Wednesday 22 October…very embarrassed!

That I have neglected the blog for nearly twelve months :(. I suppose on one side it demonstrates how much I have moved on from the original reason for the blog, to keep me occupied and to chart my progress through long periods of hospital treatment and the subsequent trial, tribulations during the recovery phase.

So, the last twelve months has been busy. I have photos for many of the events, but too many to put up in one post, so I’ll do a series over the next couple of weeks.

However in summary, Christmas came and went, with a trip to Switzerland. I went on a dive trip to the Red Sea in April, and a camping/diveing trip to Devon in May. I have been up to stay with friends in Lancashire, and caught up with old school friends. I also have a new project in the offing – more of that in a later post. I had solar cells fitted to my house, and a few other things! so I have been busy. On the health side, I am on more or less annual check-ups, although I seemed to get booked into the wrong clinic, and the appointment frequency went up for a while! My eyes are still a bit dry, but the cataract operations were a great success, and my distance eyesight is very good.

So very much upwards and onwards – and watch this space for some updates coming up soon!

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Thursday…Autumn upon us…

Oh dear, I really have ignored the blog for the last few months.

Graduation I guess the highlights of the summer were the Graduation of Rachael from Cardiff University, and me (a day later) with my Master’s degree from Cranfield University. Both days were warm and sunny, and for both of us the culmination of a lot of hard work.

The summer has been fairly uneventful. I am adjusting to my new life, I did a little bit of diving, this one taken at SwanageDiving on Swanage Pier on another lovely sunny day.

Garden wise I had another lovely crop of runner beans, although again I was late planting them, the last flush will be picked in the next few days. I have already put away the garden furniture.

I have made progress in sorting out the stuff in the garage, some items have gone to a new home (middle daughter Katie has just bought a house) and that gave me space to move in there, which meant I could unearth more things for recycling! Still a way to go though!

The nights are drawing in though, and there is a definite chill in the air. Still there are things to look forward to, holidays next year for example.

On the health front, things have been good. The cataract operations have been very successful, and my general health has been good – well, at least up until last week, when I caught the first winter cold. I have also decided to get myself a bit fitter, partly because it is a good thing in itself, and partly because to continue diving with military personnel on expeditions, I need a Health and Safety diving medical, so I need to get fit to pass that. So I have joined a gum, and until this week I have been going there for about an hour a day, 5 days a week, with a varied fitness programme. It is beginning to show results!

What else? Oh yes, a quick trip to Amsterdam to a trade show where I was operating a video camera for a friend while he was conducting interviews with some of the exhibitors. This may generate a little bit of income, which will be a bonus, as there hasn’t been a lot of paid work about.

But all in all, it has been a good and busy summer – and so.. Onwards and Upwards!

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Thursday… More good news!

Yesterday was the annual trip up to King’s College Hospital for my annual check-up. You may recall that all stem cell transplant activity moved from Guy’s to King’s about 18 months ago. I’m pleased to say that all seems well, although the King’s outpatient department seems rather more chaotic than Guy’s! There still seems to be a little residual GvHd (which is probably good!) and I may be slightly iron deficient, but as my blood results hadn’t been reported by the time I left, I can’t be certain yet, however I will be notified if I am anaemic or if there is anything else of concern.

I had a long chat with Dr Kazmi, not just about the illness, but about developments at King’s and Guy’s in general, and plans for a new cancer centre at Guy’s hospital. I also saw Orla, who used to run the day centre at Guy’s and has just moved to King’s, so she has a challenge to get it running as well as the unit at Guy’s! However it was lovely to catch up on news of the wonderful team that treated me – most still working in the London Hospitals area! So a good day out – although changes to the rail timetables meant that the journey out to Denmark Hill is even less straightforward than it was!

Also on the health front, I had my second cataract operation last week – this one on my left eye. The improvement is even better – with distance vision really good – better than that of the right eye. My check up for that is next Wednesday, at an early hour, so it will be another trip up to London to St Thomas’s.

And a bit more good news, my dissertation was accepted, so I should be graduating with my MSc in July!

Back here, the sun is shining, and I am slowly getting the garden back into shape, although the weather has been a bit chilly for the last week – but overall, definitely “Onwards and Upwards”! 🙂

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Friday…a small harvest!

Runner BeansHot on the heels of the last post (bit like busses, nothing for ages, then two at once!) I thought I’d share the results of a small harvest. Although I was a bit late getting the runner beans in the ground, and they were delayed by bad weather in June, I did get a small crop off my half dozen plants, competing with slugs, snails and blackfly!

