Sunday, 30 September 2012

Over Sleeping On Sunday

I woke up at half past ten this morning and immediately went into a complete spin because my meds were all at least two hours overdue. It doesn't matter so much with the pills but the IV is a different kettle of fish altogether. Fortunately the occasional blip doesn't seem to make much difference and the only danger I seemed to be in was having an empty cassette. Cassettes changed, pills taken and crisis over I made a nice cuppa and remained in bed to read the paper. I cannot remember the last time I had a proper lie in and, once over the shock, relaxed back and enjoyed it. It was gone half past eleven by the time I was up and about, how naughty am I?

Andrew came home yesterday for an over night stay and things are not going well.

It is freshers week and it seems his house mates have interpreted this as 'who can stay drunk the longest'. Andrew's idea of a night out is a couple of pints in a quiet pub where he can enjoy good conversation. His house mates think it means getting hammered every night and throwing up in the bathroom every morning. Andrew has been kept awake most nights by constant parties and then spends most of the day on his own cleaning up. He is not happy.

Next week proper lessons start so he reckons that they will all calm down then as they will have work to do and that will keep them out of the pub, it also means no more organised events on campus so less opportunity to get drunk. If they don't then he is seriously considering asking for a house move but I suspect most of the houses are exactly the same at the moment. The problem is that they are all very young. A couple are only just eighteen and none have been away from home before and seem used to having everything done for them. Some even appear incapable of locking, or even closing the front door. Andrew emerged from his room one morning to find two total strangers going through the cupboards in the kitchen, he was not impressed. There is one bloke there who is a bit older than the others and he and Andrew have struck up a bit of a friendship so it isn't all doom and gloom and of course he hasn't met any of his course mates yet so he might find Tom isn't the only one he gets on with.

The Saturday night event was billed as the 'Smirnoff Send Off' and described as the 'last big blow out before the real work begins'. Deciding that he was not going to spend Sunday one his own cleaning the kitchen, again, he packed a rucksack and came home arriving just after lunch yesterday afternoon. The kitchen is the bain of his life. Like me he believes that cleanliness in the kitchen and bathroom are sacrosanct. The rest of the house can be a mess but the kitchen and bathroom have to be pristine at all times. Some of his house mates make a rudimentary effort to clean up after themselves but others seem to be of the 'wait until I have nothing left to eat off' inclination. I have advised Andrew to grit his teeth, clean the area he is working in and then wash only his own stuff up. If he keeps cleaning for them they will expect him to do it and that is not fair.

There was some excitement though as he has the dates for his first placement and he has been measured for his uniform. He will get five shirts, five tee shirts, three pairs of cargo trousers, one pair of capped boots, a hi viz waterproof, a hi viz summer coat, a fleece, a utility belt and a stab vest. The stab vest is custom made so if he will keep that with him for life or until he changes shape. He is also being supplied with basic equipment such as a stethoscope, which again are his for his entire career. His first lecture is at nine on Monday morning and he cannot wait.

Since being home he has eaten for an army but did not bring any dirty washing as, as he proudly explained, he'd done it all before he left. We have agreed that until his house mates settle down he will come home at weekends, just for a break from the noise and mess. I can't see this lasting beyond the end of the month as I'm sure once he starts making friends and  everyone settles into their courses and has masses of work to do he will feel more inclined to stay put. He will be home next weekend though as it is his birthday and we have planned a family meal.

I got up to a bit of mischief yesterday, OK, it may not be everyone's idea of naughtiness but when you are banned from doing something even the most mundane task seems exciting. I vacuumed and mopped the floors! Only downstairs, I couldn't get the hoover upstairs, but I felt such a sense of achievement afterwards. It did mean I spent the rest of the day on the settee either watching TV or chatting to Andrew, but it was worth it just for the feeling of doing something 'normal'.

Today I'm cooking one of Andrew's favourites, sausage, mash, peas and gravy for lunch and then we will escort him part of the way back to uni, he got lost coming home, before settling down with a nice bottle of wine. I don't drink often but I think a treat is in order tonight. As this is turning into a weekend of 'doing everything I shouldn't' or as I like to call it 'living normally' I may as well end it in a similar fashion. I will probably regret it tomorrow but as they say, tomorrow is another day.

Talking of lunch, I'd better get started o my men will be raiding the fridge.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Question Of Faith And Morality

As promised I took my scooter out to the shops yesterday where it behaved impeccably.

It was so much easier to move around the crowded aisles than with conventional scooters and I was able to reach all but the top two shelves. Not once did I feel unstable or unsafe so this is obviously the perfect environment for it, which is good because that's the main reason I bought it. If it remains dry this afternoon I'm planning another trip out around the village to see if I can do better now I've got used to it a bit more.

My new pump arrived this morning all perfectly programmed and appears to be working a treat. I don't have to return my old one until next week so I have plenty of time to test it and make sure I'm absolutely confident with it.

While out on my scooter I got stuck behind two old ladies in a queue for the checkout. They were talking about a funeral one of them had attended and how they had buried a 'shell' and not the whole person. I thought how comforting this was as when I buried my baby boy the vicar told me that he wasn't in the ground, it was just the shell he had lived in. I'm not particularly religious but I did find it comforting to think he was 'somewhere else' and thought how comforted this lady must have felt being told the same, so I was totally unprepared for what came next.

"They stripped everything out of him you know, the bloody vultures!"

It took me a moment but I realised she must be talking about transplants. My suspicions were confirmed later in the conversation and it started me thinking.

I've only every thought of transplantation from my point of view. I need a heart and lungs and there is only one way of getting them. However I've managed to look upon it as just getting another medication and have disassociated from the fact that in order for me to live someone must die. This conversation has made me think of things from the donors point of view, or at least that of the family and friends. And it has made me feel a bit uncomfortable.

I am a donor, though there is very little of me they can still use, and have always said I'd have no problems with agreeing to members of my family being donors but is that true? Would I, if the situation arose, be able to give consent? I wouldn't even allow a postmortem on William when he died so how could I possibly bare to allow organs to be taken and used by someone else? Of course no one knows how we will react in any given situation until it happens but I am now worried I may not be able to be as generous to others as they are willing to be for me.

There are religions who think the exchanging or organs, or even blood for that matter, is wrong and I've scoffed at these religions calling them short sighted and backward but what if they are right? Who commits the sin? The donor? The recipient? The surgeon? Then another part of me reasons that if God didn't mean us to have transplants he wouldn't have allowed us the knowledge to do them would he? And yet another part says it has nothing to do with religion and is just science.

I then wonder if by wishing to have new organs I am actually willing someone to die. This, of course, is nonsense. The person would have died anyway and if I or someone else don't have the organs offered they will just go to waste, which is the sin here, taking the organs or refusing them? It's not as though those in need of a transplant are walking around looking for a match, it's not as though we are 'farming' donors but by the very fact that we 'wish' are we actually influencing fate? Are we, by some power beyond us, causing the death to happen? Most will say that is ridiculous and impossible and they are probably right but no one can be 100% sure and even an iota of doubt still counts.

I know that I tend to over think things from time to time and that is probably what I am doing here but I think they are all valid questions, I just wish I knew the answers.

I have the day to myself as Peter is in work so of course I'm probably going to end up doing something I shouldn't. First up is a quick dust of the living room, then I'm going to try assembling my scooter by myself. Peter has done all the putting together and taking apart stuff since it arrived but I haven't as yet and it is important that I know whether I can. My freedom will be severely curtailed if I can't get the thing in or out of the car boot and put it together. I waited until Peter wasn't around because it would be too easy to wimp out and ask for help and I just know he would be unable to leave me too it, any hesitation he'd be there, helping. Don't get me wrong it is nice to have someone so willing to look out for me but there are things I just have to learn to do for myself and this is one of them. If I can get it assembled then the potential for misbehavior increases tenfold, I can't wait!

Now though it is time to have a cup of tea and read the assembly instructions. Wish me luck.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

TravelScoot Test Drive

The first thing I noticed on my first trip out on my new scooter was how bad the pavements around my village were.

I decided to take my old jogging route as it covers most of the village and goes past the places I am most likely to want to go such as the shops and GP surgery. I last walked this route over two years ago when the pavements were still in good repair. Yesterday I found potholes, sloping where parts of the pavement had collapsed and overgrown bushes blocking my way. In some areas I was forced into the road because the pavement was so bad but at least it did give the scooter a good work out.

The first thing I will say is that if you want a light maneuverable scooter for shopping centres and well paved areas this is definitely the scooter for you. Do not bother if you have limited movement in your upper body or cannot push with your legs or want to go on rough terrain.

The scooter itself rides like a motorcycle or push bike. The throttle is a bit touchy and it is best to start off very slowly, it is a twist throttle, just like most motorbikes and you will need to hold it in place. The brakes are not as efficient as I would like but that might be because they are new and not bedded in properly yet. It has no light's so if you intend to use it after dark you will need to get a bike light. It also doesn't have a key so if you are likely to have to leave it outside a shop you will need to get a bicycle lock to stop it getting stolen. It fits brilliantly into both our cars and leaves far more room than the wheelchair.

