Only in Ireland…..

Early on Monday evening Michael left here for a holiday in Ireland to coincide with his birthday which is tomorrow (Thursday). He travelled overnight by coach and ferry, arriving in Dublin at 6am yesterday morning and getting a coach to Roscrea almost immediately, finally getting to the family home just before 9am. He’d already had a breakfast on the ferry so Nellie made him a brew and being tired from the long journey he took himself off to bed, finally waking up at 4.30pm in time for a cooked tea.
At lunch time today he phoned me to let me know he was okay and to tell me a couple of rather funny stories. When he’d got on the coach at Dublin yesterday and said he wanted a ticket to Roscrea the driver asked him if he knew where he was going – well obviously he did, he’d just asked for a ticket for there! However what the driver really meant was did Michael know the way to where he was going – it seems it was the driver’s first time on his own on that route and he wasn’t sure which way to go or where the stops were, and he actually stood up at the front of the coach and made an announcement to the other passengers to say that if anyone knew he was going wrong along the way then to shout out and put him right. Luckily it’s a direct route with not many stops so with Michael sitting in the seat directly behind the driver ‘just in case’ they eventually got to Roscrea – the final destination was Limerick so hopefully the driver eventually ended up there.
The second funny story concerned Michael himself. He’d taken a packet of bagels with him which he’d brought from work specially to give to Nellie when he arrived yesterday, and he took great pains to tell her that they weren’t just any old bagels, they’d been made personally by him during the course of his previous day’s shift at work and they were specially for her. So this morning he got up and went downstairs for breakfast, only to find that along with scrambled eggs Nellie had done him…..three bagels! Now if that isn’t very much like taking coals to Newcastle I don’t know what is! Of course he wouldn’t upset Nellie by not eating them but he impressed on her that she really must have the other three herself as that’s why he’d taken them. It just seems so funny that he’d gone all the way from here to Roscrea and ended up eating his own bagels, but as we said of both stories – only in Ireland…..!

The dog bed didn’t get me but the kettle did!

Maybe a strange title for a blog post so I’d better explain. Bear in mind that I don’t watch a lot of tv – when I’m not walking the dogs I spend most of my free time on my pc in the spare bedroom, so to save having to go down to the kitchen every time I want a brew I have tea, coffee, sugar and a kettle on a small unit. Also in the same room is my cross-trainer – it came out of a commercial gym so is quite a sizeable piece of equipment. Last Saturday evening I washed a dog bed and because my pc is on from the moment I get up until the moment I go to bed the room is always warm, so I draped the dog bed over the cross-trainer console to dry out.
Early on Sunday morning, with my pc switched on, I made myself a brew then checked my emails and blog notifications, and I was just about to go for a shower when it happened – for some unknown reason, and with no-one near it, the dog bed decided to slide off the cross-trainer onto the floor. Now had it gone one way it would probably have caught my computer chair on its way down but it went the other way and caught the kettle – which promptly overturned and sent scalding hot water all over the top of my foot and the carpet. Luckily I had my slippers on so that minimised the damage but it was still enough to be excruciatingly painful.
So I hopped into the bathroom, stuck my leg in the bath and turned the cold water onto my foot for as long as I could stand it. It did ease the pain so as we were going out for the day I swallowed a couple of painkillers and stuck a gauze dressing over the burn, held on by a cotton sock, and with my most comfortable trainers on it felt fine all day. Then as I was driving home I remarked to Michael that my foot felt wet, and when I took my sock off later on I found out why – the skin had blistered and the blister had burst with the friction from my trainer, and when I peeled off the sock and the dressing the skin came off with it, leaving a large red-raw patch even more painful than before.
There was no way I could go to bed with my foot like that as anything touching it would send me through the roof, and I didn’t fancy spending hours waiting to be treated in A&E at the hospital, so I wrapped it in clingfilm, covered it with another sock, and went to the doctor’s first thing on Monday morning. He prescribed some ointment and some silicone dressings to be used once each day, but actually getting the stuff proved to be a total nightmare as it seems that no pharmacies actually stock these things, they have to be ordered – and a 2 to 3 day wait just isn’t on when I’m burnt and I need them NOW! The last pharmacy I tried did prove to be more helpful though and the guy there said that if he ordered the stuff there and then I would be able to collect it later that same day – and he even went one better than that and had it delivered to me.
To be honest I’ve only used the ointment twice since then as it seems to produce more pain and stinging than I can stand, but the silicone dressings are brilliant and are really helping to alleviate the pain. It’ll be a while before my foot heals but at least I can get about even though I’m supposed to take it easy. I should have gone camping this coming weekend but I’m staying home instead, though I’ll probably find somewhere nice to take the dogs – it’s not long off my proper holiday anyway so hopefully my foot will be well on the way to being better by then. And the one thing I’ve learned from all this? – next time I dry a dog bed over the cross-trainer I’ll move the kettle first!

