Bad end to 2019 & 2020 improving … ?

Now where are they of to?

Probably the less said about Christmas 2019, the better. We were due to visit my parents in France for about a week staggering Christmas and the New Year. However, having arrived very late (about midnight French time), we were fine but looking forward to a well-deserved sleep … and that’s where the problems started. I (Debra) woke up in the morning of Christmas Eve stiff as a board and my back was ‘killing me’. I spent the day intermittently moping around either sitting in a chair watching TV or lying down on my side in bed. I was dreading waking up the next day, but hoping that by rearranging pillows etc, that my back would be much better – it wasn’t!

Kevin managed to get me downstairs for breakfast using the stair climber and we had the ‘usual’ breakfast of scrambled eggs, smoked salmon, toast and bucks fizz (or in my case predominantly orange juice with just a little ‘champagne’ to provide the fizz). We then all decanted to the living room upstairs, so stair climber again for me and opened cards and the few presents that Kevin and I had brought with us, my parents having announced at the end of November that they weren’t proposing to ‘do presents’ this year as there was nothing that they wanted (despite having asked for something in October/early November that they had seen on eBay) and saying “we didn’t mind, did we?”. As it happened, there was nothing particularly affordable (i.e. only big things that we were buying ourselves anyway) that we wanted either, BUT we had bought them a book about 60 years of the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that we had bought them at the Cheltenham Literature Festival in October! I had also pestered Kevin to take me to a couple of local ‘Christmas fairs’ at which we had bought a couple of items. We got each other a single book from Amazon but that was it. Merry Christmas everyone …

You’d have thought that nothing else could go wrong, but unfortunately Kevin managed to mis-judge the number of steps between the upper ground floor (our bedroom + lounge) and lower ground floor (main living area + kitchen) of my parents house and sprain his ankle meaning that he was hobbling around and not too sure of his lifting and balance, which is kind of important when he is having to transfer me around. Fortunately, the pharmacy was open on the 26th December and as my mother was going up there, she managed to get a foot brace, which at least helped stabilise Kevin’s foot although the transfers were still caused a bit of consternation for both of us. At this point, we agreed to see if there was a way to shorten our stay and find a suitable ferry sailing to return to the UK early.

Despite the rather muted Christmas day, Boxing Day was much more jolly because an English couple that my parents have known for a few years now (and despite the fact that they had stayed up very late the previous evening) were coming over for late lunch / early dinner and they had got much more into the Christmas spirit – Pixie come Santa outfit for the lady included ! I’m afraid that I got a bit tired over lunch / dinner and departed quite early thereafter to go and have a lie down. This meant that I ended up asleep and didn’t say goodbye to our guests. However, once much revived after my sleep in the evening I logged in to my computer and confirmed that there was an alternative sailing that we could take back to the UK on 27th December. So in the morning of the 27th, Kevin contacted the ferry company and managed to move our booking to the sailing that afternoon (at about 4.30 p.m.) with only a small cost penalty. We contacted the people who were coming in to look after Charlie and let them know that we would be home early and so their services would be foreshortened. I have to admit that I was looking forward to sleeping in our adjustable bed to see if I could sort out my back quickly and Kevin assured me that his ankle had improved enough to drive and so at about 3 p.m. we set off to the port with picnic of various foodstuffs that we had not finished from previous meals. The weather in France for our journey back to the port was horrible – very windy, wet and foggy. However, when we got back to Portsmouth much later that evening the weather was good and we had a clear journey back home to be greeted by Charlie, who had had a wonderful time (judging by the photo evidence below).


Kevin’s family (Mum, Dad & Sister) visited us just after New Year and that was really quite enjoyable and much more usual. We all had lots of presents to exchange with one another and although the dinner was not up to Kevin’s usual high standard (not his fault – the stuffed Goose was rubbish!) I’m afraid I had a quick kip after the early afternoon meal, but managed to make it down for ‘Tea’ where I like almost everyone else wasn’t really up to eating much more. Charlie decided to be a real “star” and made himself very noticeable throughout the day, even rubbing around Kevin’s father (who really doesn’t like cats very much!)



2019 – Return to Blighty

So, having arrived back from France and unpacked the car, Kevin spent the next couple of days dismantling and taking down all the Christmas decorations (closely supervised by Charlie – of course).

Charlie the supervisor / manager


“I am not sleeping on the job – this is hard work!”


We spent the next couple of weeks just catching up with all the usual, run-of-the-mill activities – Yoga & Gym at the local MS Therapy Centre, Hair cut and gel nail polish removed (much to my relief, as my fingernails are literally as “tough as nails” and were starting to dig into my hands every time I made a fist).

I had my first visit of 2019 to our house, from a potential inventor – as usual, he was very enthusiastic about his idea but unfortunately it was not something with which I could help him obtain useful Intellectual Property Rights (IPR). However, we did have a very pleasant chat about his concept, what Intellectual Property (IP) would be generated automatically and what (if he ever decided to do anything more in the future) he might like to think about regarding how to obtain any IPR, whether it would be useful for him or whether he just preferred to ‘tinker’ with ideas that were of benefit to him and him alone in carrying out his work / odd jobs. Still, it eased me back into thinking about work and what I needed to catch up on.


