Older Than Dinosaurs…

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Thank you Steve

Yes, I know it’s been four months since my last post! How many Hail Mary’s do I have to say in penance? Anyway, yesterday’s escapade has propelled me into action again.

Last week’s awful weather; snow, ice, freezing rain in quick succession resulted in me being trapped by the formation of an ice rink on the road outside my house. No gritters came so I couldn’t drive and couldn’t walk the dog and of course couldn’t go to see the grandchildren on Christmas Day. On Boxing Day,  J arrived with some road salt he’d purloined from a bin somewhere and did the council’s job for them and yesterday I was able to venture out to Shrewsbury with the presents. Although, it wasn’t on the day, we made it another Christmas and I had a good time with three excited children.

As I’m not very confident driving in bad weather, I left Shrewsbury with plenty of time to drive the 46 miles and get at least nearly home before it was dark. Alas, 22 miles from home, in the middle of nowhere there was suddenly a bang and loud clanking sound from the car. Luckily, there was an entrance to some sort of drive that I could pull into to and a quick inspection revealed the source of the noise; the exhaust pipe was lying on the ground!

Got out my RAC card and rang the breakdown number, I was answered by an automated message saying they would answer my call as soon as possible. This went on and on and on until over 40 minutes had passed before I had my call answered. All information given, I was then informed that their estimated time to get to me was 1 hour 45 minutes.

Depressed, I looked around to see where I’d actually stopped. I was at the entrance to a dirt track that wound round through overgrown verges. There was a wooden sign nailed to a tree at the entrance, the writing almost indecipherable said Minton Hall. A few metres up the drive was a derelict house, all windows broken, porch falling down and front door hanging off it’s hinges, quess at one time it was a gate lodge but now it was very sad and a bit spooky.

I took the dog out and walked a way up the drive and could see a large building through the trees, but the track got more and more potholed and muddy and it was getting very dark so I had to abandon the walk before I could get really close. As I was walking back,  Steve, the RAC patrolman rang to check my exact location and said he wasn’t too far away; 15 minutes later he arrived.

I was still a bit worried because I thought they would have sent a recovery vehicle and this was just a patrol van but Steve had a quick look under the car at my exhaust pipe lying forlorn on the ground, jumped up and said “It’s just the bracket that’s gone the exhaust is OK, I’ll fashion a tie up and you’ll be fine”. True to his word, he jacked up the car, slid underneath and in 10 minutes the exhaust was sitting back where it should be.

It was totally dark by the time he’d finished and I was glad to get away from the spooky house and make my way home. All together it took me 4 hours to travel the 46 miles but much as I can praise Steve and his expertise I can’t say the same for the RAC and their answering service after it took Steve less time to reach me than it did for me to get my call answered.

During the bad weather, all the motoring companies have been giving points of advice to drivers one of which is to have a fully charged mobile phone, but they don’t say that it’s because it takes them so bloody long to answer your call!

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December 28, 2009 Posted by | 1 | , | 1 Comment

Prejudice

I am so saddened to read that a number of parents have complained to the BBC about the CBeebies presenter, Cerrie Burnell, who was born without a hand. Some are saying that their children are being scared by her disability and one even said they can’t let their children watch as they will have nightmares.

7906507.stm

The attitude of these parents is appalling and demonstrates their own poor parenting skills. I have an obvious facial disability and as a Health Visitor, spent all my working life with small children. Children are not scared by disability, just curious about differences, they will ask questions and accept a simple open explanation.

On only one occasion during my 40yr career was I told that a mother had complained that her child was scared by my appearance. She made this complaint to a consultant paediatrician who, unfortunately, for someone who should have known better, did nothing to contradict her opinion instead he supported her by saying he would ask for me not to visit the family again.

Prejudice against disabled persons doesn’t start with children, it’s imbued in them by the ignorance of adults.

I had a look at CBeebies this morning and I applaud the BBC for seeing beyond the disability and employing Cerrie for her undoubted talents in communicating with children.

February 24, 2009 Posted by | 1 | | Leave a comment

Decisions

Over the past few days I’ve had plastic bags from these four charities put through my letterbox. They are all asking for any old clothing, ‘no bric a brac’.

Charity Bags

Now how do I choose? Which one is more deserving of my old clothes? Blind Children? Age Concern? Barnados? or the cancer charity Tenavus?

I did a cull of my old clothes when I moved house last year, so I haven’t got that much to get rid of. Do I put one sweater in each bag or choose the most worthy and ignore the other three?