The ride is very firm as the wheels are solid rather than air filled but the seat and back rest are thickly padded and wide so they cushion the bumps quite nicely. Because of the placement of the battery and the seat the scooter is back heavy so to avoid tipping over you need to lean forward going up slopes or kerbs. You will also need to lean if going along a slope, I didn't and nearly found myself deposited in the road. Once you have got the hang of having to lean to counterbalance you should be fine, as I said, just like riding a bike.

It does not like wet grass or gravel, it won't move on the first and gets bogged down in the second and it definitely does not like mud so hence my comment about using it on rough terrain. On the whole I found the going fine and on flat, good ground I whizzed along at about six mph but felt much more comfortable going slower especially where the ground was potholed or sloping. Width wise it managed much narrower pavements than a conventional scooter would do but it was still too wide for some of the narrower paths, especially those overgrown. Turning is brilliant, you should have no problems turning in lifts so you don't have to back out. It has no reverse gear but is no trouble to push with your foot.

A little word of warning though. I was going up hill on a very narrow path and hit a pothole that I couldn't avoid. The next thing I know I'm flat on my back looking up at the sky. The pot hole must have bumped me off center so all the weigh went backwards as did I. Fortunately I was unhurt and managed to right the scooter by myself. After that I was much more studious at avoiding the potholes, especially going up hill or on a slope. The accident was more the fault of the road condition and me not being used to the scooter than the scooter itself but it has taught me a valuable lesson and I hopefully will not end up in a heap again.

So how does it compare to conventional scooters? Well difficult to say as I've never ridden a conventional scooter around the village. It is definitely lighter and more maneuverable however this means it is more unstable too and will need practice before I am entirely comfortable with it, especially after my tumble.We are going shopping this afternoon so I'll get to try it out in better conditions, and where I've used conventional scooters, so will report back on that tomorrow.

It rained most of the day yesterday so, apart from the small window where I went out on my scooter, we put off going out and I caught up on some neglected house work instead. The 'lack of Andrew' factor showed immediately and it only took me one episode of Neighbours to get the ironing done. The washing machine was put on for the first time since Sunday and the sink remains free of empty tuna cans. Best of all I can wash down the kitchen in the morning after breakfast and find it in the same pristine state come lunch time.

I do miss him though. It is not so bad when Peter is around but when he is at work and I'm on my own I find myself looking at the clock to see if school has finished and how long it will be before Andrew's home. I then get a pang of sadness when I realise he isn't coming home. I am no longer lying awake at night worrying about him though so I'm obviously settling down.

He keeps in touch and I've had at least one text per day from him so far. Yesterday he text me to say that his class had just been told that out of the 900 applicants for the course only 65 were eventually chosen. Apparently personality plays an even bigger part than exam results when they decide on who they are taking on. I suppose it makes sense as he will be dealing with extremely ill, shocked or distressed people for most of his working life. If you cannot connect with people while at the same time remain emotionally strong then it just it isn't the job for you as you will see some dreadful sights.

Laurence has also had an exciting week, one that may well end up in coroners court. He was involved in trying to save someone's life on Monday and spent twenty minutes giving CPR whilst waiting for the ambulance. The person he worked on is still in hospital but may not make it. Naturally Laurence was quite shocked by what had happened so we spent a long time on the phone chatting about it and how he felt about it. I think the one thing he does miss about living at home is that he doesn't have anyone to 'off load' on when he gets home.

Well the sun seems to be coming out. I may ditch the shopping basket for my camera and head off to take some pictures. I just need to decide what of.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Cry Freedom!

My scooter arrived this morning, I am so excited I could scream. It is all assembled and only the battery is not attached as it is currently charging. I've sat on it and scurried around the living room and kitchen on it pushing it along with my feet like a small child on a trike, yes it really is that small and that light. The five hour wait for the battery to work is going to drive me mad but it is also raining at the moment so I'd have to wait anyway.

Yesterday we had a brilliant day out at Watford, yes I did say Watford.

Watford has a very large number of charity shops which house a very large collection of second hand books. I read like the devil especially when ill and can get through a book a day which can be extremely expensive so I trawl charity shops instead and as a result can get five or more books for the price of one new one. I know some people have a thing about second hand stuff but it doesn't bother me. I only buy books that are in excellent condition and always check the inside pages as well as the cover. When I get them home I wipe down the covers with alcohol wipes and I'm quite happy. Yesterday's outing gave me a haul of nine books, which is more than the two or three I usually find and added to my growing Agatha Christie collection by one book. I am trying to collect all Christie's works but many are now out of print so charity shops are my last hope of getting a copy, well that and second hand books shops. It also is nice to know the money I spend is going to do some good and not just line the pockets of a grasping publishing house.

After our trawl we had lunch in a Subway, which is delicious and healthier than a burger. I had a tuna melt packed with veggies and almost managed the lot, my appetite has definitely improved over this last week and once again I'm wondering if the stress of working is the problem rather than the meds themselves. It then started to rain so we high tailed it into the centre for a mooch around the shops. I very nearly bought a Tangine as I've always wanted to try one out but restrained myself thinking it would be a nice item to put on my Christmas list so that's what I'm going to do, along with a book of Moroccan recipes which also caught my eye.

As my scooter had yet to arrived I hired one from Shopmobility and they seem to have got some new models in, which were smaller than the types I'd had before. Compared to Milton Keynes, borrowing a scooter at Watford was a doddle. I rang to book but was laughed at by the receptionist who said they'd never had to turn anyone away and hardly ever had anyone book. Compared to the Milton Keynes shop though their stock is enormous so it is easy to see why they never run out. It left me wondering why the bigger centre should be the one with the least scooters. Also the Watford shopmobility has it's own floor of the car park which is secure and you have to show your badge before they let you in. I still had to pay the car park fees but it was so nice to know that my car was unlikely to be hit by any moron thinking it was a race track and that the people at shopmobility keep an eye on the car whilst there. Brilliant!

In the news I've been following the story of Megan and her maths teacher and like all teachers I am appalled. As teachers we have a parental responsibility to look after the children in our care but there still have to be limits and barriers. When a child is having a rough time at home and they trust you enough to confide in you then you of course listen and offer advice. This might be anything from just a 'why don't you talk ....' to referring them to someone who can help. What you most definitely do not do is take sides or get involved.

Now reading about this it sounds as though Megan has a pretty mixed up family with both her natural parents now married to someone else and a new baby brother to contend with. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying the parents did anything wrong or are in anyway 'bad' parents but it must be a lot for a fifteen year old to contend with. In those circumstance Megan would have been extremely vulnerable to anyone who showed her any sympathy or attention. Jeremy Forrest clearly has abused his position and when caught should go to jail. He will never teach again. However the most alarming part of this story is how slowly the school has been dealing with this case when suspicions were raised seven months ago. I know teachers are constantly falsely accused of bad behaviour by vindictive children and their parents, often because the child was given detention, but there is a difference between protecting the innocent and routing out the bad. With the evidence presented to them this teacher should already be suspended.

Well off to get lunch and then a trial run around the village. 

Monday, 24 September 2012

University Blues

Woke up to an extremely depressing, dark, rainy day and a text starting 'Mum I've forgotten...' I have a feeling I'm going to get a few of those over the next couple of days.

Knowing that the 'storm' was on it's way we set off early for Hatfield and arrived and moved Andrew into his room in the dry. It wasn't long before the rain started though and by heavens did it rain. We unpacked and put everything away and then met some of his new house mates. The student accommodation on campus is split into individual five bedroomed houses with each house housing a maximum of ten students. The house also has a large kitchen and two bathrooms but no lounge. His house mates seem really nice and are all studying different subjects, I suspect this is to stop students becoming too isolated and only mixing with those on their courses. It will mean they will have a proper break from their subjects too, which is a good thing. Andrew's room mate is very quite although a little on the messy side but then Andrew isn't the world tidiest either. They each have a small fridge in their rooms for milk etc, and a big fridge freezer in the kitchen. There is an oven and a sink but no washing machine but there is a communal laundry with washing machines and dryers elsewhere on campus.

After we got him settled we took him for lunch, as it will probably be the only proper meal he is going to get for a while. We went to a local pub and had an excellent meal, which, I am pleased to say I almost managed to finish. Then it was off to Asda to pick up a few essentials and to work out where it was in relation to his digs. We were pleased to find it is less than a mile away, well withing easy walking distance. We also found a small co-op even closer so shopping should be really easy for him.

By the time we got him back to campus it was really coming down so we dashed to his room for a final chat and a private hug before leaving. So what had we forgotten? The cable to attach his laptop to the Internet. It is now in the post and with a bit of luck he should get it tomorrow, Wednesday at the very latest.

Today is his registration and induction day and he has already texted to say he is having his first placement with the London Ambulance Service in eight weeks time. It will only be as an observer this time though so if you are in London in mid November and you are unfortunate enough to need an ambulance, rest assured you won't be jumped upon by someone who has only just learned how to read a thermometer. You might find yourself being stared at though.

Saturday Laurence came up to see us and to wish Andrew well. He was in a very jovial mood and we spent a few hours laughing at some of his work stories, he always has a few, and discussing early arrangements for Christmas. Both myself and Laurence are roistered on Christmas Day this year so we have decided to put our actual Christmas meal back a few days. We are also supposed to be on New Year's Day too but have agreed to request that day off so we can, hopefully, have a get together before Andrew returns to uni. Unlike a lot of uni courses his is really intense and because of the placements the terms are a lot longer. He only gets ten days at Christmas, about a week at Easter and the summer term does not end until mid August.

