Thursday 31 December 2015

Happy New Year!

Duty done with the relatives. Now it is time for some 'me time' or 'us time' as we spend new year somewhere warmer and drier than the UK. This is what I am expecting to see at midnight.

Happy New Year wherever you are.

Friday 25 December 2015

Merry Christmas

After weeks or possibly even months of preparation the big day has arrived. And it is only one day! Presents have ben opened. We have had lunch. The washing up has been done and the log fire is burning in the snug. It has rained all day, here. So no chance of going out for a walk to shake down the Christmas lunch. Thankfully little chance of being flooded where we live. Enjoy what is left of the day.

Sunday 29 November 2015

Down to earth with a bump

After what seems like a summer of gallivanting around the world we are back home and have been for a few weeks. So for now there are no more views of San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge or the Acropolis in Athens. Just the country lane up which we live, which looked pretty good a few weeks ago when the photograph, below, was taken. Here in the north west of England we had a bit of an Indian Summer and a mild Autumn after a dismal (proper)Summer. The colours were as good as any in New England and this was little Olde England.

But after the winds and rain of recent weeks the trees are now bare and the lane itself is a sea of mud. Some days we have had a moat at the end of our drive and we have only been able to get out into the lane in a car or wellington boots.

When we returned from the wedding, which was the subject of my last post, it seemed strange not to be getting ready to rush off somewhere, as we had been doing for most of the Summer and I have to admit that inertia set in.  However, after all that time away there was quite a bit of catching up to do, as well as finalising the itinerary for a trip Down Under next February/March, which will give husband a chance to meet up with some of his distant relatives, living in New Zealand. It is going to be an awfully big adventure and like nothing we have ever done before. We have been hoping to make this trip for some time now, but it was not feasible while we were working. Yes, I know that we have been away a lot recently. This is our post retirement gap year, but we are not doing it as 52 successive weeks. We are pacing ourselves, as we have a long list of countries around the world that we would like to visit.

Last week  husband's oldest school friend and his wife came for lunch. Working out a menu was a bit of a challenge as he can not eat nuts and his wife is lactose intolerant. The main course was not a problem but the majority of deserts contain some form of dairy products and I was determined to make use of our harvest of cooking apples. After rummaging through my collection of recipes I eventually found a couple of suitable deserts and we had a good day catching up with them.

You could be forgiven for thinking that life at the moment is pretty rosy, but it has not all been a bed of roses. A few weeks ago my Mini Bluebell was reversed into in the car park of a local shopping centre, denting the driver's door and badly damaging the panel behind it. I was stationary at the time and the other driver admitted liability. Neither of us was injured which was the most important thing. My shopping trip was cut short and I spent the next few days fielding telephone calls to and from my insurance company, the other driver's insurance company and insurance company car body repair shops. I reluctantly decided to allow the bodyshop, of the other driver's insurance company, to get my car repaired because they appeared to be able to do so sooner than my insurance company's bodyshop. It may have been a mistake as the nine working days that it took to do the repair was far longer than I had expected. Okay, I had a courtesy car, but it was awful and I only drove it when I really had to. It was a Vauxhall Corsa, which is not a suitable replacement for a Mini. Apart from the fact that it was black with white go faster strips and looked like a zebra - it drove like a tank. Even with the driver's seat in its' highest position I was not able to see any of the bonnet and neither could I see some of the dashboard. That week and a half without wheels seemed to be a long time. On the tenth working day my six and a half year old Bluebell was returned to me looking sparkly and as good as new. It is great to have her back. If you are wondering why I can not walk - I can, but the nearest bus stop is a mile from where we live and there are no pavements or street lights. Consequently it is essential to have transport.

Then we come to our broadband situation, which has been a sore point in this cottage since the beginning of the year, when we theoretically should have been able to have superfast broadband installed. After two failed attempts to have it installed we had to accept that for us it could not be done. We were too far away from the cabinet serving our location. By chance a few weeks ago husband found out that one of our neighbours had managed to get superfast broadband installed. Work has been done to improve the line out to where we live. So now we also have it and husband is happy!

Monday 9 November 2015

Another knot tied

Another month and another wedding. This time we did not have to travel as far as California, but it was far enough for us to need to spend two nights away. This time the wedding was in the very attractive Cotswold village of Bibury, which is about a three hour drive from where we live.