Then there’s the problem of those I’ve ignored! Although they always say they will pick up the empty bags, I have yet to have that happen. All the bags state that they ‘remain the property’ of the charity so if I bin them instead am I technically stealing?

Such a dilemma!!

February 13, 2009 Posted by | 1 | 2 Comments

Ocado

Shane arrived this morning in the Sebastian Strawberry van with my grocery order from Ocado.

Since I retired I’ve missed being able to pop in to Waitrose for good quality food items. I made one journey out to nearest one in Sandbach but the cost of petrol for the round trip on top of Waitrose high prices, made it something I decided I couldn’t do very often.

Last week my friend said she’d received a voucher from Ocado (Waitrose delivery service) and decided to try them out. I got a similar voucher this week and did the same.

The web site wasn’t as easy to navigate as Tesco but I was interested to see that they also supplied a Tesco price comparison on many standard items. Once I’d completed the order I had to choose a delivery slot and was delighted to find that I could choose slots of one hour rather than the two. The delivery charges were less and could be reduced even more by choosing one when a van was already in my area, something which will help reduce the carbon footprint and which I’ve always thought Tesco should have addressed.

My friend had told me that she’d been contacted by Ocado reminding her of her delivery and sure enough last night I received a reminder text and giving me the latest time I could change the order if I needed to. Then this morning another text telling me that ‘Shane would be arriving in the Sebastian Strawberry van’ and, as added security (in case I didn’t recognise Sebastian Strawberry, I suppose), it gave me the registration number of the van.

There were no missing items in my order and no substitutes. There was an added bonus of a free copy of today’s Times newspaper and a welcome folder from Ocado with 3 free T-bags.

Overall I am very pleased with the service, the cost was only marginally more than Tesco and customer services were just as efficient in re-imbursing me for my shampoo which was leaking. I will certainly give them another try particularly as the groceries come in pretty orange and lilac bags.

January 28, 2009 Posted by | 1 | 1 Comment

The New NHS

A few days ago the BBC reported that during the last two years there had been a 60% rise in patient deaths due to errors in care which experts said was due to ‘better reporting rather than worsening care’.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/7813634.stm

This afternoon as I drove past the entrance to my GP surgery, I saw a lone man, standing on the pavement opposite, holding a placard. He was a youngish man and judging by the state of his clothing had been standing there, in the rain, for some time. Intrigued, I slowed down and was able to read on the placard the following;

“THIS SURGERY HAS LET MY WIFE’S HEALTH DETERIORATE FOR THREE YEARS – BEWARE!”

I saw one person stop and speak to him but most people were just passing by and patients entering the surgery were studiously avoiding looking at him. What has happened I wonder? Is his wife another victim of NHS errors?

The poor man is obviously angry about his wife’s condition but perhaps the error is that no-one has taken the time to sit him down and explain about the care she’s been given.

If it’s a true case of poor care perhaps he’s been down the formal complaint route and felt he didn’t get any satisfactory answers but either way it’s a sad reflection of the new NHS that people are driven to such extreme lengths to express their dissatisfaction.

January 12, 2009 Posted by | 1 | Leave a comment

Sampling

Sally developed a urinary infection on Boxing Day and having been up and down all night to let her out for a wee, I took her to the vet on the 27th. A couple of injections and a course of antibiotics were prescribed and after a couple of days she seemed back to her old self.

The course of antibiotics finished on Monday but by yesterday morning it was obvious that the infection hadn’t gone and she was once again peeing every two minutes and in obvious distress. Back to the vet we went and this time they kept her in to do an endoscopy on her bladder to see what was going on.

I spent a few anxious hours until the vet rang and, to my relief, said she had found inflamed patches on the bladder wall, had taken a biopsy but didn’t think there was anything sinister. When I went to collect Sally a couple of hours later, the nurse gave me a course of another antibiotic but said I needed to collect a urine sample before I gave her any.

How do you collect a urine sample from a bitch? Stick a plastic bag to her back end? Try and get her to pee into a bowl? I consulted with a friend who said I should stick a swiss roll tin (or similar) under her back end as soon as she squatted down to wee. I decided the best time to know when she was going to have a wee would be first thing this morning and then she would be able start the antibiotics.

So at 6.15 this morning the scenario was this, me following Sally around the garden in the dark, apart from the security light which went on and off as we moved through the sensor, armed with a torch and the lid of a tupperware box. Sally was obviously suspicious of this activity and wandered around for ages before finally squatting down and I could pounce and shove the lid under her back end.

