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Hi all.
I haven’t been around for a while because things have been manic.
We’ve moved house (again). That was fun! The gorgeous daughters, their boyfriends, Man and I with a hired van and a borrowed carpet cleaner managed to shift all our stuff and blitz the old house in a few hours one tiring Saturday two weeks ago.
This is our fifth home in four years, you’d think we’d be used to it but we’re not.
However the new landlord and his family are lovely. And they say they want to let long term. The new house is easily the best we have rented in the last four years and it has four bedrooms and a big conservatory and a lovely mature garden that comes with a gardener … bliss.
Gorgeous daughter number two went on holiday the next day and came back on the Wednesday. Thursday was GD1’s 23rd birthday and Man and I came on holiday to Northumberland on the Friday.
In addition I started a new job (same company) the week before the move. I have accepted the job of Group Deputy Editor which appears to mean I still run the production department but I also have a young team of reporters and a couple of papers to edit and group-wide I am responsible for the community news and the user generated content – the quirky stuff that I love that is about real people not celebrities or politicians :)
The job came with a new car. A diesel. More miles to the gallon means more road trips for me and Man. Yay.
And most exciting of all. I finally got a new camera (lots of yays) Well I say new, it’s a reconditioned, second hand Canon 50d. But it’s mine and I love it.
Now currently, while I am exploring the North East, I have no laptop to upload my photos too and very limited connectivity so the 1,000 plus pics will have to wait.
Suffice to say our tour has so far included churches, castles, countryside, wildlife and a few pubs :)
Watch this space.

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129bThis is the light shining through at the end of the storm.

It’s been one of those weeks.

I still have some churches to blog about but I’m going to do those is a separate post. First I’m going to rant about my week, less because I think it’s interesting and more because I find it cathartic (sorry).

We had an upgrade of our editorial systems this week. It did not go well.

Because of a change in the operations a lot more traffic was being put through the six servers we use for our operations and they crashed, all of them, several times. Without going into too much detail, that meant reporters could not write stories, photographers could not upload pictures, my production team could not produce pages and adverts could not be placed in publications.

This does not make the production of newspapers easy.

And the system went down across the country.

At the peak of the problem on Wednesday afternoon, I was trying to keep up with three group chats on my computer with techies from Glasgow to Moscow explaining in non-layman’s terms that I struggled to understand what was going on. It was at this point Gorgeous Daughter No 1 rang.

She has recently quit her job to follow her dream of becoming a nurse. She is enrolled on an access to nursing course from September and plans to finance herself by working as a care assistant in sheltered accommodation for the elderly. She has done a couple of training sessions and was starting on some shadow shifts.

She called, in floods of tears, worried she may have done the wrong thing. Her shift had been chaotic, half the 24 residents had had the sickness and diarrhea bug currently going around and, on top of that, despite the fact she hadn’t finished her training, she had been coerced into working nightshift Friday night.

Daughters always take priority over work, whatever the crisis is, so we talked for a while until she was happier and then I got back to work.

The huge problems at work meant we nearly lost some publications this week but we got there by the skin of our teeth and the superhuman efforts of the people I work with who really pulled out all the stops.

But it did mean two 16 hour days and they take their toll these days – I was definitely feeling old!

Back to GD1 and she was absolutely terrified about working the nightshift on Friday. I’m not sure I have seen her so upset. She had completed two of the four shadow shifts she was meant to do as part of her training and none of the night shadow shifts; and three of her class-based training sessions had also not been completed because when she got to them, they had been cancelled without anyone telling her.

But she did not want to let down the one other person working that night or the elderly residents who all suffer from dementia. So she went, and I was extremely proud of her.

The shift actually went ok and the woman she was working with was extremely nice, she said.

But – and this is a big but – the only other member of staff had never worked a nightshift before either! This unit, housing 24 vulnerable people with dementia, left two inexperienced staff, one of whom was only half trained, in control for 10 hours on Friday night.

I am outraged.

And this isn’t a dodgy, flea-bitten care home. This is an enormously expensive care home where relatives pay an absolute fortune to ensure their loved ones get the best care possible.

I am disgusted with them.

They put their clients and my daughter and the other young woman working Friday night at huge risk. Thankfully nothing untoward happened, but it could have done.

I think my daughter has now decided this is not the type of organisation she wants to work for, and I wholeheartedly agree.

