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January
1 - Up lateish . . . walked in the drizzle . . .sat around/TVd. BB was tempted to walk up the shops at one point, but I warned her that many or most would be closed because of the 'bank holiday' - the onset of some heavy rain made up her mind and we just stayed inside all day . . . walked . . .TVd and chatted. Figured tomorrow would really be the best chance of BB meeting Dad since he would be going into Rowcroft so determined to get up and out 'relatively' early tomorrow. . . to bed in the early hours. (-/10)a
2 - Walked leaving BB getting ready for a quick off when I returned . . . all set off in the car down the motorway in the direction of Devon and ‘the English Riviera’. Lots of flooding in the fields alongside the motorway. A brief glimpse of sunshine before more grey clouds filled the sky for the rest of the day . . . briefly drove through Torquay and on along the sea front without stopping (too touristy for my liking), and headed along the coast road to quieter Paignton. M/D/Sis2 called on the mobile as we were driving – some panicking trying to get the ringing phone out of my zipped up pocket as I drove! Managed to answer the call and said I’d ring them back when parked. Parked up on the Paignton sea front near the pier. Touched base with M/D/Sis2 and explained we were in the area and that after we’d done some sight seeing and such we’d pop in briefly late afternoon, just to say hello . . briefly let Sally stretch her legs on the beach and then all walked along the pier to look at the views and such. Took a couple of silly photos like you are supposed to do on piers . . . M/D/Sis2 called me back suggesting we should go visit the picturesque ‘Waterman's Arms’ at Bow Bridge. Good idea – I’d forgotten all about that. Always such a rush racing against the limited daylight but figured it was worth doing, so detoured out of Paignton and drove out into the country, down the narrow lanes all running with rainwater like rivers, and stopped at the Watermans Arms for a quick coffee. Our first and as it turned out, our ONLY stop off at a pub! The river outside was unusually real high and fast flowing with the flood water so Sally had to stay in the car . . remembered some nice scenery we’d seen down little country lanes when I drove M/D around back in September, so attempted to retrace those steps for BBs benefit. Went OK and presented her with a few nice views across valleys of the lush green Devon countryside and the Dart estuary in the distance all coloured red by the flood waters. Eventually reached a point where we ought to have headed back the way we’d come, but somewhere in the back of my mind I remembered mention that Sis1 had done a similar trip with M/D and her man some while back, and they had managed to get a ferry across the river estuary at Dartmouth. Figured it was worth a gamble so followed the road signs and soon enough ended up in Dartmouth waiting for our place on the ferry. Stuck in a queue for a little while, long enough for a couple of cigarettes and then all of a sudden we were round a corner and driving onto the ferry! Tiny little thing it was with only enough room for perhaps ten vehicles parked side by side in two rows. Paid the couple of pounds to the guy at the window and with a lurch and lots of worrying creaking were soon drifting across to the ramp on the other side. Soon off and back on the road on the other side, it quickly became apparant that we were only a few miles from Brixham - brilliant short cut! Drove into Brixham and around the Harbour past all the open gift shops at around 4:30pm before parking up in the Oxen Cove car park. Both walked with Sally back to the shops only to find that almost all of them had just shut and the other couple that were still open were in the process of closing! Typical! Wandered around and up the main street looking in what shops were open, BB shopping for souvenir gifts for friends and relatives. A bit of Devon cream fudge seemed to be a good answer to the headache. Checked out a charity shop and took it in turns to look around inside as one of us stood outside with Sally, although the staff eventually said it was fine for her to come in – such a dog friendly area down there. Spotted a pair of walking shoes and couldn’t believe that they only wanted £1 for them!? As it turned out they seem to be a narrow fit and may have to be re-donated cause they seem to do weird things to my toes. By the time I came out of the shop BB and Sally appeared to be surrounded by a group of women admiring Sally and stroking her and giving her biscuits!! BB looked understandably a little worried but Sally didn’t get ‘too’ nervous about all the attention thank goodness. BB spotted a weird plaque type of thing in the window and just had to have a look at it. Apparently it had only just come in and the assistant in the store said it had caught her eye too. BB suspected it was a bronze casting but I had my doubts – looked like rust on the back! Nevertheless it really was an interesting find – about the size of a large book, a deep casting of some old cloaked figure pointing at a book with what appeared to be German writing on it. BB couldn’t resist and paid the couple of pounds for it. That’ll add some weight to her luggage!! So quickly did BB snap it up that the assistant in the store suddenly seemed hesitant at parting with it but she got it in the end. . . walked back around to the harbour front and stopped off at ‘Ziggys’ chip shop. Found 5p. Waited outside while BB went in and ordered a couple of traditional lots of cod and chips to take away. Rushed back to the car and sat there looking out over the harbour (until the windows quickly steamed up) eating our fish and chips as torrential rain downpour passed over. Very typical English activity. . . I confess I don't think I could have done it if the sitiation had been reversed, but BB had agreed to pop in and meet M/D/Sis2! I guess it'll be the only chance for her to ever meet my Dad! Arrived at M/Ds somewhere around 6pm-ish. BB did really rather well I thought under the circumstances. Introduced her to Mum/Sis2 in the hallway and then went into the living room where Dad was parked in the corner on his commode waiting for us (looked pathetic and sad! :o( ). Apparently he’d been kinda excited about the prospect of meeting BB and been repeatedly going on about it all day!! Introduced her as Dad took her hand and then wouldn’t let her go, and started complimenting her on her eyes and such! Must have been real awkward for BB – I appreciated her much for that. Poor BB was then left to chat to this bunch of strangers as I dashed out to deal with Sally and give her some food and water out in the garage. All seemed to go ok – Sis2 largely keeping any awkward silences at bay. Only stayed for an hour or so and figured that was quite enough to put BB through, so loaded up the car and said our goodbyes, after scoring a Caramac chocolate bar from Sis2 for BB to try. Hard to find Caramac in the shops but oh what an unusually delicious type of chocolate that is. . drove the short distance to Battery Gardens and left BB sat in the car trying Caramac and quickly walked Sally around in the cold night air for her to do her business. . .briefly pulled up as we passed the big picturesque lit up church (Christchurch?) so that BB could leap out and take a couple of photos and use up the last of her film. It was apparantly once the church of 'Henry Light' who wrote the hymn 'Abide With Me'. . drove home via the Torquay seafront which was all lit up with Christmas lights and such. . Brief stop off at a motorway services for bathrooms and a cup of coffee. Got really angry as we watched an idiot in a definitely illegaly unroadworthy car emptying all the huge amounts of rubbish in it, out the window onto the parking area for it to blow around in the breeze!!! Grrrrr. English people suck! . . came off the motorway early and drove back along the Portway under the Clifton Suspension Bridge to see it all lit up at night, and then back through the centre of Bristol. . . unloaded, coffee and soon to bed absolutely exhausted from all the driving.(-/10)aa
3 - Walked . . . left an ansaphone message for Uncle TJ to pick up letting him know (because I didn’t think Mum had done so!) that Dad was going into Rowcroft for a week, for an ‘assessment’. . .loaded up the car and all set off southbound on the motorway. Decided to do a quick detour and show BB Portishead (not sure why!). She seemed amused on the road in, by the signs warning of low flying owls . . . back on the motorway and headed for Weston Super Mare. Drove briefly along the sea front and then out along towards Sand Bay for the views. Parked up on the way back, outside a small restaurant place perched on the edge of the cliffs. Left Sally in the car and went in and decided that this would be a good chance for BB to experience a ‘cream tea’. Actually turned out to an amazingly god value for money deal – loads of clotted cream and jam and the biggest (at least 6 inch diameter) scone I’ve ever seen! Couldn’t finish it all and ended up sneaking some out wrapped in serviettes for Sally. . . drove back along the W-S-M sea front and briefly detoured down onto the beach. Nice surprise to find we didn’t have to pay to drive onto the sands – guess it’s a seasonal thing. Just for fun swapped places with BB and let her drive the car a little along the sand. Went ok but she wasn’t at all used to a manual (when we stalled I had to apply the handbrake and put it in neutral) and I couldn’t stand being a passenger for very long. . let Sally out for a very brief run about. Amazing how far her thrown ball would go when there wasn’t muddy grass to stop it. Gonna have to take her there again some time. . . BB @ Cheddar Gorgeback out on the road and after a little checking of the map, made our way to Cheddar Gorge. Drove all the way up through the narrow winding gorge to appreciate the place before turning around and driving back down and stopping briefly at the bottom of some amazing cliffs for a photo or two. Carried on down and parked up in a car park, roughly in the middle of things, right next to the Jacobs Ladder entrance. Left sally in the car and went in to pay for the parking and to buy a ticket to the caves - but it wasn’t that easy. Apparently we couldn’t buy entrance to the caves or Jacobs Ladder in there, even though the caves were right next door and the door next to where I was standing, lead up to the steps of Jacobs Ladder!!??? According to the woman (who I was showing my obvious annoyance to) Goughs Cave (the best one) was flooded out and was closed (typical!), no we don’t get a discount, we would have to walk all the way down the street to buy our ticket down there and then get the bus ride back up, the bus ran every twenty minutes, the caves were open every half an hour, etc, etc!!??!! Weird and confusing? . . . walked out in the cold and headed down the road popping in the odd gift shop and such. Had a quick look in the Cheddar Cheese factory where you can actually watch them making cheese and have some free tasters. BB ended up buying huge numbers of packs of exotic tasting Cheddar cheese for souvenir gifts!!? . . eventually found the weird bus station type place where we could buy our tickets. It was a short wait for the open top bus so we checked out another gift shop opposite, as much to be in the warm as anything else. . ended up being the only people on the bus so despite the freezing cold figured we may as well sit right at the front on the upper deck. The tour guide lady sat down with us sheltering from the bitter wind and went through her spiel about this rock and that rock as we drove up the gorge. She tuned into the fact that I was English and quite local and didn’t realise BB was American and at one point made some joke or other about daft Americans, which made us all smile, not for the reasons she thought. The bus turned round and eventually dropped us off near some sad looking almost half derelict museum and the entrance to the main cave that was flooded and closed! This meant that we were forced to walk all the way back down to where we had originally started opposite the car! Soon became clear what this was all about – the route forced us past all the tacky souvenir shops where presumably they expected to fleece all the tourists!! Outrageous! Back where we’d started we’d have to wait another twenty minutes or so before the next cave tour so we figured we may as well try and do the Jacobs Ladder climb. Loaded up with bags and cameras BB seemed to be suffering on the couple of hundred steps climb up but we made it in the end – only to find a lookout tower up top which was even harder and steeper to climb! All made of steel without any covering in the icy wind it was absolutely freezing up there! It had to be done – we did it – we came down! . . joined the small queue for the cave ‘tour’. BB @ Cheddar CavesEventually all ushered in by some little old guy who seemed to find it beyond his abilities to actually count how many people he’d let in for safety reasons, which didn’t inspire much confidence! The ‘tour’ turned out to be a series of electronically triggered PA type announcements of what was what, at points along the short route through the poorly lit caves. Pretty pathetic and really not worth standing in the small crowd listening to. Very quickly that part of the VERY short ‘tour’ was over and we were ushered into the next part which was the most appalling load of rubbish. They’d tried to make it into some sort of themed area with stuffed figures and strobe lights and recorded sounds and such about a fictitious underworld of Lord of the Rings type characters. Absolute nonsense! The highlight of this pathetic embarrassment was when the little old guy who’d let us in, appeared in a passageway dressed in a hooded robe and scared the screaming mother of some now crying children half to death! Hilarious. The last cave prior to exit contained more figures and some large crystal like ball on a pedestal, guarded by a not ‘so’ bad figure of a smoke exhaling dragon. Nevertheless the electronic PIR triggers didn’t seem to activate the lights and smoke and recordings at the right time and it was fun to wander around in the dark having a good look around with my pocket torch and then to pull the hood of my fleece up and have a go at spooky crystal ball gazing as the rest of the people wandered in. In short – I was disgusted at the tacky rip off the whole experience had been and couldn’t wait to rejoin Sally in the car and get the hell out of there! Rip off Britain at its absolute worst! If the amazing caves aren't worthy enough of a look on their own (with a little lighting) then for goodness sake don't visit them! Certainly don't ruin the natural wonder of the experience with a load of childish Disneyesque nonsense!!!!!!!! GRRrrrrrrrrrr!. . . Got back on the road as it started to rain quite heavily and decided to head for Wookey Hole, the other cave some miles down the road which I didn’t even realise was separate from the gorge!? Not even sure I’ve ever been there. . BB found the road signs warning of ‘old people crossing’ of