Heart attack

My Heart Attack

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Thursday, February 22, 2018

MK Shopping Centre Visit

Carol's mum and dad have been here for a visit today (Wednesday). They came up from Bournemouth and were given a lift from someone from their church, arriving here at about 9.45. We didn't take long to decide where to go for the day, rather than sitting in the house as they have done for the past couple of visits as Carol is feeling far better and thought she needed to get away from the house. It was a choice of going to Stoke Bruerne or the central Milton Keynes Shopping Centre. It was as well we chose the shopping centre because the weather turned out unsettled and cold, although it would have been nice to have visited the canal and museum at Stoke Bruerne and have something to eat in the pub we know there from previous trips.

We drove towards the centre and parked in the multi-storey carpark next to Debenhams and then walked in and down the escalator and stated off in the restaurant which we noticed immediately had been refitted. We had coffee and then made for the ladies department where Carol browsed the clothing and her mum and I bought her some things which will be birthday presents. One problem solved as I wasn't certain what she wanted.

We walked through Midsummer Place and Carol found it quite cold. This is one of the side-effects of the chemotherapy she's currently going through. Then we walked into the main shopping centre which is, thankfully, a good deal warmer.

It seems that Carol has come a really long way since her diagnosis. She has been through a great deal (haven't we both) and at an early stage she wouldn't have been able to walk as far as she did this morning, so it seems things are getting better.

We got as far as W.H. Smith and went in to look at books. They recently moved into a far smaller unit. No doubt because they seem to have cut the amount of stock they have and no longer sell, such as  CDs and DVDs which used to be on the floor upstairs. At one time they used to have a travel agent (well, at least in the Bedford branch) as well as knitting wool and a host of other items which they've stopped selling. We spent some time browsing and Carol found a couple of adult colouring books, which seem to be popular at the moment. Really perfect to keep her occupied whilst having chemotherapy and at home. One is based on 'Vogue' magazine illustrations and another you can barely see the outlines of the illustrations and wouldn't see what the picture was until all the colours are filled in.

We continued on walking on leaving Smith's.

We reached Middleton Hall, the vast open space in front of John Lewis. We were in need of something to eat, as the time was nearing lunch time. So we decided on going to John Lewis's restaurant. We have been in there before, but, unless you knew where it was, you'd be hard-pressed to discover it's whereabouts. It's on the top floor and up several flights of elevators. There don't seem to be any signs from the ground floor as far as I could  see. I suppose you'd have to ask a member of staff or look on one of the department location boards dotted around the store. On arriving in the restaurant we ordered our food. Carol had soup and a roll, I had a sandwich, although I must say they had a rather poor selection and it would appear that they were somewhat short staffed and it seemed to take ages for a member of staff to serve me. All he had to do was put the sandwich I wanted on a plate and hand it too me. Carol's mum and dad had scones and jam. I went back to get a pot of tea although Carol's dad didn't want tea. I was somewhat disappointed that the milk was only available in those horrible little plastic pots with those nasty foil lids which are virtually impossible to peel off in order to get at the milk inside. Also, they made the tea with just one teabag on a piece of string which I dislike intensely. I'm surprised at John Lewis, who have fairly high standards, to use such a method of tea-making.

The restaurant was fairly busy, including a couple a few tables along from us, who had young children, one of which was causing some problems for them, making a lot of noise. I'm also surprised how under-staffed it was for the time of day considering how busy it was. It got busier as we were about to leave.

We went down on the elevator and on the ground floor walked through the kitchen department. We had a brief browse and Carol had a look at the food mixers. She's seen a Kenwood hand mixer on the John Lewis website so knew that this was the one she wanted. At £20 it seemed good value, compared with other models and a reasonable price when comparing such companies as Argos, surprisingly, since John Lewis is generally somewhat more expensive than other stores although you always know you will get good customer service. The Milton Keynes store was refitted a few years ago and as a result they moved departments around. For example, the kitchenware department was on a different floor, as was the restaurant which used to be at the front and overlooking Middleton Hall. The departments had been in their old locations probably since the store opened back in the late 1970s and the store probably hadn't been remodelled since then. Anyway, we decided on purchasing the mixer and then left the store.

We slowly walked back through the shopping centre along the other mall and walked back through Midsummer Place to return to Debenhams and then up the escalator to the carpark and home. We spent some time talking before Carol's parents left for home when their friend from church came back almost precisely at 3 p.m. to drive them home to Bournemouth.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Shopping Trips and Haircuts

I mentioned a few weeks ago how I had intended getting my haircut and went to the usual barber's in Monkton Park, only to discover, after waiting around 15 minutes and finding they weren't going to open up, that the business had closed down. The company is called Essential Barbers and they have another branch in North Furzton. So I decided to give things another go and drove there before they opened at 9.30 yesterday morning. So, hair now cut and won't need doing for at least a couple of months. 

From North Furzton I drove to Beanhill to go to Ashfield Medical Centre. I've mentioned on several blog posts the problems we're experiencing regarding Carol's repeat prescriptions. I still don't understand how it can take somewhere in the region of ten days to get a prescription ready so that it can be made up and ready for collection at a pharmacy. We give ample time for this. It should take no more than 48 hours. I attempt to make sure that Carol doesn't run out of any of the medications she has on repeat, particularly as we've managed to get the pain she's experiencing under control. On asking at the reception desk whether the prescription was ready, I was told that one item was ready and printed, but the rest of the items was not. I also had to ask for a fresh medical certificate for Carol as she needs one since she's off work sick. I was told that the doctor would ring to confirm this. So I returned home and no sooner had I got in the house and the telephone rang and it was the doctor for Carol. Then I heard from Lloyd's pharmacy at Sainsbury's with a phone call that they had some of the stoma material. But why had it been delivered to Lloyd's? The whole thing is going crazy. The stuff from Fittleworth should be sent direct to our address. Carol was determined to come with me to Sainsbury's as she wanted to get out of the house. So we drove there. It's perhaps the first time she's been to Sainsbury's for at least six months. One part of the repeat prescription was ready for collection, along with my own medications, which I had ordered earlier in the week. I seems odd to me that my repeat prescription was done within days, but Carol's has to take at least a week to be ready. The doctor had told me that the prescription which he had written and had printed out, would be ready on Monday  after 2 o'clock. So I drove there after 2 o'clock BUT THE PRESCRIPTION WASN'T READY! The receptionist at the surgery told me that the prescription was probably going to be in the doctor's surgery and couldn't be taken until the doctor was without a patient. This whole thing is now getting out of hand and as a result causing a certain amount of stress for both of us.