But I suppose I have picked about 3 lbs over the last month. Some have been sliced, blanched and frozen, other were picked, cooked and eaten within 20 minutes – delicious and makes it worthwhile.

The garden is starting to look a bit bedraggled and the weather has turned cooler. The winter duvet has been brought out of storage, and it will soon be time to cut back the plants in the tubs and put them into storage for the winter.

I will extend the area where I grew the beans, and make sure I get next year’s plants in earlier!

Onwards and upwards!

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Thursday…damp, damp, damp!

SalvosI have just realised it has been over six weeks since I wrote the blog (although I do wonder who is still reading it?)

So just after my bit of DIY, I headed north up the St Annes to stay with Martin and Stephanie, friends from University. We headed over to Headingley in Leeds to a Pizza restaurant we used to frequent as students, where we met up with our other two house-mates from those days (Jon and Elaine, and Tom and Carol) The photo shows the four of us outside Salvos.

In a burst of nostalgia, we headed off to our former home Canterbury Drive photographed here when we actually lived there! It hadn’t changed much, but we posed outside for another photo! Martin, Stephanie and I headed back to St Annes in the afternoon. Next day, after a walk along the Blackpool Promenade, Martin and I went sailing on the Ribble estuary before I headed back home, via my parents, after a very enjoyable weekend.Canterbury Drive

On the home front, I have been doing some baking! I started off with cake – this is a coffee and walnut cake I baked a few weeks ago. This skill also came in useful when I went to my sister’s for her Birthday. On this occasion I baked a chocolate cake, shown in this picture (together with her family!)Cake

Moving on from cake, I have also been trying my hand at bread making. I do have a bread maker, which I use for making the dough, but I have found that turning out the dough, knocking it back and proving it outside the machine, before baking it a conventional oven, gives best results. as I hope the picture shows!Cake

I have also been experimenting with flavoured savoury breads. So far olive (with Mozzarella and oregano) and sun-dried tomato (with Parmesan and basil) The tomato needs more practice, but they were made for when David and Frances (and their daughter) came to visit two weeks ago. The sun smiled on us and we ate outside in the garden. You may remember that I stayed with David and Frances for a week while I was homeless last December!Bread

The sun has been welcome in the garden, where the runner beans have reached the top of their poles and are producing flowers. The pots have also looked good, and this photo shows the two hanging baskets. There are some more garden photographs in the gallery!.

On the health front, I had a visit to the eye clinic at St Thomas’s about a month ago. I still have dry eyes, but I have a new medication for night use which is certainly soothing, and I hope will eventually solve the problem. I am expecting a referral to the cataract clinic, as these are slowly getting worse. However the visit to London was an opportunity to see my youngest daughter, Rachael, who is doing a three month internship during her summer vacation. We had a very good evening at a restaurant in Borough Market!Garden

I had also been planning to go diving, but the last two planned dives were cancelled because of bad weather, and the expedition to Devon has had to be cancelled for other reasons. That was very disappointing as I was looking forward to doing some camping (no accommodation) but I hope that we will get a couple of dives in the local area next week.

So a busy few weeks! There will be a few stressful moments in the next few weeks as the divorce rumbles on, but I need say no more about that at the moment.

But despite that, it is very much ‘Onwards and Upwards’! 🙂

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Saturday…a bit of DiY

FrameAlthough one of the purchase decisions for my house was that there was little that needed doing to it, there are always one or two little things to be done. One of those was improving space in the tank, or airing cupboard. It is a large space, not well used, so it seemed a good idea to make better use of it.The first photo shows the cupboard as it was, with just the outline of a Shelfshelf I put in to size things up. I thought about moving the plumbing to the back and side of the tank, but after putting the frame in, it seemed a lot of work for little gain, so after a bit of sawing, I ended up with more useable airing space. Only a little job, but one that will make a difference!

Onwards and upwards!

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Thursday…The sun was shining

GardenAlthough it has been raining quite a lot since the photo was taken at the weekend! I took the plunge and ordered some garden furniture so I can take advantage of the patio! (If you look closely, you will see the obligatory glass of beer!) It also came in useful for a surprise visit from an old University course mate, Anne and her family. Although we have Skyped occasionally, this was the first time we had met up since just after leaving Leeds University, many moons ago! Yvoire1It was very pleasant sitting out in the garden, catching up!
My parents came down for a visit three weeks ago, over the jubilee weekend. We watched most of the celebrations on television, but there wasn’t much going on in the immediate neighbourhood. I had a quick trip to Switzerland which was very enjoyable, although the weather there wasn’t particularly good. One really good day though with a boat trip to Yvoire Yvoire2on the French side of Lac Leman (otherwise known as Lake Geneva). A very pretty and picturesque mediaeval village, as you can see from the photograph. The trip back was on a restored steam driven paddleboat, one of a fleet of eight that were built in the early part of the last century. This one was built in 1914. The picture shows part of the engine!

