Monday, 31 December 2007

One could be forgiven for thinking it is Spring

We went down to Devon on Saturday for a couple of days to visit M.I.L.  - It was a bright and sunny day (after a horrendous night of rain and high winds) - with good views all the way down the M4/M5.

As we were travelling down I spied some sheep, well lots of them actually, but in one field there were three lambs, a single and twins, a bit early I should think but given the temperatures in these parts have been around 10 degrees Celsius recently, the sheep must have thought it was time to do their business.

On Sunday we drove from Exeter up to Dartmoor, again the weather was lovely.  We stopped in a nice old pub, with peat fires for a Mulled Wine, and then onto Tavistock for a look around the town and a quick snack in a nice place called Cafe Liaison, where there was a musician.  Mind you, I am not so sure I would like to live on Dartmoor - when we went into the pub the sun was shining and when we came out barely half hour later fog was coming down.  Driving away from there, within 10 minutes we were in sunshine again.  It was also nice not to have it get so dark so early, as it stays lighter later in those parts.

Today we came back home, and I have just had my knee reviewed.  Healing slowing is the surgeon's opinion and I have to go back in four months.


Wednesday, 26 December 2007

Our Christmas

Well as far as family stuff was concerned yesterday (Christmas Day was quiet) we spent it at home on our own, just the two of us - today (Boxing Day) has been a little more hectic as we visited one of our daughters, her husband and four children.  Just taking them their presents made a great deal of room on our spare bed and when we see the other five grandchildren on Friday we may be able to have visitors again.


On the workside,  I have had the privilege of being on call, and have been for the last month, to help relieve the problems that carers face when they cannot cope. This Christmas has been no different from others as we receive calls from those at the end of their tether, with no family or friends nearby to help out, so they have to contact our charity.  It has been a exhausting few days for me, with 40 - 50 calls made either to us, or by me to track down carer support workers who can help out, and one lady admitted to residential care because her carer cannot get out of bed due to back spasms. Of course the statutory services are closed over the bank holidays, and emergency duty service in our area refers people to us if the carer needs someone to call on them to help them out, which is not a problem as that is what we are funded to do (so long as we do not have half our workforce sick like we did for the two weeks preceding Christmas).

Mind you, try explaining to others around you what is going on when the phone interrupts you for the umpteenth time in a day (and this morning even before my alarm went off).

Tuesday, 25 December 2007

Merry Christmas everyone

 3D Santa Happy Christmas everyone 

Sunday, 9 December 2007

A dog called Whiskey

This week end I have been working in the Isle of Wight, and at the B & B we were staying at we came across a dog called Whiskey - a terrier - and do you know what we discovered - he is the only dog known that has his own account at the Lifeboat Station.  He has a fetish for tennis balls, and runs off way in front of his owners and help himself to one from the dispay.  On the till is a piece of paper marked 'Whiskey's account' and they note the amount of balls he takes, for his owner to pay for when he finally catches up with him


 Thank You 

Monday, 26 November 2007

My knee is sore

A week on from my operation I am still having to use crutches, especially outside, I cannot drive and my knee aches like mad.  I am seeing the physio tomorrow so maybe they can throw some light on when I am not better already
I know it is called being impatient. Apart from that I got to go Christmas shopping with my daughter today, a right pair we made, me on my crutches and her clutching bits of her stomach from her recent operation.  We wandered slowly and sat down for a coffee half way through.  Don't tell the boss, I told them I was working from home today - which I am, but not much between 9.00 am and 5.00 pm.  I can remote access my computer at work, so have been updating files and filling in funding applications for the charity I work for.  Suppose I had better get back to it.

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Wanna play

We don't get much of this in this country, but sure had some when we were living in New York at the beginning of the year, so I want to play as well


Thank you Bea



Friday, 23 November 2007

Knee operation

Had operaton on Tuesday, and am now just about out of the anaesthetic fug - or the pain killer fug, or both.  Have done an awful lot of sleeping - most of Tuesday after the op, all day Wednesday, half of yesterday and half of today, that includes sleeping at night as well. They were going to keep me in overnight, but as my blood pressure and sugar levels more or less behaved themselves I was back home by mid afternoon on Tuesday, after being the first on the operating list at 8.00 am.
They had a good rummage around and cleaned out lots of debris, they also scrapped off some bone that was growing where it should not have been.  They cannot guarantee that I will be in any less pain than I was before, but they now know that I can get away with a partial knee replacement.  Apparently your knee is in three sections, and I need the inner section replaced, although they want to leave it for as long as possible due to my tender years lol. I have a follow up appointment at the end of December and physio next week.
They have given me exercises to do, but most are still painful or difficult at the moment.  I managed a few steps today without the crutches, and have done the stairs for a 2nd time - up to now once down I stay down until bedtime, but as my laptop would not connect to the internet, had to come up again.  I think I will go down again for the evening.
My challenge now is to lose some weight - I read that 25% of replacement operations fail due to being overweight, which I most definately am, and the other is to exercise more to build up the knee so that it will be in better shape for the next operation.

Knee operation

Had operaton on Tuesday, and am now just about out of the anaesthetic fug - or the pain killer fug, or both.  Have done an awful lot of sleeping - most of Tuesday after the op, all day Wednesday, half of yesterday and half of today, that includes sleeping at night as well. They were going to keep me in overnight, but as my blood pressure and sugar levels more or less behaved themselves I was back home by mid afternoon on Tuesday, after being the first on the operating list at 8.00 am.
They had a good rummage around and cleaned out lots of debris, they also scrapped off some bone that was growing where it should not have been.  They cannot guarantee that I will be in any less pain than I was before, but they now know that I can get away with a partial knee replacement.  Apparently your knee is in three sections, and I need the inner section replaced, although they want to leave it for as long as possible due to my tender years lol. I have a follow up appointment at the end of December and physio next week.
They have given me exercises to do, but most are still painful or difficult at the moment.  I managed a few steps today without the crutches, and have done the stairs for a 2nd time - up to now once down I stay down until bedtime, but as my laptop would not connect to the internet, had to come up again.  I think I will go down again for the evening.
My challenge now is to lose some weight - I read that 25% of replacement operations fail due to being overweight, which I most definately am, and the other is to exercise more to build up the knee so that it will be in better shape for the next operation.

