29 Dec 2018
Hello all, thought I would write a blog about the ups and downs of my life this year, problem is where to begin, should I start with the happy or sad.
Well I suppose holidays are a good start, I had a few of them this year, the first in York when I was ill and I am still suffering the effects of this every time I laugh or cough, I had trips to Canary Isles, Caribbean, which I have very mixed thoughts about especially after the event, not sure if trip to Plymouth should be classed as a holiday as it was so short lived and the outcome was not happy, so memorable for all the wrong reasons. I nearly went to London for xmas, but that did not work out. But the highlight was my two weeks in Almeria with Bridget and Karen, who took me to lots of places I had never been to before, that were not full of drunken Brits. But beautiful scenery and lots of café con leche and UNO, They were great company and just what I needed at that time, to remind me there are some good people out there who are genuine
My caravan went early this year, I shall miss it for the peace quiet and beautiful scenery, at times this year it would of helped to of had as a retreat from the ups and downs of life during this time. The problem was the site fees and not having sufficient income to pay these it was eating into my savings, my then partner had no interest in sharing the costs and it was as always after the event that a friend said he would have been willing to share the costs if he could of shared the use, what a shame he did not come forward earlier. The best I can say was that I had wanted to own one for many years, so this had been achieved, now all I need is to start doing and winning the Lotto and all would be solved
The fact I have become closer to my half sister is a lovely thing and even better because now we are planning a holiday together in the new year, the fact it’s a cruise to Norway, which has been on my wish list for many years makes it so much better, it has helped that my friend Mykle has been advising me on how to achieve it and enjoy the process as well as the holiday. I originally was going to go in the winter to see the Northern Lights, but when it was explained that there was very little daylight at that time of the year and it was very cold, decided instead to wait a while longer for better weather. Hopefully early 2019 everything will be sorted out.
Another friend of mine wishes to go but has fears of seasickness, I am hoping that he can overcome this and enjoy the adventures I am sure we will all have. For all sorts of reasons I personally decided some years ago that I wanted to do things on my wish list whilst I am able, because there is nothing worse than regret about what I might of done in life when no longer able to.
My hearing as many know has got worse I feel over the last twelve months, it prevents me from listening to my favourite music, but also to easily restricts me from, joining in conversation and chat to others in the way I have in life. Recently I decided the group I had met with for many years was no longer viable because of the struggle trying to hear others, so have decided that its better now to meet in smaller groups in a quieter environment, the big issue there is, where do such places exist and the background noise is not to intrusive
I am doing lip reading and have met some nice people through this group, but must admit I feel my skills are still rubbish. I volunteered to do something to give back to the deaf organization but so far, I do not seem to of made any real contribution, maybe I don’t fit their profile. On the other hand a tiny charity seems to appreciate my knowledge and skills and the first client, I am hoping will benefit from our work on his behalf. Working with him and the two advocates has opened my eyes to the difficulties faced in day to day living of those profoundly deaf, when coping with NHS health and social services. Also how many of us are becoming hard of hearing but with very poor support generally whether its hospitals shops my GP surgery or any other resource that I use.
This is crazy because often for some quite small investment by organizations it would be so much easier for people such as myself to be better able to communicate in society. A simple portable loop would make communicating so much easier at all sorts of places for many of us, instead of the time wasted constantly asking staff to repeat themselves and save the person with the hearing impairment further stress. For some reason hearing issues are not a high priority in most peoples thoughts, so I am now considering finding some way to improve the services to people who have hearing issues, even if in a small way.
In terms of health this year has not been to bad, by the hard work done by physio and osteopath, plus the pain relief consultant, there have been no extreme episodes this year enabling me to have a little better health. The one thing I have not truly addressed is that of losing at least a stone in weight and to exercise more. A friend has tried to interest me in joining in organised walks he is involved in, but I have explained that due to hearing issues walking in what seems to be isolation with a group of people is not an attractive offer and I might as well use a treadmill in the warmth of a gym.
It was very sad my relationship broke down in the way it did this year, but I now know it was for the best. The problem with something like that is that it affects other things in life and I personally will be much more wary of other people who may come into my life in the future, which is a shame really
I have a new neighbour, sadly Joyce who lived there has had to go into care and these days she does not know who I am, but the new person so far seems pleasant, when chatting to my osteopath he explained that I need a walk in shower or wet room what a shame he did not tell me that before the renovations two years ago, not sure I want to go through all the upset again.
This year I have celebrated the first birthday of my second great grandchild and only this month the third birthday of the first born from the other grand daughter, doesent time fly, speaking of flying this year I have not been over as often, partly due to problems with finding good accommodation, but also my poor hearing and mobility are not as good as they were, plus the family are so busy these days, maybe some time in the new year I will get to see them all again.
We hear on the TV about social isolation of elderly people, I make an effort to get out and do things but these days find it takes a greater toll of me, even mixing with others, but fortunately I have a circle of friends who I can visit or chat to on the phone. More recently I have been visiting another neighbour who has health issues and we share a love of reading and good company, his computer skills are not that good, so I have been assisting him with those and other technology in the home. What a shame our families do not have the patience to help us to understand how new equipment works, so we miss out often
A friend of mine who has Parkinsons disease, has been an inspiration to me, in that he has done so much despite all his health issues, including this year to publish a book about his life with the condition, if you want a good read its called “ My Life With Parkinson’s” the author Ray Wegrzyn, I am actually mentioned in the book, fame at last.
The lady who I am assisting with advocacy, is another person who has her own complex health issues but despite these, finds the time to help so many others who have an hearing impairment, she takes no money for this work, I just wish I could find a way to help her raise much needed funds to employ more people to work with her, as her present colleague, is talking about giving up the role and there is at present nobody else to replace her.
Well I am not sure at present there is much more to say, at least the new year is starting with a positive, in that I will be spending time with my sister and going away, I am planning more trips, not sure where yet and hopefully I will find somewhere that I can mix more often in the community
7 Nov 2018
Some of you will know that since late in August I have had a series of things to deal with, hopefully all now sorted and I can get on with my life. I posted something on Facebook, really about the different types of relationships on there and how people can friend or unfriend you just like that. But also that people often would say something then behave in a very different way, must be something to do with interpretations of what friends are really about.
