Heart attack

My Heart Attack

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Friday, April 20, 2018

More Mowing and Oncology Appointment

Another really warm and sunny day. I've done a bit more of the mowing of the grass, but there's still a bit more to do. The grass is exceptionally long and somewhat wet and the mower really moaned. Who can blame it? It's designed to cut nice, neat grass, not grass you would ordinarily find in a meadow and eaten by cattle. The machine is still sitting on the grass, waiting for me to complete the job. At the moment it's really far too hot. Not a good idea if you have a heart problem as I do. I have used my G.T.N. spray to alleviate any angina attacks, which is always possible if I'm exerting myself, which is definitely the case pushing the Flymo back and forth across the garden. I shall continue the job when it's a little cooler, which makes sense.

Carol had an oncology appointment with one of the consultants at 11 this morning (Friday). As it's been so warm and sunny it seemed a good idea to walk to the hospital. After all we only live around 10 minutes away. So we set of at around 10.30 and got there, having walked along the Redway and then into the hospital campus. Carol insisted we scramble up a slope which lead into the carpark behind the cardiology department. I had to climb it first and I helped her over the hump. On arrival in the Macmillan Unit it was exceptionally busy. Nowhere for us to sit together at first. As people went in for their appointments, this left vacant chairs, so we were able move around and to sit together. All a bit like a game of musical chairs. When the music stops . . .

Overhearing people's conversations. Well, it's just impossible to not hear. One old man, he must have been in his late 80's, if not older. Sounding a bit like Jones the butcher in 'Dad's Army,' who kept going on about his time in the desert during the First World War. This old man had been 'in the desert, in North Africa.' He'd been a chemist, so he knew a lot about the various chemicals they were using for his chemotherapy. He'd also worked in a paper-mill or somewhere and they'd used his skills.  Rather like being in the midst of an Alan Bennet play. He did go on and on. Got the other waiting people smiling. He did go on, though. But then he was called in for his appointment.

One of the volunteer men came round collecting mugs. Then he asked people if they would like tea. I didn't, but Carol did. By the time Carol was called in for her appointment at 11.20, he was coming around with a tray of tea, so Carol took her's into the consultants appointment. The surgeons have yet to see the results of the last M.R.I. scan from Wednesday afternoon, but they have discussed Carol's treatment. It looks likely that she will go to Oxford for radiotherapy on part of the cancer whilst the rest will be operated on in Milton Keynes and it's likely to be within the next four weeks or so. So everything is very positive. The warm weather definitely helping and the fact that we walked and didn't have the stress of driving and having to park the car.

On the way out of the unit we bumped into the cancer nurse we had been assigned when Carol was first diagnosed, and whom we haven't seen in quite a while. She said she didn't recognise Carol, as she is looking so much better. The fact that we've been out and about, that she is walking further and further is probably one reason.

So, a really pleasant walk back home, going through the hospital campus and back along the Redway.

We had a grocery delivery during the afternoon from Sainsbury's. It was easier to order on-line and have it delivered. We'd booked it to come between 3 and 4. It was efficiently done and saves so much bother of going to the store and trudging around picking up everything ourselves. It's great to let someone else do the work for us, and you don't end up buying stuff you don't need. As the site 'saves' your list of items, it's easier next time to do your shop faster.

I did a further bit of mowing, but there's still another section to do, mostly around the edges. I refuse to describe this scrappy bit of grass a 'lawn.' It no more resembles one, it may be grass, but not a neat and tidy piece of turf. Perhaps we should tear it up and have some artificial grass as someone has obviously had a bit further down our road. Oh, gracious! It would save time and effort, but I don't think our landlord would approve.

Grass cutting and Trip To Bell Plantation

With the warm weather, the subject of grass cutting comes to the fore. Not just warm weather, but with a couple of months of rain the length of the grass has become quite long. Not my favourite occupation, as you will be aware if you read any of my earlier blog posts. It's a question of dragging the machine out of the shed, untangling the lead and then uncoiling the electric cable from the house and then setting-too with the machine. I don't think a Flymo is designed to cut grass which would easily satisfy a herd of cattle, sheep, or other unguates. The machine is intended, I would imagine, for those lawns of householders who have immaculate turfed lawns. A gentle stroll pushing the Flymo every weekend, to a length not above a few centimetres. But our patch of tusky grass is enough to loose a herd of bison on the African savannahs. I didn't intend spending too long on the grass-cutting job. I would spend the barest minimum of time and then come back later in the day to do a bit more, probably over three shifts. Because of it's length it is quite damp, which makes the job even more difficult. I have managed about a quarter of the area and will continue in the morning. It must be done as it's so dry and sunny, otherwise it will be virtually impossible to get the machine to work efficiently.

Carol is beginning to become stir-crazy. With the sun shining brightly there was an absolute must to escape from the confines of the house. I suggested somewhere which is up Watling Street and just beyond Towcester, a garden centre called Bell Plantation. There is quite a lot to see and do there together with a rather pleasant restaurant. We've enjoyed driving along Watling Street as an alternative to the M1 which it seems is permanently affected by road works, meaning vast length of motorway coned off and having to drive at 50 m.p.h. Hence our journey being rerouted along Watling Street, which has far more pleasant views of the surrounding countryside as well as being dotted with some really pleasant stopping places such as garden centres where there are plenty of restaurants to eat and drink in. A real alternative to the rather boring motorway service areas.

On arrival at Bell Plantation we noticed that the carpark had been resurfaced with tarmac. We'd visited well over a year ago. They have done some considerable improvements to the site since our last visit. We had a browse in one or two of the small shops, some selling antiques and other nick-naks. We  ventured into the restaurant, which we have  been  to on a couple of previous occasions.    We ordered hot chocolate and two pieces of rather delicious cake, Carol had Victoria sponge with raspberry jam and butter icing filling and I had chocolate fudge cake. We shared each other's cake. Well worth the journey up Watling Street for this delight. We then had a browse around the garden centre and Carol was determined to buy a wind-blown garden ornament as we'd seen a few in another garden centre, probably Frost's at Woburn Sands. We also needed milk and vegetables for our evening meal and we then left to return south on Watling Street.