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Spare time

Even though I have had a lot going on around me, what with a sick husband, a daughter who needed an operation, and difficulty in walking for myself, I have still been working full time.  I have a pretty stressful job, I often say if it was not for the clients, the staff and our funders I would have the perfect job.  Rainbow 

So I needed something to do that would relax me and keep me out of mischief in my spare time.  My mum attends an over 60s day centre and they have been collecting blankets for Croatia, so I have been crochetching blankets.  This is something I did many years ago when money was tight and even before the girls were born.  I managed to find my crochet hooks, lots of spare wool and off I went.  You will see from my pictures just a sample of the ones I have completed.  I just hope they do the job that is required and that the people they are destined for can make lots of use of them.  I have some here that have been around for 30 years and with the exception of one minor repair are still going strong.

Latest update

Bob has now returned to work during the last week.  He is getting very tired by the end of the day, but the specialist says he is to take it easy and he will get stronger as he goes.  They were pleased with the last scan of his heart, although they would like his blood pressure a little lower.  We are monitoring that now and seeing the specialist again in six weeks.

My daughter has been in an out of hospital for the last three weeks for womens problems and an operation that developed complications.  I am am taking her for a check up in the morning. I am having to take the grandchildren to school as she is not allowed to drive for six weeks, not to mention taking her shopping as she is beginning to panic about Christmas.  With five kids to buy for it is hardly surprising.

I go into hospital next week for my knee operation (so long as they do not postpone it again), so after that we are hoping that we will all go into the new year more healthy than we are leaving this one.


Oops Bad Hair Dye Day

Well I did not sleep well last night, so decided to get up bright and early and deal with the grey hair.  I had bought a new colour as I have been unable to get the one I usually buy.  It looked much the same, so imagine my shock when I turned red, instead of dark blonde.


Bob says that if I hide in amongst beech trees, which are in full autumn colours I will be well camouflaged    Wakka Wakka 

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

My Halloween Personality

Pinched from




The scariest thing on Halloween is you! You definitely don't want any kids in costumes crossing your path - and you're willing to scare away any who do.

You definitely think of yourself as someone who has a dark side. And part of having that dark side means not showing it.

Your inner child is bittersweet, thoughtful, and never too greedy.

You truly fear the dark side of humanity. You are a true misanthrope.

You're logical, rational, and not easily effected. Not a lot scares you... especially when it comes to the paranormal.

You are picky and high maintenance. If you wear a Halloween costume, it's only when you really feel like it. And it has to be perfect.

The scariest thing on Halloween is you! You definitely don't want any kids in costumes crossing your path - and you're willing to scare away any who do.

You definitely think of yourself as someone who has a dark side. And part of having that dark side means not showing it.

Your inner child is bittersweet, thoughtful, and never too greedy.

You truly fear the dark side of humanity. You are a true misanthrope.

You're logical, rational, and not easily effected. Not a lot scares you... especially when it comes to the paranormal.

You are picky and high maintenance. If you wear a Halloween costume, it's only when you really feel like it. And it has to be perfect.


Update on My Knee

For some reason my surgery has been cancelled for 30th October (which had already become 31st October), so am now scheduled for 20th November.  I am feeling a bit fed up as I had made all my arrangements, had managed to get the other half to agree to get a extra two weeks off sick to help me out, and now everything has gone pear shape.  So much for private medical insurance and things being done at your convenience!!


Sent to me in an email today

The Why's of Men


(because they are plugged into a genius)


(they don't have enough time)




(they don't stop to ask directions)




(because their balls fall over their butt-hole and they vapor lock)


(You're laughing, aren't you?!?!)




(so they won't hump women's legs at cocktails parties)




(you need a rough draft before you make a final copy)




(don't never happened)


( C'mon guys, we laugh at your blonde jokes!)


And the personal favorite:





(because a vibrator can't mow the lawn)


Remember, if you haven't got a smile on your face and laughter in your
heart...Then you are just an old sour fart!


One for the ladies


One day my housework-challenged husband decided to wash his Sweat-shirt
Seconds after he stepped into the laundry room, he shouted to me, "What
setting do I use on the washing machine?"
"It depends," I replied. "What does it say on your shirt?"
He yelled back, "University of Oklahoma."

And they say blondes are dumb...
A couple is lying in bed. The man says,
"I am going to make you the happiest woman in the world."
The woman replies, "I'll miss you..."


"It's just too hot to wear clothes today," Jack says as he stepped out of
the shower, "honey, what do you think the neighbors would think if I mowed
the lawn like this?"
"Probably that I married you for your money," she replied.


Q: What do you call an intelligent, good looking, sensitive man?
A: A rumor


Dear Lord,
I pray for Wisdom to understand my man; Love to forgive him; And Patience
for his moods. Because, Lord, if I pray for Strength, I'll beat him to


Q: Why do little boys whine?
A: They are practicing to be men.

Q: What does it mean when a man is in your bed gasping for breath and
calling your name?
A: You did not hold the pillow down long enough.


Q: How do you keep your husband from reading your e-mail?
A: Rename the mail folder "Instruction Manual."

