14 hours

Today we lit the fire in the extension for the first time since winter. We are also preparing to get the candles out again for dining. Given the sudden and seasonal change in the weather, outside dining may not be viable anymore except on very rare occasions.

The day was rather grey to begin with. I had to go to the Hospital on the Mountain this morning and was very fortunate in that Mirinda was home and asked if I’d like a lift. Given I’d not had a coffee, I was eager to say yes.

I hadn’t had a coffee because of the 14 hour fast I had to go on before having a fasting blood test today. I was told not to eat or drink anything. (I’ve since discovered that water is okay. Still, it didn’t matter.)

I did find myself heading for the kettle first thing but I quickly realised this wasn’t going to happen today. It was also a bit sad making Mirinda porridge for breakfast while I couldn’t have any.

I hadn’t been at the hospital long when I was called in for the blood test (she took five vials out of me) and given a sample bottle. She asked me for a urine sample. I told her I hadn’t had anything to eat or drink for 14 hours so I wasn’t sure what I could do. She gave me a pat on the shoulder and said to give it my best shot. As it turned out, I managed enough.

I gave blood today

I gave blood today

I was then off for a chest x-ray (I don’t know why) before being allowed to leave. Mirinda had a phone meeting so I sat in the waiting room, reading for half an hour before we headed back home.

Rather than going straight back to the house, we stopped off in Farnham so I could go to Starbucks. I sighed out loud. It’s great the way the caffeine affects you straight away. I’d been trying to be pleasant all morning.

Of course the rest of the day was spent with me resting my leg while Mirinda worked then took the girls for a walk to Frensham.

I so hope I can go to work on Friday because this week is going to be so dull! Mind you, at least I can work on our online library system without any guilt that I should be doing something else.

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No country fair

I kept seeing Tweets about the set up and progress of the country fair at Loseley Park today.

We had tickets, we really wanted to go.

There's always next year I guess

There’s always next year I guess

My bastard knee thought otherwise. I spent most of the day with it up on the lounge.

We did drive to Waitrose first thing in order to buy enough food to last me the whole week, given I’ll not be able to walk up shops. But that was about it.

Mirinda took the puppies to Hankley for a walk, making sure she was home so we could eat before 8pm. This was very important because I have to fast until 10:45 tomorrow…but more about that later.

Dull, really.

I hate being an invalid!!!!

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Made up food

Susanne and Rafi came over for lunch and a visit today. We’ve sort of gone off carbs at the moment so I invented a meal that required none. It featured chicken and Persian spices and was delicious. Instead of potato I made a sweet potato mash using a spoonful of Greek yoghurt. It went over very well.

Susanne told us that their plans for the Bath move are coming along a-pace. They have a flat lined up (Rafi showed us on Right Move) and move in about a month. It’s all very exciting.

It was then time for the ladies to go for a walk while Rafi and I watched the film Pixels. I had suggested we go and watch Aldershot v Gateshead but Rafi wanted to spend the day inside because he’s doing something physical tomorrow. I have no idea what. As it turned out, I couldn’t really have gone to the football with my useless knee anyway so we were both happy.

(As it turned out, the Mighty Shots won 3-0. Here’s the first goal.

Thanks to the Aldershot Town Football Club Twitter account.)

Meanwhile, Mirinda took Susanne up to Thursley where they had a very long walk; longer than Mirinda expected or planned. Poor Susanne was all jelly legged when they finally returned home. Mind you, they managed to see the new dragonfly sculpture at Thursley, which I’d heard about during Talking Newspaper. According to Mirinda it looked pretty cool.

Beginning of the Dragonfly Walk, Thursley

Beginning of the Dragonfly Walk, Thursley

It doesn’t look like it but it’s made of all sorts of bits and pieces of metal including colanders, saucepans and metal serving spoons.

Once they’d returned it was a bit of a rush to get everything together in order for them to get the train back home. But they weren’t so rushed that Rafi couldn’t show me his Batman impression using Susanne’s strange cape thing she wears.

That didn’t really work so we tried again…

…which only proves that one should quit while one is ahead.

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Northern Lights

This morning dawned beautifully blue and cloudless and when the sun had reached the ideal height, I happened to glance across at the kitchen cabinets to see our very own Autumnal Northern Lights cast upon them.


They are very difficult to photograph but look fantastic. They will only appear when the sun is at the right angle so the time of year is a critical factor in seeing them.

And the sun stayed out all day while the temperature remained pleasantly low. Though I was only in it a few times because I didn’t go to work. I didn’t go to work because I was resting my knee for nearly the whole day.

One of the times I left the house was to go and have a scan on my leg. The doctor wanted to make sure I didn’t have a DVT. And I don’t. The lovely lady scanner ran the scan all over my right leg and the blood flow is perfect. In fact, this time I could watch.

