Category Archives: FAMILY

Birthday Landmark – The half-century

So why did my last post say that I was so busy? Well at the end of May was my (and Kevin’s) birthday and for me it was the big half-century ! Therefore, I wanted to do something to celebrate and what better than to try and recreate my 21st birthday when Kevin and I were at Imperial College in London and I was still a happy go lucky student. Now first: On my 21st birthday Kevin, my parents and I got the overnight ferry to Holland and went to Amsterdam (by train) for an Indonesian rijstafel, returning home on the overnight ferry that evening (well we were students and did have to do things on a tight budget!)

Now of course quite a lot has changed in the intervening 39 yrs – I’ve worked (so have more money), I now use a wheelchair (courtesy of MS) and we have a car. The latter is very important, because trains (that we used all those yrs ago) are a bit more difficult to organise now. However, the ferry still runs from Harwich to the Hook of Holland and with the car we could just drive (Kevin really) from Swindon to Harwich and then from the Hook of Holland to Amsterdam. As the picture shows we managed it, had the aforesaid Indonesian rijstafel and a lot more besides. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your age, my/our birthday falls during the Whitsun holidays. This meant that I was never at school during my birthday, but has the downside that travel and holidays in general are more expensive. It also means that the ferry gets booked up very quickly and so plan A had to change immediately – no disabled cabins available for the overnight ferry. Still, we are older now and a little thing like unavailable cabins wasn’t going to stop us. Plan B – take a sedate drive to Harwich, stay overnight in an accessible room at the ferry port and take the day ferry across to the Hook of Holland (having a meal on the way, of course), then drive (Kevin again) from the Hook of Holland to Amsterdam. This should have been easy, but was made a little more complicated by having an out of date satnav and the Dutch authorities building lots of new roads. Anyway, after a short skid via the outskirts of Rotterdam, we eventually made it to the Mövenpick hotel in Amsterdam and met up with my parents that evening. Oh, that’s another thing that’s changed – my parents now live in France and were driving across from the west of France via Belgium to a different hotel in Amsterdam, reasonably close by. Upon meeting up, my parents confirmed that their trip across France and hotel were great BUT their journey around Antwerp had been awful (not good for us to hear, because Antwerp was the next place we were visiting & planned to stay overnight on our way back to their house in France).

Now, booking a hotel when you have a disability and therefore require an accessible room is a bit more difficult than you may think. I picked the Mövenpick hotel in the centre of Amsterdam, because it had an accessible room & en-suite bathroom. It was more expensive than we would normally pay, but I must admit that the accessible bathroom was very good. The hotel is actually built out in the old dock area, which accounts for our rather noisy and changeable neighbours (see pictures). I think this first photograph (of the view from our bedroom window) needs a little more explaining: As I predominantly sleep on my back now, I no longer seem to be able to achieve a full, uninterrupted 9 hours sleep each night. I tend to wake up, Kevin helps me sit up and I spend the next hour or so reading my Kindle. This particular night, I woke up as usual and sat there reading when (around 4 o’clock in the morning) I vaguely became aware of noises outside. Upon looking out of the window in the semi gloom, I was surprised to see that there appeared to be terraced houses opposite that I hadn’t noticed when we first arrived. I went back to sleep for a couple of hours as normal and when waking for the 2nd time Kevin commented that there was a lot of commotion outside. He opened the curtains properly and this was the view that greeted us – A cruise ship ! So after getting dressed and showered, Kevin immediately went outside to take a better look. Upon returning to me in the room, we had lots of jokes about “Costa” cruises and whether the captain had really intended to park to park his large vessel outside our hotel. Needless to say, once I had showered and dressed too, Kevin took me outside and we immediately noticed that our hotel was right beside the cruise ship terminus. We met my parents at the coffee shop right next door to our hotel, where I had a lovely freshly squeezed orange juice for breakfast. My parents didn’t want or need anything having already partaken of a rather large hotel breakfast, which was included in the cost of their hotel. Once all together, we set off into Amsterdam city centre via a bridge over the River and we started to have a look around. Neither of my parents had seen an Indonesian restaurant when they had had a quick look upon their arrival the previous day, but we decided to look around and try to locate the flower market (where of my parents’ friend had said that they had found and Indonesian restaurant) … and on the way, I had an apple pancake (another of my fond memories of Holland from yrs ago). That evening, we had sushi in a weird Japanese-style fast food restaurant I’d noticed on our travels that was wheelchair accessible (unlike lots of the traditional restaurants, which were both narrow, all and had steps up to the door – no change there then!) Anyway, as can be seen from the photograph at the beginning of this post – we did find a lovely, accessible Indonesian restaurant and I got my Indonesian rijstafel. The morning that we were leaving Amsterdam (and my parents) Kevin and I went into a cafe in the Information Centre just opposite the Grand Central Station. The cafe was downstairs, but there was a lift and we decided to stop for a drink and lunch whilst waiting to meet my parents. They arrived and also decided to have a drink/look at the menu, where my mother saw the item “Bitterballen” which she decided to order – another fond food memory that we had enjoyed as a family many yrs ago. (Therefore, completely unintentionally, I had appeared to ‘tick off’ 3 items from my imaginary bucket list.)

