Saturday 31 December 2011

2012 here we come!

So 2011 is almost over and 2012 is almost upon us. I am not one for new year's resolutions. However now that I am no longer working, this year I intend to get on top of the garden and to finish decorating the cottage. Otherwise I am just going to see how things go. I am hoping to get back into blogging, but before I do I have to entertain the in laws on January 2. The date of this visit has only been changed twice unlike the last time they came in September 2010. They have not been up here, at this time of year, for seven years. That visit in 2004 was a bit of a disaster. The traffic was awful and the journey took far longer than expected. Husband was in touch with them via mobile phone and kept telling me that they would arrive in 20 minutes. I believed him and left the joint, that was for our lunch, in the oven, thinking that another 20 minutes would do no harm. By the time they arrived it had almost disintegrated. So this time I am keeping it simple and we are having a casserole. If I am organised I'll cook it the day before as the recipe book claims that reheating improves the flavour. That will only leave me the vegetables to prepare on the day, as I shall also prepare the desserts the day before. Let's hope that it is as simple as I have made it sound.

We have had a year that we shall not forget. In the last four months both of our widowed mothers have died. They were both 92 and had had a good innings before ill health took its toll. So 2012 will start a new chapter for us and life will be different.  Our mothers' deaths have made us realise that we won't be here forever and now that they are no longer with us we are free to go travelling to all those long haul and exotic destinations that we have had to put on the back burner over the last few years, in case we got off the plane and had to come straight back because one of the mothers was ill. We have not made any definite plans yet, but it will be something to think about and look forward to over the dark days of winter. As one door closes another one opens!

Happy New Year !

Saturday 17 December 2011

Going down

A blue hydrangea is not very festive, I know, but it reflects my mood which is a bit blue at the moment. The last ten days have been bitter sweet. The photograph was taken while we were in Cornwall, in June this year, and reminds me of the house that I grew up in which had a blue hydrangea in a half barrel by the front door.

When my mother was found to have fluid on her lung, back in May, I knew then that if she had as many chest infections during this coming winter, as she had over the course of last winter, that she would not see Spring 2012. Last week she succumbed to her third chest infection of the winter. Sadly she died on Saturday December 10. I wasn't quite prepared for this turn of events and if I am honest I am a bit annoyed about the timing. Maybe I am just being selfish, but I would have liked to have quietly enjoyed my last few days at work without having one of life's inevitable dramas going on in the background. That's life. Anyway my mother has taken her final bow and I have now finished work. I suppose that anti-climax is the word that I am looking for.

Please do not be sad, as my mother's death was a blessing in disguise. Her tormented soul is now at peace and the torture that my brother and I have suffered since she had a mini stroke, in May 2006 ago, is over. In many ways my mother really died five and a half years ago. If 20 or 30 years ago my mother could have seen how she would become, she would have had a blue fit. The staff at the nursing home,where she was a resident, were brilliant with her and I would highly recommend it to anyone in this area who has a relative with dementia. They took a load off my mind and certainly made my life as stress free as it could be in the circumstances.

Husband and I returned to the nursing home on Sunday to collect Mum's belongings. We took with us a large suitcase and a bag, but I had underestimated quite how many clothes and bits and pieces she had, so husband returned home to collect another suitcase. While he was gone I had a chat to one of the young carers who had known my mother since she become a resident in the residential home, in April 2009. I was trying to explain to her how difficult it is to watch a parent go down hill in the way that my mother had done over the last few years. There was a bit of a bond between the two of them as they had the same birthday, albeit 70 years apart. Recently she had asked me what my mother had been like before the dementia took hold. Although I would be the first to comment that the person that my mother became after the mini stroke was not the mother that I had known, I found that I really had to think about my answer, as I had accepted her as she had become.

I do not think that my mother ever worked out that she was in a home but in a way she had the last laugh. She had a dislike of lifts and would always use a stair case if possible. Her room was on the second floor and I had always used to stairs to get up and down to it. As we had two large suitcases husband and I decided to come down in the lift. The home is in an old house. The lift is nearly as ancient. It was very very slow and then we realised that it had stopped and we in between floors! It was hot. We pressed all of the buttons and still the lift did not move. It became very hot. I was beginning to get a bit panicky. Then husband said we'll have to press the alarm button which we did. Luckily the nurse in charge had seen us getting into the lift so he knew who was in it. Next we heard a voice asking 'can you jump?' My first thought was 'were to?' We could not get out of the lift. Then the penny drop and I asked if he meant up and down. 'Yes' the voice said. So a couple of jumps and lift descended. That was an experience that I won't forget.

Saturday 3 December 2011

Countdown 5, 4, 3, 2, 1...

If I had not known differently I would have thought that yesterday was Friday 13th. We had a right day and a half of it at work. By yesterday lunch time my head was spinning and I do not think that I have ever been as glad to come home as I was last night. I know that the closer we get to Christmas the more manic Fridays will become.  Looking back to a year ago I wrote a post saying that I would not be doing this pre-Christmas holiday work stint again. Well that was what I thought at the time. The work situation has not quite gone to plan and it seems that I just cannot say 'no'. Anyway this really is the last time.

I now have four days left to work before I stop practising. I have been trying to stop practising for about two years now and have been putting off the fateful day for one reason or another. Now that the end is in sight I feel a bit sad. However, there is, now, no going back as I have taken myself off the register from 31 December. In any case I need to be realistic, standing up for eight hours a day is a young person's game. When I was younger I used to stand up all day at work then stand up all night in the pub. Nowadays I rarely get to the pub, even when I am not working. I shall miss the staff that I have worked with but I will not miss the patients. I can live without the hysterics, tantrums and theatricals that relatives and patients sometimes subject us to. Life will be quieter and a little less colourful, but that is how I prefer it. Professional ethics prevent me from going into more detail here.

Whether or not I am working it seems that my presence is going to be felt. Last week one of the assistants claimed to see me upstairs in the stockroom when I was actually downstairs in the dispensary. Even if work does not haunt me, I am going to be haunting work!

I am not quite sure what I am going to do with myself when January comes around, but one thing that is certain is that it will be different to what I have been used to. Before I get myself involved in anything whether paid or voluntary I intend to work my way through the list of jobs in the cottage that  have been ignored or left undone over the last 18 months.

If you are wondering what I have been up to since I last posted, I always struggle to find the time for my blog when I am working and husband is at home, which he is at the moment. Recently most of my spare time has been spent in the garden - weather and light permitting. Autumn is the best time to move plants, in the garden, while the soil is relatively warm after the Summer. Over the last few years we have missed this opportunity which has left us with a lot to do this year.

