14 August 2018

Awash with complications

I'm not stupid. Well, at least I hope I'm not. I had a university education (circa 1972 - so a serious education and unlike the Mickey Mouse subjects that are available nowadays). I am bilingual in German. I speak a fair bit of French and I studied Latin up to the age of twenty. I adored biology at school and now soak up any TV programme on medicine available.  I watch history and politics on TV too. I had a serious job in the Civil Service before becoming a mother. I can do house painting, a bit of carpentry, gardening, dress-making, build flat-packs, fix electric plugs or fuses and turn my hand to a range of other things. But one thing has completely floored me. Updating my bathroom.

Greg and I moved into this house in 1988.... thirty years ago. The house was not that old - built around 1970 - but it needed a fair lot doing to it. The previous occupant was an old lady with dementia who had a penchant for throwing coffee at the walls or urinating on her carpets. Our plan was to buy it cheap and do it up quickly before moving on. Ah yes, THAT was the plan. In reality, life got in the way. We did a quick fix as soon as we moved in, sloshing paint over anything that didn't move, completely renewing every carpet throughout and gutting the kitchen and building a new one ourselves. After that our jobs were so demanding that we tailed off a bit in impetus and then Kay came along and the house took a back seat. Then Greg retired and his alcoholism set in, sapping his energy and money, so the house waited patiently for us to resume its transformation. When Greg died in 2010, I set about trying to continue the work myself, slowly painting and decorating where I could. However, then my elderly mother was next in line to claim my undivided attention and the house got put on hold again. It's only recently that I have been able to take up the challenge again. 

What is desperately needed is modernisation of the two bathrooms. They are stuck in a 1960s time warp. Kay's bathroom has a yellow bath and originally had grey tiles which Greg and I managed to cover within weeks of moving in with washable wallpaper. My suite is peach with white walls. With polystyrene tiles on the ceiling and carpeted floor, they definitely look ghastly. I have been promising Kay an update for years but now have finally got round to doing it. I've hired a plumber to do the job but then set about ordering the "furniture". What's so hard about that? Or so I thought. Maybe it's me, but there's a confusion of bathroom suppliers out there and each has a language of its own. Prices vary for what looks like the same thing. There's toilet projections,  sprange sockets and autovents. Toilets are wall-hung or close-coupled. Baths with or without tap holes. Who knew bath wastes could be pop-up or click-clack. As for bottle traps - who'd want to trap a bottle down a basin? Square taps or round taps? Mono taps or duo taps? It's taken me four weeks to digest what is available and I've dragged the poor plumber over three times to discuss my confusion before I make a confident order with the supplier. Fortunately the plumber appears slightly confused too as my water pressure is low (something to do with the bar, but I don't think he's talking about the local pub), so he needs to consider which shower is suitable for the pressure and I've been let off the job of ordering the shower, as even HE is not sure whether power shower, electric shower, mixer shower or eco shower is the most suitable until he starts the job.

Before and after pictures will be forthcoming when the job is done. Meanwhile I'm feeling very much the dumb blonde with all my stupid questions.
 

30 July 2018

I've fallen in love all over again

Kay came back midday last Sunday (22nd) from her five-month tour of Asia and South America. Which was more than could be said for her luggage - it didn't arrive on the flight from Bogota to London via Madrid. It apparently wanted to stay a few more hours in Madrid. Thankfully it turned up on a later flight and was delivered by courier to our door the very next day.

There was so much to talk about, having not seen one another for so long and Kay powered through the jet lag and lack of sleep to regale me me with never-ending amazing stories of her travels, the history and the geography of the nine countries she had visited. I was in awe that my baby had successfully negotiated half the world and had so much to tell. It was great to have her home in one piece.

We could not relax or chat for long, as we were planning a trip together in less than 36 hours. On Tuesday we were off to Dubrovnik in Croatia.  Kay had been invited to a work colleague's wedding out there - a three-day Indian wedding, which she was keen not to miss, as Indian weddings are lavish affairs. When she had started to book her flights for Dubrovnik, she had hit on the idea that maybe I could tag along too (not for the wedding, as obviously I had not been invited) to have a look around Dubrovnik together for a few days before the wedding. I immediately jumped at the chance. As a widow and lacking in any surviving relatives, apart from Kay, I don't get the chance to go on holiday, unless I go alone, which is something I don't particularly relish at the moment. 