Next, Kevin and I made the journey to Antwerp, which as my parents’ had predicted was a nightmare journey – roadworks everywhere! Our hotel was right in the centre of Antwerp and once we had managed to negotiate all the major disruptions, we finally made it to the hotel … and had sat have a lie down to recover from what was a comparatively short hop. No pictures of Antwerp, but as you can probably imagine the combination of major reconstruction/building works, removal of almost all dropped curbs and cobbles made our investigations of Antwerp painful for me (in the wheelchair) and extremely tiring for Kevin (trying to manoeuvre the wheelchair over rubble/unmarried pavements etc.) In summary, Antwerp may be lovely in a few yrs time but not at the moment and especially not when trying to get around with a wheelchair or similar. Round 2 finished and onto the round 3, edging ever more slowly towards France.

Round 3 – Mons. Now Mons was lovely and probably had undergone similar building works to Antwerp but a few yrs earlier i.e. a view of what Antwerp may become in a few yrs time. The hotel was lovely and interesting, but again there were lots of cobbles and this time the town was located on a Hill – oh what fun!

      


And there’s really not much more to say – upon leaving the hotel in Mons, we started on the long drive across France to my parents’ house in Normandy. It had been a fun week away and we were now ready for the final ferry trip home (after a few days recuperating in France) via St. Malo … and yes a bit more food !

Start of 2017 – what’s new?

The start of 2017 was not really very exciting and there  wasn’t much interesting to write about – hence the dearth of new posts.

There were the work tasks: I’m trying to cut my business costs this year and therefore replaced my IP database at the start of January (which included a couple of on-line training sessions in January/February), I met with an old colleague from my previous employer, ostensibly to talk about possible IP protection for some new ideas that he had been tinkering around with, but ended up having a general chat about how the atmosphere has changed as have many of the people. I also did quite a few professional webinars (always good for my CPD).

On the MS/medical front: There were all the usual things – open gym sessions (Monday & Friday), seated yoga (Wednesday), dentist etc., but there were 2 things that did stand out as not being the norm:

1.  On the afternoon of 04 January 2017 – we took delivery of my “super duper” assisted bike which Kevin had arranged as my Christmas treat. We are hiring it for 3 months on a trial basis and I’m trying to use it every day. At the end of the 3 months, we will purchase it and the 3 months hire cost will be deducted from the sale price. This just goes to show you how expensive it is!

2.  During the last weekend in January, I hosted the “Twitter takeover” on behalf of Shift MS. This might have been quite mundane, but of course in the US there was all the chatter about the election/inauguration of Donald Trump as president of the USA. Fortunately, most of the tweets during my “Twitter takeover” steered well clear of politics!

Unfortunately, this fairly lacklustre spell of progress or rather complete lack of it, gave me the urge to organise several things – another visit with my MP (much shorter and more friendly this time), organising a visit from a carpenter to quote for changes to our stairs and levelling our upper landing and also a visit from a blinds company to quote for installation of electrically controlled blinds in our bedroom. Kevin was NOT pleased, although I have to admit that this flurry of activity was taking place just before my parents were coming to stay with us for a couple of days prior to going on a bell-ringing trip to Devon with a view of their friends from Somerset.

Roll on March: As I’m in bad odour with Kevin anyway, and things still aren’t progressing with the new house, I also arrange for a visit from a landscape gardener to quote for cleaning our block paving area and replacing the paving slabs/edging along the path to our front door. A very nice, young chap (I’m getting to that age when lots of competent adults look ‘young’ to me now) came to visit us, see what was required and provide a quote for the work. My main aim was to get the path to the front door level (making it easier to manoeuvre my wheelchair) and to replace the edging along the path to restrain the gravel between the plants in the adjacent beds, which was spilling onto the path in several places due to accidental hits & bumps from me in the wheelchair. The Gardener said that he could, and would prefer, to do the work before the end of March. In fact, he could start the following week.”Ah, that’s difficult” I said, “because we are off to visit my patents in France next Tuesday and don’t return until 22nd March”. (Mmm, now I’m beginning to appreciate Kevin’s frustration – but I wasn’t going to admit it and he could jolly well sort out arrangements for feeding the cat while we’re away … SULK!) Anyway, the Gardener agreed to start on our return from France and right at the last moment, Kevin organised for a “professional cat sitter” to come in and feed the cat, while we were away.  …