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

My knee

Well had my appointment with the specialist today and it appears that I have two main options.  An arthriscopy proceedure (key hole surgery, a good look around, a wash out and repair damaged ligaments), or a full knee replacement.  The specialist suggested the first, as he says he is an engineer and would like to know what he is dealing with for future reference.  He reckons it will give me a few months relief and then he may have to go for the full knee replacement.  He reckons I am too young at 57 for that (asked for a letter to show my grandkids who all reckon I am old lol).

There was a 3rd option which was to do nothing, but given the fact that I am having difficulty sleeping because of the pain, cannot walk any distance, cannot bend my leg due to the swelling, that did not seem sensible, so I am going for the more minor procedure, hopefully on the 30th of this month.

Of course it has coincided with Bob going back to work after his heart op and my closest daughter will be recovering from a bladder operation, so somehow I am going to have to cope on my own, but thinking about it -what's new.



Tuesday, 2 October 2007

My Dream Home

Pinched from malagutigrrl - From the Edge of Dementia

 I’m A Star


I wish

Your home is a Magic Magnate's Manor  

Your kitchen is someplace you never go, because you "have people for that." There's a Chocolatessen, which is rapidly becoming your favorite room of the house. Having one is also becoming a trend among your wealthy neighbors. Your master bedroom is the size of a small barn, with carpet thick enough to reach your ankles. Your study has hardback editions of every classic ever written, plus a special edition of Rich Dad, Poor Dad with the parts you ghost-authored highlighted. One of your garages holds your collection of ferraris, and is measured in acreage.

Your home also includes a guest wing and private quarters for your servants. Outside is your hedge maze and gardens, meticulously tended by a team of world-class botanists.

Below is a snippet of the blueprints:

Friday, 28 September 2007

Update on Bob

 Rainbow Went to see the surgeon this week who gave Bob a clean bill of health.  He said he just had to look at him to see that he was so much better since the heart surgery.  He was told he could return to work at anytime, but I jumped in to tell the surgeon that he had a 2 hour commute on the train at both ends of the day, and had to carry a heavy rucksack fill of computer, files etc.  To which the surgeon said he has to stay of till November, he is entitled to 12 weeks sick leave and the surgeon told him to make the most of it.

I have my specialist appointment the week after next, so it is looking like I will get my surgery just after he goes back to work, so who is going to look after me.


Give this a go

This will boggle your mind...  Take your time and follow the instructions.    It's very clever!!!
After reading each window, click on the boy in the lower right corner. In the last window, type in your numbers in the white box using the keyboard.  You will be amazed....and
No, I don't know how it's done, but The answer appears on the boy's t-shirt.
click here:

Sunday, 23 September 2007

Over 55?

Another one for sharing   



1. Kidnappers are not very interested in you.


2. In a hostage situation you are likely to be released first.


3. People no longer view you as a hypochondriac.


4. There is nothing left to learn the hard way.


5. You can live without sex but not your glasses.


6. You get into heated arguments about pension plans.


7. You no longer think of speed limits as challenge.


8. You quit trying to hold your stomach in no matter who

    walks into the room.


9. You sing along with elevator music.


10. Your investment in health insurance is finally beginning to pay off.


11. Your joints are more accurate meteorologists than the

      national weather service.


12. Your secrets are safe with your friends because they can't

      remember them either.





This was sent to me in an email today and I thought I would share it

A young wife sat on a sofa on a hot humid day, drinking iced tea and visiting with her Mother. As they talked about life,about marriage, about the responsibilities of life and the obligations ofadulthood, the mother clinked the ice cubes in her glass thoughtfully and turned a clear, sober glance upon her daughter.  "Don't forget your Sisters," she advised, swirling the tea leaves to the bottom of her glass. "They'll be more important as you get older. No matter how much you love your husband, no matter how much you love the children you may have, you are still going to need Sisters. Remember to go places with them now and then; do things with them."  "Remember that 'Sisters' means ALL the women...your girlfriends, your daughters, and all your otherwomen relatives too. "You'll need other women. Women always do. "What a funny piece of advice!' the young woman thought. Haven't I just gotten married? Haven't I just joined the couple-world? I'm now a married woman, for goodness sake! A grown up! Surely my husband and the family we may start will be all Ineed to make my life worthwhile!'But she listened to her Mother. She kept contact with her Sisters and made more women friends each year. As the years tumbled by, one after another,she gradually came to understand that her Mom really knew what she was talking about. As time and nature work their changes and their mysteries upon a woman,Sisters are the mainstays of her life.

After more than 40 years of living in this world, here is what I've learned:


Time passes.  Life happens.  Distance separates.  Children grow up.  Jobs come and go.  Love waxes and wanes.  Men don't do what they're supposed to do. Hearts break. Parents die. Colleagues forget favors. Careers end.


Sisters are there, no matter how much time and how many miles are between you. A girl friend is never farther away than needing her can reach. When you have to walk that lonesome valley and you have to walk it by yourself, the women in your life will be on the valley's rim, cheering you on, praying for you, pulling for you, intervening on your behalf, and waiting with open arms at the valley's end. Sometimes, they will even break the rules and walk beside you...Or come in and carry you out. Girlfriends, daughters, granddaughters, daughters-in-law, sisters, sisters-in-law, Mothers, Grandmothers, aunties, nieces, cousins, and extended family, all bless our life!

The world wouldn't be the same without women, and neither would I. When we began this adventure called womanhood, we had no idea of the incredible joys or sorrows that lay ahead. Nor did we know how much we would need each other. Every day, we need each other still. Pass this on to all the women who help make your life meaningful I just did. Short and very sweet:

There are more than twenty angels in this world. Ten are peacefully sleeping on clouds. Nine are playing. And one is reading her email at this moment.

Monday, 17 September 2007

Can you spare me?

Part of my job role at the charity I manage is to raise funds - these fund go towards giving carers/care givers breaks, so that they can take 'time off' from their caring roles.