The other big job that we have also done was to take down a dead tree and prune a rather out of hand hawthorn hedge. This left us with a massive pile of prunings (right) to cut up and dispose of. What could not be cut up into logs or kindling for our open fires, was loaded into our garden waste bin and that of our neighbours for several collections.

Monday 24 October 2011

The Swinging Sixties

I am not big on birthdays and I never have been, but I have just had a big birthday. A landmark birthday. The biggest since I was 21. I had planned to spend the day hot footing it down to the town hall to collect my bus pass. However, back in June I had decided to investigate what would be necessary by looking at the local council's website. I suppose that I was only mildly surprised to find that the goal posts had been moved by the previous government, in April 2010, just before the election and conveniently swept under the carpet. I do not now become eligible for a bus pass until I qualify for the state pension which is 19 months away.  Some councils have chosen not to implement this change and have decided to absorb the cost. I know why our local council has implemented it. The chief executive is paid more than the prime minister plus five figure bonuses for poor performance. That is where my bus pass has gone! Discovering that I would not collect my state pension when I expected to was, again, something that I found out by lucky accident when shortly before husband hit 60 I decided to investigate my state pension situation. I do remember murmurings, by the previous government, about changes to the pension age but they kept quiet about the decisions that they made. At the very least they could have written to those affected by the change. The Cameron government are being open and honest about the changes that they are making. So hopefully there should be no more nasty surprises.

I am not really in any hurry for my bus pass and state pension. I do not feel old and I do not think that I look old. Although the last time that I visited my mother in the nursing home one of the residents asked me if I was the new lady, meaning a new resident. 'No' I quickly replied 'I'm a visitor'. I thought 'do I look like I belong here?' Most of the residents look as if the got dressed in the dark, in crumpled unco-ordinating clothes. I was wearing a white blouse, blue striped cardigan and denims. (Note to self - wear a mini skirt for next visit to the nursing home).Sadly there is a lady in the nursing home who does not look much older than me.

Some perks have been left unchanged. Eye tests and prescriptions are now free. However, I am hoping not to be ill. Then there is the B&Q Diamond card that offers discount on Wednesdays and Boots health club which offers discount on their own products and I'll get myself a Senior Railcard if I am allowed. There are probably some other schemes that I am not currently aware of. I am not looking for something for nothing, but it is sheer stupidity not to claim your entitlement. I have worked hard for the last forty years. I know that I have not had forty years of paid employment. It was forty years last month since I started university. For those who think that university is a skive and a doddle, the life of an applied science undergraduate is a hard one. We had a 9.15 am lecture Monday to Friday three terms a year for three years and some evenings we did not finish our practical session until after 6.00 pm. Then the practical had to be written up.  During the three day week of the winter of 1973-4 the university buildings were unheated and we regularly spent four hours sitting in an unheated lecture theatre. In those days students lived on the breadline in grotty flats which were nothing like the luxury that the students of today expect. We had no central heating, fridge, telephone, television or stereo. I had a battery operated radio and contact with home was via a weekly letter and a weekly phone call from a phone box. We were happy. We considered ourselves to be in a privileged position. I would not have missed it for the world. It is undoubtedly the one of the best things that I have ever done. After graduation I did one year's pre-registration training and for most of the last 36 years I have worked as a pharmacist, initially in hospital, then the pharmaceutical industry and now in retail.

Recently husband and I have spent some time reinvesting and deferring my pensions in the hope that they maybe worth more when I do decide to take them. Yes, pensions not pension. I know it sounds as if I am rolling in it, but nothing could be further from the truth. As a result of being badly advised and poor investments by the pension providers they are worth very little. However, it is not all doom and gloom as I shall be entitled to a full state pension when the fateful day arrives and the first nine and a half years of my working life was spent in the employment of the NHS then the Civil Service which has rewarded me with a small but bullet proof pension.

However, for the moment retirement will have to wait, as I have agreed to work eleven days of holiday cover between now and Christmas. I have been told that retirement is great and I have been looking forward to it for the last few years. When I first started work I used to think how awful it must be not be able to go to work. For the next few years I intend to enjoy myself before old age and senility set in.

Friday 7 October 2011

The Good Life

Husband and I have been making the most of the recent good weather by spending as much time as we could in our garden, which this year has been a bit neglected as a result of my work schedule and the dismal weather that we have had here in the north west of England. We did have some good weather but it invariably seemed to be on the days that I was working. So once gain I have to apologise for absenting myself from Blogland. Husband has now had his two cataract ops. and it has been ideal recuperation to be able to potter around in the garden in warm sunny weather, even if he has had to wear sun glasses.

This year for the first time we have had a taste of the good life. For those of you who do not live in the UK or who are too young to remember, The Good Life was a TV sitcom about a young couple, Tom and Barbara Good played by Richard Briars and Felicity Kendall, who dropped out of the rat race and tried to become self sufficient by growing fruit and vegetables and keeping a pig. We do not have a pig but we have grown vegetables for the first time this year.

Summer 2010 and this is what our vegetable garden looked like.

The shed was purchased on 2005 to temporarily house the contents of our largely asbestos garage while it was rebuilt. It ended up full of all sorts and it was a mammoth task to empty it so that we could sell it which we managed to do about a year ago.

Summer 2011 the vegetable garden looked like this.

The vegetable garden is husband's 'baby' and I have left it pretty much up to him to organise it and grow what he wants. He bought the raised beds in kit form. He also bought the soil to fill the raised beds and has installed an irrigation system. The plants came from a garden centre. I am not sure if we shall ever get our money back or break even on this project. Next year maybe we shall try to grow the plants from seed.

The first vegetable that we were able to harvest was the spinach and we have continued to pick it on a regular basis for several weeks now. However, the leaves are now noticeably smaller. Next were the lettuces, cauliflowers and broccoli. Unfortunately some went to seed, as we did not watch them carefully enough. This year it has all been a bit of an experiment and next year we shall know better. The mange tout exceeded our  wildest expectations with a bumper crop. We had thought that our Cheshire climate would not be warm enough for them. The peas also did well and were far better than any frozen peas.

