Relief and regret.

So I survived Saturday afternoon.

I didn’t get moved – hoorah! – and I was working with people I get on with very well indeed, both of which cheered me up and which was a relief. And from the sound of the dreadful morning that the others had experienced I am VERY glad I didn’t work the early shift; the aggressive patients were difficult and one of them was so bad they had to phone his family, though I’m glad about that seeing as they have tended to be in denial about how bad he can be. No excuse now. He did calm down when they arrived, though.

It was a weird afteroon for me. I started off going round with one of the nurses, checking that people who are bedbound were comfortable, clean and dry but was then asked to sit with the agressive lady to keep her occupied which meant I could do some admin stuff from my other job on the ward. In the end I also got to clean her fingernails for her – they were very unsavoury which, considering she usually lives in a residential home is a bit worrying. I must have done a good job because she fell asleep while I was doing it. But later, after a long sleep and having had tea things took a turn for the worse. So far, during her stay with us, I had only heard about how she could be but now I got to be on the recieving end. In the end, after she had tried to throw things at me, pushed loads of stuff onto the floor, attempted to over turn the table she was sitting at (but failing because it’s part of a larger structure which is screwed to the floor) and belt me with her walking frame me and one of the nurses took her to her room where she tried to punch my colleague in the face and then bite his arm (he has a toddler, so his reactions are well honed and he avoided injury) and she hissed that she wanted to hurt me the most. Nice.

She remained in her room for approximately 3 minutes before coming out again, so we had to help her back to her previous place (she’s not safe on her feet without assistance) where she suddenly started to scream just an ambulance crew arrived to collect another patient so they could return them to their residential home, which meant we all had to run around gathering stuff together to make sure that the process went as quickly as possible (the ambulance crews have been told that if the hand-over process is going to take any more than 10 minutes they have to abandon it.) . I’m afraid that at this point my patience, which I usually possess in abundance, failed me and I snapped for her to “STOP IT!” She did stop, I have to say, but what I didn’t realise was that the relative of another patient had walked up behind us to witness this and, as I hurried away to help the (very cute) ambulance guys slide the patient from his bed on to their trolley she stooped and said soothingly “don’t worry I’m sure someone will help you soon” which made me feel like an absolute bastard. I’m kind of worried she’ll complain about it having only witnessed one moment from the whole afternoon.

As always I regretted losing my temper. It’s a rare occassion that I lose it and feel totally justified in doing so, and this time it’s haunting me a bit. 99.9999999% of the time I am an understanding and compassionate person but I can’t control that .00001%. That said,  in the 5 and a bit years I’ve been doing this job that’s the first time I’ve snapped like that.

Anyway, it’s now Monday afternoon and I’m sitting on the sofa watching YouTube videos. Drew was already a bit of a YouTube watcher but I am a recent convert and now I’m addicted. I think I like it because without fail all the people who vlog on there (who I watch anyway) seem so genuinly nice, mostly come from pretty normal backgrounds and seem truely surprised that they have become globally famous. That said at least one of them, having been pleasantly accosted in the street by fans, gasped “this is incredible because I’m not even famous.” I think what impresses me most is how many of them have embraced the technology and have created their own businesses and such like, plus they do all their own editing, handle all their own equipment and control all their output themselves. And I like the community that has formed; they have become friends in real life and hang out together even internationally. The Americans attend British meet-ups and vice versa and they stay in each other’s houses and flats. To sum up, it comes down to the “realness” of it all, probably as a reaction to all the artifice of the regular celebrity world. In the same way there are certain what you might call celebs that I like because they don’t seem to take themselves too seriously (which is why I like Kylie Minogue more than Madonna – perhaps it’s an Australian thing.)

So, back in the real world.

Having two days off from work on the trot has been rather nice, especially as I originally thought I was back in this afternoon whereas it’s actually TOMORROW afternoon. Yay me! Drew was off yesterday, too, as he never works on a Sunday,so we spent a very laid-back day catching up with some television, doing some washing and other things that required very little energy.  At 5.30 we drove through town to Mum and Dad’s for tea. The Girls were beside themselves about this as they love my parents’ garden. It’s the only place we go where they can run about freely (well, they can in our garden but it’s less than a third the size of my parents’ one.) Mum had done a chilli which was perfect for a chilly autumn evening.

The only downer was that late on during our visit Lola started to cough. She had been sick in the garden and then spent the rest of the evening eating grass and drinking loads of water. This went on after we went to bed with both Drew and I having to take her downstairs where she drank copious amounts of water and went out into the garden to eat grass. In fact she couldn’t get enough water. At about 5 to 4 I woke up again as Lola scratched at the bedroom door, sat up to put my bedside light on and put my hand out to support myself only to find that she had weed on the bed – only a little bit, but it’s so unlike her to do that. Back she went to the garden, and she was out there for ages and ages before coming back in and running back up to bed. We ended up sleeping on the mattress protector, me with a blanket on and Drew with the duvet cover rolled up so he didn’t get the wet bit on him. Then we all slept like logs until Drew’s alarm went off at FIVE!!