great amusement . . A nasty drive on windy roads in the heavy rain and spray. Suddenly realised something wasn’t right - the windscreen wipers seemed real slow and were maybe getting slower!!! Uh oh!!! Managed to reach the big empty car park at the Wookey Hole Caves and Paper Mill attraction and following BBs recommendation drove round the car park and turned around and parked up facing down the slope. Bit the bullet and turned off the engine. Tried to restart it and it wouldn’t!!! Not enough charge in the battery!!!! Oooops! Quickly managed to do a bump start and raced back out onto the road and started heading home as quick as I could but it was pretty obvious we’d be real lucky to make it since I had no choice but to have the windscreen wipers, demister and lights on all the time! Horrible feeling! We raced along as fast as we could but the wipers got slower and slower and finally, just through a traffic light junction at a place called ‘Green Ore’ up on top of the Mendip Hills, the car died! As luck would have it I managed to immediately pull off and coast into the car park of a pub and park up. Sadly the pub was closed but I had my mobile phone and my RAC card (breakdown/recovery) and wasn’t ‘too’ disturbed since help was only a phone call away. I could see the name of the place (Green Ore) and the name of the pub (The Ploughboy Inn) and would be able to give a real accurate description of where we were. Called the RAC and gave the information and was told we’d have a two hour wait before someone could reach us!! Uggh! We waited. It got pretty cold in that steamed up car. BB managed to maybe sleep just a little all covered up in her puffa jacket. Actually managed to start the car up on a couple of occasions and run it with the heater on for a few minutes until it gradually died again. Sat and tried to get my head around what that meant. Eventually seemed pretty obvious that the alternator had finally given up the ghost despite the fact that the warning light had NOT come on!? The battery had been drained but would recover sufficiently to start the car after half an hour or so, only to then quickly drain again. So much for my hoping I had fixed the alternator problem the other day simply by adjusting the belt tension! Felt really guilty and apologised to BB more than once for getting her into this situation! Felt even more guilty when the wait and the cold got the better of us and we both had to go to the toilet!! Not so bad for me with nearby bushes but not so easy for poor BB who had to use the dark, the car door, me, and a puffa jacket as cover!!!!! Never enough hands for a camera when you need one! lol :o) . . .at long, LONG last the RAC called back and said a van was on it’s way, and soon enough it swooped into the empty car park and straight to us. Luckily the car had run long enough the last time I managed to start it, to turn it around so the bonnet was facing the RAC van, and it was parked away from any incriminating ‘puddles’! Soon enough the mechanic confirmed with his test gear that the alternator was at fault. I asked why the red light hadn't been on (I'd been relying on that to tell me when it needed replacing for sure). He said sometimes they don't come on!!? What use is that then? Grrrr! . . Uncle TJ called on the mobile in the middle of all this and was abruptly told I couldn’t talk now! As luck would have it the RAC guy had an alternator that would do in his van and he could fit it as long as I could pay for it up front - £79.95!! Ouch – about £25 + more expensive than I could have bought it for the other day. What the hell – we were stuck, he had one, he’d fit it, we’d be back on our way – go for it! Within an hour we were all done as sleety snow began to blow around! Seemed like that mechanic had earned his money. Paid up and were soon bidding him thanks and farewell and were just pulling out of the car park as the pub was opening. Typical! . . An unpleasant drive home in the sleet but SO glad to be warming up a little on the way and even gladder to be eventually back home in the central heating. . . loads of concerned calls left on the ansaphone from Uncle TJ! . . . . M/Sis2 called to touch base. Dad ok. Mum had developed a nasty cough/infection!!!! . . . walked late. (-/10)a
4 - Left BB sleeping and walked around 8:30am. Carried on up to Kingswood to develop some of the films we'd taken, assuming I'd get back home before BB woke. Paid the exorbitant price (£20.46) for 1 hour developing and two sets of each and wandered around with Sally and up to Kingswood Park and such to waste the hour. Back at the store they gave me some ludicrous excuse about the machine having taken a long time to warm up so I ended up having to wait in the shop for another twenty minutes or more before they were ready!! Poor BB had by this time woken up and was obviously a little concerned that I was missing and called me on the mobile to find out what was up. Told her I’d be home within half an hour – despite the fact that as I was waiting in the store it had begun to snow quite a bit outside!!! Very unexpected. At last the prints were ready. They did at least give me a £2 refund (which didn’t seem enough to me considering I’d paid a HUGE amount for double sets of everything!). Walked back in the light snow. . . soon warmed up and the light sprinkle of snow melted away real quick . . . BB @ Tog Hill, Bristolleft Sally at home and set off with BB around midday, intending to maybe go to Bath . . stopped at the local petrol station and filled up (26.7 ltr - £20) . . Stopped off at the Tog Hill picnic area for the view. Decided that the weather was pretty good and we’d be better off getting Avebury done and out of the way since Bath was so close and could be done more easily any time. . . stopped along the way for a couple of quick pictures of the white horse carved into the hillside, then on to Avebury, this time making doubly sure I didn’t take the wrong turn! . . . drove through Avebury and out the other side so that BB could get a feel for how weird it was to have a main road go right through the stone circle, and then turned round and drove back and parked up in the official car park. Followed the footpath across the fields back to the stones. Quite sunny, the stones casting long shadows, but very cold and icy underfoot in places. BB wasn't too happy about wearing my hooded fleece and puffa jacket (figured she looked like an 'American footballer' !) but it sure seemed to do the trick and keep her warm. I like Avebury - still as yet unspoiled and not fenced off and ruined by touristy stuff like most everywhere else seems to have been. Seems SO wrong that 'our heritage' is being made only available to those who can afford to pay to see it!!! Cold BB being a stone @ AveburyWandered around touching stones ("don't think of what the stones are giving to you - think of what you are giving to the stones"), taking photos, and slipping on the muddy ice before deciding that walking the entire circumference of the circle would be too much trouble, especially considering BBs choice of 'walking about sightseeing' footwear which included heels!! I wasn't as sympathetic as I should have been and just made sure I had the camera handy in case BB fell down! :o) . . Popped in the gift shop for postcards and such (after trying to remove some of the mud from our shoes using the muddy brushes and such provided outside for the purpose, by the shop). Wandered around and across the road to a National Trust ‘visitors centre’ area only to find that the entrance fee was extortionate! Decided to have a coffee in the nearby visitors restaurant instead – queuing at the counter it became apparent that it was ‘No smoking’ and there was also a loudly screaming baby in there, so we took our two coffees and a ‘flapjack’ (£3.90) bite to eat and went back outside to find somewhere to sit. All the benches were still wet with half melted ice but in the rays of the sun it felt quite reasonable so we lay a coat over the ice and sat there for a while with coffee and cigarettes. . wandered around some more and looked at the impressive old manor house and then looked inside the old church before eventually returning to the car. Still light enough (hard to drive with such a low blinding sun and steamed up dirty windscreen) so we headed the short distance to the viewing car park near the man made Silbury Hill. Recent floodwaters surrounded the place making it look like an upturned steam pudding in custard! Still very impressive . . .Briefly stopped off at some antiques place or other that we spotted on the side of the road. Didn’t stop long - all real expensive stuff! BB seemed to recognise the set up – antiques, two gay guys and a cat. :o) . . . back on the road and as darkness fell made our way back home via Bath. Figured it was worth a quick look at, despite it being dark, just in case something went wrong and we didn’t get round to going there. Detoured all around the new nightmarish one way system trying to find some sights worth seeing and especially the Royal Crescent, but I just couldn’t find it and eventually gave up and headed home!! . . .somewhere along the way it became apparent that the car indicator cancel mechanism had broken and I now have to turn the indicators off manually every time!!!! Grrrr – that car is definitely of the age where everything is starting to break and one would normally trade it in and get a new one! Poverty trap!! . . . Briefly stopped off at ASDA in Longwell Green for BB to buy supplies of filter coffee and ‘green’ tea (??!!) and to look for some weird warm tights that she’d been trying to get!! A very weird and unusual activity for me, hanging around the ladies underwear department!! . . . M/Sis2 called to touch base. Dad ok. Sis1 had been down and had taken them all in to see him. . .walked in the freezing cold.(-/10)a
5 - Up too early feeling SO tired. Coffee and cigarettes, a little breakfast and then ended up going back to bed until around 10:30am!! . . Frosty! Walked . . .left Sally at home and drove to Bath gone midday, which left only a few hours of daylight for sightseeing! Parked up in one of the 'pay and display' car parks (BB found the new concept of 'pay and display' and the inevitable innuendo amusing :o) ) and walked all the way back down into town and headed straight for the cathedral/roman baths area. Spotted the jewellers shop on the corner that Mum said was owned by some relative or other and that we should go in and say hello to, but it was closed - was Sunday after all . . . Tried my best to be a tour guide but I really wasn’t very familiar with the place myself. Started off by walking around the Abbey and then out along the road overlooking Poultney Weir. Got collared by a couple of Japanese girls who wanted their photo taken together – obliged and felt like bowing as they SO politely thanked us. Spotted a penny and forced poor BB to pick it up, as if to prove I don’t make up all this small change I keep finding. BB @ Bath AbbeyWandered about briefly before deciding I really didn’t know what was where and worth looking at, and it was really quite cold, so we headed straight back and went into the abbey. Always annoying to me that to get into the abbey you have to pass a manned counter which emotionally blackmails you into making a couple of pounds ‘donation’ before you go in. Wandered around inside taking photos for quite a while. BB seemed suitably impressed. Sat around on an icy seat in a square behind the abbey for a while with a cigarette before feeling time was running out and heading quickly for the Roman Baths. £8:50 EACH to enter!!!!! Bloody hell – more ‘rip off Britain’! Didn’t bother with the ‘audio tour’ handsets and just wandered around as it suited us, taking photos here and there. Leaning over the edge and having a feel, the actual water in the main bath was surprisingly cool, although I guess the freezing air temperature had cooled it near the surface. BB ran out of film in my SLR camera which she’d been using and handed it to me to sort out the unfamiliar rewinding and unloading. Uh oh – that isn’t right!!! BB and I @ Roman Baths, BathLooked as though something had gone wrong with the loading of it and it appeared that a whole film had been shot when it hadn’t been winding on!!! All those pictures BB had taken all over the place – all lost!!! Damn! Thank goodness I’d been taking a few here and there on my old point and click automatic, and the odd one or two on my digital – managed a decent one of both of us in front of the Baths by using the timer on the digital. Checked out the tacky gift shops and such but I soon really ran out of patience with all that shopping for ‘rubbish’ and ended up stood outside smoking a cigarette amongst the busy ‘Sale’ shopping crowds waiting for BB . . . popped in a small pastry shop and insisted BB try a pasty - sat on a nearby bench in the cold and ate them. Seemed to go down quite well although I felt a little guilty at being such a cheapskate and not taking BB in places to sit down and eat proper. Time was pressing as the low winter sun began to sink, so using the little map that was on the back of the Baths brochure, we made our way through the crowds up the hill towards the Royal Crescent. I gather that every American that comes to England MUST ‘do’ Bath and see the Royal Crescent (dunno why?) so I was starting to get a bit uptight that we may not see it in daylight and was eager to walk as fast as possible. BB @ Royal Crescent, BathGot mixed up in a large group of Japanese tourists with a tour guide at one point – carried on walking, through the Bath Circus and finally reached the green in front of the crescent only to see the tour guide and his group appear soon after – guess we could have ‘hidden’ amongst that group and heard the guided tour if we’d been clever. Half the crescent was already in dark shadow so all the photos we took turned out to be pretty useless. Figured we’d best try and get a photo of both of us together with the crescent in the background so I approached a passing man and asked him to do the honours. He had no objection to having a go but went on to explain that he may have difficulty because he had cataracts!!! Good grief – just our luck to pick a guy who can hardly see, to take our photo!! :o) Turned out ‘ok’ but too dark off course. . . very soon succumbed to the cold and decided to head back to the car which actually turned out to be only a stones throw away – damn – should have done the crescent first if I’d known! . . . Decided to take a quick detour on the way back home and drive down to the river with the possible intention of stopping off at the Lock & Weir pub - cute little old place with flagstone floors and such and a great view of the river - figured BB would like it. Pulling into the crowded upper car park it looked like the river had been high and had recently covered the lower car park, such was the covering of thick mud all over it. It was by now almost dark and we were both pretty tired so figured we'd give it a miss (maybe do it some other time) and just head straight back home. . . walked. Popped up LBs on the way back to pick up the latest Makro offers leaflet. LB and her man were just leaving so grabbed the leaflet and stopped only for a brief chat - they said they'd been down the Lock and Weir for a drink only to find that it was closed because it had been flooded out with all the heavy rains! Aha - thought as much. River must have been REAL high a couple of days ago! . . . M/Sis2 called to touch base. Dad had been pretty ok today and had even ended the day entertaining a couple of the nurses! Someone in the ward had died today and had been wheeled out! They warned M/Sis2 what they were doing just so that they knew and could occupy Dad, so he didn't notice and maybe get upset. To assist in the smooth matter of fact removal of the body, they didn't cover it up as they wheeled it out, so it looked as though the person was just sleeping and being moved. Sis2 said it felt more as though Dad WOULD go on for months yet. Mum/Sis2 had been observing the nurses and getting tips on how best to manhandle Dad in and out of bed etc. Conversation made me pretty up tight! . . .walked . . TVd but earlyish to bed exhausted! Poor BB seemed to have something of an upset stomach!!! So much for trying that traditional English pasty earlier! (_/10)aaas