It was fascinating. She would position the scanner over the vein and push further down. The image would change as the blood moved. So, for the second time she told me I was perfectly fine. Good to know.

Later I took the girls to the park which, these days, means I sit on a bench and throw the ball for Emma while Freya just makes friends with any dogs that come near.

Freya waiting for some friends

Freya waiting for some friends

Emma, of course, wore herself out running up and down the hill, occasionally losing the ball if she looked away at the wrong time. She would rest under thee bench and push the ball out when she was ready to run again. Clever dog.

"Go on! Flick-it!"

“Go on! Flick-it!”

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“I knew it was never meant to be serious,” said Lindsay

Lindsay was talking about this week’s edition of the Farnham Talking Newspaper we’d just finished recording. She hasn’t read with me for ages. In fact, it’s probably years. I’ve seen her in the studio, in passing, but she’s not been on my team.

We also had the wonderful John Evans reading with us as well. Such a wicked sense of humour and master of the ad lib. I’ve had John on my team in the last 12 months but not for ages.

The final reader was Sue who has read with me many times over the last year.

And Lindsay was so right. It was nothing like serious. She was in the number one slot and I threw to her every time, making her giggle and fight to maintain a sensible demeanour. It was jolly good fun. Which was good because my knee was killing me.

I think yesterday’s trip into London didn’t do my knee any favours. Although I kept walking to a minimum, there were a few steps and the stroll up Charing Cross Road took it’s toll. Add to this the trip to the studio today and it’s easy to see why I collapsed onto the lounge as soon as I reached home afterwards.

The trip home from the Talking News wasn’t made any easier by the addition of a very heavy bag of shopping. I blame the dogs because 3/4 of the weight was their dog food.

As I was passing Waitrose I noticed that they’ve installed a seating area out the back.

Have a seat!

Have a seat!

This is odd on a number of levels. Firstly, why would anyone want to sit outside a supermarket? I suppose if you were waiting for someone who was inside it’s nicer than standing up. Though you could also go and help with the shopping. Mind you, there are some much nicer spots to sit in the Lion and Lamb Yard whereas the Waitrose ‘seating area’ has a very fine view of the car park and is bordered by a road which is pretty much constantly in use. Mind you, it seems that a lot of people in Farnham quite like the smell of car fumes so perhaps I’m being a bit harsh.

Secondly, and possibly not so odd, there’s a chap who busks there almost every day. There’s nothing wrong with his busking and he is often joined by a young lad on guitar and, I noticed the other day, a woman singing in harmony with him. Busking in the Lion and Lamb Yard is prohibited by the owner so the corner of Waitrose is the perfect alternative. And, I must emphasise, he’s harmless and quite musical.

Have there been complaints? Has Waitrose decided to ban him in a slightly underhanded fashion? I doubt we’ll ever know.

Location, location, location

Location, location, location

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Tonight I went into town.

The National Gallery, Trafalgar Square

The National Gallery, Trafalgar Square

I went in to meet Mirinda and go and see The Entertainer, the final play in Kenneth Branagh’s first season by his new theatre company. I thought it was an actor’s conceit. But before I go into that…

First thing I called the doctor and, unbelievably, I managed to get an appointment half an hour after I called. Extraordinary. This has never happened to me before. Anyway, I hobbled down there and was seen by yet another doctor (it’s as if they get new staff every time I visit) who examined my knee and agreed with both the neurologist and me that it was probably due to overdoing it at the gym and I should just rest it. She ‘prescribed’ me iboprofen gel and anti-inflamatorys…though it’s not really inflamed. Still, what would I know.

She also organised for me to have a scan (like the carotid one but on my leg) at the place next door. I just have to wait for them to ring me to make an appointment. I was amazed that she filled in a form on her computer then printed it off then walked to the receptionists and had them fax it over to the scanning office (which is next door in the same building).

There is so much wrong with that. Most importantly, why didn’t she email it? If someone wants to save the NHS some money, stopping the wholesale printing of unnecessary forms would be a start. Not to mention phone charges for fax machines. What, honestly, is the point of using a fax machine these days?

Anyway, she also told me to rest my leg as often as I can with my leg raised higher than my hips. This is in order for any excess fluid on my knee will flow back into my thigh. Weird. Mind you, it does feel better after resting it.

Though the resting came to an end when I had to leave for London.

Naturally I caught a bus to the station then the Tube to Charing Cross in order to reduce any walking.

I’d booked us into a new restaurant which is directly opposite the Garrick Theatre (which also cut down on walking). The restaurant is called Lotus and it’s chic Indian. I recommend it very highly. What a delicious find. When we go to the Garrick (or the other theatres in this bit of the West End) we’ll have to go back.

Which brings me to the play.