Well now to what matters for this Blog. Amongst the people who contacted me with support was a friend called Bunty, we had known each other for a number of years through Sagazone and Facebook, but had only met up for a weekend with friends in Birmingham some years ago.
I decided to take her up on the offer and arranged a couple of weeks in October, then needed some idea of where I was going, which turned out to be a lovely little place away from the tourist areas with a beach nearby, what more could I want. Well to be honest to arrange the flights and how to get to the villa was a start I suppose.
Thanks to the internet I was able to find dates but it needed two different airlines, next how to get to the villa out of season. Again back to the computer where I found from the airport I could get a bus into Almeria then another to the village, problem was the early bus to resort an hour before my plane was due to land, the next was at 15 30, so a fair wait in Almeria, so I looked for shuttles and found a shuttle company that would take me from the airport most of the way, then I could get a taxi. Bridget offered to pick me up from drop off point, but also mentioned that she was coming over with her friend from UK, so I would be in the under build instead of spare room in villa. Said not a problem for me, so went away and sorted out tickets etc
Just before setting off further message to say may be a problem as she had got dates wrong but could still pick me up from meeting point.
I moved my luggage down to the studio and Karen and I then cleaned the place up as was a little dusty, unpacked then we all relaxed. That evening I think they introduced me to the card game named UNO, I found I could play quite well very quickly, it was a pleasant relaxing evening in good company. Later off to bed which I found very comfortable, quiet and had one of the best nights sleep I had had in a long while
From this point I am not going to list everything in normal order and will possibly mix up places and dates, as I realize all sorts of things now blend in and I am unsure quite when we did some things, the main purpose is to explain what an enjoyable time I had
I think we started with a coffee then off to supermarket for some food, there was such a different range of food there, to what I am used to and as my Spanish is so poor often had to guess what some of the food was. Later we went for a meal together, the day was warm and sunny and I enjoyed the good company and conversation.
I needed the toilet just after we had paid the bill, the ladies were insistent that we each shared our own costs fairly, which I found a refreshing change. So off to seek the toilet, I asked the barman who totally misunderstood and thought I was questioning the bill, eventually with the help of another I discovered the word I needed was Servicos such a difference to most of the Costas where most of the staff speak better English than I do. It was interesting to find most places had free Wi Fi which helped with being in touch with friends and family through the internet during the trip, although I had paid for an extra package on my mobile to assist me, so I was less dependant on these free services
Bridget had mentioned that she had brought a couple of bedside cabinets over that needed to be assembled so I offered to do this for her, to help repay her kindness, the only problem was she had no tools so she needed to go to another resident to borrow some from them for me
That evening we had pleasant conversation, I tried to get the TV to work, first problem it was set up in Spanish, so as there was no manual I needed to get it to translate to English first, unfortunately despite this could not get any reception on it so back to chat and UNO which I was becoming quite proficient at.
After breakfast we went to a Carre Four supermarket which was much bigger and sold a whole range of goods, Bridget was able to pick up some items for the flat and decided to purchase a cd player, I suggested maybe a DVD would be more versatile, but we ended up with the one she wanted which also had a radio, I said I would like to pay for this as she was not charging me for my accommodation. I seem to think today we went down to the beach for a paddle in the sea, it was warm enough for shorts and a t shirt, the only issue I discovered later was that the local insects decided I was new blood and they all wanted a taste, so I soon had a number of bites showing on my arms and legs. I felt I needed a rest later so the two ladies went off to the castle up on the hill for a look.
I seem to think again we went out for our usual café con leche in the morning but then another meal later in the day, such a shame I did not keep a record of what we did, I think it would of helped make this more interesting reading. That evening I started to assemble the first cabinet, which was a slow process, I think it was this evening that the neighbour Francis came over and joined us for the card games.
The next morning after breakfast we went to the local Terreros market I was sent for some tomatoes and naranja by Bridget, because I could pick my own I did not need to use my very poor version of the words and just paid. We then went for churros as many of the locals did, they were pleasant to eat but also, it was interesting to observe how the man made them. Later we went out for a trip in the car to Cuevas Del Almanzora. I seem to think we stopped there for our by now usual café con leche and met Bridgets friend Anita. After that we returned back to the villa. I am unsure what we did the rest of the day, but want to think it was today I went up to find out what the problem was with the aerial, in fact someone had stolen the huge dish that was on the roof, that’s why there was no reception on the TV. Think it was this night we had the beautiful sunset, then I finished the first cabinet and we played UNO again.
Not sure if it was when second plumber called, seemed to think he could solve the problem
Today we went to Villaricos Garucha and Majacar Playa and Pueblo, I think it was here we saw the strange shapes that that had been made in the rock, then we looked at the stunning views across the valley, followed by a pleasant meal, later back to putting the second cabinet together and relaxing in the evening yet again
For some reason I cannot see anything to tell me what we did this day, but I presume yet again it was to unspoilt places in good company. Could have been day that third plumber came from agency, said toilet needed replacing.
Today after breakfast. Plumber appeared and took unit in toilet to be repaired, I seem to think we went to Mojacar and Bridget showed me an area where the water from the mountain came that was good quality so we filled our bottles but in the old days, was where the locals used to do their washing. Then off to Turres in the mountains, again the rain came down in buckets, but I still felt safe with Bridget driving us. There were plenty of hairpin bends as we drove up but luckily nobody coming the other way. We eventually stopped and parked, the building were all more traditional I felt than in the towns and villages and generally much larger, Bridget had hoped to take us to a restaurant high up, unfortunately it was closed but we were still able to appreciate the stunning views, before our trip back down again
This morning we got up and the sky looked clear so I put on shorts and a T shirt before we went to the market in town. Quickly the temperature dropped and I felt the cold, but also rather foolish as everyone else was dressed more sensibly. My task as usual was to go to the vegetable stall for tomatoes naranja and this time limons, I liked the look of the apples so got a couple of those also. We then had our choros with chocolate, which I enjoyed despite the cold, then a pleasant walk back to the villa. I think it was today I finally saw a bus and realized where the bus stop was and it had the times, so considered that as the easiest way back to Almeria. I seem to think we had our evening meal late today in the village.