We could have driven down on the day of the wedding, but the last time that we did that for a wedding we were late and ended up following the bride into the church. Had we been late for this particular wedding we would probably have missed the whole ceremony, as it was a civil service at an hotel. So we drove down the afternoon before the wedding, arriving late afternoon.

After a quick unpack we had a walk around Bibury and made the use of the last of the day's sun to take some photographs. The wedding was at the Swan Hotel, which is where we were staying.

I had previously spent a night there as a teenager, returning to Yorkshire from a family holiday in Devon. Bibury did not seem to have changed much in the intervening years. It is pretty unforgettable with the stream running through the middle of the village.

That evening we enjoyed dinner in the hotel restaurant, followed by a good night's sleep.

Unusually for England the weather was warm and sunny and the hotel decided that wedding would be held outside in their garden, which was lovely and very unexpected. However, the was one problem. Most of the ladies were wearing heels, which kept sinking into the damp grass! The ceremony was very brief and we then had celebratory drinks in the garden before moving inside for the wedding breakfast and party. And another member of the family is no longer young, free and single.

Sunday 25 October 2015

Sea, sun and storms

Another month, another destination, another airport and another airline. This time we were flying from Liverpool John Lennon airport to Barcelona in Spain. As we left the departure lounge to walk to the plane we were instructed to use the back staircase to board the plane, which meant turning left after entering the plane, but this time we were not in Business Class. This was our first flight with Ryanair and all passengers travel cattle class with them. Their colours are navy and canary yellow. The latter making the inside of the plane so bright I felt as if I needed to wear my sun glasses! The flight was uneventful but cramped, with a descent and landing which was painful on the ears. We are not in any hurry to fly with Ryanair again.

We had two nights in Barcelona, which gave us a day to expore the city before we embarked on our  cruise, which was another first. Our day in Barcelona was Friday 11 September, which happened to be the Day of Catalonia and a public holiday. Most of the shops and some of the tourist attractions were closed, but we did manage to get into

the Catedral de Santa Eulalia, which is so enormous that it felt like a railway station without trains. The area around it is so built up that it is impossible to take a photograph of the outside, but we did manage to see the geese that live in the cathedral cloisters, of which there are thirteen - one for each year that Saint Eulalia lived.

Late the next morning we joined our fellow passengers to board the cruise ship. By the time that we got to our cabin it was early afternoon and time to find some lunch. The rest of the afternoon was spent exploring the ship. By the time that we sailed from Barcelona, at around 6 pm, the fine sunny day had turned to cloud and rain. Everything was going smoothly until the early hours of the following morning when we sailed in a ferocious thunderstorm. The ship, which was enormous, was tossed around a bit and with torrential rain pouring onto our balcony it felt as if we were in a washing machine. After about two hours we sailed out of it and docked at our first port of call - the French port of Marseille. Here we took the shuttle bus into Marseille and had lunch at a cafe around the Old Port - Vieux Port.

Late that afternoon we left Marseille to sail onto the next port of call, which was Livorno in Italy. From Livorno we had hope to get to Pisa to see the Leaning Tower. So had rather a lot of other people and the bus was full, which meant that we did not get to Pisa. Instead we had a walk around Livorno and a leisurely drink in a cafe before returning to the ship for lunch. Our third port of call on the following day was down the Italian coast where we docked at Civitavecchia - the port of Rome. We had visited Rome for a few days some years ago, so did not want to go on an organised tour, but hoped to be able to get the train to Rome. However, getting from the cruise terminal into the centre of Civitavecchia took longer than we had expected so we decided that we would explore the port area instead.

We were surprised to find a pleasant little town with some old buildings, an open air market which I always find interesting, a beach and a promenade. By now the weather had improved from warm cloud and sunny intervals to blue sky and hot sunshine, which allowed us to sit in the sun on the ship in the afternoon.

The following day was a day at sea. With the improved weather we were able to relax in the sun by one of the ship's swiming pools, while we watched the world go by. Late morning a local pilot boarded the ship to guide it through the Straits of Messina, which run between the boot of Italy and the island of Sicily - below.

Leaving Sicily behind we headed north through the Ionian Sea into the Adriatic Sea and our next port of call which was Kotor in Montenegro. The following morning I was amazed to pull back the curtains and find this spectacular view.

We were anchored in the Bay of Kotor, which looks like a fjord. The small towns around its' shores were built by the Romans, giving them a Venetian feel.  The scenery was just stunning. The ship's lifeboats ran a shuttle service to get passengers to and from the harbour. This was a reassuring experience, as the lifeboats were much more substantial than I had expected them to be.