The Garrick Theatre

The Garrick Theatre

The performances were excellent, as you’d expect. Kenneth Branagh as Archie Rice was very believable but I thought Greta Scacchi was the stand out performer as Phoebe. The problem was the play. Written in 1957 by John Osborne as a savage stab at the last breaths of the British Empire, it is very badly dated. It’s difficult to understand a lot of it given it’s about people who lived almost 60 years ago in a very different Britain.

These people hark back to a Britain that never really existed except in their imaginations, honed over the years by bitterness and a desire to hide from anything new. Fear is big in this play. At the end, it is all very old fashioned.

As I said at the beginning of this post, I think it was an actor’s conceit; Kenneth wanting to repeat Laurence Olivier’s success in the original run of the play. If this is the case then it’s a shame because I’d loved to have seen Branagh in something a little more relevant.

Of course, it was a late night and I didn’t get home until midnight. My knee was not happy but the puppies were delirious.

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Buses and trains

Today I saw the neurologist. As well as having to catch four buses and two trains, I also wound up being at the hospital an hour early. The reason for this was because I’d added the appointment to my electronic calendar in Brittany. It was then corrected when we returned to the UK. So it was hour early. Fortunately it wasn’t an hour late!

Guildford Station - cross to bus stop

Guildford Station – cross to bus stop

Anyway, the results are very good…though they don’t explain anything about my feet. (In passing, he thinks my knee problem is physiological and probably because I overdid things at the gym.) It seems that my brain is fine (good to hear) and my spinal cord shows normal wear and tear and will last me out. The thing is, while both of those things are great news, nothing explains my feet.

Nuffield Health, Guildford

Nuffield Health, Guildford

The neurologist says that 50% of his cases are easily solved and sent on their way; 45% of his cases require a test to ascertain the cause and then they’re fixed and sent on their way; I am one of the lucky 5%. This special group requires more tests than are available in order to rule everything out before heading for a second opinion.

Bus stop back to Guildford

Bus stop back to Guildford

What this means is that I’m off for a fasting blood test and a chest x-ray next week. Brilliant.

My collection of tickets for today

My collection of tickets for today

And my knee continues to bother me. I tried to make an appointment with the doctor but need to call first thing in the morning to try for one of the stand-by slots.

Oh, and Angelina announced her intention to divorce Brad today. Radio 4 listeners were stunned when it was announced on PM as a news item.

I could just hear them muttering: Really? Hollywood divorce is suddenly news? What is the BBC coming to?

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Laze day

I was ordered to rest my leg today. Mirinda even drove me up to the shops to get the groceries. I didn’t go to Starbucks.

Mirinda had book group today so she wasn’t at work. She went and collected the puppies at 10:30 then set off for Chawton after a salad lunch.

Seeing the puppies was, as usual, lovely. They really are the best bit of coming home. Mirinda was hoping to take them for a walk…but it was raining.

I pottered around the house but, basically, didn’t do anything much. A trip up and down the stairs takes me a lot longer than usual so, although I did finish all the washing, it took me longer to put the clean clothes away afterwards. This took most of the day.

I’m off to see the neurologist tomorrow to see what my MRI says about my insides. I’ll ask him about my knee.

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Annoyed by the alarm at 7:50am I whacked my phone then clambered out of the bed and made tea and coffee before waking Mirinda. We then packed, searched the hotel room a few hundred times for anything we may have forgotten, before leaving for the hotel reception.

As I waited, two English ladies were checking in having arrived fresh on the morning Brittany Ferry which would become our daytime ride back to Portsmouth. They were all excited about being in St Malo, it appeared for the first time. They were also willing to pay the extra to check-in early rather than wander around until 3pm…like we always do.

During my time with the receptionist a rather rude English grandmother tried to organise her son and four grandchildren into a taxi before my request had been dealt with. The receptionist, fortunately, was cool towards the grandmother while happily tip tapping away at the computer, organising our cab.

We saw the grandmother and her entourage later, at the ferry terminal, rushing to the front of the queue at the check-in desk. I’m not sure why she felt she was more important than anyone else but she clearly was.

We had an unexplained wait on the ferry bus while French people chattered incessantly to each other over walkie talkies. While standing on the bus I overheard an odd conversation between a single woman and a couple about someone having a big round of cheese confiscated. I have no idea if this was today or last year or in 1865. I only heard the bit about the cheese.

The couple were astonished – “We used to drive over to Calais and bring home tons of French cheese in the boot of the car!” Perhaps this explained the hold up; perhaps not.

Eventually we headed for the ferry to be greeted by, possibly, the chief purser and two young chaps. Our wheelie bags were taken from us and hauled up the incredibly steep incline to the ferry. I say our wheelie bags because they ignored the first few passengers and grabbed ours first. I felt like royalty. Or a guest at the Grand Budapest Hotel. (Thank you, Brittany Ferries, this was a very thoughtful touch.)