One of the things I was surprised about was how many Chinese shops there were selling tools and household goods, the range they had was enormous and the prices quite cheap, I presume they did so well because there was nowhere else that sold similar small items for those owning or renting accommodation in the area
Waited in for plumber who did not appear, we had a game of Petanque (boules) on the carpark area, was a change and Bridget much better at it than I was, then into village for something to eat, as usual, it was well presented good food. Tried again to sort out transport finally arranged shuttle for tomorrow to pick me up where dropped off, Bridget would drive me there.
Well up early and packed, bedding in the washer, felt sad that would be leaving, have really enjoyed time with Bridget and Karen, so refreshing after the last couple of months. My phone rang was an unknown English number so ignored. A little later was checking e mail and discovered that they had changed time of shuttle to 8 30 today. With help from Bridget, rang them and managed to sort out to pick up at 2 30pm, so time to get sorting out. Had last game of Petanque, think I need to practice a little more. Then off to pick up for shuttle. We arrived early and went for a coffee then a walk round the area, then for a last Chinese meal before we said goodbye. Shuttle was early so off we set, felt sad at going, the shuttle picked up a family, none spoke to me or themselves seemed odd but there we go. Got to airport, looked for bus but could not find, so got in taxi, it had a low roof so cracked head on roof, not a good start, quickly was at hotel, then shock of find for 4 miles was 20 euros, paid and went into hotel.
Later went downstairs for a look round, sadly was raining when went outside, there were no shops or restaurants close to, did find bus stop and that it fitted in with time I wanted to leave the next morning. Went back in asked about where to obtain meal, returned to room, took off coat to hang in bathroom, noticed tiles in bottom of the bath, all very odd, saw cleaner brought her in she rang through to get someone to sort out. Nobody arrived so downstairs to reception, lady there said someone would come quickly and any problems they would move me to another room. Man came cleared up confirmed other tiles secure, decided would have shower next morning just to make sure, so decided to stay in this room.
Went down for meal, was buffet meal in restaurant, had a reasonable range of food, so enjoyed this before returning to room. Had booked breakfast for 6 30am. Did not sleep well and was up at 5am, had shower packed then down for breakfast, They had plated a meal for me, which was more than enough. After back to room, then downstairs to book out, this was done quickly, then asked about bus service and taxi as an alternative, seems 20 euros is the standard charge so decided would try bus instead. This quickly came, cost 1 05 euros and there was signage to show where stops were. The bus filled but we got no nearer to airport, it seemed to wander round all the local streets. Eventually finally got there, airport is small and was deserted so quickly sorted out check in. Explained wanted assistance with boarding plane so man came was quickly taken through security etc, could relax and have coffee before boarded plane.
First task to put washer full of clothes on, read post and even more important to warm flat up as temperature was around 5 degrees as opposed to 15 back in Spain.
Well that’s the end folks I hope you enjoyed the blog and photos, just to say yet again so many thanks to Bridget and Karen for such a great time
6 Jul 2018
Well folks its been a long time since I lasted posted, my apologies for this, so trying to get this done whilst still a recent memory. I must apologize if it seems a little dry, but its already taken ages to write,I should of asked Jane to check it before posting but felt it would be okay. Instead I am adding a little more detail to help it as a read, plus very important is that Janes company made so much of it as fun and her enthusiasm and personality left me with some lovely memories but I felt some were personal and others sadly given I am more of a Mr Grump these days make it hard to express myself sometimes lol, so lets help after this its a more fun read
After disposing of my caravan I decided would have a good holiday this year and found a cruise in The Caribbean, the price seemed reasonable and included 3 nights in Barbados so I could get away from cold damp UK and spend birthday in a beautiful setting, my friend Jane was eager to go with me as she had never been on a cruise or travelled to the Caribbean before.
Usually I do lots of research on this sort of holiday but as I had been on a cruise before to the same places saw no issues, until I spoke to friends who are frequent cruisers.
The first question was why was I flying from Gatwick when there were flights locally, uuum first mistake and as the tale unfolds how I have regretted not investigated this option. Then they informed me that in actual fact there is little of interest in Barbados rather is just a popular port for cruises, I did inform them that we were staying in a hotel just across from a beach so they said that sounded ok. They had said to beware of cruises from American ports full of US citizens as they are quite different to the English ones, so I said, it did not seem an issue (funny how our words come back to us at time)
Well we had our dollars, all the paperwork, cases packed, car checked over, hotel with car parking in Gatwick sorted out, had checked no US visa required, had checked in for flight and cruise in advance and taxis arranged in Barbados what could go wrong, also took my new microphone and receiver to assist with my hearing, plus had asked for assistance at airports due to poor mobility.
Trip to Gatwick went well, nice hotel and room, had very pleasant meal to celebrate good sleep, shuttle to airport on time so off we set. At this point maybe I should mention how excited Jane was that at long last she going to go to the Caribbean, No problems at airport or boarding plane, seats were a little close together so we were due to arrive at 5pm their time. Initially all was well, but we all know that situation where child is sat behind us and for reasons I still do not understand decides to push feet into seat in front and parents seem oblivious to this, well that’s what happened to me, I did consider asking parents if they would like to swap seats with me, but resisted the temptation. Eventually they seemed to settle so watched a couple of films and had a doze.
On arrival at Barbados, was quickly sorted out through immigration, off to taxi and hotel, weather much as home but more humid, hotel seemed pleasant staff friendly, room ok, only issue was their restaurant was closed, we had been looking forward to not have to go out rather to just sunbath and read with the odd walk. So it was a shame to have to go to supermarket first to obtain some food and fruit and drinks. But the area was sunny, the people in cars stopped so we could cross the road, the beach was lovely and white, with beautiful views. I found despite my hearing issues in the evening it seemed noisy even with hearing aids out, it took a couple of days to realize we were near to a busy main road and bus stop, but decided to ignore it and just relax, We went to the beach a few times in a little bay which was pleasant, but the slope was quite steep so we did not venture in other than Jane to have a paddle. The hotel provided a breakfast that was ok in the open by the swimming pool, the staff were very welcoming and friendly, we had some time sunbathing there.