Alfie had to have a return visit to the vet's at Oakgrove at 2 o'clock. We were more wary of the roadworks along Chaffron Way, so we decided to go via Standing Way and then cut across Brickhill Street and arrived in Waitrose's carpark with 15 minutes to spare, and the we took Alfie straight into be seen by he vet. The antibiotics seem to be working, but she managed to get some more of the built-up mess off his face with some damp cotton wool. We have to take him back for a further consultation on Monday afternoon, but will continue with the antibiotics until the course of tablets is complete.

Alfie seemed to prefer sitting on my knee as we drove there and back. On Monday I drove, with Carol holding onto him, but he was eager to sit on my lap as I drove which was totally impossible. He was very much more quiet and I held on to the harness he had on. 

Thursday, April 19, 2018

M.R.I. Scan and Pizza

Carol had an M.R.I. scan booked for around 5.10 yesterday afternoon. Which meant our evening meal would be delayed. Not actually a problem. It has been an exceptionally warm day and we'd been out this morning (see previous post.) We got to the hospital carpark, Carol driving. Some people have no idea how to park a car, as we saw one car left at an angle in one bay, actually taking up more than one slot. No doubt they were in a hurry so they left it at this peculiar angle, meaning the next space couldn't be taken by another car.

We walked down the road towards the M.R.I. unit. As usual, we were far too early. Nothing wrong with being early. Better than being late, as a patient who came in after us. What is so difficult about being punctual? I think she had to re-book her scan. No doubt wasting her time and effort and it must have meant that the unit lost a scan which could have been taken by someone else. It's crazy how many appointments are lost when people don't bother to turn up. Particularly at the doctor's surgery. No doubt wasting the N.H.S. millions.

It was nice that I was offered tea when I was sitting in the waiting area at the scan unit run by In Health. I think this is the first time I've been offered tea. As it was so hot it was really a necessity, as tea is such a thirst-quencher. Is that the difference between private and N.H.S. treatment? I'm not sure how a private company fits into the hospital.

Anyway, after the scan we paid at the machine and then we found that the carpark barrier was raised. Annoying as we'd just payed £4.50 or thereabouts. It's crazy that they don't think it necessary to put a notice on the payment machine advising people that the barrier is raised. How much are they making out of the broken carpark barrier? Or get it fixed so you at least get released by putting the ticket in the machine. Or just get of hospital parking fees. Simple.

On leaving the carpark, Carol went the wrong way out, ignoring the 'No Entry' sign. Who on earth designed the system for drivers to follow in order to exit the carpark? You have follow a crazy set of arrows which are illogical. No doubt some bureaucrat in an office somewhere, most likely in Whitehall. Probably having a really bad day. Just doesn't make sense. Although we got out a good deal quicker than if we'd followed the route as shown. Why are so many carparks set out in a similar fashion, usually supermarkets have them?

After we left the hospital we drove to Oldbrook as Carol said she fancied pizza and so we went to Domino's, next door to Tesco. Interesting to watch them make the pizzas, rolling out the dough and seeing how they were cooked. To be honest I wasn't overly impressed by the result, having eaten my half of the pizza. It seemed undercooked and mushy to me. Well, it did at least mean we didn't have to cook our meal. I think the pizza we sometimes buy at Sainsbury's is far better.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Alfie's Problem and Carol's Medication Review

I've been giving Alfie the two lots of medication I was given by the vet on Monday. He has antibiotics, which come in the form of a tablet which has to be halved and then crushed and then mixed in with his food. Also, a small phial of what is a pain killer and has to be drawn up in to a sort of needless hypodermic gadget and also mixed in with his food. But we have to keep his face clean. Attempting to wipe the built-up gunge from underneath both of his eyes is difficult because he resists at every attempt to wipe it off with a wet bath flannel. He's already scratched my hand with his claws and growls really loudly. For a small dog he's very strong but I don't know if he'd actually bite me. The two places under each eye are very red and raw, but I think it is beginning to clear up. At least the antibiotics should prevent any real infection.

Carol has to have a review of her medication. The doctor at Ashfield Medical Centre has to do this, otherwise she can't have any more repeated prescribed medication. We attempted to ring the surgery this morning but couldn't get through. So we had no choice but to drive there. At 8.40 the roundabout at Standing Way was clogged up with traffic. Drivers shouldn't have gone into the roundabout if their exit wasn't clear. I don't exactly enjoy driving through this roundabout at the best of times and I wasn't going to risk entering the roundabout when large H.G.V. vehicles were thundering through. When we got over the roundabout the entrance into the road where Ashfield M.C. is wasn't clear but a nice driver had no choice but to let us in.

We went inside the surgery and then got to the reception desk. There were very few other people in the waiting area so there was no waiting. Even now Carol has to go home and wait for a call from the doctor to then be allowed to have a face-to-face appointment to discuss her medication review. So we had to drive home and battle our way through the traffic through the horrible roundabout at Standing Way.

The doctor rang back an hour or two later. There's no need to make an actual appointment, but the particular medication that had to be reviewed is a sleeping tablet and they will only do a prescription for no more than seven days at a time, but this time he'll do it for 14 days and suggests she might take them every alternate night. We're not exactly over-joyed about the fact he said he thought it was for a different patient. Rather worrying. Doesn't exactly give you much confidence. I realise they have a great many patients on their books, but he could have at least looked at Carol's medical notes which would have been on the computerised system. Not even sure that our doctor was totally aware that Carol is on chemotherapy or what sort of treatment she's on.

