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Thursday, August 31, 2017

THE WEEK DIANA DIED

Little did I know that the day of my brother’s wedding would be the beginning of a particularly traumatic week, not only for our family, but for the U.K. and the rest of the world, too.

The Man and I and our two sons were visiting my family in Connecticut and had been there for about six weeks. The wedding was the final weekend of our visit. On Monday we were due to fly back to Manchester just in time for the boys to start the school year.

The wedding was on a beautiful Saturday in Killington, Vermont where my brother and his bride had a ski lodge. I could write a post about one of the strangest, most comical events in our family’s history, but this is not the right moment to recount that bizarre tale.

After the ceremony, we retired to the hotel to change and get ready for the evening festivities. Just before we left we heard on the news that the Princess of Wales had been in a minor traffic accident, but that she was not seriously injured. We went to the celebrations and had a very enjoyable time. Pictures show lots of dancing and delicious food. One picture my boys and their father are arm in arm smoking cigars—Robert was 14 and Andrew almost 16! In addition, the picture shows that Robert is suffering from Bell’s Palsy – the aftermath of a recent and very unpleasant bout with the flu. Shortly after the picture was taken – it was around 11.00 pm a couple of wedding guests were passing us and asked if we had heard the news that Princess Diana had died…

Sunday morning many members of the family met for brunch in Woodstock, Vermont. Another beautiful day. Of course there was a lot of talk about the Princess, but it was strange because due to the hour of the news none of the papers had any information and because we were catching up with various family members and rehashing the wedding of the day before it was all a bit bizarre. After brunch, we had to leave to get back to Connecticut because the following day we would be leaving for that plane.

The next day, back in Connecticut, The Man was packing up the car when he was seen by my parents’ neighbour and very good friend Sabine. She immediately came to wish us bon voyage. Strange, but I especially remember that she was looking amazing in a blue dress and sun hat to match! We were all chatting away when she saw Robert – and his Bell’s Palsy!  And she exclaimed, “He has Lyme Disease!”

Lyme Disease is very common in that part of Connecticut. I do believe that every single person I know there has had it at one time or another. We had asked the doctor in the family about the Bell’s Palsy and he had said that it would wear off within a few weeks, but he was not familiar with Lyme Disease because he was from a different part of the country. In as much as we were about to get in the car and fly away to England the chances were most unlikely that any doctor in our surgery would have known Robert’s palsy was due to that devastating tic.

Upon our return to the UK we were immediately in touch with our doctor. Fortunately for us, our doctor our doctor admitted he didn’t know anything about Lyme Disease and though he thought it unlikely that Robert had that, he was going to call the hospital in Liverpool for further advise. The hospital called the head of tropical diseases – who was away on vacation! He said to get Robert in immediately for tests as Bell’s Palsy would be a neurological reaction to the tic bite. 

The test results could not confirm Lyme Disease, but did show that there was an element in the results that could not be explained and led to the decision that he probably did have it and that immediate and massive doses of antibiotics were required – over a period of several days.
                                                                                                                                                                                             
These several days lasted throughout the period and just after the funeral service of the People’s Princess. Initially, we went to the doctor’s surgery for his doses of medication and after a day or two they arranged for two nurses to come to the house each day to give him his intravenous solution of antibiotic. The Palsy began to disappear from the first dose of the drug. But even now, twenty years later, Robert feels an occasional twinge from that time.

So, a very strange period in the life of our family was matched by a very strange time in the life of the nation. It was kind of like when for some reason or another you stop breathing.


Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Waiting for the BOOM

It is 27 degrees centigrade which is just slightly over 80 F and I am sitting in the garden of our French house in order to capture the Internet signal from my mobile Internet unit. There is a violent thunderstorm  with 80 mph winds predicted for 20 minutes from now! At the moment there is not a breeze in the air, but in the distance I can see dark clouds are probably approaching. In the distance it is possible I may have just heard the ever so slight sound of thunder rumbling... Oops I had better get that sun-lounger cushion into the garage.