This morning (Tuesday) we had another attempt to get the prescription out of the surgery. One was ready for collection but the second one was still unready. We went to IKEA as we were looking for a new rug for the lounge, and, after a look in the rug and carpet section we couldn't find one which we liked, but we bought several other items of use and then went to get a hotdog, chips and a drink near the exit to the store. Plenty of it and extremely good value.

As I write this blog post, I'm watching Michael Portillo's television series 'Great Railway Journeys,' on BBC2, and as I write this he's at the Swiss Garden near Old Warden in Bedfordshire, somewhere we've visited and near where I used to live at Cardington. A really beautiful place to visit, part of the Shuttleworth Estate and directly next to the Shuttleworth Collection of aeroplanes and cars of various ages.

Monday, February 19, 2018

New BBC1 Sunday Evening Sitcom

We've been watching the new BBC1 sitcom, 'Hold The Sunset.' It fills the slot vacated by 'Still Open All Hours.' It stars John Cleese and Alison Steadman. They play a couple who are 'just good friends' and he's keen to marry her so they can sell up and move abroad to the sun. But just when she decides to take him up on his offer and they crack open the champaign, there is a knock at the door and her 50-year-old son arrives, having left his wife. This character is played by Jason Watkins, and once he appears he more or less steals the show. He's regressed to his childhood and has a temper tantrum when he learns that his mother gave away his precious collection of comics to a charity shop. Compared to the recently ended 'Still Open All Hours,' it's far more subtle and doesn't rely on a studio audience to point up the comedy. It isn't 'laugh out loud' funny and the characterisation is very detailed, not relying on stereotype which the David Jason vehicle relies heavily on. It's more than 40 years since Cleese wrote and performed in 'Fawlty Towers,' so it something of a surprise to find that this new comedy is totally different in style to that famous series. We will have to wait and see how the rest of the series develops and how it does as regards ratings, but all the signs are that it's good real potential and will be worth sticking with over the next couple of Sunday evenings. At least the BBC is trying hard to come up with new sitcoms. This has been the slot, over the years, which has been taken up by a succession of sitcoms, from 'Bread' to 'Keeping Up Appearances' so we will wait and see how it fares.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Messed-Up Repeat Prescription

Earlier this week I ordered a repeat prescription for Carol. It was for more than one item, some of the patches for pain control as well as sleeping tablets. I rang Lloyd's pharmacy in Sainsbury's to give them the order and had expected to be able to collect the competed order on Friday. It is supposed to take 48 hours to have the prescription completed. When I went into Sainsbury's I went to Lloyd's pharmacy and I was told that the order wasn't likely to be ready until the next day. They usually go to our surgery, Ashfield Medical Centre, to collect the printed prescriptions because most of the items on the prescription are for controlled medication which can't be sent electronically as are other meds you order on repeat (such as my heart meds which are on repeat and which I have ordered myself earlier in the week.) On going back on Saturday morning I was told that Ashfield hadn't prepared the prescription for Carol and that they wouldn't be ready until at least Tuesday at the earliest. This situation is getting very frustrating and even more so since we went to see the practice manager a few weeks ago to discuss this matter when we were promised that they would try to get the prescriptions we ordered completed on time. It now appears that this is not the case and as a result we cannot trust them when we order repeat prescriptions. It looks as if I'll have to chase up this repeat prescription tomorrow when the surgery is open. Meanwhile, Carol has had to experience a sleepless night with a   lot of pain, which, up until this incident, seemed to be fairly well under control.

It's a cold and frosty morning. I was expecting there to be ice on the car's windscreen, but, having been out to inspect it, I can report that it isn't frosted up. I have a good supply of de-icing spray for when it is frozen up. Some slight fogginess also but nothing too bad. Just typical weather for this time of the year.

Later. The fog, as much as there was, cleared as the morning progressed and the sun came out, just as I was expecting.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, Carol is without her sleeping tablets, as a result of the 'messed-up' prescription. As a result, she asked me to go to Boot's after church this morning, to buy an over-the-counter product called Sominex. I had to smile when I read the instructions on the back of the packaging. It states under 'Warning' the following, 'May cause drowsiness. If affected, do not drive or operate machinery. Avoid alcoholic drink.' We're back on the 'stating the obvious' thing again with this. It's a product to help you sleep, so it's obvious that it's going to make you feel drowsy. Would you, in all honesty, take this product if you were going to drive a car or operate machinery? Just crazy and nuts. We're back on the region of having coffee cups printed with 'caution, this product may be hot.' Or 'this plate will break if it falls on the floor.' 