Christmas 2018 … New Year 2019 (a two centre / country approach)

Yes, we celebrated Christmas 2018 (with both our parents on 25 & 26 December) in England – where Christmas is the bigger celebration – and we celebrated New Year 2019 with my parents in France – where New Year is the bigger celebration. However, that is not really the reason for our two centre celebrations, it’s much more mundane than that – the simple reason was that I had a regular medical appointment which just happened to fall in the middle of the two celebrations and the NHS nurse providing the service required no matter what was working during this period and if she was required to work, we felt that it was only right that we should make the effort to attend the appointment.


Christmas lights (outside)
Christmas stars (upstairs)

All went without a hitch, with my parents arriving from France in the evening of 22 December and departing in the morning of 27 December (the day of my medical appointment), Kevin’s family spending Boxing Day with us all, meaning that we get the chance to use our large table at the rear of our huge living room and here are some photos from our traditional English Christmas.

Christmas lights (indoors)
Christmas tree & presents

NEW YEAR 2019:

And now it was our turn to make the ferry crossing from Portsmouth to my parent’s house in France, which we did on 29 December (giving my parents a couple of days in which to prepare for our arrival – late). This also gave us time to drop off the key with “Home Loving Cats”, who were looking after Charlie whilst we were away (and so the only photos you’ll get during this period are those of Charlie).


New Year also went fairly smoothly, with us eating far too much and as the weather was not good, I have very few photos (i.e. none) to share. We left France for the return journey to the UK on 4 January 2019.


Christmas to January 2018 – here we go! (Delayed by 2 intervening posts)

Now after a dreadful end (September, October & first half of November) to 2017 – note: December & Christmas not included – I didn’t really feel in the mood to write another blog post until now. The run up to Christmas was busy (particularly for Kevin, who painted the large expanse of blank wall in our bedroom – it’s blue again, just like in our old house). We also ordered and hung lovely lined curtains at the windows in the bedroom, which have been bare up to now and Kevin finished the strip at the base of the skirting, covering the expansion gap left around the wooden flooring.

So now, as Christmas was being held at our house again (because of aforesaid bad few months just preceding the festivities), we could start on the Christmas preparations – tree, decorations, presents etc. After all it was still only mid-December and last year we hadn’t even managed to buy a Christmas tree until 23 December ! I’m afraid I don’t have any pictures of the Christmas tree/decorations etc. – we were having too much fun. My parents were staying with us (apart from a couple of days when they visited some old friends, one of whom was recovering from an operation). Kevin’s parents and sister came over to visit for a lovely meal on Boxing Day and unfortunately, there is photographic evidence (see below).


(Gosh I hate photos of myself, but Kevin’s sister has the right idea because she doesn’t appear in any of the photos – taking on the photographer’s role.)

Then we had a visit from my cousin Jeff and his wife for an evening meal again, but fortunately/unfortunately there are no photographs to immortalise that event. So, Christmas & New Year 2018 went much better than expected and our cat was really lovely and friendly to everyone, which I guess is a nice way to remember him (see previous post, where it all went rapidly downhill during the first few weeks of January and we were forced to have him put down at the vets – see previous post.)


Christmas Preparations – Part II (addendum)

Oops, I got so engrossed in posting pictures of our new house with Christmas decorations I completely forgot to say anything about all the people we had visiting this year. Most obviously, my parents arrived from France in the evening of 23 December and so they were here for Christmas eve and Christmas day. In fact, my dad helped Kevin with the final modification and decoration of the ‘real’ Christmas tree. The stars and artificial Christmas tree (pictured below) had already been assembled by Kevin – OK, only one of the stars was lit because Kevin had to rig up an extension lead for the 2nd star.


Then on Boxing Day, Kevin’s family came over to visit (his mum, dad and sister) and it was his sister who helpfully took the glamorous shot of Tramp sitting in the middle of our 3 seater sofa. He’s looking up to the heavens because my father was standing in front of him attracting his attention.

The next day (27 December) my cousin and his wife brought my 80 year old aunt over for afternoon tea and nibbles. It was lovely to see my cousin (much older than me) and his wife, who lives closest to me (between Swindon and Cirencester) and my aunt who was visiting from Greenwich.


Christmas Preparations – Part II

OK – As I said in my last post, on 12 – 13 December 2016 the central heating plumbers arrived and fitted 2 new radiators, new electronic radiator valves on (most) of the radiators and connected up our new super duper electronic control system. Because of the slight miscount of the number of radiators in the house, they could not completely fit a couple of the radiator valves immediately but returned the next day to complete that part of the job. Unfortunately, the radiator in our en-suite is still a mystery to everyone – both us and the plumbers – as no water appears to reach it! However, a new electronic radiator valve had still been fitted, although the temperature recorded refuses to budge from the default setting and no heat is forthcoming from this radiator.