The plan was that we would fly out on Tuesday. I would then fly back alone on Friday while Kay would stay on with other friends coming out for the wedding at the weekend. Kay would fly back to London today, as she starts a new job on Wednesday 1 August - talk about rushing from one thing to another with only a day between!

I have been to Dubrovnik before. A long time ago in 1984 with Greg. At that time Dubrovnik was part of Yugoslavia and Communist. I fell in love with the town at the time. Its red roofs, traffic-free lanes and medieval walls captured my imagination and stole my heart. We stayed at the time in the Hotel Imperial (now the Hilton - that's what happens with the breakdown of communism) just within spitting distance of the medieval Pile gate and from our room had breathtaking views of the red roofs encapsulated by grey thick castle walls. I had never forgotten it and it ranked as the most romantic place I had ever been to. How could I give up a chance to revisit it? 

It did not disappoint. I fell in love all over again. The town had not changed much in some ways but there were differences too. There were pock marks from shells - a reminder of the Homeland War in 1991-95 which we learned a lot about and which I recall from the news at the time.  Croatia had spent a lot of money patching things up. Also, when I had visited before the shops were very subdued, all had the same things for sale at the same prices as it was controlled by the communist state. Now there is a much more colourful, vibrant atmosphere. But the buildings are still preserved in their medieval splendour and Dubrovnik's nickname of "Pearl of the Adriatic" still applies. The only thing I did not like was the overwhelming mass of tourists which at times were shoulder to shoulder along the main thoroughfare. (But then it was July when most schools are on holiday throughout Europe.) Probably the best times to come are April, May or September. Note for the future.


Kay and I stayed in air bnb accommodation down one of the many stepped alleyways, so were literally half a minute away from all the life and bustle of the town. We could wander the traffic-free streets and alleys to our hearts' content right up to midnight and beyond and not have to worry about a bus home to the many hotels that litter the coast  a mile away. We never felt unsafe, the Croatians were extremely friendly and the weather baking. In the two days I was there, we crammed in a walking tour; a cable-car trip up the hill behind for aerial shots and a visit to the fortress for history of that war; wanderings round churches, cathedrals and medieval apothecary; not to mention shops. Oh and countless ice creams! We even called in at the Hilton to raise a glass to Greg, as I felt him there with me all the time.  At night we could choose from a 1001 restaurants in the backstreets all touting for business AND you could drink the water, often refilling bottles from the fountain in the main street.  I was so sad to leave again on Friday and the journey back on the airport bus was spent looking over my shoulder at every turn of the hairpin coastal road to catch one last glimpse.

It's true to say I fell in love all over again.


The pearl of the Adriatic


Those attractive red roofs

The crowds
The medieval walls

More red roofs


The town fountain



A typical alleyway with hundreds of steps

The Imperial Hotel (now Hilton)
A sneaky pina colada on the last evening

19 July 2018

Three more days to go

For those who have been reading this blog for some time, you will know that my daughter Kay has been travelling for the last five months. First to Asia and then to South America. She is due home in three days' time. I am counting down the hours now and cannot wait to get her back in my arms and give her a tight hug. I am so proud of the way she has negotiated her way round this big old crazy world of ours. She's had her 27th birthday while she was out there, but to me she will always be my baby.

02 July 2018

London has been spared a painful moment

I've joined a choir!

When my dear old mum passed away in November, years of dedicated caring for her came to a sudden stop and for the first time in decades (if you count caring for my alcoholic husband too) I suddenly had time for myself. I had yearned for some ME time for ages, but now I actually had it. Time to pursue house improvement projects and some hobbies. Truth be told I was so dazzled by the newly acquired freedom, it was difficult to know where to start. 

I have some major works on the house in view - two new bathrooms for a start, as both are stuck in a 1960s time warp. The showers barely dribble and the colours are so old-fashioned, so it all needs dragging into the 2020s. The kitchen needs a slight overhaul too and the general decoration of the rest of the house, which I did myself back in 2010-2012, now needs renewing.

But that wasn't going to fill all my time or make me some new friends, so I had a big think and decided the first toe in the water was to join a choir. I have always liked singing (well, that's what I call it), so decided it would be nice to do it in a trained way and meet other people in the process.

