Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Christmas and a revelation

Christmas went quite well this year, I had six of us for dinner, which is an accomplishment if you read the previous blog. It certainly makes me feel confident about cooking Christmas dinner on a boat, when I get it, that is. instead of piling our plates with food, I set it all out on the table and let people help themselves. result? 6 people around the table with nice full stomachs, but not bursting to the point that they couldn't find room for dessert! Dessert was a spectacular cheat I bought from M & S. The largest dish of profiteroles 6 can gorge eat on a layer of chocolate mousse. Plus a gluten free meringue and Christmas pud for Dad (He is the only one who eats it and is still cutting chunks off as I type!)

Anyway, now to the relevlation, I got lots of Amazon vouchers from my family and money from my Dad for Christmas, so I bought myself a Kindle Paperwhite. I have resisted for a long time, I love my books, my favorite place to be is a bookshop or a library, browsing through and looking at covers. Lately though, I have noticed that my thumbs and wrists start to really hurt when I hold a book, the type is getting smaller despite glasses and they are starting to clutter up the already cluttered house. You know what? I love it, I can lay it down so I don't make my thumbs sore and just turn the page by running my finger across the page. I can read 3 books at a time without losing my page, words I am not sure of their meaning (there aren't many) I can hi-light and a dictionary pops up and tells me what they mean. Some books come with X-Ray, so if I have forgotten a character, I can hi-light the name and get a recap, I can increase the font size, I can read it in the dark and it will slip beautifully into my bag for my journeys to work. I have loaded 8 books already and actually spent the whole day reading it yesterday. I should have bought one a long time ago. I am not really a gadget person, but I adore this gadget most definitely.

Anyway people/person that's my last post for 2013. I am going to  try to be a better blogger next year. Happy New Year

Sunday, December 15, 2013

In a void and don't know who to turn to

Words spoken at Nelson Mandelas funeral by his dear friend and fellow prisoner Ahmed Kathrada. Those words just about sum up how I have been feeling of late

I am feeling the loss of Sharon greatly, to the point of verging on depression. I visited her Mum in September and didn't realise how stressed going to Crewe would make me feel. I have yet to go to my house, which is within spitting distance of where she used to live. The thought of going there has been churning my stomach, but at some point I have to go. I think I have decided to sell. I say I think, because one minute it seems the best idea so that I can make a very healthy start to my boat fund, then a new tenant signs up and I think I will leave it for a bit longer. It would certainly make sense to sell because while I am living cheaply with my Dad I can add to my fund as if I were still paying my mortgage and get that boat a bit quicker than anticipated. On the other hand, they don't sell as quickly up there and while I have a tenant covering costs I may as well take advantage of it and see if the housing market is stable.

There have  been some major problems with my Dads house this year too. For a long time there has been what we thought was blown plaster on one of the internal walls, but then I noticed a crack going right through the bathroom wall upstairs and then a massive crack in the corner of the back room. it took ages to try and persuade my Dad to call in a surveyor, but after checking his buildings insurance policy and then showing some photos to a building engineer from work I took the decision away from him and called the insurance company. They sent in a surveyor and what we thought was blown plaster was actually a massive crack. The back of the house is pulling away from the front due to subsidence. They have drilled bore holes and put cameras down the drains and it seems that for a very long time the drain has been cracked and leaking moisture into the ground making the corner of the house twist. They have fixed the drain with a liner and work to do the subsidence repairs will start in January. I have told my Dad he also needs to modernise. I cook in a kitchen roughly the size of a narrow boat galley, which is fine if you live on a narrow boat. It is a nasty grotty old kitchen and there is plenty of scope to come backwards into the back living room and make it bigger, cleaner and modern. I have put my foot down, he doesn't do the cooking, I do! The thought of all that mess and building work is very stressful, with the added problem of where will my Dad go during it. He could go to my sister in Devon, but he doesn't want to and I don't think she wants him to either.

Next week I have to take my daughter to see her Dad. She hasn't had any contact with him since she was 19 and she will be 34 next week. Before that, the contact with her Dad was sporadic and then non existent after the age of 9. I have always tried to be dignified about her Dad. What he did to me isn't anything to do with her and I have always tried to balance my Mums view that he is a bastard. He was, to me, not to Chris. In the past he has had some major drug issues, I am sure he thinks she doesn't know and it sounds as if he is not proud of his life, but he remarried and had 4 sons and Christine wants to get to know them and her father now she is in the right frame of mind to do so. She has a chronic illness which is going to be long term, she is unable to travel on a train so it is me who will have to deliver her to his house. After the last time I saw him, I saw a pitiful human being and made a conscious decision to forgive, but I am worried. She has expectations, her brothers have expectations and I don't want anyone to get hurt. I will just have to stand back and let her make her own choices.