6 - Woke and got up around 5am!! Walked in the freeze around 7:30am . . BB @ Chepstow Castlemanaged to get out and on the road pretty early around 9am. Stopped locally for yet more petrol (13.35 ltr - £10) and all headed down the motorway towards the Old Severn Bridge. Paid the toll and were soon passing the bi lingual signs welcoming us to Wales. Didn’t occur to me that stopping there would have been a good photo opportunity for BB - missed our chance. Drove the short distance down into Chepstow and were soon parking up in the nearly empty car park next to Chepstow Castle. Let Sally out for a quick very bouncy excited run around before heading up towards the entrance building. Confirmed ‘No Dogs’, so quickly walked back to the car and left Sally behind. Only a couple of pounds each to enter and pretty much the entire place to ourselves. Excellent. Not sure how impressed BB was with it - but I was. Don’t recall ever having been to Chepstow Castle before – I really thought it was rather picturesque and nice(except for the area where some idiot had felt obliged to put in some armour exhibits complete with pathetic blaring sound effects of a battle or some such! Tacky.). . spent quite a while and shot off quite a few photos there, although the low winter sun meant none of them came out very well. Checked out the gift shop and BB bought a few postcards before heading back to the car. Gave Sally a brief run around just to stretch her legs and then after a bit of a debate in my mind about which route to take when, set off back out on the road heading for one of my favourite places in the Forest of Dean near where LB once rented a house. . . stopped off at the weird kindof in the middle of no where 'Taurus Crafts' place for BB to have a look around. Found it all pretty boring myself with lots of 'give us your money' gimicky nonsense on sale. Seemed like the most impressive thing to BB was the large wooden sculpture that was in the field out front - a several times larger than life size (taurus) Bull! Had to be photographed. lol Suggested to poor BB who was probably hungry that I'd rather stop at the place to which we were heading for food, so we ignored the inviting resteraunt and got straight back on the road. . . drove past the house LB had rented and just on past the Dean Heritage Centre and managed to park up on the side of the road in a small space overlooking the picturesque Soudley Ponds. Not quite as picturesque as in the summer but still one of my favourite places. The bad news was that the Dean Heritage Centre, just back up the road, where I had fully intended to stop for something to eat, was all noisey with machinery and workmen and was obviously closed! Damn . . despite the cold and the frost the sun was breaking through and it was really quite pleasant so I persuaded BB to accompany me on a quick walk with Sally around the pond. Bit of hard going for BB in her heels negotiating the muddy path but it was a nice walk nonetheless. As I'd imagined, BB confirmed the area was very much like many found in the states and surprisingly to me, not unlike many areas where she lives! My mental image of Mississippi is all flat and swamps and rivers - wrong. Despite the freezing temperatures Sally ended up having a bit of a swim!! Nicely wet and steamed up car for the rest of the day! . . .checked the map and decided to just drive through the forest and more or less rely on sign posts and head for Symonds Yat Rock. Wasn't 'quite' that easy and ended up pulling up here and there just to check I was more or less heading in the right direction. BB & Sally @ Symonds Yat RockEventually at long last we pulled into the 'pay as you enter' main car park. Paid the couple of pounds for a ticket at the meter and drove on in, only to find the place almost completely deserted and certainly no parking attendants around. Shouldn't have bothered paying!! Grrrr. . . Let Sally out for a bit of a run around and then made our way along the paths, over the wooden footbridge up to the vantage point. Only one other person up there, with a whole bunch of professional looking camera gear, but strangely he very soon disappeared. Actually was quite an impressive view although looking directly down over the walls revealed huge amounts of rubbish thrown over by idiots! Had our fill of the view and photograph taking and, finding that the visitor centre and everything else was deserted and closed until the spring, soon headed back to the car. The family in the car parked near ours were all getting back in and preparing to leave – apparently they didn’t have change for the parking meter and finding no one around who would take their parking money they were going to leave!!? Wow- how law abiding is THAT! Of course they weren’t English – turned out they were from Alaska! Seems like Alaskans are decent people. Handed them our pay and display parking ticket before we left and they all got back out to go and see what was there to see – which I felt guilty, really wasn’t all that much. . . retraced our route and headed for the picturesque riverside Symonds Yat that I could vaguely remember from some summer bike ride years ago. Unfortunately the road signs confused me (the town seemed to be split up into North, South, West pieces) and we never got there and gave up and ended up following the scenic route back along the Wye Valley. Poor BB was clearly suffering from my accustomed ’lets eat later’ attitude of ‘just keep driving’ and ended up gnawing hungrily on Granola bars she’d brought as an emergency measure! . . . stopped briefly at the spectacular ruins of Tintern Abbey. Somewhat disappointing that half the ruins were covered in scaffolding! All of a sudden the mobile went and I began to imagine the worst! Actually turned out to be CW touching base! . . It was cold, we were hungry, I was tired, the light wasn’t good, it was nearly ‘closing time’ for admittance – we had a quick wander around outside and got back in the car, back to Chepstow, onto the motorway, across the Severn Bridge and home. . . walked.(-/10)a
7 - Walked. Carried on up to the camera shop and dropped in a load more films for one hour developing and two sets of each (£31.44), warning them that I suspected one of the films was unexposed and blank. Picked them up later and sure enough one film was blank – given a refund (£5.99) accordingly . . . left Sally at home and drove into Bristol and parked up in an expensive multi storey car park wioth the intention of doing a lot of walking and showing BB some of Bristols sights. Felt EXTREMELY cold out with an awful windchill - BB was all red faced and suffering. Figured it was best to head for some of the shops to warm up, so walked around the St Nicholas Market and then via Corn Street with its old trading ‘nails’ and impressive Bank facades, to the Galleries. Somehow we ended up just spending ages walking around the shops, BB comparing prices and window shopping and looking for outstanding holiday gifts for friends and family, etc. Used the unusual occasion of me being in town to buy some new ‘Damart’, warm fingerless gloves (which I live in), which were on sale and a pound or two cheaper than usual (allegedly). .wandered through the ‘Arcade’ and came across the Bristol Blue Glass shop – seemed like a good place for BB to get the (pain in the rear!) souvenir shopping over and done with. Sadly their stocks of the nice stuff were poor, with no more than one of each left, so it seemed like BB ended up buying a whole bunch of none too impressive and rather expensive ‘blobbs’ of blue glass!! Paperweights apparently. £32.50!!!!!! Jeeze!!!!!! . . . Lots of 'shopping'! More of that weird and unusual activity for me, of hanging around ladies underwear departments!!!! . . . sat on a chair in Broadmead for a while having a smoke, it was SO cold and we were both so tired, we decided that we’d had enough and would skip more sight seeing and would just go home to eat and be warm. . walked back towards the car skirting the Centre. Realised that we weren’t far from the only place I knew of where BB ‘may’ be able to buy an old fashioned clay pipe – something her brother had asked her to look for and buy for him as a souvenir. Funny how any digging in almost any garden I know of, will reveal broken pieces of someone’s old clay pipe and yet you can no longer get them. Amazingly as we walked up to the old fashioned tobacconists shop window, laying in a basket in the window was a small heap of four or so of the pipes. Excellent. Walked in and picked one for BB, and couldn’t resist having one for myself as well because it was only a couple of pounds. Doubt it’ll ever see use but for some reason I too have wanted one for a while – cute, oldy worldy. BB seemed suitably amazed at the outrageous prices of the cigarettes on display and now understood why I had been so adamant that she bring enough with her to see her through her stay, rather than buy any here. . eventually back to the car. BB spotted it – I was still wandering around looking for floor 5 – I’d been SO careful to try and remember which floor I’d put it on according to the sign on the wall nearby. Turned out I’d made a mental note of the car park speed limit, not the floor we’d parked on!! Idiot! . . . TVd/ate . . .walked . . . M/Sis2 touched base . . . to bed in the early hours. God I'm so, SO tired! (-/10)a
8 - Walked - found 3p . . . pretty much had a 'day off' from being touristy (god it can be tiring!) and sat around and chatted and managed to catch up on just a little sleep . . . walked. (-/10)
9 - Walked Sally with BB in the freeze, a dusting of frost and snow on the grass . . all loaded up in the car and set off for Ashton Court to give Sally a good walk and to have a quick look around the grounds and at the impressive old oak trees. Had to drive through the centre of Bristol to get there, so figured we may as well park up briefly and give BB a look at the impressive Bristol Cathedral on College Green. Almost hit a poorly indicating car on a mini roundabout! Poor old BB seems to have handled my poor driving pretty well without complaint! Left Sally in the car and paid for just under an hours parking. Wandered around the Cathedral – actually I think rather more impressive than Bath and it doesn’t ‘force’ you to make a contribution to look around even though the donation box had a sign saying something along the lines of ‘it costs £2 a minute to keep the place open’! Must have all been spent on heating! Pretty warm inside for such a big place. BB in Bristol CathedralThink BB was suitably impressed. Checked out the gift shop and searched through a bin of reduced items. Found a CD? Apparantly a screen saver of images of the cathedral reduced to only £4. Asked the two old ladies behind the counter if I could open it up to see if it detailed what images were included – it didn’t say what was on it – the old ladies then said I could have it for £1 if I wanted it!! You bet. Actually turned out to be quite reasonable despite the fact that it was padded out with arbitrary filler pictures of flowers!!? Better than most of the photos we took anyway. . crossed College Green intending to have a look at the little old church opposite at the bottom of Park Street but it had just closed for lunch – figured we’d done more than our fair share of old churches anyway! Rejoined Sally in the car and drove to Ashton Court. Parked up near the Ashton Court mansion house, left Sally in the car intently watching the nearby herd of sheep, and went into the ‘butlers quarters’ café. Had a fine meal of ham egg and chips – amazingly good ham. :o) . . left BB walking around the front of the mansion house and returned to the car and moved it along to another parking area before letting Sally out and both walking back to join BB. Wandered down into the ornate walled garden type of area with the huge redwood trees behind the mansion house and took a few photographs as Sally ran all over excitedly trying to climb the trees after the squirrels. So busy was I, messing around trying to get photos of BB and trees that I didn’t notice what Sally was up to. All of a sudden I saw her in the field way off in the distance, chasing the herd of sheep!!!!!!!!!! Oh NO!!!!!!! OH MY GOD NO!!!!!!!! OH MY GOD!!!! Thrust my camera without a word into confused BBs hands and ran off! Ran as fast as I could across the grass and towards the field. Had to make a real quick assessment as to whether or not I could make the leap over the six foot deep trench that formed the sheep field enclosure. Apparently such an enclosure has a name but I’m not sure what it is. Basically the outward side of the ditch is quite sheer so that the sheep cannot climb out but the inward side of the ditch is relatively gently sloping up and into the field. Had no choice – leapt straight over it and managed to remain on my feet and running. Too busy watching the uneven ground in front of me to really watch what Sally was doing, but an occasional look up revealed scenes more usually observed on a David Attenborough wildlife TV documentary about wolves!!!! She was chasing the flock around seeking to separate out a likely victim – which she soon succeeded in doing!! I kept running as fast as I could shouting ‘SALLY-COME, COME-HERRRE!’ but of course she ignored me. Fully expected to hear gunfire at any moment as some outraged farmer may have let loose with his shotgun, and actually worried a little about running into a possible line of fire, but thankfully that never happened. At long , LONG last I more or less caught up with where Sally had a sheep on the ground!!!!!! At last she came to me all ears down and almost crawling on her belly knowing from my tone that she had done something wrong. Gasping for breath I leashed her up real quick, too exhausted and out of breath to chastise her properly – in fact under the circumstances I think some physical punishment would have been in order! Felt very unhappy and exposed out in the middle of that field – dogs are routinely destroyed for such behaviour (although of course I readily admit it is the irresponsible owner that is at fault!). Holding Sally on a tight leash at arms length a little behind me I turned my attention to the sheep laying motionless on the ground in front of me, eyes wide open. Oh dear! I reached down and gave it a prod as if to encourage it to run off and be well, but it didn’t move! On closer examination there was a hint of blood in the corner of its mouth, and as I looked a drip of something clear ran down the side of its face from its head! It could have been frost melting from its wool I guess, but I assumed that it was from some hidden in the wool serious cracked skull head wound. The damage was done. Nothing much I could do about it. My mind began to race – all I wanted to do now was get Sally out of there and save her from the real threat of her being destroyed for sheep worrying! I turned and walked at speed straight back across the field towards BB in the distance, trying to be as nonchalant and invisible as I could possibly be, furtively looking out of the corner of each eye for any signs of people taking an interest. I didn’t look back! As I manhandled Sally through the gate at the edge of the field I ignored whatever BB was saying and just rudely asked “Did it get up!!? Did it move?!!” Apparently it HAD!!!! BB said it had eventually leapt up and ran back over to join the flock! Hmmmm? In my mind, after the state I’d seen that sheep in, I was sure it wasn’t going to survive, but -who knows? Maybe? Please!!! :o( . . we didn’t hang around for ‘too’ long, but it WAS long enough for anyone to come and detain me if they’d wanted to, but no one did. Decided to just play it cool and carry on with a walk around the grounds through the woods but of course I wasn’t really in the mood for any of that now. I really just wanted to jump in the car and head home and hide. Another part of me of course wanted to go and tell someone and make sure that the sheep was ok, but the risks to Sally overrode that desire. . .BB with devil wolf dog @ Ashton Court, Bristolall hot and suffering from my run, we headed off and walked the long circular walk, past the deer sanctuary (kept Sally on the lead lots more than usual! Really felt like I didn’t know her anymore and certainly couldn’t trust her), past the old oaks on the hill and through the redwood plantation and back down the hill to the car. Eventually headed out of the estate (thank goodness) and back through the centre towards home. . stopped off in Kingswood and dropped in the last of the films for expensive one hour processing and an extra set of all the prints (£19.96). . .dropped BB off at home and quickly drove up the petrol station to top up the car (17.35 ltr - £13) for tomorrows drive to Gatwick . . . stopped off at home for a coffee and then left Sally at home and both walked up to pick up the photos and do a last little bit of shopping. Back by early evening. Checked out the latest set of photos - oh no! Loads too dark - the SLR camera had somehow been switched to manual by mistake. Oh NO - they didn't give me the extra set of prints I paid for!!!! Grrrrrrr. Sorted them all out, kept the receipt and negatives and let BB have the one set of prints we did have - gonna have to go back to the shop (have to wait till Monday I guess) and kick up a fuss! Spent an hour or so modifying and copying all the digital photos I'd taken, onto a CD for BB to take home . . . walked . . .M/Sis2 called to touch base and say Dad was doing 'ok' . . . TVd but SO, SO exhausted ended up going to bed pretty early, long before BB. Shame we never got round to walking around some of the sights of Bristol proper. Guess I kinda burned out a day too soon - leaving poor BB on her own watching TV as I slept, after a day of 'hunting with dogs'!! wasn't what I had in mind as a pleasant last night in England for her. :o| (-/10)
10 - Up before the alarms around 4:30am!!! Woke up with coffee and cigarettes. Rolled loads of cigarettes for the trip. Walked Sally quickly in the frost - after yesterdays ‘devil wolf dog’ disaster, and being all up tight at having to make the trip to the airport through London rush hour traffic etc., I wasn’t in the mood for her pulling on the lead and acting up in any way at all, and let her know it with some rough correction! Funny how back at home she sought the comfort and support of BB and kept out of my way as I moodily/worrying rushed about defrosting the car and getting ready. BB had already managed to get her case downstairs and had left it out in the front garden!! Bit risky I thought, although it WAS SO heavy I guess no one could have stolen it. Eventually, after a quick once round the house to see if BB had forgotten anything, loaded up the car and were all on the road around 7am as planned. First part of the drive was difficult and seemed like hard work in the dark with lots of high speed traffic and grease like spray sticking to the windscreen requiring washing off every minutes or so! A surprisingly free run up and only stopped on the motorway briefly a couple of times by the weight of traffic. Almost hit a motorcycle neatly running along in my blind spot, as I pulled into the fast lane!! My fault - sorry!! A little nasty heavy sleety rain, on round the M25. Eventually parked in the airport after a little over two and a half hours. Couldn't help it - had to leave BB with Sally and run straight in looking for a bathroom! Weird how few service stations there are on those roads - the route we took meant around 60 miles or more without one!? Left Sally in the car and checked BB in. A little hassle with her heavy case which was overweight – quickly moved some weighty stuff around between cases and repacked all ok. Sat for half an hour or so with cigarettes until BBs boarding time. Hugs and goodbyes and watched until BB had disappeared through the departure gates and out of sight. Felt a bit weird and emotional and couldn’t get out of the crowds and back to the car quick enough after paying the outrageous £5-something parking charge. Straight back on the road and drove at high speeds without stopping all the way home. Stopped off for a ‘Miss Millies meal deal’ chicken takeaway near home. Ate, swallowed an annadin tablet and then fell asleep with a BIG headache. Woken by Sally barking at a door to door salesperson type – seems to be a world conspiracy to deprive me of sleep!!!! Eventually managed around four hours sleep before being woken again by a door to door charity collector - who collected nothing but a groan and grimace from me!!!!!? . . .touched base with M/Sis2. Apparantly Mum stayed at home today but Sis2 went in. All okish . . .walked and found a penny . . . touched base with Sis1 and confirmed I'd pick her up tomorrow - called and let M/Sis2 know . . .LB called to touch base . . . TVd . . . BB called to say she had made her connections and was safely at her local airport . . . set the alarms and to bed around midnight. (-/10)a
11 - Up with the first alarm around 6:30am . . . walked in the freeze and found a penny . . .Figured that Mum/Sis2 wouldn’t be eating until the evening so quickly knocked up a few sandwiches and things to take to keep me going all day – called Sis1 and told her what I was doing, hinting she may wish to do the same. Scraped all the ice off the car, loaded up, and set off for Sis1s with Sally around 8:30am. Filled up with petrol (32.71 ltr - £24.50) and then realised I’d forgotten the inevitably necessary headache tablets, so stopped off at a store to buy some. Picked up Sis1 a little before 9am who jumped in the car with a huge dish of cauliflower cheese she’d made for us all to eat tonight after visiting Dad – good idea! . . . everything white with the freeze but a completely clear sunny sky and a quick drive down. Sis1 seems to be in a pretty rough way what with all the Dad thing, feeling guilty she isn’t helping like Sis2 is, having split up from her man friend and such – much discussing of it all on the drive down. Recommended that if she felt she needed them, she SHOULD go back on the anti depressants. The only reason she stopped taking them was because of her man friend’s outspoken criticism of her taking them!!!! Jeeze – some ‘friend’! Grrrrr. . . arrived and briefly stopped for a coffee with M/Sis2. At least the illness Mum has had these last few days has improved – she admitted that she’d had the best nights sleep in years in the absence of Dad. Sis2s health seems to be ‘fragile’ complete with muscle strains and a bad back!! . . Rowcroft – the Torbay & South Devon Hospice in Torquayall set off for ‘Rowcroft’ – the Torbay & South Devon Hospice in Torquay some time after 11am. Mum INSISTED on giving me £30 petrol money!!!! Suddenly ended up doing detours in heavy traffic around Paignton so that Sis1/2/Mum could dash into various shops (no where to park!) looking for a chair which Dad could sit in when he returns home, like the ones they use in the hospice that are higher and more upright with good side head supports for falling asleep. The couch at home where Dad has been sitting these last few months is too low and is gonna be real hard (nigh on impossible) for him to get up from now! Not surprisingly Mum couldn’t commit to buying anything on the spur of the moment like that (much to Sis1 and my despairing frustration – one shop apparently even amazingly offered to deliver a choice of chairs on Monday for Dad to try before choosing one suitable!!!), so we eventually gave up and carried on into Torquay. Turned into the Rowcroft grounds and drove up the steep 750 metre driveway and parked up near the huge house around 12:30pm. Beautiful trees and lawns all around. Mum and Sis1 went inside to get Dad to look out the window and Sis2 showed me where to walk with Sally to be spotted outside by him, ‘surprise’ like. :o) All assembled inside in the large bay window that seems to have been claimed by Dad, complete with Sally (VERY dog friendly place – everyone oohd and ahhd over her and a nurse even dashed off and got a container of water for her to drink from). Sally soon recognised Dad and greeted him all ears down and waggy tailed. :o) The image of Dad all bleary eyed parked in his chair in front of the window was pretty sad. . .all sat and chatted for ages. Dad ‘as usual’ asked the same questions over and over and over again, wanting to know that everyone (including BB) and everything was ok. Walked Sally across the lawns and down into a nearby wooded haven for a while to let her stretch her legs and do her business. HUGE squirrel population – lots of chasing. . .used the beard trimmer Mum and Sis2 had brought from home and had a go at reducing and tidying up Dads beard, as Mum fussed and combed and made sure it was all symmetrical!!! Sat in the sun in the warmth Dad seemed to almost enjoy the ‘grooming’ and began to fall asleep as I buzzed away. . .Sally, Sis2, Sis1 & Dad @ Rowcroftsat and chatted for ages more and drank the occasional cup of coffee provided free of charge (?) by the passing tea trolley. Felt guilty later when I spotted a charity collection container on the trolley bottom shelf so ended up popping a coin in, and Sis1 followed suite . . . frequently popped out the door of the bay window for cigarettes, then to eat my sandwiches and to play a little on the lawn (for the audience benefit) with Sally and a stick. Grabbed a sad photo through the window. Cold but sunny. Grabbed a couple more photos back inside but not a single one came out because of the low winter sun flooding through the window and overexposing everyone! Damn! Sis1 often wore a terrible pained grimace on her face! Worrying . . .sat around for hours more! I confess I was very ready to leave by around 3:30pm– dunno how Mum and Sis2 have been doing this sitting around for SO many hours every day for the last week!!!! . . walked around a little with Mum showing me the chapel where they’d all gone the other day for an ad hoc concert which Dad had apparently enjoyed. She agreed that Dad seemed to be doing very well today (he’s been worse – even talked about euthanasia!) Recent experience suggests that he will pay the price and be all exhausted and sleepy/confused tomorrow. He seems able to muster some energy when he needs to – to put on an image of being ok for visitors and such, which falls away the minute they are gone. He actually sounded like his old joking self for a moment, when talking with the chatty ex army dog loving nurse – no wonder some of the nurses don’t realise how VERY incapacitated he HAS become, much to the concern of Sis2 and Mum. They both can't wait to have him back home for 'proper care' although Mum seems to have lost a little of her confidence, having been seperated from Dad this last week, and is now nervous about coping if he has declined further (which seems likely!) . . . eventually Dad needed to relieve himself. He didn’t seem to know it until Mum asked if he needed to, having recognised the child like twitching of his legs. Nurses were called and, humiliated Dad was hidden behind a curtain with them while they helped him with his bottle! Later in the day, going again, confused Dad called one of the nurses by Mums name!! Ouch! Mum looked sad . . . several of the marvellous nursing staff came over and complimented and stroked Sally and treated her to biscuits and such. Sally was brilliant and didn’t growl at anyone (bit worried about all the dog hair and mud on the carpet when we left!!!) . . . Dad's window view @ Rowcroftall sat and chatted little, watching squirrels chase around the lawns and amongst the trees as the sun went down. Not a bad place and view for those who end their days there. Mum explained on several occasions to Dad that he would be coming home on Monday but he couldn’t remember and wasn’t even sure where he was, other than the fact that all the staff were marvellous and like angels – typical of Dad, no member of staff doing any small thing for him could escape his heaps of praise and compliments and thanks. Perhaps thankfully, Dad hasn’t grasped the brutal fact that despite having paid his taxes and NI contributions ALL his life, such is the appalling state of the NHS, that he and Mum are largely on their own in this last period of his life. Any minimal state support that can be officially offered to them, such as a few hours of home nursing etc. seems to have to be paid for out of their savings!!!!!! It takes an organised nursing support team to take care of Dad in Rowcroft, and yet he is being sent home for little old Mum (theoretically on her own) to deal with!!? She can hardly get him up out of a chair, let alone the toilet stuff and all the rest!!!! (-/content removed post 19th April 03 /-) impossible for me (and Sis1) to stay and help – Sis2 sees this as HER role and yet she is liable to destroy her own life (finances /mortgage/ job/ immigration status, etc.) if she stays – and how long will this go on for?!!! No one can tell (so they say). ARRRRRRRggggggghhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!! . . . eventually after some tea, Mum and Sis2 went through their practiced ‘get Dad into bed’ routine complete with false teeth scrubbing and such. Sis1 and I sat back and watched and felt guiltily useless. Eventually Dad was safely in bed and we took it in turns to hug