Lola sounded a bit croaky during the morning, but she’s been fine all day other than having a couple of coughs this evening. When I did what we call “poo patrol” this afternoon (clearing up the Girls’ deposits in the garden) I found a large bit of grassy sick as well. I presume Lola’s felt better since bringing all that up.

Sorry about that unsavoury interlude.

Not much else has happened. Watched more YouTube videos, done a shit load of washing and washing up.

Back to work tomorrow. Another late – back come the fears.

That’s it for now.

Fear.

Blimey. Back again.

Today I have The Fear. This is because rather than being on an early shift at work (I love earlies despite having to get up at 5 in the morning and starting at 7am) I am on a late, which today starts at 1pm. Why does this give The Fear, you may ask? Well there are a number of reasons:

1) Being moved. This is something none of us likes very much, being shifted from your own ward in the hospital to cover a shortage in another. Usually you get moved to a ward which does similar work (ie: elderly care) but sometimes you can be put on a ward which is entirely different, where they do things in a completely different way. It is, I suppose, a fear of being out of your depth. I  thought that after 5 years I would have got over this but I actually feel it worse than ever because the fear combines with FRUSTRATION that even now that I am experienced I feel stupid. It doesn’t help that people in those other wards think their way to do things is how it’s done everywhere. I sincerely hope we don’t make people who get moved to us from time to time as idiotic as other people can make me feel.

My reaction to this is to want to cry. Even at my age. Or be sick. This is EXACTLY how I used to feel as a child and discovering that I’ve never grown out of that is a bit of a shock.

2) Difficult patients. Generally patients with dementia are, in my experience, much more settled in the mornings. In the afternoons, however, due to the stimulation of lots of staff, lots of visitors, etc, some patients become very, very unsettled and in some cases can become very aggressive, even violent. Of course I deal with it, and never have to do so alone, but I would rather avoid it if I could. It can be distressing and dangerous for everyone.

3) Difficult visitors. This reminds me of my years working in retail. Many people’s expecations are WAY beyond the realms of reality and, boy, do they not like hearing the truth. In the hospital patients’ relatives sometimes believe that the ill person will be “cured” within days and get angry when they can’t be told a definite date for their discharge. They won’t accept that their relative can be aggressive because they never behave like that during visiting time – do they think we’re making it up? “My Dad came in with £200 in loose change but we can’t find it!” Why the fuck did he have that with him? Did he or someone in the family sign the disclaimer? They did. Tough shit, then. Why hasn’t my Dad had a shave? Because he tried to bite me, that’s why. And on it goes.

Makes it sound awful doesn’t it? In reality, probably I will have a lovely afternoon working with people I like and patients and visitors will behave like angels. I just don’t like uncertainty.

Bloody Hell, I’ve blogged.

Good grief.

It’s an age since I’ve written anything. I don’t know why the urge/need to put words onto the (digital) page dwindled so thoroughly but dwindle it did. It’s not that I never have anything to say it’s just that somehow the actual process of translating the things banging in around in my head into words kills the spontaneity. Maybe if I went back to writing the sort of fiction I used to write years ago (albeit stuff that no one woud read but myself) it would be different but I don’t feel the need to do that anymore either… probably because I’m actually happy with life these days and all my writing was borne of the angst I was feeling back in the day (as the kids say.) Some of the best books I’ve read are tragic, perhaps it takes the inspiration of tragedy to produce the goods.

And of course I was still single when I used to blog a lot. Once you have a real life human in your life it can be a bit distracting.

Sooooooo might this fragment be the start of some more writings? I dunno, if I’m honest. I felt like writing a bit tonight, so I did.

Anyway, until the next time…………

In which I meet the nicest man in retail and plan a trip.

Hello Readers.

Let’s ignore the countdown to Xangapocalypse and continue as though nothing is wrong.

Could our local chemist be the Nicest Man In Retail? I have already mentioned him in a blog a while ago (can’t recall when) due to his ability to remember details about what must be his thousands of customers amongst other things, but lst week he did something for me that means I think he should be awarded in some way. After work (and a little rest) I took my prescriptions round the corner to the chemists to get my new anti-depressants and some antibiotics for my infected gum. I was a bit worried about doing this because every two months they have my repeat prescription ready for me so that there’s no messing about or waiting and for the second time I was going to have to get there and explain that my GP had changed one of the pills, so that their preplanned packets were going to be redundant. But I need not have been concerned; I was too soon in the month for the stuff to be ready, and Mr. Chemist didn’t mind at all anyway. But I have yet to get to the best bit: when he brought all the packets to the counter, he jokingly said, “Are you ready to take out a second mortgage?” I laughed and said that although I was going to pay up front this time I intended to set up a pre-payment direct debit, which entitles you to a rather substantial discount. He regarded me for a moment and then said, “I think I can trust you,” and GAVE ME EVERYTHING FOR NOTHING on the proviso that I went home, set up that direct debit and then returned the next day to tell him. So that’s exactly what I have done, saving myself a £40 lump sum payment! It’s the sort of thing that almost never happens!

