Friday, 31 May 2013

Do Not Tell Me What To Do!

Well today is the first day of my two week break and it hasn't got off to a very good start.

This last week has been busy to say the least. Monday, really busy at work and got home exhausted but could not sleep. Tuesday picked Andrew up from the airport, fell into bed after yet another busy day and.....couldn't sleep. Wednesday I was like a zombie and quite ratty but at least I did manage to sleep...for two whole hours. Thursday less busy but I was shattered by then so sort of went at my own pace for most of the day, got home and slept like a rock.

Quite obviously I really, really need a break. I haven't had any real time off, apart from hospital stays and sickness, since September so I am mentally, rather than physically, tired and it has to be said, a wee bit stressed. I felt so different walking out of work on Thursday afternoon. I could feel the tension starting to leave my shoulders and I sang all the way home, well croaked to be more accurate, but who cares I was happy and no one could hear me. Last night I dropped off so easily it was like being hit with a hammer. There was none of the usual half awake, drifting sort of feeling, I just went out. As a result I woke up actually feeling refreshed and fairly bounded out of bed.

I don't really feel like I'm on holiday yet because I always have Fridays off but it was nice to dump my uniform in the washing basket instead of sticking it straight into the machine so it will be ready for Monday.

Of course there is always that little fly in the ointment and today's fly was the warfarin clinic.

I arrived fairly early and my heart sank when I saw it was only standing room again, I found a seat wedged up against the weighing machine and got my phone out to text Peter that I was in for a long wait. Unfortunately I'd forgotten to put the phone on silent and Peter's reply buzzed in just as one of the clinic sisters pass by. She whipped around, glared at me and shouted "turn that phone off." Now I'm not quick to anger, I'm a slow boiler and it can takes weeks for me to loose my rag over something but there was something about this woman's attitude that got my hackles up faster than greyhound down a track so I dug my heels in.

"I'm sorry?"
"I said no, I will not turn my phone off. I am waiting for a transplant and I'm not missing a call from Papworth because of your stupid rules."

We had a brief glaring competition and she went on her way. However our exchange hadn't gone unnoticed and this very large West Indian gentleman suddenly hooted with laughter and shouted. "You go girl, right on man." I'm assuming he approved.

So I left the clinic shortly after still furious and then made the mistake of going on to Tesco, forgetting completely that it was half term. The place was full of screaming babies, nagging toddlers and harassed mums. So by lunchtime I was wound tighter than a spring so immersed myself in the kitchen while I calmed down. This afternoon Andrew is going to help me clean up the decking, well I say help, he will do the actually clearing and I will supervise. I'm hoping that being out in the fresh air will return me to the happy state I woke up in, one can only hope.

Britain's Got Talent Watch

I have to admit I've sort of given up on this. I was all set for a great final this weekend until the first semi final results came through. To my utter amazement the brilliant, and dangerous, magician Aaron Clarke did not even get into the top three. Instead a precocious, and rather unpleasant, child got through and it has been the same all week. It seems once again Great Britain has gone for stage school cute rather than real talent. Will I watch the final, I honestly don't know yet, it depends whether I can find some paint drying.

The Apprentice Watch

This week the candidates were flown to Dubai because should they win they will be expected to operate internationally. Their task was to source a bazaar collection of items for a newly built hotel.

This task was, according to him, made for Zeeshaan who has actually lived in the place. So Endeavor immediately put Zee in charge and were off. This put Doctor Leah's nose out of joint somewhat as she felt she could do better.

Evolve turned to Myles as their project manager and spent a lot of time trying to work out what everything was. But soon they too were running around like headless chickens looking for the wrong things. Amazingly both teams thought an Oud, a type of guitar, was a perfume, despite Zee's alleged local knowledge.

Much time was wasted by both groups but eventually they made it back to to boardroom.

Despite 'knowing Dubai like the back of my hand' Zee and Endeavor could only bring four items out of eight into the boardroom and one of those was wrong. They lost of course. However the big twist was that instead of bringing Myles, who bought the wrong item, and Kyle, who couldn't add up and ordered a flag the size of a tea towel, Zee chose to blame the two women in his team for their failure. Big mistake! Doctor Leah and her lip gloss, she must have shares in petroleum jelly by the amount of the stuff she wears, was not going to be walked over. She hit back with claims of sexism backed up by a rather tearful Natalie. Unfortunately for Zee one of the scenes clearly shows him totally ignoring Natalie in the back of the car, he even turned his back on her, and another scene showed him arguing with Doctor Leah over where to get the items.

Accusations of sexism need not mean the end of the line but when you combine it with a massive ego and an inability to get things right you've got no chance. Zeeshann you're fired.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Making It Up As I Go Along

No one can do comfort quite like a cat

News on Anne is that she is still in ICU but is awake and sitting up. No word yet on what actually happened or whether it has set her back at all but we are all breathing a sigh of relief that she appears to be OK.

I seem to have become a target for people trying to sell weight loss products. My inbox has been over flowing with invitations to join Weight Watchers or try this diet or that miracle pill. Considering my problems putting on and keeping on the pounds I'd find it all slightly amusing if it wasn't so bloody annoying. As quickly as I'm blocking senders more are popping up and I'm beginning to wonder whether something malicious is taking place. Fortunately the email address these things are being sent to is a throw away one, which I use on websites I'm not sure about, so if things continue past today I'll be ditching it and setting up a new one.

The weather, for once, is looking fairly promising and I'm hoping I'll get to sit out in the garden for a couple of hours with my book and take in the fresh air and a bit of sunshine. Even though it is bank holiday I'm working tomorrow so I'd better make the most of it today. Having said that all the weather forecasts says tomorrow is going to be horrible again so maybe I won't feel hard done by after all.

I am all excited as the new series of Horrible Histories is starting tomorrow.

Yes I know it is a kids show but there is plenty there for adults too. I got into it during a prolonged stay in hospital when I was having my line put in. I'd run out of films and soaps to watch and didn't feel like reading so I was trawling through YouTube and found one of their sketches. It made me howl with laughter so I quickly brought up BBC iplayer and watched about three series back to back. Now I can't get enough of them and record each new series then pre-order it when it's due to come out on DVD. Yes I really am a child at heart.

Smirnoff has been a pain extraodinaire these last couple of days.

Smirnoff doing a roly poly on the decking

He's taken to following my around the house, even into the toilet, if I close the door he scratches it until I come out. As I'm typing he is curled up on my desk, fast asleep and snoring. Both cats are now fifteen years old and to be honest Smirnoff is wearing better than Tarmac. Smirnoff is still quite muscular whilst Tarmac is thinner and a lot less lively. I am amazed at Tarmac. According to the vet last September he wasn't going to make it to Christmas but he's soldiering on and his health has actually improved as has his appetite. I'm keeping a firm eye on him for any signs of distress or pain but so far he seems fine. Especially when he's chasing Smirnoff around the bedroom because he's found him asleep in 'his' place. I'm talking about the bed of course, which is actually 'my' place but you know what cats are like.

This morning I decided to treat myself with a face pack and/or a facial massage and rub. It is very difficult to get anyone to do facials, massages or even waxing now I'm hooked up to my pump. They take one look and freak or they ask me to go and get a letter from my doctor stating which treatments I can have before touching me. Rather than put up with all the hassle I now do most things myself, with, it has to be said, varying results.

This is the life

So I ran a bath, dug out my bits and pieces and prepared for a treat. Only one problem, no face pack, I'd forgotten to get one and my face scrub had been left on the windowsill and had dried out. I thought about it for a minute and then headed down to the kitchen. Rifling through the cupboards I made a honey, banana and oatmeal mask and an olive oil and sea salt face mask. I had no idea what I was doing but remembered reading somewhere how to make your own treatments and knew honey and salt featured somewhere. I also had no idea if either would work but my goodness did they work! I gave my face a good massage with the olive oil and salt and wiped it all off with a hot flannel then plastered my face in the mask and relaxed for ten minutes. The result was astonishing, my skin felt really soft and smooth. It felt so good I might even ditch the expensive stuff and stick with it, it will be cheaper for a start and there is no risk of allergies as I eat all that stuff regularly. Result!