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Night Mystery

I woke up at around 1.15 in the night. I lay awake for a while. I could hear a low droning noise outside, like an aircraft of some sort. I couldn't think what it was at first. It sounded like a plane, but far too slow for it to be any sort of conventional aircraft. I drew the curtain aside at the window and could see something moving about above the garden, a slowly-blinking light, but because it was too dark, I couldn't make out what sort of aircraft it could be.  I had to go to the loo, as you do. I tried to avoid making a noise as I left the bed and walked around the bed. We have a floor which makes a certain amount of noise, creaking. Having been into the loo I opened the bathroom window. The low drone noise of an engine continued and the blinking light was moving away towards the centre of Milton Keynes. Could it possibly be an airship, such as they have been developing at Cardington? I could still not make out what it was, due to it being too dark. The sound moved away. It seemed to be circulating the area. As I write this,  sitting in the lounge, it appears to be returning, I can hear the droning sound outside. The mystery hasn't been resolved, so I await further information to identify this craft fully. Perhaps what it was was on a test flight and it was being done at night so as to not be seen as it would be if it was brand daylight. I'm still intrigued to know what this was, but am afraid I'm unlikely to find out.

Later on, when I told Carol about this, she said 'were they any 'little green men?' Do you think that she didn't believe me? Do you think she doubted me? That I might have imagined the whole incident?  I wonder how many other people around this area experienced this 'thing.' I don't imagine that there were many people awake at that early hour.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Winter Olympics and Rain

We're watching the Winter Olympics. The speed skating. How do they keep the surface of the arena frozen? I presume there's some sort of refrigeration system under the ice. Then I wonder how on earth anyone can keep standing upright when they're on skates. Even the judges have to be able to stand up on skates and move about on the ice.

It's raining. Well, there's a surprise. We're not doing a great deal today, after yesterday's session in the Oncology Suite. Alfie doesn't like rain. He pokes his head out of the door and has a look and if it's wet or he thinks it's going to get him we, then he doesn't go out. Who can blame him. He's only a little dog and he doesn't like getting cold. Yesterday was Shrove Tuesday, or Pancake Day. We love pancakes and I'm particularly good at making them. Not to blow my own trumpet, but the secret of good pancakes is in the batter. I've made the batter and it's standing on he work surface. You are supposed to leave it for at least an hour before making your pancakes. Plain flour, two eggs, milk, a pinch of salt and melted butter. Then leave it to stand with a dinner plate on it. I'm not sure why, but I think it's to let the batter thicken as it will and then add a little more milk and give it a good whisk before putting it in a jug to make pouring into the pan easier.

Not a lot going on at the moment. The past weekend was one were, quite frankly, nothing much happened. It's rained. Nothing odd about that, I suppose. As I write this Alfie is asleep on the sofa, flat on his back, with his mouth open slightly and showing his teeth. It looks quite comical. I've never known a dog be able to sleep anywhere, and in such odd positions. He snores, particularly when it's the middle of the night and I wake up. He thinks he can sleep with his head on my pillow. Not the most comfortable place for him to lay, particularly when I can hardly move my head. Does he think he's human? If he sees us doing something, does he think he has to also?

Carol has started making Alfie work for his treats. I've mentioned how he's got wise to what's in the treat tin he got for Christmas, how he goes up to it and nudges it with his nose. Carol hides a handful of treats around the room and it's up to Alfie to sniff them out. We have a set of plastic cups which are used to hide treats in and Alfie has to find them. He finds this very easy. This is called 'enrichment' when it's used in zoos and animal parks, where the staff attempt to get those animals kept in captivity have to work to get their food, rather than having it merely given them to eat. It's supposed to prevent them getting bored.

I had to go in to Sainsbury's for a few items and to order a repeat prescription. I thought I'd ordered the patches Carol has, as it was supposed to be in the last lot of meds I collected. It's difficult to keep up with what is ordered and what is not. I was given a box of stuff at the pharmacy, which must have been ordered via Ashfield Medical Centre. A large consignment was delivered early this morning. There was the sound of something being put through the door at around 7.30 this morning. It was a Royal Mail card saying something had been left in the meter cupboard outside. I was surprised that the delivery driver didn't knock on the door, but at least the parcel has arrived.

Not a lot else to talk about. We had to go to the Oncology Suite just before 4 o'clock this afternoon as Carol's chemotherapy cycle was coming to an end. We arrived in good time, managing to park. The weather is cold, a 'nipping and an eager air' as we walked from the car in through the cardiology  department. The carpark barriers were raised. Things are becoming slightly repetitive, don't you agree? There still seems to be a staff shortage in the Oncology Suite. We had to wait for a good 20 minutes, but there wasn't a lot we could do about it. Carol was eventually called into one of the rooms and the pump she has had for the past day was removed. Returned to the car and left for home. I'm glad it wasn't any later otherwise we'd have been caught in traffic as people left work for home. The days are drawing out which means it's remaining light for later. The next chemo cycle will be the sixth and afterwards they will be doing a scan to see how the treatment is progressing. 

Monday, February 12, 2018

Fifth Chemotherapy Cycle

It's a bright and sunny morning, but cold. There's been ice on the car's windscreen and I've been out with the defrosting spray to clear it. Not too difficult to get rid of the ice so we can drive out with a clear view.

We drove to the hospital and found the carpark had plenty of spaces, fortunately. The barrier was raised, so we could drive straight in, but the ticket machine would not work, so I couldn't take a ticket. This may cause a slight problem when we come to leave, as we will have to get a ticket if the barrier is down when we want to get out. Also meaning I will have to walk back to the Macmillan unit to get the ticket stamped in order to get free parking. Oh, how complicated life gets, which it doesn't have to. Another good reason to have free parking in all N.H.S. hospital carparks, but I don't see this happening any day soon.

we've arrived in the oncology suite, too early for the chemotherapy cycle to begin because Carol has to take some tablets which she was supposed to have been given on Friday when she came in for the blood test. The nurses were extremely busy, so I can understand why she wasn't given the medication, which are meant to be taken an hour before the chemotherapy started.  We had to go away and waste that hour so we went to the restaurant which is a relatively short walk along the corridor and had coffee and then went into the shop which is next door to buy rolls and drink so we had something for lunch. We then walked back to the oncology suite and had to find somewhere to sit and were moved several times until we found a corner which was away from the general hubbub of the unit. Well before the time allocated, Carol was hooked up to her drips for the chemotherapy to begin and I settled down to write this blog post. As I write Carol is busily crocheting and there is a television on which is showing the Winter Olympics, men laying on their backs on tin trays and sliding down an icy sort of chute (can think of no better way to describe whatever this event is, but certainly looking very odd. The luge or something. Looks very odd, and I can imagine this being sold to a committe who have no idea what it entails. I think you would be told it's not going to work, just not safe, apart from anything else. How would you get it past Health and Safety? Can you imagine the Risk Assessment? How many pages of paperwork would it entail? I dread to think. send some of the committee to try it out. Imagine them going down the track (or whatever it's called.) For a start, there's no clear sort of braking system (thinks: how do they stop?)