Now there was only one day of our cruise left and that was another day at sea. This time we sailed along the west coast of the Greek island of Zakynthos/Zante, before heading towards Piraeus - the

port of Athens, where we were to disembark. We now had a two night stay in Athens. By the time that we had disembarked and settled ourselves into our hotel it was late morning. We then took the hotel's shuttle bus into the centre of Athens for a spot of lunch, followed by an open top bus tour of Athens in the afternoon. Athens was very hot as was the top of the bus, but at times there was a pleasant breeze - the pros and cons of an open top bus. The tour took us around the main points of interest in the centre of Athens - past the parliament building which has recently seen a lot of controversial activity.

In front of the parliament building the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is guarded by two presidential guards wearing Greek national dress. I don't know how they wear those outfits in the sweltering heat.

By the end of the bus tour we were in need of refreshment. Then we caught the shuttle bus back to the hotel for a much needed dip in the hotel swimming pool. The next day we went to the Acropolis, which is actually an area of Athens and not the building on the hill top. The Acropolis is the most important ancient site in the Western world.

The monument on the hill top that can be seen from almost everywhere in the city is the Parthenon. It is built from Pentelic marble, which gleams white in the sun and epitomises the glory of ancient Greece. It was completed in 438 BC, is dedicated to the goddess Athena Parthenos and is the largest Doric temple ever built in Greece.

The Parthenon appears to be pretty much in the centre of Athens, which is a vast city. This is the view from just one side of the Parthenon with buildings as far as the eye can see.

That afternoon we enjoyed a leisurely beer in Syntagma Square - the square in front of the parliament building. This was the weekend of the Greek General Election. The fourth since 2009. We watched as television crews set up their equipment in Syntagma Square in preparation for the result of the election later that night. After the drama of the previous election earlier in the year, this turned out to be a quiet affair.

Our holiday was about over. We were to fly home the following day. But there would be another twist in the tale before we made it home. Thunder storms and heavy rain were forecast for the Athens area. As we prepared to leave out hotel for the taxi ride to the airport storm clouds were gathering over Athens.

We had not driven far when the heavens opened and we were engulfed in a spectacular storm. Initially there was wind with thunder and lightening, both sheet and forked. Then there was torrential rain and hail stones. The road was awash with water. It was like been driven along a river. It was an experience! Unsurprisingly our flight back to Manchester was delayed. In fact nothing much seemed to be happening at the airport that morning. We heard that some flights had been diverted to other airports, to avoid the storm. Our plane had been held back at Manchester, in the hope that the storm would be over by the time it reached Greece, but as that was not the case, the air traffic controllers had had to divert the plane around the storms until it was safe to land. By the time that we took off, about one hour late, the storm was over and we had an uneventful flight back to Manchester.

Wednesday 30 September 2015

All at sea

When I loaded the photographs from our recent trip onto my laptop I was surprised to find this photograph amongst them. It was taken by mistake. I am not going to ask you to identify this stretch of blue sea as I can do that myself by looking at the photos taken before and after, and it is in fact the Ionian Sea to the west of the Greek Island of Zakynthos/Zante. We are now fully paid up members of the retirement club, having been on our first real cruise. I'll post about it soon, but we are off again tomorrow to a wedding

Friday 4 September 2015

Up, up and away

Shortly after my last posting our life took an unexpected turn. Hence my absence once again. For a change it was good news that turned our lives upside down. Husband's nephew, who has been working in San Francisco for the last six and a half years, announced that he was to marry his American girlfriend at the end of the first week in August. The wedding ceremony was to take place on the beach in Monterey, two hours south of San Francisco. And of couse we were invited.  This rather threw us into a tail spin. We are going away in September for twelve days and that had been booked for some time. Then we had planned to have a few days in France in October. My initial thought was that we were spending a lot of time away. As well as being nehew's uncle, husband is also his godfather and he wanted to go.  After about a week of researching flight schedules and ticket prices, we bit the bullet and booked ourselves a return flight to San Francisco. Then we had to find somewhere to stay. We decided on two nights in San Francisco, which would give us a day to sight see before we hired a car to drive down to Monterey.