As it's been such a sunny and warm day (so far) we decided to take a picnic and go down to the Grand Union Canal. We went to Tesco in Oldbrook to get sandwiches, crisps and drink and then drove to the Peartree Bridge pub to park and then walked along the canal towpath. We took our cameras with us and when we got to the picnic table where we've been before with the dogs (we didn't take Alfie on this occasion) we sat and ate our sandwiches. Along the canal were a couple of young men, fishing. We stopped to see what they'd caught. What they had caught they'd apparently put back in the canal. Lots of ducks and a couple of geese swimming gracefully along and we wanted to take a series of photographs to record our walk. Which we both did. Several canal boats drifting past. The trees coming out in leaf. Spring has been late in coming this year, after such a cold and quite horrible winter.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Alfie Visits The Vet

Alfie has had a really nasty build-up of the weeping eyes on his face. I think most dogs seem to have this problem. It would normally be easily removed by dabbing with a piece of wet cotton wool, but it has got worse over time. The lady who groomed him the other week took of some, but it has got to looking really red and sore, so we had no alternative but to get a vet to look at it. I rang the surgery which is near Waitrose in Oakgrove called Pet Practice and booked an appointment for 2 o'clock this afternoon. It would have been easy enough to get to by car but for the fact that Chaffron Way was closed off from the Eaglestone end, so we had no alternative but to drive round onto Child's Way and approach Oakgrove via Brickhill Street, but we missed the turning right and ended up going round onto Tongwell Street and round the city and down Brickhill Street. Fortunately the end of Chaffron Way was accessible for the entrance into the Waitrose carpark so it was easy enough to park and conveniently close to the vet surgery.  During all this journey, Alfie was being held by Carol on her knee, otherwise I was going to have to put the cage in the back of the car for Alfie to ride in, which might have been easier and safer in the long run, as he was determined to sit on my knee as I drove, but that was totally impractical and possibly dangerous. The vet had a look at the two nasty areas under both eyes and managed to remove some of the built-up matter under one eye. But Alfie didn't like it as no doubt it stung and began to growl when she tried to remove the built-up matter from his other eye. After a rest, she had another attempt and got some more off leaving the area under each eye looking red and raw. She has given us two lots of medication, one a pain killer and another antibiotics which have to be administer mixed with his food. She wants him to come back on Thursday to check on how things are progressing. I think Alfie was expecting to go for a walk when Carol got out his lead when we were about to leave the house, and was somewhat shocked when he discovered he was being taken to the vet, a bit like a few weeks ago when the mobile groomer came to the house and took him off to her van to be bathed and then clipped. I just hope that the roadworks along Chaffron Way is finished and that it's possible to drive there without going on a detour to get to Oakgrove on Thursday.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Tedious and Lack-Lustre Telly

It's spring and the birdies are singing their hearts out. It's warm and pleasant, but for reasons I won't go into in too much detail (but which would become apparent if you read my blog posts on a regular basis) we're stuck indoors. Under different circumstances, we'd be out and about visiting various properties managed by either the National Trust, English Heritage of the H.H.A. (Historic Houses Association). Instead, we're enduring some of the most unimaginative and positively tedious television to pass the time of day. I can't think why, with endless channels on Sky, there is such a total lack of imagination in programme-making at the present. All days on the main channels (BBC1, BBC2, ITV and Channel Four are identical (although, of the free-to-air channels, Channel Four is perhaps the least tied to it's regular daily line-up of programmes.) I mean, when I was a good deal younger, each day in telly land was different. You had different programmes for each day of the week, for example, a sitcom at 7.30 in the evening on a Monday, then a Tuesday probably a gameshow, Wednesday, probably a documentary and so on. Also, things like Play For Today or the Wednesday Play, which could often be hard-hitting, from a range of writers such as Dennis Potter or Alan Bleasdale. These would be one-offs. There were series and serials, such as The Onedin Line or The Brothers or going back further in time to the 1960's, Adam Adamant Lives and probably one of my favourites of all-time, The Avengers. Totally imaginative and very original. Now we just get the same shows on every day. Bargain Hunt is in the same slot on every day of the week, including Saturday and Sunday. Admittedly we do get quite a few good programmes, some excellent drama series and documentaries. But why do we have to have endless antiques, cookery and selling things shows? Why because something is popular do the schedulers think we're going to love more and more? Everything has to be ghettoised. Some of the best stuff the BBC does is on BBC Four. This stuff would have been put on BBC2, but even that has been overrun with endless gameshows and antiques shows. It was set up I seem to recall as being a sort of place for 'distinctive' programming. So where's it all gone wrong? Why don't we get such programmes as 'Not The Nine O'clock News' which could be quite biting satirically. We don't get satire any more, particularly when we have such an awful set of politicians who need to be satirised. Donald Trump is one such, but would you believe in him? Not really, as he's just one big comic character really ripe for satire.

I read all of Gerald Durrell's books when I was a teenager. I read the first one 'My Family and Other Animals' when i bought a second-hand copy of it as a paperback from a stall at Cardington church fetê. I loved it and read almost everything else Durrell wrote. I was more than excited when the BBC did an adaptation of the books back in the 1980's. A fairly reasonable and accurate adaptation. I think they might have done a sort of 'one-off' movie version sometime later, but I can't exactly say when or if that's true. Then ITV announced that they were doing a series based on the 'Corfu Trilogy,' (I think I'm right in saying, unless it's just based on 'My Family and Other Animals.' We watched the first two series of this, and I have to say it was reasonable. But I can't say I recognise any of the books from these adaptations. They've taken incredible liberties with the stories and characters. The books are centred very much on Gerry, the youngest of the Durrell children, but in the television version he has a much smaller role to play, intact he's quite a minor character in these shows. The wildlife doesn't play such a central role in this ITV version. But I've given up on watching the third series because it really has wandered away from what I remember of the books. They have just not held my attention so I'd ratter invest my time and effort of something else, such as reading. I wrote about the first series in an earlier post when this show first aired. But I'm afraid it has deteriorated considerably since the first season which is a great pity. I don't think I'll bother to watch any more.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Sunny and Warm

Goodness gracious! What's this? The sun is out. It's really warm. The past few days have been dull and overcast. On Wednesday it was foggy early and we had rain.