Just intrigued by various things about the oncology suite. In the toilet there's a couple of stickers near the sink, with barcodes on which have printed on them 'do not remove.' Why would I want to remove them? I don't go around taking stickers of things. Apart from anything, can you believe how difficult it is to actually remove such stickers? I bought a new pair of slippers from Marks and Spencers recently and on the soles were annoying stickers which also had barcodes, which are presumably so they can be scanned when you come to buy them. But they are incredibly difficult to remove and when they are eventually picked off they leave a nasty sticky residue on the sole of the slipper which means that, when you walk about, particularly on the type of flooring our house has, vinyl or laminate, and it tends to stick and make annoying clicking noises as you walk about. Why can they not just put labels on such products which can be cut off with scissors instead of these adhesive labels?

The chemotherapy went without any hitches. Each session seems to go relatively quickly, thankfully. The oncology unit wasn't particularly busy, well, not as busy as it has been in the past. We walked back to the car and thankfully the barriers were raised. I was wondering if they had been lowered I was going to have to take a ticket out of the machine and then walk all the way back to the Macmillan unit to get the thing stamped so that we didn't have to pay, but this wasn't obviously the case.

It's been a relatively mild day, considering there was frost on the windscreen of the car early this morning. It seems that spring might possibly be on the way.

I'm intrigued by the car that is situated on the grass near the roundabout near where the carpark entrance comes out onto Marlborough Street. It has been there for the past couple of months, in all the time we've been going to the oncology unit we've seen it there. It has a 'Police Aware' sign stuck to it's windscreen. It makes me wonder how it got into such an odd place. Perhaps it was someone who couldn't find a parking space and thought it was a good place to leave their car when they'd come to the hospital for an appointment. Just being sarcastic I'm afraid. More likely it was left there by some crazed person in the middle of the night after a joy-riding trip by teenagers or something. In the middle of the night, when I wake up, I often hear what might be cars being raced along the grid-roads of Milton Keynes, so the possibility that this car was left there after such a late-night adventure seems a possibility. Whether it's owner has been traced and the perpetrators found and charged is another matter.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Reviving Television Comedy

We're currently watching 'Still Open All Hours,' the BBC1 sitcom on Sunday evening. I'm not sure whether it's as good as the original. I don't see how it could be, without the brilliant Ronnie Barker. David Jason is alright, but who can forget him as the down-trodden Granville, Arkwright's nephew. Now he's running the shop, but it's not quite as amusing. It's got the feeling of 'Last of The Summer Wine', which is bound to happen, seeing as it's written by the same writer, Roy Clark, who also wrote 'Keeping Up Appearances.' It's even in the same slot in the schedules as 'Summer Wine.' That ran for goodness knows how long, something live 42 years and near enough 200 episodes, making it the longest running sitcom in the world. That had to come to an end because most of the actors died and it they kept recycling the storylines and towards the end became very predictable and cliched. There's so much you can do with a group of old men in a northern landscape (which was actually an important part of it's success as the actors or scripts) doing crazy things in tin baths sliding down hillsides, and old women with wrinkled stockings. 

In some ways 'Still Open All Hours,' doesn't really make sense, because in reality Arkwright's shop would have been taken over by a large supermarket chain such as Tesco or Sainsbury's. And Granville would have retired years ago. You just wouldn't run a corner shop the way it's portrayed. It's a bit of an anachronism. For all that, it does have a sort of gentle charm. Non-offensive, and anything that has David Jason in it is going to be something that gets good viewing figures. I suppose it has something to do with being nostalgic. For a time long-gone. As someone said, and I don't know who precisely, that 'nostalgia's not what it used to be.' A sort of cozy, non-existent past, where people actually talked to one another, a world without mobile phones, social media and self-serivice supermarket checkouts. We watched a few of the original 'Open All Hours' episodes on Gold and David Jason looks about 18, or even younger in it. He's come a long way since those episodes were made and it's surprising that he would want to return to this sort of thing. Once you've done a particular show, why return to it? They've opened it out a good deal more than it was in the original 1970s show as well as adding more characters. This episode has scenes set in Scarborough, which I recognise, having been there. It's understandable that they would open it out somewhat as it gives more possibilities for storylines and characters.  Watching it, and listening, it seems as if the audience laughter has been mixed in after the show was recorded. Why does the studio audience for these shows always sound as if they've been prerecorded and then added as a sort of afterthought? Just sounds fake to me. Why do they have a studio audience in the first place? I can understand in one respect, as it gives the actors a sort of sounding-board to play off, but do they think that without an audience cackling in the background, we, the home-audience, won't realise it's comedy and so not get the gags and jokes? 

They did a series of one-off comedy revivals a few years ago, to mark the 60th anniversary of 'Hancock's Half Hour' transferring to BBC television, with the idea that they could revive some of them as complete series. One was a revamped version of 'Porridge.' (yet another former Ronnie Barker vehicle in the 1970's.) as well as a prequel to 'Keeping Up Appearances' which had Hyacinth Bouquet as a teenager. Another, a revival of 'Are You Being Served,' which was, frankly, really awful and unfunny. As it is, the original version of 'Are You Being Served' wouldn't pass the political correctness brigade, and certainly wouldn't be made today in the same sort of style. A bit like a lot of Benny Hill's shows or even 'Mind Your Language' or many other 1970's comedies, including 'Till Death Us Do Part.'

