Picture of jigsaw. Old fashioned train and bus passing milk churnsUntil this New Year, I’d not completed a Jigsaw puzzle for about a million years.

Last year I had played with a few iPad Jigsaw puzzles, but although I enjoyed doing them, I found the process difficult and frustrating, due to the limited space.

Early in the New Year, when we stayed in a Staffordshire cottage with Karen and Dave, Karen and I had a go at one she’d been given for Christmas (or which she found in the cottage – who knows!) Now, I enjoyed that and found it quite relaxing.

Another friend, Carol, who does Jigsaws all the time, insists that they help to maintain our memory function as we grow older, I do hope so! They certainly help with concentration. Carol gave me a puzzle to get started with – and off I went. The first, Jigsaw-1, was hard … I liked the subject but the colours were quite dark and it took most of January to complete.

I bought another one in late January whilst I was up in Kendal. I’d arrived early for my meeting at the college (I was their LSIS LiT Grant Project ‘critical friend’), so I had lunch in the town and wandered around the charity shops. This one was Jigsaw-2, it cost me £2 and took an age to build. I did have help though – Karen and Dave popped over for a weekend and she filled in some of the blue-sky bits; Carol and John are always popping in so Carol couldn’t resist doing some of the white bits.

When I published the picture of Jigsaw-2 to Flickr, Claire responded from Ibiza – saying that the view was of Santorini, in Greece. And so it was – just search for Santorini on Google and compare those images to the Jigsaw.  The colours were vibrant and it was sad to be finished with it. However, I now had the bug, so I bought another in Slaithwaite’s own charity shop for 50p. (50 pence!!!) which became Jigsaw-3.

Now, this one had lots of blue sky and it took a while to complete but even so, it was very very relaxing. When you’re faced with a sky full of blue, the technique is to look at the shape of the piece and compare the slight changes in shading – as I say, this improves concentration. Still not sure about memory though.

Anyway, I’m going to try and do one a month this year. Watch this space 😉 (or Flickr).



I came upon a news item today on the BBC [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/8132122.stm] which suggested that “Drinking five cups of coffee a day could reverse memory problems seen in Alzheimer’s disease“. Tests conducted on mice had re-confimed earlier research that also suggested caffeine could hamper “the production of the protein plaques which are the hallmark of the disease“. Which in many ways is good news as I like coffee (proper coffee, from a proper copper coffee pot!) – but sadly, it doesn’t like me. Coffee can cause acid reflux, so I drink it with care (and some admiration).

I became interested in the effects of Alzheimer’s some time ago as I see myself charging headlong into that particular morass. I sincerely and fervently hope that I don’t inflict myself upon my family in that way, but it is a door that flaps around in my future (along with other more and less scary doors) and one I will make every effort to avoid.

My grandma suffered from the dementia side of Alzheimers as she got older. At 80 she recognised me as someone she knew and believed that I was in fact my dad. She simply blanked that fact when we (my dad and me) were together in her presence.  As she grew older she often asked “who do you belong to?” and given that peice of information could often piece little things together. So scary, but not so bad. She once told me (in a rare lucid moment) that she missed two things in getting old – dancing (she danced right up until her mid seventies) and reading books. “I love books David – but can’t remember what I’ve read when I turn the page“.  My dad who is now 82 has lived in fear that it will decend upon him – but it seems to have passed him by as he is as alert as he always was.

My friend’s mother-in-law retired from teaching, spent a quite lucid year or so in retirement before falling foul of the full blown ‘I have no idea what I’m doing – at all’  version of the disease. Relly really scary.

And why do I think that I might have the skipped generation version? No reason really – I forget things, but I think we all do and the more work I have going on, the more things I have to think about: the more things I have to forget. It is a worry though, that I spent so many years of my life cooking in kitchens where the de rigeur cooking utensils were huge aluminium pans. I also have a fine set of industry standard aluminium pans I use at home. However: There is circumstantial evidence linking this metal with Alzheimer’s disease, but no causal relationship has yet been proved.

Hey ho – life goes on.