Now they say things come in threes and the third thing was my camera. Repair quote = £360!!! I nearly fell off my chair. So I think I have decided that rather than pay it, I shall replace it with something reconditioned that will have a full guarantee.

So that was my week. Tiredness and stress kicked in towards the end of the week but, after GD 1 returned unscathed from nightshift yesterday morning, a Saturday evening filled with the Eurovision Song Contest (which I love for its general awfulness) and a decent night’s sleep, the sun is shining through again.

Rant over :) I feel better now.

 

 

127bIt’s cold again this morning and I really want it to brighten up.

No early morning walk along the canal for me today.

Woke up yesterday to beautiful sunshine and tiny little flutterings of snow. Half an hour later there was heavy grey sky and a blizzard, and it alternated like that all morning.

I drove home after lunch in the end, just in case the weather started getting worse.

I’m home now for two and a half weeks. Next time I get to see Man will be two weeks on Thursday.

But then I have ten days off work and we are already planning some road trips.

056bIn the meantime, when I am not working, I shall busy myself out on the common or at Fleet Pond or something like that.

Now, if it would just get a little warmer I’d be happier.

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021bI drove up to Man’s house in Nottingham on Friday. That evening the weather report said it was going to be mild on Saturday but it would chuck it down with rain all day. On Sunday it would be bitterly cold and raining … and probably snowing, with a wind chill factor that would take your breath away.

So we opted on the lesser of two evils and decided to go out with the cameras yesterday and be wet and vaguely warm rather than wet and freezing.

042bWe started off at Rushcliffe Country Park where I found this little grebe (my first). I also found some very oversized ducks, mallards, and they were at least twice the size of the usual ones.

I like Rushcliffe, but it seems a bit more manicured than Attenborough. It’s the perfect country park to take kids because there is a BMX track and half pipe, a huge play area, trails and sculptures to climb on and even a kite field, for the flying of kites and not the watching of birds called kites.

It is an ‘introduce your family to nature’ type of place.

031bWe had a good stroll. We both tried out different walking apps on our phones to see how they compared. Mine said we had walked 2.24 miles, Man’s said we had done 2.52 miles … don’t know which one was correct but either way that didn’t feel like enough so we headed for Attenborough Nature Reserve.

080bAttenborough seems wilder and more natural, there are footpaths all through it but it isn’t as sculptured, it’s purpose is predominantly for the wildlife rather than for the visitors. I prefer it.

It was a grey, grey day and like walking in a cloud … not raining exactly but very damp.

Some signs of spring though, like the snowdrops.

098bWe stopped by one of the hides because I love the small hedgerow birds.

108bAnd discovered all manner of guests had been invited to the banquet below the bird feeder – the pheasant, pigeons, ducks and rats quite happily munching alongside each other.

075bThis little chap was in hedge nearby. Even with the aid of the marvelous Collins bird guide, I have no idea what he is … anyone got any ideas?

And a little further on there was this guy on a pole.

110bI don’t what this is either and would love to know. Kestrel perhaps?

131bFollowing the river, we found some great crested grebes doing some sort of mating dance on the water. They were lovely. And there was a cormorant on another lake as well.

In the summer there are loads of dragonflies and damselflies around this area too.

We crossed the fields and the path takes you back alongside the railway track.

144bThis just amused me. There was one by the side of the pedestrian crossing (which is to be expected) but this was in a swamp. I’ve added it to my ‘out of place’ file lol.

It did start raining more heavily after this so the camera’s had to go away. But we were nearly back to the car by this point anyway.

This time my app said we had walked 2.78 mile and Man’s said 3.12 miles. So somewhere in between those was how far we walked yesterday. Around five miles ish I suppose.

Today is Mother’s Day in the UK and as I am at Man’s house, my two gorgeous daughters sent my pressie here. They’ve bought me a glamping trip (glamorous camping for those who don’t know) for two. There is a choice of ten sites and we can stay in a wigwam or a yurt in Cornwall, Devon, the Lake District, Hampshire or the east coast. I am absolutely chuffed to pieces. What an amazing Mother’s Day pressie. I have the best daughters :)

It is colder today and it is snowing (a tiny bit) so Man and I are leaving the cameras behind and are going to take up the challenge of photographing our neighbourhood with the iphones. So we are going for a wander around Nottingham.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

20130213-204307.jpgDo you like my flowers? Cheerful aren’t they? I love the bright colours, they remind me that spring is on the way.

