Sunday, 30 June 2013

Free Gifts And Fred West

I woke up this morning to dense fog and resigned myself to another day indoors in front of the TV wrapped up in unseasonal joggers and a cardi. How wrong was I! By ten the sun had come out and according to my weather station it is 19C and climbing.

I am going to spend some time indoors however as I'm watching the British Grand Prix this afternoon and have ironing to do for tomorrow but that still leaves plenty of time for a chill out in the garden with a good book and maybe a weak glass of Pimms.Here's hoping it isn't going to rain before I get out there.


Yesterday was a very full day, well the afternoon was. We went to Milton Keynes shopping center as Peter had broken his watch and wanted to see if the was anything nice in the John Lewis sale. I decided to nip along to L'Occitane to pick up a few bits and pieces, I love their hand cream and lip balm and walked out with a lovely free gift! They were doing a promotion where certain items had a secret code on them and I'd been lucky enough to pick one up. The bag contains shower gel, perfume, shampoo and conditioner, soap and hand cream. Just enough for a weekend away, which is rather fortunate because I am planning a weekend away to visit my mother.


Peter got a fabulous watch too. Italian, of course, and knocked down from £175 to £80, a real bargain. The spending didn't stop there either, we then visited the second hand book stall in the market and bought loads. Honestly I could have come away with the whole store but sadly still can't find the one book I need to get on with the series I'm reading. The search continues.


It was then off to Tesco where we made a rather alarming discovery. While Peter and I were busy at the checkout, Andrew wandered off to read the business cards and for sale notices on the wall. He returned with a business card for a builder and thrust it at Peter saying 'you'd have thought this bloke would have chosen a picture that looks a little less rapey.' Peter passed it to me and I was staggered, there on the card was a picture of mass murderer Fred West. A read of the card revealed more offensive material and we couldn't believe what we were seeing. Andrew had no idea why we were so shocked as he'd never heard of Fred West. We filled him in and he realised the significance. While I finished paying Peter took the card to customer services, who were equally appalled, and they quickly dispatched someone to remove all the cards she could find. They told Peter they would contact this bloke and advise him not to put cards up in their store again.

My first thought was that it was someone's idea of a joke but how sick would you have to be to make that kind of joke. And if the builder's name really is Fred West wouldn't you rather distance yourself as far as possible? Which ever reason for the cards it was very bad taste indeed.



Back home we watched Die Hard With A Vengance before heading off to bed. Up past midnight, naughty girl!

Today is much more relaxed and the garden, despite my negligence or maybe because if it, is looking really nice. Especially my climbing rose which smells divine, usually I trim it back in autumn but I was unable to do so last year and the result is an eruption of blooms. It will need cutting back a bit this year as it is beginning to interfere with the rotary line, but I won't be going mad as I'd quite like a similar display next year.

Well time to make lunch and settled down for the Grand Prix. Next blog Wednesday.

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Death Of A Salesman

After a night of deep, restful sleep and a late get up I'm feeling slightly more positive this morning. All the things that were bad are fixable. Yes it is not nice having to have meds increased but once done I could be stable for another two years, or more.

Dr Wort recommended that I increase my intake of oral steroids for a few days to see whether they would calm the irritation down. I took three doses instead of two yesterday and my coughing and mucus production have both decreased. I will take four doses today and tomorrow and see what happens. If it works I'm to remain with the increase for a week and then gradually decrease again. It's worth a try.

I was shattered yesterday so only got to write the basics of my trip to London. Andrew came with us as he has never seen an Echo being performed and thought it would be a good learning experience. I had no objections so agreed to him sitting in with me. Unfortunately the person doing the Echo was a newbie and not given to chatter so instead of having the lovely chatty, informative experience I usually get there was complete silence throughout. Andrew knew enough to get something out of it though and though the image of the end of my line bobbing about inside the heart was very cool. It threw the radiographer though, who uttered his only sentence. 'What is that?'  I explained it was my line, how could he not have noticed/known what it was? I must say I wasn't impressed.

After seeing the doctor and Carl we headed off to my favourite London greasy spoon and biker cafe near the north circular. The meals were huge and delicious and I almost managed to finish mine but a fried egg, a rasher of bacon and half the beans had to stay behind.

The traffic in London and on the M1 was horrendous so it took us almost three hours to get from the Brompton to home and that is without the cafe stop over. No wonder I was tired, especially as I'd volunteered to drive. So I settled on the settee, mug of tea at the ready and watched the tennis. Murray won his match in straight sets so it was an uplifting end to a very stressful day all in all.

Today I am out and about again, though at a more leisurely pace, as I do the Tesco run. Then it is back on the settee to watch Murray's biggest rival Djockovic in action followed by the qualifying for the British Grand Prix which I'll have to record. Thankfully Sunday looks like it is going to be a quiet day.

The Apprentice Watch

Eyebrow Alex is no more! Stabbing in the back by Myles and his poisonous prawns, disaster!

The task this week was to come up with a ready meal brand. The candidates had to decide the recipe, cook samples and brand the meal before trying to palm it off on some of Britain's biggest supermarkets.

At last Alex was given the chance to be PM and sat his team, consisting of Jordan, Myles and Lip Gloss Leah, down to discuss their target market and quickly came up with kids meals. Alex decided on a brand called Poppity Ping, Welsh for microwave though I have say I'm Welsh and I call it a microwave. Still it was a good idea particularly as Alex wanted to do meals from around the world and give the kids a bit of a geography lesson at the same time. Myles wasn't impressed and pulled rank with the fact that being a father he knew that kids were more likely to go for something weird and horrible. And so Deadly Dinners were born complete with black packaging and skull motif.

Over on the other team Neil took charge, which was a bit of a feat considering he had Luisa and Francesca on his team. Luisa quickly got rid of the competition by shoving Francesca into the kitchen to do the cooking despite the fact Francesca never cooked and Luisa did. A quick recipe was dictated to Francesca over the phone and she was told to get on with it. The immediate impression was that should they loose, Francesca was being set up for the blame. Which is exactly what happened when the meal, aimed at busy professionals, was judged to be too bland. Karen wasn't going to let Luisa get away with her plan though and slapped her down with some telling questions about her own cooking ability, which by Luisa's own admission, is quite good. 'So if your are such a good cook why didn't you go into the kitchen?' 'Um' said Luisa, suitable quelled.

In the end Deadly Dinner got a mauling for sending all the wrong messages. As someone pointed out, you just don't call something deadly, slap a skull on the packaging and then include prawns, a well known source of food poisoning, in a meal for kids and expect mums to be happy buying it. To be fair the kids did love it but the mum's hated it and as they had the buying power Alex's team was doomed.

Alex admiited his mistake in listening to 'expert' Myles, siting his lack of experience with children as the cause of his downfall. And to be fair Myles did put his hands up to the fact it was mostly his fault but Alex should have spotted the flaw and so was fired. He took it well and gave us another glimpse of his Del Boy coat as he headed to the taxi. I will miss him.

My pick to win is Neil, that's if he can keep one step ahead of devious, back stabbing Luisa.

Friday, 28 June 2013

A Bit Of A Dip

Well later than promised but I sort of got watching the tennis on Wednesday and didn't actually get as far as turning on my computer.

The first three days back at work were not too bad, if you ignore all the moaning and complaining that is. All I can say is that it is not a happy camp at the moment and it is taking it's toll.

I coped quite well and felt OK most of the time but I know my stress levels have gone zooming back up because I've stopped sleeping. I couldn't believe it, one day back in work and I'm lying awake until three or four and dozing fitfully until the alarm goes off at six. You don't have to be a genius to work out that is not good news. It may just be my system getting back in the swing of things again but somehow I doubt it.

It was my three monthly visit to the PH clinic at the Royal Brompton today and after a lot of tests and messing about they concluded that I'm still doing relatively well but not as good as I was. I have put on weight but I am retaining more water so my diuretics have been permanently increased, not by much but it is a backward step. Disappointingly my weight gain is probably mostly water and once they kick in I will loose again, how frustrating! X-rays showed that I am clear of infection so my continued cough and mucus production is probably due to irritated lungs and should calm down in a week or two. I have given a spit sample and that will be analyzed for any nasties lurking. The echo showed that my heart is more or less the same as it was last time but there is a rise in pressures, they have gone up from 76 to 93mmHg (normal pressure is between 15 - 20 mmHg). Not a huge leap but a worrying development considering how stable I've been up to now. If I show another deterioration next time then I will have to have my flolan increased. My oxygen SATs were 90%, so better than expected. I didn't do a walk test this time as I was still recovering from infection and it probably would have returned a false result.