It was a very nice welcome onto the boat especially given the fact that my leg was killing me because of all the standing I’d been doing. There was standing at the reception desk, standing outside the hotel, standing at the long line for the ferry booking desk.

The booking desk, by the way, has changed the system for checking in. Given we came over in May, this is a recent change. It is, however, a welcome change though it does mean a longer wait at the desk. Previously they would hand out the boarding cards as you headed out to the ferry rather than when you checked in. Now, in a move guaranteed to speed things up and stop the annoyance of travellers, you get your boarding card as soon as you check in.

The funny thing was that the person who handed you the card was the same person who had earlier checked you in. It was a very odd arrangement.

There was also a very long stand on the bus as we waited for it to depart for the ferry.

All of this standing about meant my leg became very stiff and unwieldy. And painful. I sort of staggered up the steep ramp as if I was ascending Everest wearing stiletto heels.

Once on the ferry (after thanking the young chap for pushing our bags all the way up) we found our room and dumped our stuff.

We normally don’t bother with a cabin on the return trip. The reclining chairs are more than comfortable enough and we like to wander around anyway. When I booked, however, they were, more or less, giving cabins away for about £10 more. For unknown reasons I thought this was a good idea.

Fast forward half a year and the good idea bore fruit.

After a bit of a stumble around the ship searching for a glue stick (the finding of which has eluded me the entire trip) and taking some air, we returned to our cabin where Mirinda ordered me to remain, resting my leg. It wasn’t difficult to agree given I’d tripped over my big toe a couple of times and my leg was a bit on the painful side.

Leaving me to doze, read and snooze, Mirinda went for a wander. I have no idea how long she was a away but she returned with a cup of coffee and a ham sandwich which I was very grateful for. She then disappeared again to work on her Purpose Statement for her DBA. Two hours for a sentence. And all thanks to Dr Guy.

After another while she returned and we ventured up to deck 8 to avail ourselves of the wifi connection. I was only allowed out of the cabin if I used my walking stick and the lift.

Of course, these things rarely run smooth. Having settled ourselves in the wifi area of deck 8, we discovered that the wifi password wasn’t working. I dragged my leg down to deck 6 to take the matter up with the information girl. I was prepared to be angry but she was sweetness personified and merely gave me an alternative that, while slow, did actually work.

And so, the rest of the voyage was spent typing up this entry and generally being on the Internet. Mirinda spent the time studying.

There were no problems at Portsmouth and we left the boat, strolled through customs and were in the back of Carole’s cab in next to no time.

We were relieved that the house was still there and settled in for the night (the dogs will be home tomorrow).

It was a lovely, restful holiday. Just a shame it had to end.

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French jam

Edward Albee died today aged 88. I had no idea he was still alive. Apart from the brilliant Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, he also wrote a really bad adaptation of Lolita…as well as lots of other plays.

So today we said goodbye to Locquirec and hit the road back to St Malo. The day was grey and the temperature had dropped, perfect for a two hour drive. At least it would have been two hours had there not been some sort of accident on the motorway.



According to Linda there was an accident up ahead but by the time we reached it, everything had been cleared away. This is always a bit annoying. It’s like waiting in a queue for a few hours only to discover it was for something you didn’t want.

We arrived at St Malo station at the scheduled time and I dropped the car key off to a very jolly chap before standing at the taxi rank for a bit. This had to be the first time there has been no cabs at St Malo station.

We caught the bus instead which was quicker and cost considerably less…though it did mean being squished between French teenagers off to the beach. Actually, the bus cost €2.60 which just happened to be the exact amount of change I had in my pocket. Fate? More like blind chance…after all it’s never happened before.

We dumped out bags at the hotel then headed for the Unicorn for a couple of late lunchtime galettes. (Unlike Roscoff the restaurants in St Malo serve food all day.)

The food was lovely though we managed to get the useless waitress again. Mind you, I preferred her to the one who sounded like a pixie.

After lunch we headed back to the hotel for a bit of a rest which included Mirinda listening to Dr Guy and his videos on how to write a dissertation.

Eventually we went for a walk, discovering more of St Malo’s secret corners. Winding up down at the beach watching a couple of expert kite flyers. You can almost see them in the photograph below. They are the black dots on the left.

We sat at a cafe for a pre-dinner drink before heading for a restaurant for tea. Mirinda had to have her moules frites so we sat in a little booth and enjoyed a final French dinner. Oddly, the place opposite had more blackboards than one feels was absolutely necessary.

After dinner and on our roundabout walk back to the hotel we discovered that the roof of the fish market is supported by lots of wooden fish.

Our last night in St Malo. Sad but necessary I’m afraid.

Home tomorrow.

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