Carrots and cabbages have been a first for us. Carrots you would expect to be straight forward, but they have been anything but. Now I know why in days gone by housewives did not go out to work. It takes time and imagination to prepare something that looks edible from a carrot that resembles an octopus. The sprouts look to be about ready to harvest, but we must wait for a frost before we pick them. Amazing is the only description for our potato crop. We did not expect the rather sorry looking seed potatoes that we bought to do much at all, but we have enough potatoes to feed an army. Our courgettes crop has been our best ever. We have grown them before, always from seed I might add. Then there are the runner beans which are still producing.
Also we have had a good crop of tomatoes. I do not seem to have much luck with tomato seeds, so have always bought them as plants. This variety is Gardener's Delight. I find that the smaller tomatoes ripen better, than larger ones, in our relatively cool climate.

Lastly there is the fruit crop. The fruit cage contains raspberries and blackberries. Only the late raspberries have done well this year. Hopefully next year we shall do better with the fruit as we are both partial to raspberries. Finally there are two ancient cooking apple trees in our garden. We have already had some wind falls but will not harvest the main crop for a few weeks yet.

It has been a very worth while experiment. It has given husband more interest in the garden than he has had as he tends to leave most of it to me. Picking fresh vegetables from the garden and eating them within hours, rather than days for supermarket bought vegetables, has been an absolute pleasure. 

Saturday 24 September 2011

On the road again

Life, illness and death have crossed my path in the past few weeks. I am aware that I have not posted for over a month. In that time we have also been away to Brittany in northern France. Our holiday weather was not great and the hotels were disappointing but we saw sights that we had not seen before and had a holiday that we shall not forget.
Late Saturday morning on September 3 found us on the motorway again. This time we were heading for Plymouth from where the Pilgrim Fathers set out for the New World all those years ago.  We were not  travelling so far. Our destination was Roscoff in northern Brittany, just over the English Channel. We arrived in Plymouth late afternoon and after settling ourselves into our hotel room, went out to stretch our legs. Our hotel over looked the Hoe, but as preparations were well under way for the  America's Cup World Series, which was being held in Plymouth Sound from 10 to 18 September, there was not a lot to see. I am not sure that there was even enough space for a game of bowls.


That evening we had a very good Greek meal in the harbour area. Then after a nightcap it was an early night as we had to be up bright and early the next morning, to catch the ferry.

The ferry crossing was uneventful and by about 4.30 pm we were in our hotel over looking Plage Saint Guirec on the Cote de Granit Rose (Pink Granite Coast). So called after the dramatic russet rocks along this stretch of coast. Here our hotel bedroom was more open plan than ensuite with only a glass panel separating the bedroom from the shower room. Thankfully the small room had a door to it. I know that we are married, but it is nice to have some privacy.

The following day we awoke, rather surprisingly, to a clear blue sky with the sun beaming down. We decided to make the most of the weather, which despite the sun was cool and windy, by walking along the coast to the next beach, which took one and a half hours each way. This is the best way to see and appreciate this spectacular coast line.

It is takes three hours to walk the length of the Pink Granite Coast which we could have done, but we then would have had to walk back again as we could not see how we would get back otherwise.  The next day, Tuesday, was wet and we decided to explore the area by car visiting Paimpol, Lannion and Treguier. All pleasant little harbours which I did not photograph as it was raining.

On Wednesday we moved south down the coast to Concarneau, which is certainly not the prettiest place that we visited. It is more of a port than a holiday destination.

Our hotel, on the outskirts, over looked this white sandy beach which unfortunately is spoilt by the green ridge of seaweed washed up by the Atlantic.

On Thursday, again, it was damp. As we had planned, we visited first Pont-Aven,

which is a very picturesque riverside town where many of the 19th century painters, including Gauguin,  lived. Despite the grey, damp weather this place looked amazingly pretty. With a blue sky and sun I am sure that it would look stunning.

Next it was on to the historic city of Quimper, famous for it's twin
spired Cathedrale St-Corentin. By now the weather was dismal, as you can see in the photo to the right.

On our last day before we started our journey back home we visited the seaside town of Carnac, where once gain we had to contend with drizzle and mist as this photograph of the beach shows.

However, it is the complex of mysterious megaliths on the outskirts of Carnac that attract thousands of visitors every year.

There are approximately 2,700 stones arranged in three main groups of alignements (rows of standing stones or menhirs) - Menec, Kermario and Kerlescan.

On Saturday morning we packed our bags and set of back to Roscoff. We were there by lunchtime which gave us the time to have a look around. The 'Onion Johnnies' are long gone, but we did see this bicycle.

On the final day of our stay in France the weather was fine. It obviously knew that we were about to go home.

Another Sunday morning and we were up bright and early once again. Only this time I was not so bright. Something that I had eaten the night before had upset me. Not badly, but I was feeling a bit fragile. I was alright until the ferry was about ten minutes out of Roscoff. There was a swell on the English Channel that day and I started to feel sea sick. So I spent five hours of the ferry crossing watching the horizon. My brain just froze and would not think about anything. I knew that there was no point trying to do any of the reading that I had planned to do while on the ferry. This experience has put me off ever wanting to go on a cruise.  Five hours of feeling rotten was enough. I could not cope with two weeks of it.

As I mentioned earlier, the America's Cup World Series was being held in Plymouth when we returned on September 11. As the ferry came into port the safety boats came out to keep the competing catamarans out of  the path of the ferry and we had a pretty good view of the competition as the Hoe once gain came into view.

Soon we were back on English soil and on the last leg of our way home. If the ferry had been delayed we had considered spending Sunday night somewhere between Plymouth and Chester. We arrived on time and in any case we wanted to get home. Sadly my mother-in-law died while we were away. She had been in hospital for a month but her death was unexpected.

Monday 22 August 2011

Seven year itch

This week it is eight years since we moved from Surrey up to Cheshire. In general those eight years seem to have gone remarkably quickly. There have been times, particularly when we were waiting for the building work on the cottage to start, that it felt as if the hands on the clock were going backwards. It took about four to five years for me to think of Cheshire as home and I think that was more to do with eventually feeling that the cottage belonged to us, when we broke the back of the decorating, as it was to seeing Cheshire as familiar. There are still times when I feel as if I am living in a foreign country. Only last week a shop assistant said something to me as she handed back my credit card. I did not understand a word of what she said. When we first moved here we rented a house while we looked for a house to buy. It took us five and a half months of looking to find the cottage and another two and a half months to actually buy it, which meant that it was the end of April 2004 when we moved to the cottage.

