has come and gone for a while, but this time it seems to have decided to settle with me for a while. I think the physio exercises are most useful when you're recovered from the worst of it. The aim is to simply strengthen the muscles that help you balance. I'll be doing those when the pain has worn off. I was interested that they spelt the knot garden "katherine" (with an e) as I have always spelt it with an "a" before, but actually looking at any Tudor document the spelling is entirely as the mood takes the writer, I think. Yes, do remember the National Trust tea shops. No two are alike, but some are worth making a special trip for.

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  6. When In was an 18 year old apprentice I walked in the cloakroom to find one of the welders with his leg up resting it, being the little sod I was then I said watch ya Les and gave it a twist to be greeted with a huge howl. I just legged it before he carried out his threatnof hitting me with a hammer. Later someone said I'd done him a favour as it had fixed his bad ankle. I would not recommend it for you though. Hope it gets better

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    1. I laughed out loud when I read that, what a little sod you were! I imagined you as a soulful type being so keen on old churches :) Maybe you should have trained as a chiropractor :)

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  7. Too bad about your ankle, but you certainly had a very rewarding visit. Thanks so much for taking me along, and I do hope your "hobble" dissolves.

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    1. Me too! Amazing how much I want to walk now I know I shouldnt be.TThink I'm just contrary.

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  8. Well, Jenny, for my money you have excelled yourself in the interest stakes with this post. I was riveted. I'm afraid, though, that I know nothing about treating swollen ankles where there are torn ligaments or muscle both of which sound both serious and unpleasant. I do hope that your ankles heals quickly from now on in.

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    1. I was riveted when I first found this place just because I'd been looking for somewhere to stop overnight halfway down the A1 between Rutland and London. I had no idea whatever it existed, and actually I quite like to think I would have at least heard of it in my life. I would love to return as I read up something about the grounds and the Claretians seem to have been very good in restoring and protecting and using so many old features. I hope I get the chance to have a wander.

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  9. Your post today is filled with such wonderful photos. Love the Churches and all the gardens. The cat is adorable.

    cheers, parsnip

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    1. He was a dear old thing. I couldn't help being a bit spooked at first at how thin he was, but then I guess if he was getting around so slowly his muscles had probably wasted. It was good to know he was loved and was having health checkups.

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  10. Have you tried an ice pack on your ankle? That's what my partner uses after sports injuries, and it seems to work well. A bag of frozen peas seems the best option.

    That cat does look a sad sight.

    Funerals are never easy, especially when it's someone young. :(

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    1. I do hate funerals.Well, shouldn't think many would like them except apparently there are some who only go for the free food, which I think must be one of the less appealing hobbies. I have tried frozen peas, and they do seem to be best. I keep thinking I really ought to cook them all since I keep taking them in and out of the freezer, and even though it's only for five minutes at a time, it must affect their long term keeping power. I'm looking out for recipes with loads of peas in. Or maybe I should just get a life...

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  11. You’ve been busy, and seen some interesting and fascinating things!

    Please accept my condolences on the loss of your friend, and i do hope your ankle swelling goes down soon.

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    1. Thank you, and for your kind wishes.

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  12. I don't think much of ibuprofen, it doesn't appear to do what it says on the box but I still take it!
    I hope things improve in ankle area. You can imagine my interest in your cat story but it didn't interfere with your account of the area you visited. Sad that it was to attend your friend's funeral. Please accept my condolences.

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    1. I am not a great taker of any kind of medicine, however mild. I usually suffer in silence. But when I find myself breaking the silence and starting to moan and complain, then it's usually time to bring out the pills and gels! However, now you mention it, I can't yet identify any particular effect the ibuprofen is having on the injury. It says on the box you need to wait a few days, though, so perhaps it will improve tomorrow.

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  13. You find some great places!
    Sorry that it was caused by a funeral and sorry also re the ankle. Such things take time.
    A great historical house and the stay sounds interesting. Those bishops did well for themselves. Some even knew God!
    Love the story of he cat. It is difficult to get rid of one once it takes you as home.
    Great post!

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    1. Yes, I didn't get the impression the bishops were living in poverty in those good old days, I must say! I found it so encouraging that the order was looking after the place so well, not tarting it up but using it for their own purposes with affection, respect and artistic taste

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  14. I have no ankle advice - I can only hope time and other sensibleness sorts it.

    And don’t you find some wonderful, out-of-the way places!

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    1. Buckden seems to have been hiding in plain sight, just off the A1! :) which in a way makes it specially exciting because I kept thinking I should somehow have heard of it. The village itself is very pretty and the church marvellous too.

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  15. Sympathies for the loss of your friend
    and your ankle healing up well
    The here she is photo is adorable. A perfect place to be on a summer's day. The cat is worth a story or two!
    Here in Vermont rain today with a heat wave forecast in a few days. I have a nerve thing going on that's worse in one foot than the other. Elevating and taking care for a few days does seem to lesson the discomfort along with minimizing salty food.