The nurse said she didn’t need very much urine, which is lucky since Sally objected to the indignity and walked off as quickly as the lid went under.

How much is not very much? I’ve now got a little bit of wee in a bottle ready to deliver to the vet hoping it’s enough and I don’t have repeat this exercise again anytime soon.

January 9, 2009 Posted by | 1 | 1 Comment

Gaza

Whoopee do! Israel has agreed to a 3 hour respite from the bombing of Gaza!

The killing of hundreds of Palestinians, including innocent women and children, by Israeli armed forces goes on and on. I listen to the continuous news bulletins and the intransigence of both sides would appear to make any resolution to the conflict unlikely to happen anytime soon. All the interviews I’ve heard with people supporting each side has degenerated into hysterical rhetoric.

I have heard Israeli government spokespersons and military commanders justifying the bombardment of villages in Gaza by saying that it’s Hamas’ fault for siting rocket launchers in civilian buildings. Then Hamas supporters say the Israeli occupation of the Gaza strip is illegal; they don’t recognise Israel and want it’s complete obliteration.

I don’t know that I can support either side but what can’t be denied is that Israel’s superior fighting power (with the support from the USA and particularly George W Bush) shows a total lack of care and compassion for the innocent people living in a small strip of land with no means of escape.

So today I hear that Israel has decided that a 3 hour a day respite from the attacks will help people who have no water, no food and are living day and night in fear of their lives.

As I said, Whoopee do! But if they can do it for 3 hours why can’t they stop altogether!

January 7, 2009 Posted by | 1 | Leave a comment

Friands

I’ve been meaning to get a tray of 6 deep muffin tins for some time. I’ve found they are the best for making excellent Yorkshire puddings. When the kids were at home I used to make 12 in a tray I brought back from the US in 1969. When they left home and I was on my own I bought a proper Yorkshire Pudding tray but never found it satisfactory.

I don’t make Yorkshires for myself very often so thought I would try those Aunt Bessie things; they were horrible so that wasn’t the answer. Only when I’ve decided to make Yorkshires have I remembered about a small muffin tray so I’ve been putting up with the dedicated Yorkshire tray ever since.

For some reason I remembered today as I was writing my shopping list. I called in at the ‘Cook Shop’ where they only had trays of 12 but the really helpful assistant told me I could get one in the ‘Shop With No Name’ a marvellous little shop that sells everything and at knock out prices! I called in and found this…..

Muffin Tray

Now what is a Friand? You may have heard of them but I hadn’t. I Googled it and now I know that a Friand is a ‘small, moist, dense, rich, almondy cake which is truly awesome’ and it gave me a recipe.

The tins are nice and deep but are oval and I’m not sure if oval Yorkshires will be aesthetically pleasing! Technically, I don’t see why they shouldn’t do for Yorkshires but if not maybe I’ll give the Friands a go.

If you’ve ever had a Friand let me know if they really are ‘truly awesome’!

December 16, 2008 Posted by | 1 | 4 Comments

Christmas Cake

Last year I didn’t get around to doing a Christmas cake as I was too busy trying to sort the house getting plumbers and electricians in so I didn’t test the new oven. Every oven varies and I’ve now had a year to get used to it but haven’t baked any cakes, let alone a fruit cake.

Today I had designated to bake my Christmas cake; I suppose I should have tried it out before but I’m not that organised so today was the moment of truth. The recipe I’ve always used is my grandmother’s but she used to cook hers in a coal fired range oven so over the years I’ve had to adapt the timings to suit each new oven I’ve used.

I’d already soaked the fruit for 24 hours so this morning it was just a matter of putting it all together and having the energy to stir the mixture. I don’t have an oven thermometer so with a fan oven had to guess the temperature and timings; it’s a journey into the unknown since opening the oven door to see how things are going could be disastrous.

The baking time requires a gradual decrease in temperature for an hour at a time and I’ve always been guided by the smell of baking as to when it’s safe to open the oven door to have a look. After an anxious three hours I took the plunge and opened the door.

Christmas Cake

As you can see I will need to bake a few more before I get it right. It was well cooked but I think had been done too fiercely so it’s a bit overdone and cracked on the top; I expect it might be a bit dry too.

Can’t do anything about the overdone top but hopefully with a few doses of whisky over the next few weeks it’ll pass muster and I’ll try do one or two more before next Christmas!

November 25, 2008 Posted by | 1 | Leave a comment