him and say our love yous and goodbyes. I went last and encouraged Sally to hop up on the edge of the bed rail for a goodbye lick. As I turned back around there was a commotion going on a few yards away!!!!??? One of the patients, obviously confused in his illness, had started to wander away down the ward and the friendly chatty nurse we’d spent much of the afternoon talking to, attempted to take his arm and persuade him back to his bed. He was upset by this and grabbed her clothing and necklace around her neck and ‘resisted’ threatening to pull them both to the floor!!! Sis1/2/Mum all attempted to assist by wheeling over a wheel chair for him to sit in and grabbed his arms but he would NOT let go! The nurse seemed to make eye contact with me as I stood there hanging onto Sally’s lead doing nothing! I didn’t know what to do!!! If I’d tried to help all I could think was that I would have to hit and hurt a confused dieing man! Another nurse rushed in to help and try and persuade him to let go and at that point Sis1/2/Mum all turned and started to leave - so with a wave to oblivious Dad I lead Sally off and went with them, leaving the ‘fight’ behind! I felt AWFUL!! What could I have done? What should I have done? Arrrrgggggghhh!!! An awful end to what was an ‘ok’ day. . .drove off after 6pm back to Mums and dropped them off to start the reheating of Sis1s ‘meals on wheels’ offering. Mum INSISTED on giving Sis1 £10 for the trouble!!!! Couldn’t help thinking there is a point at which such ‘generosity’ becomes insulting! Drove to Battery Gardens to quickly walk Sally in the pitch black and cold before returning her to the garage for her food. Joined in eating the cauliflower cheese and garlic bread followed by a few chocolates. Damn fine feast. Chated for a while and then loaded up and back on the road with Sally and Sis1 around 9:20pm. . . very cold but not yet icy so a quick 80+mph run straight back home with lots more discussion and raking over of the ‘family situation’. BB called on the mobile but SO difficult to hear her with all the road noise and veering all over the road illegaly trying to use the mobile phone - said I'd call when I got home. Slowed right down by a police cordon nearing Bristol and looked in horror at what remained of a couple of cars recently crashed near the Almondsbury interchange. Not much left of them – and on a bend that I would normally have taken at high speed! Drove to Sis1s at slower safe speeds on the white icy roads and dropped her off. Even whiter roads as I picked my way home. Touched base with Mum to confirm safe arrival around 11:15pm. Felt absolutely exhausted again and kinda ‘wobbly/woozy’ from all the driving. Touched base with BB until gone midnight . . .coffee and unwound in front the TV until bed around 1am. Too tired to know what I feel about anything of these last couple of weeks – need SO bad to be alone and quiet for a bit with no driving and lots of sleeping! (-/10)a
12 - Up around 9am after a decent sleep. Sally climbed on the bed at one point but I managed to sleep on . . . walked in the frost. Sally seemed to have lots of energy to burn off after a couple of weeks mostly in the back of the car, and leapt and ran around with a playful Jack Russel, like a couple of March hares! The small dog got a bit too excited and was dragged off by the woman owner when he started trying to 'have his way' with Sally! Tee hee :o) . . . did a little laundry whilst PCing this . . . slept for an hour before being woken by BB calling . . .walked. Weather has turned warmer and the freeze seems to have melted - muddy underfoot/Sally again, uggh! . . . Mum/Sis2 called with todays briefing. Dad was ok, occasionaly tearful and emotional, and he'd forgotten that Sally and I had visited yesterday! Another of the patients was wheeled out having died in his sleep. The nurse involved in yesterday's fracas was ok. . . TVd . . . LB called asking me to pop up and help with her cable TV box which had frozen, like they do. Popped up, rebooted it by pulling out the power lead and then got 'trapped' in to having to sip a glass of red wine and converse with her and her man. Didn't last long - they were both drinking (lots), I had nothing to say and ended up talking about the world news, LB was very soon incoherent, I was overwhelmed with detached feelings of 'I do NOT want to be here' and left the rest of my glass of wine and excused myself and returned home with the stuff from LBs freezer which she was getting rid of because of her diet!!! Touched base with BB for some sanity. To bed around 1am still feeling absolutely exhausted and rather down. Maurice Gibb of the BeeGees and General Galtiere (Argentine leader - Falklands War) died this day. (3/10)ad
13 - Woken by Sally around 7am! Snoozed on till around 8am. Bit of a funny feeling in my throat!! . . .walked and then carried on walking down to a local charity shop to see what furniture they may have in (thinking about a suitable chair for Dad). The shop no longer did furniture so a wasted effort - a nearby shop had something that may have been suitable but it was £75 and of course probably wouldn't have been the right colour or something for Mum. Walked with Sally back across the field and headed up to the camera shop in Kingswood to demand the extra sets of prints that they'd not included the other day. Found 7p along the way. I said I wanted the prints I'd paid for and hadn't got - the guy said 'no problem' - I said 'It was to me!'. He then started on about how 'these things happen'!!! Funny attitude - an apology and some money back would have been more fitting! Let it go but resolved not to take any more business there. Walked up to a 'Furniture Project' that I didn't know was there, that the lady in the charity shop had suggested. No suitable chairs. The old guy in the warehouse started admiring Sally and telling me about how when he was a lorry driver near London he'd once found a stray German Shepherd. He'd adopted it and looked after it for a week until sat in his cab with it one day a passing police car pulled up. They called the dog by name and it came right on over!? Turned out the dog was actually one of theirs, a police dog which had escaped from it's compound!!! lolol :o) . .wasted the rest of the hour sitting in Kingswood Park and by the shops with Sally. Realised I wasn't feeling good. The feeling of exhaustion I'd had for the last goodness knows how long had turned into feeling unwell! Aches and pains all over my body, bad neck/head ache, a bit sniffly and kinda woozy and dizzy!!!!!!? Eventually returned and picked up the prints and headed home. Felt really awful on the way, all shivery, couldn't get home soon enough, and just wanted to lay down in the street and become unconscious! . . . grabbed a bite to eat and feeling VERY cold, lay down to sleep for a couple of hours . . . woke still feeling very iffy. No energy - sat in front the TV for a few hours all wrapped up in hood and gloves and shivering! . . . M/D/Sis2 called. Dad was home. Sis2 had gone in on the bus and then had to 'fight' to be allowed to accompany Dad home in the ambulance transport minibus. Absolutely absurd they argued against it since Dad was after all the only occupant of the entire bus!! Eventually they agreed but acted as though they were doing her a favour!! What on earth is the matter with this country and the people in it! 'Jobsworth' idiots! . . . BB called and suspected she maybe wasn't well too . . . walked and found 5p. Didn't actually feel 'quite' as bad as I'd thought I would, so I guess the annadins did their job. Just missed DH who I saw driving past as I walked towards my road, who'd popped by for a coffee according to the little note popped through the letter box. Probably just as well I missed her - don't want to pass on whatever illness I'm carrying! . . .TVd . . . early to bed around 11pm. (3/10)aaa
14 - Broken nights sleep - eventually up around 7:45am. Bit of a cough, head ache and blowy nose! . . .walked and found 3p . . . PCd this. M/D/Sis2 called to touch base. Everything okish. They'd all been up three times in the night for Dad to 'use his bottle'. Dad was apparantly a little confused and tired this morning - he sounded pretty rough and out of it!! Ended up having yet more conversations about buying a more appropriate chair for Dad to sit in! . .gave up trying to get on top of the missing journal entries for the last couple of weeks, checked I had enough money in my account, filled up with petrol (36.53 ltr - £27) and then drove around a bit visiting stores that may have some chairs. VERY soon gave up (especially after driving about ten miles to one, only to find they are closed on Tuesdays!! Hate stores that arbitrarily choose a weird day to close. :o( ). Dropped Sally back at home and headed for the store I'd seen the £75 chair in yesterday. Just inside having a sit on it and the mobile went! Mum/Sis2 starting to suggest that maybe Dad wouldn't be well enough to even use such a chair - then the signal went down and the line was dropped!!!! Walked outside the shop and called them back and said I was just looking at one and may as well go for it. Hung up - went back inside - it WAS second hand but looked like new - sat on it, turned it upside down and inspected it (through Mums eyes as best I could - looking for unacceptable stains and marks) and ultimately figured what the hell - lets just get this latest hassle over and done with - and bought it!!! Carried it over the road and managed to get it in the back of the car and drove home. Moved it around, bungeyed it to the front passenger seat and figured there was JUST enough room for Sally for the drive down. Called Mum/Sis2 and told them like it or not I'd bought it. . grabbed a coffee and a bite to eat. Oh dear - I can feel some more driving coming on!!! :o( . . .smooth run down and actually felt ok-ish. Stopped off at M/Ds 'local' Sainsburys for some dog food supplies for the garage. Arrived at M/Ds around 4:30pm. Mum dashed out and helped me carry the chair in once I'd undone all the bungees. She actually seemed quite pleased with it and Sis2 also said it was ok, but of course I figured they were just saying that whether or not they actually thought it! Settled Sally in the garage and joined them all for a coffee and watched as Mum insisted on vacuuming the chair before Dad was allowed to try it. All helped manhandling Dad into it - seemed to be ok. :o) Mum rushed up the post office and drew out the money to pay me back and also insisted I take petrol money as usual. Felt awkward taking it with Sis2 looking on - not sure what arrangements they have come to with regard her mortgage, lost wages, etc etc!!!!!!! . . . Mum cooked up a mass of vegetarian sausages and mash and peas for tea (-/content removed post 19th April 03 /-)Helped Sis2 get Dad sat up to the table in his wheelchair/commode but I am not practiced or experienced and was rather too rough - Dad seems very fragile and easily damaged with his thin 'steroid skin'! . . felt obliged to call Sis1 and tell her I'd got a chair and was down there etc knowing that it may increase her feelings of guilt about not being able to do as much to help the situation as she thinks she should! Some good news her end - she has two new female lodgers all lined up to move in soon . . Uncle TJ called M/D to touch base and tell them he was back in the country. . touched base with BB . . . Walked Sally down to Battery Gardens. Very dark warm and blustery evening but strangely looked like snow on the grass??? Turned out to be wood chippings - lots of the familiar bushes and undergrowth seemed to have been cleared? Ended the walk with Sally having a jolly good rabbit chase. Back at M/Ds by around 8:30pm to find M/Sis2 had put Dad to bed already and were washing up the dishes . . Sis1 called to hear the latest on how Dad was etc. Ended up being a pretty 'down' conversation with what felt like loads of awkward silences!!! . . (-/content removed post 19th April 03 /-) dish washing procedure lasted until gone 10pm!!!!!!!!???? . . . coffee and chats until around 11pm when I retired to the garage to sleep. Unseasonably mild temperatures but difficulty sleeping because of the strong winds outside - the garage is pretty draughty and a cool breeze playing across my face was irritating as hell! Sally decided to chew on her chewy thing through half the night which didn't help, followed by lots of drinking and the occasional dribbley lick of my face!! (4/10)aa
15 - Woke around 4am needing the bathroom! Made do!! Managed to get back to sleep and slept until around 8:30am. Everyone already awake. Dad had amazingly managed to sleep pretty much the night through but Mum hadn't because she'd been lying there waiting for Dad to need to get up 'to go'!!!!!!! Can't win! . . woke up with coffee and cigarettes back out in the garage . . .walked Sally to battery Gardens in the drizzle and the gale after 9am as M/D/Sis2 breakfasted. Daylight in Battery Gardens revealed lots of workmen 'clearfelling' all the undergrowth and some of the trees!! Asked one of them what was going on - apparantly the council have decided to 'open up' the views. Guess it WILL look better in the summer when it has all recovered, but what a shame for all the trees and the birds, and where on earth will the rabbits find shelter from chasing dogs?!! . . . back at M/Ds it was very clear I have developed a real nasty sneezing streaming cold - worst I can remember for years! . . .Mum wheeled Dad off on his commode/wheelchair for a strip wash in the bathroom - neither seemed too aware that Dad was pretty much naked from the waist down as she did so - Sis2 sought out a towel for Dad's modesty . . . eventually all cleaned up and dressed Dad was parked in the living room whilst Mum went to 'tidy up a bit'. Dunno what post washing Dad 'tidying up a bit' entailed, but it lasted around an hour and a half!!? No wonder Mum is exhausted - she NEVER stops doing whatever it is she does - never mind looking after Dad's EVERY need 24 hours a day!!!????. . .grabbed some breakfast of a couple of bowls of sugar puffs whilst reading the paperwork from the council about means tested nursing care. Figured after having read it all, and after having forced Mum to let me have a quick look at the list of savings they had, that 'maybe' Dad WOULD be JUST below the threshold for 'some' financial assistance, so it was agreed that Sis2 should call the council officer she'd already spoken with and should ask for more details . . had a bath whilst agonising over the fact that M/D had NOT yet done enough to sort out their finances in view of the impending future, because Mum couldn't face all the hassle!!!!!!! Grrrrrrrrr!!!! That is now liable to cost them dear. Arrrrrgggghhhhhh . . . dropped Sis2 off at the laundrette for her to do her laundry!!? Apparantly less hassle her doing it there (-/content removed post 19th April 03 /-) Good grief! . . . just started to try and type a bit of my journal on the laptop when the Occupational Therapists arrived to see how Mum was getting on and maybe make some recommendations. Couple of minutes later Sis2 arrived so we all joined in the chat. VERY nice eloquent woman with a good manner being as