They are from my lovely colleagues from work and I think they’re gorgeous :)

The last time I wrote on here was the day I headed home from Man’s house near the end of January.

Before I left his house I had a weird thing happen to me.

We were sitting watching the television and all of a sudden I got really bad double vision and the left side of my head had pins and needles, even the left side of my tongue, it was like there was a line drawn down the middle.

Then the pins and needles switched to the other side. It last about 15 minutes during which time I panicked and Man had me do sensible things like stick my tongue out and raise my arms in the air (can be indicators of someone having a stroke).

Anyway, half hour later I felt fine and decided to drive home, despite Man’s protestations that I should go to hospital. So drive home I did.

The following day I went to the dentist and then to work and worked all day (about 12 hours). Just as I was about to leave I got pins and needles in the left side of my head and down my left arm. They lasted about 15 minutes again.

Having promised Man I would seek medical advice if it happened again, I popped in to the reception at A&E on my way home and asked the receptionist whether or not she thought I ought to see someone.

I spent the next three hours having blood tests and ecgs and being monitored, speaking to the doctor and then being discharged with a referral for a CT scan.

Apparently I hadn’t had a stroke but it was highly likely I had had two TIAs or mini strokes.

I was also told I couldn’t drive for four weeks from that date.

I also had raging toothache from the dental appointment that morning. I was hoping it was just the anesthetic wearing off … turned out it wasn’t. You know that ‘never rains but it pours’ sort of day.

Unable to get to work and not sure what was going on, I worked from home for the rest of that week. By Thursday I could stand the pain of my tooth no longer and had to return to have the first part of root canal treatment done. By Saturday I was back there getting a prescription for antibiotics because I then had an infection in it as well.

On the Monday, I spent the day at the Stroke Clinic.

Such fun. I had a CT scan and an MRI scan and an ultrasound of the jugular, blood tests, another ecg and then a long chat with a consultant who spoke in sentences I didn’t understand. (But at least the antiobiotics were kicking in for the infection in my tooth!).

The upshot was that I should have been admitted to hospital the week before and I was at serious risk of having a full blown stroke. I ticked most of the risk factor boxes – overweight, bad diet, until ten days previously I had been a smoker, family history (grandmother), stressful job, two TIAs in a 48 hour period and a cholesterol level that was more than double what it should be.

And this was on top of my two hernias and gastritis. Not exactly a picture of glowing health.

I took the week off work, I felt dreadful. But, to be honest, I felt/feel dreadful mentally more than physically. Although I fell asleep (a lot).

The consultant, who I didn’t understand, scared me. Was he telling me I was seriously ill? I think he was trying to but I didn’t know what things like statins and lipitors were – his customer relation skills sucked.

I did understand that he was telling me I had to rest, I had to take regular but gentle exercise, I had to eat a low cholesterol diet, I had to cancel the operation for the hernia that I had scheduled for the following weekend and I wasn’t allowed to drive.

I also understood I had to have more blood tests, see my GP, have a 24 hour ecg and go back and see him in a month.

So I walked down to the GP (it’s a two hour process to walk down there, see the GP and walk back) and spoke to her and then I walked back the following day to have more blood taken.

Man came down for the weekend and we walked a lot on the common. Gorgeous daughters one and two have been taking me to the shops and my parents have run me to dental appointments and hospital appointments.

I have been working from home around the medical appointments and trying to make sure I get lots of sleep. But the two lots of tablets the stroke guy gave me (the blood thinners and stuff to lower my cholesterol) set my gastritis off, even though he also doubled the dosage of the medication for that.

I have been trying to get out for a walk every day but sometimes the weather in February isn’t very conducive to that and I have been trying to eat a very healthy, low fat, low cholesterol diet.

And I have been trying to get my head around what I need to do to make some serious lifestyle changes.

Everyone has been extremely kind and helpful and I have been a bit snappy. I’m not very good at talking about things. So people ask me how I am and I say fine, and I say it in a manner which indicates no further questions are welcome. I don’t mean to, well actually I do. I suppose it is a defence mechanism. I just find it very difficult to express myself without being overly emotional and I don’t want to cry all the time :). So I don’t want to discuss it with people. Even though I know they are being kind and they are concerned. It’s almost as if I am embarrassed about it.