In all I can't say 2013 has been a good year. I have lost a dear friend, then a lovely colleague from work. I can only hope that 2014 is much better. Now I have it all written down I have decided it is time to move forward. Merry Christmas everyone and a happy New Year.

Saturday, May 18, 2013


Clank, you have been a dear friend for the last 40 years. We met on the 262 bus coming home one night from Plaistow Grammar school, you sat behind me and said: Have you got a light? and I replied: Have you got a fag? That was the start of a fabulous friendship.

At 17 you became pregnant and was terrified of telling your parents so didn't. The day you gave birth to Paul was a terrible shock for your Mum and Dad, but your Mum held fast and told your Dad, you were going home with the baby. They ran around getting second hand baby things so you could go home, and so life with Paul began. At 6 months you discovered he would be what was then termed as 'handicapped' but it made you love him more. You got a job and through that job you met Svend, got married and went to live in Norway.

While you lived there we must have exchanged thousands of letters, putting messages on the back of the envelopes for the postmen. By that time I was divorced and had Christine and was working too. Christine and I came to Norway to visit you. I have wonderful memories of going out to Park Dancing, the fjords, the taxi queue at Drammen. As your marriage to Svend sadly crumbled and died, you discovered you were pregnant with Inge-Lise. You stayed in Norway, Paul was thriving, you had made yourself a good life there and loved the country and it's people. Those letters contained some of our brightest days and darkest nights.

By the time you returned to England, you had another beautiful daughter, Linn-Marie. You tried living in Eastbourne, returned to Norway, then came again to Manchester. You were in a relationship with a monster and finally got the strength to end it and moved into a house in Crewe. You showed me the delights of the area and I ended up buying a house close to you, going there at weekends.

Just before I moved up I got a call from your then partner, Richard. You had had some health problems and his words to me were: Sharon has lost most of her bowel, she is in the high dependancy unit and they are not sure she will make it through the night. Can you go and tell her Mum as she has no idea she was even ill. I went to your Mum, borrowed my dads car and drove to Crewe through all kinds of horrendous traffic. I felt sick to the pit of my stomach hoping hoping hoping we would get there in time. We arrived late and Richard took us straight to the hospital, what greeted us was a nightmare. You had tubes coming out of everywhere, a stoma bag attached to your stomach. As I leaned over to give you a kiss, the stoma bag gurgled and you smiled and said: Hear that? That's me farting and that got me laughing and crying all at the same time.

From that moment, you began to get better. Your spirit and desire to live overcame all the following disabilities you had to live with. Having to go onto TPN for the rest of your life didn't stop you doing anything. You did everything you wanted to do, even when people were telling you you shouldn't. Holidays, days out. You liked nothing better than being out in the sunshine. No matter how bad a day it was for you you battled through it and did exactly what you wanted.

You adored your kids, loved your animals, when Tilda came along, she was the apple of your eye. You were strong, funny. Your outrageous laugh that doubled you over made everyone around you laugh. You never judged, always had sound advice, talked for England. Loved people, loved life.

In the early hours of Thurday morning I went with your family to your bedside and sat while you fought your last battle. I sat and held your hand and told you how much I loved you and what a fantastic friend you have been. I left because I didn't want to stay to the very end. But I am oh so happy that I had the chance to say goodbye.

So now, this is one darkest night I cannot share with you and I will miss you so much. Life without you in it seems very dark indeed. But you have left me with some of the best memories I will ever have. You leave behind, your Mum Sheila, Paul, Lise, Linn-Marie, Tilda and a host of people who shared your life on-line and off line, some very close, some not. I love you my dear friend and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything we shared throughout our lives. Where ever you are, I wish you peace, I hope you are  bent over double laughing that laugh, talking non stop and dancing your socks off.

Sharon Jacobsen 1st Sept 1960-16th May 2013

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Dads Memories

Dad tells me so many stories about his childhood and younger years I have started to write them down here

Friday, May 10, 2013

All change?