Finally some good news for all those on Flolan. The new Flolan, which is stable in air, will be in this country from 21st July and patients should be able to start using from September. This means you will be able to make a whole weeks worth up in one go and keep them in the fridge, you will also only have to change cassettes once a day. When asked if I'd like to go onto it I said yes, I cannot see why anyone wouldn't.

I must admit I'm a bit down about the rise in pressures but at the same time pleased that there is no sign of infection. I'll get the spit test and blood results in a week or so and if anything shows up they will either call me in or ask my GP to prescribe something.

Time for some tennis. A fuller, better blog tomorrow.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Back To The Rat Race

Well I'm officially well enough to go to work.

My chest is still a bit noisy and I've been given another course of antibiotics to stop anything flaring up again. However my oxygen SATs are normal, back in the 90's, and I have no temperature or wheeze. I feel OK, a little tired, but I'm told that will improve after a couple of days of normal eating.

I'm now in a quandary as I'm really pleased I'm well again but I really don't want to go back to work. I've been so relaxed and felt, most of the time anyway, healthier for it that I don't want to end up as stressed as I was at the start of my holiday. Of course the only person who can stop me being stressed is me. I've just got to stop caring so much and trying to be better than my fitter colleagues in an effort to prove my worth. I know I do it but can't stop myself. I always feel as though I have to work twice as hard as everyone else to prove that my illness doesn't matter. It's a really stupid thing to do because I was ill when I applied for the job and was totally up front about how bad it could get and yet they still chose me. I feel nothing but sympathy and support from my colleagues, well most of them, so why do I always feel guilty about being ill? It's crazy, crazy, crazy!  I'm just going to have to adopt a more laid back attitude, it's not as though I'm deliberately being ill to piss people off, I can't help it but if some choose to think that way then that is their problem not mine.

So back to yesterday. I ate a full meal comfortably and that sort of opened the floodgates. I downed steak, a rare treat, sweetcorn, peas, carrot and swede mash and mashed potato. I then tackled two peaches, two packets of crisps, an apple and a bag of cherries. I stopped for a couple of hours and then had two slices of toast and another peach. Around eight I was starving again and so did something I've never done before. I ordered in pizza! I had a delicious six slices of cheese, onion and tomato which disappeared in double quick time. Andrew and Peter were guarding theirs in case I started stealing. It cost a fortune but I loved every cheesy morsel and it looks as though I've managed to make up for a week of not eating in one day, bonus.

Today I am much more restrained and so far have just had the usually toast and tea for breakfast. I'm fancying a light salad for lunch and then I'm settling myself down for an afternoon of tennis. Well is is my last sick day so why not?

So next blog will be Wednesday, enjoy the tennis and COME ON MURRAY!

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Marking Time

I'm still progressing well and I am hopeful of being given the all clear tomorrow. My appetite has improved and yesterday I managed a cheesy omelet for lunch and worked my way through several packets of crisps and pieces of fruit during the course of the afternoon. Today I am trying a full but small meal of meat and two veg. If I can eat that without it affecting my breathing I'll know I'm almost back to normal.

Andrew has also improved and after two days of soup, bananas and yogurt, carefully vetted of course, he also has regained his appetite and is feeling much more comfortable. We worked out that the only thing he ate that was different from normal was some coleslaw that we shared. I checked the label and sure enough, there was whey powder in it. For God's sake, why would you need whey powder in coleslaw? It was an extra thick and creamy version so I'm assuming it was used as a thickener. I will not be buying that in future and will be checking the labels of different types next time I'm in Tesco's and if all else fails I'll revert to making my own.

The weather is frustrating me as now I feel up to sitting in the garden I can't because it is raining. In fact since we cleared the decking ready for use I've sat up there for only a couple of hours. Since then the covers have been on and it has rained and been windy and cold. Obviously earlier in the week I couldn't care less as I wouldn't have made it out there if I'd tried but since I've been feeling better I can't help feeling some fresh air would be beneficial.

I should have been out and about in the fresh air today as it happens. My best friend's village is having a celebration of 100 years of the motor car and there is a fete to go with it. I'd said I'd go but despite being better I still don't think I'm up to walking around fields or standing for long periods and I certainly don't want to risk getting cold and wet. Such a shame as I was really looking forward to it but, at the moment, I have to think of me and no one else and 'me' doesn't want to risk catching anything else.

I had a piece of good news though. My brother and his family are spending a week in the area on a short holiday. We are going to meet up for a drink and/or a meal while he's down here. So looking forward to it as it's two years since we last saw each other. Another date in the diary, another goal to reach, it's what keeps me going.

So another day playing safe and lounging around doing not much at all. Roll on Tuesday when hopefully normality returns.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Who Wants To Be A Millionaire Anyway?

Well I did win on the Euromillions, a massive £2.80, so I'm a whole eighty pence up on my stake. I suppose I can't grumble, I'm in profit after all, which is something I didn't expect.

Anne has posted that not only is she back on the main ward but it's six weeks post transplant. My goodness that time has gone quickly. I'm at Papworth on the 12th July so will pay her a visit if she is still there. However I think I'd be right in saying that everyone sincerely hopes she'll have been sent home by then.

St Mary's, Ivinghoe

I'm feeling a hell of a lot better today. My cough is all but gone and my chest feels light and clear. I'm hoping to continue this good progress through the weekend so when I see the doc on Monday he'll let me go back to work.

Because I was so very ill I had to call Papworth to let them know I was on all sorts of meds. Now I have to do this every time I get a chest infection as the drugs I'm given to clear it can interfere with the drugs given post transplant and if you already have an infection it can be very bad news. They have never thought about removing me from the list before but this time I was so ill they said I'd have to be suspended for a couple of days. Thankfully after a chat with them yesterday I found out they didn't actually take me off but I might have been sent home if pre-op tests showed high levels of infection. I have to say I panicked when they said I'd have to be removed so was highly relieved when I found out I was still a contender.

Yesterday after being released from house arrest I paid a very quick visit to Tesco's, well I have to start getting back to normal somewhere, to collect a new prescription and to pick up loads of fruit, soup and yogurt. My appetite isn't quite back to normal and I still feel more breathless than usual when I eat a 'normal' meal so I'm snacking on fruit and yogurt whilst downing large quantities of soup and Complan. I have also managed a doughnut and a couple of toasted teacakes so things are looking up. Today I'm cutting back on the Complan in favour of normal food. I'll still have one just before bedtime though, until I'm eating properly again, if for no other reason than to keep my vitamins and minerals topped up.

St Mary's, Ivinghoe

Anyone would think an alien had landed. Are people really so isolated that they've never see someone wearing an oxygen tank before? The stares and looks I got from customers and staff alike had me asking Peter at least twice if my flies were undone or my bra was showing. Because I'm still physically quite weak I hung the bottle off a trolley when I got into the shop but that caused it's own problems as people tried to force their way between me and the trolley every time I stepped away for a minute to look at something on the shelf. I nearly had my cannula dragged from my nose at least twice. What was particularly hard to take were the accusing looks, as though it was my fault that people walk around in a daze.

Normally I'd have used my mobility scooter on the first excursion out after being ill but my local Tesco is so disability unaware that it recently narrowed the aisles in order to get an extra line of fridges in. The result is the aisles are only just wide enough for two trolleys to pass each other, and then you have to be careful not to have your fingers hanging over the side of the trolley. Add a mobility scooter, even one as dinky as mine, and it is almost impossible to get around, especially as they seem to insist on having those big cages for refilling the shelves all over the place. So the oxygen was the only choice, besides wanting to test my stamina, if I was to get around more or less stress free and without being run into or clouted around the head with a wire basket.

However the trip was worth it because I returned home feeling delighted that I managed so well. I had no real trouble staying on my feet and I didn't experience any pain or tightness in my chest. A sure sign of improvement. What a strange illness this is. Ten days ago I was jumping around in a churchyard taking pictures and now I'm just happy to have made it around the fruit and veg section of Tesco's. none of it makes any sense.

St Mary's, Ivinghoe

So I'm having a very quiet weekend and resting up in preparation for returning to work on Tuesday when my sick note runs out. I might do a bit of baking this afternoon, or I might try and finish the book I'm reading. It's raining so I won't be tempted to go out and do anything silly. I'll keep that for next weekend, when I'm fully fit again.

The pictures are from my last photography trip before I fell ill. enjoy!