Unfortunately all this 'reviving' television comedy shows a complete lack of imagination and laziness on behalf of the television executives in charge of the various channels. Why not simply develop fresh stuff? Just commission a set of pilot scripts as they did in the 1960's with 'Comedy Playhouse,' which is where such shows as 'Steptoe and Son' originated and then, if those one-off pilots are a success, then make them into full series. 

Friday, February 09, 2018

Watching the 2018 Winter Olympics

If you read my blog posts regularly you will have discovered that I'm not a great sports fan. To me football must be about the most boring sport ever invented. I can see nothing particularly interesting in watching a load of men running around on a piece of grass and chasing after a leather ball, with the intention of kicking it into a net. Just does not do it for me, I'm afraid. Rugby might possibly be another matter, as it's fast, dangerous and like some epic medieval battle. Far more of a skill in kicking a ball which isn't round, getting it to go over a bar at quite some height is definitely a skill. Even managing to get it to go in a straight line is an art in itself. Not just football as being boring to me, but cricket is another dumb sport. I think it's because I was put off the whole thing when I was at school, having to participate in something that I wasn't particularly good at. Most likely, totally hopeless. Having a leather ball flung at you for a start, and trying to hit it with a wooden bat, just not going to happen somehow. Standing about on a piece of grass, on a hot summer's day, waiting to bat or field and also having to field, as far from the centre of action as possible, not my idea of fun in the slightest. Footballers paid telephone numbers for doing very little. Who on earth is worth something like £400,000 a week? Crazy.

But this morning we've got the television on and watching the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics from Pyeonchang, South Korea. (Goodness, I did manage to spell it!) I have to say, having a larger-screen HD television does make watching this sort of thing far more, how shall I describe it, immersive. How on earth anyone can strap on a pair of skis and fling themselves down a mountainside I can hardly imagine, or lay on what is little more than a sort of tin tray and hurtle as I have no idea how many miles per hour down a sort of icey railway track (not a very good way to describe it I'm afraid.) with no visible sort of protection, I can never comprehend. All these sports people at the Olympics doing something they love, to represent their country, but doing it without being paid a bean. And generally doing it exceptionally well.

The actual opening ceremony includes a rather amazing snow leopard or lion, not a real one of course, but a sort of large puppet. Also some, what look like mythical creatures, a dragon and some sort of bird, being operated by several puppeteers. A bit like how the puppets were operated in the show we saw at the Derngate last May. A phoenix we're told by the commentator. Amazing lighting, lots of dancers and quite spectacular. Almost on a par with the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics. I think that has to be the sort of standard these ceremonies have to now be compared with.
All participants are wearing what look like white dressing gowns with furry edging and brightly-coloured flower-pot hats with sort of Christmassy decorations on them. Well, I'm sure they're not in the least connected to the festive period, but that's what they look like to me. How on earth they manage to coordinate so many people is quite beyond my comprehension. Having worked in stage management for a few years I have some idea of the huge logistics of dealing with that many people, not just off stage but on, and in such a huge space.

Later. Carol had to go to the Oncology Suite for 11.30 this morning for a blood test before the fifth chemotherapy cycle to begin on Monday morning. The carpark entrance was being repaired (or assume it was.) because when we arrived at the barrier their was a mechanic there with the cover off the machinery and handed us a ticket as we drove in. Fortunately we were able to find a parking space and then walked into the hospital as we usually do through the cardiology department.

Carol's colleague from Milton Keynes Academy, Sandy, who used to work as a technician in the science department, was in the oncology unit with her husband when we arrived so there was someone to talk to before the nurses came to do the blood test and check out Carol's weight and blood pressure. There was a television on in the unit with the Winter Olympics opening ceremony on. Each team was being lead into the arena with a lady dressed in what might have been Christmas characters, but obviously wasn't. A very good display of the various types of jacket and suits worn by all the participating country's teams as they walked through the arena.

It seemed that the oncology unit was somewhat short staffed as there didn't appear to be the full number of nurses on duty as there usually was, meaning that only a couple of nurses were doing several people's jobs. Which is probably why we had to wait for some time before Carol was seen to. It didn't matter too much as we had plenty to keep us occupied, chatting to Sandy and her husband.

By the time everything was complete we were beginning to get hungry. It was a good hour or more later when we left than when we usually have something to eat for our lunch, so we drove to Dobbie's at Bletchley to go to their restaurant. As we drove along Chaffron Way we were followed by a small car with a young man and a girl in it. The driver insisted on driving very close behind. Nothing unusual about this as it's happened many times before. He attempted to get me to drive faster but I wasn't going to drive any faster than is safe or at least within the speed limit. As a result he hooted at me, which made me jump. I continued driving on towards the roundabout and on to Grafton Street. Again the driver honked me. I ignored him and continued on. Eventually the driver turned off into Coffee Hall near the Shell petrol station. Just another ill-mannered individual more concerned with his selfish ways than any respect for other people on the road. We drove on and got on the A5 and continued on to Dobbie's. I had cottage pie and chips and Carol had egg mayonnaise baguette. Good-sized portions and just what we needed. It was surprisingly busy, considering it was a Friday. Having eaten, we went to buy some bird feeders and some food as the bird feeder in the garden was empty and it was well and truly time to fill it up. We also had a browse in the food hall and bought some cakes and fudge and then went back to the car to drive home.