Britain's Got Talent Watch

Unfortunately it wasn't on last night due to football so is being shown tonight instead. It is the last week this week and each night acts will be voted for and whittled down so the best can fight it out next weekend.

Next blog Wednesday, right now I'm off to dig out the deck chairs and find a book I can get lost in. Only four days and I'm on holiday! Yay!!

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Buffalo Milkshake.

Worrying news on Anne, after posting about her great progress yesterday I was alerted to a post from her brother. Anne has had a seizure and has been rush back into ICU and is waiting for a CT scan. As you can imagine we are all deeply shocked by this sudden backward step and are all fervently praying that is is only a minor problem which will not hinder her progress too much.

My cough/cold/allergy is still with me an I'm getting a mite fed up with it now. And the weather isn't helping, after just one week we had to turn the heating back on yesterday as we were both freezing. No wonder the bugs are having such a good time at the moment. I'm just hoping everything will improve soon.

As I'm typing this I'm waiting for my friend to arrive. We meet once a month for a good old natter and a progress check on each others lives. She is very excited as she and her husband are about to start an extension project on their house. We have made plans to meet again next month and I'm looking forward to it already.

Smirnoff enjoying a brief spell of sunshine

The rain has stopped but it is still quite cold out so I'm resigning myself to yet another afternoon on the settee reading or watching TV. To be honest I'm rather reluctant to go out and pull weeds in case it is some sort of allergy and I'll end up making it worse. I've decided to play it safe and if I've still got whatever it is this time next week I'll just have to go back to my GP and see what else he can come up with. It is so annoying as generally I don't feel too bad.

My Alfa 156 has had a new exhaust pipe and the engine checked over this week. The MOT is due in a couple of weeks so we will put it through that and then put it up for sale. I've decided to give it a final blast around the countryside before I do though. I'm really, really going to miss it but I can't justify the expense of taxing and insuring a car I'll barely use. Then, of course, there is where do I keep it. At the moment it is either sitting on my front lawn, and doing the grass no good at all, or sitting on a neighbour's driveway while they are away on holiday. Right now it is parked up on the road outside our house. The last place I want it to be as people drive up and down this road like they are on a race track and cars have been known to be damaged. Also I live near a station so we have horrendous parking issues during the week with commuters and I don't want to add to them. If we lived somewhere with a long drive or a large garage I wouldn't hesitate to keep it but as it is it is going to have to go.

The Apprentice Watch

I didn't feel it was appropriate to include this in yesterday's blog.

Well the candidates have finally been mixed up and are no longer girls versus boys, which is a bit worrying as I now have to try and remember the team names and who is in each team. The task this week was to run a farm shop for the day. They had to source their products, display and sell them and the team with the most profit wins. This should have been one of the easier tasks of the series but both teams missed the point by a country mile.

Evolve chose Luisa as it's team leader. Luisa is my new hate figure of the series. She is loud, cocky and less than graceful when successful.

They decided to go for the upper end of the market and supply buffalo meat to the masses. They also bought a wide variety of fruit and veg to display in their shop and then hit upon the idea of selling soup and baked potatoes. Now I do a lot of shopping in farm shops and not one of them has ever tried to sell me a baked potato or a plastic cup of weak soup. Maybe I'm going to the wrong farm shops or maybe the whole idea of a farm shop is to sell you the stuff you need to make your own soup.

Endeavor had Neil as their team leader who's main tactic was to issue orders, often countermanding himself, at rapid fire pace. At first it looked as though Neil was the leader to be reckoned with until he made the mistake of appointing Kurt as the leader of the sub team. Kurt is fixated, and I'm being kind here, on his business idea, which is to break into the smoothie and fruit juice market. So Kurt set about changing the task to fit his own ideas and show them off to Lord Sugar. Before Neil knew what had hit him the team were buying gallons of milk and every kind of fruit going. Neil decided to pull in the reins a bit and ordered the sub team to also bring back some veg to display in the shop. Kurt was not happy about spending their precious budget on anything that couldn't go into his smoothies but complied, well sort of. The two miserable boxes of limp veg he came back with did not endear him to Neil in the slightest.

It was about now that I began to wonder if I'd missed something. A farm shop selling only smoothies. Isn't that a smoothie shop? Anyway the big selling day arrived and it wasn't long before smoothies were flying out of Endeavors shop so fast they were having a hard time keeping up with demand and it looked like we were about to witness a landslide.

Over at Evolve Luisa was getting a bit ratty about customers wandering in, muttering that the meat was too pricey and wandering out again. The soup was bombing too and it didn't help when Myles, who was trying to shift the stuff, said loud enough for the whole street to hear, 'don't let them try it because it doesn't taste very good.'

In the boardroom I was convinced the Endeavor had it in the bag but I was suprised. despite the price of their buffalo meat, their terrible soup and their unappetising baked potatoes Evolve won.

Neil brought Kurt back in to face the music because of his smoothie obsession and Uzma for frightening off the customers with her horrible eye make up. The writing was on the wall and Uzma was sent packing proving that even in a team dominated by men the women still can't stop getting themselves fired.

Well time to head for the settee. I didn't sleep to well last night, probably because I was worrying about Anne, so I feel a little nap coming on.

Friday, 24 May 2013


Regular readers of this blog will know that I tend to keep clear of religious or political  stuff but today I cannot write this blog and ignored what has happened in Woolwich.

Lee Rigby was twenty two, married with a young son of his own. Lee was a decent young man who was proud of his country. So proud in fact that he fought for it. On Wednesday he dared to walk alone down a suburban street in London and was hacked to death by would be extremists. His only crime was that he wore a Help for Heroes hoodie.

Watching events unfold on the news I was sick to the stomach. I couldn't believe someone would not only do what they did but then wait around calmly chatting to passersby, and trying to justify what they'd done, until the police turned up. Sky showed one ranting on about 'getting your soldiers out of our country'. I found this somewhat bemusing given his broad south London accent. It was even stranger when it emerged that both men were Nigerian born. I may have missed something but to my knowledge we don't have troops in Nigeria. When police turned up the men charged at them brandishing their knives and a revolver only to be shot down by a female officer.

I was so pleased neither was killed and both are expected to make a full recovery. Some will think it strange but I have my reasons. They wanted to be killed by British police, that was exactly what they were hoping for. They wanted to be martyred, they wanted to become heroes, they wanted to be held up as examples of courage etc, etc. Now they will be seen for what they really are, cowardly murderers who hopefully will be held up for ridicule. I find it particularly satisfying that they were shot by a woman.

Of course the knee jerk reaction was immediately taken up by the English Defense League who piled onto the streets in their hundreds, well around sixty to be exact, and mystifyingly attacked the police. Strangely the EDL supporters clearly are not quite as proud to be British as they'd have us believe as most had their faces covered, which rather negated the point of them being there in the first place. Why would you do that? If you want to stand up for some cause or belief then do so openly, otherwise what is the point?

Of course we all know why they were there, the murderers had called for a 'war on London streets' and the EDL were up for giving them just that. Fortunately they were out numbered by police and after a bit of noisy pushing and shoving left.

Naturally politicians from all side were quick to condemn the incident, all that is except the odious leader of the British National Party who has been invisible, how strange.

With a bank holiday coming up the streets of Woolwich are going to be far from carefree and full of fun this weekend. However the murder of this poor soldier has had a curiously positive effect in some areas. The Help For Heroes charity is getting a flood of donations and during my travels this morning I saw more t-shirts, wrist band and badges supporting the charity than I ever have before.

In more up lifting news Anne has posted a picture of herself on an exercise bike just two full weeks post transplant. I am utterly amazed by this brave lady's progress. I would not be a bit surprised if I'm reporting her homecoming this time next week.

I went back to work yesterday. I really couldn't justify staying at home even though the cough, sore throat and slightly bunged nose are still with me. Countless courses of antibiotics have failed to rid me of the condition and I'm beginning to wonder whether it is some form of hay fever. It started about the right time and although the weather has been pretty awful there is still plenty of pollen out there. I might well nip into a chemist next week and see if there is anything I can try to help the situation.