When I was recounting this tale to our friends, who also go there, they told us how they had once gone to collect something on prescription but he gave THEM money back because he sells that item off the shelf for much less money than it is on prescription! What a gent.

I realise that I have never given an update on my hearing problem, the result of that virus I had a few weeks back. Well, I’m pleased to say that although I am, from time to time, aware of a high pitched whistling in it the roaring sound and the weird echo effect have completely disappeared. In fact I totally forgot to mention it the last time I visited the doctors, so improved was it. I am relieved, naturally, but do have a slight concern that it may come back to haunt me in the future.

Right, this was short. I’m off to buy train tickets for another trip to London in July! Exciting!

Back soon.

 

 

 

Wednesday 12th: In which I speculate about Gallifreyan gender assignment as well as other guff.

Hello, Readers.
I don’t know whether it is the news of the dubious future of Xanga, where I have had a presence in one form or another, for over a decade, but I have not had an inclination to write anything at all. That’s not to say that I haven’t garnered subjects in my head from time to time, but when it has come to the act of pressing fingertip to key I have found it impossible to be motivated. There is no connection between what is in my mind and the wish to see it in printed word forms on a screen.

So, let’s steer clear of the Xanga debate except to day that I have set up a place at WordPress, which seems okay, but which I have yet to use properly, and turn to more pressing matters such as who will take over from Matt Smith in “Doctor Who” now that he has announced that he is to regenerate in the Christmas episode. Speculation in the media is rife and, of course, the old “will it be a woman?” subject has raised it’s gnarled old head again just as it has ever since Tom “Fourth Doctor” Baker mischeviously wished his successor great success “whoever he, or she, might be…” The Doctor can not regenerate into a woman. There are Time Lords and Time Ladies: if a Gallifreyan character is “born” as a male then he stays that way throughout his regenerations. Similarly it seems, through the show’s long history, that if a Time Person is “born” white he or she stays white, if they were black or oriental in their first persona then they remain so through their regenerations.

Should show-runner Stephen Moffat experience some sort of mental flip and cast a woman, then I will stop watching the series. That’s not me being sexist, that’s me being loyal to a character: the Doctor may look and act differently each regeneration, but he is in essence the same person at heart(s). There is no Trill-like symbiotic presence to bond with a different host (and how strange that on-screen Dax managed to bond with two pretty females in swift succession rather than a middle aged man as previously but never seen.) Years ago I stopped watching when Colin Baker was cast as the Sixth Doctor because the character was so altered as to be a different person. It didn’t last; the Sixth Doctor mellowed and in the subsequent audio stories from Big Finish is much more Doctor-y and as Colin Baker would always have preferred to play him.

So, who will play HIM when he regenerates? Many names have been bandied about and the BBC have denied the Sunday Telegraph’s claim that they offerred the part to Rory Kinnear, recently seen in “Skyfall.” Personally I’d love it if it was Russell Tovey, but I suspect he wouldn’t want to be tied to one part for so long. My speculation is that it might be one of the two male leads from the recently-cancelled Merlin, perhaps Bradley James, who played Arthur or Colin Morgan, who portrayed Merlin himself. In my opinion Bradley James, although very handsome, is not a good enough actor to bring it off. He’s a perfectly serviceable actor, but I don’t see enough depth in his performances to bring to a character like the Doctor whereas Colin Morgan has that slight other-worldliness that Matt Smith has and the acting skills to go with it. I’m unlikely to be right in any case. Despite the fact that the media is reacting to the news as though Smith rang the BBC one morning and said, “Well, lads, it’s been fab but I’ll only do up to Christmas,” the reality is more likely to be that he gave his notice in many months ago and that the Twelfth Doctor has already known who he is for a very long time.

What may happen to the character in his twelfth incarnation? The series has a tradition that as Gallifreyans proceed through their regenerations they are prone to corruption and the likelihood that they will become evil versions of their former selves. Indeed, this has already been seen with the Doctor himself: the character of the Valeyard during the “Trial of a Timelord” series in the 80s turned out to be a baddie-future-regeneration of the Doctor. The Valeyard was even mentioned in the last episode of the most recent series as the Doctor and Clara had to confront all the past versions of himself. And then there’s the sticky situation regarding the number of regenerations that a Time Lord has. In the 1996 the Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann) states that a Time Lord has 13 lives. This means that the next time he changes should be the last time – after that he will die when his time comes. But, lest we forget, we are in the realms of science-fiction where anything can, and does, happen. During the action of “The Five Doctors” the Time Lords promise the evil Master another regeneration cycle if he helps them (and he’s already been through, and rather gruesomely beyond, his generation cycle and is then inhabiting someone else’s body.) If the programme is still making money for the BBC and still gaining success around the world (especially in the US) then it won’t be the Time Lords that grant the Doctor a prolonged existence, it will be the Grand Council of the British Broadcasting Corporation.

Let us leave the fantastic worlds of science fiction and television behind and return to reality.