Of course we will be seeing both of them again before Christmas but it is going to be difficult getting everyone together on the same day as we all now work shifts.

So how am I doing? Well today I am extremely tired as I lay awake all night worrying about how Andrew was getting on. It is so stupid and so strange. When he went to Bulgeria I had no sleepless nights except for the night before he returned as he was arriving at six in the morning and I was scared of over sleeping. Now he is only thirty minutes away and I'm worried sick. How does that work? I suppose it's because he was staying with people I knew in Bulgaria whilst here it is all brand new and strange. In Bulgaria he had someone who knew the area to help him get around whilst here it is easier to get lost, at least until he gets used to it. I keep telling myself he will be nineteen in two weeks and is a young man not a child but so far it's not doing much good.

On the plus side I've put on almost three pounds in weight and I'm putting this down to long lie ins, sitting around reading or watching TV and eating more as I am able to snack right through the day, something I cannot do at work. Of course there is also the stress factor. Although I get four days off between each working week, I never truly relax because I'm always preparing for the next set. As you know my trip to Papworth has been put back until October 8th so I'm hoping to gain a few more pounds before I get there and avoid the ticking off I got at Harefield.

Our trip away has hit the skids. We originally booked to go to Paris today but then cancelled because Papworth sent me that appointment and we both decided it was more important. Then Papworth changed the appointment so we tried to rebook but have failed to find a free hotel for the days Peter has booked off. So we have decided to book a couple of days at a B & B somewhere near Canterbury for a couple of nights this weekend and do some sight seeing. It is not the trip we intended but at least it will be 'away' which is all that really matters.

This week we've decided on a couple of day trips to fill in the time, the weather is supposed to be better tomorrow so we are checking out some country houses in the area and hoping to take some stunning pictures. We will enjoy ourselves no matter what and spend the time getting used to being a couple again.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Brothers In Arms

Andrew's packing continues apace and we are almost done. I couldn't find my spare tin opener so had to nip out and get one but apart from that it seems to have gone smoothly so far.

Today started off with a bit of a disappointment. I bought a new bath bomb and decided to try it out this morning. I really hope there is something wrong with mine and it doesn't normally smell like this one did. According to the description I was meant to be immersed in the smell of lemon grass and avocado instead there was a distinct waft of farm yard animals about it, not only that but it seemed to leave my skin slightly greenish. I thought it was just me until Peter muttered something about cows and the Incredible Hulk's sister, at which point I dived into the shower. It also leaves a bright green scum mark around the bath which is incredibly difficult to shift. That is absolutely the last time I buy something called Avobath, you have been warned.

Don't you wish that computers would sometimes take the hint? I foolishly allowed an update on mine and now I'm getting nagged every ten minutes or so to 'restart' my computer. You'd have thought that after the fifth or sixth refusal it would just leave you alone until you are ready but no, this thing is more persistent than Tarmac demanding breakfast. It is going to be a case of who cracks first.

The killing of the two female police officers in Manchester has opened a huge debate in my house about whether police officers should be routinely armed in this country.

My personal view is no they should not. Our police force is admired world wide for being largely unarmed, other countries just can't understand how law and order prevails without the help of heavy fire power. Despite shocking episodes such as Manchester, gun crime here is still very rare, which is probably why such a fuss is made when something involving a gun does happen. Having guns would not have saved these officers, according to reports it all happened too quickly, they did have tasers but didn't have time to use them. In fact none of the officers that have been killed or wounded in recent times would have been saved by them carrying a gun simply because they did not have time to react.

I personally would feel much less safe if our police routinely carried guns. We have all seen the reality cop shows from America and other countries where the police randomly fire at everything that moves. And we have all heard or read about the horror stories when innocent bystanders are caught in the cross fire or an innocent person is shot by mistake when an officer wrongly identifies them as the criminal. Do we really want to be reading about similar events in our own country?

Then there is the tricky situation of what happens if a police officer does shoot someone, will he then be charged with murder himself? Again we have all read about how officers are treated if they do shoot someone, quite often it is deemed justified and the officer is allowed to carry on his duties, However there are times when the officer's actions are deemed to be not justified and then the officer not only loses his career but can also end up doing time himself. Whatever the outcome the subsequent investigation takes up time, money and resources that would be much better spent elsewhere. Of course, as in every profession, there are bad officers who do go too far, take the recent G20 death for instance but if that isn't an argument against routinely arming police I don't know what is.

Finally my biggest fear is making the police a bigger target than they already are. It is known that the officers in Manchester were targeted, not personally, just the uniform. Raoul Moat openly said he was 'hunting' police officers, again it was the uniform he was after, not necessarily the person inside it. Put a gun with the uniform and people like Moat and Cregan will not be scared, they will just see it as a bigger justification for their actions and I suspect we would soon be seeing more officers killed on duty. And as these things always do situations will escalate until we end up having shoot outs on our high streets.

I like our British police force. On the whole the people behind the uniform are polite, helpful and approachable. Do we really want to become 'like everyone else'? I'm pretty sure we don't and if you asked a policeman, which you can still do without fear in this country, I'm pretty sure he wouldn't want that either.

Gosh that's rather serious for me on a Saturday!

Back to the joy that is my holiday, one week gone and still two to go. I am now fully rested and am looking forward to getting out and doing something. I already have a couple of day trips planned specifically with photography in mind and of course there is my trip away to look forward too but first there is this afternoon.

Laurence is coming to tea so that he can say farewell to Andrew. I am so excited, both my boys around my table for the last time until Christmas. It will be lovely but sad at the same time. I have planned their favourite things and am going to attempt  muffins, practically the only cake I can get to rise.

Tomorrow there will not be a blog as we are transporting Andrew to university. All the up's and down's will be fully reported on Monday.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Socks? Check!

I am glad to report that Tarmac is fully recovered and well enough to try the same thing again this morning. This time I wasn't carrying anything and was able to avoid him without doing myself any damage. As I've said before a cat with very little brain.

Well it is not half past nine in the morning yet and I've already had an argument.

Healthcare at Home turned up at my door demanding I hand over one of my pumps as it was due for a service (I have two pumps to make the evening and morning drug swap easier and safer). I had not been notified of any collection and the bloke had not brought a replacement pump with him. Trying to explain that I could not be left with just one pump was like trying tie to shoelaces in mittens, damn near impossible. In the end I think I got through and he went off empty handed with the threat that 'he'd be back'. Well maybe he will but he is still not getting a pump off me unless I get a replacement first.

Today I am compiling a check list so that when we start packing tomorrow nothing vital will be left behind. A friend of mine discovered her son had left his shoes, laptop and phone charger at home after helping him unpack in Sheffield. He was not popular. So far the check list is enormous and contains the essentials such as 'comb' and 'toothpaste', I've even put down his socks, I'm taking no chances, I've lived with him for nineteen years and know what he's like. At least we do have everything he needs in the house somewhere. There are not going to be any last minute panics about tin openers, actually there might be over that one as I cannot remember where I've put our spare, and so it is just going to be a case of making sure everything is put in the suitcase of boxes and safely transfered to the car. Should be a easy, shouldn't it?

I am beginning to get pangs of sadness now, I only have him for two more days and he's gone. He says he is going to be back at weekends but I suspect that will tail off once he gets used to uni life and makes friends. After all a night in the pub with his mates will far outweigh film night with a bowl of popcorn with his parents.

I am please to see that Dale Cregan has been charged with the murder of the two police officers and the two men he was on bail for killing. With a bit of luck he won't see the outside of a prison cell for a very, very long time. I was further delighted to hear of the arrest of one of the vile trolls that set up one of the facebook sites praising Cregan's actions. I know some people are uncomfortable with it, free speech and all that, but sometimes free speech goes too far and has to be dealt with.

At the moment I've got twenty doughnuts sitting in my kitchen. Peter did another supermarket raid on the way home last night and found the doughnuts, two cheese and onion flans and twelve bread rolls on special offer so snapped them up. I have to say I am getting a bit sick of doughnuts now though the flans and the rolls have been put in the freezer for future use.

Well we are off out again this afternoon as Andrew wants to get some waterproof trousers as he is going to be using his bike a lot more in bad weather and at present he only has his Kevlar filled trousers. They will stop him from skinning his knees if he comes off but are hopeless in anything other than a light drizzle.

By the time we leave him on Sunday me and my credit card will be needing a nice long rest.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Dentists And Deliveries

Well for the first time since my holiday started I had to rush to get up today as I had an appointment for my six monthly check up at the dentist. Thankfully my teeth were deemed to be 'in great shape' so I'm safe for another six months.

While in town we went to pick up a few bits and pieces and returned home to find I'd miss a delivery from my oxygen company. I am annoyed about this as I'd specifically arranged to have my oxygen delivered in the afternoon because of my dental appointment. Now I'm going to have to rearrange a delivery, probably for next week, luckily I still have a full bottle of travel oxygen left so there is no emergency about it all. It just really annoys me that I went to the trouble of actually telling  them when I was not going to be in and they still tried to deliver it at that time.

I am getting so excited about my scooter now, I've already made a list of things I want to do when it arrives. The first thing will be a trip around the village so I can check out if there are any limitations. If I am very lucky I will have it by Saturday but I think it is more likely to arrive early next week. I just hope it gets here before Tuesday so it can accompany me on our trip away.