In many ways that was the easy bit. Next we had to decide what to wear. The UK's cool, damp climate is not conducive to beach weddings. This was something new to us. The dress code was smart casual. It was easy enough to sort out husband, but more difficult for me. Initially I purchased a dress from a well known online retailer only to find that my sister-in-law (SIL), who is the groom's mother, had also bought the same dress and was intending to wear it for the wedding. Eventually I settled on another dress from the same online retailer, which suited me a lot better and I would never otherwise have bought.

So wardrobe sorted out and suitcase packed, we were off to Manchester Airport. The motorway was clear and for once we arrived at the airport early. Once we had checked in for our flight and were through security we headed for duty free. Then had a leisurely coffee before setting off for our departure gate, where we boarded a bus to take us to the aircraft. Whilst on the bus we looked at our boarding passes for the first time and noticed that we had not been allocated the seats that we had booked. In fact we did not even seem to be in adjacent seats. Husband, ever the gentleman, boarded the plane in front of me and explained to the waiting stewardess that we had not been allocated the seats that we had booked. She looked at our boarding passes and told us that there was not a problem, if we just turned left we would find our seats. So we did as instructed and it took us a minute or two to realise that we had been upgraded to Business Class. Before we were settled into our seats we were offered a glass of champagne and for the next two hours or so the alcohol flowed freely, as we were served a very decent  meal on proper china plates. Later into the flight we were served afternoon tea, again with china plates and individual cake stands. All good things come to an end and after about nine hours in the air we landed at Las Vegas where we changed planes for a flight to San Francisco.

Husband's nephew and his American fiancee, who we had not met, picked us up at the airport and took us to our hotel. Because of the time difference, by now we had been up for almost 24 hours. Hardly ideal circumstances for a soon to be new member of the family to be meeting us for the first time.

The next day was our one day for sight seeing in San Francisco. In the morning we had a good walk around through Chinatown and down Lombard Street - San Francisco's famous crooked street and onto to Fisherman's Wharf which was heaving with people.

From there we could see the island of Alcatraz sitting out in San Francisco Bay.

In the afternoon we rested our legs and did an open top bus tour, which was an opportunity for taking photographs while sitting down. We got onto the bus outside Macy's in Union Square.

 It took us around most of the central points of interest, then we headed out to the Golden Gate Bridge

before turning around and heading back into the centre again.

It was not as easy as I thought to take photos from a moving bus and I kept getting the tour guide' s head in my  photos.

The following day we collected the hire car and drove down the Pacific Coast Highway or Highway 1 to Monterey.  We had been told that the coastal scenery along the route was stunning, but the day was grey and overcast and it looked fairly ordinary. It was late afternoon by the time that two weary travellers arrived at our hotel. Having completed the check in formalities, we were handed the keys to our room and told that we had been given a room upgrade. All rooms at this hotel were the same size. However, we were on a higher floor with an ocean view

rather than a harbour view. In a few days time we were to benefit from this upgrade. That evening there was an almighty thunderstorm, which rumbled on for several hours without much rain, but we had a good view of the sheet lightening from our balcony.

After the thunderstorm, the day of the wedding dawned cool, grey and cloudy. It did not look good, but by the time that we needed to leave the hotel, the sky was beginning to clear. We had a brisk 30 minute walk to the site of the wedding, known locally as Lovers' Point, which was to be held on a grassy area under a cypress tree,

in the middle of the photograph, next to the beach. As the bride and groom arrived, the sun came out. The bride looked stunning and the groom looked as smart as I have seen him for a long time. The wedding ceremony was brief and after photographs we made our way to the Monterey Plaza Hotel for the reception.

The day after the wedding we joined the bride and groom, family and friends for a picnic and ramble in Point Lobos State Reserve, a nature park with a dramatic rocky coastline

where we saw these sea lions relaxing on the rocks and caught sight of a whale.

Sadly it was another grey and dismal day without many photo opportunities.

The happy couple returned to San Francisco the following day. Honeymoon to be sometime next year. SIL and family also returned to San Francisco to fly back home to the UK. This left us with a few days to ourselves, which gave us the chance the explore Monterey and to nearby Carmel, where Clint Eastwood was once the mayor. Carmel is fairly small with a beautiful white sandy beach

and reputedly some nice shops, but it was so busy that we were unable to find anywhere to park the car and ended up back in Monterey.

Many of the visitors to Monterey are there to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium. We, maybe foolishly, gave it a miss. There was always a queue outside and the admission charge for an adult is 40 US dollars, which is about £30. There is plenty if wildlife to be seen around Monterey for free. The rocks near Monterey harbour are usually occupied by these black Sooty Shearwaters and Brown Pelicans

and of course the ever present sea gulls. Early one evening, about 150 metres from the balcony of our room, a whale put on a show for us. It was just too far out to photograph, but I had a good view of it through the binoculars provided by the hotel.

