28 July 2015

Too much excitement

I don't get out much. I'm a very stay-at-home kind of girl usually. I like my home comforts, my own four walls and am easy to please - a chocolate biscuit in front of the telly and I'm anybody's (well almost). But this last month has been busy with a capital B.  First of all a few days in York with Kay, then almost a full week in Rome and then a few days up in North England for Kay's graduation as a doctor. The poor cat thinks I've left home permanently and superglues herself to me when I return to show her undying love in case her lack of emotion is the reason I have left.

Kay's graduation was lovely, although it nearly wasn't. We checked into a hotel in the busy part of town, mainly because I wanted to be close to shops and restaurants at times when Kay was off with her friends. However the room was noisy with the window open (which we needed to open on account of the muggy but overcast  weather). When we went to bed on the eve of the graduation, Kay donned earplugs to drown out the noise of buses, cars and passing drunks at all hours of the night.  The pillows were like bricks and we tossed and turned all night. Next morning(the day of the graduation) she shook me awake with the news that she had awoken hot and agitated from lack of sleep, tried to remove her earplugs with difficulty and had managed to get one stuck in her ear. In trying further to remove it, she had heard a pop, followed by a rushing of liquid and had gone deaf. In her own self-diagnosis - she had perforated her eardrum! We were both on our feet in an instant and by 6.15am sitting in the local hospital's Accident & Emergency department. Thankfully it was the tail end (and quiet end) of the night shift and we were seen pretty quickly. Kay's diagnosis was confirmed by the doctor. It might clear up by itself or need some help with a minor operation, he said. GREAT. He was about to conjure up the ENT specialist when we said we were from London, only up for Kay's graduation in a few hours and could we get it done back in London? He agreed and suggested we see our GP once home to get the ball rolling.

We rushed back to the hotel, got changed and met Greg's sister who had come up from Lincolnshire. We had invited her as Greg was conspicuous by his absence on such a milestone day and in the circumstances we wanted his sister there in his place. (It was bittersweet that this was yet another milestone Greg has missed out on and sad for us too not having him by our side in the family photos!) By 2pm we were sitting in the Great Hall watching the ceremony like a scene from Harry Potter. The students were called up one by one to receive their diplomas and then had to quote the Hippocratic Oath. Shortly thereafter we adjourned  for champagne and nibbles.  On getting back to the hotel at 6pm, Kay lay down for a few minutes  on her bad ear and was shortly surprised to see a small plug of blood on her pillow. She sat up and COULD HEAR CLEARLY for the first time all day. We were able to go out for a lovely celebratory meal in the evening feeling far less anxious and able to enjoy it. To cut a long story short, our GP in London was able to confirm that the eardrum seems to be healing nicely and there is probably no long-term damage or need for an operation.

Kay departs today for her first hospital job. Shortly I am off to a wedding in Hull, but I can do without all this excitement, I can tell you.  I'm looking forward to a nice chocolate biscuit in front of the telly to recover!

20 July 2015

Roamin' in Rome

Well, Kay's back from her European tour, having taken in Amsterdam, Berlin, Krakow, Auschwitz, Budapest, Zagreb and Split. Her companion had to come back to the UK earlier than Kay, so I offered to meet Kay for the last few days she had left, particularly as it meant she would have been on her own for her 24th birthday. Where to meet? First choice for both of us was originally Prague, but then the logistics let us down, meaning we had to choose somewhere else she could easily reach from Split and me from London without arriving at midnight or leaving home at 3am. We stuck a pin in the atlas and came up with Rome. Neither of us had been there before.

I booked hotels and flights feeling very pleased with myself that I had chosen a hotel equidistant from all the sights and flights that were at reasonable times. What I had not done was check the climate.  O stupidity!  Rome in July is like walking into a furnace. Whatever possessed me to book a break in Rome in July? Even the Romans leave Rome in July!  What was I thinking?

To say it was hot was an understatement. The average midday temperature was about 37C. It only fell to about 25C at night.  For a post-menopausal lady of a certain age given to frequent tropical moments even in the middle of a snowy January, this was not good news. Even blinking brought me out in a sweat. Thank heavens for air-conditioning in the hotel. Kay threatened to disown me as I had invested in a UV-resistant parasol to dive under when shade was sparse, but I did notice she was quite happy to dive under it too at times. And, no, I did not  have a trail of tourists following me around thinking I was their tour guide. There were enough like-minded tourists doing the same.

There was one spooky moment, when we were sitting in a square and musing about Greg, when all of a sudden a street musician started to play a very old song which was one Greg used to strum on the guitar. It was a hair-raising moment.

Despite the intense heat, we packed a lot into 5 days. Here are some of the places we saw.

Colosseum outside

Colosseum inside at 8.30am (to beat the heat and the crowds)
 A lion I fought earlier

Pantheon outside

Pantheon inside

Trevi Fountain complete with scaffolding and no water!
St Peter's Basilica and Square (also at 8.30am- half an hour later, the queues were half a mile long)

San Giovanni in Laterano
Vatican - which one's the Pope's bedroom?

Il Vittoriano

Roman Forum

The Forum's bigger than you think

Presidential palace

Spanish Steps

Somewhere to recharge the batteries

A beautiful city - from the Borghese Gardens