Back in April after yet another sleepless Saturday night, courtesy of the neighbour's barking dog, we were seriously considering moving house. I know that you will be thinking they must be mad. They haven't finished the cottage that they are currently living in. But the brain plays tricks on you when you are wide awake at 3am in the morning. We had seen for sale, in the village, a house which interested us. At present we live on the outskirts of the village. Even though there is nothing more than a post box and a phone box in the centre of the village I have hankered after living in the village, ever since we moved here. The post office and a little shop went a long time ago. At the time that we moved here the cottage that we bought was the only suitable property available. It is not very often that a  house in the village is for sale. Most of the houses are too big for us and in all the seven years that we have lived here, this is the first house that ticked the right boxes for us. It wasn't perfect. It needed work doing to it. Neither of us really wanted a return to living in a building site but what is the price of a good night's sleep?

There followed a week of frantic activity to get the cottage tidy and presentable for estate agents to value it. I would not describe the inside of the cottage as untidy, but it was amazing the amount of clutter that there was around the place. What did not have a home and could not be thrown away ended up in the spare bedroom which is the only room that has not been decorated. Things were stuffed into drawers and cupboards and afterwards I did not know where I had put them! The dust sheets that had protected the conservatory furniture were bundled into a bin bag which I hid in the garage. Luckily I remembered that hiding place and they did not end up going out with the rubbish.

Two estate agents came to value the cottage. If we were to sell, which we aren't, neither would have the privilege of  selling it for us. The first came early before I was ready, fortunately husband was able to let him in. The second was late. Neither apologised. Uncannily they both valued the cottage at the same disappointing figure. Considerably less than the larger house next door which is currently for sale. This is the very same house that I recently wrote about being two council tax bands below our cottage. It has the same number of rooms as our cottage, although it is larger. More space means higher bills. The next door house also has a bigger garden. Our garden is big enough for us. We do not want to have to spend all day cutting the lawn. Whoever buys it will be paying a high price for the extra space. Both agents said that the next door house was over priced.

For now we are staying put and finishing off the cottage. So I can only guess what it would be like to live in  the village. Quieter no doubt, but probably less colourful and maybe less eventful. For the moment it is not to be and just to reinforce our decision not to move, the house that we were interested in was taken off the market before we got the chance to look at it. Our seven year itch lasted all of a week

Wednesday 10 August 2011

Where's the tooth fairy?

......when you need her. If only I could turn the clock back to those pre-teen childhood days of the tooth fairy. It was all so convenient when a wobbly tooth came out for it to be replaced by a shiny new tooth that emerged from the gum as if by magic, in addition to the tooth fairy paying to take away the now useless tooth.

Just before Christmas last year I went to the dentist with what I thought was a cracked crown. After poking around then x-raying the tooth he informed that I had a broken a root and that the tooth would have to be taken out. He then asked if I would like it taken out there and then. 'No thank you' I mumbled back and added that I did not think that five days before Christmas was a good time to have a tooth out. He replied that there was never a good time to have a tooth out and then went on to explain my options once the tooth had been taken out. The cheapest option is to leave the gap unplugged, which is not a good idea as the adjacent teeth can move leading to problems with your bite. Also food can slide out between the teeth and the cheek. The next option pricewise would be to have a denture on a plate - even the dentist considered that to be a non starter. The next rung up is a bridge which is effectively a triple crown as it involves crowning the teeth either side of the gap. Finally there is the most expensive and current state of the art option which is to replace the extracted tooth with an implant. My dentist does not do these himself, but would refer to another dentist in the pratice that does.  He left me to ponder the options over Christmas and New Year.

Husband and I gave the matter some thought over Christmas and decided to go for an implant. Although this is the most expensive option in the short term, I can see all manner of problems with a triple crown which in the long term would make that the more expensive option. When I returned, to the dentist in January expecting to arrange to have the tooth extracted, he had already discussed my tooth with his colleague so I was simply referred on. My next appointment was in ten days time and was in fact a consultation to explain the procedure in more detail than my dentist had been able to and to assess if I and my teeth were suitable for an implant which can only be done if the patient and their teeth are healthy. In addition the patient must be prepared to keep their teeth clean and if a smoker to give up smoking. I have never smoked so that is not a problem and I have always looked after my teeth as I intend to keep them. Even my 92 year old mother still has her own teeth although not much else. During the consultation the dentist measured my mouth from every angle then finally said that an implant could be done. Before he went any further I needed to have an CT scan of my mouth, in order to determine the height of bone in the sinus area above the tooth and to check for any infection. The dentist arranged it via a diagnostic imaging technology company in London (200 miles away) who in turn arranged the scan at The Dental Academy in Daresbury (15 miles away).

By now it was mid February and off I went to The Dental Academy in Daresbury. It was like a miniature version of Downton Abbey all wood block floors, leather sofas and potted plants. The dentist's consulting room/surgery, there, was like a spaceship with brights lights and chrome everywhere. He happened to say that he had four patients with the same name as me on his books. So I wasn't surprised when a couple of weeks later I received an invoice for someone else's treatment. It went straight back and I have heard no more about the matter. After the scan the results  were to be sent to the diagnostic imaging technology company in London for computer processing. It was another three weeks before I heard from my dentist. The height of the bone in the sinus area above the tooth (second back from my eye tooth) was about 2.4mm short of the required minimum, which meant that I would need a sinus graft between having the tooth extracted and having the implanted fitted. I had been advised that this would probably be the case, as most people do not have enough bone in that area to hold the implant securely. Crunch time had now arrived and I needed to make an appointment to have the tooth extracted. This is the part of the whole process that I feared the most, as I had not had a tooth out since I was 14, which was a  long time ago and it had been done under gas. This time it would be a local anaesthetic. Actually it was not nearly as bad as I had feared that it would be and I would still rather go to the dentist than the hairdresser. Whatever the dentist might do you leave  looking pretty much the same as when you arrived. I frequently leave the hairdresser looking as if I have had a fight with a combine harvester!

Once the tooth was removed I had to wait ten weeks for the gum to heal before the sinus graft could be done. This was done four weeks ago now. While I was googling, to find out what I could about it, I noticed that there was a clip of the procedure on youtube. A bit too grisly to watch, I thought. It took two hours for the dentist to do the sinus graft procedure which involves opening up the gum, above where the tooth was, in order to access the sinus and putting in some donor bone to build up the extra height required. While I was in the dentist's chair I had no idea how long it was all taking. The right side of my mouth was numb but I was aware that there was a lot of poking and pulling going on. By the time that the dentist had finished I had four stitches that would need to be removed and several that would dissolve. My instructions were to complete a seven day course of antibiotics, take pain killers if needed, to use a chlorhexidine mouthwash for two weeks, to use an ice pack to reduce the swelling, to sleep with an extra pillow, to eat a soft diet for two weeks and to take things easy. Then there were the don'ts - don't blow your nose or sneeze, don't sleep on your right side, don't bend over. By the following day the right side of my face was swollen and bruised. I looked like something a from the freak show at the fair. The swelling went down in about five days but the bruising took about two weeks to go and in that time it changed through most of the colours of the rainbow. Expecting that I might be feeling sorry for myself I had decided to take the following week off work. I was mighty glad that I had done so. The things we do for vanity. Patience is now the name of the game as it will be six months before I know if the graft has been a success.