Thursday, February 08, 2018

Cold Weather and Faulty Cadbury's Creme Eggs

I had to go to get fish and chips from Brother's fish bar this evening. It was surprisingly cold. As I walked back to the car there were a few flurries of snow. I just wonder whether we'll be under several inches of the white stuff when we wake up tomorrow morning.

As I write this, Alfie is going slightly potty, the game he plays regularly, charging on and off the sofa, running outside into the hallway and then back onto the sofa, growling all the time. Funny little dog has now worn himself out and is curled up on the sofa.

Wednesday afternoon. Not a great deal to write about at the moment. I've just started reading a book called 'Watling Street,'  written by John Higgs. I didn't know of it's existence (the book, not the road.) until I was ordering something else on Amazon and the book came up, as others often do. This is one of the good things about Amazon, you discover books which you would't otherwise come across in a traditional bookshop, however you search. The book is about Watling Street (surprisingly) which runs through Milton Keynes, and the first chapter is about- Milton Keynes.  As I'm interested in history it seemed a book I might enjoy and actually learn something from at the same time.

I'm disappointed with Cadbury's creme eggs. Carol was eager to have some. I spent some time locating some for her when I went shopping. They always seem to appear at this time of year. I'm not sure whether they're meant to be Easter eggs. I haven't seen them much, but eventually got some in Sainsbury's last week, a box of twelve. What has happened to them? Many have been squashed. The wrapping on some of them hasn't exactly wrapped the contents properly. I formulate a  reason; Cadbury's was taken over by an American company, Kraft, not long ago. They got their hands on an iconic British company and have now ruined many of the classic products that Cadbury's made, one of them being the famous creme eggs. They seem to have thinner chocolate. Which would account for the fact that some of the twelve were squashed. Not just creme eggs, ruined.  I reckon, but I'm not sure, but I reckon these creme eggs are a good deal smaller than they used to be. Crunchie seems less chocolatey. They've messed with the famous Milk Chocolate, done something to the original recipe. How dare they! Keep your hands off our products! But, you might be saying, perhaps the creme eggs you had were  faulty batch, why not complain to Cadbury's. Well, possibly. But that would take a lot of time and effort and incur costs.  It's the same as when Nestlé bought Rowntrees Macintosh and started messing about with fruit pastilles. Trying to take away the famous ridges on these sweets, sold in tubes. Also, changing the Smarties tube, from a lovely tube into a horrible multi-sided monstrosity. Leave well alone. Do these companies never learn? A bit like when Kellogg's tried to change the size of their breakfast cereal packets, and made them too big to fit into the average kitchen cupboard. Crazy! Do they never do any market research? Find out what the average shopper or user of their products actually likes or, indeed, wants?

Saturday, February 03, 2018

This and That

Well, I can't go a day without SOMETHING to write about, but I have been reading 'The Times', and came across a piece which links in with my blog post regarding manners. It is a report about Lord Robert Winston, the fertility expert and exponent on I.V.F. treatment, who was on a train to Manchester when he had to endure a woman having a mobile phone conversation and how he used social media (Facebook in particular) about how this woman's conversation was annoying not only himself but fellow passengers. It turned out that someone on Twitter said he was 'bullying' her and being rude. How stupid can you get? Why do people think it's acceptable to just blather on endlessly and expect others to have to endure this sort of thing? No manners. Can people just not speak so loud on their mobiles? Why does everyone else have to endure such one-sided conversations? Why, just because you can have a telephone conversation, because the technology is available, does it mean you actually have to, and say such things as 'I'm on my way home.' If it's an emergency, or if the train is going to be late, for whatever reason, then there is no problem, but just blathering on about trivial things, then there is no point. I think it goes with the current thing about selfishness. A lot of people seem to think it's fine to 'do their own thing' without thinking about the consequences of their actions. Talking loudly on your mobile in a public space, for example, a railway carriage, being one such instance, regardless of how the people around you are effected.

Having said I read 'The Times' newspaper, it wasn't the print version. I took up and offer to have the paper for three months in  digital format, so I took it up. At just £3 it was too good to miss. I have it on Kindle and also on this laptop. It anything else, it saves having lots of papers cluttering up the place.  I have downloaded the app for my iPhone, but as yet I haven't managed to get it to work. It's taking a while to fathom out the navigation, but in some ways it's easier to read than a print version of the newspaper. Should also be doing my bit for the environment by having it in digital format. I'll have to wait and see whether I continue with a full-price subscription after the offer ends, but you get a lot of benefits such as 2-for-the-price-of-one for cinema tickets as well as other freebies and offers.

If you recall, I mentioned the 'little incident' I had in the carpark at Frost's in Woburn Sands a couple of Saturdays ago, when I was supposed to have run into this man's car when I was reversing out of my parking space and was alleged to have damaged  his car. He was very quick to be taking photos of the 'damage' with his iPhone and his wife was standing with a notebook and pencil and making notes of our registration number and he was keen to get me to 'pay up' to have the aforementioned 'damage' repaired. Well, nothing further has transpired since this incident. I contacted my insurance company and gave them details of the incident, but, as I say, nothing further has happened. No doubt this person went to have the 'damage' scrutinised by a garage to get a quote for repairs, but was no doubt laughed at by the garage as they wouldn't have seen any alleged damage. As for our car, Carol managed to wipe off any signs of damage, a slight knock, or scratch (hardly even that.) So I think we can forget all about it.

I've finally got to the end of 'Goodbye Christopher Robin.' For such a short book, it seemed to go on interminably. I don't like to start books and then not finish them, but this was definitely one which I was tempted to not finish. So it's a definite question of 'Goodbye' to Christopher Robin, and good riddance. Now on to other reading.