I overslept this morning and completely missed my warfarin clinic so I've had to ring and rebook for next week. To be fair I was exhausted and definitely need the rest so I'm not that bothered.

My friend Diana is paying a visit tomorrow so I'm spending this afternoon having a quick flick around with a duster. The floor is going to need a mop too as following a week of rain there are millions of little muddy paw marks all over the place.

Talking of which a really strange thing happened to me on the way home yesterday.

I was about to walk into the car park when hailstones came belting down covering everything in about half an inch of ice. Seconds later the sun came out and when the heat hit the cold a mist formed and I walked to my car through, what can only be described, as a layer of dry ice mist. It was extremely pretty but very weird.

Well best get too it, the floor won't clean itself, unfortunately.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Secret Tears

Anne is being allowed out of hospital at the weekend so she can enjoy a meal with her family. How brilliant is that! Only two weeks post transplant and she's already out and partying. She'll have to go back though and there is no news yet as to when she'll actually be sent home but at this rate I'm guessing soon.

All this news about transplants and false alarms have been playing on my mind and I had a little cry last night. I set up my equipment for my usual evening drug prep and wondered how much longer I'll have to do this. To be honest I've had enough now. Not only does the prep take up a good forty minutes to an hour but every time I change my line I'm violently sick afterwards. I've discussed this with my PH center and no one can work out why this happens. One theory is that the movement involved unscrewing the old line and attaching the new might tip more of the drug than I need into my system, and as I'm really sensitive to it it makes me sick. Another is that subconsciously I'm revolted by the line and seeing it enter my body makes me sick. I think this is the least likely as I'm not squeamish about such things. The final theory, and the one I feel most probable, is that the sudden input of fresh drug (remember the stuff I'm removing is twenty four hours old and deteriorates with time), is just that bit too strong and sets me off.

Setting it all out and knowing what was coming just suddenly felt overwhelming and I had to stop so my tears wouldn't contaminate the sterile stuff. Once I'd gathered myself together the old philosophical me returned and I got on with it. I have no choice if I want to live long enough to get my transplant. I'm crying a lot more often these days and I hate that I feel so sorry for myself. There are other worse of than me after all.

As far as my cold/virus/whatever is concerned I'm feeling a lot better today. My throat no longer has that freshly grated feel, proving that gargling works, and I managed some bread and butter for tea. I still have an annoying cough but that is also much better. My breath though could still floor an elephant at fifty paces so there is some work to do on that. In myself I'm quite perky and am hoping the worst is over. Another day on the settee and I think I'll have sent whatever it is packing. Thank goodness for that.

Peter did not pick Andrew up from the airport this morning because Andrew wasn't there. I'd got my dates mixed up and he is actually home on the 28th.

In the news two stories have caught my interest, and both involving air.

The first and most obvious of course is the terrible tornado that levelled a town in Oklahoma. So many have been killed and injured but mercifully not as many as could have been. By the very unpredictability of a natural disaster some have emerged unscathed while all round them nothing is left while others have perished in areas that look virtually untouched.

While I really feel for this people I cannot help but wonder at the wisdom of building wooden buildings in an area know as Tornado Alley. Have they not heard of the Three Little Pigs?

When they rebuild I sincerely hope it is with brick and each building is given a cellar. If they do this then yes, they will lose their roofs, and yes, they will probably lose their windows but they won't lose their lives.

The second story involves a airhead and a cyclist.

Emma Way saw fit to Tweet the following message after racing through the narrow country lanes where she lives.

'Definitely knocked a cyclist off his bike earlier - I have right of way he doesn't even pay road tax! #bloodycyclists'

From that I can only conclude that Emma views pedestrians, small children and animals in the same vein and considers it her God given right to mow them down if they dare interfere with her progress. My mouth actually fell open when reading this I was so shocked. What Emma failed to realise is that Tweets can be read by anyone, they are not restricted to just family and friends as on other social media sites. She must have assumed that as cyclists are universally disliked by drivers she was on safe ground. She obviously did not think that her message would also be ready by cyclists, friends and relatives of cyclists who've died in collisions with cars on narrow country lanes, and those who just felt it was the wrong thing to do.

Now I've had my fair share of run ins with cyclists, as has anyone regularly driving in London. They hare along ignoring traffic lights, crossings and one way streets and then complain if someone challenges them on their behaviour. However not all cyclists are like that, just as not all drivers are the bad guys in every unfortunate encounter.

Having heard of this boasting the cyclist, who was fortunately unhurt and had not reported the incident for fear of upsetting his girlfriend, came forward and made a statement to the police who are now investigating the incident.

As for Emma well she has stopped posting on Twitter, for now, and has been suspended from her job with a respectable accountancy firm who are less than impressed with her antics. She certainly faces charges, maybe points or even a short ban. If she had killed the cyclist she could have gone to prison, a fact I doubt has even wafted through the vacuum of her mind.  When asked for a comment Emma, wisely for once, decided to keep her mouth firmly close, however who needs enemies when you have friends.

'She stopped, but the other guy didn't stop. She looked in the mirror and he was gone.'

Of course he was gone, he'd just been punted into a hedge by your mate, but it gets worse.

'It's absolutely ridiculous. There was nobody marshalling the cyclists and they were going really fast.'

Clearly not as fast as you mate, and now the clincher.

'She's a village girl who knows every pothole on every road around here. She made a stupid remark on Twitter and it's all got out of hand.'

When my father in law was losing his sight but refusing to give up his driving licence we didn't realise how bad he'd got until he was driving my sister in law home one night and remarked that he couldn't really see but it was OK because ' I know the road.' Needless to say he never drove her home again and had his licence revoked soon afterward.

Knowing the road well is no guarantee of safe driving. In fact it is often the opposite and has been proven to make drivers complacent about their surroundings rather than more aware. They go into an automatic pilot state and actually find it more difficult to deal with the unexpected when it occurs. Personally I find it difficult to believe that Emma has never ever come across a cyclist, or horse rider for that matter, along this stretch of road in her entire driving career. If it was up to me I'd ban her from driving until she grew a brain but it isn't so we wait with baited breath.

Well it is back on the settee for me and a desperate fight not to offer to help in the kitchen. Peter is finally getting around to making the frozen yogurt this afternoon. In the meantime I'm trying to figure out what to make for lunch as my appetite is returning. I'm thinking something soft,creamy and cheesy.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Transplant Troubles

The news on Anne is really, really good. She has been outside to feed the ducks, albeit in a wheelchair, and is now walking laps of the ward. She is getting fitter day by day and as yet hasn't stopped smiling. Anne is a walking miracle and has only had her chance thanks to the generosity of others. Please, please sign the donor register so there can be more miracles.

Another PH friend, Stacie Pridden, got her call last night. Unfortunately the lungs turned out to be not good enough and she has been sent home.

A cruel twist of fate and I can't imagine the emotions she must be going through right now. Stacie has been waiting quite a while, a good few months longer than me, and had said in her blog (link on the right hand side bar) how much she wished that call would come. So we were all delighted when we heard the news. Naturally this morning we are all feeling a little deflated on Stacie's behalf. We have told her to look on it as a practice run but even though I know she will try to do this, she is such a positive person, she will feel very down for a while.

So why do false alarms happen?

Well the very nature of transplantation means nothing can ever be guaranteed. A recipient will often get the call before organs are removed from the body. This is so the recipient can have all the tests and scans to ensure they are fit for surgery, and be prepared ready for the operation. This ensures the donor organs are without a blood supply for as short a time as possible. The heart and lungs are the organs most affected by a lack of blood and oxygen so they are removed first. They are throughly examined twice to check that there is nothing hiding that tests haven't picked up. Once by the removal team again by the receiving center to make doubly sure and if all is OK then the recipient can be taken into surgery.

However that isn't the end of the story because when the other organs are harvested problems can still show up. It is not unknown for a tumour to be discovered on one of the other organs or in the body somewhere and of course that will also put a stop to things. If there is the slightest chance of cancer the transplant will not go ahead due to the amount of steroids you will need to take afterwards. Steroids can make thing grow very, very quickly and the last thing you want to grow quickly is cancer.

Poor Stacie, I really feel for her but if the lungs are not right then there is no point. This isn't a 'give it a go and see' operation. You don't get a second chance so the right call was made, I doubt Stacie will see it that like that at the moment though.