I am toying the idea of putting together a booklet, or series of booklets


tips and hints

poetry/short stories

and as I want this to be original stuff and not something I have pinched from books or magazines, I was wondering if anyone would like to make a charitable contribution - with your name attributed (if you so wish) and country of origin

Once I have got enough stuff together, the booklets would be sold for funds.  I could even make them available here if people wanted.

I have to tell you that I have these mad, creative ideas from time to time


To start off I will share with you a recipe for soup that was given to me today - have not tried it yet, but will tomorrow as I have just found some courgettes lurking in the fridge.

Courgette/Zucchini soup

Boil 4 courgettes/zucchini in chicken stock (a stock cube is ok, if you do not have the real thing), with a tablespoon of curry powder. Use enough liquid to cover the courgettes/zucchi

When courgettes are soft, wizz together in a blender (add more water if required to get the consistency you require) - reheat if necessary

Put in some Philadelphia cheese

It is now ready to serve.

I understand that it can be eaten hot or cold.

Saturday, 15 September 2007

Lazy day on the river 4

At last I have found how to upload more that 8 pictures at a time, so this is the last of the ones I took on our canal trip.

Part of my task when we have these outings is to provide lunch for people.  This year I decided to have jacket potatoes, so at 7.30 am in the morning I had potatoes in the microwave to part cook them through, and then they could go into the oven on the boat to brown and crisp them.  For fillings we had cheese, tuna/mayonnaise, coleslaw and beans, with side salad of lettuce, cucumber and tomato.  They had started with melon wedges and finished with a variety of cheesecakes.  All washed down with a variety of fruit juices.

No sooner had the washing up party finished their duties after lunch, then it was time for afternoon tea and even more biscuits (as I had forgotten to buy cakes for the afternoon).

The sun came out during the day but it never got too hot, although some of us showed evidence of the sun rays (even through cloud) having pinked up our skin. I am one of those unfortunate people who go red, blister and then revert to being pale skinned.

As we had been held up at the first lock our journey had been delayed, with further delays being caused by the horse drawn barges, so to our delight we ended up spending two additional hours on the canal, meaning everyone finally went home happy and tired.

Now that I have managed to work out how to get pictures here I will start to go back through our adventures in our 'Grand Tour of America' and start to post pictures for you all to see.


Lazy day on the river 3

Along the Kennet and Avon Canal they also have horse drawn barges, left over from bygone days.  We passed many of these and were glad to see something from a bygone era.  Although picturesque this mode of transport can be fraught with dangers for passengers of other passing barges.  At the time I was at the back of the boat talking to the crew when they yelled 'duck'.  Duly crouching down quickly I was then somewhat surprised to get a hearty thwack across the backside as the mooring rope from the horse drawn barge was thrown over our boat and it caught me stern side, meaning I spent the next hour or so trying to drying our my nether regions
much to the delight of the other passengers on board.

Lazy Day on the River 2

These pictures show us in one of the locks, where the water levels are being changed as we were going uphill on this journey.

We were in danger of not being able to make the trip as at the first lock workmen were trying to fix the gate where it had dropped off of its hinges.  For the participants of the trip it was a good time to relax, enjoy their morning coffee and chat.


Lazy Day on the River

One of the great things about my job is that I get to laze on the river from time to time.  We have not had much of a summer, but Wednesday 5th September was a morning of promise that did not fail to let us down for the whole day.

I run various clubs for people with disabilities and spend quite a lot of time with these particular club members. As well us having problems in common with mobility, they are a fun group and each year organise a trip for us all on the Kennet and Avon Canal.  This year I also took my other half, using the rational that he was recurperating from his op, so met the trips criteria.  The truth was that I just did not want to leave him all day, and this trip is so lovely that I did not want him to miss out.

So 16 of us set out at 10.00 am in the morning, and my first job of the day (after all the shopping) was to make sure everyone was settled with morning tea/coffee and a good supply of biscuits.  This trip is never very diabetic friendly, although all those who are diabetic assure me that they will be good the next day.  The boat that we us is hired by the local Lions club for a week and is fully adapted for people with disabilities.  The take one charitable group per day out, with the crew members giving up time from work take the boat through the locks.

The highlight for most people is travelling through the locks, some of which you can see from the photos and I will put the rest on a bit later - for some reason I could only put 8 on at a time?

As you can see the day was gorgeous - not too hot, but plenty of sunshine.  What I love is the reflections into the water.  I am not sure how I got this photo effect and I am impressed by the fact it looks as though the river is moving, like a movie, rather than still photos.


More to come

Friday, 14 September 2007

My knee

Well, I saw my GP about my knee and the Xrays show severe wear and tear, with a couple of bits of broken off ligament floating around, but as I am so young (57) he feels that it needs to be left for a while before they do anything.

Obviously I was not happy with this, so I am seeing the specialist in a couple of weeks and they are going to see if they can remove the couple of bits of broken off ligament in the back of my knee, which is probably the reason I am in so much pain.

A love story

 The Love Story of Ralph and Edna.
> Just because someone doesn't love you the way you want them to,doesn't

> mean they don't love you with all they have.
> Ralph and Edna were both patients in a mental hospital. One day while
> they were walking past the hospital swimming pool, Ralph suddenly
> into the deep end. He sank to the bottom of the pool and stayed there.
> Edna promptly jumped in to save him. She swam to the bottom and pulled

> him out.
> When the Head Nurse Director became aware of Edna's heroic act she
> immediately ordered her to be discharged from the hospital, as she now

> considered her to be mentally stable.
> When she went to tell Edna the news she said, "Edna, I have good news
> and bad news. The good news is you're being discharged, since you were

> able to rationally respond to a crisis by jumping in and saving the
> of the person you love. I have concluded that your act displays sound
> mindedness.
> The bad news is, Ralph, hung himself in the bathroom with his bathrobe

> belt right after you saved him. I am so sorry, but he's dead."
> Edna replied, "He didn't hang himself, I put him there to dry.
> How soon can I go home?"


