Category Archives: FUN

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.)



A random post inspired by – ‘trippingthroughtreacle’ … Here goes  …

Four places I’ve lived:

  1. Leigh–on–Sea (really Southend), Essex
  2. South Kensington (& Chelsea & Putney), London – I know that’s cheating, but it was all while I was at studying
  3. Leicester (& Peterborough) – yet more cheating !
  4. Bristol – Apparently, a city & a county (never knew that, I thought it was in Avon)

Four places I’ve worked:

  1. GEC Research labs.
  2. Haiste Consulting Engineers
  3. UK Ministry of Defence
  4. Crown Packaging UK plc.

Four favourite hobbies:

  1. Attending Festivals in order of preference and surprisingly timing during the year (Jazz, Science, Music & Literature)
  2. Exercise (yoga, gym & assisted exercise bike)
  3. Visiting the countryside
  4. Reading

Four things I like to watch:

  1. Lucifer (Amazon/Fox)
  2. Mock the Week
  3. QI
  4. Sport – particularly tennis & athletics

Four things I like to read:

  1. Lots of different books (both fiction and non-fiction)
  2. Prospect magazine
  3. Facebook posts
  4. Other people’s blogs

Four places I have been:

  1. Québec, Canada
  2. Sydney, Australia
  3. Berlin, Germany (+ lots of other cities too)
  4. Copenhagen, Denmark

Four things I love to eat:

  1. Chocolate (preferably dark)
  2. Pasta & noodles
  3. Fruit and vegetables
  4. Indian, Asian & Persian food (OK, any good home-cooked food)

Four favourite things to drink:

  1. Fruit juices (any fruit)
  2. Tea
  3. Coffee
  4. Smoothies

Four places I want to visit:

  1. Norway
  2. Japan
  3. Russia
  4. China

Four bloggers I’d like to tag:

  1. em from think in decimals
  2. Mark from One Man and his Catheters
  3. emaweston from aheartbreakingmsblogofstaggeringgenius
  4. Hannah from stickmancommunications

Missing September/October & Cheltenham Literature Festival

I’m not exaggerating (at all), but September and October were not my best and therefore I had absolutely no desire or impetus to write any blog posts – and I’m sure they would not have made interesting reading anyway. I have had major leg spasms and excruciating pain (neuropathic pain? – so I guess it’s not real !) I’ve travelled in wheelchair accessible taxis (not always so accessible in my case, as being 6 foot one seems to cause lots of problems both on entering the taxi – I have to duck – and sitting upright in my wheelchair where my head seems to prop up the roof). I’ve been back and forward to hospital appointments to see physiotherapists & neurologist (in November) and the outcome seems to be that no one really knows what to do – inspires confidence doesn’t it? Anyway, we have been self-medicating on previously prescribed painkillers that reduce inflammation and slowly that seems to be doing the trick. Fingers crossed. Now that’s enough of the medical self-pity, so here is the one bit that did seem to go well-ish in October.

We did make it to some of the gigs we booked at the Cheltenham Literature Festival in October – and they were great – or maybe they just seemed great in the context of everything else that was going on. … No, they really were great and I’m so glad that we managed to get out of the house. (Kevin may not be so pleased, as he had to do much of the “heavy lifting”). Although hopefully the “heavy” part is getting less as I also have not felt like eating much. Special mention goes to the sessions by John Sopel (at the start of ‘our’ Festival) and Ewan Davies (at the end-ish of ‘our’ Festival) whose presentations were both very good – the BBC can be proud of their journalists! We also attended some very interesting sessions on “life in the grey zone” and “speeches that shaped the world” both of which were very well done. The session on “who really runs Russia?” was very interesting – and it’s the first time we’ve heard a Cheltenham audience heckle the chairman of a panel (rightly too)! As you’d expect we did so include some “fun” items – so all in all it was very entertaining. [Sorry no pictures of this event.]


Sorry about the long hiatus. I’ve been very busy since the beginning of May, so there’s going to be a flurry of posts yet again! A lot has been happening, but after a concert yesterday (Cheltenham Music Festival), I now have the ideal excuse to arrange my posts by subject matter. So let’s start with the Cheltenham Festivals – that’s Jazz, Science and Music in chronological order. But I shall handle them in reverse order, as that’s the order I can remember them best.

Cheltenham Festivals – tickets (Left – Right: Music, Science & Jazz)

After a fairly rubbish day, we rushed off to Cheltenham for a meal at Ask Italian before venturing into the “Pillar room” at Cheltenham Town Hall …  ah

…  and now that concert wasn’t yesterday either, it was well over a week ago! Still, I shall carry on regardless even though that music concert is fading into the distant memory as well. It was great fun – a combination of baroque and folk musicians. There were bagpipes, pipes and recorders, fiddles, cello, harpsichord and something indescribable (well see the picture below). A sort of lute type thing with a very large extension piece having “sympathetic strings” – I think. Unsurprisingly, his instrument with extra long extension piece got lots of enthusiastic interest during the 15 minute drinks break … and a fairly dubious posting by Kevin on Facebook which questioned whether he was trying to “compensate for something”.

So now passing swiftly backwards to the 2nd week of June (you must remember it, it was the one with the rushed general election in the UK and I’ll post a picture about that too – I wonder if you can guess which one!) … straight back from holiday – more about that in a separate post – and there we were at the Cheltenham Science Festival. For once, the weather was not too bad and we had glorious sunshine (for a day), lots of wind (nearly every day) and some intermittent, light rain (which is much better than normal).

Now it is questionable how “accessible” the polling station really is, when this notice is pasted on a closed and seemingly locked door which can only be opened from the inside. Thank goodness I have a Kevin, who can enter the polling station via the main entrance and then open this fire door from the inside!


… And this is the day with the nice weather! I am only looking rather concerned, because we are waiting to enter the tent in which the “overambitious demo challenge” is due to take place and that’s where lots of things tend to start flying about. This is one of the few times when being in a wheelchair and located at the front is not necessarily the best place to be!

Now my last festival is actually the Cheltenham Jazz Festival which is one of our favourites, but it took place at the very end of April / beginning of May. Therefore, I can remember very few of the concerts – they were all good – and I don’t have any photographs. I remember the Saturday though, as it was extremely tiring and we attended 7 different events, starting with the “Trondheim/Birmingham jazz exchange” at 11 am and concluding with a concert at 9 pm at night. To put this in perspective, it takes us about one hour to drive to Cheltenham and back, it takes a while to find parking and so this day started about 9.45 am and didn’t finish until after midnight.

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.


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).