Today Drew has driven up to Birmingham to attend the funeral of his uncle, his father’s twin, who died a couple of weeks ago. He looked very smart, driving away in his suit trousers and a tie, but although he will get to see some relatives he rarely sees and one of his nieces who he adores, naturally it is not an experience he is relishing. Since his parents died he finds funerals very difficult. I hope he is okay, but he will be home tonight and we spoke (eventually after various phone problems) when he had just reached Birmingham. The Girls are behaving better than I had hoped in his absence; Charley has spent most of the morning asleep, which is usual for her because she’s not a morning girl, while Lola has not been as hysterical as she sometimes is. I think this is because I’ve been busy doing houseworky things and Lola has followed me about so she hasn’t had time to dwell on Drew not being here. Long may this continue, because there are times when her neurosis is hard to cope with without losing your temper.

We had a very nice weekend. I had both Saturday and Sunday off work, which was good. Our neighbour, a lovely lady, was having an “open day” at her house on Saturday, which she has recently sold. We assumed this was so that her (many) friends could pop in to wish her farewell but it turned out it was actually her 70th birthday too. After doing some much needed shopping we and The Girls took a good luck card and a bottle of wine and knocked on her door.

I always find it awkward to meet new people, although I get over it fairly quickly, but the arrival of the Girls elicited more attention than we did. Lola was very over-excited and wanted to meet everyone all at the same time, so I had to hold her on my lap until she had calmed down. Charley was not at all sure and did not really relax. Unfortunately she took against our hostess’s sister, why we will never know although she does possess a passing resemblance to both the woman who cuts the dogs’ hair and my Mum’s cousin, who Charley has never liked. But this dislike of the sister extended to Charley trying to nip her on the leg as she walked past even though she (Charley) was sitting on Drew’s lap. She has never tried to bite anyone before! Fortunately this incident was laughed off by everyone except Charley who did settle but not without keeping her eye on her perceived nemesis and the occasional grumble. We took them home in the end, though, which Lola was cross about but which meant we were able to relax.

In the end, having been wary of feeling a little out of place, we out-stayed everyone save the sister who was staying there and got home, slightly merry but the right side of a bowl of soup each, after midnight! It had been a very pleasant evening indeed, and nice to meet lots of new people despite my shyness.

Sunday was not the bright and sunny day my parents had hoped for as they had invited the two of us, the Girls and my brother’s family round for lunch to celebrate Mum’s birthday earlier in the week. Disappointingly my sister-in-law wasn’t well enough to come but the rest of us managed to enjoy ourselves. The original intention had been to eat outside, but the chill put paid to that so Mum layed out a buffet lunch in the dining room and we all trooped in and out as often as our appetites required. It was a lovely spread, of course, and I ate far too much. I’d like to think that the walk some of us then took in the nearby park wore off some of the extra calories, but I doubt it. (It was during this walk that my youngest nephew sagely informed his older sister that if anyone should be able to pooh in their trousers then it would be Father Christmas, because he’s magic and he could magic himself some clean ones on!)

Dad, my brother and my oldest nephew stayed behind to watch some sport or other on telly, so it was Mum who accompanied the other two to the playground in the park while Drew and I took the dogs for a walk. We met up after about 40 minutes and strolled back to the house for “surprise” birthday cake (that everyone knew about, particularly Mum as she had bought it) and some drawing and colouring in before Brother decided it was time get back to Sisterinlaw. Drew and I stayed for another hour but then left Mum and Dad to watch the Montreal Grand Prix in peace, and came home for tea.

Work-wise things are much better. Finishing at half one in the afternoon is bliss and so far I’ve been asked to go in early for all my late shifts, so I’ve been finishing at a reasonable hour. After today I have 5 shifts in a row, but I really don’t mind about that. I have learned two relevant, and interesting facts this week: another hospital is reviewing its 12 hour shifts on its elderly wards and the one ward where the Matron claims everyone is happy with the new shifts is not happy at all: I worked with woman yesterday who left after 6 months on there so she could return to working short shifts on the pool who informed me that the staff on there are anything but happy! Of course, as we suspected, the three month trial period has not resulted in anything and in fact has been extended to six months! And “they” wonder why we don’t trust them.

Ah well. I’m going to try posting this on WordPress as well.

Laters.

Footnote: getting this entry, typed up on my laptop’s own word system has been a right pain in the arse. FFS.

Wednesday 10.06.13 in which I debate whether Gallifreyans can change sex and other guff.

Hello, Readers.

I don’t know whether it is the news of the dubious future of Xanga, where I have had a presence in one form or another, for over a decade, but I have not had an inclination to write anything at all. That’s not to say that I haven’t garnered subjects in my head from time to time, but when it has come to the act of pressing fingertip to key I have found it impossible to be motivated. There is no connection between what is in my mind and the wish to see it in printed word forms on a screen.