helpfull as she could be, but pretty soon became obvious they couldn't really actually offer anything very constructive at all apart from advising on the best way to help Dad get up from his chair and get on the bed etc, etc. They more or less confirmed that M/D would have to pay for any nursing care they needed! Grrrrrr. . Felt obliged to labour the fact that Dad acts very differently with nurses and 'other' people than he does with Mum/Sis2. He seems far more capable and able when instructed to do things by 'strangers', which he proved by 'relatively' successfully making his way with the aid of the zimmer frame to the bedroom under their guidance. The dynamics of the family relationships etc - not uncommon said the OTs. Received a phone call in the middle of the 'meeting' saying that the council people had arranged a financial assessment meeting (thought Sis2 had left it up in the air?) and would Monday PM be ok. Figured ok what the hell and agreed - let Mum know - she looked even more harried and worried! At the end of the OT visit they said they would order a frame to help Dad get in and out of bed, and would arrange for a company to come and measure up with a view to fitting some risers to raise his new (apparently very suitable :o) ) chair by a few inches. . . . sat around and chatted until around 5pm. Drove with Sally and Sis2 to get fish and chips for us all. Ate - lots! . . .took a snap or two of Dad in his chair - photo session abruptly halted as Dad announced he thought he needed to go to the toilet!!! Mum and Sis2 sprang into action and, obviously in the way, I withdrew to the garage. Just getting ready to walk and BB called to touch base. Sis2 handed me the portable and I took the call out into the garage. Finished the call and popped back inside to return the portable only to be confronted by poor old Dad stripped to the waist in the hallway being supported by Sis2 whilst Mum 'cleaned him up below' after his apparantly successful toilet sit!!!! Felt awkward but NOT because of the embarassment/modesty issue - more because of (-/content removed post 19th April 03 /-) Nothing I could do so shut the door all matter of fact and walked Sally down to Battery Gardens. Almost a full moon and quite light in the dark. Ended up sitting on one of the seats overlooking Torbay, feeling all cold ridden and having a real down 'I'm sick of this life/will it please end' moment - or several!!! . Walked slowly back to the garage feeling rough and recovered with a cigarette or two, debating whether or not I could face the drive home. The prospect of spending an unplanned several days in that draughty garage, with a real bad cold, persuaded me - started loading my stuff into the car. Sis2 popped out all upset and tearful!!!!!? Apparantly Dad'd had an 'accident' when using the toilet and had managed to pee all over the floor. The large plastic floor covering that Sis2 had spent ages cutting to fit and taping to the carpet strip at the door had successfully saved everything from a drenching apart from a tiny bit around the toilet base. (-/content removed post 19th April 03 /-)brought Dad to the verge of tears and (-/content removed post 19th April 03 /-)On top of all that Sis2 was clearly deeply distressed over her own declining financial/house/job position etc. She said she was now of the opinion that Dad would likely carry on for another several months because despite his mental decline and muscle wastage, his body was as strong as ever! She was of the opinion that she would have to return home for at least a couple of weeks to try and sort out her house (which allegedly has been 'put right' by the builders) with a view to renting it out to prevent her complete bankruptcy and ruin!! What could I say? Whatever I said seemed to end up being hands-tied, despairing criticism of Mum and her 'ways'. Tried to reiterate that 'life goes on', no one was 'expecting' her to stay and fill the carer role which she seems to have carved out for herself as HER role (I WOULD be more than willing to do 'care stuff' in her abscence but of course MY standards of cleanliness and care would not in any way be acceptable to Mum! Who is the patient?!!! Arrrrgh!) , and that she should take care of her own future and not sacrifice everything for a last few months with Dad - especially since in my opinion he had already pretty much gone! Also pointed out that M/D probably DID have enough savings to pay for nursing care (-/content removed post 19th April 03 /-) Blah, blah, blah, etc, etc, etc!!!!! The conversation had to be curtailed because apparantly Mum was waiting on me to use the toilet before I left, before she set about cleaning it all out with rubber gloves and buckets of disinfectant! . .Dad had forgotten about his upset and was happily sat on his commode in the living room doorway keeping Mum company as she laboured on her hands and knees washing out the toilet!!!!! . . . said my 'love yous' and hugs goodbye, said I'd see them in a couple of days, and escaped out to the car!! Waved goodby from the end of the driveway as I closed the gates and sped off, SO happy to be out of there! . . . fast drive home all sneezy, swervy, drippy!! Home by 10:45pm. Touched base with M/Sis2 (Dad was in bed). . . touched base with poor BB and let off some steam about the family situation! . . Sadly, I have absolutely no guilt whatsoever in admitting, that I want my father to die as soon as possible! :o( It is unfortunate that at times I must also battle with the same desire for myself. . PCd a bit of this until exhausted to bed around 1am. (2/10)a
16 - Woken by insistant Sally around 8:30am . . . feel yucky . . .walked and found 24p. Sally dived in a huge muddy puddle just before we left the field!!!! Hosed her down on the patio! . . . PCd a little of the missing bits of this journal from when BB was here, although I've left it so long now I can hardly remember much of it!! Didn't last at it long before stopping for a bite to eat and then falling asleep all afternoon until woken around 6pm by Sis1 calling but leaving no ansaphone message. . .called Sis1 to appraise her of the M/D/Sis2 situation from my perspective . . . touched base with PS and let him know to keep his distance for the time being because of my cold . . . touched base with BB . . . walked and found a penny . . . M/D/Sis2 called. Everything seemed to be ok-ish. . . TVd, sat like a block of stone till early. (3/10)aa
17 - Woken by Sally around 8:30am again! Need more sleep - always!!! . . . walked. Very breezy and damp out - felt all tired and achey . . .PCd more of my missing journal entries whilst sucking annadin tablets. . . ate and fell asleep for a couple of hours. Woken by M/Sis2 calling - Dad was asleep and had been much of the day. They'd had the visit from the private nursing firm and Mum felt 'ok' about it and will probably be using them pretty soon for a couple of hours a day for bed baths and such - apparantly Dad needs it! Mum's attempts at washing him aren't doing the job!! Seems like Mum is gonna use the excuse of Dad's snoring to move out of the bedroom and start sleeping on the sofa because of the growing odour! They'd spoken with the Benedon society and had confirmed that they WOULD likely pay for the nursing costs and would also pay for the chair I bought. Excellent - thought they may - that was why I got the guy in the store to write out a proper receipt for me. Managed to have a conversation about M/Ds finances again and Mum now (despite resisting strongly) seems liable to allow us to start trying to move some of their money around and tidy up their finances and move stuff out of Dads name. Agreed that Sis2 should try and cancel the financial assessment scheduled for Monday - far better to have that once monies are moved OUT of Dads name. Pre paying his funeral expenses would be a real neat way of losing some of it!! Nevertheless, I bet mums hesitation and reluctance in all of this will have cost them some government benefits. We'll see. . called Sis2 back but she'd been unable to get through to cancel the assessment! . . . touched base with Sis1 and warned her that when we next go down she'll be sleeping in the same room as Sis2 - one of them on the floor! . . . dare I suspect that my cold is easing off just a little? . . .walked and found a penny. Stopped off for jumbo sausage and chips takeaway on the way home - they've put up their prices - £2 now! . . . TVd . . . taken aback by a phone call from some American I didn't recognise asking to speak to me!!!!? I may have been a little rude and demanded 'Who's asking?'!! Turned out to be Sis2s lawyer with a message for her (I agreed she could give my number because such people have a habit of forgetting the time difference and will call at all hours!) - her house was all securely locked up and the building foreman would be handing the keys back to the lawyer on Monday. Called Sis2 and let her know - seemed like good news for a change. More chats with Mum/Sis2 about finances and such and Mum appeared to changing her mind again and didn't want all the hassle of having to sort out their finances and have a financial assessment right now - especially since it appeared that the Benedon society were going to be paying for the nursing and such!!! I really wasn't in the mood to argue. Apparantly the nursing company they'd had in, had told of a nearby brain tumor case who had gone on using their services for six months!!!! Blimey - I hope not!!!! . . TVd till early. Cold definitely seems to be slowly slightly improving although my voice seems to be able to do a pretty good impersonation of Barry White right now!! (3/10)as
18 - Woken by Sally on the bed - snoozed some more and then got up around 8:30am again . . . walked and found 2p . . .PCd more of this whilst drinking coffee and eating BB donated Oreo cookies. :o) . . .PCd all day!!! Lots of typing - lots forgotten already!!. . . Sis1 called to touch base and say she was unwell and I suggested we should call off our planned overnight visit planned for tomorrow. She spoke with Mum/Sis2 and confirmed we wouldn't be down - must confess I REALLY don't want to go down for a while! That deafening road noise you get in a cheap car when doing 80mph - feel as though that noise is going through my head ALL the time right now, and has been for weeks!!!?. . .Bb called to touch base . . . walked in the heavy rain . . .Sis2 called feeling a bit down, and then said they were in the middle of washing the dishes so they'd call me back afterwards. Ended up sitting there waiting for the call back for about an hour!!? I found myself really not in the mood to hear about the latest last nights Dad/toilet disaster story and probably showed it! Feel like all this stuff is really getting to me - and I'm not the one having to be down there and deal with it (although of course I have offered to help but that offer is ALWAYS rejected by Mum)!! Dunno how they can put up with it all - rather seems like they are both gonna go crazy if they aren't careful! Planted the seed in Mum's mind that she COULD go and see a doctor and tell whoever gives a damn (?) that she CANNOT cope - of course her martyred response was that she would just have to carry on!!!! Think I even said 'You're an adult - I can't force you to do things' at one point when EVERY suggestion I made was met with a negative response!! It is Mum who seems to have TOTAL control over all this!!!!! . . . TVd till early. (3/10)
19 - Half woken by Sally climbing on the bed - pushed her roughly off and slept on until around 8:30am again . . . walked in the muddy drizzle. Found a penny . . . took me several hours but eventually by early afternoon, balanced my battered accounts (funny sense of acheivement balancing to the penny like that - reminds me of my post office days on the counter - I WAS good at it). Ouch!!! Haven't spent money like that for a few years! :o| . . .damn cold seems to have sunk to my lungs! . . .slept for a couple of hours but woken by Sis1 calling on the ansaphone - eventually called her back only to find it was hassle with her computer that she wanted help with. Usual thing with her - she hadn't used the ISP account for so long that it had been automatically cancelled. Went on line and reactivated it for her (again!) and checked it all worked ok, only to find she still couldn't get on line?! Must have spent the next hour or so messing around on the phone trying to set up new connections and stuff!!! Ended up being a bit short tempered at her clicking all over the place and acting like she'd forgotten how to use a PC! BB called in the middle of things - said I'd call her back. Got Sis1 back up and running in the end - she wanted to read my journal to see my version of the M/D/Sis2 situation. She was really upset and tearful about it all and needed to know if it was just her going crazy or if it really was 'this' bad!! It IS pretty bad. There is a whole bunch of childhood stuff being brought to the fore for each of us as a result of all this. Each one of us children had a different experience growing up (I think maybe Sis1 being the eldest child had the hardest time of all!). I don’t have ‘so’ much of a problem with the prospect that my father will soon be dieing – the problem I have, what causes me the most distress and upset, is with (-/content removed post 19th April 03 /-) And yet - her doting 24 hour care of my fathers every need cannot be faulted!! God I SO want this all over and done with! . . . walked in rubber. . .touched base with Sis1 to check she was still talking to me after having read whatever I may have written about her! Chatted for an hour going over and over and round and round all the family stuff. Sis1 seems to be okish healthwise but pretty 'distraught' emotionally, to say the least! . . . called M/D/Sis2 to touch base and managed another more reasonable conversation about finances and such. Suddenly seemed pretty clear that what with Dad's savings, comfortable monthly pension and all, there can be little doubt that he will be excluded from any Social Services financial assistance. That simplifies what I think it is possible/best to do with their accounts and stuff. Dad fell out of bed last night!!!!!! He was ok. Made suggestions about buying a different cheap single bed, using the old rail heater in the garage as a bed guard (until the proper one ordered by the occupational therapist arrives), offered pillows, etc, etc, but all suggestions were rejected by Mum . . . finally grabbed a pizza to eat gone 10:15pm! . . . touched base with BB who seems to have her own 'difficult' family situation going on!! . . . TVd till early. (4/10)as