There has been an extremely interesting debate on the PH group page these last few days and I thought I'd share it with you because I find the whole subject fascinating.

There is a gentleman who is claiming that he can control his PH symptoms through diet alone. Now we all know that diet is really important and diet can cure some types of diabetes in some people but can diet really change the health of those of us with more serious illnesses? I have to say I am rather skeptical about this. I am not saying this man is lying, I would never do that because I have suffer too many times at the hands of the 'it hasn't happened to me so cannot be true' brigade myself and it isn't pleasant. I am however questioning that if this is possible, and he says his specialists agree that it has helped, then why aren't all PH sufferers getting diet advice? I think most of my fellow PH sufferers will agree that the most advice we get on diet is to lose or gain a few pounds and don't eat broccoli or cranberries if on Warfarin.

His diet does seem incredibly restrictive, no red meat, alcohol, starch rich foods such as potato, bread and rice and a large intake of things such as Ginko Biloba, Ginseng and Hawthorn. A typical breakfast would be celery sticks and black coffee with lunch of chicken or fish. In fact apart from the rice and pasta his diet isn't a million miles away from my own, though I don't take the herbal supplements as I've been told they can negate the effectiveness of some drugs and I never drink coffee.

Naturally there has been a lively debate with views coming in from all angles but incredibly no argument, which is probably a first. The consensus is that we are all going to discuss this with our specialists when we next see them. Which is wise as I don't think any of us is stupid enough to ditch our regular treatments to give this a go, though I suspect some might try it alongside their normal medications.

So what do I really think? Well I am a great believer that food can make a difference, by that I mean watching your weight, getting your five a day, not eating too much fat, salt and sugar to stay as healthy as possible but I can't see it curing me. If this gentleman believes it works for him and his specialist centre is OK with it then I say good on him. I suppose it could help with symptoms, or even slow progress of the illness down, in the very early stages but I doubt it will make a blind bit of difference to people in the WHO (World Health Organisation) class 4 such as myself. When you reach this stage it'll take more than a stick of celery and a multivitamin to put things into reverse. I'm still going to run it past my consultant when I next see him though.

I am mortified because I trod on Tarmac this morning.

I was being naughty and carrying the laundry basket downstairs when Tarmac tried to shoot past me and I trod on his back paw. Unfortunately it was one of those 'him or me' moments where if I hadn't trodden on him I'd have ended up in a heap at the bottom of the stairs. Poor Pussy, he squealed terribly and limped for a while afterwards but he seems fine now and has obviously forgiven me as he is currently curled up asleep on my lap. It will be extra treats, a bowl of milk and a very big cuddle this afternoon.

Talking of cats the news the story that caught my today is the hilarious tale of Dennis, the black and white cat burglar. This two year old kitty steals practically anything he can get his paws on and carry. He has nicked everything from underpants to sponges and is so well known in his local area that people go straight to his owners if they find anything missing. I don't know whether to wish I had a cat like that or be glad that I don't. I suppose it is always funnier when it is happening to someone else.

Ah well, better call the oxygen people and arrange another delivery, damn it.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Travelling Light

Well I have had a great time since my last blog and have so much to write down I'm not sure where to start.

Monday afternoon I decided to go to Tesco with Andrew to pick up some bits and pieces such as plasters, toothbrushes etc, etc. While we were there we spotted a twelve piece crockery set for £5 and deciding we were unlikely to find anything cheaper bought it, so that was one thing off the list. We also bought two huge bars of chocolate and some other yummies and then returned home to watch TV together and chat about arrangements for the coming weekend. It was a lovely 'Mother and Son' moment and likely to be one of the last as once he's left home things will never be quite the same again.

Yesterday Peter and I took a great big breath and set out for Milton Keynes convinced we'd be there all day and come home several hundreds of pounds poorer. First stop was the market and to our utter delight we managed to get a set of three saucepans, a frying pan, a colander and a set of kitchen knives for just under £30. We then got two sets of plastic hangers for £2 and a foot pump for his bike for £12.

Flush with success we then went around HMV, because a couple of new CD's are essential apparently and then had an unsuccessful foray in Waterstones looking for text books. To be honest we knew it was a long shot but sometimes you can find some surprising things in Waterstones if you look for them.

We broke for lunch and decided for speed to have a burger. I wasn't sure how I'd cope as I am still a bit 'touchy' with food but the fresh air must have made me hungry because I gobbled down a Whopper and fries in no time and even started pinching Peter's chips.

Next on the agenda was Costco to pick up some staples for Andrew to take with him. We bought some pasta, tinned tomatoes, tuna fish, olive oil which we will split as he doesn't need two bottles, porridge (the instant sachet things you do in the microwave), baked beans, again splitting, soup, apple juice and a tub of rice with mixed veg. At least I know he will have a decent breakfast and will be able to rustle up a quick tomato pasta or tuna and rice in the evening. We will nip him across to the nearest supermarket when we get to the uni to get things like milk, bread and fruit. We are told he will have a locking cupboard in the kitchen for food so hopefully storage won't be too bad. For midday meals he's decided to go to the refectory as it has a reputation for good food at cheap prices and from his schedule he won't have time to go back to his digs and cook himself.

It was while at Costco that I spotted the thing that is going to change my life and give me back some of my independence.

As regular readers will know I've longed for a mobility scooter for some time now. At the moment I can only get to our local shops by car, and parking can be a nightmare. If Peter needs the car for some reason I am totally stuck. I can just about make it to the post box at the end of the road but that really is my limit. However I also wanted a scooter that I could take with me to use when out shopping, or even getting from car to office on a bad day. Everything I've looked at, even the so called travel scooters, are big, heavy and have enormous batteries. Once in the boot, and I have a big boot, there would be very little room for anything else, that's if I could actually lift the thing.. Well now I have found my ideal scooter.

Whilst Peter was looking at something only a man can be interested in I saw someone cross one of the aisles on a machine that I can only describe as love at first sight. Unfortunately by the time Peter had finished the scooter had gone until we found it again by the baked beans. The man using it, and his wife, were more than helpful and even let me sit on the thing. I knew I'd found the one the minute I hit the seat, it was perfect. The man told me how he had been in a similar situation to me and that he missed being able to stroll around his village and chat to people along the way, which is exactly what I miss too. He had also seen the scooter being used by someone else and had done exactly the same thing I'd just done. He'd had his for two months and could not praise it enough, he said it had changed his life.

When I got home I looked up the website, link is below, and within an hour I'd bought one. So what is it like, well obviously the link gives the full specification but basically it is a three wheeled scooter that, once the battery has been removed, folds just like a baby buggy. When broken up it fits into a carry bag that will take up just a quarter of the boot space and is light enough for me to be able to lift it in and out myself. It even had a space under the seat where I can put my camera bag so I'll be able to go out and take pictures again. It sounds perfect and because of my height and weight they are sending me the junior version which is even lighter. Of course after one brief sit on I can't say how well it drives or whether there are any drawbacks but as soon as I've tested it out I'll let you know.

And finally in the news the killing of two young female police officers in Manchester is a shocking event that all police personnel must feel deeply. The incident started with a call to say a burglary was taking place. The address was unknown to the police  so two unarmed female officers were sent to check it out. They had barely got out of their car when they were met by a hail of bullets. As if that were not enough their attacker then threw a grenade at them which cause even more devastating injuries.

The attacker has been arrested and named as a man who was out on bail for the alleged murder of two other people a few months ago. I cannot believe that someone who is suspected of murdering two people and therefore must be assumed to be a danger to the public was on bail.

To add to the distress of the family, friends and colleagues of these two poor officers there have been several facebook pages set up praising the killer, one even calls for him to be given the OBE. How sickening.

There are times when I despair about the attitudes of some of my fellow countrymen and this it has to be said, is one of them. I hope the killer is never released and the scum, because that is what they are, praising him are also tracked down and put away for a long time.

Even better I wish our government would stop trying to dismantle and weaken our police force and instead give us more officers with greater powers. They should also step in and sort out the judges who all to often undermine the police by given too soft sentences, as for the judge that granted this killer bail, well he should share the same cell.

Monday, 17 September 2012

I've Not Got The X Factor

Well the fuss over the topless photos of Kate rumbles on and is a prime example of how to make a drama out of a crisis. If they'd just kept quiet and ignored it the likelihood is that it would all be forgotten within a week.

The ironing lesson went well, probably because Andrew went running instead. Well if he wants to go around crumpled that is up to him but at least he will arrive there looking smart. However the session meant that I have already got all my uniform ready for when I go back in October so at least that isn't hanging over my head.

Talking about going back to work I've started to wonder whether I would actually be better off not working. The last few days, knowing I don't have to go back anytime soon, has made me realise how stressed out I've been. It's not the actual work that has stressed me but all the background stuff, the politics, the sniping that has started (probably because everyone is so stressed) and all the upheaval that has been going on lately with more to come. Of course I might actually feel better after a long break, it might just be the fact that I am unwinding that is making me feel like this, who knows. One thing I do know for sure, there will come a point when I'll have to say 'that's it, I've had enough' the question is have I already reached that point and that is what I'm going to be mulling over.