So, let’s steer clear of the Xanga debate except to day that I have set up a place at WordPress, which seems okay, but which I have yet to use properly, and turn to more pressing matters such as who will take over from Matt Smith in “Doctor Who” now that he has announced that he is to regenerate in the Christmas episode. Speculation in the media is rife and, of course, the old “will it be a woman?” subject has raised it’s gnarled old head again just as it has ever since Tom “Fourth Doctor” Baker mischeviously wished his successor great success “whoever he, or she, might be…” The Doctor can not regenerate into a woman. There are Time Lords and Time Ladies: if a Gallifreyan character is “born” as a male then he stays that way throughout his regenerations. Similarly it seems, through the show’s long history, that if a Time Person is “born” white he or she stays white, if they were black or oriental in their first persona then they remain so through their regenerations.

Should show-runner Stephen Moffat experience some sort of mental flip and cast a woman, then I will stop watching the series. That’s not me being sexist, that’s me being loyal to a character: the Doctor may look and act differently each regeneration, but he is in essence the same person at heart(s). There is no Trill-like symbiotic presence to bond with a different host (and how strange that on-screen Dax managed to bond with two pretty females in swift succession rather than a middle aged man as previously but never seen.) Years ago I stopped watching when Colin Baker was cast as the Sixth Doctor because the character was so altered as to be a different person. It didn’t last; the Sixth Doctor mellowed and in the subsequent audio stories from Big Finish is much more Doctor-y and as Colin Baker would always have preferred to play him.

So, who will play HIM when he regenerates? Many names have been bandied about and the BBC have denied the Sunday Telegraph’s claim that they offerred the part to Rory Kinnear, recently seen in “Skyfall.” Personally I’d love it if it was Russell Tovey, but I suspect he wouldn’t want to be tied to one part for so long. My speculation is that it might be one of the two male leads from the recently-cancelled Merlin, perhaps Bradley James, who played Arthur or Colin Morgan, who portrayed Merlin himself. In my opinion Bradley James, although very handsome, is not a good enough actor to bring it off. He’s a perfectly serviceable actor, but I don’t see enough depth in his performances to bring to a character like the Doctor whereas Colin Morgan has that slight other-worldliness that Matt Smith has and the acting skills to go with it. I’m unlikely to be right in any case. Despite the fact that the media is reacting to the news as though Smith rang the BBC one morning and said, “Well, lads, it’s been fab but I’ll only do up to Christmas,” the reality is more likely to be that he gave his notice in many months ago and that the Twelfth Doctor has already known who he is for a very long time.

What may happen to the character in his twelfth incarnation? The series has a tradition that as Gallifreyans proceed through their regenerations they are prone to corruption and the likelihood that they will become evil versions of their former selves. Indeed, this has already been seen with the Doctor himself: the character of the Valeyard during the “Trial of a Timelord” series in the 80s turned out to be a baddie-future-regeneration of the Doctor. The Valeyard was even mentioned in the last episode of the most recent series as the Doctor and Clara had to confront all the past versions of himself. And then there’s the sticky situation regarding the number of regenerations that a Time Lord has. In the 1996 the Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann) states that a Time Lord has 13 lives. This means that the next time he changes should be the last time – after that he will die when his time comes. But, lest we forget, we are in the realms of science-fiction where anything can, and does, happen. During the action of “The Five Doctors” the Time Lords promise the evil Master another regeneration cycle if he helps them (and he’s already been through, and rather gruesomely beyond, his generation cycle and is then inhabiting someone else’s body.) If the programme is still making money for the BBC and still gaining success around the world (especially in the US) then it won’t be the Time Lords that grant the Doctor a prolonged existence, it will be the Grand Council of the British Broadcasting Corporation.

Let us leave the fantastic worlds of science fiction and television behind and return to reality.

Today Drew has driven up to Birmingham to attend the funeral of his uncle, his father’s twin, who died a couple of weeks ago. He looked very smart, driving away in his suit trousers and a tie, but although he will get to see some relatives he rarely sees and one of his nieces who he adores, naturally it is not an experience he is relishing. Since his parents died he finds funerals very difficult. I hope he is okay, but he will be home tonight and we spoke (eventually after various phone problems) when he had just reached Birmingham. The Girls are behaving better than I had hoped in his absence; Charley has spent most of the morning asleep, which is usual for her because she’s not a morning girl, while Lola has not been as hysterical as she sometimes is. I think this is because I’ve been busy doing houseworky things and Lola has followed me about so she hasn’t had time to dwell on Drew not being here. Long may this continue, because there are times when her neurosis is hard to cope with without losing your temper.

We had a very nice weekend. I had both Saturday and Sunday off work, which was good. Our neighbour, a lovely lady, was having an “open day” at her house on Saturday, which she has recently sold. We assumed this was so that her (many) friends could pop in to wish her farewell but it turned out it was actually her 70th birthday too. After doing some much needed shopping we and The Girls took a good luck card and a bottle of wine and knocked on her door.