Monday 1 August 2011

All change

Since I finished covering the maternity leave, about a month ago, I have struggled to get into any sort of routine, which is not surprising really, as during July every week was different. So far my plans to do a late Spring clean of the cottage and to clear the garden of weeds are barely more than plans.

The first week husband worked at home on the Monday driving to Halifax on Tuesday, instead of Monday as is usual. This was because we went to see Neil Diamond in Manchester on Monday evening. That week I worked on Wednesday, which is supposedly my regular day until the end of August. Week two I was back to working two days as I covered for a colleague's holiday and I finished the week on Friday with two hours in the dentist's chair. (More about that in the next post). The next week I had off (well just a day really) to get over the dentist and boy did I need it! The following week I had swopped my day and worked on Tuesday, as I was going out to a meeting on the Wednesday, which if I had worked allowed me just 30 minutes between arriving home and going out again. It's a rush that I could do without. So with four weeks down and five more to go I shall be working each Wednesday in August which has no meetings because of the holiday season. We do, however, have MIL, SIL and husband visiting at August Bank Holiday. I am hoping that the run up to their visit will be smoother than it was last year.

There seems to be an almighty amount of catching up to do in the cottage and garden. Over the last twelve months life seems to have been lived at high speed in the fast lane with seven days being crammed into five, as on the two days that I have worked absolutely nothing else has got done. I wonder how I managed in days gone by, when I worked full time. I know that I was younger but to be honest the job was not so frantic. It was 9-5 not 9-6 as it is now, which makes a lot of difference. It was no where near as busy and people were less demanding.

This work stint finishes on August 31, as does husband's current contract. Then we have a few days at home before we go off to Brittany for a break. When we return husband has some jobs to do before we venture into the unknown. Husband who is not a very good patient is having his cataracts done. On eye one week then the other eye the following week. Once his eyes have recovered he will need completely different glasses.

Wednesday 20 July 2011


When we returned from Amsterdam back in May we had five weeks at home before we were off again.

I had expected that the time would fly by and it did. By now it was the second week in June. I am not sure which gave me the bigger headache, getting the garden ready to survive a week without any attention or deciding which clothes to take away with me for our unpredictable English weather.

We set off late on Saturday morning, destination Cornwall, stopping en route at my alma mater, where one of my university flat mates still lives with her husband. Then North Devon where husband's grandmother used to have a house. So first stop Bath, where we stayed two nights. Late afternoon we managed to have a walk around which gave me the chance to take some photographs and immerse myself in the once familiar surroundings. Here is the abbey with the Roman Baths in the foreground.

By the time that we reached the Royal Crescent the sky had clouded over and looked to be threatening rain. At that point we returned to our hotel as we were without coats or an umbrella.

Later we enjoyed a meal and a good evening with my flat mate and her husband. Sunday was a very wet day. So wet that we spent the afternoon in our hotel room reading the Sunday papers, which is actually quite a luxury as it usually takes me until about Wednesday to read them. On Monday morning we headed off to the village of Parracombe in North Devon. Husband wanted to see the house that his grandmother had owned and I had never been there so it was all new to me. Having arrived at our destination we decided that we would deposit our luggage at the hostelry where we where staying before going to investigate the village. If only I had known what I was letting myself in for.

The Hunters Inn (above) where we were to spend the night was accessed from the main road by a single track road with no passing spaces. Luckily we did not meet anything coming in the other direction. Afterwards I found that there is another slightly wider road to the inn. As you may have realised it is fairly isolated which meant that we had a peaceful night, a good meal and a bit too much to drink!

Next morning we had a late breakfast, then set off for our final destination of St Austell in Cornwall where we arrived early afternoon. This was to be the best day weatherwise. After settling ourselves into our hotel where we had this view over Carlyon Bay from our bedroom window, we went for a walk along the coast path.
The following morning we awoke to blue sky and sunshine. We set off to the Lost Gardens of Heligan armed with anoraks and umbrellas and it was not long before needed them. I am sure that these gardens look better in the sun but the sleeping Mud Maid

and the Giant's Head were oblivious to the damp weather.

By the afternoon the sun was out again and we stopped off at the picturesque fishing village of Mevagissey

on our way back to St Austell. Thursday again dawned bright and sunny but the rain clouds rolled in even sooner than the previous day. Fortunately this was the day that we had decided to visit the Eden Project, much of which is under cover in the biomes which was just as well, as there were several downpours whilst we were there.

That afternoon we visited the attractive port of Fowey.

Friday, our last day in Cornwall, dawned wet and windy and that is how it stayed all day. Eventually we plucked up the courage to venture out and took ourselves off to St Mawes and Truro. At St Mawes the wind blew my umbrella inside out and we took refuge in a coffee shop. Truro was thoroughly wet and miserable. On Saturday we made the long drive back home.

We were home for five days. Just enough  time to wash two suitcases full of clothes, go to work for two days and do some more washing before packing a bag to head off down to Surrey on the Friday. We were staying at The Ship in Weybridge where we had our wedding reception, twenty years ago almost to the day. We had a good journey down and stopped off at the Royal Horticultural Society's Wisley garden to stretch our legs.

The next day we were off to Wimbledon. We had tickets for the Centre Court. As we had guessed our seats were up in the gods under the roof. They were actually the back row. We had to climb about five flights of stairs to get to them. I suppose that we had what you would call a birds eye view of the tennis. This is the view with Roger Federer serving.

I was very surprised when he lost the following week as he looked to be in a class of his own. From our vantage point I began to understand why the tennis commentators wax lyrical about his game. We had a very good afternoon seeing seven hours of tennis, finally leaving the All England Club about 8.30 pm. On Sunday it was back home once again.

No more trips planned now until September, when we are going to Brittany for a week. That was booked last Sunday on yet another wet and miserable summer's day. We have to keep our spirits up somehow!