Wednesday we had to be at the Oncology Suite at Milton Keynes Hospital because Carol had the  beginning of the eight chemotherapy cycle. She wasn't due there until midday so we had time to take things slowly which was pleasant, not having to get up too early. We drove over to Rooksley as Carol wanted to visit Hobbycraft as she wanted to buy some crafting materials. As we parked the car near the store and got out to walk down to the entrance, Carol shrieked as she had seen a large rat. I looked down into the flower bed and saw the tail of a large grey rat scuttling away. I've seen several rats in Milton Keynes and had Alfie, or little Yorkshire Terrier, had been with us I'm sure he would have known how to deal with it. They say that you're always no more than six feet from a rat wherever you are. I can well believe that, considering how untidy people are, dropping litter and food which only attracts them. Not a pleasant thought.

The oncology suite was busy when we arrived. Unfortunately the carpark at the rear of the hospital, where we usually park, was full so I had to drive back to the front of the hospital and park in the ground-level carpark and walk back to the oncology suite. There seemed to be a shortage of nursing staff in the unit and again there was no receptionist on the reception desk as there was a few days ago when Carol had her blood test. The nurses are on the go all the time we are there. They never stop. I can never praise them enough as they do an amazing job and always do their jobs efficiently and exceptionally.

We had to go back to the oncology suite on Friday at around 4 p.m. so that Carol could have the pump she has removed. All seems to be going well and she has another M.R.I. scan on Wednesday and then a consultant's appointment on Friday so we should know what the next stage of her treatment is going to be.

I recently bought a Kindle Fire tablet, the HD 10 inch model. Considering the price, it is a really good piece of kit. Carol bought one a couple of years ago and she has been pleased with it, although by now it might be considered somewhat out of date, as all computing equipment has a limited life, when they keep on up-grading the operating systems they run on. I have downloaded the official Scrabble app and played this game on my own, versus the computer, but now Carol has the app on her Kindle and we have managed to play a game or two using both our Kindles. This will be good as a way to pass the time the next time we go to the oncology suite.

As I write this, it's Saturday afternoon and looking out of the lounge window I can see the sun is shining. The trees at the back of the house, all along the Redway, are beginning to come out in leaf. There is plenty of almond blossom coming out all over Eaglestone estate. The bird-feeder is busy with a wide variety of birds visiting, but I'm not so sure I want squirrels eating the food which is really intended for them. We've had two competing squirrels on the thing, doing their usual acrobatics. I think I'm going to have to buy a baffle to go on the upright to deter them.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Alfie Gets Crafty

I've mentioned in several of my blog posts about Alfie, our Yorkshire Terrier. He's a very bright and intelligent little dog. I've explained about the Comic Relief ball which he loves. If it's dropped or hit, it makes a laughing sound, which sets off Alfie howling. He's quite capable of setting it off himself. He can even throw it, which seems unlikely, but he is able to set it off. I have to take it away and put it in one of the drawers in the bookshelf nearby. He knows very well where it is and stands and looks at the shelf. There is a footstool near the shelving and he'd grown wise to the fact that if he jumps onto this stool he can then stand up with his back legs on this stool and his front legs on the shelves and very nearly climbs up to the drawer with the Comic Relief ball in it.

He had a Baker's treat tin for Christmas. He knows exactly what's in this tin. He will go and look at the tin, in expectation of getting a treat from it. We set up a game with him, hiding several treats around the room for him to find, which he does without any problems. His new game is to tap the tin with his paw. The lid of the tin has got somewhat bent, so it won't now close properly, so I've had to put the tin out of his reach, otherwise he will be able to help himself to treats. It can be quite easy for him to  help himself, so it's a good idea to have it up out of reach on the shelf.

His new trick is to bark whenever Carol needs help with something. She just needs to move about upstairs when I'm in the lounge, and he starts barking, as if to tell me I should be doing something upstairs to help. Just moving about without it being something important, and it sets him off barking. Alfie would make a very good assistance dog, perhaps for someone who has a hearing problem or perhaps has a vision problem. He could go and find them and bark if the telephone or doorbell rang or an alarm went off. He's good at letting you know what he wants, staring at whatever it is until you deal with it.

Alfie sleeps on our bed. He always has done, from when he was a puppy. Whether it's right to let him do so, I don't know. He can jump up on the bed, he's perfectly capable, but we usually pick him up. Carol sleeps on one side, and me, obviously, on the other. Alfie finds his place under the duvet, where he knows he'll be safe and warm and pushes up against my back. But when I get out of the bed, he often manages to shift his position to the exact spot which I've vacated, often with his head on the pillow. He won't move unless I make a comment. This is definitely one of his vary crafty little things he does. But for a small dog he takes up quite a lot of room, stretching himself out on the bed, but usually he curls up in a ball.

Monday, April 09, 2018

Eighth Chemotherapy Cycle

A rather cold and overcast day. Some slight rain.

On Saturday Carol had a scan appointment at the hospital. At first, when the letter came, we thought it was to be at the M.R.I. place she'd had an earlier scan at, called In Health, just behind Sainsbury's in Witan Gate. It was as well Carol queried the location, as she rang and was told that it was actually within the hospital campus. I think I had an idea where it was, as I'd walked past on several occasions when Carol had been on Ward 19. The appointment was on Saturday and it meant that her parents would be able to come with us. The appointment was at 2.20, but we got there in plenty of time. Well over an hour in total. She got a second letter, telling her that she'd been given yet another scan appointment, at the same place, for this Wednesday. She queried it, because if her chemotherapy cycle went according to plan, she would have the pump with her she would be given as part of the treatment and it would be possible to have she M.R.I. scan with it in situ. She was correct as it was to be re-booked for 18th April, during the week between chemo treatments and when she didn't have the pump.

