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.




Museums and Memories. And pancakes.

Happy Tuesday, Readers.

No doubt this entry will take me all evening to compose. I usually start writing (typing) early on and add bits throughout the day. I never learn though and frequently have to re-structure parts of entries to alter the tense which is annoying to say the least. Today, however, I intend to get round that by stating when I’ve left the computer and then come back to it to carry on, or perhaps I may have broken off to play “Treasures of Montezuma 3” which I’m no embarking on for a second time having finally beaten all the levels. Being rather mindless it means I can think of other things, such as subjects to write about, while I’m playing it. In a way it’s quite therapeutic.

So, it’s about half five in the afternoon and the house smells delicious. Drew has been baking for the first time in months and months having given it up last year when we embarked on our weight loss endevours. He was producing cakes, buns, biscuits, fudge (not baking really but what the hell) and some a couple of kinds of bread and got very good at it. This time he was inspired by some pictures of Oreo bun-type small cake thingies and decided to make some himself. A few years ago you wouldn’t have easily found Oreos in the UK but they’ve recently had a bit of an advertising splurge, although they irritatingly mostly showed American adverts badly re-dubbed with English accents (you can tell by looking at the background, the way the actors’ mouths move and because the picture quality is always slightly fuzzier that they aren’t native ads.) There was one British-made one which was quite funny but it was on ALL THE BLOODY TIME which I think defeats the whole object because people mentally switch off when something is suffering from overkill. Anyway you can now easily get hold of them, so Drew bought some at the weekend having seen pictures of these layered cakes on Twitter or Instagram or whichever corner of the internet he was visiting at the time. The idea is that you sandwich two of these biscuits together using peanut butter as a kind of cement, coat it in peanut butter and then cover all of that with chocolate brownie mix. Sounds delicious, looks delicious on those photos Drew saw. So after doing some housework and while I was upstairs sorting out my clean washing and stripping and remaking the bed Drew got on with being a domestic goddess.

I can now testify that they are indeed as delicious as the photos looked. They don’t look as tidy as those pics but who cares. My only disappointment? When Drew showed me the original pics it only showed one cut in half and I thought it was a full-size cake. I’d have noshed a slice of that, no problem.

As a bonus there was enough brownie mix to make some brownies as well! So there goes the weight loss for this week.

Actually today is shrove is Tuesday or Pancake Day, as we call it. Wikipedia has all the info here ,should you been interested. I’m sure some people have pancakes fairly often, but it’s the only time that we ever do. My Mum used to do them with Golden Syrup or with lemon juice and sugar, which is what we’re going to do tonight. The plan is to take The Girls for a walk afterwards since we’ll no doubt be feeling a bit sick by then – I always think I’ll be able to eat loads of of pancakes, but invariably end up feeling as though I’ve eaten an entire 6 course meal after just a few. We’d better not walk round the hilly way – I don’t think I’ll be able to drag my leaden carcass up even the shallowest of slopes.

Even though I’ve only just a week’s holiday from work at the end of this week I begin another one, which is the last of the 2012-2013 quota. I’m getting ridiculously excited about it because not only is it my birthday but ON my birthday we are going to London for the day, something I always look forward to. There is something special about London; I love the buzz of it, the crowds (despite my claustrophobia,) the sounds and scents. As you step off the train at Liverpool Street Station, the main line station which serves my part of the UK, you are assailed by what I think of as the smell of London. Diesel, hot metal, petrol, the aromas of the many food outlets. It has never changed in all the years I’ve been going to London and if you could bottle that smell I would buy a crate full. It fills me with anticipation.

When I was about eight years old Dad and I went to London for the day. We spent the day travelling round the underground and visiting all the different large stations that London is home to. It is a memory I treasure and I particularly remember going to King’s Cross in all its Victorian glory, going into the wood panelled ticket hall and staring up at the vast ceiling. We ate cucumber sandwiches sitting on a bench on the South Bank, looking out over the Thames in the sunshine and I recall trying to soak it all in at once so I would never forget it. Some memories from childhood have faded, but this is one of the ones that has stuck. Many years later, during the short time I lived in London, my friends thought it hilarious that I was excited every day about going on the tube to get to work. For them it was a necessary evil and one they would have loved to do without, but for me everyday was another chance to enjoy the experience. I can’t imagine ever finding myself bored by the prospect.

We are intending to visit two exhibitions while we are there. One is at the British Museum, a place I think it would be necessary to visit every day for a week or more in order to see everything there is to see. Drew and I are members of the museum which means we can get into their special exhibitions without having to pay or queue, although obviously we pay an annual fee in order for that to be possible. Since we signed up as members there have been at least a couple of exhibitions a year that we have been to. This year’s is Ice Age Art.


It looks to be fascinating.

I’m not sure the above link to the museum’s own video will work.

Last week there was a wonderful BBC programme about it.

I’m not sure if the BBC stuff works outside the UK.

We’re also going to the Museum of London to see Doctors, Dissection and Resurrection Men.

The last time we were in London we visited both museums but we didn’t have time to see the Doctors, Dissection and Resurrection Men. In any case the MOL has had a major refit and we wanted to see all of that, which took ages. Thankfully it’s on for a while, so we’ll have time this trip. Also we’re going up on the train a bit earlier than last time, when we travelled at the weekend when engineering work makes travelling a nightmare. This time it’ll be a week day, so hopefully the journeys there and back will be uneventful.