In the meantime it is fun, fun, fun all the way. Tomorrow is penciled in to go out and get the last bits and pieces for Andrew before he goes off to university, well I say penciled but it is the last chance really. So we are going to make the most of it and enjoy a meal out for a change. My credit card will take another hammering and I will be shattered at the end of it but it will be done and then it is all hands on deck packing the things ready for the big off on Sunday. I have tried to book a scooter for the day but once again they are all booked out. I don't know what is going on but I haven't been able to book a scooter at Milton Keynes for weeks. I think I'm going to have to look in to getting my own. The only trouble is finding one small enough to fit in the boot. Anyway it looks like I'm back in the wheelchair for the day, bugger!

I finally got around to watching on of the X Factor auditions and was shocked to find it was the last one. Shows how busy I've been that I didn't even realise it had started until about a week ago.

I've more or less given up on this programme to be honest. There is only so many really bad acts and vicious tempers you can watch before it becomes boring and lately even the 'talented' acts have been nothing special. Yes, occasionally you do feel for the person on the stage. The homeless man was genuinely good and genuinely in need of a serious break but should we be told about the backgrounds of the acts at all? I'm fed up with the stories of broken homes, violent relationships or 'doing it' for dead relatives and I'm sure a lot of people feel exactly the same. Which is probably why viewing numbers are falling. Surely a talent show should be about what you can do, not what a hard life you've had.

Some will say Strictly Come Dancing is also boring but there are some fundamental differences that are making Strictly more successful and more popular.

First up is the lack of sob stories, there is no 'vote for me because I got pregnant at twelve and want to build a better life' or those who think this is the easy way to get a life of luxury. The celebrities that take part, OK some will be wanting to further their careers, in general are just doing it for fun, and charity. They get paid to do the series admittedly but most do it for the kudos that comes with it. With Strictly you get to see the whole dance in it's entirety, most X Factor audition programmes show hardly any singing, I think someone recently timed it as eight minutes out of an hour show. And finally the prize at the end is just a tasteless glitter ball and the knowledge that they have raised an awful lot of money for charity. Strictly has the feel good factor, X Factor just has an air of desperation.

So what have I got planned for the rest of the day? Well apart from researching mobility scooters I think I'm going to enlist Andrew's help and try to tidy up the garden a bit ready for winter. First on the agenda, find my bird feeders. I know they are in that bush somewhere.

No blog tomorrow due to credit card fatigue. 

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Strictly Come Learning

It seems Peter has decided to get right behind my weight gain campaign and arrived home with fifteen, yes I do mean 15, jam doughnuts last night, they were on special offer apparently.

Now I do like the occasional doughnut it must be said but the key word is occasional and it takes me all day to eat one. I have no idea what I am meant to do with fifteen of the things. No doubt Andrew will help me out, and Peter, but it is still going to be a challenge.

Woke up to a dull, drizzly morning after, what must be said, a deep uninterrupted sleep. So why do I feel more tired now than I did yesterday? Weird or what! Today I have to do some work 'scream' and start ironing all the things Andrew wants to take with him. Now before anyone shouts 'make him do it himself', this is not going to be any old ironing session but a masterclass and Andrew will be doing most of it under close supervision.

To my absolute delight Strictly Come Dancing was back last night with the launch show, and what a show it was. The celebrities were real celebrities for once, there was not one name I didn't know. I even think the judging panel are on par with the days of Arlene as we have a real dancer in Darcy Bussell, who might actual give some valid feed back instead of the inane comments of Alisha Dixon. I just cannot wait for Oct 5th and the first show.

It is going to be a bumper weekend as on the 4th Oct the new series of Red Dwarf starts, Peter thinks I might be disappointed but from the trailers I think it might well be surprisingly good. Yes the cast have aged, what do you expect, and some more badly than others but the humour hasn't and isn't that what matters most?

This morning watching the rain fall whilst drinking a cuppa I spotted my resident squirrel burying nuts on the lawn. He'd dig a little hole, pop the nut in and then stamp it down. My lawn now looks like a very small mole has been at it but I don't think this squirrel will be going hungry this winter.

In the news the changes for the GCSE's has been announced so stand by for outrage from teachers over the next few weeks. As an ex-teacher myself I actually think the new proposals are a good idea. They have done away with the A*, not because they don't think there will be kids out there capable of getting it but because getting an A under the new system will be harder and so more valuable. Under the current system A's are so common they have been completely devalued which is why the A* was introduced in the first place.

Instead of easy modules and coursework there will be just one three hour exam at the end of the course. This will cause the biggest upset as there will be those who claim that some students will lose out as they won't be able to cope with such a long exam. The other argument is that it will also disadvantage those only capable of retaining information for a term at a time. What they are forgetting is that the 'bit at a time' system has actually encouraged children not to remember or learn things. At the moment they only need to remember things long enough to write it up in coursework or for the end of term exam and being kids that is all they do. It is my belief that the GCSE has made our children thicker, the new system will encourage them to think and to learn. Yes there will be children out there that genuinely will not be able to cope, but there always have been which is why we had grammar schools and secondary moderns. And whatever you think of them that system worked really well being able to bring out the best in children no matter what their abilities. There were very few kids who left school without the skills to get them into further education or work, unlike today when a good percentage leave without even being able to read.

My one dispute with this system is that it is not going to come in until 2015. Why wait that long? Surely 2013 would be a long enough wait. I really cannot understand why this country takes so long to change things, no wonder we are in such a mess, sometimes it really is an advantage to be the Hare in the a race.

Well I have a rather unpleasant task to perform which I've put off long enough. I have to de-flea the cats. This is one of those essential little tasks that has to be done regularly for everyones sake but is not appreciated by some. Both Smirnoff and Tarmac absolutely hate it. I use the little phials that go on the back of the neck, much les traumatic than powder or shampoo but you wouldn't think it by the fuss that's made. Both cats, normally placid and lazy turn into a combination of Usain Bolt and Jack the Ripper the second they see the packet. After we have caught them and done the deed, to much growling and hissing, we are then subjected to the most tremendous sulks, often for days until all is forgiven and harmony reigns once more.

See, I say I'm going to do it and then write as much as I can to put it off that bit longer. That is how much I hate it.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Things That Go 'Plop' In The Night

Well to say I had a disturbed night would be an understatement.

I was woken at just past three by the husband charging around with a torch. He had gone to the loo and got splatted on the head by a very cold drop of water as he crossed the corridor and was using the torch to investigate while trying not to wake me. With lights on it was a lot easier to find the leak and fix it, albeit temporarily. The problem was the ball cock in the cold water storage tank in the loft. It had stuck and the tank had started to overflow. I was dispatch to the bathroom to turn the cold taps on while he banged around and swore until he managed to free things up. We got back to bed around four but I then faced another problem.

Tarmac is not the brightest cat in the world, bless him, but he has learned that when I get out of bed it means he's going to get fed. He has got the hang of the fact that a midnight trip to the loo, with lights off, doesn't equate to 'getting up' but I'd been out of bed for an hour, with the lights on. To him this was as clear a signal as he was ever going to get that it was time for breakfast and so he was deeply offended that I'd gone back to bed. He tried everything. He tried to dig away the duvet, he tried burrowing under the duvet, he stood on my shoulder and patted my face with his paw and then he ran his claws through my hair, which is precisely when he got booted out.

So it was a slow start this morning and I just know I'm going to be out of sorts all day. If I don't fall asleep on the settee this afternoon I'll be very surprised. All I can say is thank goodness I wasn't working today, they'd have found me face down over my keyboard without a doubt.

Yesterday I started watching the series Prime Suspect. I have the box set of all seven episodes as I loved the series when it was on TV. There is no denying it has aged, especially the first two but it is still one of the best TV cop shows I've ever seen. So I bet you cannot guess what I have planned for this afternoon. Having said that I might just venture out onto the decking with a book if it warms up a bit, I don't think there are going to be many more opportunities this year.

In the news there is the current headlines regarding topless pictures of Kate Middleton.

There are several things that come to mind when reading this story. The most obvious of course is, given who she is and the fact that we've just had the Harry non scandal, why didn't she have some sense and keep her top on. Yes, of course, she SHOULD be able to do what she likes on a private holiday same as everyone else but she isn't the same as everyone else and the paparazzi will go to any lengths to catch her off guard. Secondly in a world where topless and indeed near naked celebrities are paraded in front of us on a daily basis why are these photos so shocking? Where were the body guards and advisors? From the pictures of where the photo's were taken from it is inconceivable that the photographers couldn't be seen from the villa. What is really worrying is what if it had been a gunman and not a photographer? And finally, given what happened to his mum, wouldn't you think William might just have offered a few words of caution? After all he knowns how to handle the press, he has grown up surrounded by them and is all too aware of what they do. He roundly blamed the paparazzi for his mother's death so why wouldn't he do absolutely everything to keep Kate safe.

There is only one solution that I can see, when you next fancy a bit of sunbathing make sure it is behind a very tall wall bristling with machine guns otherwise, keep your top on.

I've been feeling nauseous all morning and have just worked out why, my anti sickness pill is still sitting on my breakfast  plate so I'd better go and take it or I'm in for a very rough day indeed.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Time To Unwind

Twenty days of holiday! Yes you did read that correctly, twenty days!