Well it has been a horrible week. A big meeting at work last week gave us the news that they were 'looking into' outsourcing various departments, namely HR recruitment and payroll, procurement and ISS (Or IT to most people). My department, telecoms, comes under ISS. I have been there and done that. In the past I have worked for 2 companies, but was paid by  different ones. Apart from the university not having to pay salaries, pension and N.I I cannot see how outsourcing will be cheaper. Firstly there is the 20% VAT, then the company has to put their mark up on, which is usually in the region of 15% to 20%. The decision is going to the board on the 28th of September, because obviously, ISS needs to be kept sweet for the most important period, clearing.

I don't actually know how I feel. I so wanted to get to the minimum retirement age of 55 with the uni, the pension is good, not massive like most people believe, because I earn an average of £7000 less a year than the private sector, but good enough. On the other hand, I still have a mortgage and have been paying it down to clear it early so I at least have some security. I have a lot of equity in it, but I didn't particularly want to sell it so soon. The minimum retirement is 2 years away and would have given me a safety blanket.

Course, I have been hearing this since we merged in 2001, so the tendency is to be a bit dismissive of it. The trouble is, the head honcho does not listen to advice. He pretends to listen but then does his own thing anyway and quite honestly he doesn't have time for 'administrators' he seems to think a lecturer can carry on without them. The staff not affected say 'well at least you will have a job' and this is true, but having been on the outsourced side, it doesn't garner any loyalty to the company you work for. One company I worked for didn't really have a clue about the business needs it was servicing. It was an environment (merchant banking) that was very fast paced, where everything was wanted yesterday. Their idea of trouble shooting was to have  meetings over a period of weeks to 'identyfy' the problem when really the problem was, we didn't provide it yesterday!!

I will just have to see what happens and in the meantime keep my eye on the job market, I seem to be the wrong side of 50, but you never know do you? To be honest, the thought of not working unsettles me as I have always worked since I left school (apart from a  year off to have my daughter) But I have paid my required 35 years of NI (And the rest) so my OAP pension will pay me out (When I am 66). Exciting times perhaps? I will know soon enough.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

A busy week and a nice visit

April is turning out to be a month of conferences and courses. Wednesday saw me at Moorgate, I didn't particularly want to go into the city due to 'that' funeral, but Moorgate was quiet and strangely, the course quite interesting. Thursday I had a course on 'managing attendance'.

When my daughter worked at TFL any sick was always followed up by a 'return to work interview' I really didn't see the point of this because if you are sick, you are sick. Even if you think the person is swinging the lead, what can you do, apart from accuse them of outright lying? But I did find it useful. Luckily for me, I do have excellent staff who really don't go sick much, but should it ever happen, I am happy about asking in a constructive way, rather than all guns blazing!!. We had to stop during the course as a bloody great shower of hailstones came down, smashing against the windows making it impossible to hear the trainer!! Personally  think it would have been more appropriate for the morning of the day before as we had a few loud claps of thunder as well, except some mighty fine service personnel would have got wet.

Then, I went on a lovely visit yesterday to Paddington Basin to catch up with Les and Jaq. It must be coming up for a year since we last met and the afternoon was spent getting a lesson on single handed boating, laughing at Les's mishaps as a single handed boater and generally putting the world to rights and yes, there was cake involved. I really enjoy catching up with them, when you see them together it always puts the world to right for me!! Thank you Les and Jaq, it is always fab catching up with you both and  I hope you enjoy your trip up the Lea.

This morning, however, I have to make a trip to the optician. My glasses fell onto the floor overnight and I got out of bed this morning and stepped right on them, snapping them in two. I do have a spare pair, but I did need my eyes tested anyway so I will have to get to the optician. He is great but always let him manages to talk me into expensive frames.

It looks likely to be a pleasant day today, so it's in with the washing and off for a shower.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Some Snow Cruise Photo's

Cruising by

Sue, the intrepid explorer

Looking out of the window to discover it's snowed

Branston Water Park

Going through the lock

Friday, April 05, 2013

A week off

I have taken this week off, I had the kids for 3 days to take them out, with Mum being ill at the moment, they are stuck in doors a lot of the time. It also gave me the opportunity to get the house in order, as Dad does little now when I am away. It all needed a good vacuum and polish and yes, today, finally I have managed to get washing out on the line.

There is something really good about being able to dry the washing outside, I hate the onset of winter because clothes are just not the same dried indoors. Simple pleasures are always the best ones.