I always find it awkward to meet new people, although I get over it fairly quickly, but the arrival of the Girls elicited more attention than we did. Lola was very over-excited and wanted to meet everyone all at the same time, so I had to hold her on my lap until she had calmed down. Charley was not at all sure and did not really relax. Unfortunately she took against our hostess’s sister, why we will never know although she does possess a passing resemblance to both the woman who cuts the dogs’ hair and my Mum’s cousin, who Charley has never liked. But this dislike of the sister extended to Charley trying to nip her on the leg as she walked past even though she (Charley) was sitting on Drew’s lap. She has never tried to bite anyone before! Fortunately this incident was laughed off by everyone except Charley who did settle but not without keeping her eye on her perceived nemesis and the occasional grumble. We took them home in the end, though, which Lola was cross about but which meant we were able to relax.

In the end, having been wary of feeling a little out of place, we out-stayed everyone save the sister who was staying there and got home, slightly merry but the right side of a bowl of soup each, after midnight! It had been a very pleasant evening indeed, and nice to meet lots of new people despite my shyness.

Sunday was not the bright and sunny day my parents had hoped for as they had invited the two of us, the Girls and my brother’s family round for lunch to celebrate Mum’s birthday earlier in the week. Disappointingly my sister-in-law wasn’t well enough to come but the rest of us managed to enjoy ourselves. The original intention had been to eat outside, but the chill put paid to that so Mum layed out a buffet lunch in the dining room and we all trooped in and out as often as our appetites required. It was a lovely spread, of course, and I ate far too much. I’d like to think that the walk some of us then took in the nearby park wore off some of the extra calories, but I doubt it. (It was during this walk that my youngest nephew sagely informed his older sister that if anyone should be able to pooh in their trousers then it would be Father Christmas, because he’s magic and he could magic himself some clean ones on!)

Dad, my brother and my oldest nephew stayed behind to watch some sport or other on telly, so it was Mum who accompanied the other two to the playground in the park while Drew and I took the dogs for a walk. We met up after about 40 minutes and strolled back to the house for “surprise” birthday cake (that everyone knew about, particularly Mum as she had bought it) and some drawing and colouring in before Brother decided it was time get back to Sisterinlaw. Drew and I stayed for another hour but then left Mum and Dad to watch the Montreal Grand Prix in peace, and came home for tea.

Work-wise things are much better. Finishing at half one in the afternoon is bliss and so far I’ve been asked to go in early for all my late shifts, so I’ve been finishing at a reasonable hour. After today I have 5 shifts in a row, but I really don’t mind about that. I have learned two relevant, and interesting facts this week: another hospital is reviewing its 12 hour shifts on its elderly wards and the one ward where the Matron claims everyone is happy with the new shifts is not happy at all: I worked with woman yesterday who left after 6 months on there so she could return to working short shifts on the pool who informed me that the staff on there are anything but happy! Of course, as we suspected, the three month trial period has not resulted in anything and in fact has been extended to six months! And “they” wonder why we don’t trust them.

Ah well. I’m going to try posting this on WordPress as well.

Laters.

Thursday, on which my bum gets numb. And I learn some frightening stuff.

Hello, Dear Readers.

Back again.

Today I attended what we officially call “Corporate Study Day,” and what is UNofficially called many other names amongst the staff, none of them complimentary. It is made up of a series of talks by the heads, or deputy heads, of various departments at the hospital and it is mandatory to attend. I suppose that, given the size of the place and the thousands of people who work there, it is a wonder that anything like this ever works at all but it never fails to irk me that “they” never get it right. My name was on none of the official lists that were set out for us to sign to say that we had attended, so I duly signed and printed in the sections provided. In fact it is my estimation that about 75% of the names were not countersigned. Oh well, lots more had added their names underneath mine.

The trouble with CS day is that much of it is the same every year, which makes it very dull indeed after a few years. That said, one part which used to be the lady in question standing on the stage and droning on for an hour was much improved, perhaps due to the feedback given last year. Sadly a later part which I am required to sit through but which really is not at all relevant is, as a result of not being relevant as dull as ditchwater despite being delivered by one of the more engaging speakers of the morning.

Just like last year there was much confusion about what I was supposed to attend during the afternoon, so in the end I just followed the list that was put up. If my immediate bosses don’t like it then they can lump it.

But the afternoon turned out to be an incredible session. Officially termed “Safeguarding Adults, ” which I had attended last year, this was a variation from the usual talk because the hospital had invited in a woman who works for the Suffolk Police in the Forced Marriages Unit. The stories she told us were just incredible, particularly in regard to honour killings: it’s a world you hear about every now and then in the press and other media but one which, as she was keen to underline, is actually there all the time. Many of the incidents she quoted were local, and the statistics she had to hand were horrifying on both a national and a local level. She also revealed that she, herself, as a Muslim woman had been expected to follow a path set for her by her family and when she said no, she wanted a career, she was disowned by them. She has not had any contact with any of her relations for 17 years.

We sat there, stunned by the atrocities she told us; the murders, the beatings, the kidnappings, things that were, ARE, occurring in our civilised, western country but happening under the radar. In one city, in one year, 500 children vanished from schools with no trace, yet no questions were ever asked because the figures weren’t collated until a couple of years later. Very frightening.