The local choir was just the thing.  Although I like classical music, I'm not into singing it.  The choir I chose is a selection of gospel, Beatles, Abba, Carpenters. That sort of thing. Gentle melodies with 4-part harmonies. There's about 80 of us in the choir. A lot of Altos and Sopranos, with a light sprinkling of Bass and Tenor.

I have really enjoyed the weekly rehearsals and, guess what, made new friends too. We already have quite a big repertoire and the choir mistress makes it all fun and we do hilarious warm-up exercises at the beginning of each session which reduce us to giggles.

There is a concert each term. The last one (and very first one for me) was scheduled in early March at the local church where we rehearse. I got all dolled up for it, even excitedly dragged Kay along for moral support, but when we got there, the church was all in darkness. It had been cancelled the day before because of a very heavy snowfall. In actual fact, by the time of the concert, the snow had completely melted. If only they had waited a few hours more!  As I was the new girl, they had not got my email onto the system in time to tell me. I was so disappointed that my debut as a star would not happen.

The next concert was yesterday lunchtime. We were to sing at a local comprehensive school summer fair along with other choirs. We had honed our repertoire to perfection in rehearsals and I was all geared up for it. My best friend, who lives a two-hour drive away, wanted to come along to see it and stay with me for a day or two, so all was prepared, beds made, food bought ready for the big day. Then, less than 24 hours before, late on Saturday afternoon, I received an email to say the concert had been cancelled. The pianist was ill. Now one cancellation was unfortunate, but two was beginning to show an alarming pattern. Although I do enjoy the rehearsals, I am beginning to think the choir is a tad disorganised.

But then again, Londoners were spared the moment, when they would have been exposed to the warbling of the lesser spotted Addy.  Maybe not a pretty sound after all.


25 June 2018

Sorry and Anniversary

I apologise to anyone who has left a comment on my blog in the last six months only for it not to be published. After a spate of comments in either Chinese or from people who had found happiness through Dr Quack and been reunited with their philandering husband, or who with the help of Mr Wooloveryoureyes had won a lot of money, I decided to impose comment moderation on all comments. In the beginning, I  used to be notified of comments by email, so was able to accept or delete them. However, over the last six months, the comments had dwindled to nil and I was getting no notifications whatsoever in my email.    Thanks to Yorkshire Pudding, I have discovered that people were indeed leaving comments, but I was unaware of them.  I am not sure what happened, but have found the solution and discovered 120 comments awaiting comment  moderation. Now a good third were from Dr Quack or Mr Wooloveryoureyes followers, but the remainder have now been published belatedly. Apologies again and many thanks to Yorkshire Pudding for bringing this to my attention. 

Changing the subject drastically, I suddenly realised that last month saw my 10th anniversary of blogging. Way back in May 2008, when I was troubled by my husband's alcoholism and needed an outlet to put all my fears and frustrations to cyber paper, I tentatively started my blog. Here is that very first post. Incidentally I wasn't known as Addy in those early days, but Rosiero. I later changed it to Addy (AD being short for Alcoholic Daze). But neither are my real name in any case, as  anonymity is important to me. The blog led from being an outpouring on my part to helping others in similar situations, then morphed into a diary for me to keep. Never in a million years did I think I would still be writing it ten years on.

14 June 2018

Messing about on the River




Kay has not only been away from home, but also away from the UK for what seems like years, but in reality is only months. I miss her so much. She is my one and only child and now my one and only surviving relative, so naturally I miss her. She has only been away for 14 weeks and will back in another six weeks.

She is currently having the experience of a lifetime. She has come to a natural hiatus in her career. The time between being a junior doctor for just two years and starting the hard slog to the next major rung of Registrar. Before embroiling herself in the next two-year phase of hospitals and exams combined, she wanted to see the world. It wasn't going to be possible once she put her head down and worked the arduous schedules that a doctor has to work.  It might not also be possible once she got tied down by mortgages or children of her own.  So it was now or never at the age of 26 years old. She was going to take a year off the career ladder and have a delayed GAP year.

She had a plan.   She spent the first seven months (August to February) working as a locum in a big London teaching hospital, squirreling away the high fees locums can earn. That fund was to support her financially over the remaining five months (March to July) when she would go travelling. Her boyfriend, a dentist, did the same.  