As you probably gathered by the early blog, I'm off sick again.

I was sent home yesterday after being told I looked 'terrible'. Charming! To be fair I wasn't feeling that great when I set out in the morning but I thought my gloomy mood was just the usual Monday thing. However as the morning progressed I developed an irritating scratchy feeling in my throat and started to cough my way through calls, not a good image I must say. I was completely uninterested in food, I had to force a sandwich down and I just didn't feel 'right'. A colleague pointed out that I'd turned terribly pale and went to fetch my supervisor who ordered me home. I can't say I put up much resistance.

A trip to the doctor confirmed a virus rather than an infection. All I can do is gargle with salt water, stop talking and sit it out. I'm frustrated because until recently I was doing really well on the sickness front. I do find though that once I've picked up a bug I tend to go down with two or three in quick succession and then I'm fine for two or three months before I start all over again. On the plus side the bugs I'm picking up no longer automatically go down on my chest, so I've had fewer chest infections, and I'm off for days rather than weeks. This of course maybe down to my new outlook of not struggling on until I drop and getting to grip with things early enough to stop them turning really nasty. It means I spend time at home when I feel I really could be in work but I get over things a lot quicker. Who'd have thought it! And exactly how long did it take me to learn that lesson?

Had a quick visit from Laurence last night. He'd been at a colleague's funeral and formed part of the guard of honour. He was in full dress uniform and looked so handsome, though I have to say there was a bit of the Mr Mackay's about him. They are not allowed to keep their dress uniforms and have to hand them back in after any event. Laurence wanted me to see him in it so popped in. Peter took photos and a soon as he's uploaded them I'll post one here.

Andrew is back from Bulgaria tomorrow, well at least I hope he's coming back. Communication since he went has been less than satisfactory, that is to say nonexistent. He hasn't even posted on Facebook! I'm guessing the first thing well know that he's back in the country will be when we get a text asking us to pick him up form the airport. That can be Peter's job as I'll either be in work or in bed.

So it is another enforced day in front of the settee being fed endless cups of tea and getting the occasional order to gargle. Will I be in work tomorrow, well I've given myself until six to decide but I doubt it.

Sunday, 19 May 2013


Friends have visited Anne and say she is looking really well, she has a sparkle about her with is really good to hear. I'd love to go and visit her but as I still have the remnants of a cold I think it is better to stay away. I don't want to be responsible for any set backs. If I'm feeling good next weekend we'll see.


We did nip out to the shops briefly yesterday. Peter has found a recipe for frozen yogurt that he fancies trying so we went to get some ingredients. They are all now sitting in the fridge waiting. I've decided that as this is her recipe I'm keeping well out of it.

Peter has gone out to a radio rally this morning. This is a sort of get together for electronics geeks. He is hoping to pick up some bits and pieces for his latest project. Normally I'd go with him just for the trip out but it is taking place in a field, so not somewhere I can use the trike, especially after all the rain we've had. There are no seats either and it is quite a long trek from the car park so I am better off where I am.

The Buddist Temple Hawaii

So I have a whole morning to amuse myself in. What to do? Well the weather is dry at the moment and it isn't that cold so I might try a bit of weeding in the herb garden. Or I might play safe and stay in and do some baking. That's the trouble. When you have an opportunity to get up to mischief you just can't think of anything. It is only ten and I'm bored already. Oh for a hot sunny day, at least sitting out on the decking with a good book and my music would pass the time in a more pleasant way than shivering on the settee trying to keep warm. Sometimes I despair of our climate.

After talking about holidays yesterday I have been torturing myself by looking back through our holiday pictures from years gone by. I've included a few on this post to share with you.

I'll admit it, I finally gave in and watched some of Eurovision last night, albeit with the remote in hand so I could turn the sound off every time Graham Norton piped up.

Lake Como

By far the best act of the whole night was the Hostess, her strange costumes, at one point she looked like a Dalek, and her Smörgåsbord segment. I fell about laughing as the number progressed and got weirder and weirder. Oh my goodness, that was the best workout my lungs have had for a very long time.

So what about the singing, well from the acts I saw the overall impression was one of disappointment. There was a glimmer of hope in Romania who threw everything at it apart from the kitchen sink and appeared to have dug Dracula up to perform. He clearly wasn't pleased and squealed away while rising towards the ceiling in an effort to escape. I could only conclude the harness he was wearing was in a very painful place. Still he was more entertaining than Hungary's student, who was all hat and big glasses. Clearly he had no intention of being recognised once the whole ghastly event was over and done.


My favourite act was the Greeks. They had obviously based their act on that of eighties group Madness and for some unknown reason wore out-sized football shorts. Their song was Alcohol Is Free, a statement anyone visiting Greece will tell you is patently untrue but at least they injected a bit of fun and humour into an otherwise dull evening.

So what of Bonnie? Well I have to say I was deeply disappointed. Where was the power? Where was the gravel? Where was the tune? I had expected a power ballad of epic proportions and was all ready to jump on Amazon this morning and order a copy. Unfortunately Bonnie's effort was more of a feeble warble than a lioness's roar and I knew we were doomed. Maybe the corset she was wearing in order to fit into, what looked like a leotard with some dishcloths attached to it, was laced too tight, who knows. However her efforts did garner more points than Englebert and we finished nineteenth so we're heading in the right direction.

A winsome hippy fairy from Denmark won with an song about Tears that had a very catchy tune. A worthy winner to be honest.

Britain's Got Talent Watch

This was the penultimate audition show and it wasn't exactly wonderful.

By far the worst act(s) were the animals. We had a donkey who managed to put a few wavery lines on a piece of paper with a paint brush. We had several dogs who did everything except what their owners claimed they could do. However by far the most unusual was a Raccoon who did very little. It did redeem itself though by climbing up it's owner's back and sitting on her head, thereby giving an excellent impression of a Davy Crockett hat.

Inside the Chrysler Building, New York

The best act was an singing group who were pitch perfect. They didn't need any sob stories, indeed they didn't even need music. They were just very, very good. Unfortunately we know that being very, very good is nothing if you haven't had a personal disaster somewhere in your past. We probably won't be seeing them in the finals, which is a real pity.

Well time to go off and do something exciting, I don't know what yet but I'm determined to look for something. Maybe a trawl through the cupboards to see if I can find some more holiday albums I can cry over.

On top of the Empire State, New York and yes I was petrified

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Pre-Holiday Blues

No new updates on Anne so we assume she is doing well. She has been posting pictures of the food she's been given to eat and I must say, for a hospital dedicated to looking after the heart and lungs, it does look awfully unhealthy. I've no doubt there must be a reason behind Anne being encouraged to eat things like Dorito's and Mars bars but would a piece of fruit or some veg really be that bad? I don't think I'm going to enjoy my post transplant stay if that's what they expect you to eat, yuk.

Chester's beautiful town center

Another long lie in and long restful bath and no sign of any migraine. I can only assume that although I thought I was coping well at work, I really wasn't. This is a bit of an alarming development. I don't want to be returning from work with migraine everyday but clearly something there is stressing me out big time. Oh well I'll just have to see how I go next week and if the same thing does happen then clearly I have a problem.

It might just be that I need a proper rest and some quality time away from it all. My long awaited holiday is in just two weeks so if I can hold out that long I'm pretty sure I'll be OK.

Talking of holidays I have to admit to feeling a wee bit jealous when my colleagues excitedly discuss going to Spain, or Mexico, or America. It has been so long since I went anywhere so exciting and even if I have my transplant tomorrow I will still need to wait a year, or more, before I'll be let out of the country.

The last real holiday was when we went to Chester for a week about three years ago. It was absolutely wonderful. Of course I could still walk pretty well then and wasn't weighed down with pumps and oxygen tanks and boxes of meds. I could still go away somewhere in England for a short holiday but dragging all that equipment and a whole pharmacy with me is rather off putting and requires so much effort I just can't be bothered. I will go to Wales to see my Mum and if I can I will try to get to Edinburgh at some point to see my brother but I think I'm going to limit it to that.