We have been here since June 11th and are now just about straight. The grass has been cut and the flowers planted into hanging baskets, all hung and growing prettily. The Man did all of that. It's a perfect place for Man-type puttering and I confess to leaving him to it! I prefer to be left to my books and to keeping myself connected to the Internet, if somewhat sporadically.  And I also am in charge of the food and cooking it, unless there is a barbecue and then The Man does his 'thing'. It takes him a while, but eventually he learns to get the chicken cooked through without burning it to inedibleness... I am looking forward to that eventuality!

That was a definite sound of thunder in the not so faraway distance. Better get a move on... Over and out for now!!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Biting the Bullet...

A few days ago, I took my life in my hands and changed my mobile phone service provider!

It' been on my mind for some time -- well ever since my contract ended at the end of January, that I would do this. But I rather made a mess of it. I didn't think it through properly and now I am paying the consequences by not having a cell phone at all and at the same time paying for two contracts.

My dissatisfaction with my provider, EE, T-Mobile, began a few years ago when I discovered the exorbitant roaming charges I had to pay when I was in France. Initially, there were at least choices to make over special deals for monthly periods -- though very limited data allowances. Then the monthly deals were no longer available and one had to pay even more for data for periods as short as one week! All this while it was known that within a two year period of time these 'roaming charges' would be curtailed. As of this year all providers will provide the same service as in the UK. However, two years ago I discovered that '3' was offering no charges in most EU countries, as well as Australia and the USA! I bought a special 'mobile' service which gave me 10 gigabytes of data a month in France, which me kept me online throughout the summer for the first time since dial-up connections were no longer a choice!

Now, as of this year, all UK servers offer the same service as in the UK while travelling in the EU. Which means that, if I had remembered this, I didn't need to change my provider at all. However, I was through with my contract and not very happy with what I consider to be the 'money grabbing ways' of EE.

Last Wednesday, having sorted out spectacles with Specsavers, I decided it would be a good time to sort out my service provider -- having just enough time to do so before leaving for France on June 11th. Stupidly, however, I failed to go first to EE to tell them I was changing. I went straight to Three and decided to get a Sim card only plan starting immediately. Nevermind that I would need to obtain a 'pac' code from EE, which took two days. I also didn't realize that EE demanded 30 days notice before ending a contract with them. Oops.

I also completely and stupidly forgot that my phone is not unlocked!! Oops! Oops! I received the 'pac code' very quickly the same day and just as quickly and stupidly phoned through through to Three with the number. Which meant that two days later my phone was no longer working and I was stuck because EE can take as long as 10 days to provide it. Ooops! Ooops! Ooops!

Sometimes, 'biting the bullet' means you get shot...


Monday, May 22, 2017

Not All Is Political!

Spring is melding into summer. It's warm outside and May is not even over in the Northwest of England! Unusual in my experience, having lived in this part of the world only since the early 80's. It's now time to get ready for the yearly travel to France -- and this year we are once again able to leave in June to be there in time for my birthday in the middle of the month. We had planned to leave earlier but have been  delayed by the need of The Man to cast his vote and watch the results unfold.

Whatever the result, he will probably not be happy with it, being a Liberal Democrat and all...

Being a political junkie myself, I never thought I would have had enough of politics and all the hoopla that goes on around them. However, I have had enough for a while. Although, I must say that the limited time we in Britain must endure ads on television -- the parties take turns having 5 minute time slots per night on each channel is heavenly common sense compared to the pure hell of the American  daily ordeal. And we have never received a party political phone call here either. The only complaint I've read about is someone who is unhappy from hearing a political pamphlet shoved through the mailbox after midnight! Tame stuff to anyone who has had to endure the madness of America during a presidential campaign!

I haven't posted anything since the 28th of March! I felt that I didn't have anything worth writing about. Couldn't seem to process events other than what's been in the headlines when of course there is really everything else that is more important and more interesting even if I haven't been able to see it, think of it. For example:

My youngest son and his partner, who live with us now, will be having their first child at the end of October! As The Man and I have 7 grandsons, we are rather hoping for a girl! But healthy boy or girl, when all is said and done, it really doesn't matter! The happy couple is also renovating a house of their own,  not very far away, so  I think they are  hoping to be moved in by the time the baby comes.