There is more to Monterey than wildlife. California's Latin heritage can be seen in downtown or Old Monterey where the architecture has a Spanish and Mexican feel. Amongst the old buildings in that part of town is Stevenson House - below

where Robert Louis Stevenson stayed, in 1879, while he wooed his wife to be Fanny Osbourne and researched his novel Treasure Island. Monterey's literary heritage does not end there. The author John Steinbeck was born in the nearby town of Salinas.

His novel Cannery Row immortalised the sardine canning business that was Monterey's main source of income for the first half of the last century.

 Now the Monterey Bay Aquarium is built on the site of the city's largest sardine factory. Then there are the car auctions, which seem to be big business. Amongst all the shiny sports cars and old jalopies I spotted this well maintained old Nash waiting for a new owner.

Our California dream came to an end and it was time to return home on what was to be the hottest, sunniest day of our holiday.  My photographs show that we had had some grey and disappointing weather, although very little rain. This time we took Highway 101 to San Francisco, rather than the coast road as it is a faster road. The grass at the roadside was orange/brown with patches of black where there had been small fires. California is desperately short of water. Some restaurants would only serve water if you requested it. The fires that were reported in the media happened after we had left, when the weather turned hotter.

The incoming flight to San Francisco was late arriving, which meant that we were late leaving for the flight back to London Heathrow. We arrived back late into a very wet, cold and miserable Heathrow airport after some especially bad weather over the south of the UK. Many flights had been affected and Heathrow was struggling to cope with the thousands of people who had experienced delays. We, along with several hundred other people, needed to transfer from one terminal to another to catch our flight up to Manchester. Needless to say we missed it, but were automatically transferred to the next flight by British Airways and given complimentary free access to one of their executive lounges - somewhere that I had not visited before.  The lounge was busy as so many passengers were experiencing delays, but there was plenty of space, power points for laptops etc, TV screens showing something other than a baseball match, newspapers and a self service buffet. It was almost worth the delay.

Retirement seems to have well and truly kicked in, as I doubt that we would have been able to drop everything and fly off to a wedding in California if husband had been working. As I said earlier next week we go away again,on a planned trip. All this gallivanting around. When did we find the time to go to work?

Sunday 30 August 2015

Seaside visit update

Unkown to us our holiday destination was to be all over the television in the last week or so. Who has been paying attention and who has not?

This is California USA and is in fact the beach next to the harbour in Monterey, as seen in the BBC TV programme Big Blue Live.

Friday 21 August 2015

A visit to the seaside

Since I last posted we have been to the seaside. It was not the seaside as we know it here in the UK. This is not a British beach or even a Mediterranean one. The trip was unplanned and turned out to be quite an adventure. There was no Punch and Judy, sticks of rock or kiss me quick hats. The beaches were almost empty. The scenery was stunning and the wildlife was fascinating. My next post will fill in the gaps.

Tuesday 23 June 2015

Life goes on

I had not intended to neglect my blog for so long, but I simply have not had the time to get to it since I wrote my last post. In case any of you thought that my trip on February 13 was terminal - it was an inconvenience which left me feeling rather sorry for myself for a couple of weeks, but since then I have been fine. I am really not sure where the time has gone, but then I am always busy. We have just returned from a week in Ireland, which was enjoyable but a bit disappointing after last year's visit when we had glorious weather. To write about it  would make a rather boring post. Instead I thought that I would bring you up to date by posting about the events of the last few months.

A few years ago now, we had a leak through the ceiling of our study, which meant that it would need to be replastered. It was not due for redecoration so we put off doing anything about it until recently. We did get the leak sorted out at the time. So the second week in February found us starting to empty the study in preparation for having the ceiling replastered. My view was that everything needed to come out. Husband thought that we could get away with taking out as little as possible. In the time since the study was last decorated it had morphed into cross between Aladdin's cave and Steptoe's front room. The replastering of the ceiling was booked for the beginning of March and  it took us until then to empty the study. In the process we shredded reams of old papers, through out a stack of old magazines and all sorts of other things. For several weeks our paper recycling box was bulging to overflowing. We had donated the old study furniture to the local hospice for them to sell in their shop, but they could not collect it until after the ceiling was replastered.  It was a minor inconvenience, which we got around. We ended up with the various contents of the sudy secreted around the cottage - in the hall, in the conservatory, in bedroom 2 and in bedroom 3.