On Sunday Carols mum and dad went back to Bournemouth. We went over to see them at the hotel in Newport Pagnall. By now the weather began to change. Rain, although not heavy. We'd had the best weather when we'd visited Waddesdon on Friday.

Today Carol had to be at the oncology suite for a blood test, at the beginning of the seventh chemotherapy cycle. As it was gone 10 when we arrived in the hospital campus, it was quite difficult to find a parking space, but there was one available, fortunately.

In the oncology suite it was clear that there was a shortage of staff, particularly the fact that there was no receptionist. We had to wait quite a while before Carol was signed in. One of the nurses had to do this, which meant she had to leave off another job elsewhere. Quite a lot of patients waiting, coming and going. Carol didn't get taken into the room for her blood test until well past 10.30.

We left and drove to Rooksley because Carol wanted to go to Hobbycraft. We had a look around but couldn't find what she was looking for. We went into Costa in Next and had lattes, really nice cheese and ham toasties and chocolate tiffin. I was ready for something to eat as I was hungry by this time. We then drove over to Westcroft to go into Morrison's, to buy something for our evening meal and for the next couple of days.

Under normal circumstances Carol would have had the bloodiest on a Friday and then have the chemotherapy begin on a Monday. We were expecting the seventh cycle to start tomorrow (Tuesday) but thankfully Carol checked her paperwork to learn that this cycle will begin on Wednesday, so it was as well the M.R.I. scan she had booked was rescheduled. We trust that the bloodtest will allow the seventh chemotherapy cycle to go ahead as planned.

Saturday, April 07, 2018

Inlaw's Outing To Waddesdon Manor

As I've mentioned in earlier blog posts. Carol's parents have been staying locally at a hotel in Newport Pagnall. As the weather has been kind to us, we wanted to treat them to a pleasant day out so we went to collect them from the hotel at around 10 o'clock this morning and then drove out of the area via the A5 towards Buckingham. We wanted to keep it a secret so they had absolutely no idea where we were heading. Under different circumstances, such as going on our own, we wouldn't have driven via Buckingham, but would have gone the usual route through Aylesbury which is probably the most direct route if we'd gone from Eaglestone.

We eventually arrived at Waddesdon Manor and were directed to the carpark and were immediately surprised by how many cars were already parked. No doubt the warmer weather had bought people out, families with children in particular, as the Easter holiday was still in full swing. We had to queue up at the booking hall as we had to pay for Carol's mum and dad to enter, even though, as National Trust members we got in free. We then walked through to the bus which took us up to the Manor. Around a five-minute ride. Previous to the new car-park, you would have had to park near to the Manor in a rather haphazard arrangement of parking on roads in somewhat make-shift carparks. With our entry ticket we had booked a house tour, which was timed to begin at around 12.45, so we had quite a wait until we could go inside the Manor. We went into the main restaurant to have coffee and hot chocolate. We have never used this restaurant before, but the hot chocolate was really good. The weather being sunny, but cold, hot chocolate was a real necessity. Also, it was quite gusty when we came outside and walked around the side of the Manor and onto the terraced area. This is where the fountain is, but this was empty of water and all the statues on the fountain were covered in protective material, as were all the statues around the gardens and grounds, making them look really strange and somewhat creepy.

We sat and ate our food which we'd bought with us, at a conveniently-placed table on the terrace. It was still quite gusty and it took a lot of effort to not let some of the paper the food was wrapped in from being whisked away by the wind. We saw several red kites flying overhead and I managed to photograph some of them, but I don't reckon my efforts were particularly technically brilliant, but it was worth the effort.

We walked round to the gift shop and spent some time browsing. A lot of items we'd like to buy. They seem to have upped their game as regards the quality of what they sell. At one time the items on sale in the National Trust shops weren't up to much, but now they've made a real effort at better quality and things that you'd actually want to own.

By the time we'd finished in the shop it was about time to walk round to the front of the Manor and begin the house tour. Even though we've seen inside Waddeson Manor several times over the years, we've been amazed by the items on display, from furniture to priceless pieces of porcelain to the amazing collection of clocks. The whole place is awesome. You cannot fail to be left feeling amazed  at the variety of items that the house contains. If you've never visited Waddeson before, then do make an effort. If you have an interest, however vague, in art or antiques, then it's the perfect place to visit. Be amazed by the chandeliers, a wide variety of art from all periods, and some furniture which will take you breath away by it's artistry.

Having viewed the interior of the Manor, we left and then walked down towards the stables where we met the bus which was to return us to the carpark and the car, ready for our journey home to first Newport Pagnall and then to Milton Keynes and home.

Thursday, April 05, 2018

Sunny and Bright

What a difference a few days can make, particularly in regards to the weather. We've been spending the morning waiting for Carol's mum and dad to arrive from Bournemouth, so we've been cleaning the house. I've been using the cordless vacuum cleaner we've bought, which compliments the G-Tech one we bought the other week. This is a Multi, also made by G-Tech and makes light work of cobwebs and the dust you can't reach with a standard machine. None of the trailing cables or tubes which cause so many problems. You can get between those awkward places where dust and fluff gathers (particularly in the kitchen, between the cooker and the units either side.) The sun is shining, the birds are singing and the house is now relatively clean. I think the fact that the sun is out makes doing jobs like cleaning far easier, it's good for your mental state and helps inspire you to get on with what are generally boring jobs such as house-cleaning.