All of this activity has brought back may memories of establishing our own family nest -- and that was very complicated. The Man and I now can look forward but also back, but we look back at experience rather than as longing.

Imminent looking forward are books for the summer reading and polishing up on my blogging imagination and packing up. This year I'm flying to Limoges and The Man is driving down. He will pick ,me up as he passes by. Hopefully, his timing and Ryanair coincide!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Doom and Gloom

The Man has pronounced many times that the Internet is going to self-destruct and it will be the end of civilization as we know it! The rest of the family, including me, poo-poo him and insist that this will never happen. Though I will admit to  wondering what would happen if, indeed, it did implode....

My first thoughts were about Internet banking, which I find very convenient and which I have convinced myself is perfectly safe. So nice to be able to 'ping' funds abroad and not have to trudge the few blocks down to the bank to make arrangements and then pay a fee. But, oops, if the Internet blew would my money (such as it is) be safe? Would the information I have 'on the cloud' still be there? Would data survive??? Would all our blogging efforts just disappear in a nano second?

Would governments and businesses be able to cope if Internet services were somehow destroyed.

On a positive note -- there would be no more addicts punching madly on their phones and tablets. They might learn how to converse again. They might even talk to us old guys.

I am going to suggest to The Man that he concentrate more on finding us a suitable replacement for the 25-year-old Volvo Estate. He's doing searches on the Internet so he'd better hurry before his doomsday scenario  makes it impossible.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Old Fashion-able

It's been a while since my last post because all I could think to write about were certain political creatures occupying the White House, their shenanigans and my antipathy toward them. So in order to limit myself to only occasional diatribes in that direction, I have stayed silent.Well done, me...

Then yesterday I managed to come up with a totally different topic and here I am again! Hurray!

It's about fashion. Now just because I am an old broad and self-opinionated as well, doesn't mean I don't have valid observations about today's trends. I shall elaborate with a few examples...

This season there is a madness for ridiculous sleeves. Most of them are fitted elbow to shoulder and gathered in skirt-like fashion to the wrist, if not slightly below. The bigger the sleeve, the more expensive the outfit. I lost count of the number of sweaters/jumpers/cardigans, blouses or frocks that I rather liked the look of until I caught sight of the 'thing' hanging from the elbow and ready to dive into the soup, or graze the bolognese, capture some bearnaise and otherwise participate in culinary delights.

Apparently, a 'must have' article of clothing this season is the lopsided skirt! "Why?", I ask -- stupidly, no doubt. Obviously, it is a must of being fashionable, that one can wear anything and not feel ridiculous or distracted or uncomfortable. I cannot imagine feeling anything but disconcerted by feeling the hem stroking my leg on one side of my body and the thigh on the other. So much for me and confidence. It is obvious that this sort of skirt is not meant to be worn if one is sitting down.

Hey, is it possible that spike heels are going the way of the waste bin, out of harms way,  where they belong? I have seen this season, shoes with square heels that are very smart and probably comfortable! Clarks has a pair in powder blue with a strap and little blue flowers decorating the heel. I love them -- perfect for this dowdy old American bag wearing jeans and having a fair share  of attitude.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Flummoxed again!

So then... The day following my last post I turned the radio on only to discover the bluetooth reception was terrible. I thought it was the terrible weather  we had been having, but nothe , it is still terrible.

I went back to the Internet and looked up my system and found the instructions that had been missing in the box. Now why didn't I do that in the first place? I discovered  first of all that I had not pulled the antenna out far enough so that I could swivel it around for good DAB reception!

So now even though the bluetooth is now a flop, I am back to my original plan to have a digital radio in  working order...

Oh, hell, I guess I will just have to put up with being just another pretty face...