Friday 8 July 2011

Hot July Night

Around here, Monday 4 July was the hottest day of the year so far. When we left home to drive to Manchester, about 6.15 pm, the outside temperature was a balmy 25 degrees centigrade. The concert did not start until 8.00 pm and we thought that we had allowed ourselves plenty of time but the traffic in Manchester was heavy, which meant that it took longer than we had expected to get to the concert arena. However, we still had 30 minutes to spare. As we approached the MEN arena husband decided to ignore the sat. nav. and park in the multi storey car park next to the arena - big mistake! We had previously parked there and had managed to find a space on one of the lower floors. This time we crawled up nine floors, to the roof, before we found a space.

Joining the queue to get into the MEN arena we had the chance to observe fellow Neil Diamond fans both male and female, who come in all shapes and sizes aged about 21 to 81. Once inside we took our seats and waited. The auditorium was warm and getting even warmer as it filled up.The start of the concert was delayed to allow members of the audience who had not taken their seats to do so and still people were coming in after the concert had started. Why buy tickets for a concert and miss some of it?

Eventually the concert was about to start. The band and backing singers had taken to the stage. Then the arena was plunged into darkness. We had been warned that this would happen. The band started to play but where was the man that we had all come to see? As the spot light picked him out in the centre of the stage the audience rose to its' feet and greeted him with rapturous applause. He began with Soolaimon - husband's favourite followed by Beautiful Noise which is my favourite. After that I was enjoying myself too much to remember exactly what was played when. At the end of the third number Neil Diamond paused for a drink of water and commented on how hot it was up on the stage with the heat from the lights and went on to say that the air conditioning must be 'malfunctioning' and he would like it on. He played another number then stopped again and complained about the heat. At this point a fan threw him a water spray which he used to spray his face and whilst doing so said something like 'right now this is as good as sex'. After the fifth number he said that the conditions on the stage had improved. The auditorium was also noticeably cooler. After that the concert passed uneventfully. Neil Diamond was on good form, relaxed, amusing and thoughtful. Despite the heat we enjoyed a wonderful evening's entertainment spending more time on our feet than we did in our seats. It is hard to believe that Neil Diamond is 70 years old. Nowadays, there is not so much hair and the voice is a bit lower and deeper and sometimes a tad ragged, but he could still melt an iceberg.

All too soon the concert was over and we were back at our car on the roof of the multi storey car park - big mistake, as I said before. By now it was 10.20 pm. Marshalls at the car park empty it from the ground floor upwards. On the car radio Johnnie Walker was interviewing Neil Diamond. It was slightly surreal to hear the voice, of person that we had just seen on stage, coming out of the radio. Never mind the spookiness, listening to the radio passed the time. It was 11.15 pm by the time the cars on the ninth floor started to move. It had been a night to remember for more than one reason.

(Hot August Night is the title of a Neil Diamond album released in 1972 which I amended accordingly).

Monday 4 July 2011

Happy Independence Day

Happy Independence Day to Americans and non-Americans everywhere. I am celebrating today because the maternity leave that I have been covering finishes tomorrow. I had expected that I would now stop practising, but I have been asked to work one day a week for the next nine weeks. That bridges the gap between working two days a week and working no days a week. It seemed like a good idea to break myself in gently to the world of being a lady of leisure. Yes, I intend to be a housewife, just like Kate.

This evening, husband and I are going to Manchester to a Neil Diamond concert. What better way could we celebrate July 4 than in the company of one of America's most successful and charismatic singer-songwriters. I am sure that we shall have a good day and hope that you do too.

Friday 24 June 2011

Cheshire Wife has been away, come back and is now away again! Soon she hopes to be back for good.

Friday 20 May 2011

Above us only sky

This post was intended to be published at the end of last week but problems with blogger prevented its' publication.

On May 2 when I switched on the radio and heard that Osama bin Laden had been killed I was pleased to hear the news, but I also had misgivings over rejoicing at he death of anyone, even if they were as evil as Osama bin Laden, who was responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent people. I did not have much time to think about this as I had a busy day ahead of me.  The following day we were flying to Amsterdam for a short break. By the evening every thing was done and we were packed and ready for an early-ish start the following day. Then the trepidation set in and I began to wonder if it was such a good idea to be flying the day after the demise of Osama bin Laden. al-Quaeda would no doubt be retaliating, unless they had been weaken to the point where they were unable to do so.

Our flying record isn't great. We had not flown since 2005. We were trying to book a holiday, abroad, in 2006 around the time that the terrorist bomb plot to blow up airlines, flying between Heathrow and the US, using liquid explosives, was discovered, which resulted in the current liquid restrictions. At the time there was so much uncertainty that we decided to holiday in the UK, avoiding the need for flying. This trip to Amsterdam was to be a practice, so that we could become familiar with the new regulations, in preparation for a trip, later in the year, to see husband's nephew, who is working in California. In the intervening years we have travelled by ferry to Ireland and France. It is a much more relaxed means of travelling.

The following day, May 3, security was tight at Liverpool's John Lennon airport. For the first time ever I set off the scanner and had to be frisked. They did not find anything. The same thing happened with the more sophisticated scanning equipment at Amsterdam's Schipol airport on our return. The culprit was the zip of my jeans.

When we went on our honeymoon our flight was delayed while the bags of passengers who had checked in, but not boarded the plane were located and taken off. That delayed us by about an hour. That is not an unusual event, but we had the misfortune to be flying on 11 September 2011. We were actually in the air when the Twin Tours in New York were attacked. We has been on holiday to Crete and by my estimation were flying over Paris around the time that the planes hit the World Trade Center. We did not know anything about the incident until we were out of Gatwick airport and in our car, on our way home. We had stopped for fuel and as husband was at the pump I heard the end of a news flash on the car radio and I remember hearing 'skyline changed forever' and 'all flights cancelled'. There had not been any problems a Gatwick. As we drove through the leafy, winding and sometimes narrow lanes of Surrey we heard another news flash, in full this time. Then husband started fiddling with the car radio trying to get more information about the disaster. I switched the radio off. He was driving. Once we were home we were able to see, on the TV, the full incident in all its' technicolour glory, several times over. Even though we had had a long day I did not sleep well on the night of 11 September. My mind was too busy thinking. Why had this disaster happened? Could it have been us? Had we had a lucky escape? Why New York? Why not London or even Paris? At that point the ins and outs and full details of the disaster were not known.

We had a very pleasant, if very chilly few days in Amsterdam. We took an open top bus tour of Amsterdam, went on a canal cruise, walked for miles, saw diamonds being polished and visited Anne Frank's house. I had read that visitors to the house commented  that the hairs on the back of their neck stood up on entering the house and truly they did!