The following day, it was very windy and poured down all day, so apart from a brief walk we stayed in, the third day was my birthday and we had brought cards and presents with us, we decided to go to local nice restaurant to celebrate that evening, but as a contrast went to other beach area to sample local food, the beach was a beautiful white one spoilt only by rather odd looking seaweed that affected the view. That night we dressed up and the meal was very good in a beautiful setting with the moon shining down as we were sat outside, only problem was the flying insects attracted by the light for a while. we both really enjoyed this first extra special time, one of the best birthdays I have had. We had an early night in anticipation of the start of our holiday the next day on the ship.
In the evening there was an option to eat in the dining room more formally, with waiter service, the choice and quality of food was good as was the service plus at certain times in the night, the waiters stopped serving and treated us to a dance, it made the time better, it was lovely that Jane and I could be dressed up and enjoy delicious food well cooked and presented. We decided to see the show. I am not sure quite what I expected but definitely not what we got. The room was huge, but had lots of pillar so hard to get a good view of the stage in many places, the entertainment manager came on, I struggled to hear him both due to his accent but because of how fast he spoke. Then the music started it was deafening and nothing like the sort of entertainment I would of hoped for. but the audience did. At the end I went to guest services and explained that I had hearing loss so they were very good and loaned me for the duration equipment to assist. Over the period on the ship we did find small areas that were quiet such as the library and piano bar, plus the bedrooms, but for the rest there seemed to be most of the time pounding music throughout the ship.I think its fair to say if I did not have my problems it would of sounded much better Jane seemed happy with the sound.
On return to the room it was a pleasant surprise to have a welcome card from our steward, plus a visitor namely an animal made out of towels sat on the bed, it made a good impression and was a lovely end to our first day. We had decided not to have Wi Fi and instead spent our time in the room and at times on deck reading the magazines and the novel I completed whilst away, there was also no service on our mobile phones, not sure if that was good or bad thing. But just to be able to relax was such a change from normal life
The next day we went down to self service restaurant for breakfast, the place was packed and the queues were long, think people were making sure they got their moneys worth, the only drink I found I could cope with was green tea which was very refreshing, but again think it was me and a health issue I have at present, Jane was happy with the range of food and drinks. I did feel sorry for the staff who had to keep clearing up the mess left and the food left on the plates by other people, but the staff were always very pleasant and helpful.
Today we were in St Lucia, the previous night we had looked at the tours run by the ship, due to my health issues some I would of liked to try were not available and the others seemed to be full, so we disembarked the ship eventually as I think many of the other 1000 or so others also decided to do. It was more than a little chaotic, with tour company and taxi drivers trying to get us to join them, instead we noticed there was a ferry to the town so had a relaxing trip there, we walked along the beach and had a paddle and a walk round the town, Jane said how nice relaxing and beautiful it was and it would be lovely to of had more time there, in the end we went back to the ship, more food, then a rest for me on the sun loungers and a swim for Jane, only issue was the pounding music, then back to the cabin for peace and quiet, that evening was a formal night for dressing up, so down we went in our finery, were quite surprised how many others had not made the effort, again food and service were excellent. After we tried the show, it was a mystery murder event, but all really odd, then good old BINGO, so we left and wandered round the ship hand in hand, both indoors and on the decks, it was a pleasant evening on deck, then back to the cabin and yet another different towel animal to greet us. I forgot to say each evening they also left a leaflet with what was happening the following day, so an interesting read but sadly most things did not appeal to us.
We had to meet in the theatre for our trip which was a road and rail exploration, then off we went to disembark and onto our coach, the information was interesting and we saw the beautiful countryside that was still recovering from the hurricanes last year, all the people seemed so positive and enthusiastic about life, then onto the train, it was a narrow gauge train, we were served a range of cold drinks as the guide explained about the island but also the effects of the hurricanes last year, it was a gentle trip through the countryside with beautiful views, then after another trip on the bus back to the ship for our dinner, what a shame the dining room was not open as today it seemed particularly busy and noisy with long waits for food and problems finding somewhere to sit,in the self service restaurant, then off for a lie on the sun loungers and later a swim for Jane, before retiring to the cabin for a cooling down and rest before our evening meal.
I must say at this point all the staff were pleasant and helpful all over the ship despite some of the behaviour of a small number of passengers throughout the cruise
We were up early for breakfast before our trip round St Maarten, which is a mixture of French and Dutch, on the trip there were lots of photo opportunities and interesting information from our driver with stunning views of the island from lots of points of interest, a good day out again. On return we had another relaxing afternoon and a rest on the sunbeds, before going back to our room and later getting dressed up for the evening meal. At the lifts we got chatting to a family and in the queue whist waiting for a table they asked if we would like to join them, they were pleasant and it made the evening meal different for all of us I feel mixing with others enjoying good food and company.I think it was this evening we found the piano bar where we could listen to some of the standard= tunes in a pleasant atmosphere, it felt quite romantic, then the anticipation of what animal would be greeting us this evening
Well now the problems began, today we visited San Juan which is an American colony, so the day before we had paperwork from the ship, to explain that everybody had to go through immigration and passport control then leave the ship and that we were not let back on for a further 2 hours. We thought not a problem we will go on a trip, sadly as this port was the official one for the start of the cruise there were only a couple of short ones available.
So we decided to have a look round the port, when we had been processed and left the ship we went for a walk through the port then the promenade, another problem was that it was overcast and there were high winds, we walked for a while found the local tourist office, they provided us with a map and the advice was to get a taxi to the beach and back. We decided to wander back along the beach for a while and in the end got fed up had a drink then back to the ship, it was only later that on the ship we could see if directed well we could of walked through the town to the beach, not sure given the weather if we would benefited from it, so joined others in the buffet restaurant yet again, then a sunbath as sun had now come out, still very loud music but as ship fairly empty found place a little quieter. For the evening there were many more people going down to dinner, but service still quite good, we shared the table with a family problem was due to my poor hearing I struggled to join in.
