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Below Bill Ayling shares with you some of the things that come to mind as he walks around Purley on Thames with his dog Ruby

August 2019


“Go home and pack an overnight bag,” said the specialist at West Berks hospital. My heart dropped I had only gone to him for my regular monthly check.

“Will I have to stay in?” I quavered, for I have a fear of hospitals, going back to when I was three years old and in Arundel Children’s Hospital. I remember it well!

At the RBH I was put into a ward with two other men about my own age – ancient! I had taken my night things, but I had to put on one of those gowns, which tie at the back, and indignities of all they removed my under clothes. They then fitted a catheter.

“I am going to do something naughty,” said the French nurse as she fitted it.

“Sounds like fun,” I muttered, wincing at the thought, but it wasn’t too bad.

Dinner that night was a sandwich, a glass of orange juice and a red apple. It was the first food I had had since breakfast and I was rather hungry.

The window was open, it was during that very hot period, and outside of the building, going twenty four hours a day, was some form of electrical fan. Sleep did not come easily that night, nor the following nights, but I must compliment the hospital on the quality and variety of food I had during my stay. The nurses were also wonderful and they couldn’t have been more caring.

One of the two other men in the ward went home after a couple of days. Unfortunately the remaining man had some very noisy visitors on the Saturday afternoon. Laughter. West Indian music. Dancing, it was rather boisterous. Thankfully on the following day he was moved into another ward and I was left alone, lonely but peaceful, but I still had problems sleeping.

Fortunately I was able to keep in contact with Eileen, who made several visits during my sojourn, and by the Sunday morning all the tests were completed, the blood was apparently back to normal and I was allowed home.

As I walked through the front door, Ruby took one look at me, howled and ran away! Some greeting!


Ruby is settling in now, and has gone a long way towards alleviating the extreme pain we felt at the loss of Fudge. She really is a sweetheart, and very fond of Eileen. She has a habit of jumping upon the armchair nearest the window and peering through the panes, especially when her mistress goes out. Unlike Fudge she is a barker, cats or pigeons on the roof of the conservatory will cause her to jump up and down in agitation. Any visitors to the front door also seems to vex her.

Some favourite resting places for Ruby are my armchairs, Eileen’s place on the settee and recently wedging herself between the first and second risers on the stairs. She will rest anywhere except in her comfortable basket, although at night she reluctantly obeys my “Bedtime!” when she will creep into her blankets and look up at me with a wistful look in her brown eyes.

In many ways she is different to Fudge, the greatest similarity is in love and companionship.

New Lawn

Recently Joe came to put some Feed and Weed on my new lawn. To keep Ruby off, apparently it is dangerous to animals, he placed some netting around the area. Ruby seems to have taken that as an invitation to use the area as a toilet, for I found three piles of dog’s poo on the new grass.

Ginger Cat

Ruby seems to have taken offence at a lovely ginger cat which has been a regular visitor over the years. The cat, with complete freedom, wanders about both front and back gardens by day or night. It has a small bell about its neck, which although we humans cannot pick it up, the sound is obviously sufficient to raise the wrath of Ruby, who will, when she hears it,  dash at the windows, or door, barking furiously until we open the door to let her out. The ginger cat is very canny and at the first sign of the dog will scamper up one of the trees in the front garden. As Ruby cannot reach the front garden, it obviously knows that it is safe, and probably continues to ring its bell to Ruby’s annoyance.


The garden is looking very colourful. Two years ago I planted a couple of hydrangeas. They have now grown into large and vibrant bushes with masses of pink flowers on them. With the red geraniums and multi-flowered begonias between the bushes and a couple of rambling roses, the whole of the back garden is a delightful place in which to sit and relax.

Water Butts

Tony, our neighbour, very kindly helped me to install a large water butt which I purchased from Amazon recently. It had only been in situ for a couple of days when Tony came to tell me he had noticed that it had buckled. Not only buckled, but was leaking. Have you ever tried to contact Amazon?

It’s easy enough to send things back, and get a refund, but how do you return a five foot water butt? My laptop was growing hot with the various ways I had been using it to get an answer from the supplier. Eventually I had a brilliant idea, I rang my niece, Jane. Within twenty minutes she had arranged for Amazon to contact me. All I had to do was to take a photograph of the damaged water butt.  They offered a full refund with their apologies, and didn’t want the water butt back. So, now I have a water butt with a buckled side and (somewhere) a small leak.

Obviously, it isn’t a question of what you know, but who you know, as the old saying has it – no! Jane’s telephone number is not available…

Bill Ayling