We drove over to Newport Pagnall where Carol's mum and dad were going to stay. They'd been bought up to Milton Keynes by Carol's sister who was going to be at some needlework event at the hotel so they had booked several nights in the same hotel. We'd driven out to find the hotel yesterday evening so we knew where to go this morning. A good idea as we have a propensity for not finding places or at least getting lost. They were due to arrive around lunch-time so we got to Newport Pagnall at around 1 o'clock. It took us a while to find the hotel entrance which was badly sign-posted, having parked the car in a side-road near the hotel. There were a few ladies waiting in the reception-area who were obviously part of the needlework event and then Jacqueline and Carol's mum and dad turned up, Jackie parking in a space near the hotel entrance. We went with Carol's mum and dad and went to a rather nice pub along the street from the hotel and had some drinks and rolls for lunch and then returned to the hotel. We drove back home to Eaglestone with Carol's parents and spent a couple of hours in the house and had our evening meal and then took them back to the hotel. We're going early tomorrow morning to pick them up to take them out tomorrow for the day.

I currently have got Alfie, our Yorkshire Terrier, being very demanding. I bought him a tin for his treats for Christmas. He knows perfectly well what's in this Baker's dog-food tin which is on the table next to my armchair where I'm typing this blog. I have already given him three of these treats. He's prodding the tin with his nose or his paw. He's even managed to get the lid to open, goodness knows how. I trust he wouldn't be able to get the treats out of the tin, but who knows, as he's a very bright and clever little dog. Since he's been groomed and had most of his coat removed, he's wearing a rather smart knitted jumper which will keep him warm. He rather likes it. When Carol found it and he saw it he was almost asking to have it to wear. 

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Alfie Has A Haircut

We've been looking for a dog groomer for Alfie. It's not the simplest of things finding someone who can do the job. I kept ringing numbers found through the internet. Most seem to be fully booked well into the summer months. It would have been easier to get a mobile groomer as it would mean less stress for him. We had someone do this a few years ago, but Poppy was very difficult to get groomed as she didn't like being handled, particularly her paws. It got to the stage where her nails got really bad. Alfie, on the other hand, seems to relish being pampered and made a fuss of. We took them to the Grooming Room which is within Pets At Home, there being two branches within easy reach, one at Bletchley and the other at Rooksley. I attempted to book Alfie in at the Bletchley branch but they were over-subscribed. Anyway, his coat was beginning to look very untidy, his claws needed trimming as they were getting caught in various bits of clothing and bedding and the build-up of black mess under his eyes was looking really horrible and was getting really serious. Anyway, I eventually found someone who who do the job, booked about a month in advance. The lady in question was put in the diary for 2 o'clock today.

We went to Waitrose to do a bit of shopping earlier in the morning. We went to Newport Pagnall because Carol's mum and dad are coming up from Bournemouth and staying in a hotel in Tickford Street. Carol wanted to drive over to find it. We went down Chaffron Way and then cut across towards Monks Way. There were signs up at the Eaglestone end that the road was going to be closed off for resurfacing work (well, I assumed it was resurfacing, as they are doing most of the Milton Keynes grid roads.) On the way back we found we couldn't get into Oakgrove, where Waitrose is located, as the Chaffron Way section was closed off for the resurfacing. We managed to get in via Brickhill Street. On arrival at the Waitrose carpark, the place was virtually empty, likewise the actual store. I imagine they will be loosing a lot of custom due to the roadworks. But it meant we got what we wanted in the store a good deal faster than we normally would. I also took out cash to pay the groomer lady from the Metro Bank A.T.M. near Waitrose.

We got home and unpacked the shopping in the kitchen and then I did some washing up. As I stood at the sink, the telephone rang. It was the groomer lady. Would it alright if she came earlier? I said, fine. She would be with us in around 45 minutes, making it about 11.45.  Carol had Alfie on his lead, and had intended taking him out for a walk, but he gets so stressed out whenever he realises he's going out for a walk, that it wasn't going to happen because the groomer lady knocked on the door and we handed over Alfie to be sorted.

So, about 90 minutes later, another knock on the door, the sound of a very distinctive bark, and Alfie is handed back over, shorn, looking very different. None of his curly coat left, we can see his eyes, so he can see where he's going and the horrible mess on his face- gone- but the skin underneath looking very red and raw. He looked somewhat shocked, his ears laid back on his head. But he does look better and far neater. Really worth the wait and effort expended. We'll have to make sure that he doesn't get into such a bad state before he has his nest haircut.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Woefully Awful Easter Telly

It's a Bank Holiday weekend. The weather's awful. If it looks sunny and bright, it might suddenly rain. We'd been shopping. We went over to Boot's at Westcroft as Carol had a prescription that needed making up. We parked and then walked over the carpark to Boot's. Having handed the paperwork over, we were told by the assistant in the pharmacy that it would take around ten minutes, so we went into Morrison's to buy a few items. Having then gone back to Boot's and collected the made-up prescription we returned to the car to drive home. The weather still not decided, so we turned on the television. Not the usual Saturday morning programmes, no doubt because it's a Bank Holiday weekend. Unimaginative scheduling generally, with cooking shows on both sides. James Martin used to be the host/presenter of 'Saturday Kitchen' in BBC1, but has recently decamped to ITV to do virtually the same thing but called 'James Martin's Saturday Morning.' How incredibly original, I don't think. Virtually the same thing as the BBC show, but because it's the commercial rival, it can have sponsorship. I don't dislike him, he's not what I'd call a 'celebrity chef.' Down to earth and all the rest of it (well, he's a Yorkshireman, after all.) And he does plain food, none of that poncey suff certain other 'chefs' get away with on other television shows. But do I sense that he's just gone to ITV because he gets paid a good deal more than he would have done on the good old BBC? It's similar to what happened over the 'Great British Bake Off' when it was revealed that the production company who make it, Love Productions, couldn't get a decent deal with the BBC as they wanted more dosh for making it, so it went to Channel Four. Another story for another day . . . Mind you, having seen some of the Channel Four episodes, it's not much different to how it was on BBC1, without Mary Berry or Mel and Sue, but never mind. Even with advertising, it doesn't seem much different.