AND SO, OFF WE GO TO FRANCE … (Garden photos courtesy of my Dad)

Now my Mum had warned me that on 17 March (St Patrick’s day) they were hosting a celebratory Irish meal and had invited a number of guests – both French and English. We had already seen the Irish flag and bunting as it was ordered on-line and had been delivered to our house a few weeks earlier, and we had been treated to a viewing of their cheap elf T-shirts (picked up in a supermarket during their quick bell-ringing trip to England). The authenticity of the “Irish food” was somewhat dubious, but they had made several attempts to try out the cocktail ‘Black Velvet’ (a mixture of Guinness & Champagne) – now that was sure to go down well in France (!?!) The verdict on the ‘Black Velvet’ was understandably somewhat confused, ranging from “a good way to ruin both Guinness & Champagne” (majority) to “it’s quite nice really” (minority).

I don’t drink much alcohol and definitely avoided the ‘Black Velvet’, but I think the next two photographs go to show what a terrible effect it can have on the photographer (my dad).

All set – before ‘Black Velvet’

I leave it to you to make up your own mind!

Party in full swing – after ‘Black Velvet’

My parents had set up an office for me in their spare, spare bedroom and I did spend a couple of hours each day at my computer doing some work! There was some socialising, relaxing, watching films and shopping too and it did provide a nice break for us humans. And now onto the cat: He seemed to have a pretty relaxed and fun holiday too, being well looked after by the “professional cat sitter” as can be seen from the pictures at the beginning of this post and the photographs to end. We shall definitely be using her again for our next holiday – Birthday celebrations!

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.

artificial-christmas-tree-2016

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.

front-window-stars-2016

Stars

view-from-the-back-of-lounge-with-a-christmas-tree-stars-bottles-of-drinks-2016

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).

Tramp

Tramp

 

 

MONTHS OF SILENCE – WE’RE FINALLY IN!

I know that I was meaning to right posts on my blog more regularly, but I’d forgotten just how much disruption is caused by moving house (we hadn’t moved for over 20 years!). Anyway, despite the months of silence our lift was finally installed in the new house on 1st/2nd of September and since then we have been staying in the new house. HOORAY !!

At first we were staying in our guest bedroom, because that is the one that Kevin had managed to paint and transfer all the furniture over in our car. It’s still the only room which is largely clear of “stuff”. Actually, that was true initially but as we have gradually moved things around to furnish all the rooms, the “stuff” has migrated to almost every room, despite getting rid of loads and loads to charity shops, the tip and in Recycling. Looking back at my calendar, we really have done quite a lot in the intervening months, although there always seems to be more stuff to do! Please excuse the list, but it’s just too much to go into in detail.

  • 08 September – Paul from Johnson Gardening Services spent a very productive day pruning all the bushes in our garden and trimming back the ivy growing up the front of the house
  • 09  September – Swintech (man with a van) helped move the final items including the fridge freezer out of our old house – GREAT !
  • 12 September – Completed on the sale of our old house

Just to prove that I was doing something – throughout this period I was sending out ‘change of address’ emails to friends, family, Council & utility providers and also to the various organisations with whom I work on business matters.

  •  30 September – G2S fitted the new UPVC door with cat flap. Cat happy-ish (once strong solvent smell had dissipated) and both cat and owners very pleased that the litter tray is no longer required.
debra-cat-sofa

Cat & Debra chillin’ on sofa

  • 10 to the 15 October – mum and dad visited our new house, dad proudly bearing the outdoor box he has made to receive items which don’t fit through the letter box and would normally be left in our now non-existing porch. This was the cue for Kevin to order and fit the wooden flooring in our bedroom, ready to receive our bed (so that we could vacate the guest bedroom). A couple of extra mobile hands really made the difference and lots of jobs got completed in short time – ending with a trip to IKEA to buy wardrobe units for our bedroom, which my dad helped Kevin to erect. Unfortunately, the only items left in boxes were the sliding doors, which Kevin put together after my mum and dad had left and apparently were very complex to construct – comprising 28 separate pieces!
  • 25 October – was a really good day, because we had the central heating surveyed and because we received the cheque from HMRC returning the excess stamp duty (SDLT) that we had had to pay for owning 2 houses whilst we waited for the lift to be installed.