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Still not Just a Pretty Face

For Christmas my son and his girl gave me a new music system. Nothing particularly fancy, but it has a DAB radio, an FM radio, a CD player and Bluetooth. Bluetooth was not one of my requirements, just a surprising extra. Since I rarely have had need of it, Bluetooth, is a feature I don't often consider, even though my phone and new little computer have it. The only time I have had need of it was when I briefly was besotted with the idea of a selfie stick.

I have had a DAB radio for a few years -- in the kitchen. However, when the kitchen was recently dismantled that radio got moved into my study. I had an old hi-fi system with multiple cd holders, which was not playing CD's very well and the radio had terrible FM reception. Thus my request for a new system.

So a day or two after Christmas I opened up the box and took my new toy out. The DAB radio reception was terrible! I was so disappointed. But at least the CD player was just fine and dandy... FM radio was non-existent -- no reception at all. I have since learned from the Internet that DAB reception can be very problematic indeed.

So, as is  my wont, I complained and explained to my middle son. And he said why don't you connect with bluetooth? He then proceeded to connect his phone's bluetooth, via a special app, to my new hi-fi and 'bingo' perfect reception. A few days later middle son left to return to Italy and I still hadn't figured out how exactly he had done it. And thinking about it it was not exactly convenient to tie up my phone with the hi fi in my study.

However sitting on my desk right next to my  new present, is my little travel computer which also has BT! After some investigation -- looking for the app I would need and how to connect it to the radio, I discovered that aq feature of Windows 10 is the ability to connect easily to BT devices!  All I had to do was put the radio into "BT Mode", turn the BT on on the computer, find the radio station and the computer speakers would automatically find the BT speakers on the hi-fi!

I did have to fiddle-fi-diddle a tiny little bit, but I did it -- by myself! And now here I am listening to my favourite station and feeling quite smug.... Several hours after writing this post, I realized that I had not published it when closing down -- as I had meant to do... Maybe I am just another pretty face ;-)

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Disaster

For the first time in my life, Christmas was an unmitigated disaster. Believe me, it was all going so well until we all were to sit down for Christmas dinner. Noses got out of joint, tempers flared and people walked out as the main course was about to be served!

I am still reeling from the aftermath, although, fortunately, I am not being held to blame by anyone. But oh my there is a lot of forgiving that needs to be done and it is up to others to make amends. An important relationship may be broken beyond repair -- time will tell.

Well, now it's a new year and it promises to be challenging on all fronts! Let the fun begin...

Friday, December 16, 2016

The Water Meter Reader Cometh

So last week the doorbell rang and the man came to read the water meter -- which is downstairs in the cellar garage. So with a little groan I told him I had to go down there and open the door for him to gain access to the meter. The Man wasn't there, you see, to take care of this.

I hate going down there. The first step is deeper than the rest and there is only the wall to balance against. The handrail doesn't appear until the third or fourth step. Anyway, I made it down to the bottom unscathed and went into the garage and unbolted the glass doors for him. He went to follow me to show him where the meter was and as I turned ...

I promptly and completely tripped over the handle of the trailer which was parked in front of the doors. Shock and Pain! And suddenly out of nowhere The Man appeared, shouting at me. "What are you doing down here. You shouldn't come down here," etc. etc. Well, fuck, me!

My right hand was killing me -- really hurting -- as was my right 'boob'. I didn't feel the other aches and pains until later. At anyrate, I also skinned my left knee, which meant I was rather loathe to put it down on the rough floor to push myself up. The two men, who were both looking rather helpless, I deigned to allow to help lift me up off said floor and I was then unceremoniously ordered outside to re-enter the house from the front door.

Now it is never convenient to have this happen. But 10 days or so before  Christmas is really inconvenient -- especially to have a gammy right hand. No, I did not seek medical attention -- I was pretty sure nothing was broken and the following morning the main had marginally decreased. The first night was difficult because my hand really ached. Two days later my right breast was totally purple. Now it's almost totally clear. There are still a few aches and pains -- knee mostly -- but the Christmas show is back on the road.

I am now under orders not to descend into the cellar. And The Man just delivered the Christmas tree stand into the utility room -- with orders that I am not to trip over it!