Friday, 21 June 2013

If I Were A Rich Man

Well the doctor is pleased with my progress. My chest still has a rattle but the fluid has cleared so I can go back to my normal dose of diuretics, which is just as well as I've barely been off the loo this week. Everything is more or less back to normal though my antibiotics have been extended, just in case, and I've been told to increase my inhaler usage for a few days. I've got to go back to see him again on Monday where he will either give me another certificate or let me return to work. Of course I'm hoping for the latter as I'm stir crazy.

Andrew is poorly today so is not going into college. He has a intolerance to some forms of whey powder and, although careful enough to avoid most of the time, he runs a risk whenever he eats things not made at home, it's amazing what they put that stuff in to bulk up products, even yogurts and smoothies. Not sure what it was this time but he started having pain yesterday. A couple of days on his tablets and some careful feeding usually sees him better very quickly.

Having been chased by numerous companies wanting to sort out my PPI for me, at a price of course, I've decided the only way to get them off my back is to look into it myself. So I've sent off the forms, with proof, I am careful about keeping stuff involving loans etc, and am now just waiting to see what happens. I'm philosophical about my chances and if I don't get anything, well I'm no worse off. However if I do get something back I'd rather keep all of it, after all I'm the one who paid it in the first place, and not pay 20% or more to someone for just filling in the same forms I have. To be honest I had thought about checking it out a while ago but never quite got round to it. Sitting at home this week fending off endless calls has spurred me into action.

Talking of money I notice the Euromillions draw is now up to 141 million. That is an obscene amount of money for one person to win. Why would you want that much? I then thought of all the good that could be done with that amount of money and what I'd do with it. Well first, of course, I'd sort out my family and friends. Then I'd distribute to my colleagues, most are struggling so to help them a bit would be nice. At least half would go to PH research, even if it is too late for me someone will benefit, eventually. And finally I'd keep enough so that myself and my husband would never have to worry about money again, buy a nicer house and be content with my lot. Oh one can dream. I've gone against the grain and bought a ticket, I have no chance but you never know.

As you can see, sitting at home doing nothing has reduced me to daydreaming, I really need to start doing things.

Today is my six month marker for being on the transplant list. I know there are many who have waited longer than me and I know there are many more who sadly never got their chance but I still feel a little hard done by. Natural I suppose, especially when you've been poorly and you know a transplant could stop all that. So I plod on for another day/week/month and all that really keeps me going is knowing I'm one day/week/month closer and tonight might be the night.

Well nothing more to say. That's the trouble with being grounded, nothing to write about.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Nice Guys Come Last

Why is it that I can quite happily doze on a hot sunny day for hours and yet put me in a bedroom at the same temperature and I can't sleep a wink?

After a sticky and uncomfortable day stuck on the settee with all the windows open and the ever present threat of rain, I headed for bed to spend a sticky and uncomfortable night despite having the fan going full blast. It was hot, it was humid and I longed for the weather to break and a good thunderstorm to relieve the pressure. Unfortunately the weather was as unobliging as always and the humid conditions promise to repeat themselves today.

I'm feeling more like me today though, despite the lack of sleep. My cheerful nature is returning along with my appetite. My oxygen SATs are almost back to normal, well 87% which is normal for me. My chest is still quite gunky though but it is proving easier to get rid of and is not the ghastly colour it was. Best of all no blood stains for the last two days. It is still up in the air as to whether I'll be fit for work next week but at least I'm heading in the right direction.

Surprisingly I haven't felt guilty about work or even really thought about it. I've been too ill to care, and even though I am beginning to feel more lively I'm still not fretting about it. It seems that not only did my holiday give me a well deserved de-stress but it has brought on a whole new attitude.

So what if I'm off sick again, I'm terminally ill and my only chance is a transplant. It's a miracle I turn up as often as I do and I should be proud of my attendance, not worrying about it. I never had sick days when I was well and I'm hoping once I've had the transplant I will be well 95% of the time. I'm not stupid enough to think I won't have any sick days, especially in the early months or years post transplant when a lot of adjustments will be going on.

Yes there probably are people at work who resent me for the time I have off sick, I could name at least two who quite obviously think I'm making out that I'm more ill than I am, but the majority are so kind and supportive that I know that, even when rushed off their feet because of my absence, they worry about me and wish me well.  Before I went on holiday I saw my councellor and she said that I have absolutely no idea how many people are rooting for me and hoping against hope that I get my chance. She's right of course and the idea is humbling.

The Apprentice Watch

This week it was Online Dating that was the subject of the task set to the remaining eight candidates. They had to design a website, produce an advert and present their ideas to industry leaders.

Jordan became project manager of Endeavor while Jason took the reigns of Evolve much to the disgust of Luisa who clearly thought she could do better and set about trying to prove it.

Endeavor decided to pitch their business at young professionals and came up with a boring corporate style website with the baffling name of Cuff Links. Evolve went for the over fifty market, despite Luisa trying to shout everyone down and grumbling about it being the 'wrong' concept. Her argument was that as a young, successful business woman not short of admirers, she couldn't possible get her head around the needs of the over fifties when looking for love.

Both teams split with half the team on market research and the other half on website design. Eyebrow Alex, whom I'm warming too more and more, was in his element as web design is part of his business. Jason however was not and found even picking the colours for the website a challenge. However to be fair anyone with Luisa constantly harrying and shouting at them would find it hard to concentrate. In a shock move, after badgering Jason into submission, Luisa launched a mutiny and appointed herself project manager. Something that Neil wasn't too happy about and told her up front, though fourth team mate Francesca sided with Luisa.

Best moment of the episode was Endeavor's video featuring Alex as bad date Herbert. It was silly, it was funny and it didn't relate to the rather serious website but it was memorable unlike Endeavor's effort which looked like an add for a retirement home.

The industry big wigs were not impressed with either team's efforts and despite her coup Luisa, or maybe because of it, lost out to Alex's Herbert after Lord Sugar was left to make the final decision. Once again proving that having a big mouth and excessive eyelashes can't compete with a sense humour and a willingness to look stupid.

In the boardroom Luisa was quickly given a dressing down by both Lord Sugar and Nick, who was clearly disgusted by her behaviour. However, much as Lord Sugar sympathised about Jason's plight he got his marching orders. To be fair, if he couldn't stand up to his own team mates he probably wouldn't be any good at hard nosed business negotiations. He was the nicest of all of them but completely out of his depth.

Luisa hasn't got away scot free though. Karen requested she follow her on the next task to see whether she really is as good as she claims or is just a loud mouth bully that everyone is beginning to suspect she is.

Top three still Neil, Myles and Alex.

Well time for another paracetamol. I always get really bad headaches when the weather is humid and stormy. I really hope we have the mother of all storms soon.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

The Mystery of the Exploding Jug

As you can tell I'm feeling better today. My SATs are creeping back up, got them past 80% without oxygen now, and I'm not coughing up so much gunk. On the downside my ribs hurt like hell and everything inside feels raw. I'm eating again though, sticking to fruit, yogurt and ice cream supplemented by Complan but it is a start. I haven't weighed myself but I can tell I've lost weight by my waistbands and bra straps. I'm still on house arrest and am not allowed to do anything for myself but I am making up my own drugs again. I am definitely not a happy bunny but much better than I was two days ago.

My mood was much improved this morning with news that Anne is back on the normal ward and doing really well. Lets hope the only place she goes now is home. Fingers crossed for you Anne.

So I'd better give a round up of the last few days.

Saturday

The face painting was fabulous and the bonus was that I didn't make anyone cry. Always a tricky proposition with the under fives as their idea of a tiger might not be the same as yours.

My first customer was a sweet little girl who wanted to be a 'Princess'. This threw me slightly as I'd been thinking more of tigers, lions, zebra and maybe even the odd raccoon. I had no idea how to make a 'Princess' so decided just to make her up. I added a couple of stars and a bit of glitter, rouge, lipstick and eyeshadow and voilĂ , one princess. To be honest she looked more like Katie Price than a princess but both she and her mum were delighted. First happy customer in the bag. Phew!

I then had a run of butterflies. This was much more in my comfort zone and I loved the next half hour as I turned six little faces into exotic creatures of the forest. I did have one sticky moment with a very demanding young lady.

'What colour butterfly do you want to be?'
'Purple.'
'OK, here we go, close your eyes.'
'With some pink'
'Pink, OK'
'And yellow, oh and green.'


I then had some pirates and spidermen but my two oddest requests were for a frog and, wait for it, a horse. A Horse! How the hell do you change a chubby cheeked toddler into a long faced pony with big teeth? I compromised on that one and drew a picture of a horse on her forearm so she could see it all the time. Older children started arriving and asking for 'tattoos' and I spent some time painting flowers, stars and hearts on arms.