Later: Hello. It’s just after 10 in the evening and I’ll be off in a minute to have a shower and then go to bed because I’ve got to be up at 5 for my first long day, which I’m dreading. What I fear the most is being moved to another ward to cover an absence. Bad enough when it was for an old 7 and a half hour shift, a nightmare for 12 hours! I messaged a friend on Facebook this morning to ask her how her first long shift had gone and she replied that it had been exhausting, difficult to get everything done and she had spent most of the next day, her day off, recovering. She’s been there for years, so for her to be so disgruntled is alarming.

But we shall see what we shall see.

The pancakes have made me feel sick. I hope it wears off soon.

And so to bed.


It’s the future!!

Well, we made it through to another New Year without the world ending, although to remind me of the reality of the world a patient on my ward died quietly yesterday morning while a colleague and I were giving her neighbour a gentle bedbath (and she, this second lady, will probably not be there when I go back to work tomorrow.) The lady who died was very poorly; I can’t really describe her as being ill because there was nothing specifically wrong with her other than being worn out. But how sad that her nearest family, not young themselves, were hundreds of miles away and that the friend who had done her shopping for her was unable to get to the hospital that day. I wouldn’t want to die by myself; even if I wasn’t concious of anyone being with me I’d still like to think that another person was there. I know it’s a cliche to say that people who have passed away sometimes look more peaceful, but it is my experience that this is often the case and it was just so this time. She looked relaxed, calm. 

Anyway, to paraphrase John & Yoko: “So that was Christmas…”

And it was a pretty good one, too. As I mentioned in my last post I was, for the first time, working on the morning of Christmas Day itself. The thing I was dreading the most was having to say “Happy Christmas” to strangers in the street on my way to work at half past 6 in the morning, a time when I really don’t feel like speaking to anybody at all. That makes me sound like such a miserable and unsociable sod when really I’m not, it’s just that I put in my earplugs so that I can listen to music, an audiobook or a podcast and for the 25 minutes it takes me to walk to the hospital I have some me-time before having to become the work version of me. I had imagined I might pass the same #dog-walkers as usual but in the event I saw only one other person, a nurse swathed inside the hood of her anorak, braced against the drizzle.

But the dog-walkers had obviously taken Christmas morning off. People were up and about in their houses, though – lights were on, shadows were moving behind curtains. Once I was inside there was no escaping being sociable, though so it was just as well that I didn’t take long to “warm up.” There was a distinctively different atmosphere even though in reality it was a normal shift. Perhaps all the nibbles and fizzy drinks set up in the Matrons’ office made all the difference.

The visiting times had been extended especially for the day and it was nice to see patients welcoming friends and family throughout the shift. The lunch, when it came, had the classic Christmas dinner choice, even down to the Christmas pudding. For those that couldn’t manage the roast #turkey there was a minced version. No alcohol for anyone, though. One patient, a lady who is prone to confusion, insisted all morning that her daughter was bringing her salmon for her lunch. We humoured her, ready to convince her otherwise when the food trolley eventually came… only for her daughter to arrive with a massive piece of salmon for her. For once she had NOT been confused about something.

Being Christmas Day those of us on the early shift were allowed to go home three quarters of an hour early and those on the late shift were allowed to come in late. Dad was waiting for me when I finished and whisked me back to their house where Drew and the dogs had already been for some time. I had a cup of coffee, let the dogs say hello (lots of #doggie kisses) and then went upstairs to get changed. After that it was a wonderfully laid-back day, including a great turkey dinner with all the #trimmings (#breadsauce, yay!) and nice wine. The evening consisted of coffee, chatting, and while Mum, Dad and Drew played #Scrabble I sat and flicked contentedly through the two books that Drew bought me for Christmas. I had to suffer the usual teasing for my total dislike of board games of any sort, but I’m used to it by now. I also managed the best quote of the evening: Mum said to Dad: “You were just like your father, then, falling asleep in your chair,” to which I swiftly replied “And you’re just like your mother in pointing that out!” This was a little dangerous because Mum doesn’t always react very well to mickey-taking (ooh, she can dish it out, but can’t take it) but on this occasion she was gracious enough to laugh and agree.

In the end it was after 11 when we left for home. I was amazed that I stayed awake that long, having been up so early for my shift at work. Perhaps it was the pleasant buzz that helped.

On #Boxing Day we “vegged” for several hours before having to embark on a major tidy and clean before Mum and Dad arrived for their turn to be guests of ours. I cooked a joint of #pork, with crackling, along with roast vegetables, roast potatoes, sweet potato mash (not sure about that – it tasted okay but was an unusually colourless splodge) #sprouts with #chestnuts and red onions, stuffing, apple sauce, Yorkshire puddings and lashings of gravy. There were various choices of desert, but quite frankly no one felt like eating much (although I did stuff down a couple of mince pies a bit later on.) Again they played Scrabble while I read (and secretly dozed) for a while.

Hopefully next #Christmas will be just as good. What worries me is that we’re about to switch over to 12 hour shifts at work, which means if you’re on for Christmas Day it is very likely to be for the whole day and that would be pretty miserable.

And now I’m sitting here on the first day of #2013 pondering what the year ahead might bring. There will be some changes, hopefully for the good. There are worries, but I won’t mull over them now. Time enough for that. I’m going to sit back, cuddle Lola who was come to sit next to me on the sofa while Charley has taken up one of her favourite positions in one of the two armchairs, and watch the documentary “The Bridges That Made #London” presented by the enthusiastic and engaging historian Dan Cruickshank. That’s how I roll nowadays!