I decided that after what amounts to eight months of stress, disappointment and upset I needed some serious downtime so applied for leave, without much hope it must be said, and to my surprise got it granted within a couple of days. I could not believe my luck. So here I am with all this time stretching ahead of me to really chill.

It is not going to be all R & R though. Next week I have the final round of shopping, washing and ironing to do in preparation for Andrew's departure to university. We of course are the removal men so next weekend will be devoted to running around getting him settled and sorting out any hiccups along the way. After that I'm free as a bird so we are planning a last minute get away, it will only be for a few days but even a few days out of the loop will help enormously. The 'get away' has been helped somewhat by a surprise call from Papworth cancelling my appointment on the 24th and pushing it back until 8th October, so I don't have to be around for that anymore. I wasn't disappointed, I've been cancelled so often I'm used to it now.

So before looking to the future what has happened in the past, or at least since my last blog? Well not a lot to be truthful. Work was the same and even the neighbours have settled down again. I did have slight run in with a visitor to my new neighbours though. I arrived home to find someone had parked right across my drive so parking as best I could I got out and march up the drive to knock on the door.  A man opened the door with a 'what do you want' look on his face which quickly changed to apologetic and a 'yes, I'm so sorry, I'll move it right away'. I couldn't make out why the sudden rush to be accommodating until I got upstairs and started to change and realised I was in uniform. Doh! I'm so used to it now I don't even think about it, though I do cover up if popping into a shop on the way home. I deal with people's problems every day at work, I DO NOT want them foisted on me in my downtime when I'm trying to decide what to get for tea.

The one other notable event this week was the great tea throwing incident.

I was sitting at my desk on the phone to another 'Mr Angry' when my colleague walked behind me with a cup of tea. Unfortunately she caught her foot on something and slipped and before I knew it I was doused in hot tea. She was mortified and quickly whipped out a packet of tissues and started to dab me in an effort to dry me off. All the while I was trying not to laugh. This lady is such a sweetie and looks out for me whenever she can so of course I wasn't cross and reassured her that there was no harm done. I did spend most of the afternoon feeling rather damp though.

Today Andrew got through the final hurdle before leaving for university and that is passing his motorcycle test. Partly because he will be doing placements in London as part of his course, and partly because he has got his eye on being a motorcycle quick response paramedic he decided life would be easier on a bike. Having driven through London many times I have to agree a bike is probably the most sensible option. It will also be cheaper too.

Before I close this blog can I just mention that a very dear friend is doing a sponsored walk/hike in aid of Alzheimer's charities. If you feel you can donate please just follow the link below. 

So what have I got planned for today? Well I'm glad to report absolutely nothing, I'm on holiday and I intend to enjoy every minute.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Lazy Lasagna

Fortunately the rest of my lazy Saturday was not interrupted by arguments, loud music, DIY or noxious smells. In fact I spent a very happy couple of hours just breathing in the sweet fresh air and listening to the birds singing all around me. With a bit of luck I hope to be doing the same again today.

Laurence is thrilled with the kittens and has put some of the pictures on Facebook to show me. They are absolutely adorable but bigger than I thought they would be. However they are inoculated, neutered and microchipped so you can't say fairer than that for £80. He has to let the owners know if he is taken them by tomorrow. I think the answer will be 'yes'.

Well it hasn't got off to a good start, my new next door neighbours are having an argument. I have no idea what about but a male voice has come over the fence loud and clear 'that's it! I'm not having alcohol in this house ever again!' Oh dear, sounds like someone has been partying just a bit too much.

As it is so beautiful out there I've decided we are eating al fresco and am making a quick lasagna which we can eat out on the decking without having to take loads of bowls and serving spoons. One dish, one serving spoon, plates, jug of fruit juice, forks. Sometimes we have salad with it but as this is spur of the moment we'll be missing that out and having some garlic bread instead. If anyone else fancies a quick dinner one day this is how I do it.

Garlic Bread

Take one baguette or several crusty rolls and split down the middle. Take approx 50 -100 gms (this depends on how much bread you are covering) of softened butter and 1 - 2 pureed garlic cloves. To puree garlic either use a garlic crusher on the finest setting or place in a pestle and mortar and work until a smooth paste has been formed. Mix the garlic and butter together with a fork until creamy and smooth. Spread generously onto the bread and pop under the grill for 5 mins until the butter has sunk into the bread and is starting to brown.

Quick Lasagna

You will need

1 medium onion finely chopped
500g minced beef (or assorted veg chopped for the veggie version)
1 beef or veg oxo cube
1 tin chopped tomatos
1/4 pint warm water
salt pepper
250g grated cheese
50g butter plus 5g extra for frying
3 tablespoons plain flour
1 pint milk
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
12 sheets of dried lasagna.

In a pan melt a knob of butter and fry the onion until softened. Add meat , or veggies, season well and cook until brown, or softened if you are doing the veggie version. Add the tomatoes, water and stock cube and simmer with lid on for about 15 mins.

While meat is simmering pour the milk into a pan add the flour and nutmeg and whisk until well mixed. Add the 50g of butter cut into small cubes and heat slowly, stirring CONTINUOUSLY until the butter has melted and the sauce thickens to form a double cream consistency. Stirring is important if you don't want lumps or the mixture to burn. Remove from heat and put aside.

In a lasagna pan starting with the meat/veg mixture layer meat, white sauce lasagna sheets finishing with a layer of white sauce. You should have enough for three layers. Make sure the lasagna sheets are well covered or they will come out hard.  Sprinkle the grated cheese on top and place in the middle of the oven 180 fan for 20 -30 mins until cheese is brown and bubbling.

This recipe makes enough for 4 - 6 good servings and freezes well.

Well I'd better go and start, typing the recipe up has made my mouth water. There is nothing as nice as Italian food on a hot day.

I'm back in work tomorrow so the next blog will be Friday.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Nuisance Neighbours

Well this weekend has, so far, provided more excitement than I'd imagined.

The bike shop rang to say Andrew's bike was in and so off we went to pick it up reasoning that it would be approximately an hour long round trip and we'd all be back in time for tea on the decking. Wrong! I'd forgotten it was Friday and traffic was already building on the the roads. Getting to the bike shop was relatively easy as we seemed to be travelling against the flow of the traffic. However I'd already made a mental note to go a different way home as there were already long queues at traffic lights and roundabouts.

We arrived at the shop and I hung on to make sure everything was OK and then I set off home with Andrew close behind me. The traffic was heavy but flowing nicely until we hit the A6 where it ground to a halt. Realising this was no ordinary stop go I put the radio on and my heart sank when I heard that there had just been a nasty accident near to the turn off I was heading for. My heart sank even further when an ambulance flashed past us with lights and sirens going. Unfortunately we had already passed the only other alternative turn off so short of turning around and going back the way we had come we had no other choice than to sit and wait it out. Eventually cars started to come the other way in groups of ten and at the same time we started to edge forward. The accident was indeed nasty and we arrived at the scene in time to see one of the drivers being worked on in the car and the other lifted into the back of the ambulance.

And the excitement didn't end there.

I was woken at around two o'clock by a car door slamming and then excitable male voices all obviously drunk. They laughed, they yelled, they shushed each other in an exaggerated manner before laughing again. This went on for about half an hour before a woman's voice, clearly sober and angry, shouted at them to 'shut up and get inside', which they did and piece returned.

This morning the entertainment continued in the form of a blazing row going on in the close opposite us. Screaming and shouting then someone in a pick up truck arrived screaming 'where is he, where is he, I'll kill the little bastard.' At that point the Astra parked on the driver, presumably driven by said 'little bastard' took off like a bat out of hell swiftly followed by the pick up. Ten minutes later the Astra returned, driven by someone else, followed about two minutes after that by the pick up truck, both still driven at speed. Both drivers ran into the house and now it has gone ominously quiet and we are anxiously waiting for the next installment, me with my finger on the '9' button of my phone.

These particular neighbours have always been a bit volatile with most of the problems caused by the son who is know to be extremely dodgy. These are the same neighbours that were subject to an early morning raid by police a few months ago. I would not be a bit surprised if the son ends up either murdered or jailed sooner or later.

Back in the peace and quiet of home I am happy to report I'm feeling a lot, lot better. I intend to help this feeling of well being along by spending a good deal of the afternoon stretched out on the decking with a good book. In fact I have a very lazy weekend planned altogether. I just hope it isn't ruined by world war three kicking off across the road.

I am however feeling extremely poor having just transfered a substantial amount of money into Andrew's account to help with his expenses and act as an emergency fund. He has said that he will pay most of it back at the end of the year, somehow I don't think I'll be holding my breathe. I've now got to start on another year of saving so I can do the same next September.

I am waiting anxiously to hear from Laurence about the kittens he is seeing today. Unfortunately I forgot to ask what time he was going so it might be a long wait. He has promised to put pictures up on Facebook so I can see them too.

There is one downside to living in the country and it became all too evident last night. One of the surrounding farmers had decided to spray his fields. With what I don't know but it made my eyes water as I shot around the house closing all the windows. It was almost two hours before the pong had faded enough to open them again.

Talking of smells I must go and hang out the washing before the BBQ bonanza starts. I know I can't do anything to stop it but why must my lovely fragrant herbs be over powered by the smell of burning meat EVERY sunny day we have?

Friday, 7 September 2012

Here, There And Everywhere

My goodness it has been a busy, busy day.