By the end of the session I was shattered but so glad I did it, I had more fun than I could possibly have imagined and got to meet some really nice people at the same time. I would have loved to take some pictures of my art work but  knowing how sensitive parents can be about people taking piccys of their kids these days I resisted.

Sunday

Well I didn't do anything except cough and feel sorry for myself on Sunday but we did have something really spooky happen.

I was lying on the settee from where I can see right across the hall and into the kitchen as far as the sink and back window. Peter was standing by the sink making us both a cuppa when there was a loud bang. It sounded as though a gun had gone off or a car had backfired. He looked around and then opened the cupboard and out fell loads and loads of little glass squares, just like the safety glass from a shattered windscreen on a car. I keep all my mixing bowls, baking trays and measuring jugs in the cupboard and the largest of the nest of three jugs had just exploded. The door had been shut when Peter was in the kitchen and he didn't touch or bang the door, in fact the jugs are set right back on the shelf deliberately so they won't get accidentally hit. It took Peter ages to clear out the cupboard and sweep up all the glass and to this day we can't work out what happened. All I know is I need a new large measuring jug and that I'm very grateful it didn't go bang when I was using it. Scary!


Monday

A rush to the doctor's and then drifting in and out of sleep on the settee. I did get to watch Carry On Doctor on the TV though and remember wishing all hospitals could be that much fun.

Tuesday

Feeling better and able to write a short blog, keeping everything crossed that I'm fighting back. Watched One Of Our Aircraft Is Missing. Oh they don't make films like that any more, thank God!


Today is another on the sofa but at least I feel with it enough to use my laptop, hence this blog, and I can stay awake to read chapters of my book instead of dozing off a couple of pages in. Yes things are certainly looking up and I can't wait to see what this afternoon's golden oldie might be.

The pictures are of butterflies I took about two years ago on a vist to the Natural History Museum in healthier and happier times.


Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Punishment

You remember me bragging that I was going to prove the saying 'a good deed never goes unpunished' wrong, oh how mistaken I was. In fact I couldn't be more wrong if I'd said black was white.

As regular readers will know I'd developed a sore throat and a blocked nose mid week but put it down to hay fever. I didn't feel unwell in myself and my breathing was fine so no need to worry, no need to start my emergency antibiotics right?

On Saturday I woke up and had added a cough to my symptoms. I thought nothing of it, sore throats can cause coughs right, so got ready to do the face painting as I'd promised. In hindsight, isn't that a wonderful thing, I should have stayed at home, started my antibiotics and took it easy. I arrived at the venue and within minutes I was doing my first piece of art on a wriggly four year old. I was unusually thirsty so grabbed the offer of tea as soon as it was presented. I declined the cake though, I never eat at this sort of event because I like to avoid possible poisoning situations but to be honest I just wasn't hungry.

I got through the two hours with very little trouble and was duly picked up by Peter who asked whether I wanted some lunch. I still wasn't hungry but knew I had to keep my weight up so asked for a small bag of chips to keep me going and I'd make something when I got home. I didn't of course and barely ate any of the chips.

Once home I decided that safe was better than sorry and started my antibiotic supply. By late afternoon I was really quite ill. I couldn't breathe so went onto my oxygen but my sats dropped like a stone. I then started to shiver while at the same time run with sweat. Andrew prepared my Flolan for me, as by then I was too weak to do it myself, and changed my line and did so beautifully. A restless night ensued as I couldn't lie down as every time I tried I felt like I was drowning so I sat up most of the night reading and dozing on and off.

Sunday I started to cough up blood, I knew I was now in real trouble. Blood is not the best sign in the world. I couldn't eat, could only drink and felt so weak Peter had to help me dress and help me downstairs where I spent a miserable afternoon coughing while my chest rattled alarmingly. No one mentioned hospital, everyone knows how I feel about the Lethal and Deadly. Andrew kept listening to my chest and taking my sats and pressures and I almost gave in and asked to be taken to A & E but, despite knowing how stupid I was being, convinced myself I was better at home.

Monday and the doctor was called as soon as they opened at nine and after a brief conversation I was classed as an emergency and his list was shuffled so I could be seen as soon as possible. A prolonged examination resulted in instructions to continue on my current antibiotic to which has been added another antibiotic and steroids. My diuretics have also been increased for five days to try and drain the liquid that has built up in my lungs. I'm to call him again if there is no improvement by Wednesday and I'm to see him again on Friday for a progress check.

This morning I'm feeling better. The bleeding has stopped and my sats have increased. My chest feels less heavy and I don't feel as though I've got half a swimming pool sloshing around in there. All hail to the power of steroids and diuretics, it is far too soon for the extra antibiotics to have kicked in.

So another lesson learned. NEVER put others before yourself, no matter what you've promised, how desperate they are or how many people you'll be letting down. Another kick in the teeth for thinking of others and trying to be normal.

So it is back to the settee and to catch up on some most needed sleep. At the moment I'm still having to sleep propped up so the settee is the best place for that. I'm hopeful that tonight I can enjoy my bed again.

Blogs will be a bit erratic until I'm back on form.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Lying Down On The Job

My cold has improve only so far as my throat is a little less croaky. My breathing is fine at the moment and I don't feel 'unwell'. I'm hoping that this is as bad as it gets as it is going to be terribly embarrassing if I have to ring work on Monday and say I can't come in.

Talking of embarrassing situations I had a doozy on Thursday.

The Church Roof

Despite the drizzle and my cold I decided I really wanted to get out of the house. I hoped the fresh air would make me feel better so I grabbed my camera and off we went. After a meander through the countryside we finally came across the quaint villages of Ivinghoe and Pitstone, both just over the boarder in Hertfordshire.

The church in Ivinghoe was particularly fine and more to the point it was open. I had a wonderful time snapping away at the windows, statues and wall hangings. Then I looked up and saw the most wonderful wooden roof. There were two ways I could take a picture, one was to stand and lean backwards as far as I could without falling over or the other was to lie on my back. Guess which one I chose, much to the astonishment of two elderly ladies who were arranging the flowers on the alter and whom I'd failed to spot. A hurried explanation and a compliment on their beautiful church seemed to satisfy that my intentions were honorable but I didn't hang around for long after that. The result, however was worth it, as I hope you'll agree.

Today we were up early as we were taking Andrew down to Hatfield for his final lecture while we cleared his room.

St Mary's Ivinghoe

After dropping Andrew off at the campus we then went to his room to clear out what we'd had to leave on the last trip. This took less than twenty minutes so we were left with three and a half hours to fill so we decided to go to the Galleria for a wander. We arrived at nine thirty only to find it didn't open until ten. Reluctant to sit in the car for half an hour we made tracks to Welwyn Garden City. There, much to our delight, we found an astonishing array of charity shops and came away with armfuls of books, most of which looked unread. We stopped for coffee, mainly so I could have some down time and then we were off again. By the time we made it back to the car I was shattered but had enjoyed myself so much I didn't care.

After picking Andrew up and a quick lunch at Burger King, his choice not ours, we sat in a traffic jam on the M1 for half an hour before making it home for a nice cup of tea and the papers.

I intend to spend the rest of the day doing nothing more energetic than lifting a cup to my lips and peeling a banana.

St Mary's, Ivinghoe

Tomorrow I'm off to Bedford for a spot of face painting. I promised so I'll be there, it is too late to pull out now and I've been promised as much tea and cake as I can swallow. I am easily bought.

Well the settee calls, as does the kettle, tomorrow's blog will depend on my survival. Wish me luck.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

The Movers And The Shakers

I woke up to both good and bad news this morning.

Lets start with the good news. A colleague of mine delivered her much wanted twin boys in the early hours of this morning and I couldn't be more delighted for her. She's been through a tough time to get these two babies so she deserves some good luck. They've arrived a little early but are both a good weight, four pounds plus, and healthy.

The bad news is that Anne is in ICU indefinitely after continuing breathing problems and now pain. The cause has been identified as water retention so she is on more meds to try and sort that out. I suppose you can't expect a major operation such as a heart/lung transplant to be plain sailing but Anne looked like it was just that in the early days. It is so sad she has had all these set backs but when you think of it, it is still really early days and best to have all the problems while still in hospital. I hope I'll be posting some good news on Anne very soon.

The weather has changed and so has my health. I have a really sore throat and a bit of sinus trouble again. I felt really off yesterday so did nothing but lie on the settee all day, hence the lack of blog. I'm feeling a little better today so hope to go out this afternoon for a little while to get some fresh air. That's if the rain holds off.