In early March, the two of them set off.  First to Thailand, where they visited umpteen temples, lounged on golden sands in deserted coves played with elephants and learnt how to cook Thai-style.





Then on to Cambodia to learn of its horrific past of Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot. Next was Vietnam with its crazy bikers in Ho Chi Minh City, its quaint sea resorts and the bustle of Hanoi. (Not to mention that monkey bite.)








Then on to South America, starting with Argentina, where they learned to tango (it does take two),  admired the haunts of Eva Peron (Evita), and took in tours of the Malbec vineyards. 


 
Then down to the deep Patagonian south of the continent, the "end of the world", where they climbed glaciers


and watched sea-lions and penguins, just as Charles Darwin would have done. 


On to Santiago in Chile.  The Argentinian and Chilean painters and decorators alike seem to have had a field day and gone berserk with a job-lot of paint. 




Then sand-boarding in the desert followed by crossing the salt flats in Bolivia, ending up at Lake Titicaca in Copacobana (and not the one Barry Manilow sings about). 





Next to Peru and the main part of their tour, not to mention the title of this post. They have volunteered to work with a charity that runs medical boats along the Amazon. These are floating clinics staffed by doctors, nurses, dentists, midwives  and physiotherapists. Most of the medics are Peruvian, but foreigners can volunteer to work free of charge on the boats for the experience. These boats call in at remote villages where the only access is by river. If these boats did not come, the villagers would have no access to a doctor. Kay and boyfriend are, as I write, currently on board, treating tribes who are highly suspicious of modern medicine, but resort to it when their own herbal remedies fail.



Kay is also out of internet contact, because they are in the middle of the rain forest. I shan't hear from her for another five whole days!!!   (How my parents coped when I went off to Germany for a year in 1971 with only snail mail, which took a week to get anywhere, or the very rare highly expensive phone call from a kiosk, I shall never know).

The next thing on the list, after the Amazon trip, will be a trek up to the summit of Machu Pichu. Then on to Ecuador and Colombia, before the flight back home towards the end of July. I expect they will both be very weary. Kay starts her new job back on the career ladder on 1 August.  She'll need a holiday first!

She will have experienced so many sights, sounds, smells and changes of cuisine from nine different parts of the world. Something most people never get in a lifetime. What a marvellous experience.



04 June 2018

Kew Gardens

I had to meet some American friends at their hotel in Kew on Friday, as they were in London on a whistle-stop tour doing some research at the nearby National Archives for a book they are writing.  As I wasn't meeting them until 7pm, I decided I'd get over there a bit earlier (five hours earlier to be precise) and have a look at Kew Gardens. Such a long time since I was last there.... I think I may have even been under ten years old!

The weather  was changeable. The internet forecasts kept changing from being dry and sunny to rain. It was touch and go whether I'd do it at all, until the very last minute when the forecast changed yet again and showed it would be dry.

Mind you, when I got there, you'd have been forgiven for thinking it might rain. But thankfully it didn't. There aren't many places to shelter, if it does, and most of the 326 acres is open to the elements.



The newly refurbished Temperate House was magnificent.



Inside as well as outside.





The Giant Pagoda and the Japanese Gateway installed calm in me.




At one stage I found the lake and sat down for a rest. 

 
I made a friend. It came out of the water and started pecking the ground near my feet. It had very big feet. Almost as big as mine!


After a short stay I wandered over to the Palm House.


It was very hot and humid in there.


Then on to the Bee Hive, commissioned by the UK for the Milan EXPO 2015, which gives an insight into a bee colony.





Then another rest by another lake,




 

  before it was time to meet my American friends nearby.

18 May 2018

The Internet: the worst and the best

It's been three weeks since I last posted. A combination of being elsewhere and being in a bad place, if you see what I mean.

The elsewhere was in Brighton, where I took up role of Nurse Addy to help a good friend who had broken her leg. She lives in a tall Victorian house, with her bedroom right up in the attic -  rather like Rapunzel's Tower - and the kitchen way down two flights on the ground. Not very good when you have a broken leg (note to self, as I have six half levels broken by five flights of stairs).  It kept me fit doing up and down with things for her or helping her slowly and painfully down to get some fresh air in her garden.  