First up was accompanying Andrew to have his bike serviced. The place he goes to is nowhere near a bus or train route so he needed a lift back. We will be doing the same in reverse later today to pick the bike up.

Then it was off to the GP where it was decided I still have a cold but no sign of infection so I was mightily pleased with that. Apparently, just as with everything else, it will take longer for me to get over a cold than it will anyone else. I should have known. However she did give me a prescription of antibiotics 'just in case', so I am doubly happy and hopefully back in work on Monday.

While I was there I booked myself in for a flu jab and a Pneumonia jab. I have the flu jab every year, it would be really stupid not too. The Pneumonia jab I last had ten years ago and it is now very out of date so I'm biting the bullet to get it done again, after all you cannot be too careful when you have PH.

Then we did Tesco's and Costco just to get them out of the way. With the kids back in school it was an easy, trouble free and very quick shop. However not all kids were back in school. I was entertained no end by watching a two/three year old licking the window in Tesco's while her mother was distracted at the till. This toddler did not go up and down as you would think but went across in a narrow band. She must have covered about eight feet before her mother completed her shopping and marched her out of the shop with no hint of a telling off.

Back home after all the packing away I discovered a card from parcel force informing me that the local post office was holding onto something and so it was back out to get what turned out to be extra gloves and dressings that my drug delivery company had missed last time around.

Finally at just after two we were able to put our feet up and enjoy a nice cuppa and I found time to write this blog. It was a lovely day though so being out and about wasn't the chore it could have been. I'd have preferred lying in the garden in it though to driving up and down a busy motorway. Never mind, I have absolutely nothing to do tomorrow so if it turns out to be as nice that is exactly what I intend to do.

Paralympic Watch

We have now won more gold medals in the Paralympics than we did in the Olympics, what an achievement. 

I watched a little bit of wheelchair fencing today, can't say it thrilled me. Some sports really do translate to disabled players very well. I didn't feel this one did. All they seemed to do was take turns in poking each other with their swords, there didn't seem to be any of the cut and thrust of the able bodied game. It was all far to refined for me.

Well the call has come so I'm off to deliver Andrew at the bike shop then i'm sinking into the settee and NOT moving until bedtime. Phew!

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Snap, Crackle, Pop

How remiss of me! I thought I'd already added this link to my page but can't find it so here we go again.

The above link is to the blog of a fellow suffer of PH. Stacie is a lot younger than me and it is nice to get a totally different viewpoint on how PH affects someone. I hope you enjoy the read.

I have reached that stage of a cold where, although no longer deaf, I feel as though I am listening to a badly tuned radio station. The volume goes from nonexistent to 'rock group' in seconds and in between there is a lot of hissing, crackling and the occasional 'pop'. However overall I must say I am feeling better though still sleeping a lot. I have booked an appointment to see the GP tomorrow as a precaution. I have a long history of things flaring up over weekends and holidays so I want to be absolutely sure everything is still OK while I still can.

I was having a nap in the garden yesterday when my supervisor rang to ask how I was and to give me my hours for next week. She must have thought I was being thick because I kept asking her to repeat herself as I couldn't hear her. We got through the conversation in the end and I think I know what I'd doing, at least I hope I do.

The radiator/towel rail in the bathroom is now working, all our radiators work again, after some frantic bleeding, and there are no leaks. So we are all set for the winter and we are going to have the extra luxury of wrapping ourselves in warm towels after getting out of the bath or shower, bliss.

Laurence rang to say he was going to see some kitties on Saturday. They are two little boys aged approx four months, so not tiny but still small, and they are ginger and white. What did I tell you! He'll end up with anything but the colours he wanted. He has promised not to take them straight away but to think about it for a day or two before making the commitment. I suspect I'll be getting a call on Sunday saying he's taken them home.

Andrew has finally presented me with a list of 'must get' items that he needs to have for college. I'm now gearing myself up for yet another spending spree. Sorry credit card.

Today Andrew and Peter are clearing out the gutters and washing down the fascias ready for winter and I have my heart in my mouth. I hate heights and the thought of standing on a ladder at the same height as the roof fills me with real fear. So naturally I cannot relax while my men are putting themselves in, what I perceive to be, terrible danger. If they get through the day without one of them falling off or injuring themselves in some way it will be a bonus. If I get through the day without having a heart attack it will be a miracle.

My next door neighbour has exhibited some really strange behaviour this last week. He seems to be having his own private argument with the world and it is causing some consternation in our household.

Our road is a dead end but right at the top there is a footpath that leads to the railway station. As a result commuters tend to park along the road to save paying the horrendous fees charged by the station car park. Normally, although a bit of a pain, there are no real problems. Most of the houses have garages and all have driveways so there is normally very little street parking by the residents. However my neighbour has taken to parking on the road outside his house leaving his drive way empty to stop commuters parking outside.

I think the reason for this sudden spat of territorial chest beating is down to a purple vehicle, no idea what it is but it is similar to an old Ford Mondeo, that has taken to parking outside my neighbours house, not just for a few hours but sometimes for days. Sometimes it parks slightly overhanging my neighbours drive and this is where the problems began. First he left little notes on the windscreen. I have no idea what they said but it seemed to make the problem worse. Then we had the 'standing guard until the owner returned and then going out to have a word' stage. This resulted in some heated exchanges but didn't lessen the problem and so we are now at the 'preventing parking altogether' stage. How long I wonder before this car parks on my neighbours drive? Then there really will be fireworks.

Ever since we moved here twenty odd years ago there have been commuters parking. Although it does make the road look untidy I've never really had that much of a problem with it. Mainly because I'd be leaving for work around the time the commuters arrived and returned home as they were leaving so never really saw them. However over the past few years there has been a distinct reduction in the respect for residents and now it is quite common for cars to park directly opposite each other, narrowing the road so it is difficult to drive between them, or overhanging the driveways making it difficult for residents to get on or off their own property. This has become more of a problem for me since I started working shifts. If I leave late or arrive home early I often find a car parked in such a way that getting on or of the drive is near impossible. Unfortunately while this kind of behaviour may be thoughtless it is not illegal so short of ruining the look of the road with yellow lines there is little anyone can do.

Paralympics Watch

Oh wow! What an education that turned out to be. Anyone who thought that being in a wheelchair meant you were helpless should watch this and think again. Wheelchair Rugby or Murderball, as it is more accurately called, was mad, rough and downright lethal but so entertaining to watch. I don't think I totally understood the rules, if indeed there were any, but that didn't matter. I particularly liked the occasional pitch invasion by an army of helpers who righted upside down players and mended wheels. It catches you by surprise the first time it happens but without it the game would soon grind to a halt. In the end Team GB lost but not for the want of trying that's for sure. Best event of the games by a long, long mile.

Well I'd better go, I've just been called to admire the first stage of 'big clean'. At least they are both still in one piece, so far.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Deaf As A Post

Well I'm writing a blog so I'm not well enough for work though I do feel a bit better than I did yesterday. Unfortunately I've been rendered deaf in one ear overnight so that is causing a few problems this morning as Peter and Andrew are having to shout at me to get a response.

Late yesterday afternoon I suddenly became very tired again and so Peter suggested using my oxygen to see if it would help. I was reluctant as I only use it when breathless, and one thing I'm not at the moment is breathless, but I agreed it couldn't do any harm so gave it a go. Surprisingly it did help and I got a much better night's sleep too. Another surprise is a surge in my appetite, for some reason I actually felt hungry yesterday and ate loads, and it all stayed put. I have just over two weeks before Papworth so if I can keep my appetite and get rid of my cold I should be all set.

Laurence sent a message yesterday to say he had passed the Cats Protection League inspection and will now get an appointment to view some prospective furry house mates. He seems very excited at the prospect, I just hope he doesn't fall for the first two he meets. He wants either black or grey cats as he was extremely fond of Guinness and adores Smirnoff, who replaced him. However I just know all he needs to do is see a sweet furry little face with big bright eyes and he'll be hooked no matter what colour.

Andrew is now getting restless and cannot wait to start his uni course. Although he has enjoyed the long break Andrew is not good at not being busy. He's a bit like his father in that respect, always on the go. Laurence is more like me and appreciates a bit of relaxing me time on occasion. There is some frustration however at the lack of information coming from the university. It would seem that, as in all things, some universities like to overwhelm while with others it is like pulling teeth. It does seem strange that so little has been sent out so far, though he does at least know where he's living and has a rough itinerary for his first term.

Feeling low I decided to do a little retail therapy to cheer myself up, the Internet is a wonderful thing and I've now got a huge box of Lush products heading my way. I feel a bit guilty as my credit card has been hit hard enough this month as it is but I've comforted myself with the knowledge that the next three months will make up for it as I will no longer be regularly feeding a gannet.

Talking of money, I don't usually make appeals for charity on this blog but I feel this appeal needs a little bit of extra publicity. This is a blog about PH after all. Even if you don't want to give I'd ask you to take a minute of your time to read the story attached to this charity appeal, it is a very special story about a very special person.

Leanne Pannell the subject of the story was one of the very first people who came forward to help and support me when I was first diagnosed. Chatting to her you would never think she was anything other than a typical teenager, which is exactly how she wanted to be viewed. She'd tell stories of how she would get told off for parking in disabled bays because no one would believe someone so young could be so ill. Leanne's determination to carry on as normally as possible and not sit around and bemoan her lot inspired me to try and do the same. Without her example I doubt I'd still be doing half the things I still do. Thank you Leanne, I hope you are happy wherever you are.