My aim was to get the contents back into the study as soon as possible. Once the ceiling had been replastered we had to wait a few a few days for it to dry out before we could decorate the study. Then the new carpeted could be fitted. I had worked out the time necessary for the decoration and booked the carpet fitting. Timing was tight, but we made it. The following day the first of the new furniture was delivered. The final piece of the jigsaw was for husband to put up new book shelves. Four months on and the cottage is still not straight. It is no surprise that we have been here eleven years now and the cottage is still not finished.The whole experience has been worse than moving house. Yesterday morning whilst husband was out I put back into the study, four boxes of books from bedroom 3 and some files from bedroom 2. I also had a go at tidying it up. Husband is determined to recreate the ambience of the study pre-decoration. it contains two printers, two computers, three laptops and a tablet computer. Why so many? Well he is trying to sell some of them, as they have been replaced and are now surplus to requirement.

In the middle of all this upheaval husband gave me two weeks notice that he was going to retire four months earlier than he had planned. I should have seen it coming. The writing was on the wall. I had expected  him to work until the end of August, but in the end I had no say in the matter and he retired at the end of April. Since then we have been concentrating, not very successfully, on getting the study back before making grand plans for our retirement. At the momemt I am taking things as they come and have not tried to impose any sort of routine on him. When it all gets to be too much I escape to the garden.

Friday 13 February 2015

Friday the thirteenth comes early

Are you superstitious? Do you live in dread of Friday 13 and avoid walking under ladders? Friday 13 normally does not bother me. It is usually just like any other day. I have to admit that I try to avoid walking under ladders, especially since I accidentally walked under a ladder about 18 months ago. In the following weeks all manner of things went wrong. Maybe it was simply coincidence, but my experiences certainly gave some substance to the old wives tale. Today, Friday 13, has so far been a normal day, but yesterday most definitely was not.

In the early hours of Thursday February 12 I woke as I often do and got out of bed to go to the bathroom. Something that I must have done, quite safely, literally thousands of times, but this time was different. I caught my foot on something and before I knew it the chest of drawers in the corner was speeding towards me with a Maori greeting and it was not friendly. I know what you are thinking - she was drunk. Well I am afraid that you are wrong. It was three days since any alcohol had passed
my lips. Before I could indicate that the feeling was not mutual my nose had made contact with the chest of drawers. Suddenly there was blood everywhere, on my PJs, on the bedclothes and the carpet, although I have to say that it was not as gory as Wednesday evening's episode of Wolf Hall when Anne Boleyn's miscarriage was depicted in graphic detail, which I am sure was not necessary.

Half asleep, shaken and shocked, panic set in as the blood poured out. Thankfully I quickly realised that I needed to get myself to the bathroom and put my pharmacist's hat. Then I quickly managed to staunch the bleeding. I considered waking my husband who was fast asleep, blissfully unaware of what was going on. He could sleep through an earthquake and in any case he does not like blood and the last thing that I needed was him passing out. I cleaned myself and things up as best I could and took myself back to bed. I knew that I would not sleep for some time, so read and debated whether to take myself to A&E or my GP in the morning. Had I broken my nose or was it just bruised? My mother had broken her nose as a child. I remember her telling me how it had been painful and tender and had bled for a long time. Her parents didn't take her to a doctor and her nose set itself crooked. As she got older her nose became even more crooked. I did not want to suffer the same fate. Eventually I managed a few hours sleep. By the time that I got up I had changed my mind about going to see anybody. As a result of the lack of sleep I really did not feeling like dragging myself anywhere. I reasoned to myself that my nose had not bled for a long time. It did not look or feel broken and was more uncomfortable than painful. My diagnosis was of a bruised rather than broken nose. Once up and dressed I consulted Dr Internet as most people do today and found this page which set my mind at rest. My symptoms did not fit those necessary for a visit to my GP or A&E. In any case the last thing that I needed was to mix with coughs and sneezes, which could result in my bruised nose having to cope with a streaming cold.

Thursday 12 was a write off of a day. I spent he morning clearing up the aftermath of the night's events and booking the carpet cleaning wizard who lives in the next village, to come and remove the blood from the carpet for me. In the past he has successfully removed red wine from our off white, living room carpet. In the afternoon I pottered around the cottage. My plans for the day in tatters. It seems that for me, at least, Friday 13 came a day early and the worrying thing is that it could all happen again next month. Then a few days later we have the Ides of March.