The practice went well. We made it there and back. Nothing was confiscated at the airport, so we got he packing right. However, we have decided to postpone our planned trip to the US as we consider that travelling to and in the US during the Autumn/Fall of the tenth anniversary of 9/11 is too risky, especially when the architect of it all has just come to a sticky end.

Sunday 24 April 2011

Happy Easter

We have had a very pleasant day in the garden. I hope that your day has been as enjoyable.

Thursday 31 March 2011

Eating humble pie

Good news for a change!

Last Saturday I received a grovelling letter (I won't bore you with all the details) from Marks and Spencer in response to my last letter to them. Included with the letter was a voucher for 80% of the purchase price of the jumper which shrunk. They have now refunded me 120% of the cost of the jumper which means that after taking into account the cost of posting the jumper to them and my bus fare into Chester to attempt to return the jumper to the store there, that I have about £4 compensation for my troubles. I am not complaining. At last, I have got my money back which was what I wanted all along, as this was the first jumper that has ever shrunk when I washed it. It has taken three months of patience and letter writing when the store should have refunded me in the first place. I have learned from this experience always to have an argument prepared in case things do not go to plan.

Thank you for your comments, suggestions and support. They helped to make me determined to see this through to its rightful conclusion.

Friday 11 March 2011

The bird gets the hump

I had had it in mind to write a post on this topic when I read an article in The Times newspaper a few weeks ago, that people had taken to using Twitter to air problems with poor service etc. as a more effective means of resolving their problems than writing a old fashioned letter or hanging on the phone waiting for their turn at a call centre. Well I do not do Twitter or Facebook. Right now I am struggling to find the time for my blog. Recently I had noticed that husband and I have had a spate of letter writing in an attempt to resolve a number of issues, which should have been sorted out with out the need to resort to going into print.

There have been four issues, where we are the aggrieved party, that have necessitated writing a letter. That seems, to me, to be quite a lot of issues that we are trying to resolve all at the same time. Usually there is only one thorny issue that needs to be sorted out at any given time.  One has been sorted out quite quickly, but three others are becoming long standing problems which are proving difficult to resolve. So maybe if I air my grievances here, I might just get a result.

The easiest issue to sort out has been the problem with our council tax banding which we discovered was  two bands higher than our neighbour's larger and more expensive house. Financially that is £12 per week. Husband wrote to the local Valuation Office about it. Their response suggested that they had not completely understood his letter but it had the desired effect and both our house and the neighbour's house are in the process of being revalued, which is what we wanted.

The problem that is the longest running and has given us the biggest headache is the problem of the other neighbour's barking dog. We seem to have written endless letters and e-mails to the Environmental Health Department of the local council together with the completion of many time sheets detailing when, how often and for how long the dog has been barking.  At present the problem is still unresolved. After I posted  A night on the tiles I had intended to write a post explaining some more of the background to the problem, but I did not do so, because we had a surprise intervention into the problem, on our behalf. Consequently I felt that it was wiser to keep quiet. The intervention came to nothing and I shall write the intended post shortly.

Then there is the issue of our shower insurance.We had two identical showers fitted at around the same time. One in the bathroom and another in the shower room. When the guarantees expired our details were passed to the insurance company HomeServe. According to their records we have two different showers and because their letters were so vague, non specific and generally badly written we did not realise that the information that they held  was incorrect. As a result we have paid too much for the insurance of one of the showers. Since we realised the mistake, about November of last year, we have been trying to get back the over payment and they have refused to refund the money to us. Last month we received  a letter from HomeServe, dated 11 February 2011, informing us that our policy was due for renewal on 3 December 2010 with a quoted premium that is different to the two that we have previously paid. I think that we have given up on this one. It has just become too complicated to explain.

Our fourth little difficulty is the shrunken jumper which I gave a mention to, in a post, back in December. The jumper had been washed by hand, exactly as every other jumper that I have ever washed and this was the first one ever to shrink. I had not expected to be refused a refund or an exchange because the jumper had definitely shrunk and I had always thought that M&S were a reputable company and their customer service was second to none. I was so amazed at their attitude that I left the store without trying to argue with the assistant. I did not have an argument prepared which was my mistake. From this I have learnt always to have a Plan B! Anyway, after Christmas, I wrote to the head office about the jumper. When I had not received a reply after four weeks, I wrote again. They claimed that they had not received my first letter. (I am not sure that I believe that). I was then asked to send the jumper in to them so that they could examine it, which I did. Their response has been to send me a voucher for 40% of the value of the jumper, which will not replace the jumper. I suppose it will probably buy me two sleeves. I asked again for a full refund or for the jumper to be returned to me.  They have disposed of the jumper and refused a full refund. My M&S chargecard is now in shreds and I shall not be buying anymore knitwear from M&S. There is plenty of competition on the high street and the Internet.

Thursday 10 February 2011

Squeezing a quart into a pint pot

Since July of last year husband has been working in Halifax which is 70 miles from Chester. Too far for a daily commute, so he has been commuting weekly, leaving home early on a  Monday morning and returning on a Thursday evening. Then, generally he has done some work, at home, on Friday to make up his hours.

I normally work a on Tuesday and Wednesday. That is when the chap that I am working for is not sunning himself down under. He is off again next month, but this time I have said that I will not work extra. Consequently I have got into quite a nice routine of having time to myself on Mondays and Thursdays when husband is away. I do not mind at all being on my own. I enjoy my own company and there is always something that needs doing. Husband has worked away from home, for a considerable length of our married life. At first, I found it difficult and, I used to cry when he went away. Now I am used to it, but I do still miss him and we speak to each other every evening, when he is away.

The bank that he is working for have now decided that they need extra staff in the department that he is working in and have taken on twice as many staff as they have desks for. The IT department have said that there is no point trying to fit more desks in as they cannot have anymore computers, in the department, than they currently have. Hot desking is the solution. That is desk sharing to the uninitiated. So a timetable has been worked out whereby each member of the department works part of the week in the office and part of the week at home. Husband's office days are Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday which means that he is now working at home on Thursday in addition to Friday. This extra day at home is going to take some getting used to on my part. The new routine started this week and today was the first Thursday at home for husband. My plans for today were made some time ago. Fortunately they fitted in with husband's, but I can see that some weeks things may not be so easy.