Now Kevin had to do lots of tidying up and we had to start stocking up on Christmas provisions. To cut a long story short, we didn’t even start looking for a ‘real’ Christmas tree until the day before my parents arrival on 23 December. Needless to say, nearly everywhere had sold out of real Christmas trees long ago, but we were lucky enough to pick up a tree (much too tall for our new house). However, after cutting off the base of the trunk and removing some of the lower branches I think we ended up with quite a good looking tree and very cheaply! You will have to judge from the attached photograph.

Christmas tree & presents
Christmas tree & presents

Now I did promise a post with more pictures of the inside of our new house and our few Christmas photos of the ground floor rooms (with decorations) will have to do for now. So here are a couple of photos that were previously posted on Facebook.

Stars, Christmas tree & drinks

This shows our “very large” living room/dining room. There are no pictures of the dining table from where the 2nd photograph was taken, but I assure you it is now VERY long i.e. our existing table with all extension leaves inserted.

I thought I would finish with a current picture of our lovely cat (Tramp), complete with his Christmas glamour collar. I still think he’s quite an elegant chap, even though he is over 19 years old (quite old for a cat). We don’t really know his age, because he was a stray but we know he’s getting on a bit and a vigorous scratch with his back leg occasionally causes him to topple over – I can understand/appreciate this difficulty being a bit ‘wobbly’ myself! Also, being rather old his neck is a little slimmer than the collar Manufacturers expect and therefore his collar often slips round his neck to form more of a choker/necklace (as shown in the photograph).





Christmas Preparations – Part I


OK, I agree that it’s quite an unorthodox Christmas tree. However, it is old and is the 1st Christmas tree we erected in our new house. It used to be erected every year in my office at work and for a cardboard tree it has lasted extremely well!


Now I was going to post some more pictures of the inside of our new house, because there has been lots going on. However, this is likely to be the only Christmas decoration put up for the next couple of weeks – hence the title of this post: Part I. Next week we have major work happening to upgrade our central heating system, which includes new boiler, some new radiators, high-tech radiator valves and a super fancy electronic control unit to adjust the temperature in each room independently. Once this work is complete, our Christmas preparations will conclude and then I will be able to post lots of pretty pictures.

To keep myself in the regular–ish diary mode, instead this will be a post about my first Christmas meal out which took place on 1 December 2016. (I think this has been the most organised and early Christmas meal that I have ever had!) Myself and a group of friends that we call the Midweek Socialites had a great evening at ‘The Old Bank’ brasserie and cocktail bar just around the corner from our new house (see picture).


As normal …/ traditional, being the people having the least far to travel, we were the last to arrive. We always seem to be late !!


Now as far as I am concerned, I would prefer to have been sat at the opposite end of the table, but when you’re late you have to take which ever space you are given – and anyway I got treated to a close-up (look away).

Noo … photo




As I have been so bad at keeping a record of all the things that went on up to the end of 2015, I decided to write a very quick, consolidated post. Much to my surprise I found that upon reviewing my calendar and then looking at the ‘categories’ that I had set up previously to decide which were appropriate for this consolidated post, I had done quite a lot really i.e. virtually every category applied!


  • I did an online Oral Hearing (patent application) for my old employer and the patent was upheld and Granted
  • I did some online professional tutorials for trainees preparing to sit the European Qualifying Examinations for patents in December, January and February


  • I have had numerous medical appointments both MS and non-MS related for previously mentioned foot, eyes, continence services, Occupational Therapist, wheelchair services and last but not least 6 monthly dentists check-up. In fact it would be accurate to say I pretty much had a full MOT from head to foot – some more successful than others.  I won’t go into much more detail because a. it’s boring and b. it seems so long ago now that I can’t accurately recount all that happened
  • BUT I will make an exception for the foot, because I have written a post on this before and although not resolved before Christmas, at the beginning of January 2016 I finally had a steroid injection in my left foot and hey presto it now seems to be resolved! I know it isn’t a permanent fix, but it is so much better than it has been for the last few months. So, fingers crossed


  • Now usually my parents and I/Kevin alternate location for our Christmas holidays at each other’s houses. However, despite much effort on my/Kevin’s part, we still hadn’t managed to move house before Christmas (we’ve only been looking for the past 5 or so years)! Added to that, my parents no longer stay at our house because of a lack of bathroom facilities and I was still having problems with my foot. Therefore, we made the late decision to switch order and for Kevin and I travel over to France for Christmas (note. My parents are now the proud possessors of one’s stair climber.)
  • Christmas went OK, but nothing particularly memorable in a pleasant sense. Come Boxing Day, Kevin had problems with his teeth and had to see a French dentist and by the end of the holiday, I had a urinary tract infection which meant I couldn’t wait to get home.

So, that was the end of 2015 (a bit of a damp squib really) and we were all ready to get started with 2016. After all, it couldn’t go much more downhill could it?