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    1. I hadn't thought about salty food. I'm trying to lose weight (not helped by the inactivity) and I hope that losing weight will mean less strain on all ligaments and joints.

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  16. When I read your post I've got familiar to many interesting places, Jenny. Now I have learned about the chapel "adapted to stand in the water" and about apartments in Buckden Towers. Thanks for sharing!
    About your ankle, I had the trauma like your and doctor advised to use a bandage made by thick cotton knitwear. I used it and can say it helped and fixed my ankle. It has the shape of an ankle but without a heel.
    See picture here https://www.wellnessproducts.ch/?page=2&lan=en&id=68217

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    1. Thank you Nadezda, and thanks for the link too. I have a bandage that is similar except it does have a heel. I found it inflexible and think one with no heel would be more comfortable. Meanwhile I have started winding a long crepe bandage around my ankle and foot and fastening it with a safety pin. I am getting the hang of doing it now and I find it to be quite helpful in supporting it.

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  17. Some truly amazing places in this post, Jenny! I'd love to explore them all but in all likelihood never will; all the better that I can do so through your blog.
    As for your ankle, I'd have it checked properly, it might not be the same cause as last time, especially as your previously succesful treatment does not seem to be effective now.

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    1. I'm glad you like the post, Meike. I have been twice to the doctor about this. The first doctor was actually a trainee and obviously only just started, so I went again and got the diagnosis of sprained ligament, so I am following his advice. On Monday if it is not showing real signs of improvement I'll try an acupuncturist, the first time I've ever been to one in my life. I do not in general gravitate particularly to alternative medicine but T's physio who is a tough hardheaded guy does it too, so perhaps there is something in it. We will see!

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  18. You live in such a fascinating place, and I've got to love the cat too.

    I understand about the foot problems as I have bone chips plus absent cartilage which leaves me with bone on bone.

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    1. Oh, heck, that sounds very painful. It makes me feel grateful that I only have a sprain, and hope the medics can give you something to make you more comfortable. The cat was a dear old fellow.

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  19. Quite a trip, mournful and lovely. My American friends vacation at a National Trust property almost every year. So much history.
    Thanks for visiting my blog. I’m happy to meet you.
    Love
    kj

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    1. I was pleased to find your blog. Your friends have good taste. There are some beautiful old places belonging to the National Trust, often in remotest countryside.

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  20. My best friend's husband died yesterday and it's sad though he wasn't really young, nor was he what I consider old. The memorial service is to come and with only a couple miles to the church, I don't think we will have any adventures like yours. However, my friend's daughter and her beau are staying in our guest cottage, and it's nice to have them during this difficult time. Please accept my condolences in the loss of your young friend. My husband is very interested in green burials when his time comes. Have you tried massages to move the fluid back to where it belongs? I don't know what a physio is. The apartment you stayed in on your trip is the most intriguing I've ever seen. Was it comfortably appointed?

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    1. I am so sorry to hear of the death of your best friend's husband, and also that he died rather before his time. I hope the memorial goes well and I am sure it is reassuring to his daughter to be staying with sympathetic people. Green burials are a nice idea, I think so too. It was touching how people threw posies from their gardens or single flowers into the grave as a farewell gift. "Physio" is short for physiotherapist, who works on helping people get back into shape after injury, etc. The apartment was very comfortable, but unlike a hotel. More as if you were staying in someone's home, with nice little ornaments, a mixture of different mugs in the kitchen, pretty old embroidered quilt covers, etc. We were glad. Everything being modern and standard would not have been as nice.

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  21. A fabulous post, Jenny. Very interesting...what a wonderful discovery. too...to have found that wonderful old building, and to have been able to spend the night there.

    And, that lovely old cat...he's had more than nine lives, I'd say. The dear old fellow. :)

    Great post, Jenny...as always. :)

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    1. It was so nice to realise he had a valued place. I do think it's quaint how cats just decide to take up residence somewhere, but he seems to have been very faithful to Wimpole Hall!

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  22. Please take good care of yourself.

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  23. Oh, I hope your ankle is better now!
    I knew that the cat was an old one before I read this in your post. I DO know cats, I suppose!
    Lovely photos with your wonderful writing as always!
    Guess what, Jenny?!! We sent Peter (my father-in-law) your Lewis Carroll book for FAther's Day and he LOVES it! He has almost finished it and it usually takes him quite a while to finish a book these days, so THANK YOU for writing it!!

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    1. And dear Kay, THANK YOU for telling me this, it is such a good feeling for any author to send a book out into the world and hear feedback. I am really pleased it came to your mind as a gift!
      I expect Peter will know some of the places mentioned - even though places like Devonshire Park have changed quite a bit.

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  24. That cat does look very strange with so little fur. I imagine it must feel very strange to him too being so fur-less.

    The church does seem half submerged - a bit like most of the buildings in Venice!

    The patterns and colours in the glasswork are wonderful.

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    1. I wondered whether to post pictures from inside the chapel, but my camera couldn't manage the contrast with the deeply shadowed interior and the light through the glass which created a compelling blend of calm, shadow and colour.