Tuesday 25 January 2011

A night on the tiles

On Saturday night we went out for a celebration meal in the village hall. The occasion that we were celebrating was sixty years of the village hall and at the same time the newly installed kitchen was being christened. The village hall had been smartened up in an attempt to make it look more like a bistro than a sixty year old prefabricated village hall. Eleven six seating tables had been arranged around the hall with the top table on the stage. The meal was cooked by the two sons of one of the committee members and served by young ladies who live in the village. The diners all looked quite smart with some men wearing jackets and ties and many of the ladies wearing dresses or skirts rather than the usual trousers or jeans. Husband and I only knew one of the fellow diners on our table, so during the course of the evening we made three new friends.

The evening was a great success and I think that most people enjoyed themselves, but as it was the first time that a meal had been attempted there were a few hiccups and teething troubles which will need to be ironed out for the future. One major omission was the absence of  pepper and salt pots from the table. The takings from the evening will be brought round here sometime this week for husband, who is the village hall treasurer, to bank or to be more accurate he will do the paperwork and I do the actual banking. The proceeds from the evening will go towards the fund to build a new village hall, which is badly needed.

It was nearly midnight by the time that we arrived home and  the next door neighbour's dog was serenading our little lane with his barking. When I had been getting ready to go out I could not help but hear that the neighbour's dog was barking in a way which indicated that they were away or out and he was obviously outside. Strange that, as when the WAG from next door came round on Christmas Eve she said that the dog had become a  house dog and no longer lived outside in the kennel. Well that didn't last long. Anyway  we were going out for the evening and I hoped that by the time we came home that the dog would have barked himself  to sleep. We went out and forgot all about the barking dog. For once his barking was not going to spoil our evening.

There was no point in trying to go to bed with the dog barking outside our bedroom window or thereabouts so we decided to have a nightcap before retiring. Perhaps we should have offered the dog a drink too. By about 1 am peace and quiet appeared to have been restored to our neighbourhood, so we took ourselves off to bed. Just as we climbed into bed what did we hear but the dog barking. We could not stay up indefinitely. We just had to hope that there would not be anymore episodes of barking. But we were wrong. It was nearly 4 am when the dog finally stopped barking and I managed to fall asleep. On Sunday I felt like something that the cat had brought in, or perhaps that should be the dog. I had a headache all day and my eyes felt as if they were out on stalks. Bedtime could not come soon enough.

We have had this problem of the neighbours going away and leaving the dog on its' own for over two years now. We have complained to the Environmental Health department of the local council but we do not appear to be getting anywhere with them. (That is a post for another day). The police and the RSPCA are not interested as it is not their responsibility. The coalition government are in the process of introducing legislation relating to dogs and antisocial behaviour. The sooner this legislation is introduced the better. The idea of living in a cottage up an idyllic looking country lane may seem like heaven, but right now we have the neighbours from hell!

Friday 14 January 2011

Canals and crowns

Regular readers of my blog will know that this year my life is going to revolve around my dentist. I had hoped that by now the dental extravaganza would have begun, but no. I went to see the dentist again this week in the expectation of agreeing a timetable for the proposed works. He is unable to do some of the procedures himself, that he thinks I require, and has referred me to one of his colleagues. I have an appointment or rather a consultation to see the colleague next week for him to explain what needs to be done, what my options are and most painful of all what it will cost. So for now here is the saga of last year's dental odyssey. I have tried to enlighten this post with a photograph, taken last Autumn, of the Shropshire Union Canal which runs through the south east corner of our village.


For as long as I can remember I have been to a dentist for regular check ups. My earliest memory of a visit to the dentist is as a young child fighting with my brother for who would be first to get into the dentist's chair for as ride up and down. I must have been about four years old when the dentist suggested that I stop sucking my thumb or my front teeth would stick out. Not wanting rabbit/buck teeth I stopped sucking my thumb, but it was already too late the damage had been done. When my second teeth came through they stuck out slightly. Both the dentist and I hoped that they might put themselves right, but they didn't. Shortly after my fourteenth birthday the dentist decided that it was time to tackle the problem. He started by making an impression of my teeth and from it he made a  cast of my teeth. I can still clearly remember my father taking me to the dentist to see the cast and make a decision about orthodontics. No child volunteers to wear a brace, but I took one look at the cast of my teeth and decided that I could not go through life with teeth that looked as mine did and so began around two years of orthodontics which involved frequent and regular visits to the dentist to have my brace adjusted. I lost all fear of the dentist and to this day I would rather go to the dentist than the hairdresser.

In May last year when the date of my six monthly check up came round,  I didn't bat an eyelid. As far as I was aware my teeth were fine. After the usual pleasantries and initial look at my teeth and mouth the dentist started poking around with a variety of different implements. He was  no longer making small talk and the expression on his face was serious. Being slightly cynical I though that he was looking for work as I had not had anything more than a check up for some time. He told me that he needed to take an X-ray. Whilst that was developing he explained that he had found a gum boil which indicated that the root of one of my back molars had died. My options were a root canal filing followed by a crown or if I left the tooth until I had toothache and a full blown abscess his only option would be to extract the tooth. That would leave a gap requiring a denture, bridge or an implant. I was not totally surprised by his finding as I had noticed a small swelling in my mouth the previous week but it was not bothering me and I had been too busy to even look at it to see what it might be. The dentist commented that this must be quite a shock to me as I had no obvious symptoms and suggested that I think about it. The shock was the cost of it all. None of the options was cheap. The decision on the course of action was obvious, regardless of the cost. I had not endured two years of orthodontics as a teenager to end up with dentures!

Four weeks later I presented myself at the dentist's to have the root canal filing done. After an injection which numbed all of he right side of my face, my mouth was clamped open for the duration of the procedure by a plastic guard. The process was slow and fiddly and at one point both the dentist and his nurse tried to put both of their hands plus implements into my mouth, at the same time! Another four weeks on and I was back again. This time for the dentist to check that all was well with the filing before he proceeded to crown the tooth. A few weeks later and it was back to the torture chamber for me. Another numb face, four impressions, an array of drills and eventually my temporary crown was fitted. Another two weeks and the permanent crown had been made and was ready to be fitted. The ease with which the dentist removed the temporary crown was unnerving. One quick flick and it was off. For two weeks I had been happily chomping away on it. Hopefully the permanent crown had been fixed with stronger cement. No more dentist appointments for six months now, or so I hoped.

In between my check up appointment and actually having the root canal filing I read this article in The Times about root canal filings. They are a very skilled procedure. Some dentists no longer do them preferring to refer patients to a dentist who does. Others continue to offer the procedure but it would be better if they did not. I was lucky in that the problem was picked up at a routine check up. I had no toothache and consequently no need for painkillers or antibiotics. However, I have not been so lucky with my current problem.