I stocked up the food cupboard earlier and all I have to do this weekend is relax and get my mind set ready to go back to work on Monday. I am grateful I have a job but I have come to actually hate it. I never was one for being lazy, but a lot of the time I find myself thinking of excuses as to why I cannot go in!! (I always DO go in though)

I have a lot of work to catch up with when I get back as there is no one to cover my job at the moment. No doubt I will go back to a whole load of support jobs but it will at least make my day go quicker.

Right, I am off to finish the washing seeing as it is drying in record time. I must then get my potato seeds planted in the bags. Have a good weekend all

Thursday, April 04, 2013


I so love music, I have quite a varied taste which doesn't extend to really heavy metal or country, but a hotchpotch all the same.

Today I have been listening to some old David Bowie and Life On Mars. Immediately 2 friends spring to mind, sadly both dead. The first was

Terry was a handsome little chap, really cute looking at the tender age of 15. We used to meet him in Greengate cafe during school lunch breaks or truanting time!! He went to a different school to us but was always smiling and had a real mischievious streak. The minute Life on Mars came on the cafe radio, he came alive and began miming with gusto, he also played air drums to I love you, love me, love'. He was into banger racing and absolutely adored David Bowie. Once he left school we didn't see him except for him driving a moped down Prince Regents lane where he happily tooted and waved. Eventually he married and had 3 kids, built up his own business and moved out to Essex. About 8 or 9 years ago I came across him on Friends Reunited. His business had gone to the wall due to a business partner running off with the money. He'd lost a lot, a house in Florida, almost his house in Essex. But his family had stuck by him. We swapped numbers and spoke occassionally. He was still a smiler and mischievious. After not speaking to him for 18 months I sent him a text: Oye Terry! Are you dead?' a few days later he called. 'No' he said 'but I have been diagnosed with cancer. They have no idea where it has origniated from but it is a secondary. I am having Chemo and feel great' That was the last conversation I had with him. I got a call from his wife 18 months later telling me he had died. She said, positive and smiling till the day before he died, when the reality sunk in and he went off peacefully. Terry was 53

I had known Peter from his childhood, he was 8 years younger than me, but hung around with a friends brother. He was much the same as Terry. Always smiling and michievious. After I divorced and moved into my own flat with Christine I started working. Money was tight and my confidence was low. Peter kept me sane by popping in on a regular basis and updating me with all the local goings on. One night he went through my record collection and came across a Bowie album 'Please play Life on Mars' he begged and so I did and there he sat mining away. Deja Vue. One night, as a joke, he went into the local shop and having known the previous shop keeper who knew how micheivious he was, picked up a box of mushrooms saying yum yum and walked out of the shop with them as a joke. He never got back inside the shop. the 3 brothers who ran the shop chased him outside and started beating him with crowbars, one finally held him in a headlock that snapped his hyoid bone. He died out on the street, in front of 50 witnesses who had come out to see what the disturbance was. It took police 40 minutes to get there and by that time Peter was already dead. He was taken to hospital and put on life support. Later the hospital admitted a junior doctor had taken the decision, had a more experienced doctor seen him she would have declared him dead on arrival. Peter was 22.

So when I play 'Life on Mars'  it always makes me smile. I am not a religious  person, but I like to think that when I play it they pop down to visit me and are happily mining away together. I have great memories of 2 nice people no longer here but hopefully bopping away somewhere.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

I did it

This is the proof. Today I took the grand children on the Emirates Airline. It was a little breezy but I utterly crapped myself quite enjoyed it. The sun was shining, it wasn't very warm but it made a great photo. It goes up 290ft. Going backwards isn't as enjoyable as going forwards. Surprisingly the queues were small. As we were queueing to come back a plane flew over it coming in to land at City airport. Glad I wasn't on it then!!

Before boarding


O2 Arena

Some of the swish flats eastenders can't afford.

Trent and Mersey in the snow

Well, we went cruising as planned on Saturday the 23rd of March for my birthday cruise. The M1 was almost deserted because of an amber warning for snow, certainly not the weather we had at the same time last year. We arrived at Mercia Marina a little earlier than anticipated and Justin from Aqua Narrowboats allowed us to take the boat early as we were the only idiots customers taking a boat out.