The call to a place (1)

Reading a post on Anabel’s blog just recently I found it so interesting that I decided I could do a similar post of my own. Some of you reading this will know from reading my camping blog that one of the places I return to regularly is Anglesey – and here’s why.
Back when I was a child I never got the chance to go camping. Many of my friends went with their families, or with their other friends and families, or with the Brownies and Guides or even the school; I would have loved the adventure but whenever I asked my parents if I could go the answer was always the same – “No!” No explanation, just an outright “No!” So the nearest I ever got to camping on a warm sunny day was an old sheet thrown over the back yard washing line, pulled out at an angle and held down with a few bricks, and a piece of old carpet or a cushion to sit on. Sometimes my mum would come out with a plateful of sandwiches and a cold drink for me – I would read whatever book I had at the time and pretend that I was camping.
Family holidays with my parents back then were always taken at a hotel in a seaside resort somewhere in the UK. I well remember the “Where shall we go this year?” discussions, and following a plethora of holiday brochures arriving by post mum and dad would spend hours going through them and making a list of possible places to go to. Finally a decision would be made, a hotel booked and my mum would tell me “”We’re going to **** this year”. I remember as a child going to Eastbourne, Llandudno, London, Great Yarmouth and the Isle of Man among other places, then in my early teens it was the Isle of Wight, Torquay, Folkestone and Scarborough. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed all those holidays, especially when, at the age of 12, I was given my own proper colour camera with all the lenses and filters, meaning I could take my own photos of all the places we went to – but for some reason we never went to Anglesey, and all through those years I still never went camping.
Fast forward into adulthood, through two long-term relationships and the birth of my now-adult son, and back in 1994 I met my last partner, Peter. Previous to us getting together he’d camped at a particular site on Anglesey several times while on fishing trips with his brother and he’d told me about it more than once. Then in 1997 it happened that my birthday in early June fell on a Saturday – with the whole weekend available and the weather being warm and sunny I wanted to do something different and suggested that he take me to the place on Anglesey that he’d so often told me about. We had no real camping gear, not even a tent, so we packed his hatchback car so we could sleep in it, added a few basics plus the two dogs, Skippy and Sandy, and off we went. I’ll never forget Peter’s words to me as we were driving along the A55 coast road “I hope to God you like it ‘cos I’m telling you now there’s sod all there!” – and there wasn’t. The camp site was very basic, just a few fields with a couple of rough toilet blocks and the odd fresh water pipe here and there – well you can’t expect much for £1 per night can you?
And so began one of the best weekends I’ve ever had. The site was on a slope and as we drove along the top to pick a nice spot the view of the bay opened out in front of me and it was just “Wow!” Our cooking facilities were very basic and sleeping arrangements in a car with two dogs were cramped, but for two nights we managed and I loved it. We only had the opportunity to go to a couple of places on the island but it was enough for me to know that I wanted to see more – we returned to Anglesey a couple of weeks later after buying a two-man tent and some proper accessories, and my love of camping and my love of the island began. Even though we had a 2-week holiday in Italy every year we always went back to Anglesey at some point during the summer, and since that first time there’s only been two years when I haven’t been there – once when our planned long weekend was cancelled due to bad weather and again in 2009 when Peter and I went our separate ways and I couldn’t drive. Other than that I’ve been to Anglesey at least once each year and yes, the camp site is far better now than it was the first time I went!
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The view that started it all
I have to admit that there was a time a couple of years ago when I felt that I’d been to Anglesey so many times that there was nothing left for me to see, and as beautiful as the island is I should consider having a change. That was until I read Ruth’s coastal walking blog, and found out that she had been on Anglesey at the same time as me that year, although she was two days ahead of me – and through her blog I realised that there are still many places on the island that I haven’t yet seen or been to. And so my love affair with Anglesey will continue for some time yet – whether it’s the sentimentality of it being the first place I camped with someone I loved, or the beauty of the island’s countryside, fabulous beaches and wonderful places, something keeps calling me back. And as long as that something keeps calling then I’m quite happy to go.