My biggest fear is that it will get worse and I'll have to pull out of the face painting on Saturday. Typical isn't it, I should know better than to volunteer because my health almost always let's me down. On the other hand if I never plan anything because I might be ill what sort of life would I have? Exactly, better to plan and not do than never do anything.

Tomorrow we are off for the final clear out of Andrew's things from the uni. He has until the 29th to move but we thought the sooner the better. In three weeks he moves into temporary accommodation in London Colney while he does his placement and then he moves back to Hatfield at the end of September for his second year. At the end of his degree I'll probably qualify for a job with Pickfords.

In the news it seems the subject of child obesity has reared it's ugly head after a recent study has shown 1 out 13 children are having gastric bands fitted. What on earth is going on? Of course the blame has been put on food manufacturers, fast food places, anywhere in fact except where the blame should really lie, with the parents.

Parents these days just don't know how to say 'no' to their children and give in to their little food fads with barely a murmur. Apparently the poorer you are the fatter your kids? How can that be? Surely the poorer you are the thinner you should be? I watched one pathetic mother whining away on tv this morning saying that 'if they didn't eat pizza's they've starve as they won't touch fruit or veg'. Looking at the blob sitting beside her I don't think he would starve anytime soon. So who's fault is that? Who introduced them to pizza, McDonalds etc? The expert justified this by saying fresh fruit and veg are so expensive. Really? The last time I looked, and I don't very often I admit, at ready meals or pizzas I could feed four of us for the price of one item.

I came from a poor family and we always had fresh meat, fruit and veg on our plates. My mother would buy a chicken or piece of beef or lamb for a Sunday, we always had a traditional Sunday lunch. Left overs were turned into a cottage pie or curry on a Monday and, in the case of the chicken, soup on a Tuesday. She'd boiled the carcass along with some fresh veg and serve up a huge bowl with fresh bread when we got home from school. We were never hungry as I recall.

I brought this frugality to my own family when I married and had children. My boys never have baby food out of a jar. I'd buy fresh fruit and veg and then cook, puree and freeze it in ice cube trays. It cost me pennies, and some of my time, but I knew exactly what was in each meal. When they got older of course there was the occasional trip to a fast food place, usually as a Saturday treat, but I've always cooked from scratch and both my boys now do too. Andrew especially says ready made stuff is too pricey.

Sorry, I got a bit soap boxy there but I find the idea of kids of nine or ten having gastric band surgery abhorrent, surely I can't be the only one.

The Apprentice Watch

This week the task was to sell camping stuff, easy yes? Think again.

The teams were shuffled again and Kurt became the project manager of Endeavor because he'd 'been camping as a child'. This put eyebrow Alex's nose out of joint as he desperately wanted to prove himself and has yet to be a project manager. Neil took on the management of Evolve.

Both teams seemed to think caravaning and camping was the soul domain of the over fifties, conveniently forgetting the families with young children. On the drive up to Birmingham  Jason and Neil played a game of 'spot the caravan' and kept up a steady drone of 'over fifty, over fifty' as they studied the drivers. On arrival at the exhibition it did look as though they might have been right as there was an awful lot of mobility scooters and grey hair about.

The first task was to meet the suppliers and offer to sell their products. Evolve got off to a cracking start showing nauseating enthusiasm for any old tat they came across. Endeavor on the other hand was hampered by Leah and her lip gloss who seemed to find it difficult even staying awake, let alone show any interest in anything they might be selling. The result was that Evolve got the best products.

Kurt seemed to take the casual approach from the start and mostly wandered around with his hands in his pockets. When it came to selling he scored zero but blame Alex for choosing the wrong caravan. He left the selling to Myles who was working his socks off, albeit to no avail. The sub team consisting of Alex, Leah and Natalie were having more success but let's just say the products were not flying out of their hands.

Back in the boardroom the figures were shocking. Kurt's team manged to sell just over £1500 of stuff while Evolve knocked out £33,000. No contest. The biggest shock however was when Lord Sugar pointed out that late in the day Kurt, desperate to shift the bigger items, decided to employ Leah as a bit of 'eye candy' in the hope some sex appeal would help sell. This left Leah looking as though she were sucking a lemon and Kurt was doomed. In a surprising twist we had a double eviction and Natalie was also sent on her way blubbering about tactics. To be fair she had been in the boardroom a lot but it was obviously that Kurt thought by bringing her in he could deflect his own failing and be safe.

My favourites to win are Neil, Myles or Alex, which means they will probably all be fired next week.

Well just got a text from Andrew to say he's on his way home and wants feeding. Back to the kitchen woman, know your place.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

A Good Deed.......

...never goes unpunished.

I hope to prove that saying to be very untrue this weekend.

Firstly Anne who is now back on Facebook and assuring us that she is feeling so much better. She is still a bit breathless, presumably due to the infection, but still managed 0.8 miles on the exercise bike. The doctor's are changing her drugs around a bit so she will be staying in critical care for a little while longer. However the doctors are very pleased with her progress so it looks like, despite the set backs, Anne is well on the road to a normal life.

I have a new windscreen! Yes the process went smoothly this time and was completed in less than an hour. I've only got to get it through the MOT now and it is bye, bye 156. I still sort of regret getting rid of it but I'm beginning to fall for the Mito, especially with things like the cruise control feature and the lower fuel consumption. Also the handling reminds me of the mini, not the new version the original, which I absolutely loved. I know it is silly but I will probably shed a tear or two when I finally wave it goodbye to the 156, but it is for the best and my new baby is proving to be a worthy replacement.

 Dornier 17 in it's hay day.  


Because of the new windscreen, and the oxygen delivery, I spent another quite day at home. Well I say quiet, I got on with a few housework tasks so I could free myself up for the week ahead. The weather is not great at the moment but I'm hoping to get out this afternoon, even if it is just for a couple of hours.

So why the title? Well yesterday a friend and colleague posted a cry for help on Facebook and after much soul searching I replied.

He desperately needed someone willing to do two hours of face painting at a local preschool on Saturday. Saturday being the end of my holiday and not a day I tend to venture out on I decided to offer my services. The paint and tools are provided, as is a basic guide to animal faces but I think my qualification in Art and Design might stand me in good stead. Besides these are preschoolers, hopefully they won't be too critical and will be happy enough with a few blobs and strips smeared over them. How hard can it be?

As it is only two hours and finishes at two it also gives me plenty of scope to do something else afterwards if the weather is nice. At the very least it'll stop me from sitting at home wasting the day away and you never know, it might be fun.

As it is now

In the news.

Another person making excellent progress appears to be Prince Phillip. He was visited by the Queen yesterday and she emerged all smiles. Obviously there is nothing to worry about as far as his immediate health is concerned.

There is no news on Nelson Mandela so I can only assume that his health hasn't changed in either direction. I'm pretty sure we will know soon enough when it does.

However, the story that grabbed my attention was the raising of the the last surviving World War Two German Dornier 17 from the English Channel. It has taken three weeks to get this magnificent plane off the seabed and she is in remarkably good shape, even the tyres are still inflated. They really don't make them like that anymore. The plane is covered in barnacles and is full of mud and sand but, once cleaned up and restored, she will be put on display at the RAF museum in Henlow in around two years time. Another 'must see' added to my list.

I don't know if it is just me but since I was given two to three years to live way back in 2007 I've set myself goals. I plan things three to six months ahead and when I reach that goal I then plan a few more. Obviously sometimes I've had to miss events due to ill health or a sudden crisis but so far I've managed around 90% of everything I planned. Take this holiday for instance, it has not turned out as planned but I still happy. I was going to be dashing around the country, visiting everyone and probably wearing myself out in the process. As it is the gentler day trips and the relaxed pace of having nothing specific to do has proved to be exactly what I needed.. I'm sleeping well, eating well and feel a lot less stressed than I've been in a long, long time.

OK, I admit it, planning something two years in advance is probably a bit ambitious but what is life without a bit of ambition? Sometimes it is best to strive and not achieve, isn't it?

Well time is rolling on and I need to get the map out and plan where I'm off to this afternoon. It's a tough life but someone has to do it.




Monday, 10 June 2013

Housebound Again

No I'm not ill, I've just got things being done/delivered at home today so I have to be here. I'm mildly annoyed that the weather is still keeping me indoors otherwise I wouldn't have minded.