The fact is, television just seems to churn out the same old stuff, no real imagination or originality. Too many game shows. Nothing wrong with one or two, things like Countdown, Only Connect or Mastermind. At least they have questions that make you THINK. But to just churn out endless stupid gameshows in the afternoon (Tipping Point, The Chase to name two that run one after the other.) While on BBC1, as the same time as The Chase, there's Pointless. No doubt these shows are cheap to produce. You don't have to pay your contestants (do they get expenses, for example, train fares to reach the studio for recordings? I doubt it somehow.)

Anyway, I digress, as I have a habit of doing. Never mind. On turning on the television this morning, we had to endure endless sofas adverts. What is it about Bank Holiday television? Why do we get a sort of traffic jam of sofa advertising in the run-up to Christmas, New Year, Easter and other Bank Holidays? I've discussed this matter in an earlier blog post. Do people honestly go out and buy new three-piece suites just because there's a holiday period coming up? DFS, SCS, Furniture Village etc etc all have those annoying adverts on again where you are supposed to get a sofa for ridiculously low prices. They're virtually giving them away. How can they do it?

Anyway, we turned on the television this morning, expecting James Martin, when all we got was another cookery show (of a sort) called 'Who's Doing The Dishes.' It's been on for several series, but we seem to have missed it. A load of celebrities have a meal in another celebrity's home. They have no idea who it is, but as each course of the meal is presented to them, and from various clues in the rooms they try to work out who the celebrity it is who cooked the meal. Really trite and awful. A sort of mash-up of 'Through The Keyhole' and 'Come Done With Me.' On this edition the celebrity who was the hostess was Lesley Garrett, the opera singer. I'd heard of hear, obviously, but the guests who had the meal she'd made I'd never heard of. Did it matter? Carol wanted to turn over to another channel as it was so dire, but I was determined to stay with it til the end, as it got worse and worse, just to see how it ended. The so-called celebrities could win £500, if they could guess who their hostess was, if they got it right, that person had to do the washing up. Such an unoriginal idea. It's sad that ITV has come down to producing this sort of stuff. No doubt it cheap and cheerful to make and gets high ratings. Talk of going down-market or merely dumbing down, but this is a good example.

Friday, March 30, 2018

A Morning At Whipsnade Zoo

The day started out fine and sunny, so it was more or less perfect for a morning out at Whipsnade Zoo. We haven't been out for a proper day out since Carol had her cancer diagnosis. We have had trips to the Milton Keynes shopping centre as well as to Waitrose and Sainsbury's, but they were hardly what I'd call outings. She is beginning to feel a bit better, particularly as she hasn't had chemotherapy this week, so she decided she wanted to drive. I have been driving every time we've been anywhere, and she wanted to get back behind the wheel of the car, which she's hardly driven since we bought it last year. As she is a Fellow of Z.S.L. (Zoological Society of London) we can visit as many times as we like without paying. Also, being able to drive in with the car and then park up and then walk around means it's far less tiring for both of us.

My Canon digital camera has been charged up and ready for goodness knows how many months. Always best to have a digital camera well charged before going out, when it's bound to be needed. I bought a spare battery which is still in it's little orange box in the car's storage space. The camera itself has been in one of the storage boxes we got from IKEA when we assembled the shelving unit in the lounge. Infact. looking at the photographs on the card in the camera I see there are quite a few shots taken when we last visited Whipsnade.

We arrived at Whipsnade well past the opening time of 10 a.m. It wasn't very busy, which had an advantage, as it was easy enough to find spaces to park. We drove around the zoo, enabling us to see which animals were out and about. If you go when it's hot, a lot of animals have a tendency to hide away in the shade. The same when it's cold, some animals love it, others prefer to stay where it's warm and cozy.

We stopped off at the pygmy hippopotamus enclosure. We couldn't see them in the outdoor space. It was very cold and almost raining so we went into the house they have. Somewhat hot and smelly. There were two hippos in there, although they were in the pools, but part of them was visible above water, the rest hidden below. I overheard a conversation a woman was having with her male partner. As they looked at the hippos in the water, she said 'Can they breathe under water?' to which he replied 'Of course not.' Then she said 'Do they have gills?' I can't believe an adult would ever think hippos, of all animals would have gills. They're not fish, or reptiles and certainly don't show any sort of gills or could possibly be creatures which have them. Quite amazing what you overhear, but rather sad really.

 We drove through  the 'Animals of Asia ' exhibit. There's herds of deer and other animals in this section of the zoo. We stopped at various points to take pictures with my camera. It's like a safari park where you drive through and remain in your car. There aren't any dangerous animals such as lions are there are at Woburn or Longleat, but still, you have to stay inside your vehicle. We drove on and came to the area where there are camels. Several were standing in the road and wouldn't move. A few more were hanging around near a tree. Ugly things, camels. They look as if they've been put together by a committee, from spare parts. Their legs don't seem to go with the rest of their bodies. These were shaggy and scrawny. When they eat, their mouths go into a really odd sort of movement. These two camels more or less refused to budge, so we could continue on our way. There were not other vehicles coming along behind, so it didn't matter so much if we didn't continue to drive, but by now Carol was getting worried that one of the camels was going to kick the car or do something unpredictable, but fortunately they did move out of the way and we were able to finish out drive and came out of the drive-through area and into the main zoo road.

We drove right round the inner ring road of the zoo. Carol wanted to see the bears. There are supposed to be some new ones. The old bear enclosure would appear to be very old and had rather nasty metal bars, which seem to have been replaced with more modern fencing. A large area of the fence has been covered with some quite attractive woven fencing. They are attempting to make many of the animal enclosures at Whipsnade far more easy for visitors to see the animals in more appropriate enclosures. Without having bars or the old fashioned and totally unacceptable cages that used to house the animals. You can see most of the animals without fencing or bars getting in the way, which also makes taking photographs easier. From the bears we walked on to view the penguins. Always good for a laugh. They just have a comic look, the way they stand and walk, looking for all the world like little old men. A convention of waiters, or similar in their black-and-white feathers.