I’m linking this post to Cathy’s blog, where her most recent call to a place is to the Four Corners area of the USA, and which, through Anabel’s blog, has inspired me to write this – follow the link for some great photos and to find out more.

Bank holiday hell

Just before 7pm this evening I arrived home from an afternoon out with Michael – and he is now under strict instructions that if I ever again  suggest going to a car boot sale on a bank holiday weekend he must take away my van key and lock me in the house! It was only last night that I suggested going to this particular car boot as Michael was only doing a short 4-hour shift at work today, and as he would be finished at 11am I could pick him up and we could go straight there. The car boot is a big one at St. Michael’s near Garstang, we could be there in less than an hour and as the stalls don’t pack up too early we would have plenty of time to look round.
All went well until I drove off the M65 to join the M61 – the motorway heading north was jammed with nose-to-tail traffic which was barely moving, and in the current hot weather with two dogs in the back I didn’t fancy sitting in that lot for any length of time, so I went twice round the roundabout to give myself some thinking time then came off just before the motorway exit. I was heading for somewhere I’d never been before but if I could get to the A6 , which is where I was originally heading for anyway, albeit at the far side of Preston, I could make my way from there. However, it didn’t work out like that….
For once, in spite of my excellent sense of direction, I had to admit that I really hadn’t a clue where we were – one road led to another which in turn led to another and another, there were no signs for the A6 anywhere and wherever we went there were roadworks, traffic lights by the dozen and queues of traffic everywhere. Eventually I saw a sign for Lytham and St. Annes, and as we had planned on going there anyway after the car boot sale I took that turn-off – even then we seemed to be going all round the houses and in totally the wrong direction but eventually we emerged onto the A583 at the far side of Preston and heading for Blackpool. We were a long way from the car boot sale though and to get there would have involved a lot more mileage so we decided to give up and just go straight to St. Annes. Our traffic problems weren’t over when we got there however….
Although there were no problems driving along the seafront through Lytham it was a different matter when we got to our usual cafe at St. Annes. The place is next to a large pay-and-display car park and has about 30 designated spaces which are free to cafe customers, however every single space in that car park was occupied and I very much suspected that many of the cafe spaces were being used by non-cafe customers. I drove round and round several times but there was no sign of anyone vacating a space anywhere so eventually I gave up and went elsewhere, finally finding a quiet avenue about three streets back where I could leave the van for as long as I liked. And finally, after taking over two hours to do what would normally take less than an hour, we sat down at an outside cafe table and had a brew.
With the brew finished we went for a wander along the promenade and while Michael went in the pier amusement place I wandered round the gardens and took some photos, then we met up again a bit later and went back to the cafe for another brew and a meal. A walk along the less populated part of the beach followed then we made our way back to the van – I’d originally intended driving on to somewhere else but after the horrendous journey getting there I was in no mood for any more of the same so we just set off for home, and sticking to the A roads I had no problems at all coming back.
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A very busy corner of St. Annes beach
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The bandstand and empty paddling pool
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Promenade gardens and shelter
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Mother duck and her family
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A less populated part of the beach
Of course, with hindsight, I should have realised that on a bank holiday weekend and in such good weather the world and his wife would be out on the roads, but the problem has never occurred before. On bank holidays I’m usually away camping somewhere and I always make a point of going very early on the Saturday morning and not coming back until the Tuesday, thereby missing any traffic jams in either direction – and I’m so used to doing it that way it never occurred to me that a simple afternoon out would be blighted by horrendous traffic problems. Needless to say it’s a lesson learned, and the next time I’m at home on a bank holiday weekend that’s where I’ll stay – at home!