We went to IKEA yesterday morning. We have completed the shelving units, as discussed in earlier blog posts. This unit is designed with a series of square sections, which can be used as space to store books, but, by purchasing boxes sold by IKEA which fit exactly into these square spaces, it allows for more flexible storage of other items. We bought three, two with are full sized boxes and the third is divided into two drawers. So now we can store a lot of the clutter we seem to accumulate, which used to sit on the old bookshelves, and in the space in front of the books. Things like the cables which are used with our digital cameras (as well as the cameras, in one of the larger boxes) and things such as staplers, scissors, loose change and so on and so forth.

We were surprised by how busy it was in IKEA. A lot of young children, so we assumed that some schools were on half-term. Possibly it was a teacher-training day or something, from the Primary schools in the area. The café area was exceptionally busy. We had lattes and cakes. Carol had exceptionally nice gateau with cream and I had cinnamon bun. I can see why it's so popular, because the food is incredibly cheap. For example, you can get a very good cooked breakfast for no more than  £1.50. Which is one explanation why it gets so busy, even on a Friday.

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Mixed Weather and Other Matters

It's been a good deal milder the past couple of days. Which means we haven't had the central heating on, which can only be a good thing. We have crocuses coming up in the garden, the one's Carol's mum gave us and which were planted in the large round ceramic bowl we bought when we went to Norfolk Lavender several years ago when we went to visit my brother Andrew. The Christmas tree, which has been put outside in the garden once the festive season was over and still in it's plant-pot (and in definite need of a replant in a larger one at some point in the not-too distant future.) appears to be growing quite considerably. But yesterday the weather turned a good deal colder, so we had to put the heating back on. Well, considering we're almost into February (well, it will be tomorrow.) we seem to have escaped the worst of the winter weather. I just hope we don't get another dose of snow and ice. As I write this (at 8.55 a.m.) it is raining and there quite a river running down the road in front of the house.

We are slowly filling up our new bookshelf unit. The boxes of books and other things are being emptied from when we dismantled the old shelves. As I write this, the bits of the old shelves are still piled up on the grass at the front of the house, ready for the Council workmen to take them away.  I'm surprised that nobody has attempted to shift them in the night. There are spaces for baskets or boxes which we will eventually buy from IKEA and these will hopefully hide a lot of the items which previously lived on the shelves, the bits and pieces you can't avoid having somewhere or other in the room, such as the cables which connect our cameras to the computer, glasses cases, spare change, pencil sharpeners and a host of other things you can never do without, however hard you try.

Alfie has become even more clever We gave him a large tin of Baker's dog treats for Christmas. He knows exactly where it is (standing on one of the red IKEA coffee tables near the window.) and what it contains. He goes and stares at it, even poking it with his nose. Or his other trick, taking you to the sliding patio doors in the kitchen which lead out into the garden. Goes out for a wee in the garden and comes in and waits, expecting to automatically get a treat for going outside, but now he just takes you to the sliding door and stares out, and seems to think that alone warrants a treat. Crafty little dog. Also, if he sits in front of either of us, when we're watching television (cleverly in our eye-line) and stares at us, he will get something such as a treat from the tin.

I'm continuing to read 'Goodbye Christopher Robin,' by Ann Thwaite. It was a free book one Saturday when you bought the Sunday Telegraph. I think I might have read it, having borrowed it from Bedford Central Library many years ago. It is the basis for a film of the same name. It's about how A.A.Milne came to write the 'Winnie-the-Pooh' books. I'm enjoying it up to a  point, but then Milne isn't a particularly interesting person. Pooh is a far more interesting, which says a lot about his creator. Milne was a relatively successful playwright before the 'Pooh' books were published, but nowadays the plays are relatively unknown. Milne is not as interesting a person, or so it would appear from reading this book, as, for example, Oscar Wilde, or Noël Coward, who wrote plays which are still being produced and never seem to date. Both came out with witticisms and many quotes come from their plays and other writings. I have to say it's a bit of an effort to read and I'll be glad when I have finished it. I'm interested in the creative process, how Milne came up with the idea for the stories and characters, but that is about all. I do like 'Pooh,' but I think the whimsy does get a bit cloying and mawkish. I prefer children's writing to be more acerbic. Writers such as Roald Dahl, who gave a far more realistic sense to their characters, not in the last sentimental and whimsical in the least.

This last section is being written at 7.35 p.m. The pieces of old bookshelf, which were piled up on the grass at the front of the house have now been removed by the Council workmen of the refuse collection department. It makes me laugh when I knew from hearing them collect the stuff, but then when I went online and opened my emails I saw the Council had sent me an email informing of the fact that the wood had been taken. Good of them to let me know.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Fourth Chemotherapy Cycle Completed

We've been back to the Oncology Unit at the hospital for Carol to have the pump disconnected. She was booked to be there at 3.40 p.m. and we got there well in time, but there was no room in the carpark so I had to drop her off near the Cardiology Department and I drove round to the ground-level carpark opposite A and E and walked back through the hospital grounds to Oncology.  By the time I'd walked along the corridor to the Macmillan Unit (only a short distance.) and then walked back to the Oncology Unit, Carol was sitting in the main part of the unit having the pump removed by one of the nurses. The nurses work exceptionally hard. They deserve a pay rise. There was a television on in the Oncology Suite, with the BBC News channel on. They were showing a live broadcast of a House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sports Committee meeting, about the gender pay-gap. I was wondering, how on earth can these people, the men in particular, be paid such outrageous amounts, in some cases over £150,000 a year, for just sitting in a nice, warm television studio, when nurses and doctors as well as paramedics, who have to work under such pressure and for such low pay and probably haven't had a pay-increase for a few years? I think that's more of an inequality than a load of television 'personalities.' Having said that, if we're talking about pay increases, how about teachers? Well, I would say that, now, wouldn't I?