Monday, 10 September 2007

Nordic Walking Poles

Nordic walking poles are a bit like ski poles.  Usually used in pairs, they are used for walking.  There was a certain amount of hype about them a while back as they are reputed to give you quite a good work out when walking as they also exercise the upper body.

I have to confess that I wanted them more to avoid using a walking stick or my crutches, as I needed something that helped me keep my balance whilst walking as my knee is prone to give out and send me tumbling over - not a pretty sight as I end up looking like a beached whale.

I have not taken them for a test drive yet, so will report back when I do.

For those who want to know what they look like, follow the link to the website I found.  If you want to try them out you can get them from Argos for £14.99 or the deluxe ones for £19.99 - and then if they work I may invest in more expensive ones.



Sunday, 9 September 2007

Latest update

Bob is doing well, and just beginning to get a bit aggitated at not being able to do all the things he would like to do.  Patience is what I tell him, he has to be careful until he goes back to work in November, so we are only half way there on his road to recovery.

Today we are going out for lunch as it is my birthday, and he is taking me to a sports shop to investigage some Nordic walking sticks.  The problems with my leg needs an operation on the knee, so it is difficult to walk at present, and as I am supposed to be ensuring that he walks for half hour everyday we have to find a way of doing that without me suffering too much, and by all accounts these sticks could be the answer.

Later we will be seeing all the grandchildren - we have 9 of them still living at home with their parents, so they will all call sometime today

Thursday, 30 August 2007

What's new

It has now been almost a month since Bob's operation and he is doing well.  Fortunately he is pretty much a lazy, laid back person, so having to do not a lot for a few months is not a problem to him.  What with his reading, computer, internet chess and the cricket he is keeping himself amused, and I am now able to leave him for a couple of hours at a time to pop into work. The worst is no wine, as they cannot get his Warfarin levels stabalised at present, they shot up far to high, and as booze also thins the blood we cannot risk him bleeding to death.

Mind you this internet is a wonderful thing as I have been able to work from home, and along with my mobile phone no one really knows that I am not in the office (apart from the office staff of course).

All the running around after Bob has caused my fibromyalgia to flare up, and also a knee problem (had Xrays yesterday to see if there is more wear and tear since the last Xray about 5 years ago).  The pain killers do not help, they just make me whoozy which I hate. 

We are supposed to up Bob's exercise by walking more, but at the moment when we are out he races ahead of me, and anyone seeing us would think he is looking after me as I creep up behind with my walking stick.

I have just started a college course on diet and nutrition, so had better get back to starting the assignment I came up to my office an hour ago to do.

Saturday, 11 August 2007

Home now

It is now 10 days since Bob's operation and he is doing really well.  The Doctor's were pleased with how the operation went and how quickly he became mobile again.  Due to the nature of his medical condition he had to have a mechanical valve fitted, so we are attending blood clinics alternative days so that they can get his Warfarin levels right.  He has been home now since Wednesday evening and as luck would have it the Test Match is on, so he is being kept quiet and occupied watching England V India (not that England are doing so well, but the cricket is still good).


He now has to be patient as the recovery period is slowish, and he is not allowed back to work until November.

Monday, 30 July 2007

Just over 2 days to go

We now have just about 2 days to go before the op.  We are due into hospital on 1st August, for the op on 2nd.  Bob is really quite tired now, although he will not admit it.  Me, I am worried, stressed and in the middle of a major fibromyalgia flare up.  My physio says it is all to do with stress, so lets hope that goes away after Thursday, because I need to be fit and well to look after him, when he comes out of hospital



Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Our new journey

We are now about the embark on a new jounrey in our life.  When Bob was in America for his secondment he came home at Christmas and was seen by a heart surgeon.  We were led to believe, that although he had a heart problem we had a lot of time to deal with it.  When we got back we saw the specialist, and today saw the surgeon.  Without a valve replacement he has less than 2 years to live, so we are going ahead with an op on 2nd August to replace his faulty valve.  He has ankoylising spondalytis, which has caused the valve to misfunction.  We knew this could happen, but have not been prepared for it to happen at 52.  I am not sure how I am feeling at present.  Given the job that I do, I only see the cases that go wrong, so it is hard to feel positive.  Luckily he is feeling that all will be well after 2nd August

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

Our journal

This journal has been written by both of us during our journeys.  Generally one of us has written it and then the other one has proof read it.  Therefore, from time to time it appears that it has only been written by one of us.

What next, well for a start we are going to go through our entries, add pictures and then print the whole lot out into book format.

I am the an the manager of a charity with responsibility for fundraising, so I am thinking at the moment that I may offer the blog for sale for £5.00 - £7.50 to raise funds for the work that we do and to cover the cost of printing.

Now that I have found out how much I enjoy writing the blog, as opposed to just lurking in journals and making the odd comments, I shall have to think about what next to do.

I hope you enjoyed this.  I suspect our next travelog will be a few months away, although when I review my pictures of my 5 stays in New York whilst Bob has been on seconment I may start to make some comments




Last 4 days

Tuesday 5th June 2007

Back to reality with a bump… I write this in my armchair at home, my laptop on my lap, plugged into the wall via my work
laptop’s power cable.  The attempt to power it via its own cable and a shaver adaptor failed on account of a broken 3 amp fuse, given that the AC/DC adaptor puts out 5 amps.  Oh well, c’est la vie.

We left you in suspense at the end of Part 13, in a scene of domestic bliss and the promise of mischief to come….  Can I
now remember what followed?