Back to work!

Finally, ten months and one week since Michael broke his ankle, he is now back at work. He had to go for a meeting last Thursday to discuss his return, during which the bakery manager said they would get him some new and more comfortable work boots as his ankle is now slightly out of shape; ie bigger on one side than on the other, and also he would have some gel insoles. On Monday this week he went in to try the boots and discuss a ‘going forward’ plan, and yesterday he went in for a couple of hours to see what he feels comfortable with and capable of doing. He’s also been told that if his ankle starts giving him grief and he needs to sit down for a while then he doesn’t need to ask, he has full permission to rest as and when he needs to.
Today and tomorrow he’s back on the evening shift but only for three hours from 7pm until 10pm, then next week he’ll work three day shifts but only for four hours each time. From then on he’ll be on alternate shifts with his daily hours increasing over several weeks from five up to the full 12-hour shift. He said he’s a bit apprehensive about going back as he’s been away for so long but on the other hand he’s glad to be going back, and he knows he’ll soon get back into the swing of things once he gets started. In a way I’m glad too that he’s going back as his morale over the last few months has been a bit low at times, but I’ve got so used to him being around for most of the time that I’ll miss him when he’s not here!

Broken ankle update no. 10

Things are finally, at long last, looking up where Michael’s broken ankle is concerned. After having the plaster cast taken off in February he went to see the specialist almost three weeks ago and was told that the ankle had healed well enough for him to go back to work whenever he felt ready. The specialist also said that if the powers-that-be at his workplace were in any doubt he would be quite happy to write a letter confirming that fact. Of course nothing is ever simple is it, and when Michael contacted his works HR department they said they wanted him to go to an independent doctor arranged by them, so he duly went a few days later and this particular guy said he would recommend that Michael doesn’t go back to work until the end of this month.
Meanwhile the HR department contacted the specialist who did the operation and he confirmed what he’d told Michael, then last Saturday Michael got a letter from work asking him to go in for a meeting today and including a copy of the sick note from the specialist, which runs up to the 25th of this month and recommends a phased return to work. At the meeting today it was arranged that when he starts back it will be on days for four hours each time, gradually working up over a period of six weeks to a full shift. Although no definite return date has been set yet he’s confident that it will be on or soon after the 25th – and though he feels a bit apprehensive because he’s been away from work for so long he’s quite looking forward to going back again. And quite coincidentally, the 25th of the month will be exactly ten months since he first broke his ankle on June 25th last year!

Stopped by the police and an ankle update

This morning, while taking Michael to the hospital, I got pulled up by the police at the bottom of the main road. Not that I was doing anything wrong I hasten to add, they were just doing random vehicle checks and the guy who stopped me directed me to pull into a coned-off lay-by round the corner – just what I didn’t  need when Michael had an important appointment so I asked the second policeman if it would take long as we were going to the hospital. Fortunately it didn’t, and after being asked my name and address for a PNC check, and having to put on my indicators and various lights, they checked the tyres, advised me that one just needs a bit of air in it, and I was free to go.
We made it to the designated hospital department with a good five minutes to spare, and we were surprised to find that rather than the full waiting area we were expecting there was no-one there at all, so once Michael had given his name in at reception it wasn’t long before he was called into the plaster room. His plaster cast was cut off and after a couple of x-rays were taken he went in to see the consultant; the good news is that he no longer needs his ankle in plaster but the bad news is that it’s still got a way to go before it’s anything like healed as the new bone is only growing slowly. He’s now been fitted with another supporting boot and has to go back to see the consultant in a month’s time – so any hope he had of getting back to work sooner rather than later has just gone right out of the window.
On a lighter note though, when the consultant said they would give him a supporting boot he purposely didn’t mention that he still has the previous one, so now he’s got a matching pair he can do his own version of Robocop – watch this space for eventual photos!