We had our tuition, wrapped up with thick sweaters and waterproofs and set off on our way. The strong easterly was behind us as we decided to cruise to Branston for the night. I have never cruised in the snow before and must admit, the thought of icy locks scared me a little but we got through them and moored for the night with a take away pizza. We woke the next morning to see we had had snow overnight, covering the tow path and the boat with about 3inches of snow. It looked utterly beautiful and didn't put me off one bit. The boat was toasty warm, we had facilities in the villiage so decided that instead of aiming for Stone, we would spend the day there. A really lovely couple in a boat in front (which was called Norma Jean) came and chatted to us and even went and got a paper for us. Sadly I never got their names. Sue and I had a walk around Branston villiage and the waterpark and then came back to cook a nice roast dinner.

On Monday we took the executive decisions to go as far as Alrewas only as I was worried that the river section might close once we were past it. Once again we set off and with good waterproof clothing and some snazzy knitted hats were quite warm on the back of the boat. This year I decided to let Susan do a lot of  the steering while I helped out my friend Christine with the locks.

In the wooded section just past Barton Marina we came upon another hire boat crewed by 3 men, as we approached they suddenly veered over the canal and motioned for us to get back, I put the boat in reverse and then slowly approached them on tick over as they pointed for us to go on the inside of the them close to the tow path. As we drew level one of them lifted the deck board up and lots and lots of black smoke started coming up from the engine, this was the reason they had veered across the canal, they had suddenly lost all engine power. Thinking they were on fire, we offered them help and then grounded ourselves on the bank!! Luckily it wasn't on fire and eventually we reversed off and went around them while they called the hire base. I made a mental note to not hire from Shakespeare, hiring from Aqua has spoilt us!! :-)

Finally we got to the dreaded river section, and although it was running fast the board had indicated that it was open as normal, a couple had locked us through the previous lock and had warned us that the wind coming across the flat landscape made it near on impossible to land at the lock landing so they had left the gates open, as we approaced Alrewas lock, the gates were still open so we were able to go straight in. I used the ladders to get up and lock us through, it's the first time I have used the ladders but as I plan to buy my own boat and cruise solo, it's something I may have to do more often. After going through Alrewas to the turning point, we found a mooring spot along from the water point and moored there.

I often read from other boaters blogs about how good the chinese is, so that night we had a chinese and I must say, it was the best I have ever had. Yummy

Some friends we made in Alrewas

On Tuesday we went to the National Memorial Arboretum. Derbyshire council no longer run a daily bus service, a decision I think, that is very sad and utterly stupid. The long (safest) walk is mostly on grass verges beside a busy dual carriageway with traffic whizzing past at 70 mph, crossing over 2 roundabouts and then into the arboretum. Totally unsuitable for people with children or disabilities, the alternative (Which we did on the way back) is even worse, by crossing the A38 without the aid of a bridge, underpass or even lights. That was a terrifying experience.

Very Poignant words

It was a bitterly cold day, so we only stayed for a few hours, the ground was waterlogged too. I am glad I have seen it, it is a reminder of how lucky I am, no matter what goes wrong in my life. The shop is fantastic and I managed to get a bottle of Pussers Rum for my Dad, which is the only thing my Dad liked about the navy after being transferred to the Fleet Air arm after being demobbbed from the RAF. I really hope that at some point the bus service is restored, I would imagine without it a lot of people won't visit.                         

We stayed at Alrewas until Wednesday then crusied back to Branston for the night. Thursday saw us getting a bus to Burton and doing what girls like doing best, shopping!! I really liked Burton, it was great for shopping and at the Market I bought another snazzy hat!    

Despite the snow, I have loved it. I even took the boat back into the marina through the ice on Saturday  morning. I have always has a fear of tight turns but as I got some practice at the waterpoint in Horninglow basin decided to go for it. It was the first ice we had encountered all week but I managed, much to the relief of Lyndon, to bring Aqua Bwywd into the fuel berth. (Secretly, I think he wanted me to be the icebreaker!!)

Yes I have now boated in all weathers and I love it as much now as I did when I first hired a narrow boat.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Never rains.....

It pours. My daughter has been really quite ill recently, she has been under the care of a cardiologist, although her problem isn't really a heart one, he has been very thorough and arranged for her to have a stress test. This involves a treatmill, or as a friend who has done one calls it, a dreadmill. But as she is in the middle of quite a serious flare up she has been dreading it.

To add insult to injury, the Brompton hospital where she had a tilt test, has contacted her and her GP and advised that she needs to wear surgical stockings up to her waist, but the GP has refused to treat her until she sees the cardiologist at the end of April. This is the same GP who insisted I didn't have gallstones until 18 months later, I ended up in hospital with one blocking my bile duct, and who had told me all through the previous 18 months that there was nothing wrong with me, despite horrendous acid and vomitting. Who when my Mum was diagnosed with cancer, refused to give her a referral to Macmillan. Something that horrified the hospital doctor when she was dying. As a consequence, Christine has started going to the drop in centre, where she has found a doctor willing to prescribe muscle relaxants and pain killers to help her cope with the symptoms she is suffering with the POTS.