It's been bright and sunny but it's still cold with a sharp wind as we walked back and froth from the car to the oncology unit.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Crazy Daytime Television

Watching a great deal of daytime television over the months, it's made me think of new formats for programmes. There are lots of shows about buying and selling, antiques as well as houses. People with an obsession about moving to the country as well as Australia. There's probably far too many, but that's another story. Just turn these formats on their head and you get some interesting ideas. 'Pointless', the gameshow, which is on at teatime, took the idea of people knowing about obscure answers, and thus, getting the lowest score,  unlike 'Family Fortunes' which was the opposite, getting as many points on answers to certain questions got higher scores and if so, you'd be a winner. Why not a show where people who've moved to Australia suddenly decide they want to move back to the United Kingdom? In 'Wanted Down Under,' families put themselves through the hoop travelling all that way and deciding whether it's a good idea to leave family and friends behind in Britain to move all that way, find a job and then a home to live in. I just wonder if some people are just going on the show so they get a free holiday to Australia, a nice week stooging around, looking at houses and talking to people who might or might not give you a job. All that emotional upset, leaving granny or grandpa behind, missing friends and neighbours, but think of all the problems of moving to the other side of the world. Then there's the other shows, 'Escape To The Country.' Instead of selling up and moving to a rural cottage, with a kitchen which is far too big, with acres of land, room to keep a pony, a tennis court and a huge lawn which needs mowing every couple of weeks, Do these people who go through all this trouble take into consideration what living in the countryside consists of? How far is the nearest Tesco branch, or Sainsbury's? How far away is it to the nearest shop if you run out of milk, what is it going to be like if you move to a house half-way up a hill in the Yorkshire Dales, how are you going to cope when you get woken at 6 o'clock in the morning by a cockerel crows, a cow moos or sheep start bleating? Or, if you are late home from work in the evening, caught behind a tractor and trailer or a herd of sheep or cows being moved along the narrow lanes around where you live? So, let's have a television show about people who get fed up with life in the country and decide that they want to 'Escape To The City.' They just long for a home where you can stand up straight and not hit your head on low beams, long to be able to walk on nice, clean pavements instead of muddy pathways, have lots of choice when it comes to finding ideal places to buy their milk, don't have to worry about having a broadband connection, and don't have to be woken in the early hours of the morning by cows mooing to be milked or cockerels crowing. Instead, they're woken by car alarms going off and not being turned off. They don't mind having to find a place to park and getting a parking ticket.  Oh, the joys of being oh so ironic!

We'd come up with another sort of 'buying and selling' show. Instead of buying something and selling it at auction and attempting to make a profit (such as in 'Bargain Hunt, 'Flog It,' or 'Antiques Road Trip.) the contestants have to either 'skip it or sell it.' Some of the stuff people buy in these shows is really good quality, but you could buy real tat, something worthless, kitch, and you have a panel of people who have to decide whether the item is worth keeping or whether it goes in a  skip or is crushed in a crusher. You could go through someone's' home selecting the items to be skipped or sold. A good way to clear a home of clutter. Perhaps, instead of having a skip, you could shoot the item out of a canon into space, or you could put it on a wall and throw balls at it until it breaks. Just think of the worst-possible gift someone has been given and is sitting at the back of a cupboard and they don't every use it. This could be a good way to get rid of it. It might have horrible memories in some way or other. 

Monday, January 29, 2018

Fourth Chemotherapy Cycle

We had a visit from Carol's cousin Andrew yesterday morning. We were interested to hear about his ministry working with children in Romania. Carol is going to be able to help with some teaching material which will be great to give her a focus away from chemotherapy and it's side effects. She has been making some cakes, a really tasty Victoria sponge as well as some cup-cakes. We may buy an electric  hand mixer which should make things quicker and easier. The only problem is, once the cakes are made, resisting the temptation to actually eat them is quite difficult as they are very tasty and somewhat moorish!

This blog post is being written as I'm sitting with Carol in the Oncology Unit at Milton Keynes hospital. I'm making the most of having free wi-fi within the hospital. Writing as things are actually happening allows the post to be a good deal more fresh in my mind that it would have been if I'd written it completely from memory as it might have been if i'd written it later when I'd got home.

We had to be at the oncology suite at 11 a.m. Alfie insisted on running upstair when we were about to leave the house. It would have been better for him to be left in the kitchen but as soon as we said 'kitchen, Alfie!' he ran upstairs to our bedroom and wouldn't be budged. I closed the door, but as soon as I got downstairs he began barking and it was obvious he didn't like being shut in. And who, in all honesty, could blame him?

We gave ourselves plenty of time as it's not always easy to get a parking space later in the day. Which was true when we arrived at the carpark behind the oncology department. I drove in but absolutely no spaces so I immediately drove out and left Carol to take our bags of things in and report to the reception in the Oncology department. So I had to drive round the ring road and find a space at the front of the hospital in the ground-level carpark. I then had to walk round the hospital site to get to the oncology department. You would think that there would be a dedicated carpark for those using the oncology department or at least who use the facilities on a more regular basis. But that would be far too easy.

 It's been a a particularly windy day, which we noticed when we left the house earlier. All manner of bits of paper and rubbish being blown around.

Trying to keep oneself occupied while Carol has her chemotherapy is the main thing about spending several hours in the oncology department. Carol was soon connected to the various drips and was plugged in when I got back from parking the car. Carol has her crochet. She's even made a lovely cover for this MacBook, and is making some sort of bag which can be sold in the Macmillan unit to raise funds. I'm writing this, obviously, as well as reading 'Goodbye Christopher Robin,' by Anne Thwaite, about how A.A. Milne came to write the 'Winnie The Pooh' books in the 1920s. He had been a relatively successful playwright and contributor to such magazines as 'Punch,' but nowadays the plays are almost forgotten, and 'Pooh' is what he's best remembered for today. Rather like J.M. Barrie who's playwriting efforts were over-shadowed by Peter Pan. Even Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle was stuck with Sherlock Holmes, who he killed off at the Reichenbach Falls but had to bring him back eventually because of public pressure.