Whilst I was away I was victim to an Internet troll. I won't go into details, but it upset me greatly and, as always when I have stress, it went straight to my stomach. I have spent the last two weeks nursing a sore tummy.  These trolls think they can hide behind their computers and say what the hell they like. That is the down side of the internet.  Fortunately,  now I can say I am nearly over that and in full fighting fit mode (and probably full fighting mode with regard to the troll, whereas the last two weeks felt like the end of the World).

Kay meanwhile has literally been at the end of the World in Patagonia and is now in Santiago slowly making her way north along the west coast of South America. Thanks to the internet I have been able to keep in daily touch with her, so the internet certainly does have its good side as well as its bad.


27 April 2018

A tale of teeth and more teeth

It's been a strange few weeks since I last wrote and I've had little time to even think about blogging or reading yours.

Image result for tooth extraction
courtesy of medhalt.com
First there was my tooth. Or rather lack of it. I'd been on a hospital waiting list since last June to have an upper molar removed. My dentist was not keen to do it as the root went through a sinus cavity, so had referred me to the local hospital. However, as with all things non-emergency these days, I'd been waiting all this time to have it removed. The day finally came in mid March. It was not an easy extraction and the tooth crumbled as it was being pulled, so the young doctor (not actually sure he shouldn't still have been at secondary school by the look of him) had a job digging it out. They have to warn you about the worst case scenario and I was not a little disconcerted that I might get "communication" which is apparently when a hole appears between the nose and mouth and your cup of tea or coffee comes down your nose as you drink it!  I was almost out of the door at that point before I signed on the dotted line, but slightly reassured that it only happens in 1% of cases. Hoping to be among the other 99%, I was to avoid nose blowing or sneezing for a good two weeks. It's amazing, when told this, how you suddenly have a strong urge to sneeze every five minutes. That urge was constant for at least the first three weeks.

The first week was excruciating. I had to gargle with salt water washes four times daily and eat mushy baby food. After a week, I could gradually go on to harder food and stop the mouth washes.   However, after a week, my mouth was still very painful and I could feel sharp lumps on the ridge of my gum which I thought might be ulcers. I suffered for a second week before approaching the hospital again to ask if they could possibly have a look. I was a bit nervous to appear a right wimp, but I couldn't go back to my usual dentist as he had in the meantime retired since I last saw him in June, so technically I no longer had a dentist. It turns out I'd got something called "dry socket". It's where a blood clot, that should have formed immediately after the extraction to fill the hole, comes away leaving the bones and nerves exposed. They were surprised I'd held on so long. It usually happens to smokers or women on the pill. I'm not guilty of either, so goodness knows why it happened to me. They dressed the wound and said I was about two weeks behind in the healing process. The sharp lump I could feel was bone poking through the gum where the jaw had fractured with the force of the extraction. Not to worry, I was told it would heal in a few months and go back to normal eventually. After five weeks of mushy food, I am gradually returning to adult food again and pain-wise where I should have been three weeks ago. The human body is certainly a wonderful thing.

Meanwhile Kay and her boyfriend were sending me daily photos and updates about their holiday and keeping me happy that they were safe and well. It almost felt like I was on holiday with them. They had spent a few weeks in Thailand, a week in Cambodia and two weeks in Vietnam. In Vietnam they had started down in the south in Ho Chi Minh City. As they were flying out of Hanoi back to London, they needed to gradually work their way north to Hanoi. About four days before the end of their holiday they were about 80 miles from Hanoi staying on Monkey Island. The clue is in the name. The place has a colony of monkeys that tourists come far and wide to see. Tourist boats call in, tourists jump off, photograph monkeys and leave by boat. The monkeys must get sick of it unless of course they get thrown bananas. There is one hotel on the island and Kay and boyfriend booked in for three nights. On their first day, they went off in search of monkeys. Clambering over a rocky promontory complete with fallen trees and ditches, they came down onto another beach and saw some monkeys playing in the trees. Kay was filming them from a good distance. One monkey was on the beach playing with an old discarded shirt, wrapping it round its head and having a whale of a time. Kay still kept her distance, taking the occasional photo. Just as they were about to leave, a second monkey came out of the forest behind the beach and started attacking the first monkey. They wrestled for the shirt and the fight got very nasty indeed. As Kay and friend were walking away back to the promontory, the two monkeys abandoned their fight with one another and decided it was better to join up and fight the humans instead. Kay said it was difficult to gain a distance because the terrain was rough and not easy for them to hurry whereas the monkeys were able to bound over obstacles and gain on them.  The next thing was that one leapt onto Kay's back and sunk its teeth into her upper arm. Kay managed to get down to the sea edge and bathe her arm in salt water. Once over the promontory again,  a nearby cafe just happened to have some iodine under the counter (funny that!)
and she was able to bathe the wound in iodine. However unable to get definitive confirmation whether the monkeys were rabid, the pair had to cut short their idyllic stay on the island and head for Hanoi earlier than planned to get rabies boosters. Thank God for travel insurance as those shots cost over 200 US$.  