Friday 23 January 2015

One to remember

Well the holiday over new year was certainly one to remember, although it was not the holiday of a lifetime, and it was certainly different. In the run up to our departure the weather here in the UK was subzero with the threat of fog for the morning of our flight, which made me wonder if we would even get to the airport. As it happened the motorway to the airport was clear and the fog did not materialise. In fact we had a very smooth and uneventful trip to our holiday destination, unlike our journey home. Our problems started at the airport with the slowest, most chaotic check in that we have ever experienced. Our flight was delayed, but that is no excuse for a slow check in. Eventually we were informed that the reason for the delay was a medical emergency on the outbound flight, which resulted in a detour to get the passenger, who was ill, to hospital. Nobody wants to be in that situation and everybody was very understanding about the cause for the delay.  Our return flight took off nearly three hours late with the promise from the captain that he would be stepping on the gas to get us home as soon as possible. About forty minutes before we were due to land we were advised that they had another medical emergency on board and would be landing back in Manchester as fast as we could. Once on the ground we were to remain in our seats to allow the paramedics to take the casualty off. And boy the landing was certainly fast! Forty five minutes had been shaved off a flight which should have taken four hours. So we had landed safely, but now the bridge to the airport terminal could not be connected to the plane. At least the captain, who must have had a stressful day, could see the funny side of things.

For us problems did not end there. Husband had woken me up early on our last morning with what seemed like heavy breathing. During the journey home a cough and a snuffle developed. He was obviously coming down with some bug. The first day back he went to work, but by the next day he really was not well enough for work. He ended up having three days off work, which for him is very unusual. I could count on the fingers of one hand, the number of days off sick he has had in the 25 years, that I have known him.

So on a lighter note, where did we go? Well I do know where we went, but I wonder if you can guess from these clues where we have been. We went to an island where the second language is English. They have cable cars and a toboggan run but there was no snow when we were there. 

The streets are steep

and the taxi cabs are yellow.

It is a popular port of call for cruise ships, but we were not on one having flown there.

It is an all year round destination with millions of visitors every year. Time wise the island is on GMT, with milder climate than the UK, making it a paradise for horticulturists. It almost looked like England in the Spring, but these yellow flowers are not daffodils.

Everything seems to grow there from the most English of plants - the ubiquitous Ivy, to the colourful South American bougainvillea

 and the exotic South African protea.

The island is famous for its' cake and wine and recently a museum dedicated to one of the island's famous sportsmen was opened. We really enjoyed our stay and hope to return to the island at a different time of year.

Friday 9 January 2015

Amnesia or dementia?


I am back from warmer climes and no longer singing the praises of technology. I am a very patient individual, but over the last few months my patience has been sorely tested. After the problems of recent months with a tired laptop, erratic broadband, problems commenting and third party cookies,  I  had hoped that a new all singing and dancing laptop would solve the problems that I was experiencing, but no. This shiny new laptop cannot/does not want to/will not see photographs that were taken before some arbitrary date in September 2014. I do not know if this is due to Windows 8 (the previous laptop was Windows 7), Blogger, which also seems to be a different version to my previous laptop or Picasa, which seems to delight in being a law unto itself. The photographs are at least still in my camera and I can remember taking them. It just seems to be the laptop that is suffering from amnesia or dementia. Well whatever the diagnosis this latest difficulty has given me a bit of a headache. When I started to have problems preparing posts I decided to opt for subjects where I could use several photographs as a quick means of generating the post, as putting in text was proving very time consuming. For a time this approach worked. However, the post Last Month had to be prepared using two laptops - the new one and the old one, as the old one will at least see my photographs, although it has other problems. Loading the photographs onto my old laptop did not please husband who had started to wipe my old laptop. Clearly I cannot continue to operate in this fashion and in any case it was very time consuming.

The consequence of all this is that I shall not be able to write some of the posts that I had planned to write where photographs would have been key to the subject matter. For a time I was thinking of throwing in the towel, but I have realised that posts can be written without photographs and the schedule of posts that I had planned is not set in stone. I needed to do some lateral thinking and make some changes. However, all is not lost as when I did some forward planning I loaded some photographs onto the draft posts and they are still  there. It is disappointing to say the least and just goes to show that change is not necessarily progress.