By now it was nearing lunch-time, so we drove back round to the area called Base Camp and walked towards the café. It has been revamped since we last visited. It is now modernised and you order your food from your table using a touch-screen computer. We're not sure whether we like what they've done. We liked to be able to use the café at Whipsnade to buy sandwiches and cake, as well as helping ourselves to coffee or tea. The modern arrangement may be more sophisticated and what a lot of people want, but it seems a shame that everything has to be changed just for the sake of it. We noticed that what used to be the Lookout Café that overlooked Dunstable Downs the other side of the zoo is now a branch of  River Cottage. Again, it wasn't brilliant before, but this is all very well and good, but will no doubt be expensive. We can always bring our own picnic and eat in the car in future. I'm not saying that the hot chocolate, chips and chocolate cake weren't good, and it was at our table very quickly, but we're prefer it to have remained as it was, with perhaps a few minor tweaks to improve things.

As we sat and ate, it became overcast and it began to rain. There was no real point staying any longer. Carol was beginning to feel tired, so we drove around towards the exit and stopped to look in the shop. They had a few adult T shirts and sweatshirts, some in adult sizes, something which I'd mentioned was missing, merchandise  which was aimed at adults and not just children. Carol bought one for herself and we left the zoo. By now it was really raining quite hard and it was clear we'd had the best of the day.

We stopped off in Beanhill to go to Ashfield Medical Centre to collect the prescription we'd ordered for Carol. It turned out that two were ready, but the one she really wanted, for the sleeping tablets, was for only 7 tablets. Which means we'll have to put in yet another prescription in only a few day's time. I shall take the prescriptions to Lloyd's in Sainsbury's on Saturday morning.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Wet and Miserable

Just when we thought the weather was going to improve, we wake up to rain lashing the windows and generally cold and miserable. Well, we're days away from April and Easter's almost upon us. It always seems to creep up on us seemingly from nowhere. I suppose because it's always a different Sunday every year, unlike Christmas, which is a fixed festival. The shops get filled up with fluffy bunnies, cute cuddly lambs, bright yellow chicks, chocolate eggs and bunches of daffodils, hot cross buns and all manner of indulgent cakes and chocolate delights.

Carol was due to run out of her sleeping tablets. Her prescription has only been for no more than three week's worth.  Why can't they allow her to have a larger quantity? We needed to get a repeat prescription done in time to be ready before the Bank Holiday (the surgery will be closed on Monday.) It was no use ringing to make a request, because you have to ring after 11 a.m. Then it can take at least 25 minutes to get through to a human to speak to. So we decided to drive to Beanhill and request the repeat. It's stressful enough having to deal with cancer without the added problems of dealing with Ashfield Medical Centre. These tablets are not officially on repeat (which seems crazy.) The doctor would have to clear the repeat and then have the prescription printed and then collected by Lloyd's pharmacy at Sainsbury's. It wouldn't be until at least Tuesday before the prescription was made up. I just don't know why the doctor at the hospital can't sign off the prescription, which would mean cutting out Ashfield altogether, since he is the one looking after Carol through the oncology department. Just another level of bureaucracy which no doubt adds to the expense of the N.H.S. It seems that Ashfield have to make as many problems than they solve, for no particular reason. Just bloody-mindedness to be honest. 

Anyway, having put in the prescription request we then drove to Waitrose. Anything to get away from the stress caused by this unnecessary problem. It was raining quite hard as we drove into the carpark. As you come down the slope from Chaffron Way you have to be extra careful because they've put bollards at the bottom. It would be quite easy to run into them if your weren't careful. As we were about to walk into the store with a trolley, Carol said she recognised the lady coming in behind us. She goes to Shenley Christian Fellowship and lives in Eaglestone and has visited on a couple of occasions. We then queued up in the café and ordered two lattes and some rather nice cakes which we had with butter. Carol went to sit down on one of the sofas and I waited for the coffees to be made. We sat down to begin drinking the lattes and eat the cakes when the lady we saw coming into the store queue at the counter and then she turned to face us and then came over to sit with us. She had come in on her bicycle and was in wet-weather wear. We had a long conversation and when we finished we did some shopping around the store.

On the walk back to the car Carol got in whilst I packed the shopping in the back. As I pushed the trolley back to the trolley park, a large Range Rover came along the road between the rows of car. I heard a lady shouting. She was pushing her trolley back to her car and was very nearly run  into by the Range Rover. If she hadn't called out there could have been a really nasty accident. It was patently clear that the driver of the Range Rover wasn't paying attention. Some people are in too much of a hurry to look what they're doing. No doubt the car was big and high off the ground and he couldn't see the lady with the shopping trolley. There seems too much of this sort of thing. I don't recall the driver even apologising to the poor lady. When we were in town yesterday we were going back up the escalator in Debenhams, on our way back to the carpark when a couple came up behind us and virtually pushed us out of the way, not bothered that we were in their way, no sort of apology. Just plain rudeness. There is certainly a great deal of this at the moment, particularly from car drivers who don't like the fact that you might be in their way. They want the road to themselves. They're not too keen to be held up, even for a few seconds, particularly at a roundabout or road junction. I'm constantly being cut up at roundabouts by other motorists. I think I've mentioned this before, people's manners are appalling. I'm not saying everyone I encounter. Generally most people are generous and respect others. It's just the very small minority of people who don't respect others who cause problems on the roads.

Well, the day may have begun wet and miserable, but the sun did come out eventually, late afternoon and it was almost like spring. Well, as it should be. We have daffodils appearing all over the city and along Chaffron Way, as we drove down towards Waitrose, we saw an amazing display of primroses, so, yes, spring would appear to be with us. Trees have begun to bud and the birds are busy building nests, or at least I imagine they are.