Yvoire3Unfortunately, I seem to have brought a summer
cold back with me, but I hope that will go soon.

The bad weather has also affected diving. I was supposed to be diving both last weekend, and two weeks before that, but on both occasions, strong winds in the Solent prevented us from launching the boat, so both were cancelled.
Yvoire4
However, colds apart,

I am feeling well, as you can see from this photo, also taken at Yvoire!

So… Onwards and upwards! 🙂

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Wednesday… Garden time

Garden1I have been enjoying the warm weather of the last few days by doing a bit of gardening. Last week I dug out the patch where I’ll try growing some runner beans that I have been germinating in pots. This week I built the supports and planted out the beansGarden2. I managed to germinate 11 out of the 12 seeds, and I am also germinating some marigolds to plant behind the beans in the hope that any marauding blackfly will prefer the marigolds over the beans!

As well as the beans, I have grown (and bought) some herbs, and while some are on the kitchen windowsill, I have planted some outside in the raised beds the previous owner left behind. This photo shows the bed, with thyme, sage and chives on the right (all bought) and sweet and chilli peppers and basil on the left (grown from seed) The basil is still quite small!Garden3
Finally, a splash of colour with some pots with dianthus, pansies, geraniums, and I hope some flowers on some fuchsia cuttings. A small start, but it will be interesting to see how they do! Next year I might cut another patch out of the lawn and try some other crops. I have discovered potatoes in one of the other raised beds Garden4the previous owner left behind.
So a busy few days! In between gardening stints I had a trip to Heathrow to take my youngest daughter to catch a ‘plane to New York, and one or two other little jobs around the house. This weekend I hope to be going diving, weather permitting, so all in all, onwards and upwards!

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Friday… Birthdays come – and birthdays go!

It was indeed my Birthday last week, and I spent the weekend with my parents. Very relaxing and a welcome break from the paperwork and stress of the divorce settlement. It was lovely to be joined by youngest daughter Rachael too – with a bit of retail therapy for her on Sunday, before I drove her back to University and then onto my little, but homely, home.

Forthcoming events include a trip down to Cornwall, diving, which I am really looking forward to, especially if the weather is as good as it has been last week. My dive kit has been serviced, and is ready to go so should be good.

The move to BST last week was also welcome, the lighter evenings always lift my spirits, and I am looking at the garden to see what is going to shoot up there. The garden is a little overshadowed by the garage, but I have identified a spot where I can grow a few vegetables.

The sorting out of stuff stored in the garage is still a bit daunting, but once the bureaucracy has been dealt with, I may be able to get down and clear some space.

I must say that the last few months have probably been some of the more stressful in my life, but as ever, it has to be “Onwards and Upwards” 🙂

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Tuesday… Mid March!!!

House 1Oh dear, I hadn’t realised just how quickly time has passed and just how long it has been since I last wrote here! And this post is partly prompted by an e-mail from my Honorary Aunt, Eileen, in New Zealand! (Note to self – must come out there for a visit!)House 2

I have had a very busy few weeks since moving into my new house. Apart from the logistical effort of moving in, and sorting out all the administration from that, I was also under a tight deadline to complete my dissertation for mid February. I did meet that deadline, although I don’t know if the quality or quantity is good enough to get a pass mark – house moves, divorce and dissertations do not sit well together 🙂House 3

However I am pleased with my house, it might be small, but it feels comfortable, and I am looking forward to seeing what comes up in the garden in the spring.
On the personal front the divorce proceedings are… well, proceeding, but it is clear that far from enjoying retirement, I will have to find work as I am likely to lose a significant part of my income, investments and savings.House 4

Healthwise all seems to be OK, although my eyes seem to be very dry, and the cataract problems are continuing. Fortunately not stopping me from driving, but something that will need to be fixed sooner rather than later.

On the plus side, I have had a few days away in Switzerland for a much needed break, and I am looking forward to a diving expedition down to Cornwall for a few days in April.

Meanwhile I have posted a couple of photos of my new house, taken before and just after the move.

So, a few setbacks and a few hurdles still to overcome, but I have beaten worse than this, so… Onwards and Upwards!

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