Kay came home for all of five days last week, as planned, to dump thin hot-weather clothes, grab some cold-weather  trekking clothes and head off to South America, where the next three-month leg of her adventure continues.  As an anxious mum, I'd factored all sorts of disasters into her trip - theft, murder, shark attack, falling off a cliff whilst trying to get a good photo and maybe a car accident, but getting bitten by a rabid monkey was well off my radar. I sincerely hope that's the last of the disasters.



09 April 2018

My Imaginary journey


Kay's almost at the end of the first leg of her travels. I can't believe there's only another eight days before she's home again . When she set off on 7 March, it seemed a long way away, but, thanks to Whatsapp, Internet and Skype,  she has kept in touch almost on a daily basis. She knows what a worrier I am. As a widow and an only child with no other close family such as cousins, she's my one and only in the world now, so I think I can be allowed to worry when she's on the other side of the world. I've been able to follow her flights on Flight Radar and literally take-off and land with her. I've been able to look up on the internet the hotels or hostels she has stayed in, or google the towns to see what they look like. She tells me what she has done that day or what she is planning for the next. It's been nice to hear from her regularly, as I feel I am experiencing the holiday through her.

She spent almost three weeks in Thailand, playing with elephants,
learning how to cook Thai style, visiting zillions of temples, luxuriating on a paradise island and "slumming" it in backpacker hostels. "Slumming" is the wrong word as I would have happily stayed in any of the ones she stayed at - they're not the same basic places we called hostels in the 1970s or 1980s. A couple even had their own pool. She moved on to Cambodia for about ten days visiting more temples and the Killing Fields (or the Cambodian equivalent of Auschwitz). The latter obviously had a great effect on her, because we had a 45-minute skype conversation about it the following day. 

 
She's now in Vietnam. Having experienced the crazy bike world of Ho Chi Minh City (it's always going to be Saigon to me) or exploring the VietCong tunnels.  She's now in a coastal resort in a quaint little town (a sort of Vietnamese Lyme Regis) where there are hundreds of tailors who will whip up a suit or a dress or even a handbag overnight to your specification and choice of cloth or leather. Kay is in seventh heaven and has bought several dresses and bags. How on earth she is going to cram them into an already bursting rucksack remains to be seen, unless she jettisons a lot of toiletries overboard first. 

Eight more days in Vietnam and then she is on her way home. I can't wait to see her. Although, if I blink, she will be gone again. She's home for a few days and then she's off on the next leg of her travels. I'd better start researching that on the internet for my next imaginary journey.



25 March 2018

This little piggy went to market

Well, my mum's retirement flat is now on the market, thanks to this little piggy, who worked her hooves off to empty the flat and part-decorate it ready for the sale. All that is now needed is for the blimmin thing to sell. According to the estate agent, this is not a good time. Is it ever? I have never found moving house anything other than stressful. Buyers or vendor change their minds and drop out like flies. Mortgages are unobtainable or surveys spread gloom and doom. I have never met anyone who didn't have problems of one sort or another. The last time Greg and I moved it was so stressful we never moved again - that was thirty years ago and I still don't feel tempted to try it again!

Fortunately with this case, I have nothing to buy, so can sit back and wait, but I'm sure I'll have some tales to tell before it sells.