Now I like everyone else seem to have been sick with a cold just before the weekend and thus spent a few days completely off-kilter and out of time over Thursday, Friday and Saturday with most of my time spent asleep in bed until late in the evening. However, come Sunday I was feeling much better (although still a little sniffily) and …

  • 30 October (today) – Kevin and I have had great fun looking through the myriads of clothes we had stored in cardboard wardrobes. I just can’t believe how many suits etc. that I own, some of which still are perfectly new with the labels, which we will probably sell on eBay and some of which I had completely forgotten I ever owned!

Sorry there are very few (i.e. only one) photos in this post, but as I said at the beginning everything still is in disarray and it seems unfair to post lots of random photos of the mess right now. My post next month should contain photos of a neat, tidy and uncluttered house (one can but dream) and I’ll even include some pictures of the lift which is great!

Now off to eat some Sunday dinner and then watch the video of the latest Star Wars film, which I received as part of my birthday present at the end of May.

2 WEEKENDS OF ACTIVITIES & NO POSTS (AGAIN !!)

Sorry for the dearth of posts once again, but I have been doing lots – really!! So now I’m afraid that this will have to be a consolidated post again and also you will have to excuse my definition of a weekend, which includes the preceding Friday too (on both weekends).

Friday, 22 April 2016 we had booked an ‘advice surgery’ appointment with our local MP to discuss our issues with moving house and the implications caused by SDLT announced in the recent 2016 budget. Hardly something to look forward to, but I have to admit that I did look forward to it and it was ‘FUN’ in a rather perverse way. It was raining at the time of our appointment and the MP was running a little late, so we had to wait under the overhanging ‘shop front’, which was fortunately just wide enough to accommodate my wheelchair if I sat parallel to the window. While we were waiting, we noticed several parking spaces being vacated opposite the MP’s office and so Kevin went off to collect the car to be closer in case it started raining even harder at the end of our meeting. Eventually the previous meeting ended and the MP himself came out to greet me, apologising profusely that our appointment was late. He wheeled me into the office preceding all the while to refer to me as ‘sir’ – not a good start for him and in accordance with my ‘evil streak’, of course I didn’t make any admission of the fact that I was actually the ‘Debra Smith’, who had booked the appointment and therefore was not a ‘sir’. Once inside the warmth of the office and upon his observation to his assistant that we were “just waiting for Debra Smith, who was currently moving the car”, I felt it only fair to say that in fact I was Debra Smith and it was my partner who was moving the car. (Not the ideal way to start a meeting in my book, but that’s the reason that I found it ‘fun’ and quite liberating really!) So, we had the meeting, said our piece including pointing out how simply the draft bill could have been written to exclude those people unintentionally (?) hit by SDLT despite having no desire to own a second home or buy to let property, but requiring modifications to their new property before they could move in. For us, we need a lift installed, which has a 6 to 8 week lead time and we did point out that SDLT meant that we were having to take out a loan (for which we pay interest + set-up fees) just to provide HMRC with an interest-free loan which we knew they were required to repay, supposedly within 14 days. We’ll see! Having worked for the MOD (civil service) in the past, I commented that unless HMRC were planning a major recruitment drive, I thought this was highly unlikely! The MP tended to agree.

Meal with Kevin's family

Meal with Kevin’s family

 

Valerie & Maria

Valerie & Maria

Saturday, 23 April 2016: Unusually, we drove into West London (Cheam to be exact) to meet up for dinner with Kevin’s parents, his sister, aunt and eldest cousin. This was a special opportunity because neither Kevin nor I had seen his aunt since she visited us at our basement flat in Chelsea (and that was years ago!). This is because both his aunt Valerie and cousin Maria live in Majorca, Spain and were over for a couple of days because his cousin had meetings in London. I have never met his cousin Maria before, but she is almost the same age as me (she was born in January and I in May of the same year). I thoroughly enjoyed myself, which undoubtedly meant that I was being my usual, extrovert and ‘naughty’ self. (Maria is the one who described to me as ‘naughty’ and she also said something in Spanish which neither she nor her mother were able to translate and I speak no Spanish – however, they assured me that it was complimentary! Mmm.)