The saga began two weeks ago when Peter noticed a small crack in the 156's windscreen. Unfortunately during a test run the crack got much bigger and the only thing to do was get a new windscreen. So I rang my insurance paid the small excess and waited for the glass man to turn up to do his stuff. One week later the man duly arrived but during the course of fitting the new windscreen he dropped it putting another crack just where we didn't want it. The old screen was by now in pieces in the back of his van so he continued with the fitting, in case it rained, and went off to get another one. Now, according to him, he had to let the glue set before removing the broken screen or glue could spatter all over the interior of the car so we had to wait for it to set. Today is the day on which the glue would be deemed set enough and so I'm expecting him any time between one and five, joy!

I was also expecting my new oxygen delivery, which turned up on the dot of nine just as promised. I've gone from having four bottles per delivery to eight recently as my usage has slowly increased. Just as well really as I've used so much last week being out and about doing things I shouldn't, something which is set to continue from tomorrow. I was down to my last half a bottle so even if I could have gone out today I'd have ended up on the trike or in the chair at some point.



To console myself I've spent the morning baking and now we have an enormous Victoria sponge smothered in butter icing and strawberry jam. No wonder my waist line is expanding.

In the news.

Prince Phillip is progressing well and still no word on what might be wrong. However it is his ninety second birthday today and I'm just grateful he's still around to see it.

Nelson Mandela is fairing less well and the outlook for him is not so rosy. His country has been asked to pray and everyone is preparing for the worst, though he has lasted longer than I'd expected.

The Canadian GP, won by Vettel, again, grrrrr, has been hit by tragedy when a marshal got run over by a crane recovering one of the vehicles that had gone off in the closing stages of the race.

However the biggest news for people like myself is the change to disability benefits, which takes place today. Instead of being put on benefits for life all claimants will have to have regular checks to see whether their circumstances have changed. Some will have to undergo an interview and/or medical and this is causing the most anxiety.

Of course there has been a lot of scaremongering going on, there always is, but I personally don't think it is a change for the worst. I can't be the only one to fume at stories of people claiming disability and then being photographed skiing, dancing, weightlifting or taking part in marathons. Few of these people set out to defraud and 98% would have had a valid reason for claiming in the first instance. The problem comes when that person gets better. If there are no regular checks who's to find out that the person is still claiming after being cured? It also annoys me that people with 'bad' backs, have drink or alcohol problems or have eaten until they can no longer move can claim disability without any incentive to improve their lot.

The new system will weed out these fraudsters and that, surely, is something to be encouraged. The figures bandied around by the media about how many are going to lose their benefits leaves out the bit about how the numbers quoted almost exactly matches the number of people in these categories or who no longer have the condition they claimed for. These people are not entitled and so should have their benefit stopped.

The media also leaves out that alcoholics, drug users and the obese will still get some benefits on the proviso they do something about their addictions and attend the clinics etc they are supposed to attend. A bit like signing on for job seekers each week. What is wrong with that?

On the plus side those sick enough to be on the transplant list will not have to attend any interviews, at least that is what is being said now, and some may even be awarded higher rates than they get now if their condition is considered serious enough. Of course I might be wrong and it will be a complete disaster, especially in the early days when no one really knows how it works but I sincerely hope not.

Ohps, I've just heard a van pull up outside. Hopefully it will be the glass man with my new windscreen, fingers crossed that he doesn't drop this one.


Sunday, 9 June 2013

Tango In The Night

Anne is still in ICU and will be reviewed tomorrow. Hopefully she will have progressed enough to be sent back to the normal ward by then.

Well as predicted a very quite day ensued yesterday. well until the phone started that is. Just after lunch the phone rang and for once it wasn't a withheld number. Peter answered it and the bloke on the end of the line asked for me. When Peter asked who he was he said he was from the Ministry of Justice and needed to speak to me urgently. Knowing that Laurence works for the Ministry of Justice and I was on his file as next of kin I grabbed the phone dreading what I was about to hear. The bloke then, after scaring the bejesus out of me, cheerfully announced he was from such and such company and he may have some good news concerning my Nat west or Barclay card, no mention of Ministry of Justice anywhere.

I was so shocked couldn't even swear at him I just hung up and told Peter what had happened. He was furious and took the phone to check the number. It was the same number that a couple of other calls had come through on so with a lot of beeping he's set it up so that anyone else ringing on that number will be identified as 'scum' on the caller ID.

What a git, excuse language, he'd deliberately lied just to get to me, scaring me stiff in the process. Just imagine if I'd been an old lady with a heart problem and a son over in Afghanistan. The consequences just don't bare thinking about.

The weather was not exactly bad but not exactly out and about weather either so I had a much needed day in front of the TV. First I watched the last practice session for today's Grand Prix and then the qualifying itself. As I watched it I realised that, two years ago, I'd been sat in a hospital bed after having my line put in and was being told off by the nurses for cheering when Jenson won. It was a very wet race and was stopped in the middle until conditions improved. It will be a wet race again today so will definitely bring back memories.

I cannot believe I've been carrying this around for two year now.

Today the weather hasn't improved and so another indoor day is on the cards. I'm not sure what I'm going to do but I feel quite strongly that a film is on the cards followed most definitely by the race itself.

My local police force have been at it again and have released a song to encourage crime prevention. In my opinion it's not as bad as the Christmas effort but I will let you be the judge.
http://audioboo.fm/boos/1429122-summer-holiday-crime-reduction#t=0m2s

I was absolutely amazed to spot a familiar face on TV last night.

Daniel Croucher was one of my star pupils and did really well in the GCSE's. I liked Daniel, he was polite, witty and you could share a joke without it ever being taken too far. He always reminded me a bit of Richard Hammond from Top Gear. He had similar features and gestures and talked in the same way. So imagine my shock and delight to see him pop up in a Tango commercial. Well done Daniel, I hope this is the beginning of something really good for you. He's the little guy on the right.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rrAWw628qWk

Britain's Got Talent Watch

Well it was the final so I had to watch.

The best bit for me, apart from the commercial breaks, was the egging of Simon Cowell. A bit unfair on the act that was performing at the time but highly amusing nevertheless. However they could have been knives or, God forbid, a gun. I think security will be a little tighter in future, at least I hope it will.

So back to the acts, I have to say it was probably the worst final I've ever seen. I cringed at the kids, muted the singing and only really paid attention for two acts. Jack Carroll the fourteen year old comedian, who was quite funny it has to be said, and Attraction, the shadow puppeteers.

Attraction won with yet another brilliant and memorable performance with Jack coming a close second.

However Attraction are from Hungary, not Holland as previously stated, I apologise and therefore shouldn't have even qualified to take part. The show is called Britain's Got Talent after all. So does this mean the Britain hasn't got any talent, well clearly not but we don't have the same class of talent as Hungary. And for the first time since BGT started Simon will not be putting a British act in front of the Queen at this year's Royal Variety Performance. There's a moral in there somewhere.

Right time for a cuppa and the morning papers before I start on lunch.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

A Cause For Concern

Anne is still in intensive care but doing well and should be back on the normal ward by Monday.

Well what happened to summer? Yesterday I was sunning myself on the decking, today I'm reaching for a jumper as the weather has taken a distinctly chilly turn. To be fair I have been really lucky with the weather so far, so I can't complain about an 'off' day. I wasn't planning to do anything today anyway so really it is no great loss.

Yesterday started rather gloomy but perked up by mid morning and it turned out to be one of the hottest days of the year so far.

I spent the morning busying myself with mundane tasks such as ironing as our Internet went down. I also did a couple of loads of washing which I hung out more in hope than expectation. However I was rewarded with a lovely afternoon and the bedsheets were so dry they were able to bypass the airing cupboard and go straight back on the bed. I love it when I can do that, somehow they feel so much fresher.

It may not look like much but it tasted divine.

After a quick lunch I set about making some strawberry ice cream with some of the fruit I'd bought that morning and as always I had loads of egg whites left over. So I whipped them up, added some sugar, formed them into rounds and baked them. When cool I added fresh raspberries mixed in whipped cream, sandwiched them together and added more cream and fruit. One very delicious Raspberry Pavlova and a rather nice light alternative to cake.

There isn't much to say about the rest of the day. I just read and snoozed and read and snoozed with the occasional forage back into the kitchen for a drink or another bowl of Pavlova. Maybe not the most exciting of days but certainly one very much needed and today will help get me back into shape for the delights of the week to come.

In the news.

Prince Phillip has had his operation and is now 'progressing satisfactorily', whatever that means. They are still not saying what is was that made the op necessary or what they found but at least he made it through the anesthetic OK, which is a blessing in itself.

Another internationally famous person in his nineties is causing concern today.