Next day was St Thomas again up for breakfast, not really sure at present about what we did here other than a trip on the ferry to the beach, which was very pleasant followed by a walk and back on the ferry, note to self must ask Jane for more information, then again day followed the same sort of path as others
Last port of call before final destination was Antigua, we had booked a trip with a bus then beach for 3 hours, all went well with this and finally I ventured into the crystal clear water for a swim then a sunbath on a beautiful white beach, Jane spent a lot of the time enjoying swimming luckily we had an umbrella as it was very hot. there beaches in this area were all beautiful, it would be nice to come back for a holiday here I felt. Afterwards yet again a trip back to the ship, lots more food, rest and sunbathing. This evening was a formal night so we both dressed up and had a very pleasant meal, we went down to the theatre to see the show which was okay but deafening, I thought it would be nice to go up on deck and take some photos, problem was the ship was sailing at 15 knots and we found out later there was a 25 MPH wind, so no relaxing photos to see, but still was fun, so back to the cabin, our last animal visitor, I finished my novel off then went to bed so would be fit for trip home the following day, Oh forgot to say had to have cases packed ready to be collected early the following morning.
At airport went to Virgin desk, all was going well until I asked about an upgrade as it was a night flight and more legroom would make it better, man said yes and there was a row of four seats available so we could have two seats together the price he quoted was okay, he then asked for my passport again, unfortunately he had not returned it, but everyone decided I had put it away somewhere, after some delay they found he had dropped it on the floor. No mention of upgrade and we were given boarding cards and set off with me in wheelchair. When we got to the boarding gate I realized he had not changed the seats, so Jane mentioned to member of staff he came over and explained there had been a mistake and it was not possible to sort out at the check in desk, they would now have to wait until final boarding to see what could be done, well the good news was it was sorted and because they had caused issues it was at no cost
Sadly there was some sort of issue so got a taxi instead back to hotel and to collect my car. Jane was not well so I ended up driving back home. We had got to the hotel at 8 30 and the driver said to wait until after 9am when the M25 traffic would of abated. By the time I had refuelled the car it was time to set off, luckily I had downloaded a Tomtom app to my phone, which therefore warned me there was an hours delay on the M25 and redirected us down back roads for some miles. We stopped at the first service area and had a McDonalds breakfast before setting off again. There were further delays so in the end it took six hours to get home
I dropped Jane off home, she was now feeling a little better and came home, first task was to empty the case and start on washing, I was tired out but could not sleep, it has taken a few days to get back to some sort of normality, a mixed blessing is that the temperature here is very high in the 20s, so typically British now complaining is to hot and we could do with some rain to cool everything down.
Now I have had time to think about the holiday, there is some advice to help others considering this sort of trip. To start off with
Do lots of research on which cruise line suits your needs, I presumed they were all pretty much the same but found that the Celebrity cruises and I presume others are geared to the American market, so for me they were to loud, the food for most of the day was not to my taste, the activities also were not to my taste, nothing wrong with the cruise but was me and my needs. Maybe a smaller ship that caters for the British is better for me.
Make sure how you want to get to the cruise, I chose the wrong airport so it meant lots more travelling before I started. Think about what grade of seat, as these are long flights.
Check if dealing with the cruise line is better than a broker to make easier to create the links and value for money, also compare different packages and dates.
Make sure about the time of the year you are going, we went when it was windy and raining at times, also avoid the hurricane season
Do you want to sail to your destination and fly home or the reverse, or fly both ways
Research where the ship starts its cruise, we chose the wrong port so therefore had to go through immigration twice and wasted at least one day
Look at the various ports, are they places you want to go to, would having some rest on the ship be helpful certain days
Do you want a smaller ship or boat, what sort of price do you want to pay
Well I have not been put off the concept of going on another cruise but think the next will be a totally different one to the Norwegian Fjords maybe next year
22 Mar 2017
I first met Gordon at secondary school, I am not sure what brought us together as friends, yes we were in the same class but not similar apart from the fact that as I saw it we were not the same as lots of others, I was the token kid with no uniform, he had what looked like scarring on his head, I was tall and thin whilst he was short and stocky.
I had had a previous best friend who sadly died in a road traffic accident, but few others in my class or at the school. Maybe it was just one of those things. All these years on its hard to rember those sorts of details.
In the second year at school we had to decide our options for the rest of our time, regarding which of range of classes we wanted to study and which to drop.
Sadly for me there was nobody at home to advise, so I chose ones I was interested in rather than those that may of helped when I left school. Previously after a meeting on a train I had decided I wanted to be a chef, so the unusual choice of subject for me instead of woodwork or metalwork, was domestic science, where I could learn to cook. For reasons I never discovered Gordon went for the same choice and eventually the school actually agreed to this, we were only the second set of boys to of ever done it.
For many lads who were more physically mature than me, the prospect of being in a class with twenty girls would of made them very happy, but for me and at the time I thought Gordon, it was all about the cooking, it was only fairly recently that I discovered that he also was into girls, just did not have that much success at school.
We continued to mix at school but some subjects we went along different paths, also met outside school usually at his home as it was near rather than mine that was some distance away. As time went on we saw less of each other at school ad I became one of the milk and ink monitors and helped either preparing for assembly each morning or other projects such as the school play or concerts with another boy Brian Bacon.
When we left school we continued to meet as friends but I became more interested in motorbikes and acquired another set of friends as well, I think I was seventeen or so when we had some sort of fallout, I cannot remember after all this time what it was but stopped meeting, plus I was now working strange hours at the tenpin bowl, so we lost contact.
Over the years at times I did wonder what had happened to him, but made no effort to find him nor him me as far as I was aware and in time he went out of my mind. It was only many years later when the website Friends Reunited was created with the facility to search for former school friends that my interest in finding him again reopened. I joined it and went on there regularly and found a whole list of people I knew but no Gordon. Eventually I noticed there had been a reunion that I missed so I asked if anyone had seen him. One person wrote back saying yrs he was there and he would passed on a message to say I was trying to get in touch an provide my details. Sadly nothing came of this.
Time passed and occasionally I would wonder what had happened to him and others but I made no effort to search them out. Then out of the blue one day at the charity I worked for Gordons name came up on an e mail at the charity wanting to find out about training on a placement with our counselling team. I passed the request on but also e mailed back, sadly I got no response and neither did he come to work there.
