Wednesday, April 28, 2010

I am so miserable. My sinuses are blocked. I can't sleep at night as that's when the problem is at its worst. It all started in Connecticut a few days after arriving and got progressively worse -- culminating on the flight back when not only could I not breathe but there was a constant drip, drip, drip from the nasal passages. Nice. I've been back almost a week and nothing has improved ... moan, moan, moan.

Considering the fact that I could not breathe, I really had a great two weeks visiting my mother. My sister came from the mid-west half-way through the two weeks of my visit. We paid a visit to my sister and brother-in-law in Vermont (I love Vermont, it's the best of all states) and even though it was only over-night it was quality time. Upon returning to my mother's we had a wonderful visit from my niece and her gorgeous adorable children.

All this happened during the volcano eruption in Iceland that grounded all the planes in northern Europe for a week. I was pretty convinced that I would not be able to fly and would be delayed returning to England. But at least I would have a place to stay and not be marooned as so many others were in an airport lounge for days and days. However, luck was with me and the ban was lifted the day before my flight was scheduled and I was among the first planes to fly.

So now I'm back and pretty miserable most of the time. It seems to be worse at night. Now and then inexplicably my passages clear and I breathe normally -- but it's always short-lived. While in the States I went to a doctor at the urging of my friend Karin and he prescribed a 3-day course of antibiotics and a 15 day supply of decongestant. The antibiotic got rid of the infection, but the congestion has not abated. Today I went to a doctor on this side of the pond and was given a prescription for a nasal steroid spray. It helpfully explains in the leaflet that it will take several days to be effective! In addition I am to take an anti-hystamine. The problem is I'm allergic to Spring -- but not every Spring. I think it depends on how many bushes and trees are in bloom at once. I don't know ... I'm miserable. It's 4.3 0 am and I've not been able to sleep.

The election has been a bit of a diversion from my misery. The 3rd debate is tomorrow night. The Liberal-Democrat leader, Nick Clegg has put a spanner in the works by capturing the public imagination during the first televised debate in British history. I've always liked the Lib-Dems, but the electorate has not really taken them seriously since 1910, when they were the Liberals. In fact the whole history of the party is quite interesting to me. The Liberals merged with a break-away Labour groupthe Social Democrats in the 1980's shortly after I came to England. The Two Davids (Steele and Owen). It's a interesting political story from a political science point of view.

Any way the cat is now among the pigeons and I may not be able to breathe, but at least it's a diversion. Until May 6 anyway!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Volcanoes and stuff

It is looking increasingly that I will become another victim of the Icelandic volcano. I hope to know tomorrow if my flight on Wednesday will go ahead. Since I am visiting my mother and am retired I don't have to be back at a particular time for a particular reason -- other than my own home with my own husband ... The ramifications of delay for me are not dire... I will eventually get back to the UK.

Nevertheless the implications of the event could be life-changing should the worse case scenario being offered should come to pass. What if this event should last for as long as two years? How would our world look? Could northern Europe become a vast wasteland covered by volcanic ash?

My sister observed that unlike most other major disasters of our lifetime this is one that it totally out of our control and one of interderminable length -- there is, in other words, nothing anybody can do!

Saturday, April 03, 2010

The Hairdryer's behind the Chainsaw: Novara on and on ... and on

When last I wrote about this we had just found a hotel in Novara -- a not particularly pretty non-descript town not far from Milan. It took us a while to find one and we had to drive across the town/city toward the motorway before we spied a reasonable looking structure with the word "Hotel" emblazoned upon it. The building was yellow and curved and had its own parking. I was instructed by the driver to use what little Italian I had remastered to see if there was a room and if the price was right. So I unbound myself from the confines of the front seat and headed out across the parking lot to see if I could find the front door.
Suddenly I heard a man addressing me in French -- imagine my surprise! I was all ready with my 'una camera per due, per favore' rigamarole and didn't need it because the man addressing me turned out to be the proprietor of the hotel and was having a fag break out in the parking lot! Not only that but the price of the room included dinner and breakfast and was under 100 Euros! The Hotel Cupola worked out just fine. The room was comfortable enough and Neil was pleased to climb out the window onto the roof for a cigar and I caught him in the act.

drive was driving past the southern end of Lake Guarda -- but that was so fleeting, it hardly made up for my back ache and grumpiness from inhaling toxic fumes and endless traffic slowdowns for 10 hours. It all proved once again that old men should have to live alone ... Dinner was very good, though I don't remember what I had. The wife was the cook and the food was well prepared and there was plenty of wine to go along with it! Neil was happy; I was happy. The next morning breakfast was a processed croissant and was terrible! Though the tea was fine!
And so we were off on the final leg and I did not enjoy the drive one little bit. This made me a very grumpy wife and him a determined idiot determined to trudge on through the traffic and the pollution for 10 hours instead of 3 hours 45 minutes. To this day he insists he enjoyed seeing the towns and countryside along the way and would do the same again. Not with me. Son Andrew called several times and offered to pay the autostrada charges -- to no avail, of course. The only sort of enjoyable part of the endless journey was the drive across the southern end of Lake Guarda -- but that was so fleeting it didn't make up for the aching back and disgusting taste in my mouth from the endless truck and car fumes that penetrated through the car. I do not remember one town or village that was charming or memorable in any way along this stretch of Italian landscape.
The experience convinced me once again that old men should have to live alone!
What a shame -- we could have spent the afternoon in the sunshine of the Veneto with my Andy and Carla. Enjoyed an early evening splash of prosecco laughing and talking. Do I sound bitter. Don't get me started! By the time we got to San Vendemiano it was just about dark and Carla met us to guide us to their new apartment -- beautiful -- Unfortunately, Andy, was working that evening and got home around 9. We lugged lots of perishable food up to their place to take advantage of a freezer and refrigerator and this led to unfortunate consequences the next day.
In the meantime, Andy got home -- kisses and hugs all around -- we ate some yummy pasta Carla prepared and headed for our hotel, which was just around the corner and a lovely surprise. The hotel e turned out to be the Azienda Vinicola FURLAN and is a winery. San Vendemiano is in the heart of the prosecco wine region of Italy and FURLAN is a family run winery. Things were looking up. The cantina (Italian for winery) was a lovely refurbished building with hotel rooms above.
Next: Poor Carla's car, but still a happy ending; touring with Andy; and the birthday boy has the tables turned by his students!