She also works to combat illegal female genital mutilation. Her talk on this matter was shorter but had no less impact. Again the statistics were frightening, not to mention the horrific descriptions of the injuries (mostly) young girls can sustain. She at least spared us the photographs which she uses when talking to solely to the gynecological and surgical staff.

At the end she cheerfully asked “Any questions” and was surprised when there were none, but our lack of response wasn’t due to any lack of interest it was down to us being stunned, frankly. Then someone broke the ice by saying, “That was all incredibly thought provoking, terrifying even,” and there was some chat. I hope she realised how powerful her presentation had been. She talked about how she goes into schools, colleges and other institutions, so she clearly works hard. Of all the speakers we had today she was by far the most engaging.

Anyway, this is a short entry. I’m on a long day tomorrow, so I ought to get off to bed. But I will be back soon.

Wales 2013: Part 6, in which we have one last walk and then come home.

Well, I am angry, Dear Readers – angry with myself for stupidly not saving what I had written when I closed my documents the other night. Buggeration.

Sigh. Anyway, here we go again.

We came home on Saturday. The end.

No, not really… Saturday morning dawned dry and sunny. We were up early so we could have breakfast, perform ablutions and pack the car (I say “we,” but Drew likes to pack the car by himself and has it down to a fine art.) The request is that holiday makers vacate the bungalow and drop the front door key off at the handyman’s house by 10.30 but we have never achieved that goal. I don’t think it’s too vital to be out on the dot and I imagine that the families that come with lots of kids find it hard to achieve anyway. But this year we had left, locked up and Drew was popping the key through the letterbox at the handyman’s by 11.15.

You see we don’t just leave, we go through the place cleaning and hoovering and making sure everything is back where it should be (when we arrive we snap photos so we don’t forget where things have to go because there are things we move to dog-proof the place. This year we slightly re-arranged bits of furniture to suit our needs, so we wanted to make sure there was nothing out of place when we left. This leaves Handyman little to do, but that’s fine by me, I think it’s a matter of courtesy to leave it as you find it. He’ll change all the bed linen anyway (although we take our own) and the grass needed cutting before the next lot of people arrived, so he’ll be busy enough. According to the lady who owns it, not everyone in the past has been so thoughtful and the bungalow has been left in a terrible state.

Drew’s Mum took a great pride in making sure the place was spotless before she left, so we intend to keep up her standards!

It is our tradition that before we drive out of Fairbourne for the last time we take the dogs for one last walk on the beach. In fact we used to go for one last walk in the B.C. years so we could breath in some of that Welsh sea air, so now we have the dogs with us it makes even more sense to do so – they get a chance for a wee and/or a pooh and to stretch their legs before being cooped up in the car for hours.

Because we’d managed a walk on the beach the evening before we decided to go up to the Point, so we could walk from the car park, round past the station cafe, along the sand (if there was any exposed by the tide) and then back to the car. It seemed that a lot of other people had woken up that morning and made the same decision because the car park was very full but after a moment’s panic we managed to squeeze in without a problem.

But once we were out of the car we discovered that despite the number of vehicles there the number of people wasn’t overwhelming; some were just sitting in their cars looking at the views and several were up at the station waiting for the little train to arrive. To my own joy we had arrived at precisely the right time to watch the train round the bend and draw up at the station, and then the engine move from one end of the carriages to the other ready for its return journey.

We were also lucky with the tide. It had been going out for a while so although it was not out to its full extent there were still acres of sand to walk on. The Girls were happy to run about and we were happy in the sunshine. In the distance there were even horses from the nearby riding school moving across the sand. How I wished even more we could stay.

But we took more photos, untangled the girls who had woven their respective leads into an awkward mess, sighed wistfully, and returned to the car.

Barmouth across the estuary.

The first part of the trip was uneventful. Lola, as usual, hated being in the back of the car and not in the front. She ran through her entire repertoire of attention seeking noises and wriggled about, but we resolutely ignored her and she almost settled down. Charley, seasoned traveller that she is, relaxed straight away.

There’s not much to relate about the drive. We listened to and sang along to the playlist I’d made for the entire holiday (predominantly 80s music, with the old singalong track from the 70s added in, there was nothing earlier than 1974 and nothing later than 1989) and enjoyed the fact that we there were no snarl ups anywhere. We stopped off at one of usual places, Dinky’s Dinah which is situated in a layby immediately off the main road. Always busy with bikers, car drivers and their families and lorry drivers, the place looks like a series of old sheds nailed together, but they do great, basic food – we had bacon butties! There are also some toilets (always handy) and a small path round a low mound covered in trees which makes an ideal short walk for the Girls. (Internet research reveals that the tree-covered mound is what remains from the layout of the area when a long-lost railway line crossed the area.) We stopped there for about half an hour to eat the butties and get some fresh air as well as to use the facilities (I chose not to wash my hands at the sinks in the toilet block – they didn’t look very savoury to me, so when I got back to the car I slathered loads of hand cleanser all over my hands. Drew DID wash his hands but discovered that the whole sink was only loosely attached to the wall making the process a tad nerve-wracking) Then we set off – next stop Birmingham.