Nelson Mandela, who is ninety four, has been rushed into hospital with another chest infection and the family has been told to prepare for the worst. Mandela has been in and out of hospital a lot over the last eighteen months, rather like Prince Phillip, and each time it has been with a chest infection. Though on other occasions his admission has been precautionary, this time it seems a lot more serious and I fear we will be receiving some bad news before the weekend is over.

Right I'm off to find some socks because my feet are freezing. I'm hoping for another warm afternoon but I must admit it is looking less and less likely. Oh well a film afternoon it is then.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Hey, Hey, Hey, It's A Beautiful Day.

News on Anne is that she is still being kept in critical care for the near future. Get well soon Anne, we are all thinking of you and wishing you the best.

Excuse the lateness of this blog. My Internet has been down all morning and is rather intermittent now so goodness knows when this will actually make it onto the web. I have not been idle though, even though this is a stay at home day due to Peter having to go into work. Honestly they give him the whole week off except Friday, just doesn't make sense.

So far I have ventured to Tesco, done a pile of washing, it had to be as we were running out of clothes, a load of ironing, made some strawberry ice cream and a raspberry Pavlova. It is going to be a very, very nice tea but so much for taking it easy.

Spending the weekend here.

Once this blog is finished I'm off up the garden to spend the rest of my afternoon with the birdsong and a book.

Yesterday we went to visit Laurence and spent a very pleasant afternoon in his garden eating Chinese take away and drinking beer. Well Peter, Andrew and Laurence drank, I was designated driver, again. I didn't mind though as I was kept in lemonade and orange juice and they bought me my favourite sweet and sour chicken.

There was only one bad note to the whole afternoon. Laurence's neighbours are a mother and son. The son is is around seventeen and boy does he swear. Not only that but he treats his mother like something he's scraped off his shoe. Yesterday she'd managed to upset him and we, and the whole neighbourhood, were treated to half an hour of the vilest language I think I've ever heard until the door slammed indicating he'd gone out. Silence reigned until the door slammed again indicating a return and we were duly treated to another swearing session. After that all went quite but we were all on edge waiting for it to start all over again. We left around seven and got home around eight and I fell into bed shortly after ten for another deep sleep.

Suitable hidden from the world.

It is official, I have put on weight. I'm now a healthy seven stone twelve pounds so not that far off my eight stone target. Of course the trick is going to be keeping it on when I return to work but I'll worry about that when it happens. I have another week of holiday left and I may even reach my target by the end of it, you never know.

In the news I was sad to hear that Prince Philip has been taken into hospital for exploratory abdominal surgery. The media are playing it down at the moment and speculation is that he'll be having keyhole surgery. The fact remains that he had tests last week and the results of these tests have shown something worrying. Not only that but whatever they found is sufficiently worrying to risk putting a ninety two year old under general anesthetic, not something any surgeon would want to do unless absolutely necessary.

So what can it be? Well the obvious fear, given his age and the area they are checking out, is cancer. I do hope this isn't the case but there is very little else it could be that can't be treated with medicine. Of course I'm not a doctor so I could be, and hopefully am, very wrong. 

If it turns out to be nothing then maybe it will be the wake up call the country needs to realise the Queen and Prince Phillip are elderly and maybe we shouldn't be expecting quite so much of them these days Most people of their age would be spending their days enjoying long walks and sharing an ice cream on the prom.

Well I have date with the sun, a good book and a long cool drink. Ah bliss!

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Grease Monkey

Sad news on Anne, she has had another set back and has been returned to critical care. Hopefully it will only be for a day or two so I'll keep you posted.

Another fabulous day out and about. We went into Watford first and trawled the charity shops for books. I was delighted to find four in the series I'd stalled on so will be able to get a bit further in the storyline now. I was forced to use the trike as I was feeling a little breathless following my efforts the previous day. Then it was off into the shopping center where I was left on my own while Peter went off to Maplin. Now we all know I should never be left alone in a shopping center because I tend to go mad.

We thought these were windows at first but
they are actually the entrances to the long gone galleries.


First stop was the Lakeside kitchen shop where I'd planned to go to pick up a new garlic press as Andrew 'muscles' Roberts had broken mine in two last week. I walked out with a cake cover, well I am baking now and no one wants flies in their icing. A new metal sieve found it's way into the basket and I almost got away with a cider making kit but I couldn't lift it off the shelf, maybe that's a sign, and of course the garlic press.

Then it was on to Lush where I bought some shower gels, face scrubs and some hand cream. I was feeling quite virtuous until I spotted Sweet Heaven, which was packed with sweets I remember loving as a child. Seven pounds later and feeling extremely guilty I was happily sucking on a cough candy while clutching a bag containing clove drops, wine gums, gob stoppers, no I don't know how they got in there, and pear drops.

Having salved my guilt by handing my sweets around with the words 'I thought you'd like these', we then headed for Hatfield and the grand clear out.

The view through the church from the doorway

Oh. My. God! Having managed to fit everything into one suitcase and a couple of boxes in September the amount of accumulated junk looked like it was best suited to a small van rather than my little Mito. The boys made a start on the actual bedroom while I cleared the kitchen. There was a lot of canned goods to bring back, and about a kilo of pasta, not difficult to work out what he'd been living on. Once all packed away into several carrier bags I set about collecting up his crockery, pots, pans and cutlery. I immediately wished I'd taken some of my medical gloves. Everything felt greasy and tacky to touch, quite obviously washing in hot water was not a regular thing. Gingerly I filled another box and designated it 'straight to dishwasher' then washed my hands in fairy liquid and dried them on some tissues. The dish cloth and towel looking stiff and germ ridden. I think my baby is going to have to have a few lessons entitled 'swilling under the tap is not enough' and 'tea towels do not wash themselves' before he goes back in September.

I'd made a point of teaching both boys to cook, sew and iron but clearly I'd fallen down in the washing up lessons, revision is an essential.

Car packed to the roof we returned home where the rest of the evening was spent loading and unloading the dishwasher and washing machine. Everything is now sparkling and grease free and packed ready for the next big move.

Today we have been invited up to spend the afternoon with Laurence. He is very keen to show off his garden and try out his new furniture. Sadly the barbecue was deemed beyond saving and has been junked so we have been promised a takeaway.

Slightly sinister when in shadow

The Apprentice Watch

This is a series that just keeps giving.

I am developing a soft spot for 'eyebrow' Alex. Not only does he have a sense of humour, as demonstrated when he shouting 'I don't need that I'm Welsh' when offered Viagra in last week's show, but he seems to have a good business brain.

Sadly the same cannot be said for the girls and unfortunately both teams had girls as project managers.  Leah and her lip gloss headed team Endeavor and immediately started to throw her wait around. The task was to host a corporate, team building, away day for a budget of £5000. The team who kept most of the money in profit and got the best feed back won.

Leah decided she wanted a history theme event as she deemed it to be more classy than the other idea of going back to school. After much argument a vote was taken and the school theme won two to one but Leah was having none of it and stuck by her historical themed idea. While the sub team was sent off to source suitable medieval activities Lean went to see the CEO to find out exactly what was expected. He wanted his employees to learn to listen and communicate better, a request that immediately went right over Leah's head. However something must have hit home because she then phoned the sub team, who had just secured an archery teacher plus equipment for a knock down price, and told them the theme was now military. Alex looked like he was going to explode and quickly came to the conclusion that Leah didn't know what she was doing, the others agreed.

Less so in bright sunshine

Over at Evolve project manager Francesca had decided the school theme was the best idea and quickly decided that they needed a mix of games and new experiences, one of which would be chocolate making. Mouthy Luisa disagreed, in fact Luisa disagreed with everything and set about undermining Francesca at every turn. However the price of hiring a chocolate maker for the day proved to be too much so Luisa said she's run a cup cake decorating session. Bet you can't guess what Luisa's business idea is. However having made a point of stating, several times, that she made cakes all the time because that was her business she mysteriously sent Rebecca and James into a supermarket to buy handfuls of undecorated cup cakes. Of course she totally missed the point that most people make their own cakes but very few make chocolate so which one would their delegates prefer?

Both teams decided to finish the day with a motivational speaker. Evolve hired theirs for six hundred pounds Endeavor used Neil.

Back in the boardroom Endeavor won by a margin which meant Leah's lip gloss, honestly her top lip is nearly touching her nose now, could go back in the makeup bag for another week. Their treat was a trip to the spa where Alex had his eyebrows waxed.

One of the many carvings on the new church


The expensive speaker proved to be Evolves undoing and Francesca brought Rebecca back for merely suggesting a professional speaker, while Luisa was picked for being annoying and doing a fair hatchet job on the project. Francesca had twigged her little game from the start and was having none of it.