Doing the wall walk

Tonight it is the Eurovision Song Contest but I will be sticking to good old BGT.

I used to watch the Eurovision avidly years ago when Terry Wogan was at his prime but since it became so political I gradually gave up caring. The final nail in the coffin was when Graham Norton took over the commentary. I will not watch anything he is in, I even skip the Father Ted episodes he features in. I cannot stand the man.

We all know that Greece will vote for Cyprus, Cyprus will vote for Greece etc, etc. In fact it is so rigged that you can pretty much guess how many points each country it going to give out and to whom. The UK have become so desperate that they are dragging out former big guns on the British pop scene. Last year it was Englebert Humperdinck who's last big hit was way back in the 1970's. Frighteningly he still has the same hair but despite a liberal use of hair dye and all the glitz and promotion he sank without a trace getting only 12 points.

Part of a weird and wonderful exhibition

This year we've enlisted the services of another former star in the shape of Bonnie Tyler who embraced the eighties mantra of big hair, big shoulders and big voice with everything she possessed. At the time her gravelly voice earned her the title of the female Rod Stewart (I think I can guess who they will drag out next year) and she had a string of big hits, notably Total Eclipse of the Heart which I loved with a passion at the time.

Will she fair any better? I doubt it, the UK is even more unpopular with the rest of Europe than it was last year. However if she gets more than twelve points at least we'll be moving in the right direction, it's the most we can hope for.

The weather is not playing ball and according to Peter, who popped out this morning, it is freezing out there. Lovely, more like November than May. No wonder most Brits are vitamin D deficient. So it looks like another afternoon on the settee with a book or film. The way I'm reading at the moment I'm going to have to do another trawl around the charity shops. I'm up to at least a book a week now. I'm itching to get out but I suppose Patience is a virtue as well as an opera.

And yes, Chester has blue plaques

Well time to start cooking, I'm making barbecue chicken with roast peppers and couscous, yum, yum, yum. Now that is the kind of food they should be serving in hospital.

Friday, 17 May 2013

A Design Disaster

The news on Anne is that she is still doing well and had some of the tubes and wires removed yesterday. A very good sign. She also appears to be regaining some of her feisty self, such a relief.

My cold/chest infection, general malaise rumbles on but does appear to be improving. I'm having a cough start in the mornings but once I'm up and running I feel pretty much normal, well as normal as I'm ever going to get with PH.

There has been a bit of a worrying development though.

On Wednesday soon after writing my blog I developed a migraine and yesterday on arriving home I went down with another one. Now I have had migraines all my life but they only ever appear when I'm stressed. Exams, interviews, first day at work and sudden upsets can all set me off, however none of that applies to the last two days. I have been fiendishly busy at work but nothing I couldn't handle, even with a cold, so I'm at a loss as to the cause. Maybe I am stressed but am not recognising it as such. Maybe it is just one of those things. Of course now I'm stressed out worrying about what could be stressing me out. It is probably a blip but whatever has caused it I hope my three days of R & R will get rid of it pronto.

Thought you could ignore me, think again.

In another strange development Smirnoff has taken to sticking to me like glue. He follows me around the house and cuddles up beside me when I'm watching TV. Most disturbingly of all though is his insistence at sitting behind my monitor and staring at me. It is really off putting and he only stops to do a loop of my desk every now and then. I don't know why he is doing this other than the fact it is shedding season so I'm brushing both of them at least once a day to try and limit the amount of fur on the furniture. It is very unusal because Smirnoff has always been aloof. You get affection when he deems you deserve it and if you take the liberty of picking him up at any other time you are rewarded with a scratch or a bite. Highly strung isn't the word. I'm not complaining though, I'm making the most of it.

Today is the first Friday in months that I don't have to dash off to a clinic, appointment or to carry out an errand for Andrew. I've taken advantage of this by having a long lie in, I didn't wake until eight, a read of the papers with breakfast in bed and a long soak in the bath. This afternoon I'll do the grocery run and that will leave me with a whole two days of leisure time. All I'm hoping now is that the weather perks up enough to allow me to spend some of my time outdoors.

Talking of weather, I spoke to my Mum last night and she reported a heavy snow fall in Aberystwyth on Tuesday evening. Such crazy weather for May and my hopes of a long hot summer are fading fast. It is looking more and more likely to be another washout.

The Apprentice Watch

We were back to all girls and all boy teams this week, which is a bit of a relief as I can never remember the team names or which is which. I think Evolve is the girls and Endeavour the boys but don't quote me on that.

Confusion about team names aside it was a rather good show. The task was to design, produce and pitch a piece of flat pack furniture. The team with the most orders wins.

The girls were all excited squeals as they thought this task had played right into their hands. They were women right, so naturally far more creative than men. Well that might have been true if the squabbling hadn't started within minutes of them sitting down to come up with a design. They changed their minds so quickly it was difficult to work out what they had designed until you saw it. This little pool of bubbling creativity had come up with a box on wheels. Not only a box on wheels but one in an unattractive battleship grey with a few scratches on the side masquerading as a funky pattern. The name for this item of wonder, The Sidy Tidy.

When asked about the colour by a prospective buyer he was told it was because white was too common. This came from Luisa, probably the most common of all the candidates, so I suppose she would know.

Over at the boys team Eyebrow Alex stunned, and proved that there was a brain behind that huge forehead, by coming up with a design that converted a table into a chair with one movement and with no screws or catches. The only criticism given by all who saw it was that as a chair it was a little high, a flaw that could be easily fixed. Not only was this table/chair functional but it was attractive, the table was in bright white, take note girls, and when converted to a chair sported baby blue upholstery. What's not to like.

However Alex very nearly scuppered things when demonstrating how to assemble the thing by standing between it and the buyers so all they could see was his backside. As Nick pointed out, 'no one wants to see that.' Quite so. 'The Coat' was also missing this episode, a very sad state of affairs.

After a hectic day of pitching it was back to the boardroom to find out how they has done.

Badly it seemed for the girls who only managed to foist their hideous creation, called a 'wishy washy poxy boxy' by Lord Sugar, on the smaller traders and getting orders for just 174 units. John Lewis and Argos wouldn't touch it with a bargepole. The boys triumphed by over 3000 orders and won themselves a climb up the O2 dome, not what I would call a treat but there you go.

Team leader Natalie, who has an enormous chin, something I hadn't noticed before, brought Sophie and Uzma back into the boardroom with her for the firing. I sort of felt sorry for her. Anyone who gets the roles of team leader with the girls is doomed to failure from the start because they just won't shut up and listen and they all think they are right. I had less sympathy for Sophie, who's sole contribution so far was to object mildly to selling China cats in China town during the first episode. However the person I though was most responsible was gobby Uzma who claimed to be in the 'looking good industry' and was responsible for the pattern on the side of the box. Uzma has a range of make up to promote and insists on demonstrating every product on her own face all at once. Her eye make up is more elaborate than Elizabeth Taylor's in Cleopatra and far more scary. Clearly the person with her finger on the pulse of what 'looks good'.

In the end Silent Sophie got the boot and everyone else lives to fight another week. As you know I don't like making predictions but I think this year's Apprentice is more likely to be a Ken than a Barbie.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

T Rex Extinct Once More

The news from Anne is that she has been moved out of ICU and into a normal ward. Her progress is amazing but naturally she is awash with all different kinds of emotions at the moment. She is also able to post updates on Facebook herself now, which is a big relief for us all.

My week has been a little less successful.

I am very tired at the moment and my infection is still with me though better than it was. It has also been rather manic at work with a lot of people off either through leave or sickness, which of course doesn't help when you a feeling a little rough to start with. One more day though and I can relax and put my feet up. So looking forwards to doing so.

Yesterday after work I drove Andrew to the airport, Peter was held up at work so I had to play taxi. Andrew has finished his exams and has a two week wait before his placement starts so he's spending a week with his girlfriend. The rain was coming down in buckets and I couldn't believe this is mid May, I really wished I was going with him as apparently it is hot and sunny in Sofia.

I also fell out with my car a bit today.