Some months later I answered the phone at work and this voice announced he was Gordon, I told him who I was and suggested we could meet up, his response was that he was to busy do that was the end of that, so I put it down to experience and decided to forget about it all.
Years passed then out of the blue in 2015, the contact person for our support group, informed me that someone wad trying to make contact with me, it turns out it was Gordon, I e mailed him and we arranged to meet in Manchester at The Moon Under The Water a pub restaurant, it was only days before we were to meet it occurred to me that we were both forty years older so maybe we would not recognise each other. So hr said he would be wearing a red anorak type coat and have a copy of a book, the name escapes me for now but that was quite serious, I on the other hand would have mt duck carrier bag.
On the day I was unsure how it would go so decided to time limit the meeting if needed and leave it, I was there early so wandered about the place not really sure who I was looking for. Eventually though I realised this short squat bearded person was he do we found a table ordered drinks and started to catch up regarding the last forty odd years.
I know I am far to open but also a chatterbox, so maybe that was part of why he learnt a lot about me whereas he was much more guarded about what had happened to him over the years. The time quickly passed and we agreed to meet again in the future.
One of the things he said was that he was exploring alternative religions, in particular Buddhism and alternative therapies
towards the end of last year he asked if I was willing to assist him with some training in reflexology as he was looking for people with illness or disability to work with. I was quite happy to give it a try so we did some work in preparation for this and the first session was to be at the start of this year. Unfortunately on the day I had a virus so we cancelled and arranged to meet the following week, on the day he did not arrive which was quite unusual for him so I texted him to find out if he was delayed and later tried e mailing him as he did not have a landline, but got no response. I did wonder if he had had an accident or was himself ill and I would hear from him soon. I tried again about a week to 10 days later, but again no answer.
Finally one day I got a phone call from his tutor Alison to inform me he had died at home in his flat, they were not sure when or why, a neighbour had reported this, so she was ringing round to inform people she was aware of, at that time there was to be a post mortem so no date for the funeral. His brother in law was sorting everything out and hopefully he would be in touch. A few days later whilst having a break at the caravan, I noticed a missed call from Gordon and a voice mail, I checked and it was the brother in law, asking for me to contact him. Due to poor reception I texted him back to say I would ring on return home, which I did, he had little more information but did say he would tell me more when he knew. At the time it felt very odd that he had used Gordons phone but at least we would recognise the number I suppose.
I think it was a couple of weeks later before he got back in touch to inform me of the date location and time of the funeral so I said I would see him there, I also texted Alison to see if we could meet up for a chat. On the day I did worry that few people would be there as he was such a private person, so was pleasantly surprised when the church was quite full, it was a humanist funeral so no hymns or usual process. I spoke briefly to the BIL who informed me it was a brain tumour Gordon had died of, afterwards Alison had not made herself known so I texted her, but got no response, I therefore made my way home, a text arrived from her to say they were all going to the pub, but I said was so late and if she made contact maybe we could meet up somewhere, I still have not heard from her.
I still do not know why he made contact after all these years or what he did with his life, it also seems sad that he died alone and was presumably there for days before being found, but there will never be any answers to this for me. The brother in law did not seem to want to chat and in reality what did we have to talk about, his sisters are still alive but I never knew them that well all that time ago.
It has all made me think about my life and things I want to do whilst I can, but also what can sound rather morbid to arrange what I would like to happen as and when I die to me and the process.
Its a shame really as I have already said there were so many questions I would of loved to know the answer to from him, but now its to late.
2 Jan 2017
Well a good start sadly is my health, its been a roller coaster of ups and downs with a lot of money spent on physio, after the diagnosis of asthma I felt at least being treated would improve my health, but then to find out months later after taking my inhalers, that in actual fact I did not have the condition, but had serious issues with my heart and arteries, which luckily were eventually diagnosed and now treated. I am trying to do the things that will maintain my health but find it hard to dedicate the time and effort to exercise and maintain a proper diet, My back has really been an issue over the last 12 months and has required a lot of manipulation by physios to improve it to a tolerable state. I also saw a pain relief specialist but he said due to blood thinning medication for my heart, that he could not do anything other than provide medication, I prefer not to be doped up so put up with things as they are for now. More annoying is an area on my ankles that are painful and so far not responding to treatment, plus my legs these days seem to be very dry all the time if I dont use a moisturising cream.
The biggest effect on life this year has been problems with my hearing despite hearing aids. I changed from one hospital to another as I felt my local one was not listening to what I was saying, there seems to of been some improvement, plus now I am learning of other ways to make sure I can communicate. Recently I have taken up lip reading but not sure how effective that will be, I have finally acquired a phone that helps me to hear people more clearly, but when possible I use e mail to communicate a lot of the time, Sadly I have cut back on joining in groups due to problems being able to hear, in more than one to one situations
This year has been very exciting in terms of finding my family, and that there is a whole set of other relatives out there, plus I have found out a little more about my mother and grandfather on my fathers side. This started with a short message from someone who was creating their family tree on my mothers side, he had seen something at a cemetery about my grandfather, that I had never been aware of, then I found some more information about him, I really must go to the cemetery soon to check it out. He led to more relatives who now live in USA and I have managed to speak to, plus a relative of my mothers who I met over the Christmas period and I am hoping to catch up with again in the new year, who knows how many more there are out there
It has been great to have the caravan and to spend time there in pleasant surroundings as and when I want to, this is even better as at present I am struggling with going abroad due to my health and all the barriers these days with my mobility and security etc at airports. Plus have met some pleasant people on the site, maybe this year as health improves I will be getting there more often and explore further. For many years I had intended returning to a resort in Austria I first went as a child to back in the 1960s and last 10 years ago. I had hoped to go there in 2017, but sadly now find the festival of choirs that I was looking forward to no longer takes place so at present my feeling is that maybe dont return and stick with the happy memories from the past
This year is a special birthday and I hoped like the last one it would be easy to arrange, unfortunately the venue I had used previously has been demolished as has the local civic hall and I am struggling to find a suitable venue at present as I would like to invite friends with mobility issues so need ground floor access also am thinking of making it a theme on the forties so need somewhere that lends to this. I had hoped to sort out a date before Christmas but this has not happened, friends have suggested that I have a smaller simpler event but I am not really interested in that, at least at this time
Last year one of my grandchildren had a little boy who is so much fun I feel very proud and my other grand daughter has announced her wedding plans for two years time, so now have something else to look forward to
So life is still throwing up all sorts of surprises, last year one of my schoolboy friends made contact and we are now meeting on a regular basis, I wonder what else this year will bring
Thanks for reading this and I hope you enjoy it
12 Sep 2016
Hello folks, a few people well at least one or two have asked about my recent health issues and what I have had done and why, to create my recent hospital admission
Well over the years I have slowly added to the number of things wrong with me as they have been diagnosed by various medical professionals, sadly I was recently reminded this is a sign of a well used body over the years. Then last year I seemed to become more breathless for no apparent reason, initially I thought it it was just a chest infection or my ME playing up, but it got worse as the weather got colder, that much so that when I tried to cross a road I was getting more breathless and had pain across my chest.