Sometimes the traffic in Birmingham and its environs can be appalling, but it was flowing with no problems when we got to the outskirts and we got to Selly Oak, where Drew used to live with his parents, without incident. Here we stopped at Sainsbury’s (a supermarket) so Drew could nip in to get some odds and ends as well as flowers for when we went to the cemetery for our annual visit to his parents. The Girls weren’t very happy about this, though Lola wasn’t as loudly distressed as she has been and it was Charley who seemed the most uncomfortable. In the event, and despite it being very busy, Drew wasn’t very long and we drove the mile or so to the cemetery.

When Drew’s parents both passed away I said to him that it didn’t matter when, if he felt the need to go and visit the place where their ashes are buried, we would go. If he wanted to set off in the middle of the night, then we would. So far he has not felt the need in that way, but we visit the cemetery on the way home every year. It’s lovely to go and see them, but as you can imagine it is very hard for him because, as he said this time, it makes their loss very real. His body language changes in that short drive from supermarket to cemetery – I’m not sure anyone who doesn’t know him as well as I do would notice, but I see him tense up, grip the steering wheel more tightly and hear his voice become tight.

I cannot pretend to imagine how he feels because I am lucky enough to still have both parents alive, although in the past year I have become acutely aware that they won’t be here forever (as have they!) We had to leave the Girls in the car as, unlike the cemetery at home, dogs aren’t allowed in and somehow Lola’s unhappy yipping and Charley’s distressed howling made the whole visit even more agonising (although we noticed that when another car parked near ours their nosiness outweighed their other emotions and they went quiet!)

Drew placed the plant he had bought on their headstone and we stood there for a little while, with the breeze blowing the flowers and trinkets that families had brought to decorate their loved ones’ headstones. Only when the Girls went quiet, heralding the arrival of the other family, did we stir and go back to the car where the Girls were hysterical with joy at our reappearance. Moments later they were not so joyous when Drew got out again, this time by himself, to place another plant on his grandmother’s grave.

Then we were off again; another short drive to Drew’s brother’s house. This is another post-holiday tradition, although originally we stopped at Drew’s parents’ house not only on the way home but on the way THERE!! Drew’s brother and sister-in-law lost one of their elderly dogs, a spaniel, last year and still have another one who, despite various age-related complaints, remains, unexpectedly, in relatively robust health. But they also have just acquired two very gorgeous black and white spaniel puppies. They’re still at the eat, sleep and wobble about stage and are entirely beautiful. It was interesting to see how our two reacted to them. Lola just wanted to play, although she was a little wary from time to time, but Charley was not sure at all. She doesn’t like the quick movements puppies make, it unnerves her. She was intrigued, but took refuge on Drew’s lap for most of the time.

We were there for a couple of hours before setting off again. It was nice to sit drinking coffee and chatting in their back garden while the dogs played, very relaxing and of course a break for Drew from the driving. Once we were back on the road the traffic remained steady with no delays at all and we arrived back at home within minutes of the time Drew had predicted, making him as accurate at the end of the holiday as he had been at the beginning.

The land gets flatter as we approach home.

After a bit of confusion I managed to phone our order for Chinese food through to our new favourite takeaway while Drew unpacked the car, and we rounded off the evening by watching Doctor Who and eating more food!

The next day, Sunday, we had been invited by my parents to a meal to celebrate my brother’s birthday, which had been while we were away. This was at the Four Horseshoes a beautiful old pub which has been an inn since the twelfth century! We’ve been there once before, for my sister-in-law’s birthday late last year and it was as fantastic this time as last. We could have taken Charley and Lola, as dogs are permitted in the pub, but we knew that they wouldn’t really like it, would bark if there were other dogs around (there were) and anyway it was quite nice not to have them there after two weeks of worrying if they were okay. Foodwise, other than my sister-in-law who is vegetarian, we all went for the carvery option, the choices being pork, gammon and turkey this particular week (I chose pork) and as before the portions were more than generous. We ate indoors, but went out into the pub’s garden for our coffees where the sun stayed out for some of the time but where the children were able to play for a while.

The Four Horseshoes.

There is a page of photos of the inside here including one of the internal well.

Close to the pub, perhaps a mile away if that, are the Thornham Walks which has been created in the grounds of the Thornham Estate, owned for centuries by the Henniker family. Going for the meal and then the walks with the family was a lovely way to round off our two weeks of holiday time and was a buffer between freedom and real life. Just what we needed.

The hermitage in the grounds of the estate.

After our walk we had more coffee and some cake at the tea room.

And so now, here we are, one week later and things are back in their usual groove. Work has been okay although I was dreading returning. The long day I worked was bearable, helped by there being enough staff for a change, but I’m still pleased I won’t be doing many more. The June rota is completed and there is one for July but it isn’t official yet, but I have no long days in July and also no night shifts.

I’ve got at least one supplementary Welsh holiday post planned, so you’re not free yet!

And finally, pictures to illustrate our pie and chips for slmret:

Equally as nice with gravy.