20 - Up around 8:30am again? Seems to be almost a routine. . . walked in the rain. Some young idiot at the entrance to the field impressing his idiot friends (who asked if I had a 'spare' cigarette !!!??? - "NO!") by riding his moped with the throttle wound full open, on the torn up grass making a muddy mess all over! Grrrrr! . another (stolen?) dumped push bike. Funny time of year - things do seem to have been 'relatively' quiet out and about for the last few weeks . . .Hosed poor mud covered Sally down in the garden. The garden is in an awful mess! All the lush green of the 'Mind Your Own Business' has turned to an oily black where the frost got at it!! It'll recover in time but sure looks ugly looking out there right now. :o( . . . briefly touched base with M/D/Sis2 to confirm Sis2 had cancelled the SS financial assessment. She had without any problem. Uh oh - Dad sounds like he may have a cold! Oh dear - the dangerous prospect of pneumonia springs to mind!! Mum slept on the sofa last night but it apparantly didn't go too well - she was too hot! Offered lighter duvets, made suggestions, but of course nothing I said was any good . . .PCd this . . .felt really wound up and down! Just like the bad old days!!!! . . . fell asleep for a couple of hours only to be woken by the phone – no ansaphone message and a number I didn’t recognise! . . . BB called briefly . . . TVd/PCd. Some BIG rain storms! . . . DH popped in for an hour or so for coffee and chats . ! . . walked late between rain storms – field is ABSOLUTELY waterlogged! Felt tearful and exhausted! . . . touched base with M/D/Sis2 . . .drank the bottle of beer I bought for BB to try when she was here, that she never got round to . . . BB called to touch base but I really wasn’t in a talking mood and showed it! . . . couldn’t sleep – TVd/PCd till around 5am!!!!! (2/10)ad
21 - woken by Sally climbing on the bed around 9:30am . . .walked late. Detoured to look at the building site of a block of flats that has sprung up near the field - and a small van that was lying on its side all vandalised near the builders yard! Thought I heard someone breaking something when I walked last night! . . . a ‘no message left’ call on the ansaphone from M/Ds number. Called back around 11:15 and spoke to Mum who was just about to ‘wash Dad’s lower half’!! Sis2 had escaped to the library for a while. ! The man had called in (as arranged by the occupational therapist) about raising the height of the chair I bought last week with wooden blocks and such. Mum said Dad hardly ever sits in it now so she’d cancelled the work. She’d also had an extra comfy cushion delivered for him to sit on but apparently Sis2 said it felt a bit sticky so that had also been rejected and banished to the garage!!! She said she couldn’t be dealing with such stuff at the moment – there was just too much going on, she didn’t feel ‘in control’ and she just ‘wanted to get back to normal’!!!! I was not sympathetic! I pointed out that such is life and she never would get ‘back to normal’!!! (-/content removed post 19th April 03 /-)The effects on me (my development/subsequent behaviours etc) that some of her behaviour must have had in my childhood, has been brought into focus for me of late! . . . looks like another down/sleeping day then! . . . as seems to be common when I get in this sort of mood, ended up surfing looking at property for sale in obscure places, none of which I can afford anyway! Isle of Skye and thereabouts seemed interesting for a while but of course I'll never be able to afford to move and wouldn't be able to make such a huge decision anyway! Probably too cold and wet up there anyway - and certainly too many sheep for devil wolf dog!!!!. . . cooked up a mass of corned beef hash (like BB made when she was here) for a late dinner early afternoon - ended up eating the lot all in one go!! . . . turned the phones off/down and fell asleep until around 7pm!!! . . .BB called to touch base - back 'on the road' working from some hotel or other . . . walked . . .touched base with M/D/Sis2. All ok-ish. Mum'd had an 'off' morning and admitted that she maybe should have had the chair jacked up because Dad had sat in it earlier and she'd had trouble getting him up out of it! . . . PS popped round for chats till early. (3/10)as
22 - Up late near 9am! . . . walked late. Popped round the dog friendly store for milk. Hosed the mud off Sally out on the patio . . . PCd/TVd . . . slept the afternoon away, not because I was particularly tired but more because I just couldn't face doing anything else!! . . . BB called . . . walked. Found a penny . . .touched base with M/Sis2 . . . TVd till early.(3/10)
23 - Up around 8:30am . . . another out of the blue 'AvPD misunderstanding' type e-mail from BB - made me pretty angry - just don't feel I have the strength nor the obligation to have to explain myself and protest my innocence over some perceived disrespect, again!! . . . a rare sunny day. . .walked and tried to walk off my gloom and carried on down to Eastville Park. Another dog ball on a rope stuck in a tree. Dunno why whoever lost it didn't try a bit harder to retrieve it. Didn't take much to find a big branch in the nearby woods and just hook it down. Nice expensive solid rubber ball :o) . Carried on along the Frome Valley walkway to Oldbury Court and back home via Fishponds. Found a penny along the way. . . ate and lay down to nap but DH left an ansaphone message saying she was popping in with some more left over meats for Sally, so I got back up and PCd looking at property till she popped in. Coffee and chats and then continued surfing property until early evening, content to keep the phone line engaged!! Seems like a quarter of a million £ is the key to owning a place that would fit my 'dreams' - guarantees a life long unfulfilled dream then!!!! . . . walked and found a penny. Feeling REAL down again - battling against it and not in the mood for talking to anyone! A return of involuntary 'dark thoughts' complicated by how best to make sure Sally was ok if I wasn't around!!!!!!! So bad - started to think about maybe going back on the medication!! I never did throw away that last pack of Prozac when I stopped taking them - just in case!! . . . Sis1 called - she'd just spoken with M/Sis2 and told of the 'latest' Dad toilet disaster (with his bottle in the living room!!) which apparantly included Sis2 chipping some paint off a radiator in the bathroom when trying to help, which was apparantly a huge bad mood/atmosphere inducing crisis for Mum and which made Sis2 feel 'unwelcome'!! Sis1 is back on meds (some new type?!!). Somehow the conversation with Sis1 drained me of what little 'strength' I had remaining and left me feeling SO f****** down!!! Couldn't face calling M/Sis2! . . . TVd for hours motionless . . . BB called all upset! Seems like everyone is right now!. . . TVd till early. (<3/10)s
24 - Woke early and then disturbed sleep until around 8:45am . . . walked and found 2p and three pennies . . .did some chores and defrosted the freezer for the first time since I've had it . . . slept all afternoon . . . woke feeling somewhat better, moodwise . . . BB called . . . M/D/Sis2 called - all ok-ish . . . walked and found a penny . . .TVd till bed around 1am. (3/10)aaas
25 - Up with the alarm around 6:45am . . .walked . . .Called Sis1 to make sure she was awake and said I was on course for picking her up around 9am . . . called Sis2 with the intention of asking if she wanted me to bring the laptop back down for her to use again. Ended up hardly saying a word before kinda being ignored and just having to hang on whilst Sis2 had a conversation with Mum asking if she actually wanted me and Sis1 to come down today?! Could just overhear Mum (obviously in one of her ‘moods’) saying that if we wanted to just come and see Dad, ok, but otherwise there wasn’t much point! Made me angry and hurt. Made me feel a nuisance, worthless and frankly rejected! Held my tongue (ish) - said I’d bring the laptop, I’d see Sis2 later, and hung up! The day had started ‘ok’ but that put me in a real foul mood! . . .loaded up and on the road around 8:30am. Stopped to fill up with petrol (34.71 ltrs - £26) and then picked up Sis1 and headed South on the motorway. Sis1 hardly seemed to stop chatting all the way, all about family, childhood, ’dysfunctional stuff’, etc. – figured maybe her new medication (Zispin (Mirtozapine)) was having an effect! I really wasn’t in the mood to talk and probably showed it! . .a brief stop at motorway services for the rest room and then on . . arrived at M/Ds around 11:15am. Settled Sally in the garage and garden and then went in to say hello to M/D/Sis2. Dad seemed ok but (-/content removed post 19th April 03 /-). Mum produced a couple of pork pies from the fridge for Sally and said there were some sausage rolls in there if I wanted them - I said appropriate thank yous and said maybe later cause I WOULD be needing something around dinner time. Gave Sally the pork pies and then joined everyone inside for a coffee which Mum insisted on preparing. All of a sudden she also produced the sausage rolls which she’d taken it upon herself to heat up in the microwave!? I was still in a very dangerous mood, all primed to ‘go off’, and pointed out I hadn’t asked her to do that, but of course sat there and shared them with Sis1 anyway! Started having a look at some of the medical paperwork that had been written by the district nurse and such about the patient and his situation. Seemed as though as far as the medical support staff were concerned, Mum was coping quite ok and some of the support which had been offered was marked as refused!!! Didn’t seem as though Mum was coping at all!! Started messing around reading the forms that had been received and ringing the bank asking about the closing of Dads savings accounts, but it soon became apparent it couldn’t be done by phone, and Mum was absolutely not in the mood to even have it at all mentioned, so I just gave up and left it. . Mum disappeared off with Dad for his ‘morning’ wash down. Sis2 disappeared off having some sort of conversation with Mum where apparently it was suggested that we three children should all just go out and leave her to get on with it!! (-/content removed post 19th April 03 /-)Sis2 was obviously hurt and upset. . let Mum have her way (as always!) and all drove off with Sally in the car. Stopped off at Battery Gardens and all went to look at our ‘favourite seat’ – Sis2 had noticed something ‘weird’ there the other day. Sure enough, a new ‘in memoriam’ plaque had been roughly screwed to the seat and what appeared to be a big pile of ashes had been poured along the grass in front!! Had a bit of a feel of the ashes and sure enough it DID have the texture of ground bone! Blimey – it really looked as though someone had taken it upon themselves to unofficially screw a memorial plaque to someone else’s paid for memorial seat, and then pour, rather than sprinkle, the ashes of their dead parents on the ground in front!!! Outrageous! . the brush clearance works were pretty much done and it looked as though it would look better for it in the summer, although where had all the poor rabbits gone? . . drove down into Brixham and eventually managed to find a place up on a hill to park. All walked back down into town and after a quick look in a couple of charity shops and a stop off for Sis2 to pick up some developed films, sat at a table outside a restaurant and had a coffee. (-/content removed post 19th April 03 /-)Felt as though every time I opened my mouth and attempted to make ANY suggestions I was just talked down, as though nothing I had to say was even worth listening to! Grrr! (-/content removed post 19th April 03 /-). Sis2 ‘seemed’ to have made some decisions. Under the circumstances she was of the opinion that she WOULD have to leave Mum to it, and she would be flying back home to try and salvage something of her life/house/job/etc maybe even within the next week! She suggested that her long term plans were probably to sell her house and try and set up a life in Canada! . . eventually all ended up walking rather aimlessly around before heading out round the harbour and along to the end of the breakwater, which was actually quite nice in the sun despite the brisk cool breeze. . Sat on a bench for a while with Sis1/2 going over stuff and recalling childhood experiences and such, much to the absolute amazement of an old couple on a nearby seat who seemed to end up open mouthed and mesmerised by our goings on! . . bumped into Auntie/Uncle TJ on the walk back from the end of the breakwater. They looked healthy and tanned after their long sunny winter break. Uncle TJ suggested we drop by before leaving for home in the evening because they had some pigs ears for Sally and tobacco for me . .walking back through town towards the car, I suggested we should dare to call Mum and ask if there was any shopping or such that she needed since we were down there. Sis2 was elected to make the call from Sis1s mobile. It was a VERY short call before Sis2 all serious faced said we were on our way and hung up!? Apparently Dad was on the floor – and had been for the last couple of hours!!!!!!??????? WHAT??? Why the f*** didn’t she call us? . .all rushed back up to the car and drove back to M/Ds. Pulled up quick and let Sis1/2 leap out and rush in. Figured three ‘cooks’ was enough so took my time parking the car in the drive and sorting Sally out in the garage, before making my way to the back door. As I passed the living room window I could see Dad STILL laying on the floor and everyone sat around looking serious!!!? Went in to find that Dad was actually quite ok. Apparently Mum had been trying to get him from his wheelchair commode into his chair when his legs gave way and she couldn’t support him so he’d sunk gently to the floor. He was too heavy for her just to lift up so she’d made him comfortable with cushions and blankets and he’d actually fallen asleep there for a couple of hours! He was still waking up and coming-to from his sleepy confusion, so it seemed reasonable for him to stay there a while longer. Couldn’t just sit there looking ashen faced and tearful like everyone else, so it seemed reasonable to me to join him on the floor cause it actually looked quite comfy. I briefly lay down with my head next to his on the cushion and had a bit of a nonsensical chat and a joke!!!!! I guess it was pretty sick on my part but I couldn’t resist taking a photo, to remember! Dad all comfortable on the floor! . . after Dad had become a little more coherent (although he didn’t seem to realise he was on the floor and said he was very comfortable) we figured he’d better get up. Sis1 got behind Dad, Sis2 took one arm and I moved round to take the other. Ooops!!! As I moved around from my squatting position I ended up bashing my back on the edge of the fireplace mantelpiece with disastrous results! The lump of wood became dislodged and all the ornaments on it were knocked over!! Quickly pushed it back into place but of course Mum had noticed!! Nightmare! . .managed to get Dad back in his commode chair as Mum dissolved into tears on the settee! Felt like it was all my fault having half destroyed (in Mums mind) the fireplace!!! Sis1 sprang into action and managed to insist that SHE would go into the kitchen on her own and make MUM a cup of tea. Mum resisted as ever but Sis1 was insistent and finally won the argument (for the first time ever?). Dad didn’t fully understand the extent of Mums distress (god she looked frail and ill and worn out!) and seemed to think it was simply because he’d been on the floor for a while and tried to consol her and told her not to be upset and repeatedly said that he felt ok and quite strong now. He held onto Mums hand and kept on repeating that