 

Now spin forward to the following weekend – Friday, 29 April 2016. The Friday started fairly inauspiciously with me having to go to the hospital for two eye appointments, the first a visual field test (awful – me having to transfer from my stable wheelchair to a very unstable/freely rotating ordinarily chair with no arms – it was terrifying!). This was followed up by the usual orthoptic appointment where the findings were much the same as before, but this time were repeated with my new distance and reading glasses. Conclusion: Do nothing, but repeat appointment in 3 months time. I’m really beginning to wonder if there is any point in these regular appointments as nothing seems to result and I really find them quite stressful. Fortunately, on this occasion after an awful start of the day I knew we were going to see our first jazz concert at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival that evening. We saw Penguin Cafe (lead = son of the original Penguin Cafe Orchestra), which everyone had told me was great, including my father and they were quite right!

Penguin Cafe

Penguin Cafe

Saturday, 30 April 2016 we knew was going to be tough as we had booked to see five concerts starting at 12.00 hrs with the Trondheim Jazz exchange (group 2 were excellent and really different – it made you feel a bit sorry for groups 1 and 3) and ending with ‘the Printmakers’ at the Parabola Arts Centre (Cheltenham Ladies College), my favourite venue, at 9.00 p.m. It was a really enjoyable, but very tiring day, not helped by a mix-up in booking to eat at Pizza Express, which left us very little time to change venues and eat at Ask Italian. In fact, we had to slip out early from every one of the last 3 concerts, just to give us time to scurry between venues.

Zoe Rahmen Courtney Pine

Zoe Rahmen & Courtney Pine

Courtney Pine

Courtney Pine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fortunately, Sunday, 01 May 2016 was a much more relaxed affair, with us managing to have a lie in as our concerts (only 2 of them this time) didn’t start until the afternoon / early evening. As the weather wasn’t too good and I didn’t really want to eat outside as I was cold, we went to Ask Italian again for an evening meal which was much lighter, more relaxed and altogether more enjoyable than the previous evening. And that’s where it ends … Our Cheltenham Jazz Festival was over for 2016 and now we just had to wait until early June, when we had lots and lots of tickets for the Cheltenham Science Festival. Hopefully, our rather over heavy schedule on the Saturday will allow us to plan things a little more successfully – although looking at the calendar, every day seems to be a ‘heavy schedule’ at the Science Festival, so much so that on occasion I have no idea when we are going to make time to eat!

Tim Berne

Tim Berne

JANUARY 2016 – HERE WE GO

So, we arrived back in England on 03 January 2016 with stair climber safety located in the boot (because I was a little feverish and not feeling too good) to a freezing cold house – we subsequently found out that our boiler had packed up and there had been no heating on. No wonder the cat was meowing pitifully and loudly! I was feeling awful, but at least we had made it home and now I just had to negotiate the stairs safely and crawl into bed. Believe me this was no mean feat even with the stair climber, which I had previously refused to use on our stairs at home.

Let me explain: we live in a Victorian house with a very steep staircase having particularly shallow steps i.e. whereas in France said stair climber works wonderfully because it lifts you up to each step and then you are able to pull the device to the back of the step adjacent to the next step up. Sounds easy doesn’t it! However in our house, said stair climber lifts you up on to the next step moves barely a couple of centimetres before hitting the back of the next step and then you have to lift almost immediately again. This makes it extremely arduous for the operator (Kevin) and is terrifying for the person strapped into the seat (i.e. me!) However, when needs must it is a tiny bit safer than me being manhandled and encouraged to walk up the stairs. Anyway we made it and Kevin and I immediately flopped into bed, if only to warm up under the duvet. What was that I said about it “couldn’t get any worse than end 2015”?

Now I’d started taking antibiotics (that we happened to have with us) just before we left France and so I was hoping that after a few days I would be beginning to feel a little more human. That was before we discovered that there was no heating – not good when you’re trying to overcome a fever! Luckily, our usual boiler repair man was able to come out immediately-ish (i.e. the morning of Tuesday, 05 January 2016). He spent a good long time checking the electrics, vacuuming out the filters etc. before giving an effective whack in the appropriate place with a spanner. Hey presto – it worked, and even better Kevin had made a mental note of the precise location where a sharp whack could force the boiler into action.

To finish off, just a few jobs and fun things that we also managed to do towards the end of January: to end on a fun and more positive note.

  1. We went to see the new ‘Star Wars’ film at the cinema – not particularly mentally challenging, but quite good entertainment any way.
  2. A few more medical appointments for me (eyes and foot) and for Kevin (dentist).
  3. We went over to Wantage to visit my old secretary and her friend for cups of tea/coffee and exchange of presents.
  4. Kevin’s parents came over to visit us and we exchanged Christmas presents/had nice meal.
  5. The car got its annual service and MOT.

Oh yes, and somewhere in the middle of all this, I extended the patent applications and filed an equivalent UK design application for a previous client.