But if I bottle things up I explode and so the answer, for me at least, is to write them down. Then I can organise my thoughts into some sort of order. Then, and only then, can I talk about things without running the risk of being hugely emotional.

So, I need to make a lot of changes in my life. My daughters only have one parent and that is me and so I need to look after myself better and that means having a good, hard look at my life and making changes where they are needed.

I had already decided that changes were needed and sort of half-heartedly started making them but I have had my wake up call now so it’s time to get serious. Gorgeous daughter number one would say I am being my usual over-dramatic self and she’s probably right lol.

I called this post Reasons to be cheerful, 1, 2, 3 and yet, it’s been mostly miserable and self-pitying  so far :)

But I do have some very good reasons to be cheerful.

Firstly, some people aren’t lucky enough to be given the warning signs that I have and to be, therefore, given the opportunity to do something about their medical issue before it either kills or seriously disables them. I have been given that opportunity.

Secondly, I haven’t had a cigarette now for 32 days 23 hours and 44 minutes and, according to the NHS smokefree app on my iPhone, this has saved me £252.78 to date.

Thirdly, I have some very beautiful flowers on my windowsill from some lovely colleagues.

Three reasons to be cheerful :)

 

 

 

 

 

009bIt snowed overnight on Sunday/Monday in Nottingham. Not as much as there was in the north of the county but certainly enough to put another covering on the roads and pavements.

I would have stayed and worked from home for a couple of days if it hadn’t had been for the dental appointment I have booked for this morning and the raging toothache I have put up with for two weeks.

As it turned out though, England seems to have been a lot more prepared for the snow this year than for the last few years.

The roads – certainly everything other than the estate and minor roads – were almost completely clear. Gritting lorries and snow ploughs have been out in force and, from what I have experienced in Hampshire, Surrey, Nottinghamshire and the bits en route, the world has kept moving.

So I opted for driving home during daylight, left Man’s just before 1pm and arrived home at 3pm. Pretty damn good, the traffic was really, really light :)

Actually, I didn’t arrive home … I decided to arrive at a church in the next village because the light suddenly brightened from the constant one-tone grey that we have had for the last few days so I thought I would take advantage of it.

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This is St Mary’s Church at Eversley, I think it looks lovely in the snow. I like the simplicity of the War Memorial and the cross.

This church is not one of the ones on my Churches Conservation Trust list. It is still in constant use. But it does have a literary history. It was here that the author Charles Kingsley preached for many years and where he wrote The Water Babies (which I have never read – maybe I ought to add it to my list).

If you wander behind the church and down a tiny footpath, you cross a little stream and very quickly reach open fields.

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Finally the cloud cover breaks after days and days of grey I’d quite like to live in that nice house on the bottom right hand side of the picture. I bet I’d get lots of birds in the garden then.

027bIt looked quite dramatic and eerie.

Got home to find Pud and John had made good use of the grit bin at the end of the road and gritted the steep concrete steps to our house and up the garden to the gate at the back. Good job people. The rest of the house looked like a pigsty … but I suppose I can’t have everything :)

 

 

photo (8)Sadly there are a few mindless idiots in this world.

Just before Christmas this boat was moored in town, maybe half a mile from work when some yobs cut the rope … just for fun, you know how it is.

The untethered boat floated merrily down the river until it got wedged in the weir next to our office.

This week the rescue mission began. It took the crew two hours on Thursday just to get the prow unstuck from the weir. All the heavy rain we have been having recently meant the water flow was fierce and the boat was wedged in tight.

Yesterday they tried to refloat her but sadly she was so full of holes it wasn’t possible.

They pumped out the water and used a hyabb to lift her up and then towed her around to the front of the Mill that I work in and loaded her on to the back of a lorry in our car park.

photo (10)The owner is very upset and I’m not surprised really. A couple of mindlessidiots have ruined his hobby. It’s such a shame.

I wonder what they got out of it? The likelihood is they were probably drunk and can’t even remember cutting the boat loose.

Anyway that was the excitement for yesterday.

And I want to show you this.

photo (11)This is my campervan fund. How funky is that?

Gorgeous daughter number one gave it to me as part of my Christmas present. It’s so I can save up the money for the VW Campervan I want to travel round the coast of the UK in.

I’m putting every £2 coin I get in there.

I shall have a campervan in no time :)