Bill, Olivia and Dylan arrived back from Santa Rosa in the late afternoon and we shared the task of emptying the car of
Dylan’s things into the middle of the garage floor.  Dylan then announced that he was going to get a haircut, sounding
just like my father when he explained that he couldn’t bear it when his hair started to tickle his ears, so Mary told me to accompany him to get mine cut as well, a minor personal chore she had been nagging me about since the trip began, on the grounds that I didn’t want a white hairline when I went back to work.  So Dylan drove us to Nick’s Barber Shop, where Nick promptly reduced his bushy bonce to a short back and sides and his colleague applied a lighter touch to my slightly less unruly locks.  I have to admit I did look smarter thereafter.  On the way to the barber, I was amused that Dylan wore his baseball cap and covered it up with his hoodie as we drove the short distance to the barber.  On the way back, his new haircut was on proud display.  How times have changed…  In my day, I’d have been proud of the long hair and ashamed of the newly shorn look.

The evening was time for Bill and Colleen’s Saturday night out, so Mary and I accompanied them to an unpretentious restaurant in downtown Paso Robles, where we had a pleasant meal (I had pasta in garlic, oil and olives, Mary had … Colleen had Prime Rib and Bill had a Turkey and Cheese Melt).  Mary and I washed ours down with a bottle of local red and Bill had a non-alcoholic beer, as he has foresworn the booze these last two years.

Then we took a stroll along the sidewalk to a chocolaterie, where Bill bought vast supplies of dark chocolate, which he
nibbled for the rest of the evening, and thence an ice creamerie, whence we wandered across the main square, which was inhabited by vintage car enthusiasts and their cars, being entertained by an excellent C&W band.  The cars were mostly
 1950s and 1960s models, my favourites being the Chevrolet Impalas with their absurdly wide rear wings, of which I’d had
Corgi models when I was a boy.  They were in various stages of loving restoration, many being decorated on site with “pinstriping”: fine whirling patterns along the bodywork.  This felt like the authentic American Experience, as we passed, licking our ice-creams and chocolae, through the contented crowds with their picnics, beer cans and cokes, politely applauding the snappy guitar work and humorous between songs patter, even though they were sat wrapped in blankets.  We Brits, of course, think all weather over 60 degrees is hot ?

Then we had a long interlude in the video store, where we eventually plumped for a film I’d never heard of, called The
Songcatcher, about a folk musicologist, recently passed over for promotion to professor, visiting her schoolteacher sister up in the Appalachian Mountains, where she discovers these naturally gifted singers with their pristine versions of old English, Irish and Scottish folksongs, passed down orally through generations of singers.  She determines to
record them on paper and on Edison phonograph cylinders but all her work goes up in smoke when two yokels take objection
to her sister’s lesbian relationship with a fellow teacher and set fire to the schoolhouse.  She eventually falls in love herself with one of the rough-hewn locals and they ride off into the sunset to make their fortune as popular entertainers.  The whole film was excellent: music and singing excellent of their type, casting new light for me on such classics as Matty Groves and other songs revived by Fairport Convention, acting and screenplay strong, settings picturesque.

Sunday, we set off on a trip of indeterminate length up the Big Sur coast: indeterminate because we didn’t know whether
we would stay away overnight or return.  As it was, the weather at Monterey was so miserably foggy and cold that we decided to come home to Paso Robles that night.  When we got in, it was clear that Maura, the elder daughter, was back from her hiking trip in Zion, as her hiking gear had been dumped unceremoniously in her bedroom, which Mary and I had been using in her absence.  But I run ahead of myself again.

Our route to the coast took us along California Route 46, through the pretty coastal hills, to Cambria, where we joined
Route 1, heading north along the coast.  As it was lunchtime, we took an early diversion along a coastal access road and
drew into a restaurant’s car park but could find no parking space and, reasoning that service would be too slow in such a packed place, with bikers arriving by the dozen, we abandoned that attempt to get fed and watered.  Shortly after, we stopped at Hearst Castle, recommended by Bill and Colleen as a good place to spend a couple of hours, in the nearest thing that California has to a Stately Home.  It being a public holiday weekend, that officially announces the beginning of summer, it too was packed; and we quailed at the thought of joining one of the conducted tours (of which there are four routes) and of queuing to be served in the canteen, which was offering the usual fare of burgers, pizzas, fries and salads.  Again we fled the crowds and setoff once more up the coastal road, which soon offered a much more interesting diversion: a beach where elephant seals basked and fought.  We spent a while in the company of other watchers, entertained by two bull seals bashing each other repeatedly as they lollopped about in the breakers.  Only David Attenborough was absent …It was just like on the telly.  There was plenty of other activity as well, with some seals making beelines for the sea, some struggling to get out of the way, others flicking sand over themselves, others barking their challenges generally to anyone who would listen, not to mention the one that managed to nose dive into the sand
and spent the next few minutes trying to blow the sand out of its nose.

Onwards and up the cliffs we went, as we followed the coastal road, with its dramatic sweeps round headlands, through
cuttings and round bays or across elegant bridges.  A bank of clouds hovered over the sea, about a mile offshore.  Otherwise the weather was fine and warm, with a cool sea breeze.  We made several stops for views and wildlife observation, which included fights between seagulls and ground squirrels over the scraps that tourists were encouraging them with. Of course, we came across no more eating places until we got to Big Sur itself, a scattered village amid a redwood forest, just inland from the cliffs.  The Henry Miller library, of which Bill had advised me, especially on noting that I was reading Miller’s “The Colossus of Maroussi”, was, unfortunately closed, but there was a notice that there was a concert between 2 and 6pm.  As it was now gone 4pm and we still hadn’t eaten (not to mention there was nowhere to park, even if we had wanted to avail ourselves of the music) we were not to be distracted by that but made a
 ew more fruitless stops at roadside restaurants and, in one case, up a hill to a promised Ocean View.  In each case the
restaurant was shut for the afternoon.  By now, the weather was closing in and getting cooler; but as we came to Carmel,
we spotted a typical out of town shopping centre with diners galore and chose the Black Bear Diner, where I allowed my
eyes to inform my appetite and went for “Bob’s Big Bear Burger”: a ¾ lb beef burger in an enormous bun, complete with
all the trimmings.  Mary took a photo of it when it arrived on the table.  In the photo, it makes even my stomach look small.  I managed to eat it all though, and thoroughly enjoyed it.   Mary had a more modest “Young Bob’s Burger”.