I have my music on a usb stick and normally use the random function as I like to be surprised at what comes next. I'm also terrible at making decisions so if I had to choose an album for the journey I'd never get off the drive. Anyway this morning it decided it was going to play me a bit of T Rex, which is fine, not my favourite artist but obviously good enough as they are on the stick. Unfortunately it decided to play the same song over and over and even trying to skip tracks just landed me back there. No matter how much you love a song, hearing it over and over constantly does tend to wipe the shine of it a bit and I don't love Dandy on the Underground that much. I have now deleted the T Rex album. I may restore it at some point but only after a month or two at the very least.

Right time for a cuppa, feet up and the paper. Next blog Friday.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Proof Organ Donation Changes Lives

The news on Anna is that she's sitting up talking and eating and demanding satsumas and jelly babies. Well if you can't be demanding and have your favourite foods less than forty eight hours after a heart/lung transplant I don't know when you can. My demands will probably be ginger beer, tangtastics and strawberries, anyone planning on visiting me please take note. Anne's brother, who is providing the updates, also remarked on her lovely pink, warm hands, it seems her new organs are working really well and no longer deprived of oxygen everything else is improving too.

Seriously though it is encouraging to hear how quickly Anne is progressing and makes the whole thing sound far less scary for those of us still waiting.

Anne got her miracle because of someone's generosity. Please look at these statistics and if they bother you, or even if they don't, please sign up so others like myself and Anne have a chance. The link for the donor list is on the right hand sidebar under links. And please, if you do sign up make sure your wishes are carried out by telling your families exactly what you want to do. Too often the patient's wishes are overruled by relatives who had no idea he or she wanted to save others. You will be saving your relatives a lot of heartache too as often after the first knee jerk reaction they wish they had said yes.

Today, after a night of heavy rain and thunderstorms both the weather and myself have improved somewhat.

I can't say I'm bouncing around a picture of fitness and energy but I'm definitely feeling better so alls good on that front. I haven't decided whether to go into work tomorrow, I will decide later this evening. Yes I know, I'm an idiot but I can't help it. I have a strong work ethic that I just can't shake. sometimes I think the only thing that'll save me is a large win on the lottery and even then I'd probably do something. I'm not one for lounging around which is why I make such a bad hospital patient.

Laurence's visit went really smoothly and despite some mild teasing I didn't need to bring out my whistle. Of course I keep forgetting they are both adults now and things that would have caused an almighty row ten years ago are taken as good humoured banter.

After Laurence left, Andrew went out with some mates to celebrate the end of exams. I don't know when he got in because I was asleep but I know it was gone midnight. This morning he is nursing the hangover from hell and looks as rough as he feels. I can't complain though, the last time I saw him like this was after his A levels so one blowout per year is more than acceptable.

Today is going to be a 'in front of the TV and relax' sort of day. I'm making a simple lunch which we will eat on our knees while watching the Spanish Grand Prix. Then I'll iron my uniform, just in case, while watching a recording of last night's Casualty and I'll top the day off with a film or two. Perfect.

Britain's Got Talent Watch

Well a lot less of David and Simon this week and a lot fewer really bad acts too. This is not a good thing, it is the the awesomely bad acts that make the programme interesting so last night was a bit of a let down.

Best act of the night? Well this week I'm torn between the impressionist and the mad granny.

The impressions weren't actually that good but the bloke himself was one of those naturally funny people who can make you howl with laughter with single gesture. Thin, in an ill fitted jacket and with eyes the size and colour of Minstrals chocolates he hopped up and down in a fit of nervous energy to the point that one of the judges had to ask if he needed to go to the toilet. He didn't, he was just 'really, really nervous', hop, hop, giggle. The audience were in fits and he hadn't even started his act yet. I can easily see him having a great career but as a stand up, not an impressionist.

The mad granny was in her seventies but wore bright red lipstick and punk rocker clothing. You knew this was either going to be a complete car crash or we were in for another Susan Boyle moment. She launched into a song call 'Kiss My Arse' with a wild scream and the audience loved her as did the judges. I don't think she's going to win but she's going to give it a damn good go and why not.

The worst act was undoubtedly the woman for mid Wales who couldn't get her tape recorder to work and then staggered around the stage wailing. Thus proving that it is a myth that everyone in Wales is musical.

Most irritating act was the ubiquitous dance group this time featuring kids clutching teddy bears and wearing pigtails and school uniform. They jumped about the stage to some very inappropriate music and were all gap toothed smiles. Unsurprisingly they were put through to the next round. Never underestimate the power of pigtails.

Well time for a cuppa and the papers before I start throwing lunch together. Next 'planned' blog, Wednesday.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Delight, Jealousy and Sadness

The news so far is that Anne came out of surgery yesterday morning and is doing really well. She has been kept sedated but they hope to wake her sometime today.

A few of us on the transplant list have been discussing our feelings when we hear someone has been successful. The emotions range from immense happiness for the person getting their new life and intense sadness for ourselves. Some also admit feeling jealousy and anger, all of which are perfectly normal. One of my PH friends posted on her blog how she felt, Stacie has been waiting a lot longer than me so I feel had more right to be disappointed, and she expressed how guilty she felt about those feelings. I know just how she feels and replied to her with this.

I know how you feel Stacie and expressed similar emotions in my own blog yesterday. Emotions are very mixed, you feel elated for the person who struck lucky but at the same time feel jealous and upset that it wasn't you. I'm sure everyone on the list will be feeling exactly the same. Of course the overwhelming emotion will be guilt at feeling like this at all. You and I are only human and what we are feeling is only natural. I'm sure Anne, Sita and everyone else who's had a transplant would not be angry that we feel that way. From what I know about post transplant patients, Anne herself will feel tremendous guilt at having leapfrogged the queue and we will have to reassure her that we don't feel any resentment. Sometimes 'being only human' is bloody hard.

I think that just about sums everything up.

A bit damp.

Yesterday evening we had such a downpour. The rain just came down in sheets and sheets. It happens every year you get the cherry blossom in full bloom and then along comes a high wind and a heavy downpour to wash it all away.

My garden is looking at its very best at the moment and in the sunshine is really beautiful, even though I haven't touched any of it yet. This weekend's planned gardening session has been put in hold due to the double whammy of infection and rain but, if you ignore the herb garden, the rest of it looks pretty good without any human interference.

Today my eldest is coming to lunch with us. I would like to say he is coming to comfort his poor sick mother but in reality I know he is coming to talk about 'the tattoo'. It would be fair to say that Laurence was horrified when he found out what his baby brother had done.

Andrew is in a more relaxed mood having completed his end of year exams. He now has two weeks with nothing to do until his six week placement starts at the beginning of June. He has decided to go to Bulgaria for one of those weeks as it is Svet's birthday and prom so will be jetting out on Tuesday and coming back the following Wednesday. Oh to be young and fit enough to be able to just go off like that without a care in the world. Once again I wish I was a little more adventurous in my twenties but in the early eighties, in Wales you just didn't do things like that. An adventure was setting foot in England, especially as my mother thought we needed a passport to get there. (Only joking, but she did have some very funny ideas about travelling, and still does).

Two of my colourful bushes

My chest infection has really taken hold and last night my oxygen sats were down to 79%. Today they have improved to 83% but I'm going to have to use my oxygen and just hope the antibiotics kick in really quickly or I can see another week off work damn it!

I don't often pray, well never formally actually. Prayers are usually said while I'm doing something else or in the early hours of the morning when I can't sleep. They usually take one of two forms along the line of 'please let it be my turn tonight' or 'dear God please don't let me die'. When I'm feeling ill these are combined and said with fervent intensity and last night I said this prayer over and over again and am still saying it in my head. One day I hope it is heard and answered.

So time to pull myself out of the doldrums, set about making something nice for lunch and start flexing my refereeing muscles because I think I'm going to need them.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Bottling It

Woke up this morning to the fantastic news that one of my PH buddies got the call at 0200. While this is really good news for Anne, and I'm filled with joy for her, I still can't help feeling just a little sad for me. This sadness isn't helped by the chest infection that seems to have appeared overnight, rats, rats, rats! As I write there is no news of how things with Anne have gone/are going so it is everything crossed for a good outcome.