I went to see a GP and was referred to see a cardiac consultant at Fairfield hospital, certain tests were carried out then I eventually saw him, after a series of questions he informed me that in his opinion I now had asthma and was prescribed inhalers and discharged. Initially they seemed to help but slowly everything seemed to get worse and I was more tired as well. Thr gp tried a range of medication to help relieve the symptoms, but with no improvement.
The gp next referred me back to the cardiologist, after some delay I got a letter for me to arrange an appointment through the internet website, it seemed there were none available for the foreseeable future, so I went for one at Salford which was the first that fitted my other appointments. I looked a number of times for other ones locally but still there were none.
One the day of my appointment, firstly they did a comprehensive test, then I saw the consultant, her first question was why was I there I explained because of the nhs computer, she explained that because I had sern a cardiac specialist within the last 12 months that I should of been fast tracked back there within 2 weeks, so much for how things should of been. She took my history and did a physical examination, at the end she referred me to another consultant for more comprehensive tests.
The appointment came through quickly so I returned to the hospital for the next test. After various processes the consultant asked me more about the history of these latest symptoms and what made them better and worse,after explaining these to him and the results his opinion was that I did not have asthma but that it was my angina creating the breathlessness and he was referring me for another angiogram and possibly stents as he felt I had a blockage of an artery. I was agreeable to this.
Quite quickly I had the next appointment so off to another hospital, luckily I was second on the list and having had the proceedure before was not that worried. All went well until the consultant explained to me that one of the main arteries as well as two others were blocked and he would attempt to clear them and insert stents if not then he would have to stop and bring me back for a heart bypass, luckily he eventually succeeded, by then I had been in for 2 hours, all had gone well, I then had to stay to be monitored in bed for two hours, then allowed to dress but stay on the ward, in toral it was over 6 hours and Jane had patiently waited for me first outside then on the ward. Eventually the ward sister explained what I now needed to do and also if I had problems. My friend came to drive us home and I was pleased it was all over.
I do worry now about the totally wrong diagnosis by the first consult and what would of happened if I had not been referred to the other hospital, I also odd though it sounds wonder why I seem to be so light hearted about what after all was a very serious condition and presumably has not been totally cured, but I suppose its better than putting life on hold in case. I will nit be able to fly for a month and wonder how long before my travel insurance will cover me for any trips particularly abroad, so coukd be as well I now have the caravan to give me a break from home. I will try this time to watch my diet more carefully and try to exercise to keep heart working and weight down
30 Jul 2016
I dont remember when I first used bum bags as well or instead of coat and trousers pockets to store possessions in but it must of been many years ago. I still continued to keep money in a wallet and keys in in a trousers pocket, I think initially it was useful to use one on holiday for tickets etc in a fairly safe place.
On odd thing is the name bum bags, because many including myself actually have had the pockets pouch at the front, I seem to recall the Americans call them fanny bags, not sure if the name would attract me to them.
As time went on the ones I used became bigger and I stored more in them when travelling, the only downside I heard was that thieves would use a razor blade to cut through the strap in busy places and people would end up with their possessions gone.
About 10 years ago I had become quite dependant on these bags partly because it was easier to carry stuff in one bag than remember which coat etc I had left, keys money and credit cards as well as now a mobile phone, so when I was planning a couple of long trips I started to look for a better design of bag that would also be resistant to the average thief. I came across a company called Pacsafe who specialise in this sort of bag. Theirs have steel cable in the strap and all accessible parts of the bag to stop thieves as well as zipped and net sections inside to avoid pickpockets, even better is all zips and belt can be locked to improve safety. Well of course I had to have one and found I used it more and more even when at home, the only issue was I had put weight on and it was tight to wear and at times uosetting my bladder and bowel, so I got in the habit of wearing it over my shoulder.
This as where the adventure began, because as time went on and my short term memory got worse, so did my ability to remember to pick it up when away from home whether visiting friends family, travelling, both at home or abroad. Well the good news was that however many times I left it on the back of a chair or on the floor, people were very honest and it was either where I had left when I returned or kind people had handed it in for safety to organisations for safe keeping.
One of the best examples I can give was at Orlando some years ago at the end of the holiday we got the car hire company shuttle bus to the airport and I left it there, only to realise when I reached the airport, contacted the company and there it was waiting when I travelled back.
More recently when returning from Ireland with Ryanair I had left it under the seat and again only remembered after disembarking, by then I was outside the airport. I went to the information desk and they phoned to ask if it had been found, one concern was that the flight may of takem off so it could of been a couple of days before it got back to me. Well again fortune and good luck were on my side and half an hour later it turned up at Ryanair desk, which was just as well as my phone money tickets were all in there.
Over the years I eventually decided I needed a replacement for the origional one but found out they had changed the design and that the new one did not meet my needs, luckily I searched and eventually found another model made by the same comoany that was a little larger and slightly different design that worked, but I needed to rethink what to put in and where as now the size of my mobile phone had grown, I carried a range of tablets, a bus pass and a diary and on occassion this tablet computer. Well it all seems to fit, I bought a larger Man Bag but found although it had more space it was not so conveniant to carry and was much larger most of the time. Well I am still using it but no way could I fasten it round my waist now, its getting worn so maybe soon I will start looking for its successor. Possibly if I could trust either the tablet or phone some of the things I carry could be reduced particularly when travelling on holiday.