Last week, P, her husband, got a large swelling in his calf. A trip to A & E revealed a clot in a varicose vein, so not life threatening, but he too needs to rest his leg. Nanny (me) has been on hand to take the kids to school and pick them once or twice, and being Nanny, a trip to eat out after school. Thankfully I have a sympathetic boss, but I did contact HR first to make sure they were aware of the situation.

This week, Christine went for her appointment for the 'dreadmill'. She could hardly stand long enough to wait for the lift, but got to the hospital where the cardiologist could see she would not be able to participate. One of her symptoms make her exercise intolerant, so thankfully he refused to do the test and has arranged for her to have a dye test and MRI scan instead. He is just playing it safe to make absolutely sure that the condition isn't a heart one, which is very reassuring.. He seemed quite non plussed that her GP has refused to offer any treatment, so is going to arrange the test quickly and see if he is able to bring his appointment forward.

I am pleased to say, Dads health is o.k so I don't have any pressure there. But I am feeling as if I am being pulled in all directions at the moment.

Slowly slowly things are moving forward.

In 2 weeks I am off on a canal boat holiday with 2 friends. We will be travelling up the Trent and Mersey canal hoping to get to Penkridge. I don't for one minute think we will be as lucky with the weather as we were last March, but what are waterproofs for anyway? Besides, I think there is something really comforting about being able to cruise in the countryside in wet/cold weather and then relax in a warm toasty boat, with all mod cons at the end of a days cruise. I need to relax and although at times, it is hard work, I do find boating very relaxing. And that, at the moment, is just what I need.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Postural Tachycardia Syndrome

My daughter has just been diagnosed with  POTS. She has been suffering for quite a few months, but as a lot of the symptoms are similar to stress and anxiety this is what she has been treated for, but all to no avail.

She has had a brain scan, a camera down her throat, numerous ECG's, because she looks at things on the internet. To be honest, I had to tell her to stop as the doctor was getting fed up with her and once that happens, then they dismiss you at the door. Finally she was sent to a cardiologist, who recommended a tilt test. This is how she got her diagnosis. It is not life threatening, but it is debilitating and will come as flare ups. In all it has been a pretty stressful time for her and that doesn't help the condition either.

She is hoping to get a referral to a specialist who will be able to offer her advice, hope and coping mechanisms because during a bad day she cannot stand up. Exercise is out and surprisingly she has to drink lots of water and eat extra salt, so salt isn't all bad then.

Here's hoping she gets some answers soon.

Saturday, February 02, 2013


Today I have come across some boating blogs I haven't seen before. It is like getting a new book in the post. The anticipation gives me a warm glow inside. I have added them to my blog roll, but somehow can't fathom how I get the links the same colours as the older ones.

I am somewhat technically challenged when it comes to blogging because quite honestly my blogging is hit and miss. Recently I have blogged a lot, but as the time goes on I don't feel I have much to say so it gets left untouched for months. So if someone can tell me how to get the fonts on the blog roll the same colours I would be ever so grateful. In the meantime I have some reading to do.

Monday, January 28, 2013


London Eye

Heights. That is one of my big fears. This photo was taken from the Thames Clipper service when we left the London Marathon last year. About 10 years ago, I was persuaded to go on the London eye. That was when it was £7.80 (it's now £31.50) a ride and fairly new, a staff member travelled with us and I  had to sit down as we climbed higher and higher. The boats on the Thames below looked about 6 inches long. I asked the guy how we would get out if we got stuck up there as I eyed a trap door in the floor suspiciously. He told me I didn't want to know, but actually I did, I had to know, he told me and then I hoped we wouldn't get stuck. While all my friends oohed and ahhhed at the view of London from god knows what height, I sat on the bench in the middle, struggling off an impending panic attack. My legs felt like jelly and I was breathing rapidly, but as we reached the top and started the slow descent I began to relax and stood up to look out. Slowly slowly the ground came towards us and it was with a huge sigh of relief, I stepped off onto terra firma. I have never been on it since.