I had a really bad day yesterday. I was exceptionally tired and really grumpy and I my usual placid patience deserted me on several occasions. I thought it was just tiredness but I woke up with my lungs on fire and a very productive cough. So back on the antibiotics I go and an appointment has been made with the GP for Monday if I'm not showing signs of improvement by then. I should have know something was up days ago but I think I was in denial as I always hope that I can't possible go down with infection number two (or three) so soon after recovering from number one. However I can and I do, with increasing regularity, so I really should learn to stop putting off the inevitable and just get on with what I have to do to get better.

I did manage to stagger around Tesco's this morning but I really shouldn't have so this afternoon it is going to be feet up, lots of hot drinks and an over enthusiastic student paramedic monitoring my vital signs.

I have three weeks to go before my two week holiday comes around and I'm already making plans.

I have found a lot of places other than London have blue plaques so we are going to visit a couple near us and see if we can find them. If the weather is really good while I'm off I want to visit Whipsnade as I've always wanted to take close ups of the ring tailed Lemurs and at Whipsnade you get really up close and personal. I'm told I'll be luck to escape without have my pockets rifles through, can't wait. There are also a couple of country house's with magnificent gardens just waiting for me and my camera. All I've got to do is be well and hope for nice weather.

The Apprentice Watch

Oh my word, what a shambles.

I have to say I'm becoming un-naturally fixated on Alex's eyebrows, No only are they the victims of extreme waxing by they just don't move leading me to suspect botox. Can he really be that vain? In a word, yes he can. However what really had me rolling around laughing was the (and I'm presuming here) camel haired coat worn just on the shoulders as modelled by Del Boy on Only Fools And Horses. This was the coat's first outing but I have horrible feeling it won't be it's last.

The second task was to invent a flavoured beer and then sell it and the team making the most profits wins.

Dim Tim ignored the golden rule of 'if you win keep your mouth shut' in programme one and so found himself moved across to the girls team to be their team leader. They decided to flavour their beer with Rhubard and caramel, eww, and then promptly ruined two barrels because fitness instructor Francesca couldn't use a calculator. Eventually they got their sums right and managed to get the remaining barrels mixed and bottled.

Meanwhile over on the boys team they decided their flavour was going to be chocolate orange eww, eww and thrice eww, and they quickly made the necessary calculations and were soon bottling. Team leader Kurt made the most weird decision so far by sending Zeeshaan, who doesn't drink for religious reasons, and Jason, who just doesn't drink to the manufacturing team. How were they going to taste what they were making to check it was OK? This created the first row of the day but things were about to get a lot, lot worse.

Day two was about selling and Jason, who it seems has never done anything apart from study, was teamed with Zeeshaan and eyebrow Alex, not a match made in heaven and things soon turned nasty. Poor Jason clearly did not have a clue about selling and kept putting his foot in it which lead to heated rows, often in front of potential customers,  and plenty of bad language. Zeeshann and Alex were throughly obnoxious but to be honest I could see their point, Jason however could not and winged about manners for most of the programme.

Despite all this the boys won and went off to Belgium to sample, yes you've guessed, beer.

Back in the boardroom and the girls fought like cats, and by that I mean there was plenty of spitting and hissing but no physical contact for fear a bit of someone might fall off. Rebecca got most of the blame for not choosing the correct locations but we could all see where this was going. Being the only man in the group Tim may as well have skipped the boardroom all together and gone straight for the taxi.

So fourteen left and still no clear winner emerging but I'm fairly certain Alex and his eyebrows are going to go far, mainly for his novelty value.

Well the settee is calling, will be back tomorrow with hopefully some good news about Anne.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Step Away From The Hair Gel

Very, very busy at work at the moment but I'm coping well. OK, today I was really tired and must have looked it as everyone commented, darn it. Sometimes make up just doesn't cut it, think I'd going to have to find some industrial strength. On the whole though things are still going really well.

Having said that I haven't been sleeping well, I'm either too hot or too cold and it's getting on my nerves. Oh well just one more day and it's the weekend.

A lot of people have asked for my recipe for Moroccan Stew so here it is. Enjoy.

Moroccan Stew
1 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion thickly sliced
2 carrots peeled and cut into chunks
450g beef casserole steak cut into bite sized pieces
1 tbsp ras el hanout spice (if you cannot get this the garam masala will do
2 garlic cloves crushed
1tbsp clear honey
100 soft dried prunes roughly chopped
500ml beef stock
100g soft dried apricots halved
400g tin chickpeas drained and washed
couscous to serve

heat oil in a large pan and add onion and carrot. cook for 5 mins until softened then remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. toss beef in spice mix then add to pan and tune until browned on all sides.
Return onions and carrots to pan along with any spices not taken up on the beef and add the garlic, honey prunes and stock. lower heat cover and simmer for 50 mins.

Remove lid and add chickpeas and apricots, cook for a further 10 mins with lid off to enable sauce to thicken slightly. Serve with couscous or rice.

I'm told it works well with tofu if you are a veggie.

Apprentice Watch.

Where to start? To be honest I've not seen so much hair gel and lip gloss in one place since the last school disco, and that's just the boys. And what's with the eyebrows? Alex, severely waxed browns only look good on elfin faced women, and Jason, loose the uni-brow there's a love.

As for the girls well there were enough false bits flying around to create a whole new person. Yes this year's Apprentice will be either Barbie or Ken.

Definitely not in the 'Barbie' mold was Jaz, who broke the golden rule and volunteered to be the first project manager. Has she never watched this programme? It is almost a given that one of the project managers on the first show will bite the dust. Jaz was an 'educator' and immediately set about motivating and patronising the other girls in equal measure. Jaz had a big voice, a big personality and very, very big hair. She was doomed from the start. Her one saving grace was her suggestion to try and sell the cat litter to Battersey Dogs Home, a suggestion that was roundly dismissed because it was 'too far away'. The boys did go to Battersey and won the task. However she also decided it would be a good idea to try and sell the China cats to China Town. This was not a success and the words 'coals to Newcastle' floated through my mind.

However this was not Jaz's finest moment. That came when, during the boardroom grilling, she called Lord Sugar 'man'. After that she was out of the door with her feet barely touching the ground.

I must admit, although I would have found her very annoying, she was at least a break from the Barbie doll clones left behind.

The second episode is on tonight and I just can't wait. I have a feeling there are going to be some real cat fights this year. I wish I could make a prediction of who I think will win but it's a bit early in the game for that. Maybe a winner will start to emerge tonight.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

The Frustrated Photographer

Well yesterday was frustrating and it looks as though today is going the same way. I get my camera out and in goes the sun and it pours. I start baking a cake or get the ironing board out and out pops the sun. In the end I baked a cake and did the ironing therefore ensuring I would be free all day today should things improve. Although it hasn't actually rained it is dull, windy and quite cold. I thought the weekend was supposed to be the best weather yet this year. So much for trusting the weather people, my external thermometer is saying 12C, hardly barbecue temperatures. No doubt it will be brilliant tomorrow when I'm back at work, yes, I haven't made a mistake, I am working the Bank holiday.

So with that rant over I decided to upload the pictures I have taken so far. I've already down loaded several and to be honest I hadn't taken that many. I've photographed Harlington to death over the years so it has to be something spectacular or new, such as the plaque, to get me out there these days. I've added a few to this blog, I hope you like them.

We do have a plan however, if it doesn't improve or starts to rain we are going to sit and watch a couple of films. Peter recently bought the Davinci Code and Angels and Demons and I've been itching to watch them. Unfortunately they are quite long films so watching them in the evening is doomed to failure because by nine thirty I'm usually sparko ( asleep) on the settee. As a result we only watch short films at night or on days when I don't have to get up the next morning. These two films have been hanging around for weeks unwatched and I'm getting desperate.

Slightly less desperate is my need to get out with the camera. That has been salved slightly by my brief outing on Friday but it won't last long. I know there is always next weekend etc but there again it might turnout just as bad or worse. Sometimes I hate our climate.

After having a lazy morning in bed with breakfast and the papers I got up and put on a load of washing, well I'm banking on there not being any BBQ's this afternoon, and cleaned up the kitchen. since Andrew's been home my kitchen hygiene has taken a dive. Every time I go in there I find crumbs everywhere and used knives all over the worktops. On the plus side though it is nice to have him home again for a while.