But what to do about losing it even more these days, is it time to start carrying items in my pockets again but then there is the greater risk of pickpockets or forgetting I have changed clothes and going out without important items, do I need to get an extension strap and start wearing it again, because actually, I realise its easier to get into when worn when trying to find things. Should I have a lightweight strap that attaches to it so even if I put it down I would be aware when I tried to leave without it. Maybe a high tech device could be used that would alert me when I moved more than a certain distance away from it. It is a dilemma after all this time and these days the items in it are quite important and would cause great inconvenience if lost, maybe they have brought out some new device to solve the problems.
But I do wish I could say, big Thank you to all the kind people who have put themselves out to reunite me and the bag over the last few years, thanks for your honesty and kindness and I will try harder in the future to look after my trusty bag, if I find a better solution I will try to remember to come back on here and inform you all.
I had stayed up late last night to watch the first episode of Celebrity Big Brother, unfortunately it was not particularly interesting but at the same time did not help me to get a good nights sleep. As far as I had remembered I could either leave my case outside the door to be collected or take it to the coach before departure. I felt it was easier to do myself, so got up 7ish had a shower, packed then prepared to go for breakfast. Then was told I should of taken my case to coach earlier so then had to return to room before going for breakfast.
As usual breakfast was pleasant, then I returned to room to be disturbed and informed my bum bag yet again had been left behind and handed in( I intend doing a blog on its history and adventures soon ) I finished off in room then joined others waiting to board the coach, promptly on time we set off to Ripon our final stop on the trip, I feel this was to fill in time so we would not arrive to early at the interchange for our feeder coach home.
Ripon seemed a pleasant place with lots of quaint buildings and streets. We decided as it looked like rain that we would visit the cathedral look round, take some photos and maybe if they had a cafe a drink. Unfortunately on artival I was told I needed a licence to take photos, which seemed odd in a church and there had been no such rule in Newcastle, nthere was also a funeral taking place and no cafe so we quickly left. Andy and I discussed the difference in attitude and the effect on ourselves and other visitors being made to feel welcome. We again found a lovrly small cafe for a drink and me to try out yet another piece of very delicious carrot cake and Brian to sample their scones. We then explored the town square and some of the shops before boarding the coach back.
Today our trip was to the famous Wall separating England from Scotland, so first our coach trip where just for a change I fell asleep, although I do put this partly down to the lack of air con on the trip and high humidity. When we got there there was rain in the air but not enough to deter us. First we explored the museum with a range of stones and artifacts discovered here, its amazing how these had survived all this time. Then outside to explore the various parts of the excavated fort.
I was interested in the size and range of buildings that they had built all that time ago, interesting that the soldiers shared with their horses whilst the senior ranks has spacious accommodation all to themselves. The way it had all been constructed showed a knowledge and skill maybe some of our modern builders could learn from. Then a drink and best of all a piece of carrot cake before continuing on our trip.
As we drove along there were still small fragments of the original wall, showing its size and length. I quickly then nodded off again until just before we reached our next destination Carlisle, unfortunately we had not planned what to do there so when dropped off at the market we were at a loss as to where to go first. As we walked I spotted a Subway cafe so in we went for a drink and sandwich,that for £3 was very good value. We wandered round the shops as there seemed little to attract our attention here today, then back to the market before being picked up and our return to the hotel. Sadly I and the others felt we would of been better spending longer at the wall, and less at Carlisle, maybe with better planning and weather it may of been different.
I got up early sorted out case, things to take on the trip including cameras food and waterproof coat before going down to breakfast. Meal was help self buffet with good selection of food, plus the toaster was much swifter than many found elsewhere. Afterwards back to room before an early start. Brian was not very well but still wished to go on the trip.
Over the years I have come across a range of drivers on coaches, this one seemed to say what he needed and no more, although it would of been nice if he haf shared a little knowledge of the area with us, maybe these days they are chosen for their driving skill rather than knowledge or conversation, so on our trip he explained that the tides would affect our ability to drive nearer to the island or not, luckily tide was out so able to go directly to the village, first for a drink then to walk to the castle admiring the view whilst taking photos, unfortunately Brian felt not up to all of this so rested part of the way until we caught up with him later.
The castle was very impressive but as our time was limited we were unable to explore inside, also whilst there cloud had hidden the sun so it looked rather brooding. Along the way we came across a couple of boats in a field, not sure how or why they were not in the water, having said that the tide was out so those on the sand were just stuck. We noticed the poles that acted as indicators for drivers as to how high the water maybe when the tide was in to try to avoid cars being stranded or washed away on the causeway. We then walked back to Brian and then the coach before continuing on to Bamburgh Castle for our next stop.
Again it was a very large castle, access was up a steep slope and given the time we had there not enough to manage to visit inside although others did. Instead Andy and I explored the local vilage whilst Brian rested on a form. Then a trip to a pleasant cafe where I noticed dandelion an burdock on the menu so tried a drink, it took me back to tastes of my youth, then a walk back to the coach and our return to the hotel.
All through the holiday I struggled with sciatic pain down my right leg as well as lower back pain, coping by taking a combination of codeine, co dyamol and paracetamol, unfortunately they did not irradiate the pain more reduce it to some degree, but they also made me quite tired so the time spent on the coach between destinations I found I slept so was poor company for Andy, oddly my brain always seemed to know when we were close to a destination and awakened me sufficiently to prepare myself for when we got off the coach.
On return to the hotel I had a lovely relaxing bath before lie down and recover from the exertion and pain. Then a short time watching tv before getting ready for the evening meal. This again was enjoyable with reasonable sized portions and we enjoyed chatting to the other couple sharing our table as we ate. Afterwards we decided to return to our respective rooms and meet up the following morning. I spent the rest of the evening catching up with my usual tv, before trying out the complimentary hot chocolate in the hope it would help me sleep, sadly this did not happen, not because if anything wrong in the room rather me trying to cope with the pain as I tossed and turned in the night