Fast forward a few years, and a conference at the BT Tower in Euston. The conference lasted all day, and was really quite interesting. Afterwards, 'a treat'. A buffet supper up in the revolving restaurant. Waiting for the lift was agony. As it came down the shaft to the ground floor, it was like a tube train coming into the station. The doors rattled and a loud whooshing noise came from under the doors. On the way up I had to grip my managers hand. At the top it took all my will to step out into the restaurant with it's floor to ceiling windows. It felt unnatural, I was standing in a revolving room that dangled at the top of a stick. Supper went untouched as I felt too sick to eat. I drank water, although, on reflexion, I shoud have drunk wine. I was very happy when the manager suggested we leave. Stepping into the lift, which, surprisingly, didn't flip your stomach, I was sure the brakes would fail and we would plunge to the ground.  We didn't.

Fast forward a year, to Jamaica. I was determined I was going to go parasailing. Everyday I asked the parasailing man a question. How high being the most important. He promised me that as I was so scared he would get them to winch me out half way. Finally, after a lot of goading, me and my friends sister went out on the parasailing boat. I had to go first or I would never have done it. I was harnessed in and winched out, below me was sea, it held no fear for me and it was so quiet up in the sky. They winched me out the full amount and the boat below looked 2 inches long!! I really loved it and when I landed back on the boat was very proud of myself for doing it. Sadly it didn't cure my fear of heights. I will walk across a high lock gate, but I don't like it.

My next challenge is the cable car across the Thames. My grandchildren want to go, so, so must I


I have all my holidays planned this year. A week on the Trent and Mersey in March courtesy of Aqua. Boating for my birthday seems to be a theme, then in August I am off to Wales for 2 weeks in August and back again there for a week in October.

The 2 week holiday in Wales is spent with my friend and her husband. He is a keen fishermen,  I go in my car so that Sue and I can go out and about. This will be the 3rd time we have stayed in Wyeside Barn. I really love it there. Last year we went to Rhaydar where they have a series of reservoirs, the scenery was fantastic and we were treated to a low level flight of the new Eurofighter, we also took a trip to Aberystwyth. Last year whilst there, we were watching a local program about tourists and I did have to laugh. An American tourist was raving about Wales and saying how 'Wales was the prettiest place in England' LOL

I usually go over the mountains to visit family too, as my Mum was born in a small mining villiage called Caerau, quite close to Maesteg. I still have an aunt and an uncle there and at least 30 cousins living in the area

I am just not inclined to go abroad anymore, it's not the money, because holidaying in Britain is not cheap, I could certainly get an all inclusive in the Carribean for the cost of the four weeks above have amounted to, but the cost is shared and I really think there are some gorgeous places to visit here. Besides, I am not a fan of all inclusive and that seems to be the way of things these days. Also, the last flight I 'endured' with Virgin really put me off of
A, Flying with Virgin
B. Flying long haul
C. Flying full stop!!

I am thinking of getting away for a few days on my own too. I love living with my Dad but I never get any 'me' time and I desperately need some. A nice short break somewhere quiet would be great.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Cat Emergency

We have a cat, Sylvester. He was passed onto us by my niece, who had moved into a flat. That cat knows what he wants. 6am he mews outside the bedroom door, his cat version of 'Feed me!! Feed me now!' The last week or so he has been very subdued. I could see no visible marks, he wasn't limping or seemed to be in any discomfort, he was just really lethargic.

He hates using a litter tray. At times he will run up and down the passage making it very obvious that he needs the toilet and would rather be let out first than be fed. He is a very clean cat, so when I got up yesterday and saw him asleep in the litter tray I was somewhat alarmed. My Dad was already up and for Sylvester not  to have followed him downstairs for food was not the norm. I called him and he managed to get to his feet. He stepped out of the litter tray and stopped, I could see he had no energy, so I lifted him up and I could feel he was very hot. He managed a miniscule amount of food. I called the vet and he told me to bring him in.

Somehow he had dragged himself back up the stairs and was in the throes of using the dreaded litter tray. He started to hiss and snarl, so I got the travel box down, left the door to it open and came back downstairs to get some tough gardening gloves. When I returned to him, he had put himself in there.

We rushed him to the vet, we had been given half an hour to get him there or it would have to be a Monday appointment. The vet took a look, suddenly grabbed his neck and the next thing I knew, there was a lot of cat screaming and snarling and a lot of gunk all over the vets table. I was scared and really upset, because I thought all that nasty stuff had come from his bowel and thought he had had his chips for sure. The vet reassured us and told us that he had a nasty infected puss filled absess in the muscle of his back leg. Monday would have been too late as he was a very poorly cat. During the lancing, Sylvester had taken a nasty swipe at my Dads hand, and because my Dads skin is so thin, it opened up and started bleeding profusely. The vet treated him too.