Refuelled and ready for the fray, we then drove on to Monterey, where the weather had really closed in.  We took a quick
look at the beach but didn’t much fancy it and stopped in a Starbucks, principally to recharge my phone so that I could
advise Bill that we were returning that evening, but where we also indulged in a coffee and a cake.  The phone charged
OK but when I tried dialing Bill, I got a message stating that the number as dialed was not obtainable.  It transpired
 hat when I stored it, I missed off the final digit.  Ho hum.  Nevertheless, we decided to head back to Paso Robles
anyway, and took the local road east towards Salinas, where we picked up the 101 and headed south down the freeway, arriving at Paso Robles to an empty house, albeit with plentiful signs of recent habitation, such as Maura’s gear and lights on all over the place.  Mary also advised me that her migraine had finally gone.  Somewhat alarmingly, it had lasted all of the day, which is unusual.

We weren’t home long before they all turned up and another pleasant evening was passed, regaling them with the tale of
our adventures, listening to music and watching the TV.  Bill has a good supply of Bill Maher Shows on DVD, which kept us amused at nights.  Bill Maher is a comedian of left wing tendencies, though some strikingly conservative views on such things as corporal punishment, if his jokes are anything to go by.  He has some good swipes at George Bush and the Iraq war and gets some uncomfortable victims to be the butts of his jokes, defending the indefensible.  We  both enjoyed these shows, which were strikingly intelligent and daring for American TV.

Monday was the Memorial Day public holiday, on which we followed Bill’s advice and explored the local hills, following a route through the vineyards towards Morro Bay, which is dominated by a Gibraltar-like rock.  The semblance is in its domination of the local scenery and its general shape rather than its size, which is a bit pathetic in comparison, but it was a pleasant site and we enjoyed a lunchtime breakfast in a homely cafĂ© and a stroll alongthe harbour front, past various restaurants and fishing boats, not to mention indulging Mary’s shopping tendencies inthe local gift shop.  On the way back, we followed Route 1 South to San Luis Obispo, past the Seven Sisters, extinctvolcanoes that line the route.  As we approached Paso Robles, Mary mentioned that she wanted to visit a dollar shop toget some hair bands but as usual I ignored her and drove straight back to Bill’s place.

When we got in, we were greeted by a starving Mr Bill and his three kids, who were all desperately awaiting our arrival,
as we had promised to take them out for a thank you meal.  Colleen couldn’t join us as she was manning a soup kitchen in
town, but we got her a take-out (or meal to go as they call them).  We ate at Cool Hand Luke’s, another steak joint, where I had a juicy rib-eye steak with garlic and mushrooms.  Unfortunately, this steak fought back later in the evening, making me bloated and unpleasant to be around … Bill, it transpired, was more a gentleman than he would probably like to be thought of as, and took Mary to the Dollar Shop, which had closed early for Memorial Day, so we ended up in Target, walking around with a Starbucks and investigating their stock of CDs.  Mary made me ashamed by purchasing a set of 3 Andrew Lloyd Webber Musicals CDs, fine punishment for continually ignoring her wishes. Back home, Bill and I had a good chat about music and life in general. Mary spent the evening burning CDs, either mine for Bill, or ones that Bill had for sale, but couldnot part with when push came to shove.

That was our last day in Paso Robles.  We left at about 12:30, during Bill’s lunch hour, which he enlivened by bringing us some super tacos from the local Mexican takeway, “the one the real Mexicans use”.  Bill gave me a mighty hug as he left, though he denied that it was a bear hug: he’d been especially gentle in view of my back problem.  I’d hate to get a real bear hug! Mary got a nice man sized hug.

We then followed the advised route south to Santa Barbara, leaving the 101 whenever we could to follow the slower but
more interesting Route 1, which meanders through farmland and towns along the way.  Santa Barbara itself was the highlight of this journey, a delightfully pretty little town, the first really picturesque town we’d seen since Jackson Hole.  Here we got the last room available in the Days Inn and visited the local Mission, one of 27 between San Diego and San Francisco, that are connected by ye olde El Camino Real Historic Route.  This was surrounded by chalk paintings done over the weekend by various locals, sponsored by worthy local businesses.  Mary took lots of pictures of these; then we explored the Mission itself.  Having missed the guided tours, we were able to make a small donation to a monk and guide ourselves through the museum, watch a brief video about the history of the place and walk through the peaceful cemetery.  The Mission lived up to its billing, Bill and other locals having advised us to visit various Missions up and down the coast during our stay – but this was the first and only one we managed.

We completed our visit to Santa Barbara in style by dining at the first restaurant we found on the seafront, an Italian restaurant with fine wine and food.  I had halibut, Mary had salmon, washed down with an excellent Californian Pinot
Noir, and followed by “G and G” for Mary and a wonderful peaty Talisker for me.  It reminded me of Bowmore and Laphroaig
(whose name escaped me at the time), the two Islay malts with which I’m more familiar.  This was a more than worthy substitute for the Sambuca that I had originally chosen but was unavailable, as was Mary’s first choice.  So we left, satisfied and mellow and slept well.