Image result for for sale
courtesy of zillow.com

20 March 2018

Rollercoaster Ride

Poor old Ant's in the news again.  It's no surprise to me. Addiction is a roller-coaster. One minute you're down in the depths and the next minute you've recovered and on a high again. Being in the public eye makes it a thousand times worse, I am sure, but it is no different to the ordinary man in the street really. Every one including the addict hopes rehab will solve the problem, but it's not usually the case. Nine in ten people will succumb to the demon again. Up, down, up, down.

It does not make Ant or any other addict a bad person. They would give anything not to be like that. It's an illness, a mental illness, that they don't have a lot of control over, although many who have never been in that situation will disagree. I am sure he will be mortified that a  young child's life was put in danger. Many's the time Greg wanted to go out in the car to get more whisky, whilst ten times over the drink-drive limit. Instead I "enabled" him by doing the driving myself to get his supplies. It did not sit easily with me that I was fueling his addiction. But his addiction meant that I could not have someone's life endangered or on my conscience. 

12 March 2018

Keeping mum

I mentioned in my last post that Kay is away for six weeks. That is only half true. She's away for five months.  Five months of discovering the world and its beauty for her. Five nail-biting, grey-hair-turning months for me. When does being a mum ever involve less worrying? I bite my lips and keep mum while she enthuses about what she is going to do, offering the odd bit of helpful advice about avoiding crocodiles and sheer precipices.

Last August Kay took a year out of her career ladder. She'd done the two foundation years after university, needed to cement her training as a young doctor. The next stage was to sign up to two years' Core Medical Training - placements in hospital that would lead to her becoming a Registrar. But she's younger than the majority of her cohort and she wanted to see the world. So............ she took a  year out.

First she worked as a locum for the last seven months in hospitals in London and Kent, earning far more as a locum than she would as permanent staff, AND she moved back to live with me. Both those moves enabled her to save vast sums of money which she squirreled away to fund her travels for the remaining five months. Last Wednesday her adventure began.

She is doing what a lot of youngsters do these days - backpacking around Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia.  In my 1960s head these are war zones. Places to avoid. It's like a future generation getting excited about a fortnight  in Afghanistan or Syria. The world is a much smaller place, now it has cheaper flights and internet. But it doesn't stop me worrying. Thankfully Whatsapp, Messenger and Skype keep us linked. But it doesn't stop me worrying. I worry for England. She's with her boyfriend, but, even so, did I mention I worry for England?

She's home for a mere few days in April before Phase 2 of her travels - to South America.   I guess I'm going to need a shed-load of hair dye by then. Those hairs are turning grey by the second.

gray hair dying
Picture from HTV.com

09 March 2018

Slumming it


When dinosaurs roamed the earth and I was a student, I stayed in youth hostels around Europe, which were pretty basic. The dorms were like prison cells with bunk beds so hard and decor limited to bed and cupboard. You shared with strangers and had gruel for breakfast. You showered communally.  They were not attractive in the slightest. It's hard to think of it now, but I used to hitch-hike too as far afield as Vienna.  I wouldn't recommend that now, but students in those days were made of strong stuff, the world was a different place, and we coped.

Kay and boyfriend departed from Heathrow two days ago for Bangkok on a two decker Airbus, every luxury at their fingertips.  They're on a six-week backpacking tour of Thailand/Cambodia/Vietnam. This is the room they've got in a hostel for the next five days in Bangkok. Ok, it's a bit minimalist, but has TV and attractive lighting AND an ensuite shower. AND privacy. Oh my word, what we would have given for that in my day.





28 February 2018

Snow joke!

I had to pop into Central London this morning for a hospital test booked weeks ago. I sure know how to pick my days. It would be the morning after the worst snowfall in London for years. Public transport up the creek and I had to be there by 10.30 am. Worse still, I  hadn't been allowed to eat since yesterday lunchtime. I was so weak and so hungry I could have eaten my head. I had to negotiate the snowy pavements in freezing cold temperatures, hang around for delayed trains and then buses. Fortunately I made the appointment on time. As I was leaving it decided to snow in blizzard proportions.  I stupidly thought I'd snap a stunning photo of Westminster in a blizzard from inside the bus,  but there was total white-out until my bus got over Lambeth Bridge and I was able to take this rather pathetic photo instead. Ironically the nurse that put a cannula into my arm was from Russia. She thought it hilarious that so little snow could bring a capital city down to a standstill. She's used to far more dramatic stuff.