he was ok now and she shouldn’t worry! He repeated it SO much in his desperate attempt to make Mum feel better that it seemed more and more aggravating and made the whole atmosphere even worse, since no matter how ‘ok’ he felt, there was no getting away from the obvious fact that he was NOT ok, never would be again, and things were going to get much worse for mum!! I think I was the only one who didn’t cry! It was a heartbreaking scene. . .popped up the local store for a pint of milk to see the newly extended building. Couldn’t resist buying myself a bite to eat – sneaked a bacon and cheese pasty back into the garage and shared it with Sally . . .eventually there was some talk of food and once again Mum started a bit of a scene. No suggestion of us driving out to bring something back was acceptable no matter what we suggested. Mum soon told us three kids to just go out and get a pub meal and leave her and Dad to have something simple at home on their own because she just couldn’t deal with any more complications!! . . left Sally in the garage and headed back into Brixham. Parked up briefly in the Oxen Cove car park to chat and let Sis2 finish crying before having to walk into a pub! . . dropped Sis1/2 off near the pub and then drove around all over the place failing to find a parking place before giving up and having to pay for an hour or so in the multi storey car park! Walked to the pub and joined Sis1/2 for a meal. A burger, French fries and a coke for £3.15. . dropped Sis1/2 back at M/Ds. Jumped in the car with Sally and rushed down to Battery Gardens for a quick walk. Sally spotted some rabbits out in the new open and gave chase and did that seldom heard excited yelping thing as she ran after them. Soon back to the garage to feed her before popping back in for chats and a quick coffee. Incredibly Mum now seemed to be a different person and sat and chatted as though the rest of the day hadn’t happened! . . Mum rushed into action as Dad announced he thought he wanted to use the loo and pushed him out there on his commode and got him all set up only for him to then ask if he’d said he wanted to go, because he didn’t think he did! Like it or not he was instructed to stay out there and try! To everyone’s relief he succeeded. Mum cleaned him up and then parked him back in the living room with Sis1 and I whilst she cleaned up and sorted out whatever it was she then had to sort out. As apparently is usual, after such undignified, humiliating and distressing stuff, Dad got a bit emotional and upset (not for himself but for Mum having to go through all this) - he said something along the lines of thinking about committing suicide by using a knife to stab himself as he burst into tears!!!! Sis1 held back her tears and hugged him and consoled him. Eventually once everyone had returned to sit and chat for a bit I figured it was time to go a little after 8:30pm and confirmed it with eye contact with Sis1. Loaded up the car and then popped back in to tell Sis1 I was ready and to say goodbyes. Tried to impress upon Mum that I really wanted to help (made jokes about being all ready to do some ‘wiping’!!) and that I was only a couple of hours away and that she only had to ask and I’d be down, any time at a moments notice. Pointed out that today’s situation where Dad ended up on the floor was just the sort of situation where she HAD to ask for help! Mum started going on about how she could call an ambulance in such circumstances!! True of course and yet she hadn’t – she hadn’t even called US!! Seemed no point in saying anything else – there’s no getting through to her!!!Waved goodbye to M/D/Sis2 sat at the window as we quickly pulled away – Sis1 was soon in tears. I had none! . . headed through Brixham towards Uncle TJs – briefly stopped on the way at a refuse bin to get out and dispose of Sally’s empty food tins from the garage, that were irritating me rattling around in the car! Even putting rubbish in M/Ds bin (-/content removed post 19th April 03 /-) I’ve learned not to do it!!!!!!! . . . Pulled up in UncleTJs street and called him on the mobile to say we were there but wouldn’t be stopping. Uncle/Auntie TJ both popped down for a quick word and handed over a couple of pigs ears for Sally, the tax free tobacco they’d bought for me (refusing my genuine offers of payment), and a bottle of wine for Sis1. Attempted to answer their question of how things were with Dad, but found it impossible to really explain . . . Headed home with Sis1 crying a bit more. Stopped to fill up with petrol (18.21 ltrs - £14) and found 5p on the floor near the pump . . headed home at speed in the cool clear night (perfect driving conditions), Sis1 being pretty quiet for most of the trip and snoozing a little nearer home. Dropped Sis1 off (called her back outside, by blowing the horn, to pick up the sweater she’d dropped in the street!) and then detoured to a store (thankfully still open, only because someone had left the keys at home and they couldn’t lock up?!) and bought some milk. Home around 11:30pm – figured it was too late for the customary call to M/Ds to say we’d arrived safely – and frankly I really didn’t want to have to talk to any of them! . . . gave Sally one of the pigs ears that Uncle TJ had donated but oh my god what a HORRENDOUS smell! Too late to wrestle the one I’d given her away, (she seemed to like it!) but put the other two straight outside in the bin!! . . . BB called and made the mistake of asking how the day had gone! Poor BB! . . Frankly, it was ABSOLUTELY the M/D visit from HELL – and I cannot foresee putting myself through such a visit again in the very near future, unless I am presented with a bloody good reason to do so!!!!! . . . TVd and ate a couple of bowls of cornflakes before bed around 1am.(3/10)aaa
26 - Woke around 7am and then snoozed until around 8am. Real nasty throat/cough!! . . . walked in the drizzle and mud . . . PCd this. Touched base with Sis1 to ask what her new medication was called. Zispin (Mirtazapine) . ended up spending an hour or more on the phone(s) helping Sis1 get her browser and e-mail set up and working again! . . .ate a huge meal of something LB had donated some while ago. Enough to feed four all eaten in one go! Felt a bit ill afterwards! . . . M/D/Sis2 called to touch base and we all chatted like nothing untoward had happened yesterday! Hmm! . . . managed a little sleep but not feeling very well! Almost like I have caught another cold (or the last twenty five years of smoking have just caught up with me!) - seem to be having trouble breathing, a bad throat and coughing all over the place!! Coughing so bad I think I've pulled a muscle in my back that links to my left leg!!!? . . . BB called . . . walked in the mist - guess it's those unseasonably mild temperatures they've been forecasting. . .PCd this . . . BB called!!!!! . . . ate late before bed around 1am. (3/10)aa
27 - Up around 7:30am. Feel real bunged up and headachey!! Seems as though I've picked up a whole new infection!!!! . . . walked . . . don’t feel well at all! Definitely seem to have started on a whole new cold!!? Unusual for me to be ill like this . . . sat around coughing, blowing my nose and feeling cold . . . PCd looking at property, camper vans - and baby alarms! . . . slept for a couple of hours . . . M/D/Sis2 called. This morning was the first day of having the privately paid for, domestic care staff in to give Dad a wash. Predictably Mum didn’t like what they did, or their attitude, and so Sis2 had apparently called them on Mums behalf and cancelled any further visits!!!!!! :o( Sis2 had thankfully been into Paignton and had managed to close Dads ISA savings account and have the money transferred temporarily into their current account. Good. She’d also bought a new baby alarm (good job I didn’t go and get one this morning like I nearly did!) to enable Mum to monitor Dad, as she goes about her housework and when sleeping on the sofa in the living room at night. Sis2 seems to have pretty much decided she has to return home to the USA and was starting to make enquiries about flights. I confirmed to both Sis2 and Mum (whether she likes it or not!) that when Sis2 does go, I’ll be popping down to stay in the garage for a while, just as back up to make sure things are ok. I really can’t see how Mum can manage alone at all!! Dad really didn’t know what on earth we were all talking about and, trying to be helpful so that Mum could have a break, said he could always go and move in with Sis2!!!??? There are times when he is SO confused you gotta laugh! . . . BB called . . . touched base with Sis1. Told her that based on what I’d read, it looked as though her new meds (called Remeron in the States) may be quite good. She confirmed she was unhappy to be eating lots more than usual. I suggested ‘better fat and happy than thin and depressed’! . . . walked in the damp breeze. Sally spotted a fox across the field and gave chase! Managed to call her back and get her lead on before I spotted two others!! Wow - that’s unusual! Glad when the walk was done . . . TVd till early feeling cold and headachy and getting through plenty of handkerchiefs. . .couldn't get to sleep and ended up TV/PCing until around 5am! (3/10)aaa
28 - Woken by Sally a little before 9am after less than four hours sleep! SO cool that she’ll get me up when it’s about time for her walk. :o) . . . walked late in the strong cold wind. Found 6p . . . still very sniffley and congested and coughing but felt a ‘little’ better. Dunno what those weird small lumps are on either side the back of my neck!!!? Maybe I've just been eating too much chocolate?. . . Left Sally at home and drove over Sis1s (like I’d said I may in her absence) and let myself in and grabbed the cordless phone she’d accidentally cut the socket off and was getting rid of. Drove to Kingswood and shopped for food. Bought loads to fill the freezer! Bought a couple of new sockets for the phone and a few birthday cards. Losing track of whos birthday is when/what day/month it is etc! Seem to be all wrapped up in just waiting for the M/D situation to develop - hardly in touch with anyone right now! . . . returned Sis2s ansaphone message. Apparently she’d spoken with the social worker and cleared up some misunderstanding or other about private health care costs etc? She’d also booked her coach and flight and would be flying home to the US on the weekend! Bit worrying that the forecast is for snow near the airport around then! Guess I’ll be popping back down then to say goodbye and maybe hang around for a while to sort out some M/D finances and stuff and just to make sure things are gonna be 'ok' for Mum on her own. :o( . . . cooked up a huge weird stew type meal of tinned stewing steak with boiled veg. Cheap way to eat big! :o) . . . touched base with BB . . . attached the new socket to Sis1s phone and tested it out. Seems to work ok – guess I have a cordless phone again then. . . fell asleep around 4:30pm . . . woken by Sally around 9pm . . . touched base with Sis1/BB . . . walked late . . . TVd/PCd till early. (3/10)aa
29 - Up around 8:30am . . . walked and found 2p. Feel as though my cold is getting just a 'bit' better . . . walked with Sally round to the post box - ended up walking up to the shops in Kingswood and all over the place looking for a store that sells Caramac chocolate! Hard to come by? Seems like people don't like the stuff!!? . . . TVd/PCd . . . Experimented in the kitchen making up some burgers (like BB had made for me when she was here) out of some cheap minced beef I’d bought on special offer. Over and over the phone went in the middle of all my cooking, only to be a blank line every time I picked it up!! Grrrrr! Eventually called BB back – some hassle with the phone card again I guess. . the burgers turned out ok-ish but not sure it was worth all the hassle or how cost effective the idea of making my own is. . . walked in the cold wind . . .touched base with M/D/Sis2. A McMillan nurse had been in and had actually answered some of Mum/Sis2s questions rather better than had anyone else. Apparantly when Dad does go, he will firstly become far more sleepy all the time, he'll then go off his food, and finally he will stop drinking. How long do you last without drinking? Can't be long when you reach that stage! Sis2 said that Dad had become noticeably more sleepy these last few days and she'd also begun to notice his appetite gradually slipping away! She was having renewed doubts about leaving this weekend!!! Oh dear - what to say?!!! . . . BB called late to touch base. . . -//- . . . sat for hours thinking and then finally slept in the early hours. (3/10)as
30 - Woken by Sally around 8am . . .. . . Walked and found a penny. No sign of the snow that was forecast - just grey, wet, windy, miserable and extremely cold! . . . . . . felt real down about stuff. very cold and down - slept the day away. . woke mid afternoon a little before BB called leaving an ansaphone message . Funny how I'll wake up like that just before she calls! Not the first time that's happened!? . . . uncle TJ called to touch base about Dad etc. - I managed an appropriate conversation . . . sat around feeling cold and empty and occasionaly tearful . . .PCd this - phone rang - I picked up - PS saying 'tonight?'. Yeah, ok - then regretted saying so! . . Re-read a bit of the AvPD stuff on my site . . . -//-. . .BB called . . . walked in the freeze. Forecast talked about -6 Celsius or less with the wind-chill. It felt like it although I didn't feel much like I was with myself!! Stopped for sausage and chips on the way home. . . . PS popped round for chats till early, although I wasn’t much up for conversation . . . sat mulling stuff over and couldn't sleep till gone 3am. (2/10)as
31 - Up around 8:45am . . . walked and found a penny. Felt kinda empty. Still very cold but a sunny morning. Lucky we didn't get snow this side of the country - over in the east they had only two inches and yet people ended up trapped in traffic queues for over 16 hours!!!? How on earth is that possible? . . . LB called about someone who has duty free tobacco for sale - didn't want to talk or have to think about it but felt obliged to say I was interested . . . dabbled with some of these words for hours. Not sure if I can/should upload all this to the site. It doesn't seem right. . .popped round and mailed a birthday card to DS . . . thankfully succeeded in sleeping the day away . . . M/Sis2 called. Sis2 has cancelled her return flight home this weekend! Apparently she’d gone out on some errands today around 2:30pm, only to return home at around 5pm and find that just after she’d left, Mum had been trying to put Dad back to bed for an afternoon nap and Dad had sunk to the floor again next to the bed and Mum had been unable to get him up! Mum HAD tried to call Sis2 but she didn’t have the mobile turned on! Sis2 took it as a sign that she shouldn’t return home. Little point in me going down like I’d planned then. . . touched base with Sis1 . . . walked in the freeze. . popped up LBs in her abscence as agreed, and left the money for some tobacco on her table . . . TVd . . . BB called late till early. (2/10)as
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