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  25. I have not been to Rutland Water for many a year, and it looks just the same as I remember it. It is always sad when someone passes away when they are still far too young.
    Are you supporting your ankle with one of these gentle stretchy tube bandages - I think that a bit of support is helpful.

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    1. I was surprised when I went to Rutland Water to find that they've really developed quite a nice visitor centre, with refreshments, loos, and even a bike shop catering the many cycling groups which now seem to gravitate to Rutland - landscape is rural but not very hilly! Fun to see all those kids having a good time on their bikes. I am supporting the ankle with an old fashioned wind around crepe bandage with a safety pin fastening. So far so good but perhaps when it is less swollen I'll try the tube type.

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  26. Hello Jenny, I can never get enough of ancient buildings in ancient green landscapes, and this current installment is beautiful and satisfying. However, I am sorry to hear that all this travel has hurt your ankle. I hope that you will take good care of it, and that we will hear a positive report very soon.
    --Jim

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    1. Thank you Jim. If I have anything to do with it there will be some positive reports soon. My neighbour suggested acupuncture to speed up the healing process. I've never tried it but I'd try anything once.

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  27. You find the most interesting places!

    Sorry about your ankle. No advice from me, but wishing you speedy healing.

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    1. Thanks! it's so frustrating. I am persevering with trying to rest it without turning into a total slug....

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  28. Dear Jenny - I can relate to your feeling about the loss. Last night was a wake of my husband’s friend and co-worker in my neighborhood, who my husband shared dinner with only two weeks ago. He passed away at 66 “young” suddenly. I couldn’t see the devastated face of his wife, who is my friend. No uplifting mood like yours after the funeral, I wilt in the heat wave today.

    How’s your ankle? I don’t know about torn ankle ligament at all but let me write my experience on my left knee. I haven’t told about my knee problem in the blogshere (the posts of late April and May are made with last year photos) but I got attacked by knee osteoarthritis (swelling and pain) acutely in early April after long and devoted cares to a baby and an infant and then so many “hanammi” outings. The ability of joint cartilage to repair itself declines as we grow older. Since I hadn’t had any knee problems.I had no idea what happened to my knee. After blood test, X-ray, MRI, it turned out common knee osteoarthritis, not rheumatoid arthritis or other disease. The doctor drained knee fluid each time I saw him and advised me to ice it. It seemed to take a couple of months to full-recovery; In two weeks, the inflammation started subside,,and finally I got able to do “seiza” again in early June. (“Seiza” is no-no when you have knee arthritis as you knee is excessively loaded with your weight.) It was a rude awakening to me. I learned that I shouldn’t work hard for long or do unusual things constantly and need rest in between. You’re so active, Jenny. Be realistic about your ankle condition agewise, and you’ll get along with it, like me with my knee. Please take care of yourself. Thank you for your e-mail.

    Yoko

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    1. Thank you, YOko, and thank you for your condolences. I am so sorry about your husband's friend/co-worker. What a shock when someone who has been there for most of one's adult life, has suddenly gone. Thanks also for sharing information about your knee. I'm glad that it's now fully recovered. Before I came to Japan the first time I was worried that I might have to do "seiza" . I tried to practise it but was unable to do it. (Of course I was not used to doing it already). I had a knee injury as a child which I don't think ever properly healed, but then I developed some arthritis in my knees when I was quite young (the arthritis is inherited). So you can imagine my concern about Seiza. I quite agree about not pushing an ageing body too far. I have started to do cardio-vascular exercises specially designed for people with foot injuries, who can do the exercises sitting down. I am VERY aware that I must not over strain my arms now!

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  29. Dear Jenny, So sorry to hear about the loss of your friend, and what a beautiful place for a funeral. The Norman Church looks magnificent on the water. Buckden was a magical find, and indeed like Hampton Court. What fun to spend a night there among such gentle beauty and history. Well done for finding it! Your journey was even more interesting with Wimpole hall, the lovely stables and the cute old cat. And I thought we were clever keeping our cat alive until 19 :) Sending you healing vibes from across the world for your ankle - may it heal rapidly and well. A lovely post Jenny.

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  30. I am getting to the age where funerals are simply a part of life.......and I think therin lies the inevitability of it all. People live, people die. That’s it, nothing more, nothing less.

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  31. So interesting to see the places you describe in this post, though sad that i had its origins in the loss of a friend.
    Re the fire engine.....a friend's grandfather was motoring in Essex just after the Great War and saw something very similar being wheeled out into use in Saffron Walden.

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  32. Great photos! Your image of the stables, which now contain the the tearoom, shops and bookstore, still look exceptional today. But back in the day I can imagine that the facilities (for horses, stables, exercise yards, carriages, grooms' sleeping quarters, tower and clock) must have been grander than the average family home.

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  33. Oh my gosh, that looks like it really hurts, and I hope that you can back to new quickly. Thanks for the beautiful photos, incredible salad, makes me crave one right now!

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