In the end quiet, dignified Rebecca went, which mightily annoyed Luisa whose comment about hating the corporate world earned her a rare rebuke from Karen. Not willing to change her stance Luisa was told Lord Sugar would be keeping an eye on her from now on. Possibly not the comment or the firing Luisa had hoped for.

The pictures are from my recent trip out.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Most Haunted?

The view from the road.
Woke up to find that, instead of a lovely sunny blue sky, we are back to grey and overcast but at least it is still dry. I'm not to bothered though as today is a 'duty' day. We are going to clear Andrew out of his old uni digs and bring everything back for a good wash. And I don't mean just clothing. I mean pots, pans, cutlery, bedding etc, etc. On the way back we are stopping off in Watford for a quick trawl around the charity shops for books and then home for a restful evening as I'm still pretty tired after yesterday's adventure. One thing is for sure, I'll be confined to my trike today, walking anywhere is definitely out of the question.

So what did I do to make myself so shattered today?

The tower

Well I went to visit Old St. Mary's Church, or St. Mary the Virgin to give it it's proper title, at Clophill. Built in the 1350's  it fell out of use in the early 1900's and was converted to a mortuary chapel until it was finally abandoned altogether in the 1950's. In the 1960's there were rumours it was being used for satanic ceremonies and that bodies were being dug up out of the surrounding churchyard for use in these ceremonies. All that remains of the much bigger church is the nave and the tower. The galleries and the chancel are long gone, removed during it's conversion to a chapel.

I have been there only once before and that was in passing on a very gloomy wet day. The remains looked eerie and the location was bleak and isolated, indeed a perfect setting for any horror story. Yesterday however, it was beautiful and peaceful and nothing as I remembered it.

I must admit a certain anticipation and nervousness about going there. On my first brief stop I was not fully aware of it's reputation. However my first view from the road was majestic. Yes it is very lonely and yes from some angles it can look very sinister but I felt quite comfortable wandering around. In fact the only danger I faced were the numerous rabbit holes and fallen branches that had me slipping, sliding and tripping all over the place. No I'm not blind, the grass was almost waist height in places so you couldn't see what was at ground level.
The tower from the inside

The graveyard was a bit of a disappointment. Most of the gravestones had obviously been moved from their original places and used to circle the church acting as a second wall. I was very surprised to see another churchyard right next door that was obviously still in use. A later visit to the new St. Mary's solved that mystery, it has no room for a graveyard being squashed in to a gap in the high street.


What the new St. Mary's did have however was a wasp or bee's nest which I inadvertently disturbed, I did not stay to check which insect it was, and beat a hasty retreat.

A carving from the new church

During my visit my mobile went off and I was shocked to see that it was a withheld number. I answered and the woman on the other end asked me to confirm who I was and then asked how I was feeling. My heart was racing fit to bust until she introduced herself as someone trying to arrange my next oxygen delivery. It was only when she rang off that I realised I was gripping my camera so tight it was hurting. I wish people would just get to the point when they ring, it would save an awful lot of stress.

After a couple of hours we got back in the car and headed home. Once again I was elated having throughly enjoyed scrabbling over the lumps and bumps but also extremely tired. I went to bed early and slept right through till eight. I wish I had more energy but sadly for that I'm going to have to wait.

I've included a few photos and will post more tomorrow. Right now I've got a date with a couple of black sacks and a suitcase.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Ghosties And Ghoulies And Long Legged Beasties

Just a gentle reminder.
Anne is not well today, she has picked up an infection. Another set back but hopefully a small one and certainly not as dramatic as the last one. Infections, especially just after transplant, are common so it seems Anne is just following the trend. Anne is getting the treatment she needs and I'm sure she will be fine in a couple of days.

My asthma symptoms have really improved over the last twenty four hours though I'm keeping up with the increased meds until at least tomorrow to ensure they don't come back. The enforced rest day did me the power of good and I spent the majority of it snoozing in the sun. Again by mid - late afternoon we had some cloud cover so I was forced back inside but at least I am getting to sun myself. It could easily have been day after day stuck inside watching the rain. I am grateful that I have been lucky so far.

Another thing I'm grateful for is the ability to sleep like the dead every night. Since I started my break I've fallen asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow and have no trouble sleeping past the early hours. I'm waking naturally between seven and eight and feeling refreshed. Another thing I've noticed is my appetite has improved. My stomach isn't constantly screwed up into a tense little knot and as a result I feel less nauseous and can eat more without feeling uncomfortable. I'm hopeful that this means I will be putting on some weight, even though what I'm eating is mostly home cooked and healthy, I haven't even looked at chocolate.

Andrew is out at uni again this morning, he managed to lift the 75k yesterday but in order to get it signed off he needs to do it more than once so he is back again this morning and will be in again on Friday. If he can lift 75k several times in succession with no problems the last bit of this year will be all done and dusted. Well apart from his placements that is, however he loves going out on the road and doesn't view it as 'work'. I suspect that will change the first time a drunk is sick over him.

Today I have small treat planned and I'm really looking forward to it.


I'm going to photograph one of the most haunted places in Bedfordshire. Now I firmly believe in ghosts because I've seen one, well more than one to be fair. I saw one when I was around ten. I was ill in bed and I woke up to find an old lady in Victorian clothing sitting by my bed watching me. She told me not to worry, that I would be fine and then read me a story as I went back to sleep. Dream? Hallucination of a child with a fever? Maybe, but when I told my mother and grandmother about it and described the old lady my grandmother turned very pale. I'd just described my great grandmother, right down to the pocket watch she always wore. I'd never, well not to my knowledge, seen any photos of my grandmother and my description was so vivid it seems impossible that I just made it up. A few years later I was given my great grandmother's pocket watch as a keepsake and still have it to this day.

The second sighting was when I was walking home very late one night on my own. Well this was a small Welsh village in the early eighties and we never though twice about walking miles in the dark on our own. I digress. Part of my journey took me through a tree tunnel and although the moon was out the branches were in full leaf so it was very dark. I always semi jogged through this bit and did so on this occasion. I was picking up a bit of speed when I became aware of footsteps behind me. I didn't look around I just tore through the tunnel as fast as I could. The other side of the tunnel opened out into a busy road so I stopped and looked around. There was a tall man standing behind me, he smiled said 'you're safe now' and turned around to go back. I watched him until he was almost half way then something behind me grabbed my attention. I turned back and he was gone. There was no way he could have got out of the tunnel that fast, I'd only turned for a second.

Since then whenever I've been really ill or have been in danger I see or 'feel' someone close to me. I never feel frightened just peaceful. Ghosts or angels or just pure hallucination born out of a stressful situation? Who knows but I prefer to think someone is watching out for me and while they are still around I'll come to no harm.


So back to the present. Although not scared of ghosts this is not a place that I'd willingly go in the dark or on my own. There is something not quite nice about it but it is also fascinating. Will I manage to capture a ghost? I doubt it but you never know, stranger things have happened.

In the news

It is the sixty year celebration of the Queen's coronation today and a big ceremony is taking place in Westminster Abbey. Unfortunately all eyes will be on Prince Phillip as he pulled out of an engagement last night due to being 'unwell'. Prince Phillip, who will be ninety two on Monday, has had a lot of health scares of late and certainly does not look as sprightly as he used to. He apparently has managed to attend this morning's occasion but there is a frailty about him these days that indicate he is fading fast. To be fair he is, at least in public, more sprightly than anyone his age could be expected to be. He certainly hasn't lost any of his mental agility or his sharp tongue. However he is an old man and the media and the public should respect that. I fear he may not be at the Queen's side much longer the way things are looking and I worry about how she will carry on without him.

For the past week I've been reading horror story after horror story about our failing A & E departments. I can't say that the NHS is entirely to blame when people are stupid enough to rush their toddler there to wipe dog poo of her shoe, yes, really, that did happen.


Apart from the terminally stupid and the 'I pay my taxes' brigade', who usually don't by the way, the main cause is the curtailing of GP opening times. In some practices you have to wait up to a fortnight to get an appointment. How on earth can that be right? Even my doctors surgery, who are brilliant and always see me on the day I ring up, have farmed their after hours service off to the local A&E. As a result coughs, colds, blisters and minor infection are now blocking beds in a department meant for the chronically ill and seriously injured. Waiting times are rocketing and ambulances are stacking up outside because they can't off load their patients. Normally when organisations get things drastically wrong it takes a death for someone to see sense and return things to a more sensible way of operating. Unfortunately there have already been deaths but no one is doing anything about it.

The photo's are from my last trip out enjoy.