Today it is my turn to mess the kitchen up as I try out another new recipe on my unsuspecting family. This time it is a Moroccan stew and sounds delicious. I love trying out new things, my family are usually not quite so keen I have to admit, but as I've told them 'anytime you want to cook lunch...'

In the news yet another sex scandal this time involving a Conservative MP. Well if it isn't entertainers it's usually politicians. In fact before Jimmy Savile it almost alway was politicians. nice to see the status quo regained.

Britain's Got Talent Watch

Well a fairly dull programme this week to be honest, even David and Simon were not up to the mark.

The worse acts had to be the man doing some dad dancing to Footloose and the aging blond who thought she was Beyonce. They were not even funny and left me cringing with embarrassment.

The best act was a tiny little girl and a huge man both from Holland who's acrobatic dance act left everyone speechless as we waited for him to drop her. I thought it was the best thing I'd seen in a very long time and loved every minute of it. However it occurs to me that the majority of the acts being sent through this year are foreign, proving unequivocally that actually Britain doesn't have talent. Unless it's for making fools out of ourselves and we are certainly top of the class in that this year.

Joy of joys The Apprentice starts this week and having seen the trailer I currently hate every one of the candidates. It's going to be great.

Enjoy you bank holiday, next blog Wednesday. 

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Picture This

OK, can I please point out that the tattoo is not my fault. I NEVER said he could do it, I just pointed out that as an adult he could do what he liked with his own body. Thank You!

Yep tattoogate has caused uproar in certain quarters and I experienced an outraged ten minute phone call from Laurence last night who mostly said 'what has he done' and 'I can believe it'. I have feeling there is going to be some world class interrogation and teasing going on when they next get together and I'm going to have to act as referee, again. Can't wait, sigh.

Yesterday I finally got out into the sunshine and took some pictures. Just as well as, so far today, the weather's turning out to be a bit wet and windy. A pity as I'd planned another trip this afternoon. Well it might brighten up and there is always tomorrow.

Anyway back to yesterday and it was wonderful to be wandering around in shirtsleeves with a camera hung around my neck. My trusty old camera is a Nikon D50 and though technically out of date I've never been one to replace things just for the sake of doing so. This camera suits me down to the ground, it is a good weight and has more than enough features to keep me happy. It also takes great pictures, what more can a girl want?

I was especially delighted to find that Harlington has gained it's first blue plaque. Here it is in all it's glory celebrating the first Grand National Steeplechase which was won by a horse called 'The Wonder'. There are five more planned for the village but haven't been put up yet. This one can be found on the front of The Carpenter's Arms.

Why the delight? Well collecting blue plaques is a hobby of mine. In the days before I became too ill to walk far, after every hospital visit we'd spend the afternoon walking London's Streets taking pictures of the blue plaques. I have 476 pictures so far, not all of them in London, and look out for them wherever I go. I've even had my pictures of plaques published in several books and magazines such as Homes and Gardens and often get emails from people requesting permission to use my picture in their publications. Sadly I can't take as many these days because I either need to be in a wheelchair or on my trike, difficult on London's busy streets. Otherwise we have to drive as close to the plaques as possible and then find somewhere to park. A waste of time and petrol. One of the things I'm really looking forward to is being able to hike around London again to take the ones I've missed.

One of the other things I collect is pub signs, I have 240 of them at present, so the plaque being on a pub is a real bonus.

Whilst wandering around the village looking for the other plaques, we didn't realise only one had been erected at this point, we were accosted by a man clutching a bag. 'Are you from the Luton Post?'
'Oh, you look like your from there.'
'Well I'm sorry were not.'
'So are you connected to the wedding?' There was a wedding at the church yesterday.
'No, just wandering around taking this and that.'
'Oh, well would you like to take some pictures of our line dancing group? The instructor will be along in a minute and I'm sure she won't mind.'

We made our excuses and left. I'll take pictures of practically anything but the thought of being stuck in the village hall with a group of sweaty people line dancing didn't fill me with joy. Especially on such a glorious day.

In the news UKIP (United Kingdom Independence Party) have taken almost a quarter of the vote in the local council elections and delivered a bloody nose to the main parties. Oleaginous Nigel Farage, UKIP's leader, was cock-a-hoop and all over the news, mostly drinking beer. Of course he is clever enough to realise his good fortune is the result of a massive protest vote and is unlikely to be repeated in a general election but who can blaming him for crowing a bit while he's got the chance.

Well time for a quick cuppa before I decide what to make for lunch, my stomach says fry up while my head says veggie pasta. I wouldn't put bets on what's going to win.

Friday, 3 May 2013


I am still in shock.

Andrew has been talking about getting a tattoo for quite some time now and on Wednesday he announced that he was going out to check a few places for hygiene levels etc. I had done the whole 'Mum' thing and decided not to have a fit and just counsel wisely. I said that as he was nineteen it was his body and I couldn't stop him if he really wanted to do it. I warned against all the dangers such as allergic reactions, infections, pain and that he had to be really, really sure because once done it is very difficult, not to mention expensive, to have it removed. After a long discussion I went to bed and did not see him when I got up for work yesterday so was blissfully unaware of what was to come.

The first inkling that something might be up was when Peter sent me a one word text 'tattoo?'. Unaware of what had happened I blithely sent back 'yes we discussed it last night' therefore firmly putting myself in the firing line for 'having given consent'. Arriving home Peter didn't say a word and chatted away as if nothing happened. I went upstairs to change and on the way popped into Andrew's room. I asked how he got on looking at places and he pulled up his shirt to reveal a large black tattoo. I was speechless! Thankfully he found the whole process very painful so I'm hoping this will be the one and only, he's also got it where it will rarely be seen, more because of his type of work than anything else. Peter wasn't happy about it but like me he knows that Andrew is an adult and if that's what he wants to do then we can't stop him. I still don't know how I'm going to tell his grandmother though. So here it is in all it's glory. Excuse the mess on the floor I took this in the spare room as the light was better and the place is a tip at the moment.


Just for information The Rod of Asclepius is a serpent-entwined rod wielded by the Greek god Asclepius, a deity associated with healing and medicine. The symbol has continued to be used in modern times, where it is associated with medicine and health care, yet frequently confused with the staff of the god Hermes which also has wings and is the symbol of commerce.

So what's in store for me this weekend? Well the weather is glorious, still a bit of a nip in the air but cloudless blue skies and bright sunshine makes it seem warmer. This afternoon I'm off out with my camera to take some photo's but this morning I've been busy. I've gone washing crazy and now everything is hanging outside drying naturally for only the second time since last September. Peter's trimmed back the climbing plant which was covering the kitchen window and mowed the lawn. Tomorrow Andrew will help me get the decking sorted out and cleaned and if it is still nice on Sunday we are going to tackle the herb patch. I'm toying with getting some tomato plants again or maybe just getting some sweet peas seeds to climb over the gazebo instead. It'll mean less work for me and will look spectacular for very little effort. I have plenty of time to make my decision as I've got to sort everything out first and I doubt I'll do it all in one weekend.

In the news two of our most famous entertainers have been charged with rape and sexual assault dating back decades.

The first was William Roach who plays Ken Barlow in Coronation Street. Not a programme I watch so I don't really know of him. However my friends and colleagues who are avid watches are horrified and cannot believe what has happened.

The second is Stuart Hall who has admitted sexually assaulting girls as young as nine. No longer in the public eye, or at least not as much, his arrest did not cause quite as much consternation though the media went overboard when the news broke.

Once again I have to ask what is the point? These men have lived privileged lives and got away with things for so long I wonder why it is all being dragged up now. I mean in some cases the incidents happen forty six years ago. Why would you wait that long before telling anyone? I know times have changed and it is much easier to report this things now but even so. Don't get me wrong, if these men did what they are accused of then they deserve everything they are going to get. However being jailed and having your career wrecked when in your eighties doesn't really have the same impact as when you are in your thirties, forties or fifties. Any punishment would have been much more effective if met out when there was a lot more to lose.

Anyway I haven't got time to get on my soapbox, I've got a camera to dig out and a battery to charge. I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to this.