Sylvester is on the mend, although he is not allowed out as the vet has left the wound open to drain. There is paper all over the house because he does love to lay on a newspaper. This morning, I went looking for him but he found me first, rubbing himself against my legs telling me 'Feed me!! Feed me now'

A recovering spoilt boy

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Case of the Missing Camera

I last used my camera in May 2012, then it went missing. I was particularly miffed as it contained an almost new 32gb SD card which I had purchased for a really good price. The camera itself, a Cannon, I wasn't too bothered about as dirt had got into the lens and for the price they wanted to charge me for cleaning it, I was better off buying a new one.

I searched every nook and cranny of the house, I also had a ruck sack missing so assumed that one was in the other. Then I searched every nook and cranny of my office. It had dissapeared without trace.

Along came Christmas. I had packed the Christmas tree after last Christmas  in 5 rubble sacks and stored it in a wardrobe. I took it out of the wardrobe, put it up and got on with Christmas. After Christmas, I went along to the cracking Westfield and found a lovely Panasonic Lumix Camera in the John Lewis sale. I took home my purchase, gave it a good once over, but lamented the loss of the old camera with the 32gb SD card. Dad said 'You'll find the old one now' But where?

New years day I dismantled the Christmas tree and packed it into a nice purpose built bag, dragged it up to the wardrobe, opened the door and there on the floor was my missing rucksack. Ah ha!! Yes the old camera was in it, but I know it wasn't in there when I took the tree out. It would have been under the Christmas tree which I had packed away in January 2012. I last used the camera in May 2012. I would have had to have taken the rucksack out if it had been stored on top of the tree. I swear it must have been the Christmas fairy. So Thank you Christmas Fairy, I no longer have to buy an expensive SD cards, plus I get my old pics back.

Some Pics from 2012


Last weekend, we had snow in London that settled. Kai and Sian came over and built Bob.
I stood as I was cooking dinner and watched from the kitchen window as they laboured away, it really left me smiling, because my grandchildren, along with their Mum and Dad live in a one bedroomed flat on the fifth floor. They don't go out to play much, like we used to as kids, because the playground downstairs is usually desserted and Christine feels that, although she can watch from the window, if anything untoward were to happen, she wouldn't be able to get down to them quick enough.
Usually, these two fight like cat and dog, but when they work together, it is a pleasure to see. They nearly always close the day, holding hands and are quite protective of one and other.                         

Bob is almost melted now, and it is ME who feels sad!!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Father Bathbun

I often refer to my Dad on facebook, as Father Bathbun. I have no idea where the expression comes from, all I know is, that way back when I was a child (yesterday in my head, my body is a different story) when my Mum used to hear my Dad come in from work, she used to say 'Here comes Father Bathbun' so Father Bathbun it is, all my friends on facebook refer to him as Bathbun!

Bathbun will be 88 next week, and still gets about, albeit creakily. He seems to have sunk into a malais since my Mum died 4 years ago, but tries to keep going to the point of stubborness. His life revolves around Morrisons, the doctors, the hospital and cafe Mondo (where, he assures me, they do a fantastic spicy pizza!) In a lot of ways, I am luckier than a lot of other carers, in that he can get about, still has most of his marbles and eats anything I put in front of him.

Recently he has had to face, what to him, is an ordeal. Sorting out my Mums estate. My Mum wrote a do it yourself will and at the time of her death, I looked at it and it wasn't dated. No amount of me telling him about it would convince him it was invalid, so when he took it to a solicitor he was told again, rudely that it was worthless. A friends father died intestate and I sat down with her Mum helped her sort out the paperwork, and within 6 weeks everything was finalised. My dad decided to let the solicitor sort it out and then promptly left it. 3 years ago he got a reminder. He didn't want to face it, and although I understand why, it was frustrating as he was just avoiding the inevitable.

This week, the solicitor contacted my Dad again and I think he has turned that corner now where he accepts that avoidance will not bring my Mum back, he needs to sort stuff out and move on with life again. He is going to face it, I have offered to go with him, but it is something he wants to do alone. I hope when it is all done and dusted, he will buy himself a nice bottle of Pussers rum and toast her good health.

Father Bathbun