Paralympics Watch

Well once again the attention has been taken away from the actual athletes and is focused on events off the track. Both George Osbourne and Teresa May got roundly booed when they appeared at the games. I can't say I'm surprised but what does surprise me is the fact they were there at all.

It seems very odd to me that the man every disabled person in the UK blames for the current persecution of those too ill to work and the reduction of benefits is asked to present a medal at an event for disabled people. I mean what were they thinking when they booked him? Or was it an attempt to show George Osbourne how deep the feelings are running at the moment? All I can say is that it is a good job they didn't invite Ian Duncan-Smith, if he'd have dared to show his face there might have been an accident with a mis-thrown javelin.

Peter is busy in the bathroom trying to plumb in the new radiator/towel rack. This involves pulling up floor boards, lots of racing up and down stairs and a leak. Maybe it is just as well that we haven't chosen new flooring yet. I am trying my best not to get involved and to give him his due when I do ask if I can help he warns me off with a 'you're not well, sit back down and behave yourself,' or words to that effect. However it is a beautiful day so I'm off up the garden to sit on the decking with a good book and maybe have a little doze, in these circumstances I don't need telling twice.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Cough, Splutter, Sniff

Well it is Tuesday not Thursday but there is a good reason for the early post.

I have a stinking cold. At first I thought I was going down with yet another chest infection because  my ribs ached so much but a trip to the GP confirmed it is just a cold. It began on Sunday. I felt fine through the morning and on the way to Laurence's for tea. On the way home though I was unusually tired and found breathing a bit more difficult. I put it down to the long day and possible dust, as Peter had been helping Laurence put shelves up, so went to bed a bit earlier and thought nothing off it. Yesterday morning I didn't feel too bad, tired but otherwise OK so I went to work and everything was fine again until around two when I suddenly began to have trouble breathing and the pain in my ribs came back. I made it to the end of the day and went home feeling exhausted. By ten I knew I was in trouble and so rang work to leave a message that I wouldn't be in today before collapsing into bed.

This morning I dragged myself off to the GP who confirmed that there was no infection and it was probably just a cold. I've been told to rest and drink plenty. If I haven't improved or have got worse by Thursday I'm to go back for another check up. So it's out with the Olbas oil and honey and lemon and back on the settee in front of the TV. Sometimes I wish I was well enough to throw a sicky so I could actually enjoy this illicit TV watching instead of fretting about letting everyone down.

Sunday tea with Laurence was a joy. I love these catch up sessions and particularly enjoyed being shown all the little tweaks and improvements he's made since my last visit. He had been contacted by the Cats Protection League and has a house visit today. He is so very excited about getting his own kittens, I get the impression that sometimes he feels lonely going back to an empty house. I must say it is hard to believe he has been gone for almost a year, it still feels like yesterday to me. I've coped well with him leaving though, better than I thought I would to be honest. Now, in just under three weeks I'm going to have to do it all again with Andrew as he heads off to university. What on earth am I going to do with myself?

I was so sorry to pop into the PH forum today and discover that yet another PH sufferer has passed away. Eight year old Keir MacGruer had battled PH for three years, my thoughts are with the parents of this brave little boy.

Paralympics Watch

The big news is the row created by Oliver Pistorius over the length of rival runner Alan Fonteles Oliveira's blades. The row started after Oliveira's surprise win in the 200m final which Pistorius was predicted to win hands down. Pistorius has since apologised over his remarks but it does raise a couple of interesting questions. 

Should blade length be standardised? And if blade length has to be within certain parameters what then happens to able bodied athletes? Should only those of the same leg length race each other? And if that is the case Pistorius would not have been allowed to race in the Olympics against able bodied athletes as he was able to do this summer. His argument could open up a whole can of worms that ultimately could be detrimental to his own career and all because someone dared to be faster than him.

Sometimes it really is best to keep your mouth shut.

In the news the new university term has resulted in yet another row, this time over non EU students.

This row is because the London Metropolitian University has been barred from taking on foreign students from outside the EU because a check of their systems by the Border Agency has revealed that a vast majority of these students can barely speak English and never attend lectures. So if they are not here to learn, what are they doing? Well the suspicion is working illegally of course though some just disappear altogether and are no doubt milking the benefits system under false names.

Apparently a new rule has come in that bars anyone unable to pass the basic English test of coming over here to study. What I'd like to know is why this test only seems to apply to those students from outside the EU when there are plenty of people from within the EU who are here but cannot speak a word of English? I speak to people from within the EU who need interpretors on a daily basis. I would have though the ability to speak English would be one of the essentials to studying in the UK no matter where you come from. I mean am I the only person who thinks this makes sense?

What really made me gasp though was someone being interviewed, from the LMU, this morning having the cheek to complain that, because of this new rule, they would have to check all applications by hand to see if the prospective students meet the language criteria. Shouldn't they have been doing those checks anyway? Of course the real reason for his outrage is that instead of just pocketing the huge fees they charge, they are now going to have to spend some of this money to pay people to make sure their students are legal, shame.

Well it is time for another steaming and then an afternoon doing absolutely nothing. You'll know if I'm feeling better tomorrow because if I am there won't be a blog.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Tea For Two

Well four actually, we have been invited up to Laurence's for tea this afternoon. This is a very rare event and I am really excited about it. We have been instructed to arrive 'sometime after four' which suits us fine as it gives us time to watch the Grand Prix first.

Talking of the GP, I was really pleased and excited to see Button on pole for this race but disappointed at Hamilton's reaction. Whenever Hamilton gets pole or wins a race or even comes ahead of Button, Button claps him on the back and says well done. You get the impression that Button is genuinely happy for his team mate and very supportive of him. If it is the other way around however there are sulks and bitchy comments and only half hearted congratulations when forced to give them. I am rapidly losing my patience with Hamilton these days as he acts more like a spoiled kid than a mature racing driver. It is such a shame because I think he has real talent, if he could only channel his negative feelings into improving his performance rather than going around blaming everyone else for his failings he could be one of the greats.

We watched Pink Floyd's The Wall last night. Now I don't really care much for Floyd but I do like The Wall. Andrew, who had never seen it before, was mostly bemused by it all. We then spent about an hour explaining about Sid Barratt, the feud between Roger Waters and the other band members and how we'd gone to see The Wall in our early 20's at a local arts center in Aberystwyth. For someone who doesn't like Pink Floyd I seem to know an awful lot about them and have seen them more times than I've seen some of my favourite bands. How did that happen? The result of all this chatter was a very late night and a very slow start this morning, good job I'd taken today off as I'd have never made it in by eight.

Last night I had a bit of an emergency with one of my pumps. I had a call a week or so ago from my supplier to say that one of my regular pumps needed a service so they were sending a replacement pump and would collect my old pump this week. Yesterday I decided to do the change over and hit a whole raft of problems. Firstly the pump was completely unprogrammed and there were no instructions on how to set it. Luckily for me my hospital had shown me how to set the pump so after a bit of head scratching I managed to get it set up correctly for me. Satisfied that I wasn't going to kill myself I prepared the cassette and fixed it to the pump, primed the line and was just about to attached the new line to me, my old line was unattached and on the table, when the new pump started squealing. According to the display there was no cassette attached so I quickly removed the cassette and reseated it. It squealed again, this time I had air in the line. Off came the cassette and a quick examination showed no air anywhere so I replaced the cassette and off it went again saying there was no cassette attached. This continued for some time and no matter what I tried I could not get the pump to accept there was a cassette but no air. Conscious that I'd been without my drug for far too long I dug my old pump out of the box I'd packed it in for collection and attached that instead. It behaved perfectly first time. Needless to say it will be the new pump that will be returned tomorrow.

Paralympics Watch

To be honest I am watching this less and less. I don't know why it is but I am just not as enthralled as I was with the Olympics. Maybe it was because of the blanket coverage given by the BBC. Let's face it, you had to be pretty determined NOT to watch the Olympics. With channel four it is an effort to watch to be honest. The ad breaks drive me mad. You'll be waiting for a race to come up and listening to the pundits talk about this athlete or that athlete, without any pictures to work out who is who, then just as they come out on the track the commentator announces a 'quick break'. When you return they are in the blocks but you have missed the introductions so you still don't know who these people are. Perhaps most crucially you don't hear the roar of the crowd as they are introduced and that takes away the atmosphere to say the least. In some of the longer races they even take breaks in the middle of the event. This used to drive me mad when F1 was on ITV. Something important always happened during the break and was never adequately explained on the return. So frustrating.

Having got my appointment for Papworth and having lost another couple of pounds I realise that I need to do something drastic if I'm to get up to a decent weight before I go. So last night I started on the chocolate. At the moment I'm not so worried about healthy eating as long as the food is high in calories. Today I am making a cheese and bacon quiche for lunch, packed with cream. I am going down the little and often route and so far it seems to be working as most of what I've eaten has stayed put. A piece of toast with jam may not sound like a fulfilling breakfast but when you don't normally have breakfast it is a break through. I'm aiming for seven pounds in three weeks, I'm sure that is achievable.

Well quiche waits for no man and I'd better get going. Next blog Thursday.