In the morning, after a wholesale rearrangement of the contents of all our cases, we set off for the airport, taking the
freeway to Los Angeles (a scary manic road of 5 lanes on each carriageway and suicidal drivers, not to mention the truck with bins on its back - one flew off  and hit the car behind it, causing her to swerve and only just miss us– Bill did warn us), where Connie eventually delivered us to a roundabout under a flyover, within shouting distance of the Budget Rental garage but by no means at it.  “Thank you for choosing Budget” she said politely and irrelevantly, as we then found our own way there by following the road signs.  Shocked at the size of the bill, and noting that it didn’t add up, I queried it and got $1,000 taken off it, with a rather graceless piece of advice that next time I should make sure I understand what I’m signing before I sign it…. They also tried to claim that they had not heard of Triprewards (that we had been collecting at participating motels and which were supposed to be supported by Budget). The shuttle bus driver dropped us off at our terminal and demanded a tip, which I suppose was par for the course, but why I should have tipped
her for doing her job I don’t know.  Well, I gave her a tenner and on we went into the terminal, where a very helpful West Indian check in lady tried to save us an excess baggage charge by advising us how to redistribute our belongings among our luggage; but eventually we gave up and agreed to the $100 excess baggage fee: hardly a surprise given we had 7 months of accumulated belongings with us, despite Mary’s previous Herculean efforts on previous visits to take back two cases full of CDs, books and no-longer-needed items of clothing.

The 10.5 hour flight was alleviated by Air New Zealand’s excellent entertainment system, which supplied movies on demand and, apart from crashing once, necessitating rather a long reboot process, was very reliable.  I watched The Number 23, starring Jim Carrey in a serious, if somewhat demented, role and Blood Diamond, starring Leonardo di Caprio as a cynical Rhodesian mercenary in Sierra Leone, who dies while trying to get away with a big pink diamond, previously found and
hidden by the one decent person in the whole film, a Sierra Leonian whose sole concern throughout the film is to reunite
his war-torn family.  My thanks to Victor Eckstein, one of the partners in New York, for recommending this film, shocking and gruesome though it is in places: one of those films for which the clichĂ© “searing” was invented.  I’d also observed someone watching Black Snake Moan on their set but I couldn’t find it on my system, so then watched Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore in the predictable but vaguely amusing and diverting musical comedy “Music and Lyrics”.  Mary watched The Johnny Cash Story and a couple of less memorable but enjoyable films.

The food on the plane wasn’t bad either, and all in all, 10.5 hours went quite painlessly.  We arrived at Heathrow slightly early and were delighted to be able to collect all our bags from the carousel before it had even been announced and even more delighted to be met by our chauffeur, daughter Sara, who delivered us at our doorstep an hour or so later.

We managed to hold off going to bed till about midnight and then slept till 5:00pm on Friday afternoon, when we got up
and went around to Sara’s for an Indian takeaway that we’d promised her and Tony.

Saturday we mostly did unpacking and odds and sods, then went to see a ballet at the Arlington Arts Centre in Mary Hare
School for the Deaf.  This was the first fruit of a resolution I made in New York to take Mary out to more shows and
things.  I’d responded to a flyer from the RSA, an organisation I joined several years ago with the vague and vain intention of doing some useful “networking” but had never, until now, taken advantage of any of its events.  It was alsothe first ballet I’d ever been to.  It was Prokoviev’s Cinderella, performed by the Ballet Russe, who are genuinelyRussian and are, apparently, based in Swansea.  It was quite impressive and graceful, with several amusing pieces ofby-play by the ugly sisters and stepmother.  Mary was most impressed by Prince Charming’s crotch (as were other female members of the audience), which left nothing to the imagination.  Our neighbours in the pews were Michael Rogerson and his wife, Jane.  Michael, a soon to retire partner in London office, failed to recognise me at first but soon recovered, explaining to his wife that I was “in charge of all the IT in the firm – a jolly good chap”.  Flattered by this gross exaggeration of my importance and misapprehension of my role, I didn’t try too hard to disabuse her of the notion.  For my part, I erroneously accused him of living in Ascot, the result of a misapprehension acquired several years ago when I accompanied him on a selling mission to Hartley Wintney, whereas he actually lives, much more prosaically, in Basingstoke.  We finished the evening by attending the reception organised by the RSA, at which we had the opportunity to mingle with the cast and other RSA
members.  I noticed that Michael managed to chat up one of the dancers but Mary and I stuck with other neophytes, a
professional personal coach and her husband who worked in IT.  At first, he threatened to be a crushing bore as he started to waffle on about Prokoviev and his effect on the early twentieth century critics but then he took a more retiring role when his wife joined us.  We chatted amiably for an hour or so and then made our farewells and left, a
successful cultural breakthrough achieved with very little pain.

In contrast, Sunday was a visit to our other daughter, Vanessa, her sick husband Sam and her four unruly boys, two cats,
a kitten, a Rottweiler bitch called Rosie, and two waifs and strays who hang around because they have nothing better to
do called Nigel and John. 


To my surprise, I have found adapting to driving on the left again, with a manual gear change and a clutch not a problem.  I negotiated all the perils of the A34 and M27 without mishap, contentedly listening to my copy of the compilation CD I had sent to Bill several months ago, and which he had played as he ferried us about Paso Robles on Saturday night.

Monday was back to work and a mountainous inbox that wouldn’t allow me to save any new messages or even enter anything in my calendar.  I’d forgotten all my passwords but at least I had been saved a desk and my laptop was awaiting me.
Mary reported that her day had consisted of dealing with staff issues – a potential unfair dismissal case and a member
of staff aggrieved because her SMP was all wrong, caused by the fact that she had failed to send in time sheets on time,
and a care worker refusing a job because she could not drive across THAT bridge.  The mind boggles.